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· I pass now to the positive features of the New Theology.
1. It claims for itself a somewhat larger and broader use of the reason than has been accorded to theology.
And by reason we do not mean mere speculation nor a formal logic, but that full exercise of our nature which embraces the intuitions, the conscience, the susceptibilities, and the judgment, i. e., man's whole inner being. Especially it makes much of the intuitions — the universal and spontaneous ver- v dicts of the soul; and in this it deems that it allies itself with the Mind through which the Christian revelation is made.
The fault of the theology now passing is that it insists on a presentation of doctrines in such a way as perpetually to challenge the reason. By a logic of its own — a logic created for its own ends, and not a logic drawn from the depth and breadth of human life — it frets and antagonizes the fundamental action of human nature. If Christianity has any human basis it is its entire reasonableness. It must not only sit easily on the mind, but it must ally itself with it in all its normal action. If it chafes it, if it is a burden, if it antagonizes, it detracts from itself; the human mind cannot be detracted from. Man is a knower; the reason never ceases to be less than itself without losing all right to use itself as reason. Consequently a full adjustment between reason and Christianity is steadily to be sought. If there is conflict, uneasiness, burdensomeness, the cause is to be looked for in interpreta
tion rather than in the human reason. For, in the last analysis, revelation — so far as its acceptance is concerned — rests on reason, and not reason on revelation. The logical order is, first reason, and then revelation — the eye before sight. It is just here that a narrow and formal theology inserts its hurtful fallacy; it says, Use your reason for ascertaining that a revelation is probable, and has been made, after which the only office of the mind is to accept the contents of the revelation without question, i. e., without other use of the reason than some small office of collating texts and drawing inferences. But this is formal and arbitrary. The mind accepts revelation because it accepts the substance of revelation. It does not stand outside upon some structure of logical inference that a revelation has been made, and therefore is to be accepted, but instead it enters into the material of the revelation, and plants its feet there. The reason believes the revelation because in itself it is reasonable. Human nature — so far as it acts by itself — accepts Christianity because it establishes a thorough consensus with human nature ; it is agreeable in its nature to human nature in its normal action. It wins its way on the man-ward side by winning the assent of the whole reasonable nature of man. The largest play must be allowed to this principle. It is thus that the light of thought enters into and guides all spiritual processes, and discloses their reality. It is thus, and thus only, that the reason of man meets and recognizes the reason of God that is wrought into the revelation. Otherwise, belief is a mechanical thing, and spiritual processes become blind acts of the will. It is arbitrary and unscientific to use the reason up to a certain point, and then hood it with blinding restrictions; to think and weigh and feel up to the point of the discovery of a revelation, and then remand thought and feeling to the background, and so reduce the whole action of the mind to an acceptance of texts. Thought and feeling are as necessary for interpretation as for acceptance, and it is as legitimate for the reason to pass judgment upon the contents of revelation as upon the grounds of receiving it; they are, in fact, identical. In brief, we accept the Christian faith because of the reasonableness of its entire substance, and notv because we have somehow become persuaded that a revelation has been made. It is impossible to conceive of it as gaining foothold in the mind and heart in any other way, nor can faith in it be otherwise secured. And the revelation will be forever appealing to the reason ; playing into it as flame mingles with flame, and drawing from it that which is kindred with itself. The inmost principle of revelation is that the mind of God reveals itself to the mind of man; and the basis of this principle is that one mind is made in the image of the other, and therefore capable of similar processes of thought and feeling. Revelation is not a disclosure of things to be done, or of bare facts pertaining to eternity, but is rather an unveiling of the thought and feeling of God to men, in response to which they become sons of the Most High. This is the hold that it has on humanity, and this is the method of
its acting. Hence, in simple phrase, it must be on friendly terms with the human reason and heart. It is on such terms; it is only through misinterpretation that it antagonizes the sober conclusions of universal reason and evokes the protest of the universal human heart.
If it be said that human nature is weakened and perverted by evil, and therefore cannot be relied on for just estimates of the contents of revelation, we answer that it is then equally unfit to form a judgment on the question of having or not having a revelation. If reason can determine the universal point, it can determine the particular points; if it can cover the whole, it can cover the parts. But, what is of greater moment, to attribute inability to the reason is to pave the way to Pyrrhonism. If I cannot know in such a way as to satisfy my reason, I must forever doubt. Here is where Pascal fails as a defender of the faith, holding that because the reason is corrupted it can be sure of nothing, yet asserting the duty of belief, - a very monstrosity of inconsistency; yet he bravely accepts it, and has, at last, but one word for the questioner: “Do as I do: go to mass and use holy water.” The impotence of his conclusion is the condemnation of his premise.
There are indeed limits to reason, and it has in it an element of faith, but so far as it goes, it goes surely and firmly; it is not a rotten foundation, it is not a broken reed, it is not a false light. It may be so sure that it can justly protest in the face of Heaven, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth
do right?" It will be humble and docile and trustful, but these qualities are not abrogations of itself. It does not claim for itself the ability to measure the whole breadth and reach of truth ; it does not say, I will not believe what I cannot understand, for it knows full well that human reason is not commensurate with eternal truth. But this is quite different from silencing reason before questions that have been cast upon human nature, yet are so interpreted as to violate every principle of human nature; e.g., it is not called to hold its belief in God as a reasonable belief, and to accept a conception of God that throws it into a chaos of moral confusion and contradiction. To trust is a great duty; but as reason has an element of faith, so faith has an element of reason, and that element requires that the fundamental verdicts of human nature shall not be set aside. The lines on which trusting reason, or reasoning trust, proceed do not run straight into impenetrable mystery, and come back from that mystery to slay reason and well-nigh slay faith.
The familiar illustration, drawn from the duty of the child to obey the parent without understanding why, is a partial fallacy. The highest relation between child and parent is that in which there is sympathetic obedience because the child understands why. “No longer do I call you servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth : but I have called you friends; for all things that I heard from my Father I have made known unto you.” “ Mine own know me, even as the Father knoweth me:” when the Revised Version thus tells