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life. The immortality which in the New Testament is designated eternal life, is, in the view of the New Testament, nothing less than the life of the Eternal, the personal presence of that primal force which lies at the basis of all things. The man who arrives at this possession is said to be immortal no longer by the mere gift of a Supreme Will who suffers him to live, but by the dwelling of the Divine nature within himself, making his immortality the very life of God—“Because I live, ye shall live also." And all this, be it remembered, is unopposed by any law of physical science, uncontradicted by any testimony of evolution. It is brought about by no leap or paroxysm ; it involves no break in the evolutionary chain. It is effected by a power which is itself recognised as the main agent in the process of development—that primal · force of the universe which is everywhere persistent
We have now brought to an end the subject of this inquiry. We have taken up one by one those points in which the modern doctrine of evolution has seemed to come into contact with the revelations of the old faith, and we have endeavoured impartially to consider whether the contact has been one of collision or one of union. As the result of our examination, we are now prepared to come to a definite conclusion. We have found that the old faith can live with the new. Without entering into the evidence for the doctrine of evolution, without considering to what extent its truth has been already established, or to what extent it still remains in abeyance, it must even now be abundantly evident that, should the doctrine of evolution be established, Christianity will not die. There are some who seem to regard it as now on its trial, awaiting the testimony of the witnesses for evolution, and indebted for its present continuance to the fact that the examination of these witnesses has not yet been concluded. It would, indeed, be more correct to say, that the fact of this examination not having been yet concluded is the only present hindrance to the continuance of Christianity. The moment that examination has been concluded, and the moment the verdict has been given on the one side or on the other, it is quite safe to say that there shall be an end of that religious unsettledness which has at present disorganised the old order of things. If the verdict be unfavourable to evolution, things will remain as they were; if the verdict be in favour of the new science, we have endeavoured to show that the new wine will fit the old bottles.
For, in truth, it is a fact which is testified by all experience, that the times of the greatest religious uncertainty have been the times of transition between the old and the new. The dangerous period to an old faith is its season of suspensethe period when it is assailed by what promises to be a destructive force, without having yet received the power to measure the extent of its destructiveness. Just as in the life of the individual the feeling of suspense tends to enervate the energies, so in the life of the community the necessity to suspend the judgment tends to weaken the force of religion. It is on this ground that we think the present the true period for an inquiry
into the relations of evolution and revelation. There are many who say it will be time enough to inquire into that relation when evolution itself is demonstrated to be the law of the universe. That will be far too late if men are now taught to believe that the proof of evolution would be the destruction of Christianity. With such a belief in their minds, the very possibility that the doctrine may be true is bound to exercise a weakening influence over the religious sentiments of the past. How is this weakening influence to be avoided ? No amount of research would probably be sufficient to solve the question itself within the lifetime of the present generation, and it is with the lifetime of the present generation that we are here purely concerned. Is there any other method besides the actual solving of the question that could possibly set at rest the religious consciousness? There is one, and only one. If it can be shown that the application of the new force to Christianity would not be destructive-if it could be made clear to the minds of men that the establishment of the doctrine of evolution would have no necessary tendency to undermine the old faith,—the suspense of the religious world would be virtually at an end. Suspense there would still be, but it would no longer be religious suspense; it would be simply the waiting which we practise day by day in relation to the secular events of life, and which we are able to bear without religious injury, just from the conviction that the issue will not affect religion.
We have expressed our opinion that in the event of the doctrine of evolution becoming an established law of nature, Christianity will not die. We believe that it will have no difficulty whatever in adapting itself, should it be necessary, to such a view of nature as Mr Herbert Spencer proposes ; and we have endeavoured in the preceding pages to show what are the grounds on which we hold this belief. There is yet one other aspect of the subject at which we desire to glance ere we close. If the doctrine of evolution should be proved to be the law of the universe, Christianity will occupy towards it a closer relationship than that of mere adaptation ; it will itself take its place as one of the main forces in the achievement of the process. Now we wish to point out that if Christianity should come to be regarded as from the human and historical side one of the great evolutionary forces, it will thereby receive a scientific vindication of two most important claims which it has itself put forth.
The first of these claims put forth by Christianity is the claim to be regarded as an original law of the universe. Throughout the New Testament Epistles there is a constant reiteration of the statement that this religion, although a new