Like Martineau’s the head with its crown of white hair is nobly sculptured, and like Martineau’s the ivory coloured face is ploughed up and furrowed by mental strife; but whereas Martineau’s is eminently the indoors face of a student, this is the face of a man who has lived out of doors, a mountaineer and a seafarer. Under the dense bone of the forehead which overhangs them like the eave of a roof, the pale blue eyes look out at you with a deep inner radiance of the spirit, but from the midst of a face which has been stricken and has winced.
Something of the resolution, the deliberateness, the stern power, and the enduring strength of his spirit shows itself, I think, in the short thickset body, with its heavy shoulders, its deep chest, its broad firm upright neck, and its slow movements, the movements as it were of a peasant. Always there is about him the feeling of the fields, the sense of nature’s presence in his life, the atmosphere of distances. Nothing in his appearance suggests either the smear or the burnish of a town existence.
It is not without significance that he has gone farther afield from Oxford City than any other of its academic citizens, building for himself a home on a hill two miles and more from Magdalen Bridge, with a garden about it kept largely wild, and seats placed where the eye can travel farthest.
This man, who is so unpushing and self-effacing, makes a contribution to the Christian religion which deserves, I think, the thoughtful attention of his contemporaries. It can be set forth in a few words, for his faith is fastened in the conviction that the universe is far simpler than science—for the moment—would allow us to think.
Let me explain at the outset that Unitarianism admits of a certain diversity of faith. There are Unitarians who think and speak only of God. There are others who lay their insistence on the humanity of Jesus, exalting Him solely as the chief est of teachers. There are others who choose to dwell on the uniqueness of Jesus, who feel in Him some precious but quite inexpressible, certainly quite indefinable, spell of divinity, and who love to lose themselves in mystical meditations concerning His continual presence in the human spirit. Dr. Jacks, I think, is to be numbered among these last. But, like all other Unitarians, he makes no credal demands on mankind, save only the one affirmation of their common faith, with its inevitable ergo: God is Love, and therefore to be worshipped.
Robert Hall said to a Unitarian minister who always baptised “in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost,” attaching a very sacred meaning to the words, “Why, sir, as I understand you, you must consider that you baptise in the name of an abstraction, a man, and a metaphor.” More simple was the interpretation of a Japanese who, after listening with a corrugated brow to the painful exposition of a recent Duke of Argyll concerning the Trinity in Unity, and the Unity in Trinity, suddenly exclaimed with radiant face, “Ah, yes, I see, a Committee.”