PHILIP HENRY WICKSTEED MA (London), Litt.D (Leeds and Manchester).
Born 25 October, 1844. Died 18 March 1927.
|PHILIP HENRY WICKSTEED was born October 25, 1844, at Leeds. He was educated at Ruthin Grammar School and London University College School and College and received his training for the ministry at Manchester New College. He was minister at Taunton (1867), Dukinfield (1870) and Little Portland Street Chapel, London (1874-97).|
|At Dukinfield he began his translation from the Dutch, “The Bible for Young People.” During his London ministry he translated The Hibbert Lectures of Kuenen (1882), Reville (1884), and d’Alviella (1891) and Kuenen~s “Hexateuch.” His own Hibbert Lectures on “The Reactions between Dogma and Philosophy illustrated from the works of St. Thomas Aquinas” (1916) are among the most valuable of the series and the most important of his works. With Dr. Carpenter he collaborated in “Studies in Theology,” which contains the best of the shorter theological treatises of each.|
|Theology was but one of many studies in which he was a profound scholar. Political Economy early attracted him. and he produced several pamphlets, the little book, “Alphabet of Economic Science,” and the larger “Common Sense of Political Economy.” He had the honour of being Chairman of the Economic Section of the British Association. He lectured and wrote widely on the subject, and also on the Greek Drama, Wordsworth and Ibsen. But he was best known as a lecturer and writer on Dante, to the exposition of whose works he brought wealth of mediaeval learning and rare knowledge of Italian. He translated and annotated the “Paradiso,” the “Convivio.” and part of the Latin Works in the Temple Chssics. He published in 1897 “Dante: Six Sermons,” a useful introduction, and in 1922 “From Vita Nuova to Paradiso,” a comprehensive and concise survey. His University Extension lectures over many years were of an uncommon order, and were the beginning of serious literary work by many of his students.|
|He had intimate knowledge of many languages, and no little acquaintance with the Romantic dialects. He was a student of amazing concentration and penetration. Great scholar as he was, his full and rare personality was revealed in his passionate moral sense. He was seen at his highest in his advocacy of moral movements: speaking on such matters as national righteousness, temperance, and anti-vivisection, he confirmed the clean logic of his argument with the intensest spiritual fervour, expressed in vibrating accents and the most contagious animation of countenance.|
|It may safely be said of him that he had one of the finest intellects, and was one of the most profound and lovable teachers of his day.|
|Love of the absent or unpossessed is desire; love of the possessed or present is joy. . . The only way in which God can be possessed is by being known. . . Just as in proportion we know God, we possess and enjoy the supreme object of love.|
|Christian belief and feeling are summed up in the sense of God’s fatherhood, carrying with it the sense of the infinite dignity of human nature, the infinite worth of every human soul. To my mind this is the sum of Christian doctrine, and the Christian principle of life is simply to embody that doctrine by living as sons of God ourselves, and treating each other as sons of God.|
|Communion with God, with man, and with nature, this is life. All else is but a means of life. It is here, in this true life, that there opens out the infinite prospect for which human nature craves, It is here that that divine discontent and unsatisfied longing which belongs to us as children of God finds its true mission. The depths of communion with God, with nature, and with man can never be sounded to the bottom, and humanity will never rest ingloriously in that which is attained, or cease from its Ulysses-yearning for the yet untraversed oceans of life.|
|The religion of the priests has always had too much of prohibition in it, and the religion of the prophets has always been a Gospel - the announcement of glad tidings of great ioy, of glorious possibilities and glorious realities.|
|There is nothing that I can see in the vital movements of thought today which points to even a temporary triumph of merely materialistic explanations of consciousness. The sense of an eternal element in man, nay, the mystic sense of union with the Eternal Spirit, seems to be not only secure from disturbance, but secure of support, from the tendencies of contemporary thought.|
|The physical and spiritual natures of man are mutually interdependent and the attempt to secure real and permanent advance in material well-being without reference to the spiritual nature is as vain and futile as the attempt to build up the spiritual and intellectual life of man in ignorance and defiance of the laws of his physical being.|
|Evil can no longer be regarded as a permanent thing; or of our optimism cannot rise to so bold an assertion, at any rate we will prescribe no limit to the possible amelioration of the lot of man by material advance, by intellectual achievement, and by the resultant improvement in methods of education and of social organisation. If we are forced to admit that in some mysterious sense it is the will of God that evil should be, we proclaim with deepest conviction that it is also his will that evil should cease to be, and cease to be through our own effort.|
|Goodness and love are the key to Life, the appointed means to external and internal harmony. In them God at once reveals the means by which his purpose shall be accomplished, and summons us to be his conscious instruments in accomplishing it.|
|Every man who, having the power to surround himself with material splendour and luxury, and to escape from all painful toil, prefers not to do this, but still finds his happiness in a simple life, and his inexorable duty in a useful one - every such man testifies not only (perhaps not at all) with his lips, but in his life to his belief in the gospel.|
|Every day and every hour each one of us is virtually destroying something; and as soon as we begin to look at our lives and our doings in their social rather than their individual bearings, one of the first questions that is likely to occur to us is this “While I am daily and hourly destroying so much, am I making anything.”|
|Trade declares that Christianity is not practical, and warns it off its premises, and if the principles of trade at present recognised are its true and ultimate principles, I think we shall have to admit, with whatever sorrow, that the Christian principle of life cannot be applied to the conduct of business. But, on the other hand, it may turn out, on examination, that the principles of trade now acknowledged, do not belong to the essence of trade itself, and that if they were superseded by principles deduced from the central ideas of Christianity, the social purposes of trade would be accomplished only the more smoothly and completely, and that here, too, Christianity would vindicate itself as the practical force which alone can, and will, make the machinery of the world work.|
|The cause of morality is one; and he who is helping any moral cause is thereby helping all moral causes.|
Anon. using Wicksteed, P.H. (n.d.), Eminent Unitarian Teachers 19: Wicksteed, London: Lindsey Press.
Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful