In the meantime the private Christian may well be content with what he has. ’If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God.’
And now that we have come to the end of the purely critical portion of this enquiry, I may perhaps be allowed to say a few words on its general tendency and bearing. As critics we have only the critical question to deal with. Certain evidence is presented to us which it is our duty to weigh and test by reference to logical and critical laws. It must stand or fall on its own merits, and any considerations brought in from without will be irrelevant to the question at issue. But after this is done we may fairly look round and consider how our conclusion affects other conclusions and in what direction it is leading us. If we look at ‘Supernatural Religion’ in this way we shall see that its tendency is distinctly marked. Its attack will fall chiefly upon the middle party in opinion. And it will play into the hands of the two extreme parties on either side. There can be little doubt that indirectly it will help the movement that is carrying so many into Ultramontanism, and directly it is of course intended to win converts to what may perhaps be called comprehensively Secularism.
Now it is certainly true that the argument from consequences is one that ought to be applied with great caution. Yet I am not at all sure that it has not a real basis in philosophy as well as in nature. The very existence of these two great parties, the Ultramontane and the Secularist, over against each other, seems to be it kind of standing protest against either of them. If Ultramontanism is true, how is it that so many wise and good men openly avow Secularism? If ’Secularism is true, how is it that so many of the finest and highest minds take refuge from it—a treacherous refuge, I allow—in Ultramontanism? There is something in this more than a mere defective syllogism—more than an insufficient presentation of the evidence. Truth, in the widest sense, is that which is in accordance with the laws and conditions of human nature. But where beliefs are so directly antithetical as they are here, the repugnance and resistance which each is found to cause in so large a number of minds is in itself a proof that those laws and conditions are insufficiently complied with. To the spectator, standing outside of both, this will