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467

LECTURE 9 NOTE A.—P. 325.

RENAN’S ESCHATOLOGY.

Hartmann’s theory of cosmic suicide by the concurrent decision or the race is bizarre enough, but it is outdone by the extraordinary eschatology sketched by M. Renan in his Dialogues et Fragments Philosophiques, which, apparently, though he heads the section “Dreams,” it is not his intention that we should take otherwise than seriously. It is a curious further illustration of how every. theorist feels the need of some kind of eschatology, as well as of the lengths to which credulity will go in minds that deem themselves too wise to accept Revelation. In Renan’s view, the great business in which the universe is engaged is that of organising God.913913This is not among the “Dreams,” but among the “Probabilities” (pp. 78, 79). God as yet only exists in ideal; the time will come when He will be materially realised in a consciousness analogous to that of humanity, only infinitely superior (p. 78) The universe will culminate in a single conscious centre, in which the conception of personal Monotheism will become a truth. An omniscient, omnipotent being will be the last term of the God-making evolution (l’evolution deifique); the universe will be consummated in a single organised being—the resultant of milliards of beings whose lives are summed up in his—the harmony, the sum-total of the universe (pp. . 125, 126). The climax of absurdity is reached in the notion the personal deity thus realised proceeds, now that he has come into existence, to raise the dead and hold a general judgment! M. Renan may be allowed here to speak for himself—“Yes, I conceive the possibility of the resurrection, and often say to myself with Job, Reposita est haec spes in sinu meo. If ever at the end of the successive evolutions the universe is led back to a single, absolute being, this being will be the complete life of all; he will renew in himself the life of beings who have vanished, or, if you will, in his will revive all those who have ever been.—When God shall be at once perfect and all-powerful, that is to say, when scientific omnipotence shall be concentrated in the hands of a good and just being, this being will wish to resuscitate the past in order to repair 468its innumerable injustices. God will exist more and more; the more he exists, the more just he will be.—He will attain to this fully on the day when whoever has wrought for the divine work shall feel that the divine work is finished, and shall see the part he has had in it. Then the eternal inequality of beings shall be sealed for ever,” etc. (pp. 435, 436). Comment on such “dreams” is needless. Yet the spinning of such theories by a cultured intellect which has parted with its faith is not without its lessons.


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