THE Earl of Shaftesbury is said to have remarked on one occasion: ‘Men of sense are really but of one religion.’ When asked what religion that was, he replied: ‘Men of sense never tell.’
This anecdote must have struck a responsive chord in the minds of many, if the frequency with which it has been quoted affords a fair test. It has rested in my own mind for many years, and a year ago I concluded to institute an inquiry among a few representative friends as to whether Shaftesbury’s judgment was a witty half-truth or approximated the whole truth.
Substituting ‘men of common sense’ for ‘men of sense’ and qualifying ‘never tell’ with the phrase ‘except upon certain agreeable occasions,’ I selected my list, and on such occasions proceeded to dip into the minds of a number of newspaper writers, doctors, lawyers, professors, statesmen, and business men, to whose friendship several positions I occupied gave me convenient access. The study, of course, required patience and some tact. Too hurried or insistent an inquiry of this sort emanating from a banker might have given rise to rumors as to his sanity.
It is my purpose to report, as accurately as possible, the views of these men on religion. It is not my intention to discuss my own personal beliefs, or those of that oft-quoted but undiseoverable individual, ‘the average man,’ or the views of a majority of men; nor to engage in a discussion of theological doctrines or historical origins. My intention is to act simply as a recorder, and to a limited extent as a commentator.
For convenience in recording, I used the Apostles’ Creed as a common index to points of view.
I am quite well aware of the fact that, as Mr. Quick says, ‘The first necessity is not to restate creeds, but to explain them,’ but I shall ask the reader to bear in mind that my purpose in this investigation was to find out what was in the other man’s mind — not to put something there.
Although impressed with the idea that Shaftesbury’s dictum offered at least a half-truth, I confess I was somewhat surprised to find a substantial unanimity of opinion among these men as to what was fundamental in the Creed, and, what is more surprising perhaps, similar conclusions with relation to these fundamentals.
Their approach to the various subjects was sometimes different, but on the whole it was not difficult to find a common base. Some went a little further than others in the expansion of their views, but the least common denominator was rather clearly defined, and that is perhaps what Shaftesbury meant.
It might clarify the discussion at the outset to state what this common base was in terms of the Apostles’ Creed. As accurately as I can state it, it was as follows: — ‘I believe in God Almighty, Maker of the Universe, and in Jesus Christ, His spiritual Son, worthy to be our Lord; possibly conceived of the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary (but these seem unimportant); suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried.
‘I believe in His descent into Hell and ascent into Heaven, symbolically. I believe there is some evidence that bodily He arose from the dead, and I believe in the immortality of His spirit; also allegorically that He sitteth on the right hand of God Almighty, and that I am judged or shall be judged by the spiritual views He taught on earth. I believe that no one could find a wiser, juster, more understanding, or more merciful judge of my actions.
‘I don’t quite understand the Holy Ghost, though I believe in the Holy Spirit of God; I believe in the advisability of some church organization (though I do not like any of them very much). I do not appreciate the significance of the Communion of Saints. I believe in the forgiveness of sins, in the possibility of the resurrection of the body (though this seems remote), and in the probability of spiritual life everlasting (concerning the desirability of which many are in doubt).'
Let us consider the Apostles’ Creed phrase by phrase and I will attempt to present the reasons that led to the several conclusions.
I believe in God the Father Almighty.
Practically all of these men, I found, believed in a God. Some asserted that they possessed an ‘intuitive’ feeling of the existence of God, and believed that others did. As Ratzel says, ‘Ethnology knows no race without a religion, but only difference in the degree to which religious ideas prevail.’
The intuitionalists among my friends argue that intuition is a quick subconscious summary of accumulated knowledge and experience, and that a feeling of this sort, widely prevalent among sensible people, should be relied upon. They point out that correct thinking existed before logical premises were discovered, just as words existed before the alphabet, and language before grammar. They look upon intuition as a northwest passage of thought that often leads the mind as accurately to the truth as the longer route of logical premises. They are quite persuasive, but I found this argument did not appeal to most of the men with whom I talked.
The latter preferred what they called a ‘common-sense argument.’ They knew from personal experience that intellect brings order out of chaos, and, seeing order in the universe, they had concluded that a Supreme Intellect had brought about order.
Herbert Spencer, one pointed out, has shown rather conclusively that no one will ever be able to prove through scientific methods either the existence or nonexistence of a God. These men expressed the same idea in the oftused term, ‘the finite cannot grasp the infinite.’
But, in the vast silence of science on the subject, my friends automatically pursued the same course they followed in the affairs of daily life; they dealt with probabilities. They are accustomed consciously, and often subconsciously, to weigh conclusions as well as reasons; they felt they would be foolish to demand proof where proof is impossible and equally foolish not to use the scale of probability in weighing the merits of ‘is’ and ’is not.’
In substance they said: ‘It may be difficult to conceive of a Supreme Intellect creating and directing order in the universe, but it is more difficult to conceive of order in the absence of a creating and directing force.’ Or, to put it in even simpler terms: ‘An orderly universe is more likely to be run by an orderly intellect than by nothing at all.’
In brief, they are theists, and in this conclusion I think they have reached a common ground with men who have thought much more deeply on the subject. There was n’t an atheist among them.
Some of them leaned a bit toward agnosticism, but all were inclined to think that the agnostic sets too high a premium on his own intellect. As one of them said: ‘That great group of scientists of the nineteenth century, responsible for so many agnostics of their day and the succeeding generation, naturally placed a high value on the methods and rules of scientific investigation; but the difficulty, as we now begin to see it, is that they greatly overextended the area to which their methods and rules might be applicable.’ The generation of the man who discovered the multiplication table must have experienced similarly excited sensations and demanded mathematical proof of many matters to which the multiplication table was in no way applicable.
They believe, then, in a God. What kind of God? Here one finds just what he might expect. The argumentative theists, we know, split some two hundred ways in describing the qualities of their God. Why so few, it is difficult to understand. Men’s vision of a God, His interest in them, their love and reverence for or reliance upon Him, proceed from their emotions as well as their thought. Heredity, environment, education, experience, are of course unlike. They would be as likely to select the same God as the same wife. Their general conclusions might be grouped and classified, but would as likely be identical in detail as their respective thumb prints.
Therefore my friends do not attempt to describe their God. When pressed as to the term ‘Father’ in the Creed, I found, curiously enough, that all interpreted the word ‘Father’ as indicative of the relationship of God to man; no one of them had appreciated the contrast of the words ‘God the Father’ and ‘His only Son our Lord.’
Only a few warmed to the idea that God resembles even the best of human fathers. I do not think any of them were much concerned about the question. If God is all-powerful, they said. He can do or be what He pleases. It is quite possible that He has established a fatherly relationship; on the other hand, He may not have done so.
If anything, they rather agreed with the view Huxley expressed in that wonderful letter to Charles Kingsley, in which, after saying that he cannot see a shadow or tittle of evidence that the great unknown underlying the phenomena of the universe stands to us in the relation of a Father, he explains what he does believe. He says:
The whole teaching of experience seems to me to show that while the governance (if I may use the term) of the universe is rigorously just and substantially kind and beneficent, there is no more relation of affection between governor and governed than between me and the twelve judges. I know the administrators of the law desire to do their best for everybody and that they would rather not hurt me than otherwise, but I also know that under certain circumstances they will most assuredly hang me; and that in any case it would be absurd to suppose them guided by any particular affection for me.
They grant that one cannot be too sure that a wise father would not adopt the same attitude for the ultimate welfare of his child. Postponing the question of life everlasting for a moment, there is n’t much difference in infinite time between hanging and spanking. I did not find any reasoned or pronounced opposition to considering the term ‘Father,’ by way of analogy, sound enough. All confessed that it has been most helpful to many suffering souls, and an aid even to the strong in times of trial and hopelessness.
I repeat, however, that most of them said that, while they were certain a close personal relationship with God was possible, the relationship of Father did not quite express their idea. On the whole, their feeling in this matter was that the differences of opinion which so many men become excited over were vastly unimportant; that it was mere speculation to say, and of very little value to know, who was right and who was wrong. They thought that the only people justified in becoming aroused on the subject were those who believed in a divine revelation which they could not get others to accept.
As to the term ‘Almighty,’ they accept it literally. The idea of a God in conflict with His own self-restraints is a bit too mystical for their thought.
The next phrase of the Apostles’ Creed, ‘Maker of heaven and earth,’ is too small a picture of the sensible man’s Creator; further, the term ‘heaven’ may involve a theological definition as to its character. ‘Maker of the universe’ better conveys the idea — or perhaps, to borrow from the Nicene Creed, ‘And of all things visible and invisible.’
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord.
There seemed to be no doubt in my friends’ minds as to the admiration in which Christ is held by all believers, most doubters, and many, if not most, thinking unbelievers.
I have talked with several people, claiming to have been earnest readers of the Gospels, who reject the divinity of Christ and yet speak of Him with an admiration halfway between reverence and condescension. And I have heard this type of reader refer to Jesus as ‘inspired’ — whatever that may mean if one does not acknowledge a source of inspiration.
Let me put it in this way: If the records of all other religions and the books of all the philosophers were set on one side and the Gospels of Christ on the other, and either had to be destroyed, I think beyond doubt all my sensible men would toss the philosophers, together with the Vedas and Korans, into the fire and save the Gospels.
Their conviction rings clearly and convincingly concerning Christ: ‘Never man spake like this man!' They feel that the uneducated son of a carpenter could not have seen so deep down into the well of fundamental truths unless he had been inspired, and that there could be but one source of inspiration, the ‘rigorously just and substantially kind and beneficent governance’ which they accept as God.
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary.
These two phrases of the Apostles’ Creed, I found, were associated in their minds as one, involving what is generally discussed as the Virgin Birth. Most of my friends said they had no views that were worth while on the subject. They rather thought the idea represented a strained effect on the part of overnice or overreligious minds. If Jesus was the spiritual Son of God — the nearest approach to divinity that man has ever seen — that is quite sufficient for them. They do not deny the high-powered force of the full acceptance of revealed beliefs; they have read of the martyrs; they have occasionally, though very seldom, seen a real Christian — yet in the absence of a spiritual revelation, such as occurred to Saint Paul, they classify these doctrines as somewhat unfruitful speculation.
Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried.
As to the historical facts of the life, teachings, and death of Jesus, they apparently entertained no doubt. They know that in the rapidly disintegrating process which followed Darwinism, even the simplest, most probable records were attacked by ignorant plunderers, who, following behind the sincere searchers after truth, attempted to destroy everything within the temple. The motives of these gentry do not appeal to them. They accept all of the above as true without drawing any very significant deductions therefrom.
He descended into hell; The third day he rose again from the dead: He ascended into heaven.
As to the descent into Hell and the ascent into Heaven. They do not see that much importance is to be attached to such a pict ure. They are inclined to feel that it is a bit symbolical; otherwise that it is allied to a conception of Hell and Heaven such as they do not cherish. As to the character of Heaven and Hell, while they hold no definite views, they do not believe in eternal damnation any more than they desire a milk-and-honey Heaven.
The only reasonable approach, they believe, to the acceptance of a particular kind of Heaven and Hell would be through faith in a revelation, and they are under the impression that revealed religion has been, on the whole, wisely silent on the subject. The description of these abodes of reward and punishment has been left to the imagination of preachers and hymn writers, whose theology, they believe, may be as bad as their verse. To them, for example, the Book of Revelation is imagery.
So also, concerning the resurrection of the body of Jesus, they refuse to puzzle their minds. They quite admit the possibility of an all-powerful God so saving the body of the greatest of His spiritual sons, and they confess that the evidence of the many honest men who were supposed to have seen Christ in the body after His death and burial is impressive. They would not accept such a belief, however, without a further study of the sources of evidence. This they have no inclination to make, since they regard the ascension of a spirit as quite as remarkable a miracle as a physical resurrection and they need no evidence of the latter to strengthen their belief in the former.
And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty: From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
These things, I repeat, most of my friends neither affirm nor deny. They look upon it as imagery. One thing all, somewhat surprisingly perhaps, agree upon is that the various incidents in the life of Jesus, His love of humanity, His understanding, His compassion and tolerance toward human weaknesses, His kindly words to the sinner, — ‘Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more,’ — would lead all sensible men, if and when there is a judgment day, to select Him above all others as their judge.
I believe in the Holy Ghost.
Few of my friends were even superficially familiar with the library of discussions concerning the Holy Ghost or the Trinity. Here again, they said, a Supreme God may take what form He wishes — numbers may be mere symbols invented by man. The sensible man feels no capacity to understand the question, and no desire to study it.
They believe in the Spirit of God; subdivision of His powers they regard as metaphysical. That Christ ‘sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty’ seems to them immaterial as a matter of belief.
The holy Catholic Church.
I found that most of them believed these words had been inserted by the Roman Catholic Church with the purpose of binding together its followers, and readily taken over by the Church of England, as the word ‘Roman’ was not found in it.
They are quite unfamiliar with the numerous interpretations of the word ‘Church’ as used in the Creed and the various adaptations of the word ‘Catholic.’ They believe that the Creed, as formulated, was intended to cover the Church as constituted at the time of the adoption of t he Creed.
As to the Roman Catholic Church, I find most of my men have considerable admiration for its learning and its facility for adapting psychological laws to the benefit of both the higher and the lower forms of intellect. Their criticism is of its priestcraft and its natural but abortive effort to determine a truth by ecclesiastical authority.
They extend the same criticism to other church organizations. They believe that the churches have departed from the tolerant spirit of their Great Leader, and while they believe in organization for coöperative effort, and acknowledge the inspiration that comes from association with men of high purpose, they regard the internal affairs of church organization as leading to self-exaltation, inflexibility, and intolerance, and they think that nearly all churches attempt to speak with a self-appointed authority that is not justified.
The Communion of Saints.
They know nothing of the controversy that has waged around this phrase. They take it literally and they regard it as a possible and very pleasant experience for the chosen few, but as one of them said, ‘Having no hope of being included in this group, I see no reason why I should concern myself about a meeting to which I shall not be invited.’
The Forgiveness of sins.
We now come to that very difficult phrase, ‘the forgiveness of sins.’ Here most of my friends find themselves much at sea when they attempt to apply either the test of reason or the measure of probability.
One of the qualities of these men is tolerance, and an absence of a vengeful or unforgiving spirit. They cannot believe that a beneficent God would punish the slightest peccadillo as severely as some preachers have believed and wished. Nor do they believe that even the greatest of sins would doom a man to everlasting punishment. Their feeling is well expressed by the Persian: ‘Pish! He’s a Good Fellow and ’t will all be well.’
They cannot picture God as a petty bookkeeper with a ledger containing debit and credit accounts of sins and virtuous acts. To pursue the analogy, they believe only in a well-estimated balance. My man knows that sin hurts and virtue aids him; that sin and virtue mark his soul as they mark his face, and that a trained observer may tell at a glance what manner of man he is. If all of a man’s sins should be remitted, he feels that he might well become the kind of man he would like to be, and that he might become worthy to occupy some place, however lowly, in the continuity of things.
This point of view gives sensible men great tolerance toward the sins of others, though not necessarily toward their own; it disposes them to judge others more by their general intent than by their specific acts, and enables them to understand why moral conventions shift according to time, place, and circumstance, if not at the centre, at least at the circumference.
They can therefore understand what Christ meant when He said, ‘Thy sins are forgiven thee,’ whereas the forgiveness of a single sin seems to them somewhat trifling.
They believe that on the whole the churches have by far the fairest and most reasonable way of dealing with this problem through the doctrine of repentance and the re-creation of the individual.
The Resurrection of the body: And the Life everlasting.
First, as to ‘life everlasting.’ More than one of my friends questioned its desirability. As an emotional experience, this is not unique. At least three important present-day religions throw a doubt, I believe, on the desirability of an after life, although its existence is not questioned.
One of my friends quoted sadly the old German epitaph which runs something like this: —
I SHALL ARISE, O CHRIST, WHEN THOU CALLEST, BUT I PRAY THEE, LET ME REST FOR A WHILE, FOR I AM SORE WEARY
Some seemed indifferent. A few were greatly moved by the prospect of meeting again some spirit they had ‘loved long since and lost awhile.’ None thought of a life hereafter as a life of ease, but as one of continuity of happy labor. Were I compelled to decide for them, I should say that, on the whole, they preferred a life hereafter, believing it to be good, but refusing to puzzle their minds as to how it could be so.
Quite apart from the desirability of survival, however, they all were agreed apparently as to its probability. I do not know why this should have surprised me, but the unanimity of the belief, I confess, did so.
They were not influenced, apparently, by any innate feeling of continuity of personality, or by the sentiment that injustice in this world implied a compensatory life to come; nor could I see that with any of them the wish was father to the thought. Yet one of the most interesting of the group asserted that the soul’s extinction would depriv e creation of all purpose.
They proceeded along their customary line of thought, first accepting what was proven and, with that as a base, weighing the probability of conflicting conclusions as to questions beyond the reach of proof.
All were of course familiar with the fundamental laws of the indestructibility of matter and the conservation of energy.
They did not regard the idea of a life hereafter as so miraculous in its conception that it must, for that reason, be rejected. They seemed to feel as Huxley felt when he said of survival after death: —
It is not half so wonderful as the conservation of force, or the indestructibility of matter. Whoso clearly appreciates all that is implied in the falling of a stone can have no difficulty about any doctrine simply on account of its marvelousness.
It was from the physical law of the conservation of energy that nearly all of my friends took their reckoning. If Nature or God (whichever you wish), they said, is concerned to conserve the minutest form of energy and the tiniest atom, what will be done with the greatest original producer of energy we know — the human ego? Is it more likely to be conserved or destroyed? Their answer was ‘conserved.’
They all fully realized that energy changes its form and, in a sense, is dissipated. They appreciated that the same result might be anticipated as to personality, if analogy alone were relied upon. But my man was not dealing in this instance with analogies; he was basing his conclusions on a fundamental law — namely, the economy of Nature or of God. He was not thinking in terms of energy itself, but of something that, in a sense, creates energy.
To illustrate: In some great city one finds that, from a common source, a thousand street cars are moved, a hundred thousand lights are lighted, and the wheels of many great industries turned. In a single day the power produced is enormous; over a period of years the results, in terms of energy, are quite beyond the mental grasp. If one attempts to trace the source of all this power, he will first find a great power plant; but this is not the original source of energy. Who built the plant? Thousands of workmen; but the origin is not with them. Great bankers financed it and great engineers drafted the plans; but the source still is not there. Finally, the way is traced back to the individual who first conceived the project and set it in motion. But we still must analyze the individual. What part of the individual started it? Not his flesh and muscles, nerves, or brain, for we at once realize that none of these is a source of energy. A dead man possesses them all.
The living man possesses something different within him. There was some indefinable ego within this man which at some time and place said to him, ‘Go’; or, to use a different analogy, some ‘X’ within him which at some moment ‘pulled the lever’ in his mind.
This ‘X’ was the creative source, then, of all that vast energy. One does not mean that it created something out of nothing; but it was creative at least in the sense that it changed latent energy into high-powered kinetic energy. It is the most amazingly powerful producer of energy we know.
If Nature permits death to destroy this producer, she reverses her fundamental law of economy, unless perchance, in this case, she has an inexhaustible supply to which she can always turn; but through infinite time, and with infinite use, there is no such thing as an inexhaustible supply of anything; there is only one way to make the supply inexhaustible, and that is to return it to the original source to be again used.
It is possible, my friends said, that the little muddy stream of our life, by analogy, flows back into the great purifying sea of all life, where its identity is perhaps lost — though its parts be again used for some fruitful purpose — and survives only as a part of the great all.
Most of my friends, however, do not accept this last point of view. They believe that personality survives. I repeat that they are not discussing energy — they are dealing with a vital something which, in a practical sense, creates energy.
It is true, they say, that a Creator, in the ultimate meaning of the word, can create something out of nothing; but, having created that something, then by various combinations the Creator can again (in a common-sense use of the term) ‘create’ something new. Mankind seems to share this latter faculty with the Creator; shares it because mankind understands to some extent the laws of the Creator. This understanding presupposes at least a similar quality of understanding, and in this sense, perhaps, God has made man in His own image.
This particular and peculiar creative power, then, given in any degree to man alone, is the power which can command the great forces of nature. It seems probable, therefore, it is of a character that could be delegated only by a Creator. They think the doctrine of probability is that such a creative power represents a totality which will not be divided.
It is worth noting that my friends spoke of the creative power of man in terms of energy, but the creative faculty, they feel, often expresses itself in terms more convincing of personal survival than energy: in art, in music, in poetry — in all the various fields to which we apply the term ‘inspiration.’ If it is inspiration, we must logically admit the existence of a source of inspiration; if it is merely a creative and constructive force common to all men, then, in the economy of nature, we should expect it to be conserved.
My friends do not claim that the argument above outlined is in any sense a scientific argument, or that it attempts even to imitate the precision of scientific methods of thought. They feel, however, that, as between the destruction — the everlasting destruction — or even dissipation of this kind of creative energy and its preservation, it seems more probable, from what we can see about us, that it will be preserved than that it will be destroyed.
Second, as to the resurrection of the body. Here the laws of nature seem to them likely to prevail. The body is matter; as such, in a sense it is indestructible, but we know it will be disintegrated into a million parts. Are they gathered together again at the last trump?
My men said they did not care as to their bodies; it seemed to them rather unimportant. Not a few said they would not wish to be cursed with the same defective body through infinite time, and none seemed so pleased with his ‘muddy vesture of decay’ as not to prefer a better.
They thought that the resurrection of the body has no sound justification in reason or probability, if divine revelation is not accepted, but, granting at once that an all-powerful God may do as He pleases, they concede the possibility of the resurrection of the body.
Here my men stand. They believe in an undescribed and, to them, indescribable God. They will go so far as to use the adjectives ‘all-wise,’ ‘just,’ and ‘merciful.’ They believe that Jesus taught a doctrine so wise, just, and merciful that He must have been spiritually inspired. This is as far as the doctrine of probability permits them to go. They then admit that, in the vast field of speculation beyond, any man has the right to believe as the other forces of his mind and emotions direct.
One who reads this report will readily see that the men selected have not been students of theology, or of the history of the Christian religion, or of the Church and its dogmas; nor are they familiar with the history or significance of much of the language used in the Apostles’ Creed. Few, if any, of them have thought deeply on the subject of religion, and they have not concerned themselves greatly as to the supposed conflict between science and religion.
Their view, on the whole, was clear that science had little to add to or subtract from the fundamental base of religion. The area covered by and the approach to the study of science and religion, the methods of testing truth, and the weight to be attached to conclusions were quite different.
They would accept at once a proven scientific conclusion which negatived a prevailing religious belief, but they believe that science so far has trimmed away only the nonessentials from religion and is silent and will always be silent on the essentials. They have reached such conclusions as they hold by the same mental processes used by them in dealing with their daily problems: that is, through a frequently untraceable method of thought influenced by their own experience and guided to a decision by a feeling of probability. For the most part — lacking imagination, as men of ‘common sense’ most frequently do — they rejected mysticism, not scornfully, but as something alien to their experience.
They regret that they do not go to church. If they wish help on their way to find out something more about God, they admit that their best bet, if conditions were different, would be to turn to the Christian churches. They think, however, that as things now stand the churches fail to aid them very much.
These men see their God and their spiritual Christ at the top of a distant hill. They think they know the point at the foot of the hill at which their own pathways begin. They see the churches surrounding the foot of the hill with their walls guarding their own special pathways; they may even wish to enter, but they picture to themselves a priest, rector, or parson guarding the doorway through which they would like to pass.
They believe that they may be asked to subscribe in the most solemn form, not merely to their fundamental beliefs, but to additional beliefs concerning which they are at least uncertain and covering a number of subjects which they regard as unessential or irrelevant.
If one is scrupulous, he cannot do so. He may earnestly desire to indulge himself in the luxury of public worship, or obtain the rare comfort and strengthened resolution that follow the silent confession of sin within a holy place. Regular habits in these matters might make him a better man. If for this reason, or with a desire for instruction, or to comfort his wife or aid his children, he joins or continues in a church to whose beliefs he has solemnly subscribed with his tongue in his cheek, what kind of Christian have you?
One cannot avoid the idea that an organization which maintains a common place of worship, founded on the fewest and simplest possible principles (or no principles at all except a yearning after God), with fewer required beliefs, with the preacher free to confess his own doubts, might attract the active interest of this type of man and prepare a rich harvest from which the established churches might later draw. Huxley suggested, I think, that a church founded on somewhat similar principles might well become an established church and no one would ever seek its disestablishment.
One may say that the above doctrine points to the Congregational or the Unitarian Church, but my men think — perhaps wrongly — that these churches have a tendency to deny where the others assert, and that at least one of them is headed toward a confession of faith — probably ‘Three persons and no God.’
But it is not my intention to commend or criticize the churches; my sole purpose has been to discover and interpret the point of view of a body of men who at least seem to be very well worth while. If any church is going to help them, the parson must know where to go to find them. Men of such sincerity, tolerance, and open-mindedness would listen with patience and interest to the empirical reasoner and even to the sound mystic.