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me such a life as this. Neither the authority of my country's faith nor of my University, though I had reason to reverence them both, could warrant me in practising a self-deception in so important a matter. If the Bible was merely a book, though it might be the best of all books, though it might be a book without a flaw, I could not hope to find in it that which I was seeking.
There was another lesson I had learnt from Aristotle,had learnt from that which he did tell me and from that which he did not tell me. He believed that there was one Creator of the Universe. He might pay a sort of reverence to the gods whom his country worshipped, but they evidently did not affect his speculations in the least about Nature or about Morals. All his inquiries as to the course of the world and as to man's life were pursued independently of them. He arrived at the conclusion, that it was most likely there was one Ruler over the whole Universe, by reasonings that were quite independent of any he had received by tradition.
Well, I said to myself, this acknowledgment of a one Ruler in him is very good, I am very glad he was able to make it. But has it anything to do with me? I dwell in this world. Is there any sort of relation between me and the Maker of it? I found from the history of the world that men everywhere had been dreaming that they had something to do with some powers or rulers whom they could not see. I found that these dreams had not been confined to a few people here or there, who might perhaps have leisure for dreaming ; that they had affected the condition of all people from the highest to the lowest; that what they thought of their gods, and the worship they
THAT LIFE NOT IN THE GODS.
had paid to their gods, had influenced their civil life, their opinions about Nature, their notions of what they themselves were to do and to be. It had influenced their conduct to each other, it had influenced their inward characters. Aristotle no doubt had discovered that the honesty of their investigations and the honesty of their practice was very seriously interfered with by the terror with which the gods inspired them, and by the notions they had of the feelings and passions of the gods and of the demands they made upon men. He had little hope that his countrymen would fairly study the facts of nature or the facts of human life, while these confusions about the gods, and their connexion with them, were continually intruding themselves into their minds.
So he simply gave all these thoughts the go by. His physical studies and his moral studies were parsued without reference to them.
One could not help admiring Aristotle for taking a course which seemed to him the most honest under his circumstances. It showed him to be a brave man, that he did not profess to understand what he did not understand, and that he tried to make the best of what he did. To those who act thus more will be given in due time. One said so whose words I believe; who never said anything which I do not expect will come to pass. But then I was bound to inquire for my own sake whether this course was a reasonable or a possible one. Certainly the effect of it was to cut off an immense body of facts which had told upon the condition of all generations of men, all tribes of the earth. Certainly the effect of it was to confine the study of the Morality which is for all human beings within a small circle of human beings. But was this all? Could I for myself dispense with thoughts of this kind ? No; those twinges of which I spoke, were they not just like what other men had felt in other ages and in other regions of the world? Were they not witnesses to me that I had a common nature with them, that I was not free from their doubts and fears and griefs ? Did they not show that I needed what they needed? Could I make up a scheme of morality for myself which should take no notice of these facts in myself? And what did these facts imply? Did not they seem to say,
• There is some connexion between you and a Being 'who is higher and better than yourself ? He is calling 'you to account for these acts of yours and these thoughts
of yours. If you had nothing to do with Him, you might 6 be easier than
you are ;
would be more of a mere animal, you would be less of a man.'
A person who finds this out is likely to be in great perplexity. For he cannot be satisfied with only talking of a one Creator of the universe. What he is thinking of is of a Being who has something to do with him, who is his Ruler, who is the standard of his life. And yet he cannot help perceiving that men's opinions about this Being have often led them to strange crimes and cruelties. He cannot wonder that Aristotle, and many men since his time, should think it safer to lay down the plan of their existence without any direct reference to Him. What is to be done? For to stand still in such a state of mind as this is impossible. The world does not stand still. Our own years and days do not stand still. We are swept along, whether along in the right course or in the wrong
A COURSE OF BIBLE HISTORY.
Then perhaps it may occur to a man to ask, “Was I doing justice to the faith of my country, when I supposed that it was merely setting up a book, even a divine book, as the standard of man's acts, and life, and morality? Is not that Book commonly spoken of as a Revelation of God? Is it not spoken of as the Revelation of One who was the Son of God and the Image of God, and who became Man? Supposing it were this, might it not tell just what Aristotle shows me that I need to be told ? Might it not set forth to me a Life? Might it not set ' forth the Life that is the standard of my life, the standard
of the life of all human beings ? Might it not explain the dreams there have been in all men about the relation between them and some Being that is above them ? Might it not clear those dreams of that which has been
mischievous in them? Might it not place Ethics, or • Morals, on a true and universal ground ?'
Those of you who have attended my Bible class on Sunday evenings, will know that I have taken some pains to show
be read as a continuous history, and that it is the history of the unveiling of God to the creature whom He has made in His image. I have tried to show you this by taking separate books in the New Testament, and examining them chapter by chapter, verse by verse.
I have tried to show it you by beginning at the beginning of the Old Testament, and tracing the course of its narratives. I have tried to show it you by comparing the Old Testament with the New. I have not used any arguments to prove that the book was divine or was worthy of our attention. If it was divine and worthy of our attention, I thought it would make good
its claims for itself, though I could not make them good. All I wanted was that we should find out what it is saying to us.
I believe if we question it, it will answer more honestly than any book in the world. There may be mistakes in our translation of it which ought to be set right, as all mistakes ought to be set right where they can be, especially when they have to do with the most important matters. But in our way of proceeding with the Old Testament, this was not a very serious matter; for we wanted to find out the upshot of the history, the principle which was involved in it; and that did not depend much upon the interpretation or the construing of particular texts. Whenever I could give you any light that I thought might make a passage clearer, especially in those books which we were examining more carefully, I was bound to do so. But what I chiefly desired was, that I might put myself as little as possible between you and the revelation which I was sure the book contained, and that we should question ourselves and each other to see whether it did reveal any thing to us, whether it did scatter any darkness that was in us before. That was what I aimed at in this course of lessons. I believe the aim was right and the method was right, whether I have succeeded or not.
In the Lectures which were said to be on Ethics, or Morals, I pursued an entirely different method. I had no text-book; I rather carefully avoided text-books; I was afraid you should think I was delivering a system which was contained in them, not making you acquainted with facts which were in you. I was equally afraid that you should think I was working a system out of my own head. I tried to avoid both dangers by speaking to you