Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Occasional Papers.
persons, or in a conversation about their mental history.  But she must take the good with the bad.  Such a method has its obvious advantages, in freedom, and convenience, and range of illustration.  It has its disadvantages.  The dealer in imagination may easily become the unconscious slave of imagination; and, living in a self-constructed world, may come to forget that there is any other; and the temptation to unfairness becomes enormous when all who speak, on one side or the other, only speak as you make or let them speak.

It is to imagination that Robert Elsmere makes its main appeal, undoubtedly a powerful and pathetic one.  It bids us ask ourselves what, with the phenomena before us, we can conceive possible and real.  It implies, of course, much learning, with claims of victory in the spheres of history and science, with names great in criticism, of whom few readers probably can estimate the value, though all may be affected by the formidable array.  But it is not in these things, as with a book like Supernatural Religion, that the gist of the argument lies.  The alleged results of criticism are taken for granted; whether rightly or wrongly the great majority of readers certainly cannot tell.  But then the effect of the book, or the view which it represents, begins.  Imagine a man, pure-minded, earnest, sensitive, self-devoted, plunged into the tremendous questions of our time.  Bit by bit he finds what he thought to be the truth of truths breaking away.  In the darkness and silence with which nature covers all beyond the world of experience he thought he had found light and certainty from on high.  He thought that he had assurances and pledges which could not fail him, that God was in the world, governed it, loved it, showed Himself in it He thought he had a great and authentic story to fall back upon, and a Sacred Book, which was its guaranteed witness, and by which God still spoke to his soul.  He thought that, whatever he did not know, he knew this, and this was a hope to live and die in; with all that he saw round him, of pain and sin and misery, here was truth on which he could rest secure, in his fight with evil.  Like the rest of us, he knew that terrible, far-reaching, heart-searching questions were abroad; that all that to him was sacred and unapproachable in its sanctity was not so to all—­was not so, perhaps, to men whom he felt to be stronger and more knowing than himself—­was not so, perhaps, to some who seemed to him to stand, in character and purpose, at a moral height above him.  Still he thought himself in full possession of the truth which God had given him, till at length, in one way or another, the tide of questioning reached him.  Then begins the long agony.  He hears that what he never doubted is said to be incredible, and is absolutely given up.  He finds himself bin-rounded by hostile powers of thought, by an atmosphere which insensibly but irresistibly governs opinion, by doubt and denial in the air, by keen and relentless intellect,

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Occasional Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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