« ElőzőTovább »
of Revelation, and to the subject-matter of its announcements; these cannot he characterized as deductions from any a priori system, but rather as matters of fact, and not of probability, of immediate experience less remote, indeed, than the and ex- proofs of external phenomena.1 Crucial instances
penment. A 1
and a doctrine of averages are not excluded from the treatment of them. Theology refuses certainly with scientific sternness to admit "that Religion 2 is to each individual according to the inward light wherewith he is endowed," or that "it consists essentially in an adaptation to the characters, ideas, and institutions of those who profess it." Such an assumption would be as fatal to its own validity as the admission of a sophistical psychology has ofex- shown itself in the history of philosophy. It
and verifi- confesses, however, the constraint of adequate and
cat'on- i -11 •
properly unexceptionable generalizations3 both as
regards individual experiences and general results.
Thus it yields an experimental explanation of some
1 So J. P. Bichter observes, Selina (Works, XXXIII. 223), that the soul or mind is more evident and certain to me than my body: for only by it can I know and feel the body. A similar idea occurs in Augustin. d. Oenesi ad Utt., V. xvi., " God is nearer, more related to ns, and therefore more easily known to us, than sensible, corporeal things."
2 Buckle, Bist. Civ., III. 477.
3 In inductive logic every exception should admit of separate explanation, and so "prove the rule." But" the natural-history-sciences," remarks Dr. Bolleston, "do not usually admit of the strictness which says that an exception, so far from proving a rule, proves it to be a bad one."—Address before the British Assoc., 1870, p. 14. The same limit may accordingly be allowed as to generalizations of moral and spiritual facts.
ultimate questions to which Metaphysic from its speculative character furnishes no abiding solution. S 3. Theology, as we have seen, has been at-Thede
3 J yJ' _ _' _ ductive
tacked, and its progressive capacities disparaged, method on the score of its being essentially deductive.1 Such a criticism is, however, conceived in a narrow spirit. So far as it is true, it proves nothing against the general credibility of its doctrines, for it would not be contended that there is anything in the nature of demonstration, as such, vicious or erroneous. Deduction, as a mode of proof, where its premisses are not hastily or arbitrarily assumed, presents a scientific method more perfect, because M tru1/
r L natural as
more truly natural than any other. "In itself*veeinduc" more perfect," says Hume, "it suits less the imperfection of human nature, and is hence a common source of illusion and mistake."2 Accordingly, it is very generally admitted that the progress of Natural Science trends in this direction.3 But
1 Thus even Whewell, Bridgew. Tr., III. v. vi., and Indie, of a Creator, p. 45, considers it a matter of fact that inductive philosopher* have readily recognized an intelligent Author of Nature, where deductive reasoners have failed to do so. Mr. Lecky, //. E. M., II. 205, holds that "the growth of an inductive and scientific spirit is invariably hostile to theological interests." He afterwards apparently limits this to Catholicism.
2 Essays, IV. i. Liebig, in his criticism of Bacon, remarks: "In der Naturwissonschaft ist alle Forschung deduktiv oder apriorisch: das Experiment ist nur Hulfsrnittel fiir den Denkprocess." — ap. Lange, Oesch. des Materialismtis, p. 349.
* "A revolution," writes Mr. J. S. Mill, "is peaceably and progressively effecting itself in philosophy, the reverse of that to which Bacon has attached his name. . . . Deduction is the great scientific work of the present and of future ages."—Logic, L 579-80.
however this be, in deduction we recognize an instrument of science, an ideal type of knowledge, of at least co-ordinate authority, sanctioned alike with its rival method by the constitution of the human and more mind; a type antecedent perhaps in nature and the uiti- validity, and certainly more suited to the final reladition of tions of Knowledge and Being. Now, the subjectscience, jitter of Revelation cannot but be final in its character, incapable of subsequent variation or revision. The gift of the "Father of lights," it "knows no
Theology variableness, neither shadow of turning." No suenecessarily
final in its ceeding announcements can from the nature of the case contradict the principles which it proclaims or implies. Nor can the ultimate posture of things fail to be in agreement with what has been thus previously declared of the Divine administration. The employment, therefore, of deduction in Religion, as a specific department of knowledge, is not properly liable to exception, even were this, which it is not, a solitary example of its application. Now, the test of the deductive stage of a science (and perhaps of all Science in the strict usage of the term) is the capacity of inferring from primary and fundamental conceptions a mediate system of
Revelation truths. Space and Numerical magnitude are at
analogous A °
to the gift once recognized as ideas of this fruitful character.1
of primary °
intuitions j gQme very ftye jgumj.fcg on this subject in the Christian Remembrancer, No. CXXXI., p. 230; and compare Prof. Westcott, Cont. Rev., VriT. 378, on the narrowness of the purely scientific view, isolating and excluding Religion.
Such, also, are our notions of God and the human Soul, when the further conception is added of an accessory revelation. For it needed something more than the mere action of man's mind to "hriug life and immortality to light." But the Christian ideas of the character and work of the Divine Being as the Father, Redeemer, and Sanctifier of mankind, once given, (even as the chief links in the colligation of scientific notions have ever flashed into the *nd fo1- ,
minds of discoverers hy a power confessedly beyond ><ieas.
the teaching of method, 'a vision and a faculty divine'),1 the legitimate inferences are the property of logical reflection, and can be tested by application to the facts of man's nature and circumstances, as the verifications of Natural Laws already surmised are obtained from the inspection of instances.2 This constitutes the appropriate evidence of truths received at the first "neither of man, nor after man, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."
§ 4. But Religion, it is said, impedes knowledge Objection
to the truth of theology
1 So Tennyson speaks of— as being
The fair new forms stationary
That float about the threshold of an age, ^".:„r„e„'„,
Like truths of science waiting to be caught.
2 Hence Mr. Fairbairn remarks, Immortality of the Soul, Cont. Ilev., XX. 29, that "Religion, or rather its philosophic theology, may now become a science as purely inductive as any of the physical sciences. The now possible analysis of the faiths of the world, if accompanied by a searching analysis of the faculties of the mind, will hand over to thought our primary and necessary religious ideas, which, as ultimate religious truths, constitute in their synthesis the foundation of the universal and ideal Religion of man."
by leading men to be satisfied with an easy belief, and by making inquiry a crime. All progress is in this manner barred, and there arises a marked and singular exception to the aggressive spirit of all other branches of knowledge. An essential incompatibility emerges between a stationary faith and a progressive philosophy. No doubt, we reply, it is beyond buman power to add to the subject-matter of Revelation, though clearer light may, in tbe course of ages, be thrown upon its Reveia- obscurer regions. It may, in this view, be com
tion, in ° . .
what sense pared to all great and organic truths, making up the stock of true human knowledge, and constituting a deposit of belief handed on to succeeding generations. Once discovered, these are not again lost in the history of culture, but become the inalienable heritage of the race in its progress to fuller but admit- knpwledge.1 But the application of Revealed Truth indefinite to the circumstances of human history, its practical tion developments in living actual results, its inherent and unsuspected activity, its conformity with unknown powers, and, it may be, principles of human nature; these and other considerations supply a field for the enlargement of our acquaintance with the meaning and potential character of Christianity
1 Macaulay, indeed, Essays, pp. 536, 537, argues at length that we have no security for the future against the prevalence of any theological error that has ever prevailed in time past. Such a view deprives Religion of all benefit from contemporary light in other subjects of thought, which, if only free access be allowed, cannot fail to affect existing religious opinion.