The book now before the reader deals with the religious phenomenon, studied as an inner fact, in the earlier stages of religion. By 'the Idea of God' may be meant either the consciousness which individuals have of higher powers, with which they feel themselves to be related, or the words in which they, or others, seek to express that consciousness.
er for purposes which the common consciousness condemns, tolerates or approves. The power which such a person exerts is power personal to him; and yet it is in a way a power greater and other than himself, for he has it not always under his control or command: whether he uses it for the benefit of the community or for the injury of some individual, he cannot count on its always coming off. And this fact is not without its influence and consequences. If he is endeavouring to use it for the injury of some person, he will explain his failure as due to some error he has committed in the modus operandi, or to the counter-operations of some rival. But if he is endeavouring to exercise it for the benefit of the community, failure makes others doubtful whether he has the power to act on behalf of the community; while, on the contrary, a successful issue makes it clear that he has the power, and places him, in the opinion both of the community and of himself, in an exceptional position: his power is indeed in