Aspects of religious and scientific thought
Mr Henry Sidgwick, in an essay ^ which indicates the most delicate moral discrimination on the ethics of subscription and conformity, and as such deserves the closest attention from all those Avho take a part in debates such as those on the Act of Uniformity and on University Tests, deprecates the use of creeds in any form of practical devotion on the following impressive ground:
" If the majority of the members of any Church," he argues, " have a right to claim that the service should be framed to meet their devotional needs, and therefore in accordance with their dogmatic convictions, the minority, on the other hand, may respectfully urge that these dogmatic convictions need not be introduced in such a manner as to give the maximum of offence to those who do not hold them, and at the same time produce the minimum of devotional effect.
The formal recital of creeds is neither a natural expression of the sentiment of worship nor obviously effective in stimulating devotion; and the proper place for such abridged statements of doctrine, even supposing them accurately to express the convictions of the existing generation of Churchmen (which can hardly be said of the present Creeds), would appear to be a manual of instruction rather than a formula of worship."
Nothing certainly could warrant the introduction of any avowal into a devotional service, intended for men of many shades of belief, which gives " the maximum of offence to those who do not hold it, and at the same time produces the minimum of devotional effect; " but Mr Sidgwick, in thus judging of the function and effect of recited creeds, and in describing them as being merely " abridged statements of doctrine," misses entirely, as it seems to me, the mood of sentiment which originally caused their introduction into acts of worship, and the secret of the power the}' still exercise.
In fact, the very intellectual bewilderments and scepticisms which make men so reluctant to sign creeds, and so anxious to simplify them, lend an immeasurable depth of gratitude and even joy to the confession of the solid bases of fact, in which Chris- tians find, as they conceive, the historical groundwork of their faith.
In precise proportion to the number of influences which threaten to undermine faith, and which embarrass the " dim and perilous way" to it, whether these be, as in the world of martyrs, chiefly moral and only secondarily intellectual, or as it may at least often be in our own day, chiefly intellectual, and only secondarily moral, in that proportion must be the rest of heart, and the glad sense of exercising a faculty of vision which only God's grace can bestow, while confessing-
1. Creeds and Worship...
2. The Various Causes of Scepticism.
3. The Spiritual Fatigue of the World
4. Religious Uncertainty
5. The Debts of Theology to Secular Movements
6. The Warden of Keble on Difficulties in Religion
7. The Materialists' Stronghold...
8. Professor Clifford on the Sin of Credulity
9. Professor Wage on Belief
10. Professor Tyndall on Materialism.
11. Mr. Martineau on Materialism
12. Dr Ward on the Divine Pre-Movement
13. The Great Agnostic
14. A Problem arising out of the Decalogue
15. Science and Mystery
16. Instinct and Design 120
17. Mil. Fowle ON Natural Religion.
18. Mil. Justice Fry on Materialism
19. Professor Stokes, M.P., on Personal Identity 146
20. The Resurrection of the Body . . . 153
21. The Modern Easter Difficulty . . . 159
22. Dr Abbott on Natural and Supernatural. 166
23. Mr Llewelyn Davies on Christian Miracle. 175
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