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HEREDITARY DISEASE

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brain which translates, is the miracle which no artisan can imitate.

Browning makes the Creator address the creature in a beautiful passage in Ferishtah's Fancies1 in the following terms

"Wherefore did I contrive for thee that ear
Hungry for music, and direct thine eye
To where I hold a seven-stringed instrument,
Unless I meant thee to beseech me play?"

The poet refers first to the organ of Corti, in the internal ear, which contains some three thousand arches, its keys ranged like those of a piano, aptly described "as hungry for music." The seven-stringed instrument is the light and the seven colours of the spectrum, which, falling upon the retina, are translated into sight and colour impressions by the optic nerve and the brain centres. Browning did not despise these marvellous works of the Creator like a materialist scientist, whose field of vision is limited by the walls of his laboratory; with a true poet's instinct he saw what the physiologist failed to see-from too much light perhaps.

Hereditary transmission of disease is another charge which the Atheist brings against God; but heredity works both ways, and on the whole immensely for the progress of the race. If the parent could transmit no store of health, vigour, and virtue to his child, the world could make no 1 "Two Camels."

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MAN NOT AN AUTOMATON

greater progress than that of the individual; every child would have to begin life, civilization, and education for himself; as it is, we for the most part start with the funded property of the race behind us; and if now and then we start bankrupt or weighted with a load of debt, the law may appear to work cruelly in such cases; but on the whole it is a merciful and beneficial law.

The Creator could not make all His creatures perfectly happy at all times and under all circumstances consistently with His plan of probation in this life for moral beings. He could have made them automata, and endowed them with happiness; but consistently with the process of educating the moral nature, it is impossible to see how perfect happiness in this life could be always assured. Because the moral order seems to represent a perfectly wise, just, loving, and omnipotent God very imperfectly, it is concluded that the Supreme Being must be defective in one or other of these qualities.

But this, as Browning in a hundred places shows, does not follow. It is our partial vision, our imperfect understanding of His ways, and our defective philosophy which lead to such a conclusion. Evil, sin, pain, and sorrow are mysteries, but the poet shows that they are not inconsistent with the reign of a loving, an allwise and omnipotent God. A distinguished

GOD'S WITNESS IN OUR HEARTS

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theologian has admirably stated the case in the following questions

"Had God been an unrighteous Being Himself, would He have given to the obviously superior faculty in man so distinct and authoritative a voice on the side of righteousness? Would He have so constructed the creatures of our species as to have planted in every breast a reclaiming witness against Himself? Would He have thus inscribed on the tablet of every heart the sentence of His own condemnation ? And is this not just as likely, as that He should have inscribed it in written characters on the forehead of each individual? Would He. so have fashioned the workmanship of His own hands? or, if a God of cruelty, injustice, and falsehood, would He have placed in the station of master and judge that faculty which, felt to be the highest in our nature, would prompt a generous and high-minded revolt of all our sentiments against the Being who formed us? From a God possessed of such characteristics, we should surely have expected a differentlymoulded humanity; or, in other words, from the actual constitution of man, from the testimonies on the side of all righteousness, given by the vicegerent within the heart, do we infer the righteousness of the Sovereign who placed it there.”1

1

Dr. Chalmers' Natural Theology, vol. i., pp. 323-4.

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SAVAGES DID NOT EVOLVE GOD

Is such a conception of Supreme Righteousness as this merely an invention of priests to subserve their own purposes of keeping mankind in awe of their supposed power with the Divinity? Could it have arisen out of an awe of the powers of nature, or wonder at the phenomena of the elements? Did savage man evolve from his inner consciousness such a conception of Justice and Truth answering to his own innate love for these characteristics? Mr. Huxley somewhere says that "men make their gods after their own likeness, in their own image make they them." Then if the God of Christians has been evolved from the noblest conceptions of the noblest men, He cannot be a God of cruelty such as Mr. Mill postulates; unless indeed He be defective in the attributes most esteemed by His creature man, and then He is inferior to him, which is absurd.

"The primitive idea of God, as developed in the Psalms and Book of Job," says Herder, "is that of a House-Father-a Being always at work, who keeps everything going by daily continual interlocution. He is the Father of the dew, giving snow like wool, and scattering the hoarfrost like ashes. He is one who takes all creatures under His individual superintendence. His mercies are over all His works. Nothing is too small for God's care, nothing too feeble. . . . He hears the young, ungainly ravens who call upon

IS BROWNING'S A PERSONAL GOD? 33

Him.

He helps the wild-goat in the time of her solitary, painful travail. To Him there is nothing that is savage, dumb, despised. The lions, roaming after their prey, seek their meat from Him. Of the wild ass it is said-' God has made his home in the wilderness, and the barren land his dwelling.' The hawk flies through His wisdom; through Him the eagle makes his nest on high. Even the great deep, the abode of monsters, is His; He loves the hateful crocodile. Behemoth is the chief of his ways, i. e. His excellent masterpiece."

The God of Christianity is a Personal God. As Dr. Martineau puts the matter, we worship "a Divine Mind and Will, ruling the universe, and holding moral relations with mankind." Did Browning hold the doctrine of a personal God? It has been held by students of the poet that the tenor of his teaching is inconsistent with the idea of personality in the Supreme Being in any meaning of the word "personal" that is intelligible to us. Mr. Bury, in an essay entitled Browning's Philosophy, says, "God is not limited by time, nor by space-compare The Ring and the Book: The Pope,' 1. 1317,

'There (which is nowhere, speech must babble thus !), In the absolute immensity,'

and thus personality applied to Him in our sense has no meaning: personal is a completely

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