the one, doubt, scepticism, originality, aptness to discover, are virtues and the highest of duties. In the other, originality is the parent of heresy, and therefore a crime. Thus in Christianity it is an accepted principle that "there can be no concerning truth which is not ancient; and whatsoever is truly new, is certainly false." 1 Or, as it has been said, "That is true which is first, that is false which is after." Faith becomes thus an indispensable duty, and credulity an honour. "It is impossible to establish the old theological premisses by a chain of inductive reasoning."2

§ 2. I have quoted objections which show pretty jj.;^fjyism clearly the current of thought which is at present under

. . . . stood) not

setting in on the relations of Theology to Science, incom

, Tin patiblc

In replying to them, I shall not now stay to prove with a

1 r p • •/• • • religious

that a fitting measure 01 scientific scepticism (a phiioterm, however, covering very opposite meanings), s°p y" is by no means out of place in the elements of a religious philosophy. It was a theologian3 to

1 Bp. Pearson, Expos, of Creed, dedication. Tikis corresponds to the maxim of Vinccntius Lirin., " Dum nove dicitur, non dicantur nova." * Mr. Buckle, III. 283.

3 Archbishop Leighton, thus declaring himself a Cartesian. The noble maxims, "Intcllcctum valde ama"; "Fides qiuerens intellectum," are worthy of the brightest age of culture. For the meanings and history of Scepticism, see Dr. Farrar, Bampt. L., 592-3. "The best Christian in the world," said Shaftesbury, Works, III. 72, " who, being destitute of the means of certainty, depends only on history and tradition for his belief, is at best but a sceptic-Christian." "Scepticism," writes Bishop Harvey Goodwin, "implies only that a man is determined to look into matters fur himself; not to trust every assertion, not to repeat a parrot-creed." Leibnitz's golden rule must be


whom we owe the remark, "that men that know nothing in sciences have no doubts." That during certain periods in the history of the Church belief was held meritorious in proportion to the doubtfulness of the subject, is perhaps true;1 but it was pistinc- not so from the beginning. It will, however,

tion be-'

tween pn- probably be admitted that truths of Religion are inferred of two kinds, primary or inferred, principles or religion, conclusions. The latter have certainly been obtained by reasoning, and reasoning not necessarily of one kind. The theology of the Reformers, The utter for example, showed that careful inductive exami

frequently 1

obtained nation into the sources and history of doctrines, the

by indue- . .

tion. facts of our religion, and the contents of the Bible, is in no wise alien to the spirit of the Christian faith.2 The same spirit has survived and dominated later controversies, and is at this very hour invading the precincts of Catholicism. But not only so. The records of our faith, their genuineborne in mind: "II faut prendre garde do ne jamais abandonner les vlritcs nccessaires et 6ternelles pour soutenir les mysteres; de peur que les ennemis de la religion ne prennent droit la-dessus de decrier et la religion et les mysteres." "Religious disbelief and philosophical scepticism are not merely not the same, but have no natural connection."— Sir W. Hamilton, Led., I. 394. 1 Compare Milman, Lat. Christ., I. 439.

1 Hence the historical labours of the Magdeburg Cenluriators, and Selden's famous saying, that "the text 'Search the Scriptures' had set the world in uproar." It would be interesting to inquire how far the impulse was thus given to inductive tendencies which culminated in the Baconian method. On the rulo and practice of an "Inductive Exposition," Isaac Taylor, Hist. Enthusiasm, p. 314, grounds his expectation of the reunion of all Protestant bodies.

ness, authenticity, and even inspiration, the value of the manuscripts on which they rest, and of the testimonies by which they are supported, all such points lie open to inductive instruments of inquiry; and these are being more and more largely employed by the ablest theologians of the day. And if this be true in the case of the Sacred Volume, which in whatever measure conveys the Word of God, it is still more true in respect of doctrines1 dependent for their authority on the practice and common tradition of the Church. Here at least the conclusions at issue, affecting the hereditary standing of opinions and usages, are within the range of historical inquiry; that is, of a science of observation, and are of a tentative character. In its inferential portion, then, Theology nowhere Theology

. a science

refuses to accept the ascending road of a patient of historiand rigorous induction. It stands on the same foot asm, with other branches of historical criticism. And to turn to the principles (for Christian dogmas have been properly termed the principles of Theological Science on which, as upon axioms, the cardinal truths of our Religion must finally turn), are these fairly described as the products of unreasoning: acceptance, even if thev have some reaching

. . . . even to its

analogy2 with the maxims or conventional ultimata primary

bJ truths.

1 See Mr. Ffoulkes' remarks, Divisions of Christendom, p. 196.

'This is the view of Bacon, Augm. Sc., IX. i. "In rebus naturalibus

ipsa principia examini subjiciuntur aliter fit in religione; ubi

et prima? propositions authypostattB sunt atque per se subsistentes;

of legal and political science? As dependent on facts received upon testimony and observation, they stand on historical evidence open to inductive inquiry. Christianity indeed, as an historic religion, has in this respect specific claims upon a Positive school of thought.1 Miraculous and portentous events, it has never been denied, must be subjected to this test, and stand or fall by its verdict, so that the latest assaults upon these have been directed to the end of discrediting any amount of testimony which may be brought on their behalf. The tendencies of human nature, it is held, in a credulous age are more than sufficient to account for the result.2 Nor when the facts of the Scriptural narrative have been adequately attested, are its doctrines altogether exempt from the processes Employ- 0f a positive method. The analogy of Nature may natural be employed in attacking or in defending them. This line of argument may be applied within some extent even to those conceptions of the Divine

et rursus non reguntur ab illS. rationc qua; propositioncs consequentes deducit. Neque tamen hoc fit in religionc sola, sod etiam in aliis scientiis, tam gravioribus qu&m levioribus: ubi scilicet propositioues primariai placita sunt, non posita; siquidem et in illis ratiouis usus absolutus esse non potest."

1 Compare Prof. Westcott's remarks in Cont. Rev., VIII. 373. He infers that there is no fundamental antagonism between the Positive method and Christianity; and that the former is no lasting religious power, but a transitional preparation for a fuller faith.

1 Bishop Butler's warning is here of importance :—"The credulity of mankind is acknowledged: and the suspicions of mankind ought to l)e acknowledged too; and their backwardness even to believe, and greater still to practise what makes against their interest."

Nature on which the Christian system rests. It is sufficient to overthrow the objection, otherwise a plausible one, that in accepting a scheme of Revelation, we are but hallowing the creations of the human intellect — notions which, being limited, cannot but be inadequate and misleading; thus, as it were, "sacrificing to our net, and burning: incense to our drag." Again the facts in ,and °f ,

° . historical

regard of human nature and of human history evidence, which the system of Christianity assumes, and to which it addresses itself, are capable of independent proof or disproof; and this of an experimental kind. For the field of experience is not confined to material nature.1 The existence and validity of conscience, the facts of its testimony to spiritual truth, the existence and nature of the spiritual element in man, its inherent instincts, its

unconscious but indubitable witness to the need Of observation

1 See Dr. Mozlcy's powerful remarks in Cont. Dev., VII. 484. I cannot refrain from quoting the following fine application of this mode of reasoning:—" When, in reviewing the history of the past, you find certain ideas arising in the first known period of the life of humanity and co-existent with it: undergoing transformation from epoch to epoch: but remaining always and everywhere essentially the same, and inseparable from human society, gathering renewed strength from every social upheaval destructive of the temporary ideas of a single people, or a single epoch: when on interrogating your own conscience in supreme moments of deep affection, sacred sorrow, or devotion to duty, you find within your hearts an echo answering to the ideas transmitted by the ages; those ideas are true, are innate in humanity, and are destined to accompany its onward progress. . . . God, immortality, duty, the moral law sole sovereign . . . are ideas of this order."—Mazzini in Cunt. Bev., XX. 161.

« ElőzőTovább »