It may be worth while to pause a little longer upon the psychological test of the Christian religion. For in this psychological test are involved, in a kind of concrete way, all the other tests. And it can hardly fail to be suggestive to try to apply to the Christian view and life the test of the four great inferences of modern psychology, once before used to suggest the great common conditions of all the activities of our life: the complexity of life, the unity of the mind, the central importance of will and action, and the concreteness of the real.

Does Christianity, conceived as life, meet these tests? The recognition of the complexity of life on the part of Christianity seems to me to be clearly shown in the fact that Christianity is, in the first place, not ascetic. My own clear judgment is in entire agreement with that of Professor James Seth that Christ's conception cannot be regarded as truly ascetic, in the ordinary acceptance of that term.[1] Christ certainly neither lives nor thinks as an ascetic. His whole point of view is rather that of recognizing all life as coming from the Father, and all its goods to be rejoiced in as goods; though with distinct recognition that some are inferior to others, and that, if need be, the lower must be unhesitatingly sacrificed to the higher.

The similar refusal of the whole New Testament to draw any line of separation between the sacred and the secular, is another proof of Christianity's recognition of the complexity of life. Christianity's knitting up of the human and the divine, too, is itself an assertion of the same fact. The Christian view is no gnosticism. God is for it the source of all. And it is the same God, that made the world and man, who reveals himself in Christ. The very assertion of the incarnation, and the conception of duty as the will of God, of love as the first and great commandment, and of God himself as love and personal, are all so many separate assertions of the complexity and interrelatedness of all life. And in this growing psychological conviction of the complexity of life, of the interrelatedness of all, we are, thus, only returning to the standpoint of Christ and of the New Testament.

And so harmonious is the teaching of Jesus with the present psychological emphasis upon the unity of mind, that this may even be called one of the four fundamental principles and motives chiefly used by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. He appeals repeatedly to the principle of the unity of the spiritual life, insisting that it is impossible to fall below one's best at one point and be all that one ought to be at other points. And it is hardly too much to say that, in its recognition of the unity of the mind, the Christian conception fulfils most completely both the intellectual and the emotional conditions of rational living.

On the intellectual side, it gives the most needed helps, and is able to face the most dangerous hindrances.

While it makes no attempt to answer all curious intellectual inquiries, it does give, in the great revelation in Christ, sufficient ground for faith. The history of the Christian world is itself the best proof that beyond any other influence, it has also brought men to full self-consciousness.

At the same time, as Romanes so suggestively says, it has left men free for all scientific inquiry. "One of the strongest pieces of objective evidence," he says, "in favor of Christianity . . . . is the absence from the biography of Christ of any doctrine which the subsequent growth of human knowledge—whether in natural science, ethics, political economy, or elsewhere—has had to discount. This negative argument is really almost as strong as is the positive one from what Christ did teach. For, when we consider what a large number of sayings are recorded of—or at least attributed to—him, it becomes most remarkable that in literal truth there is no reason why any of his words should ever pass away in the sense of becoming obsolete. 'Not even now could it be easy,' says John Stuart Mill, 'even for an unbeliever, to find a better translation of the rule of virtue from the abstract into the concrete, than to endeavor so to live that Christ would approve our life.' Contrast Jesus Christ in this respect with other thinkers of like antiquity. Even Plato, who though some four hundred years before Christ in point of time, was greatly in advance of him in respect of philosophic thought—not only because Athens then presented the extraordinary phenomenon which it did of genius in all directions never since equalled, but also because he, following Socrates, was, so to speak, the greatest representative of human reason in the direction of spirituality—even Plato, I say, is nowhere in this respect as compared with Christ. Read the dialogues, and see how enormous is the contrast with the Gospels in respect of errors of all kinds—reaching even to absurdity in respect to reason and to sayings shocking to the moral sense. Yet this is confessedly the highest level of human reason on the lines of spirituality, when unaided by alleged revelation."

And the contribution which Christianity makes even on the intellectual side, in that it gives a clear, definite, ethical ideal in Christ, is quite inestimable. The intellectual stimulus of such an ideal, to say nothing of its moral value, is beyond computation.

And when one thinks of the chief intellectual hindrances in true living—over-sophistication, making insights take the place of doing, and intellectual vagueness—it can hardly be doubted that Christianity is peculiarly adapted to meet them. In its firm hold, through Christ, on great convictions and ideals, it has no room for sophistication; and its predominant moral interest and insistent ethical demand definitely shut out those who hear and do not. At the same time, both the definiteness of Christ's ethical ideals and his conception of all moral demands as the will of a loving Father, stand opposed to the greatest dangers of intellectual vagueness.

In the same way, too, the example and the teaching of Christ point to the best and most normal emotional conditions. If we really believe the teaching of Jesus, there is already open to us the most ideal emotional conditions for the highest living. It cannot fail to give what psychology recognizes as the stimulating effect of joyful emotions. It is truly a religion of good tidings. With its trust in a loving Father and its conception of all duty as his will, its view of life as training, and its assurance of the immortal hope, it brings to men all of good that a religion can well be conceived to bring.

Putting men, as it does, face to face with an incomparable literary and personal expression of the greatest truths and motives, it calls out in men, too, in the profoundest way, the needed sober and strenuous moods for the highest willing. Christianity is equally decisive in setting aside all strained and sham and passive emotions. Neither in Christ's example nor in his teaching is stress anywhere laid on feeling. It is rather taken as an incidental result of true living. And in its powerful and combined appeal to reason and conscience and will, it gives power to suspend action in the face of strong emotion. Christianity never allows the right of simple feeling to rule.

Just because it is profoundly ethical, Christianity cannot fail to recognize, with modern psychology, the enormous place of will in life.

It is only in that ethical living that takes place in personal relations, that the whole will is called out. And in this stimulating and strengthening of the will, Christianity has at the same time, in accordance with this psychological emphasis, strengthened and deepened all the life of men. It has made men capable of being more, of counting more, of enjoying more. So, too, psychology's recognition of the fundamental nature of self-control may be regarded as distinctively Christian. Indeed, Christ's great, fundamental, all-inclusive law of losing the life to save the life is only the highest expression of self-control. And Christianity's ethical demand, once more, calls for self-control so constantly that its attitude has even been mistaken for that of asceticism. Moreover, the self-control which Christianity enjoins and makes possible is not merely negative, but thoroughly positive, as psychology demands that it should be.

And Christianity meets in an even deeper way the insistence of psychology on the central importance of will and action, by the thoroughgoing fashion in which it makes the objective mood—the mood of activity and of work—the normal mood of man. In a degree true of no other influence, it has proved able to take men out of themselves, in its absorption of them in the great work of a great cause, and in the great love of a great Saviour. In this very way it not only fulfils for men a chief condition of character and happiness and influence, but it brings to them a chief means of all three, in work which can be the fullest expression of man's best self; work that men can think of as God-given, and, because service both to God and to men, as of abiding worth. Christianity calls men even to the sharing of Christ's own vicarious and redemptive work.

And finally, Christianity exemplifies not less fully psychology's fourth fundamental insistence on the concreteness of the real, in its preeminent respect for the person—the greatest condition of character and happiness and influence, and in its preeminent use of personal association—the greatest means to character and happiness and influence. For the assertion of the concreteness of the real is finally the insistence upon the personal in the whole of its range. Now, on the one hand, respect for the person lies so deeply imbedded in the very spirit of Christianity, that one cannot fail to see it in the entire conduct and teaching of Jesus. One cannot fail to regard it, according to the Christian conception, as even the fundamental principle of God in his treatment of men; and he cannot doubt, as Lotze and Wundt have both borne testimony, that to Christianity it is due that this respect for man as man has come into the world. On the other hand, the very fact that Christianity points not to a redeeming doctrine, but to a redeeming person, . and professes to open to men a constant, intimate, and unobtrusive relation of the personal Spirit of God with their spirits, shows how firmly imbedded in the Christian teaching is the thought of the supreme importance of personal association.

With even so rapid and imperfect an attempt to apply to Christianity the tests of modern psychology, one can hardly fail to see that here at least the Christian view is indubitably connected with one of the realest trends of our own time, and meets with convincing satisfaction all the tests involved in the dominant elements of this trend.

[1] Rational Living, pp. 93-102; cf. James Seth: "On certain Alleged Defects in Christian Morality," Hibbert Journal, October, 1907.