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The remarks that have been made are not uncalled for in the present day. For, unfortunately, it is now easy to detect in many classes of minds a tendency to divorce Reason from Faith, or Faith from Reason; and to proclaim that "what God hath joined together" shall henceforth exist in alienation. We see this tendency manifested in relation both to natural theology and to revealed religion. The old conflict between the claims of these two guiding principles of man (in no age wholly suppressed) is visibly renewed in our day. In relation to Christianity especially, there are large classes amongst us who press the claims of faith so far, that it would become, if they had their will, an utterly unreasonable faith; some of whom do not scruple to speak slightingly of the evidences which substantiate Christianity; to decry and depreciate the study of them; to pronounce that study unnecessary; and even in many cases to insinuate their insufficiency. They are loud in the mean time in extolling a faith which. as Whately truly observes, is no whit better than the faith of a heathen; who has no other or better reason to offer for his religion than that his father told him it was true! But this plainly is not the intelligent faith which, as we have seen, is everywhere inculcated and applauded in the Scrip
As He "who spake as never man spake" is in all the children of dust towards the Father of pleased often to illustrate the conduct of the Fa- Spirits justifies a still more gloomy augury; inther of Spirits to his intelligent offspring by a asmuch as the difference between the knowledge reference to the conduct which flows from the of man and the ignorance of a child, absolutely relations of the human parent to his children, so vanishes, in comparison with that interval which the present subject admits of similar illustration. must ever subsist between the knowledge of the What God does with us in that process of moral | Eternal and the ignorance of man. education to which we have just adverted, is exactly what every wise parent endeavors to do with his children-though by methods, as we may well judge, proportionably less perfect. Man too instinctively, or by reflection, adapts himself to the nature of his children; and seeing that only so far as it is justly trained can they be happy, makes the harmonious and concurrent development of their reason and their faith his object; he, too, endeavors to teach them that without which they cannot be happy-obedience, but a reasonable obedience. He gives them, in his general procedure and conduct, sufficient proofs of his superior knowledge, superior wisdom, and unchanging love; and secure in the general effect of this, he leaves them to receive by faith many things which he cannot explain to them if he would, till they get older; many things which he can only partially explain; and many others which he might more perfectly explain, but will not, partly as a test of their docility, and partly to invite and necessitate the healthy and energetic exercise of their reason in finding out the explanation for themselves. Confiding in the same general effect of his procedure and conduct, he does not hesitate, when the foresight of their ultimate welfare justifies it, to draw still more largely on their faith, in acts of apparent harshness and severity. Time,tures; it is not that faith by which Christianity, he knows, will show, though perhaps not till his yearning heart has ceased to beat for their welfare, that all that he did, he did in love. He knows, too, that if his lessons are taken aright, and his children become the good and happy men he wishes them to be, they will say, as they visit his sepulchre, and recall with sorrow the once unappreciated love which animated him—and perhaps with a sorrow, deeper still, remember the tran-itate! sient resentments caused by a salutary severity: "He was indeed a friend; he corrected us not for his pleasure, but for our profit; and what we once thought was caprice or passion, we now know was love."
These analogies afford a true, though most imperfect, representation of the moral discipline to which Supreme Wisdom is subjecting us; and as we are accustomed to despair of any child with whom paternal experience and authority go for nothing, unless he can fully understand the intrinsic reasons for every special act of duty which that experience and authority dictate; as we are sure that he who has not learned to obey when young will never, when of age, know how to govern either himself or others; so a similar conduct what better than that no reason of the Hindoo or the Hottentot, that he believes what he is told, without any reason except that he is told it—is an injunction possible to be obeyed.
appealing in the midst of a multitude of such traditional religions, to palpable evidence addressed to men's senses and understandings, (in a way no other religion ever did.) everywhere destroyed the systems for which their votaries could only say that their fathers told them they were true. And yet this blind belief in such tradition, many advocates of Christianity would now enjoin us to im
It might have occurred to them, one would think, that, on their principles, Christianity never could have succeeded; for every mind must have been hopelessly preoccupied against all examination of its claims. It is, indeed, incomparably better that a man should be a sincere Christian even by an utterly unreasoning and passive faith, (if that be possible,) than no Christian at all; but at the best, such a man is a possessor of the truth only by accident; he ought to have, and if he be a sincere disciple of the truth, will seek,some more solid grounds for holding it. But it is but too obvious, we fear, that the disposition to enjoin this obsequious mood of mind is prompted by a strong desire to revive the ancient empire of priestcraft and the pretensions of ecclesiastical despotism; to secure readmission to the human mind of extravagant and preposterous claims, which their advocates are sadly conscious rest on no solid foundation. They feel that as reason is
not with them, it must be against them; and reason, therefore, they are determined to exclude.
these operate each in due proportion, then, and then only, can he be at rest. It may, indeed, tranBut the experience of the present "develop- scend any calculus of man to estimate exactly the ments" of Oxford teaching may serve to show us several elements in this complicated polygon of how infinitely perilous is this course; and how forces; but we are at least sure that, if any one fearfully both outraged reason and outraged faith principle be so developed as to supersede another, will avenge the wrongs done them by their alien- no safe equipoise will be attained. We all know ation and disjunction. Those results, indeed, we familiarly enough that this is the case when the predicted in 1813; before a single leader of the affections or the appetites are more powerful than Oxford school had gone over to Rome, and before the reason and the conscience, instead of being in any tendencies to the opposite extreme of scepti- subjection to them: but it is not less the case cism had manifested themselves. We then af- though the result is not so palpable, when reason firmed that, on the one hand, those who were con- and faith either exclude one another, or trench on tending for the corruptions of the fourth century each other's domain; when one is pampered and could not possibly find footing there, but must the other starved. Hence the perils attendant inevitably seek their ultimate resting place in upon their attempted separation, and the ruin Rome a prediction which has been too amply ful- which results from their actual alienation and filled; and that, on the other, the extravagant hostility. There is no depth of dreary superstipretensions put forth on behalf of an uninquiring tion, into which men may not sink in the one case, faith, and the desperate assertion that the "evi- and no extravagance of ignorant presumption to dence for Christianity" was no stronger than that which they may not soar in the other. It is only for "Church Principles," must, by reäction, by the mutual and alternate action of these differlead on to an outbreak of infidelity. That proph-ent forces that man can safely navigate his little ecy, too, has been to the letter accomplished. We bark through the narrow straits and by the danthen said: "We have seen it recently asserted, gerous rocks which impede his course; and if by some of the Oxford school, that there is as faith spread not the sail to the breeze, or if reason much reason for rejecting the most essential doc- desert the helm, we are in equal peril. trines of Christianity-nay Christianity itself-as for rejecting their church principles!' That, in short, we have as much reason for being infidels as for rejecting the doctrine of Apostolical succession ! What other effect such reasoning can have, than that of compelling men to believe that there is nothing between infidelity and popery, and of urging them to make a selection between the two, we know not. Indeed,
we fully expect that, as a reaction of the present extravagancies, of the revival of obsolete superstition, we shall have ere long to fight over again the battle with a modified form of infidelity, as now with a modified form of popery. Thus, probably, for some time to come, will the human mind continue to oscillate between the extremes of error; but with a diminished arc at each vibration; until truth shall at last prevail, and compel it to repose in the centre."*
The offensive displays of self-sufficiency and flippancy, of ignorance and presumption, found in the productions of the apostles of the new infidelity of Oxford, (of which we shall have a few words to say by-and-by) are the natural and instructive, though most painful, result of attempting to give predominance to one principle of our nature, where two or more are designed reciprocally to guard and check each other; and such results must ever follow such attempts. excellence of man-so complexly constituted is
his nature must consist in the harmonious action and proper balance of all the constituents of that nature; the equilibrium he sighs for must be the result of the combined action of forces operating in different directions; of his reason, his faith, his appetites, his affections, his emotions; when
* Oxford Tract School, Ed. Rev., April, 1843.
If it be said that this is a disconsolate and dreary doctrine; that man seeks and needs a simpler navigation than this troublesome and intricate course, by star and chart, compass and lead line; and that this responsibility, of ever
Sounding on his dim and perilous way, is too grave for so feeble a nature; we answer that such is his actual condition. This is a plain matter of fact which cannot be denied. The vari
ous principles of his constitution, and his position in relation to the external world, obviously and absolutely subject him to this very responsibility throughout his whole course in this life. It is never remitted or abated: resolves are necessitated upon imperfect evidence; and action imperawhich reason is not satisfied, and faith is required. tively demanded amidst doubts and difficulties in To argue, therefore, that God cannot have left
man to such uncertainty, is to argue, as the pertinacious lawyer did, who, on seeing a man in the stocks, asked him what he was there for; and on being told, said, "They cannot put you there for
But I am here," was the laconic an
The analogy, then, of man's whole condition in this life might lead us to expect the same system of procedure throughout; that the evidence which substantiates religious truth, and claims religious action, would involve this responsibility
as well as that which substantiates other kinds of
Oxford Tract School, who have by a fatal indulgence of It has been our lot to meet with disciples of the an appetite of belief, brought themselves to believe any mediaval miracle, nay, any ghost story, without exami lieve than to reason." They believe as they will to believe; nation, saying, with a solemn face, "It is better to beand thus is reason avenged. Reason, similarly indulged, believes, with Mr. Foxton and Mr. Froude, that a miracle is even an impossibility; and this is the "Nemesis" of faith.
In the mean time that arduous responsibility which attaches to man, and which is obviated neither by an implicit faith in a human infallibility, nor an exclusive reference of that faith to cases in which reason is synonymous with demonstration, that is, to cases which leave no room for it, is at once relieved, and effectually relieved, by the maxim-the key-stone of all ethical truththat only voluntary error condemns us;—that all we are really responsible for, is a faithful, honest, patient, investigation and weighing of evidence, as far as our abilities and opportunities admit, and a conscientious pursuit of what we honestly deem truth, wherever it may lead us. We concede that
truth, and demands other kinds of action. Andly struggles with objections and difficulties—is after all, what else, in either case, could answer impossible. Men may be said, in such case, to the purpose, if (as already said) this world be the know, but can hardly be said to believe. Before school of training of man's moral nature? How Columbus had seen America, he believed in its exelse could the discipline of his faculties, the existence; but when he had seen it his faith became ercise of patience, humility and fortitude, be knowledge. Equally impossible, and for the same secured? How, amidst a state of things less than reason, is any place for faith on the opposite hypothcertainty whether under the form of that passive esis; for if man is to believe nothing but what faith which mimics the possession of absolute cer- his reason can comprehend, and to act only upon tainty, or absolute certainty itself-could man's evidence which amounts to certainty, the same nature be trained to combined self-reliance and paradox is true; for when there is no reason to self-distrust, circumspection and resolution, and, doubt, there can be none to believe. Faith ever above all, to confidence in God? Man cannot be stands between conflicting probabilities; but her nursed and dandled into the manhood of his nature, position is (if we may use the metaphor) the centre by that unthinking faith which leaves no doubts to of gravity between them, and will be proportionbe felt, and no objections to be weighed; nor can ably nearer the greater mass. his docility ever be tested, if he is never called upon to believe anything which it would not be an absurdity and contradiction to deny. This species of responsibility, then, not only cannot be dispensed with, but is absolutely necessary; and consequently, however desirable it may appear that we should have furnished to us that short path to certainty which a pretended infallibility* promises to man, or that equally short path which leads to the same termination, by telling us that we are to believe nothing which we cannot demonstrate to be true, or which à priori, we may presume to be false, must be a path which leads astray. In the one case, how can the "reasonable service" which Scripture demands-the enlightened love and conscientious investigation of truth-its reception, not without doubts, but against doubts-how could all this coëxist with a faith which presents the whole sum of religion in the formulary, "I am to believe without a doubt, and perform without hesitation, whatever my guide, Parson A., tells me?" Not that, even in that case, (as has often been shown,) the man would be relieved from the necessity of absolutely depending on the dreaded exercise of his private judgment; for he must at least have exercised it once for all, (unless each man is to remit his religion wholly to the accident of his birth,) and that on two of the most arduous of all questions: first, which of several churches, pretending to infallibility, is truly infallible? and next, whether the man may infallibly regard his worthy Parson A. as an infallible expounder of that infallibility? But, supposing this stupendous difficulty surmounted, though then, it is true, all may seem genuine faith, in reality there is none where absolute infallibility is supposed to have been attained, (even though erroneously,) faith, in strict propriety-certainly that faith which is alone of any value as an instrument of men's moral training-which recognizes and intelligent
*See Archbishop Whately's admirable discourse, entitled "The Search after Infallibility, considered in reference to the Danger of Religious Errors arising within the Church, in the primitive as well as in all later Ages." He here makes excellent use of the fruitful principle of Butler's great work, by showing that, however desirable à priori, an infallible guide would seem to fallible man, God in fact, has everywhere denied it; and that in denying it in relation to religion, he has acted only as he always acts.
a really dispassionate and patient conduct in this respect is what man is too ready to assume he has practised-and this fallacy cannot be too sedulously guarded against. But that guilty liability to selfdeception, does not militate against the truth of the representation now made. It is his duty to see that he does not abuse the maxim-that he does not rashly acquiesce in any conclusion that he wishes to be true, or which he is too lazy to examine. If all possible diligence and honesty have been exerted in the search, the statement of Chillingworth, bold as it is, we should not hesitate to adopt, in all the vigor of his own language. It is to the effect, that if "in him alone there were a confluence of all the errors which have befallen the sincere professors of Christianity, he should not be so much afraid of them, as to ask God's pardon for them;" absolutely involuntary error being justly regarded by him as blameless.
On the other hand, we firmly believe, from the natural relations of truth with the constitution of the mind of man, that, with the exception of a very few cases of obliquity of intellect, which may safely be left to the merciful interpretations and apologies of Him who created such intellects, those who thus honestly and industriously "seek" shall “find ;”—not all truth, indeed, but enough to secure their safety; and that whatever remaining errors may infest and disfigure the truth they have attained, they shall not be imputed to them for sin. According to the image which apostolic eloquence has employed, the baser materials which unavoidable haste, prejudice, and ignorance may have incorporated with the gold of the edifice,
will be consumed by the fire which "will try every materially vary in their version, and though some man's work of what sort it is," but he himself will be saved amidst those purifying flames. Like the bark which contained the Apostle and the fortunes of the Gospel, the frail vessel may go to pieces on the rocks, but "by boat or plank" the voyager himself shall " get safe to shore."
It is amply sufficient, then, to lighten our responsibility, that we are answerable only for our honest endeavors to discover and to practise the truth; and, in fact, the responsibility is principally felt to be irksome, and, man is so prompt, by devices of his own, to release himself from it, not on account of any intrinsic difficulty which remains after the above limitations are admitted, but because he wishes to be exempted from that very necessity of patient and honest investigation. It is not so much the difficulty of finding, as the trouble of seeking the truth, from which he shrinks; a necessity, however, from which, as it is an essential instrument of his moral education and discipline, he can never be released.
If the previous representations be true, the conditions of that intelligent faith which God requires from his intelligent offspring, may be fairly inferred to be such as we have already stated;—that the evidence for the truths we are to believe shall be, first, such as our faculties are competent to appreciate, and against which, therefore, the mere negative argument arising from our ignorance of the true solution of such difficulties, as are, perhaps, insoluble because we are finite, can be no reply; and, secondly, such an amount of this evidence as shall fairly overbalance all the objections which we can appreciate. This is the condition to which God has obviously subjected us as inhabitants of this world; and it is on such evidence we are here perpetually acting. We now believe a thousand things we cannot fully comprehend. We may not see the intrinsic evidence of their truth, but their extrinsic evidence is sufficient to induce us unhesitatingly to believe, and to act upon them. When that evidence is sufficient in amount, we allow it to overbear all the individual difficulties and perplexities which hang round the truths to which it is applied, unless, indeed, such difficulties can be proved to involve absolute contradictions; for these, of course, no evidence can substantiate. For example, in a thousand cases, a certain combination of merely circumstantial evidence, in favor of a certain judicial decision, is familiarly allowed to vanquish all apparent discrepancy on particular and subordinate points;-the want of concurrence in the evidence of the witnesses on such points shall not cause a shadow of a doubt as to the conclusion. For we feel that it is far more improbable that the conclusion should be untrue, than that the difficulty we cannot solve is truly incapable of a solution; and when the evidence reaches this point the objection no longer troubles
of the circumstances alleged may be in appearance inexplicable. But the last thing a man would think of doing, in such cases, would be to neglect the preponderant evidence on account of the residuum of insoluble objections. He does not, in short, allow his ignorance to control his knowledge, nor the evidence which he has not got to destroy what he has; and the less so, that experience has taught him that in many cases such apparent difficulties have been cleared up, in the course of time, and by the progress of knowledge, and proved to be contradictions in appearance only.
It is the same with the conclusions of natural philosophy, when well proved by experiment, however unaccountable for awhile may be the discrepancy with apparently opposing phenomena. No one disbelieves the Copernican theory now; though thousands did for awhile, on what they believed the irrefragable evidence of their senses. Now let us only suppose the Copernican theory not to have been discovered by human reason, but made known by revelation, and its reception enjoined on faith, leaving the apparent inconsistency with the evidence of the senses just as it was. Thousands, no doubt, would have said, that no such evidence could justify them in disbelieving their own eyes, and that such an insoluble objection was sufficient to overturn the evidence. Yet we now see, in point of fact, that it is not only possible, but true, that the objection was apparent only, and admits of a complete solution. Thousands accordingly receive philosophy-this very philosophy-on testimony which apparently contradicts their senses, without even yet knowing more of it than if it were revealed from heaven. This gives too much reason to suspect, that in other and higher cases, the will has much to do with human scepticism. Nor do we well know what thousands who neglect religion on account of the alleged uncertainty of its evidence could reply, if God were to say to them, "And yet on such evidence, and that far inferior in degree, you have never hesitated to act, when your own temporal interests were concerned. You never feared to commit the bark of your worldly fortunes to that fluctuating element. In many cases you believed on the testimony of others what seemed even to contradict your own senses. Why were you so much more scrupulous in relation to ME?”
The above examples are fair illustrations, we venture to think, of the conditions under which we are required to believe the far higher truths, attended no doubt with great difficulties, which are authenticated in the pages of the two volumes (Nature and Scripture) which God has put into our hands to study; of the conditions to which He subjects us in training us for a future state, and developing in us the twofold perfection involved in the words " a reasonable faith." the considerations just urged were duly borne in It is the same with historic investigations. mind, we cannot help thinking that they would There are ten thousand facts in history which no afford (where any modesty remained) an answer one doubts, though the narrators of them may to most of those forms of unbelief which, from
time to time, rise up in the world, and not least | at as a fool, or pitied as insane. in our own day. These are usually founded on then, which substantiates the greatest and first of one or more supposed insoluble objections, arising | truths mainly depends on a principle perfectly familout of our ignorance. The probability that they iar and perfectly recognized. Man can estimate are incapable of solution is rashly assumed, and the nature of that evidence; and the amount of it, made to overbear the far stronger probability in this instance, he sees to be as vast as the sum arising from the positive and appreciable evidence of created objects;-nay, far more, for it is as which substantiates the truths involved in those vast as the sum of their relations. So that if difficulties; a course the more unreasonable inas- (as is apt to be the case) the difficulties of realizmuch as-first, many such difficulties might be ing this tremendous truth are in proportion to the expected; and secondly, in analogous cases, we see extent of knowledge and the powers of reflection, that many such difficulties have in time disappeared. the evidence we can perfectly appreciate is cumuOn the other hand it is, no doubt, much more lative in an equal or still higher proportion. Obvieasy to insist on individual objections, which no ous as are the marks of design in each individual man can effectually answer, than it is to appreci-object, the sum of proof is not merely the sum of ate at once the total effect of many lines of argu- such indications, but that sum infinitely multiplied ment, and many sources of evidence, all bearing on by the relations established and preserved amongst one point. That difficulty was long ago beauti-all these objects; by the adjustment which harmofully stated by Butler*, in a passage well worthy nizes them all into one system, and impresses on of the reader's perusal; and as Pascal had observed all parts of the universe a palpable order and before him, not only is it difficult, but impos- subordination. While even in a single part of sible, for the human mind to retain the impression of a large combination of evidence, even if it could for a moment fully realize the collective effect of the whole. But it cannot do even this, any more than the eye can take in at once, in mass and detail, the objects of an extensive landscape.
an organized being (as a hand or an eye) the traces of design are not to be mistaken, these are indefinitely multiplied by similar proofs of contrivance in the many individual organs of one such being -as of an entire animal or vegetable. These are yet to be multiplied by the harmonious relations which are established of mutual proportion and
Let us now be permitted briefly to apply the preceding principles to two of the greatest contro-subserviency amongst all the organs of any one versies which have exercised the minds of men; such being and as many beings even of that one that which relates to the existence of God, and that species or class as there are, so many multiples which relates to the truth of Christianity; in Both are there of the same proofs. Similar indications of which, if we mistake not, man's position is yield similar proofs of design in each individual precisely similar-placed, that is, amidst evidence part, and in the whole individual of all the individabundantly sufficient to justify his reasonable faith,uals of every other class of beings; and this sum and yet attended with difficulties abundantly suffi- of proof is again to be multiplied by the proofs cient to baffle an indocile reason. of design in the adjustment and mutual dependence
Without entering into the many different sources and subordination of each of these classes of oror argument for the existence of a Supreme In-ganized beings to every other, and to all; of the telligence, we shall only refer to that proof on vegetable to the animal-of the lower animal to which all theists, savage and civilized, in some the higher. Their magnitudes, numbers, physiform or other, rely-the traces of an "eternal cal force, faculties, functions, duration of life, rates power and godhead" in the visible creation. The of multiplication and development, sources of subargument depends on a principle which, whatever sistence, must all have been determined in exact may be its metaphysical history or origin, is one ratios, and could not transgress certain limits withwhich man perpetually recognizes, which every out involving the whole universe in confusion. act of his own consciousness verifies, which he This amazing sum of probabilities is yet to be applies fearlessly to every phenomenon, known or further augmented by the fact that all these classes unknown; and it is this-That every effect has a of organized substances are intimately related to cause,(though he knows nothing of their connexion,) those great elements of the material world in and that effects which bear marks of design have which they live, to which they are adapted, and a designing cause. This principle is so familiar which are adapted to them that all of them are that if he were to affect to doubt it in any practi- subject to the influence of certain mighty and subcal case in human life, he would only he laughed the agencies which pervade all nature and which *The truth of our religion, like the truth of common are of such tremendous potency that any chance matters, is to be judged of by all the evidence taken to- error in their proportions of activity would be gether. And, unless the whole series of things which may be alleged in this argument, and every particular sufficient to destroy all, and which yet are exquithing in it, can reasonably be supposed to have been by sitely balanced and inscrutably harmonized. accident, (for here the stress of the argument for Christianity lies,) then is the truth of it proved. The proofs of design arising from the relations ** It is * obvious how much advantage the nature of this evidence thus maintained between all the parts, from the gives to those persons who attack Christianity, especial- most minute to the most vast, of our own world, ly in conversation. For it is easy to show in a short and lively manner that such and such things are liable to ob- are still to be further multiplied by the inconceivajection, but impossible to show, in like manner, the united bly momentous relations subsisting between our force of the whole argument in one view.-Analogy, part own and other planets and their common centre; II. chap. vii.