Rev. J. Neville Figgis, Litt.D., of Mirfield, England, delivered the last of his series of lectures under the William Belden Noble Foundation, on "Civilization at the Cross-Roads," last evening. His subject was "The Christian Fact."
The instant we take one step in the direction of culture we are brought into contact with the Christian Church. It is interesting to watch the non-effectual struggles of those artists and writers who try to ignore the Christian religion in their efforts to express the best in human nature. Human culture, so far as it acquaints men with the best in the world, is bound up irresistibly with the Christian religion.
The evidence for any event is to be found in the results which it produces. The evidence for the supernatural events connected with Christ's life is found partly in the historical account and partly in the history of the Church since that time. If we once accept the supernatural events connected with the life of Christ, logic will carry us to the Church and creed. Deny the supernatural, and, although we may emphasize our devotion, we are on the inclined plane that leads to scientific fatalism.
This problem is one of total impressions. The question before us is to define the total impression of the life of Jesus on the world, and to express our relation to it. It is in this total view of things that the Christian religion appeals to mankind. It is essentially a religion for human beings, and we cannot seriously maintain that any religion will take the place of one which is so broadly human and universal.
The test of any religion or education is not what it teaches but what kind of men it produces, and in the type of character which the Christian Church produces and in the virtues it inculcates are found its greatest strength. All religious systems eventually end in mystery and an act of faith. Purely agnostic or rationalistic systems will not satisfy mankind. The Christian faith with its doctrine of love, if it does not solve the mysteries, leaves us more hopeful, and is more in sympathy with human life, than any other religion.