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The Contemporary Review, Volume 36, September 1879

Either of his intellectual honesty


Is

it possible for the intellect to be in insurrection against the heart? In a sense already indicated this is possible. It is possible, in short, that the moral and intellectual spirit of a belief may still control the life of one who, so far as his explicit consciousness is concerned, has renounced it. Rooted as the individual is in a wider life than his own, it is often but a small part of himself that he can bring to distinct consciousness. Further, so little are most men accustomed to self-analysis; that they are seldom aware what it is that constitutes the inspiring power of their beliefs. Generally, at least in the first instance, they take their creed in gross, without distinguishing between essential and unessential elements. They confuse, in one general consecration of reverence, its primary principles, and the local and temporary accidents of the form in which it was first presented to them, and they are as ready to accept battle _a l'outrance_ for some useless outwork as for the citadel itself. And, for the same reason, they are ready to think that the citadel is lost when the outwork is taken; to suppose, _e.g._, that the spiritual nature of man is a fiction if he was not directly made by God out of the dust of the earth, or that the Christian view of life has ceased to be true if a doubt can be thrown on the possibility of proving miracles. Yet however little the individual may be able to separate the particulars which are assailed from the universal with which they
are accidentally connected, his whole nature must rebel against the sacrifice which logical consistency seems in such a case to demand from him. It is a painful experience when the first break is made in the implicit unity of early faith, and it is painful just in proportion to the depth of the spiritual consciousness which that faith has produced in the individual. Unable to separate that which he is obliged to doubt from that in which lies the principle of his moral, and, even of his intellectual, life, he is "in a strait betwixt two;" and no course seems to be open to him which does not involve the surrender, either of his intellectual honesty, or of that higher consciousness which alone "makes life worth living," Such a crisis is commonly described as a division between the heart and the head, for in it the articulate or conscious logic is on the side of disbelief, and the resisting conviction generally takes the form of a feeling, an impulse, an intuition, which the individual has for himself, but which he is unable to communicate in the same force to another. And, as such feelings and intuitions of the individual are necessarily subject to continual variation of intensity and clearness, so the struggle between doubt and faith may be long and difficult, the objections, which at one time seem as nothing, at another time appearing to be almost irresistible. Not seldom the result is a broken life, in which youth is given to revolt, and the rest of existence to a faith which vainly strives to be implicit. There is, indeed, no final and satisfactory issue from such an endless internal debate and conflict, until the "heart" has learned to speak the language of the "head,"--_i.e._, until the permanent principles which underlay and gave strength to faith have been brought into the light of distinct consciousness, and until it has been discovered how to separate them from the accidents, with which at first they were necessarily identified. The hard labour of distinguishing, in the traditions of the past, between the germinative principles, out of which the future must spring, and those external forms and adjuncts, which every day is making more incredible, must be undertaken by any one who would restore the broken unity of man's life. We begin our existence under the shadow and influence of a faith which is given to us, as it were; in our sleep; but in no age, and in this age less than any other, can man possess a spiritual life as a gift from the past without reconquering it for himself.


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