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Published Monthly by Funk & Wagnalls Company, 354-360 Fourth Avenue, New York.

(Adam W. Wagnalls, Pres.; Wilfred J. Funk, Vice-Pres.; Robert J. Cuddihy, Treas.; William Neisel, Sec'y.)




No. 4

[The editors have thought it would be profitable to our readers to obtain an estimate of Dr. Smyth's latest book from two points of views, theology and science. The following are the judgments of the two men, each recognized as an authority in his own department and both members of evangelical churches.]


THE chapters of this book which have a direct theological bearing are the last four on the fulfilment of personal life in Jesus Christ, the creative spirit of Christianity, the future personal life and personal realism. The work is characterized by several features which are symptomatic of the time. It allies itself with the presentday inclination to look at personal life from the biological rather than from the theological point of view. The meaning of life is disclosed in its genetic development of tendencies which gathering volume and significance are determinative of the future. The title aptly describes the aim as not dogmatic but interpretative. More attention is paid to facts than to assumptions. Instead of claiming as settled matters which are still subject to historical criticism, the author contents himself with a minimum of accepted data. As an instance of his method one may refer to his treatment of the virgin-birth and the miracles of Jesus. The virgin-birth story has its value not in an alleged mysterious and unrelated event but in its witness to the supernal meaning of Christ's person to those who would match his exceptional life with a beginning no less exceptional. Yet even here the essential thing is his sharing fully the inheritance of our nature, even if from the very beginning he was sub

ject to an unusual impartation of the Holy Spirit. The question of miracles as such is left at one side; in the healing ministry of Jesus there is disclosed a superior psychic force in the physical realm in which the dynamic of personal life appeared in its highest degree. Jesus is thus revealed as the supreme person in those principal ways-his transcendent ideational energy, as in his consciousness of God and of the kingdom of God, in his will as reflecting the will of God, and in his feeling, in which, quite in accord with the author's genius, appears the most illuminating revelation of personality.

The Christian consciousness is defined as a continued creation of the spirit of Christ as this is evident in the "collective mind of his disciples, enlarged by the history of Christian thought, enriched with the experience of believers of every age, and illumined with the knowledge of God which increases with the years."

The longest chapter-seventy-seven pages-is devoted to a consideration of the future personal life. Here Dr. Smyth finds four strands of our present existence which must be conceived of as constitutive factors of the hereafter an integrating power of memory, a self-identifying activity in consciousness, responsiveness to an external universe, and a will to live. Rising above purely natural grounds

1 The Meaning of Personal Life. By Newman Smyth. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. 84 x 5 inches, xi-363 pages, $2 net.

for belief in a future life, based on survival value and the possible continuance of life, he inquires whether such a life carries us on toward a goal which has already been ours here. Indications of such a tendency appear in Jesus's singular power of controlling physical forces, and particularly in the conviction of the first disciples that Jesus continued to live and to manifest himself after death. The positions thus won are reenforced by the moral and spiritual values which are inseparable from the inner personal life.

Until the final chapter we come upon no reference to a theory of knowledge or to a particular philosophy, or theology. Not that these are not involved in this discussion and may not be invoked in defense of the positions advocated, but they have been kept in abeyance, since the search is not for proof but for the meaning of reality. Now, however, the author presents his doctrine of reality and bases his world-view on personal idealism which he differentiates from various types of idealism and the new realism.

With reference to the Christian belief in God Dr. Smyth offers three suggestions. First, our conviction of the divine existence is not a conclusion from a process of reasoning, as in the so-called theistic proofs, but is derived from personal experience which seeks an interpretation of that experience in rational form. Secondly, the personality of God is the conception of what is central and essential in our own life carried to its supreme degree of fulness. Thirdly, we may expect to know more of God through enlarging scientific interpretations of the world, the making of history, the development of man's higher life, and through men specially gifted with spiritual insight and expression. A plea is thus entered for a new natural theology not indeed in the old lines

but out of material furnished by increasing scientific apprehension of the world.

From what has been said, it is evident that Dr. Smyth traverses a field which is alive with intense human interest. If the trained theologian finds little in the discussion that is new, and if he would here and there qualify a statement, yet by reason of its scientific temper, its Catholic spirit, its reverent handling of the most sacred contents of our Christian faith, and not least of all its palpitating literary style, he will wish for this book many readers to whom it will bring light and perhaps life.


Of all the men who have studied the problems of the human spirit in the light of modern science, and have given popular expression to conclusions that are vitally constructive in this age of changing faiths, Dr. Smyth is easily one of the leaders. Always open-minded, always illuminating, he wins alike by his broad intelligence and his sympathy. Of the group of men of which Henry Drummond was perhaps the greatest, the author of the present volume has continued well-nigh the longest his mission, which is, in the highest sense, prophetic.

The present volume is the most comprehensive, in purpose, of the author's list of some eight volumes, published by the Scribners. All science, all religion, all philosophy has its significance in the last analysis, in the meaning of personal life. The concept of life is the most comprehensive in the categories of universal phenomena, and when life becomes personal, whether in its long evolutionary history or in the growth of the human consciousness that contemplates it, the meaning of creation is disclosed, if such disclosure is possible at all. In Dr. Smyth's own words:

"Life brings to us daily questionings concerning the meaning of things; but the one question running through them all is: What do we mean to ourselves? The supreme problem of the world for us is: What is the ultimate meaning of the personal life?"

That this meaning is to be sought in the most comprehensive survey of facts is indicated in the very table of contents: The Earliest Signs of Meaning, Beginnings of Mind in Nature, Personal Dynamics, The Relation of Body and Mind, Development of Personality, Personal Individuality, The Fulfilment of Personal Life in Jesus Christ, The Creative Spirit of Christianity, The Future Personal Life, and Personal Realism. Here is a range of themes that arrests the attention of scientific students of personality, as well as that of the practical religious worker engaged in his attempts to train the human personality according to this, that, or the other criterion of religious values.

Dr. Smyth's aim, already suggested in the table of contents, is more specifically stated in these words:

"In the light of new knowledge of nature we are to seek anew to know ourselves. We are facts of nature amid other facts of nature, having our being in the one whole of existence, coming to ourselves in the relations of all the elements and influences that make the universe what it is. Our consciousness of being is set in the mold of nature, and modern science will have us interpret ourselves from the nature side. Such is the end to be pursued in the following pages. Our quest is to seek what natural signs, if any, of an ultimate meaning and worth of personal life may be discerned."

The aim thus clearly and frankly stated is to be realized through a method equally open-minded and fearless:

"The method to be followed is simple and easy to state, tho difficult to pursue; it is to accept every scientifically ascertained fact, and to ask of each in succession: Toward what does it point? Not what, taken by itself, does it prove? but what beyond itself, may it signify ?"

With such an aim and such a method a man may hopefully face the facts of human existence in the light of our wonderful age of scientific research. and discovery.

And what are the conclusions to be expected? Dr. Smyth's answers to this question are summarized in his final chapter on Personal Realism. These conclusions may thus be epitomized:

1. "Reality is existence independent of our idea of it. The idea of reality is itself subjection, a mental object presented in consciousness. But the idea is about existence that is not made by, nor does it cease with, our consciousness of it."

energy. 2. "Reality is experienced as The self as an object of our thought is immediately presented in the mind as active being, as an existent power of action." be known. It exists for the knowers. It is

3. "Reality is existence as something to

out there in space for any passerby to see it. It passes by us as a succession in time for us to be aware of. In this sense our experience of reality is rightly said to be also a social act. It has real meaning to ourselves as we find it to have similar meaning to others."

4. "Reality is existence as a whole. There is one reality, or there is nothing. We do not know it by fractions of it if it were not an integer to be known in part by finite intelligence. The unity of the whole of being is given in our immediate experience of the unity of our personal being."

5. "Reality is existence as having worth. Something is, and it is for something. Reality as a whole has value; it is good that it is. All beings have some value in their relations to all others. The relative value of each is given in the supreme good of the whole. This character of worth, like the other qualities of existence, is assured in Our partial individual experience of the worth of being. Persons live for some end, and they are something to one another. They are, as Kant would insist, ends in themselves. As such our social philosophy will add, they may also be means to one another. But their value as mutual means of life can not rise above its fountain in their worth as ends in themselves, and that in term is their participation in the worth of all being in general-in the goodness of the One Source and Unity of all beings."

As to the possibility of knowing this "One source and unity of all beings" and consciously adjusting our lives to him, the author has this to say:

1. "Man may know more of God as the sciences shall discover more and more the ruling ideas in the order of nature. Little by little, part by part, natural science is putting us in possession of the working plans of the universe."

2. "God may be better known through the making of history. The world we live in is not finished; all the known universe is still in the making."

3. "God may become more truly known through the further development of man's higher nature. That may become more spiritually receptive. This is true of the individual; his mind may gain more capacity of spiritual discernment; as his heart becomes more pure he may more clearly see God."

4. "Furthermore, at needed times and for epoch-making seasons, God may give to the world men chosen from their birth and called to be bearers of his purposes and revealers of his meanings to their fellow men. Such were the prophets of old; such have

been men of rare spiritual genius; such shall be in the coming years the chosen teachers, poets, and prophets in the divine education of the race."

Dr. Smyth's book thus presents the universal postulates of human personality; the means of achieving a selfconscious personality in individual life; the ways in which God, the final source of Good, may be increasingly known; and the aim, the method, and the means through which religious institutions may bring men, in general, into possession of personalities that shall appropriate the personal attributes of Christ. It is a work at once philosophical, and, in the highest degree, educational.


Professor GEORGE WARREN RICHARDS, D.D., Lancaster, Pa.

BORN about fifteen years before Luther or Zwingli (i.e., October 27, 1466), Erasmus played the part of reformer long before the one attacked the sale of indulgences or the other preached against the worship of the Virgin and the saints. He agreed with them in his purpose to purify the Church of errors and abuses and to restore the simple Christianity of the apostles; but he differed from them in his conception of the gospel and in his method of reform. For a time, therefore, he was in friendly correspondence with both Luther and Zwingli; but after the outbreak of the Peasants' War, the rise of the Anabaptists, and the violent attacks of Luther on pope and prince, Erasmus turned against them. He then considered their work an injury to good morals as well as to good letters.

Erasmus was a critic, a satirist, and a scholarly humanist, regarded on both sides of the Alps as easily the literary chief of Europe. In his biting satires and his stinging sarcasms he spared neither Church nor State. He

pays his respects to kings and to princes in the Adages, saying: "Scarcely in several generations will you find one or two princes whose folly has not inflicted the greatest misery on mankind.".. "Princes must be endured lest tyranny should. give way to anarchy, and still greater evil." He had not discovered the happy medium of democracy, however much he chafed under the tyranny of monarchs. The pacifists of to-day will be gratified to hear him say: "The justest war can hardly approve itself to any reasonable person. . . . The people build cities and the princes destroy them. Even victory brings men more ill than good.”

In the Praise of Folly he attacks both pope and cardinal. "If the cardinals claim to be successors to the apostles, they should consider that the same things are required of them as their predecessors. So if the popes, being vicars of Christ, endeavored to emulate his life, his labors, his teachings, his cross, his contempt of the world, what more afflicted beings

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