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age is confronted by is an altogether unanswered one; and that the closest seeming parallels to be found amongst other times and races, have far less really of parallelism in them than of contrast. The path of thought, as it were, has taken a sudden turn round a mountain; and our bewildered eyes are staring on an undreamed-of prospect. The leaders of progress thus far have greeted the sight with acclamation, and have confidently declared that we are looking on the promised land. But to the more thoughtful, and to the less impulsive, it is plain that a mist hangs over it, and that we have no right to be sure whether it is the promised land or no. They see grave reasons for making a closer scrutiny, and for asking if, when the mist lifts, what we see will be not splendour, but desolation. Such, in brief outline, is the question we are to deal with. We will now go on to approach it in a more detailed way. FOOTNOTES: [1] Vide Sophocles, _OEdipus Coloneus_. [2] Professor Clifford, whose study of history leads him to regard Catholicism as nothing more than an 'episode' in the history of Western progress. [3] Mr. Frederic Harrison. [4] Mr. Froude, _History of England_, chap. i. [5] Wordsworth. [6] Quoted by Dr. Tyndall from Professor Blackie. [7] George Eliot. CHAPTER II. THE PRIZE OF LIFE. '_The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hid in a field._' Having thus seen broadly what is meant by that claim for life that we are about to analyse, we must now examine it more minutely, as made by the positive school themselves. This will at once make evident one important point. The worth in question is closely bound up with what we call _morality_. In this respect our deniers of the supernatural claim to be on as firm a footing as the believers in it. They will not admit that the earnestness of life is lessened for them; or that they have opened any door either to levity or to licentiousness. It is true indeed that it is allowed occasionally that the loss of a faith in God, and of the life in a future, may, under certain circumstances, be a real loss to us. Others again contend that this loss is a gain. Such views as these, however, are not much to the purpose. For those even, according to whom life has lost most in this way, do not consider the loss a very important, still less a fatal one. The _good_ is still to be an aim for us, and our devotion to it will be more valuable because
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