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in which we dwell is, so far as we see it, not selfsupporting. It is because this world exhibits to us only a succession of changes that we are driven to infer the existence of a power underlying these changes. It by no means follows, however, that when we have discovered such a power, whether it be the God of Theism or the Force of Mr Herbert Spencer, we shall be bound to find a cause for it also. This power, whatever it be, may be changeless in its nature, and, if changeless in its nature, it is not a subject for the principle of causality.
It is a popular opinion that the mere sight of any existing object is bound to suggest the question, Who made it? It seems to us that this is a mistake. If an object were nothing more than existing, it would not to the primitive man offer any such suggestion. The reason why every object around us does suggest such a question is, that in point of fact every object around us is constantly exhibiting change. If, instead of an outward object, we take the consciousness of individual existence itself, we shall see this still more clearly. Let us suppose the case of a man brought into the world at the stage of manhood and with the powers of manhood fully developed ; the very first question he should ask would be this, Where have I come from? He would take it for granted that he had come from somewhere, that he owed his being to the influence of some power beyond his own. The child in actual life seldom gets the chance of putting that question; it is told from the very first that God made it, and so reflection on the subject is forestalled. But in the case of our hypothetical man, reflection would anticipate information; the sense of wonder would be too quick to be forestalled, and the question would come forth, Whence came I? But now, why is it that the man would put such a question at all in reflecting on the problem of his own existence ? Would it be from his conviction that every existence must have a cause outside of itself that he would infer his own life not to be eternal ? Not so. His search for a cause of his being would proceed from a very different source-not from an inference at all, but from an actual perception of fact. It would proceed from his consciousness that in point of fact he was not eternal. He would feel instinctively that his present being was the manifestation of a change. He would see behind him a blackness of darkness, a great blank of nothingness, out of which he had come by some process unknown to himself. It would be his sense of a change that would lead him to the conviction that there must have been somewhere a power to cause the change. Had his memory of the past been unbroken, had he been conscious of no blank in the yesterday, he would assuredly have concluded that his own being was eternal; but when he knows that his consciousness of to-day has come to him as a surprise, he is inevitably forced to the conclusion that it has come to him by another power than his own.
This, then, is the inference at which we arrive. The third alternative for the solution of the universe is not unthinkable, and it is the only one of the three which is not unthinkable. This is simply, in other terms, to say that it is the least supernatural of the three. It involves only a supernaturalism which transcends the order of nature, not a supernaturalism which violates the order of nature. It sets aside no law, it suspends no principle, it interferes with no portion of the material mechanism ; it simply postulates the fact that behind the material mechanism there is a principle which is immaterial. Leaving, however, this question for the present, we have here simply to refer to that result to which the investigation of this chapter has led us. We have been brought to the inevitable conclusion that there is a place for faith in the system of nature. Nay, to state the conclusion thus is to understate it. What we have found is not simply that there is a place for faith in the order of nature; it is rather that only through faith is there a place for nature itself. We have examined one by one the solutions by which it has been attempted to explain the existence of the universe, and each of these solutions has yielded us the same result-a limit to the power of natural law. Whether we have considered the hypothesis of the world's eternity, or the doctrine of its spontaneous generation, or the belief in its origination from the hand of an intelligent Creator, we have found equally that the road of experience has come to an end, and that we have been compelled through the rest of our journey to travel by the flight of faith. We have found that each doctrine alike, though not in the same degree, has led to the conclusion that the natural is bounded by the supernatural, and that beyond the sphere of experiment and understanding there lies a region of the supersensuous and the mystical. We have found, finally, that of the three alternatives, those which demand the most faith are just those which the opponents of supernaturalism have adopted with the view of avoiding the necessity of faith. We have seen that the worshippers of physical law are compelled, by the adoption of either of these creeds, to abandon the inviolability of that very law which they worship; and that the only belief which saves them from the necessity of beholding a violation of their cherished principles of nature, is just that faith in a supreme and supernatural Intelligence which, in the supposed interest of science, they are making such frantic efforts to gainsay.
IS THE OBJECT OF FAITH KNOWABLE?
In the previous chapter we arrived at the conclusion that the contemplation of nature inevitably leads to the recognition of a supernatural element—an element which cannot be avoided by any road we may choose to follow. But when this conclusion has been reached, we have only gained the threshold of another question. To know that there is a supernatural element is one thing; it is another and a very different thing to know what is that supernatural element. The question which immediately presents itself is this : conceding that there is an object of faith, is it conceivable that this object of faith can ever become an object of knowledge? Can we reach, after all, any higher conclusion than the simple fact that we have come to a barred gate ? No doubt the very recognition of a barred gate proves that there is something on the other side of it, and to this extent it must be granted that