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test the intrinsic spiritual truth. We have something else to do, it is acknowledged,-than "to receive the contents of the documents unhesitatingly." What else then, unless to judge of the contents, by criteria treasured in our own highest reason and affections? If, in spite of their credentials, we are not to take them on trust, how can we proceed a step further but under the guidance of our own religious sentiment? Is not that sentiment then a "test of truth or falsehood in a religion?" Yet a few pages later Dr. Vaughan says—
"The evidence which should establish a religious authority of any kind or degree in a book, must of course be fatal to the absolute authority claimed for religious sentiment in the mind. Hence the tendency of this whole school to depreciate all the forms of 'historical proof,' in relation to this subject. Hence their solicitude to draw the Christian away from this ground-to bring him to admit that the proper test of the truth or falsehood of a religion lies, after all, not in anything historical, outward, or written, but in the sentiment of the mind-in the conviction and feeling of man's moral nature. The Christian being once so far seduced as to make this concession, resting his argument on half the basis proper to it in place of the whole, all that is distinctive of Christianity is then readily explained away, and the residuum is a philosophical deism under a Christian name. The pride of our pseudospiritualism cannot brook a rival. Man must have all his needed resources from himself. He must be equal to his own destiny. The word within him must be the only living word, the word without him must be the dead letter."-P. 20.
We submit that our author has himself made the very concession which he here denounces. He granted to "religious sentiment" the "authority" he is now so eager to withdraw. It is vain to plead that its authority was not to be "absolute," or to supersede its "rival." There is no rivalry, and can be none, between historical criticism as to the age of books, and moral intuition as to internal sanctity of sentiments. The object-matters to which they apply themselves as criteria are perfectly distinct; and each power is independent, within its proper sphere, of interference from the other. We cannot, on the one hand, decide by moral sentiment whether Matthew's gospel was written in Hebrew; or, on the other,
prove by the testimony of ancient heretics and fathers, that "the pure in heart shall see God." The two kinds of evidence, our author does not deny, must concur, in order to prove a Divine revelation. Each therefore has a veto upon the assertion of a revelation, and suffices to exclude it; though neither by itself is adequate to establish it. This is all that is meant when "historical proof" is depreciated in relation to Christianity. It is an apparatus that results in nothing, unless the seal and suffrage of the soul be added to the faith it recommends.
The right which Dr. Vaughan claims for the human mind, to judge of the contents of a proffered revelation, we are also unable to reconcile with his doctrine of scriptural infallibility. "The idea of a revelation to be contained in a book includes," he observes, "the idea of inspiration, that the truth recorded may be pure truth." By what process of evidence does our author ascertain the presence of this unerring inspiration? Does he take it on trust, before estimating the teachings thus conveyed? Then what becomes of the trial to which, as a responsible agent," he is bound to submit "the matter of the supposed revelation?" Or does he accept it not till after this trial has been completed, and all the contents have proved satisfactory? Then does he believe the Scriptures inspired because they are true, instead of owning them true because they are inspired. If the truth be a condition of the inspiration, all is granted that the "spiritualist" asks: if the inspiration is to be security for the truth, the contents must be taken on trust, and less is granted than Dr. Vaughan himself demands. Our author professes to be shocked that men should find in the Scriptures any inconclusive reasoning, or regard any of their various writers as capable of error. But of what service is the permission to judge of the matter of a book, if the verdict is to be thus bespoken, and we are prohibited to see anything imperfect?
"It is too commonly maintained, not only that we should regard the language, the whole literary character, and the natural science of the Bible, as of purely human origin, but that even in respect to moral and religious matters, the sacred writers should
not be viewed as secure from misconception from degrees of error. On the contrary, it is said to be manifest that these writers could reason illogically, could fall into mistakes and differences about religious things, and were by no means superior to the current prejudices of their times. The best of them, accordingly, is to be received as being no more than substantially trustworthy.
"Now let the authority of the Scriptures be once reduced to an affair of this defective and fragmentary kind, and of course that authority ceases to have any real existence. If the sacred writers may reason badly, and err even in respect to religious things, it is natural to ask—how am I to distinguish between the sound and the unsound in their reasonings, between the truth and the untruth in their statements? In this case, it must be obvious, the only authority left to settle these questions is our own mind—what to receive, what to reject, must be determined simply by our own sense of fitness. This sense of fitness, accordingly, comes to be our revelation—we have not, cannot have, any other. Each man becomes a Bible to himself, and the Bible external to himself possesses no more authority than the Bible within him may be prepared to cede to it—that is, it possesses no real authority at all. Such is the natural history of our modern spiritualism."-P. 22.
Are we then to understand that our author,-in order that the authority of the Scriptures may not become defective and fragmentary,-does not choose to see any difference between St. Matthew and St. John, any Hebrew prejudice in St. Peter, any temporary logic in St. Paul? or, that having studied these writings freely as a literature, he can discover, by the critic's ordinary tests, no trace of any such human features; and therefore holds them of infallible authority? Is he then prepared to stake the existence of revelation on this issue? and if he should meet, in the epistle to the Galatians, with a questionable argument, or find the Thessalonians instructed in a mistaken hope, or read in Luke a prophecy of Christ's return within the limits of that generation, will he throw his Christianity away? Does Dr. Vaughan think that believers in demoniacal possession were altogether "superior to the current prejudices of their times ?" Or will he avail himself of the saving clause by which he escapes the responsibilities of precise statement, and say, that errors of this kind are not "about religious things?" The evangelist who declares "the devils knew
that he was Messiah," and who supposed himself to be thus adducing a supernatural testimony to the divine office of his Lord, would have been surprised to learn that this was no "religious thing." The apostle whose eye was fixed upon the near rapovoía, and who found his joy and crown in the theocratic prospect, would hardly have consented to degrade this faith into a mere secular hope. Wherever this idle distinction is drawn, it is invented for the mere purpose of evasion. Everything in the Bible has always been regarded, by its mere presence there, as being religious, until criticism has fastened on it some doubt: but as soon as it becomes incredible, it is suddenly discovered to have no relation to religion. To those who disbelieve it, it has none; but to its believers it was sacred as the doctrines that still remain. This shifting line is as purely subjective as the "sense of fitness" which, on that ground, our author charges with incompetence; and is just as certain to surrender successive ingredients of Scripture, till each mind and each age "becomes a Bible to itself." Dr. Vaughan asks, I to distinguish between the sound and the unsound in the reasonings of the sacred writers?" We can only do it, he replies, by the exercise of our own minds: and that he prohibits as an infidelity. It follows that we must not do it at all, but take the whole reasoning on trust and ask no questions. This, however, implies that we are forbidden to understand the reasoning which Scripture may spread before us. For no man can understand an argument without either feeling its force or failing to feel it; the successive propositions might possibly be taken on trust; but their logical sequence cannot be owned without being felt; nor can their logical inconsequence be suppressed from the intellectual consciousness by any act of will. What then would our author recommend as the fit attitude of mind for the study of an apostolic argument? We had always supposed that whoever reasons with us appeals, by the very act, to our understanding, and invites a judgment on what he says. But if we are forbidden to draw distinctions between the sound and the unsound, the reasoning is a mockery, and the appeal a snare. The very existence of ratiocination in the Scriptures is at variance with their plenary inspi
ration and their use as infallible oracles: and when once the least infringement is allowed upon that plenitude of authority, there are nothing but degrees between Dr. Vaughan and his most obnoxious opponents.
The appeal to the evidence of our moral and spiritual nature in matters of religion is egregiously misrepresented when described by our author as yielding the following rule: "We are to receive Christianity as from God, in the measure in which we see that it MIGHT have come from man, and ONLY in that measure" (p. 17). Truth which touches the conscience and finds our highest nature, is not made human,―does not cease to be divine,-by simply entering our consciousness. It does not follow that, because we can recognise its worth when presented, we could originate it, if it were not. As well might you say, that because we can see the sunshine, we could make it: and that, since we are insensible to it till it falls upon our sphere and visits our eye, "We receive it as from Heaven, in the measure in which we perceive that it MIGHT have come from Earth, and ONLY in that measure." Dr. Vaughan, as often in the windings of this Discourse, supplies the proper answer and the just rebuke to himself, when he says, "The capacity to see the reasonableness of a truth when revealed, is confounded with the capacity to discover that truth without the aid of a revelation. The distinction here is so obvious that no philosopher should be pardoned for overlooking it."
With these few criticisms we quit this little volume; not attempting, with so slight a basis, to lay out systematically the great subject of which it treats. With some of the writers to whom he refers we have no sympathy of faith; with others, only a very qualified accordance: but we think they all deserved a better answer. Had the matter of this Discourse been of a higher order, the manner would probably have been less assuming and the style more restrained within the limits of good taste. The preacher's undeniable vigour degenerates continually into harshness and browbeating, and impresses his readers more with the strength of his antipathies than with the depth of his convictions. Dr. Vaughan is an accomplished man; but he wins our admiration more as an historian than as a polemic.