On Compromise eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 203 pages of information about On Compromise.
with dogmas and formularies, which he has first to empty of all definite, precise, and clearly determinable significance, before he can get them out of the way of his religious sensibilities.  Whether Reason or Affection is to have the empire in the society of the future, when Reason may possibly have no more to discover for us in the region of morals and religion, and so will have become emeritus and taken a lower place, as of a tutor whose services the human family, being now grown up, no longer requires,—­however this may be, it is at least certain that in the meantime the spiritual life of man needs direction quite as much as it needs impulse, and light quite as much as force.  This direction and light can only be safely procured by the free and vigorous use of the intelligence.  But the intelligence is not free in the presence of a mortal fear lest its conclusions should trouble soft tranquillity of spirit.  There is always hope of a man so long as he dwells in the region of the direct categorical proposition and the unambiguous term; so long as he does not deny the rightly drawn conclusion after accepting the major and minor premisses.  This may seem a scanty virtue and very easy grace.  Yet experience shows it to be too hard of attainment for those who tamper with disinterestedness of conviction, for the sake of luxuriating in the softness of spiritual transport without interruption from a syllogism.  It is true that there are now and then in life as in history noble and fair natures, that by the silent teaching and unconscious example of their inborn purity, star-like constancy, and great devotion, do carry the world about them to further heights of living than can be attained by ratiocination.  But these, the blameless and loved saints of the earth, rise too rarely on our dull horizons to make a rule for the world.  The law of things is that they who tamper with veracity, from whatever motive, are tampering with the vital force of human progress.  Our comfort and the delight of the religious imagination are no better than forms of self-indulgence, when they are secured at the cost of that love of truth on which, more than on anything else, the increase of light and happiness among men must depend.  We have to fight and do lifelong battle against the forces of darkness, and anything that turns the edge of reason blunts the surest and most potent of our weapons.


[Footnote 13:  Burton’s Lift of Hume, ii. 186-188]

[Footnote 14:  Isaac Taylor’s Natural History of Enthusiasm, p. 226.]

[Footnote 15:  Pensees, II.  Art ii.]

[Footnote 16:  Dr. Newman’s Grammar of Assent, p. 201.]

[Footnote 17:  Emile, bk. iv.]



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On Compromise from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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