Most people, I think, will agree with Dr. Jacks in these opinions; they are intelligent and promise a reasonable way out of our present chaos. For many they will shed a new light on their old ideas of both religion and education. But some will ask: What is the Unitarian Church doing to make these intelligent opinions prevail?
Dr. Jacks confesses to me that there is no zeal of propaganda in the Unitarian communion. It is a society of people which does not thrust itself upon the notice of men, does not compete for converts with other churches in the market-place. It is rather a little temple of peace round the corner, to which people, who are aweary of the din in the theological market-place, may make their way if they choose. It is such a Church as Warburton, to the great joy of Edward FitzGerald, likened to Noah’s family in the Ark:
The Church, like the Ark of Noah, is worth saving; not for the sake of the unclean beasts that almost filled it and probably made most noise and clamour in it, but for the little corner of rationality that was as much distressed by the stink within as by the tempest without.
It is significant of the modesty of the Unitarian that he does not emerge from this retirement even to cry, “I told you so,” to a Church which is coming more and more to accept the simplicity of his once ridiculed and anathematised theology.
“You must regard modernism,” I said to Dr. Jacks on one occasion, “as a vindication of the Unitarian attitude.”
He smiled and made answer, “Better not say so. Let them follow their own line.”
No man was ever less of a proselytiser. In his remarkable book From Authority to Freedom, in which he tells the story of Charles Hargrove’s religious pilgrimage, he seems to be standing aside from all human intervention, watching with patient eyes the action of the Spirit of God on the hearts and consciences of men. And in that little masterpiece of deep thought and beautiful writing, The Lost Radiance of the Christian Religion, from which I have made most of the quotations in this chapter, one is conscious throughout of a strong aversion from the field of dogma and controversy, of deliberate determination of the writer to keep himself in the pure region of the spirit.
Christianity, he tells us there, has seen many corruptions, but the most serious of all is not to be found in any list of doctrines that have gone wrong:
We find it rather in a change of atmosphere, in a loss of brightness and radiant energy, in a tendency to revert in spirit, if not in terminology, to much colder conceptions of God, of man, and of the universe.
“As man in his innermost nature is a far higher being than he seems, so the world in its innermost nature is a far nobler fabric than it seems.” To discover this man must live in his spirit.
Jesus, “is Spirit,” and it is a definition
of God which
goes behind and beneath all the other names that are applied to