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xxiii Passion and Resurrection and Ascension, so that all mysteries are brought together and reconciled in one mystery. In the Lord Jesus Christ, One Person, we see all things summed up, man, humanity, creation, in the last issue of life, and united to GOD.
Christianity is in life and through life. It is not an abstract system but a vital power, active through an organised body. It can never be said that the interpretation of the Gospel is final. For while it is absolute in its essence so that nothing can be added to the revelation which it includes, it is relative so far as the human apprehension of it at any time is concerned. The facts are unchangeable but the interpretation of the facts is progressive. Post-Christian history answers to pre-Christian history. In the latter a Divine Covenant led up little by little to a Divine Presence in humility. That Divine Presence itself leads up through the manifold discipline of the Church, so we believe, to a future Divine Presence in glory. The Ascension was the occasion of the promise of the Return.
There cannot be, I have said, any new revelation. All that we can need or know lies in the Incarnation. But the meaning of that revelation which has been made once for all can itself be revealed with greater completeness. In this
Preface. sense many signs seem to show that we standing now on the verge of a great epoch of revelation. But however this may be, let our attitude at any rate be that of those who know that every lesson of nature and of life must illuminate the Truth which embraces the whole fulness of existence. We dishonour our Faith by anxious impatience and by jealous reservation. We believe that God appointed Him heir of all things through Whom He also made the worldthe ages, time with all its contents (Hebr. i. 2). St Paul says to us, as to the Corinthians vexed and distracted by rival schools: All things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's ; and Christ is God's (1 Cor. iii. 22 f).
THE PROBLEMS OF LIFE.
A RELIGION can only be understood when it is studied in relation to the facts, and the circumstances, and the experience, with which it corresponds. This is true of all religions and in the largest sense it is true of Christianity. Christianity, of which Christian Doctrine is the intellectual expression, is, like every other religion, an answer to questions which are necessarily suggested by human life. It does not introduce fresh mysteries into the world: it meets mysteries which already exist. It has been however a natural consequence of the fact that Christian Doctrine in one form or other has permeated Western civilisation and thought for many centuries, that the mysteries which belong to existence, so far as it falls within our knowledge, are commonly referred to the Christian view of existence, as if they had no independent place in human life. We first meet with them in the presentation of the Christian Faith, and we W. G. L.
Three final existences conclude hastily that they belong to it in some peculiar sense. In order therefore that we may see clearly what Christian Doctrine really is, what it brings that is novel either of darkness or of light to the whole conception of being, we must endeavour to gain some notion of the actual circumstances in which we find ourselves, of the problems which our condition inevitably proposes to us, of the imperious impulses which drive us to seek some solution of them, of the solutions which have been formed independently during the præChristian growth of humanity, before we can rightly appreciate the characteristics of the Christian solution.
I assume at the outset as a clear result of personal and social experience, of the main teaching of the life of the individual and of the life of humanity, that as men we are so constituted as to recognise three final existences which sum up for us all being, self, the world, and GOD; or, to put the thought in another form, that we are so constituted as to recognise in that which is without us, 'the not ourselves,' something which corresponds in a certain sense to the body' and 'soul' which we recognise in our own being, a ‘material' order and a force controlling it.
We become first conscious of the reality of
these existences through experience, through life. And it is through experience, which we are able to interpret, that we discern more of their nature. The process is necessarily slow. It is only by degrees that we learn to interpret severally the simplest impressions of sense, the position (for example) and the movements of objects in space; and it is reasonable to expect that it will be more difficult to gain a general interpretation of the many phenomena which tend to give precision and completeness to the master thoughts of our whole nature.
So in fact it has been and is both with the individual and with the race. We have each of us in the course of our own growth, and we can see that the same is true of nations, shaped gradually the conceptions of self, the world, and GOD, which we now have. In this there has been nothing arbitrary, nothing accidental.
In the largest sense we have taken ‘living' as our guide in the process, so far as it has been consciously pursued. In part however it has been accomplished silently, ‘naturally,' as we say, by a kind of moral growth. At the same time we start on our individual course from different points in the line of the great inquiry. The accumulated experience of the past is to a certain extent the inheritance of each succeeding generation, but this wealth of