This would mean the recognition that, besides all the causes with which we have been dealing—manifold misconceptions, failure to fulfil the natural conditions, and inevitable limitations and fluctuations—there is another,—a certain purpose, involved in the very constitution of ourselves and of the world, that the reality of the spiritual life shall not be a mere brute fact to be passively grasped once for all, but a living deed, requiring ever to be purposely renewed. For the sake, then, of our moral and spiritual training, for the sake of deepening the spiritual life itself into which the moral is so inextricably woven, there is a purposed seeming unreality in spiritual things.

Even here, where we could least expect it, it is to be noted that there is still a real similarity between the spiritual life and the other spheres of life. For it is the distinctive mark of man, as Browning is so fond of insisting, that he is a growing creature. And this appears on every side of his life.

Nowhere is anything done fully to man's hand. He is no "finished and finite clod." He has no "finished instincts." Everywhere he must work out his task. His. science, even, is the work of ages, toilsomely wrought out by countless contributors, and is a task always only in the making. As an intellectual product it cannot be inherited, and it is consciously shared in, as Lotze notes, by very few; for no man can passively receive it. It is a kingdom to be conquered. So throughout our lives, the best must ever be wrought out.

All the conditions of our life, too, seem adjusted to this thought of an imperfect, growing creature. The almost unbelievable extent to which life everywhere calls for the repetition of acts is evidence. The proverbs of all nations bear witness. The enormous place and power of habit point to the same conclusion. The way in which the most fundamental qualities of character require for their development steady submission to the daily drudgery, is particularly significant. There is evidently no intention, in the constitution of the world or of men, to bring men to any high attainment, except by strenuous endeavor on their own part. We need not think it strange, then, that in the highest life of all, even its reality should be made to depend in no small degree on our constant struggle.

But the fact that points most unmistakably to the seeming unreality of the spiritual world as an intended part of our moral and spiritual training, is that very closely connected deficiency in moral insight which is not without its moral advantage. In Lotze's words: "It would not be advantageous for moral development if the binding truth of all particular moral commands, and the indissoluble connection between them, were presented to individual minds with the theoretical certainty of an arithmetical proof, and if it were not left for every soul to fight its way through the battle of life, by living, believing action and effort, to this clearness of comprehensive moral intuition."[1]

The constant power and attraction of a repeated temptation, the hollowness of which we think we have already fully discovered, seem, thus, to indicate a certain intended deficiency in moral insight. We are not to be spared the needed struggle. We are to keep striving. We come into character only so. Our ethical purpose must be constantly reaffirmed in active resistance to temptations ever renewed. A moral insight, that should rob the temptations of all power, would take from us the very struggle needed for our moral growth. In this preliminary stage of our training in the earthly life, at least, our best growth comes only so. And life becomes thus everywhere "a godlike challenge in the night to our too reluctant wills."

If this is true in the purely ethical life, we need not wonder that in the religious life also, with which the ethical is so completely bound up, there are intended conditions which continually compel a reaffirming of the spiritual, if it is to be held at all. Even the removable causes of spiritual unreality—manifold misconceptions and failure to fulfil natural conditions—and the necessary recognition of the unremovable limitations and fluctuations,—even these, as we have seen, demand a persistent, thoughtful pursuit of the spiritual. But if to these is to be added a purposed seeming unreality, there is here brought to us a definite challenge to conquer a spiritual kingdom for ourselves.

This point is of such central importance that there may well be added upon it these words of Professor Seth Pattison:[2] "If we are really in earnest, at once with the unity of the world and with the necessity of an intrinsically worthy end by reference to which existence may be explained, we must take our courage in both hands and carry our convictions to their legitimate conclusion. We must conclude that the end which we recognize as alone worthy of attainment is also the end of existence as such—the open secret of the universe. No man writes more pessimistically than Kant of man's relation to the course of nature, so long as man is regarded merely as a sentient creature, susceptible to pleasure and pain. But man, as the subject of duty, and the heir of immortal hopes, is restored by Kant to that central position in the universe from which, as a merely physical being, Copernicus had degraded him.

"To a certain extent this conclusion must remain a conviction rather than a demonstration, for we cannot emerge altogether from the obscurities of our middle state, and there is much that may rightly disquiet and perplex our minds. But if it is in the needs of the moral life that we find our deepest principle of explanation, then it may be argued with some reason that this belongs to the nature of the case; for a scientific demonstration would not serve the Purposes of that life. The truly good man must choose goodness on its own account; he must be ready to serve God for naught, without being invaded by M. Renan's doubts. As it has been finely put, he must possess 'that rude old Norse nobility of soul, which saw virtue and vice alike go unrewarded, and was yet not shaken in its faith.' . . . . But because such is the temper of true virtue, it by no means follows that such virtue will not be rewarded with 'the wages of going on, and not to die.'"

In all this, the conditions of the religious life show a real similarity to those of the rest of life. But there is a certain difference in this purposed unreality, now to be observed.

[1] Microcosmus, Vol. II, p. 54.

[2] Man's Place in the Cosmos, pp. 32-33.