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and the first act of the subject under it may by its means be a supernatural act. The grace thus received, if not resisted, not only becomes a supernatural assistance to the subject, but may enlarge his capacity to receive more and more grace.
İf " salvation has ever occurred in any one case, it is infallible proof that in human nature are powers that can realize the supernatural.” Not at all. It only proves that man has powers which may be supernaturally elevated to the plane of the supernatural. To be able to realize the supernatural, if the phrase has any meaning, is one thing ; to be capable of being supernaturalized, or of receiving supernatural assistance, is another thing. To be the subject of supernatural assistance requires, as we have seen, only the naked capacity in the natural to be affected by the supernatural ; to realize the supernatural requires the ability to perform a supernatural act. The reasoning of the minister proceeds on the supposition that Almighty God himself cannot elevate man above the natural order, and, indeed, can raise him to nothing to which he has not the natural ability to raise himself. Is it thus we are to set bounds to Omnipotence ?
“ If the supernatural exists in human language, man can by the use of his own natural powers get at it.” That is, if the supernatural exist in the natural, or, in other words, if the supernatural be natural, man, by the use of his own natural powers, can get at it. Possibly; and yet even of that we are not quite certain. The whole of nature has not yet been explored, and she contains secrets that man, by ihe use of his natural powers alone, to say the least, cannot easily “get
But perhaps we mistake the thought of the minister. Perhaps he means, that, if the supernatural is expressed in human language, so far as it is so expressed, we by our natural powers can apprehend it ; if so, we have no objections to offer. All revealed propositions are, as propositions, or as proposed for our belief, apprehensible by our natural powers. But this is not the question. Are they in fact revealed propositions ? Are they true ? These are questions which we can answer only as supernaturally taught. Perhaps, again, the minister means to say, that the supernatural revelation, if made through the medium of the Holy Scriptures, or if recorded in them, can be ascertained by the simple exercise of our rea
This, if true, would by no means meet the whole difficulty ; for not the hearers, but the doers, of the word are blest, and by our own strength alone we cannot do what the
word requires, as is evident from the fact that the work to be done is supernatural. But it is not true, as is evinced by the doubts and perplexities of commentators, and the multiplicity of contradictory doctrines deduced from the Scriptures by those who take them as their sole rule of faith. Protestants have been at work for three hundred years to
» the sense of Scripture, and their disagreement among themselves proves that they have not as yet succeeded ; and there is no great rashness in asserting, that, if they have not been able in three hundred years to succeed, they never will. Three hundred years are long enough for an experiment, and any experiment that has been faithfully tried for that length of time, without success, may be set down as a total failure. Moreover, even if one by his natural powers could ascertain all the doctrines contained in the Scriptures, it would not help him ; he would have nothing supernatural in them, unless he had a supernatural authority on which to assert their inspiration.
“ If it is accessible by any means, the individual man can get at it.” The design of the minister in this is to say, that, if the Church can get at the supernatural, the individual may. He wishes to establish it as a fact, that the Church has no powers but those which she derives from her individual members. His notion is, that the Church is a mere collection of individuals, and that the individuals are the same whether out of the Church or in it. This is the notion of all Liberal Christians, so far as our knowledge extends, and proves them to be ignorant of the mere alphabet of our holy religion. The Church derives nothing from individuals ; but they derive every thing from her.
Her powers are from God, are supernatural, and it is only through union with her that individuals are supernaturally born ; for she is the Mother of all the faithful. Because through her men may get at the supernatural, it does not follow that they can without her. the supernatural is accessible by any means, the individual man may get at it.” Granted, if he adopt the proper
means, - not if he neglect them, and take improper means. The supernatural, through grace, is accessible to all men, but only in the way God has prepared. If we scorn that way, and seek to get at it by a way of our own, we shall not find it accessible.
“In nature we see the supernatural flowing into the natural, into the ultimates and particles of all things. God is supernatural. He is not nature, and nature is not he ; yet he
pervades all things, – is omnipresent in nature.” Our Protestant minister does not appear to understand what is meant by supernatural. His supernatural does not transcend the order of nature. God, as manifested in or by nature, though distinct from nature as the cause from the effect, is still in the order of nature ; for, thus manifested, he is simply the God of nature, or nature's God. Supernatural is that order which transcends the order of nature, and it is only as author of an order above the order of nature, that is, the order of grace, and as manifested in it, that God is supernatural in the theological sense of the term. This appears to be a fact which has escaped the minister's attention, and the singular confusion of his statements and reasonings results from his not having duly considered it. The simple truth is, he has no conception of the supernatural, or at best does not admit it at all in the sense we understand it, as it were easy to infer from his attempt to prove that it lies within the range of our natural faculties. We may dismiss, then, to his private meditations what he says about the capacity of unthinking and unintelligent nature to receive the supernatural.
“ Man has powers like the Eternal Mind, to the extent to which the Eternal Mind may be known.” Natural powers to the extent to which the Eternal Mind may be naturally known, we grant ; to the extent to which the Eternal Mind may be supernaturally known, we do not grant, for it is the point in dispute. “ Man can know God only through kindred powers." Kindred powers are powers of the same order. sition of the minister, then, is, that the subject knowing and object known must be of the same order. This is precisely what we maintain, if restricted to the ascending scale. The higher order may know the lower, but the lower cannot know the higher. Then, since the natural and supernatural are different orders, the supernatural above the natural, it follows the natural cannot know the supernatural, which is what we allege. Why could not Newton's dog know Newton ? Because he had not the kindred powers.” Newton's dog very likely did know his master, and could know him, so far as Newton came within the order of the dog's nature. But he did not know Newton in the sense in which he transcended that order, and could not for the reason assigned, namely, — " he had not the kindred powers, was not himself of the same order as Newton. This is what we say. No one can know naturally above the order of his nature, and therefore no
one can know naturally the supernatural. But will the minister deny that Almighty God, if he had chosen, could, by a special act of his power, bave so elevated the dog's powers as to have enabled him to know his master in the full sense in which one man may know another ? To do so implies no contradiction. Then, God could have done it. Then, Newton's dog, according to the general argument of the minister, had the natural ability to know bis master !
“ Nor can we, any more than Newton's dog, know the God who made us, without natural and kindred powers.” The conclusion contains more than is contained in the premises. The premises contain kindred powers only, not natural and kindred. We, no more than Newton's dog, can know the God who made us, without kindred powers, that is, powers of the same order, we grant ; without natural and kindred powers we cannot know him naturally, we also grant ; cannot know him supernaturally, we deny ; for our natural powers may be made of the same order by being supernaturalized.
“ Did any man in or out of the Church ever know God? If so, this position is proven.” What position ? If any man has ever known God, the position that God may be known is proven, but not that God as supernatural may be known by our natural powers. The reasoning of the minister himself proves the reverse. Man can know God only so far as he has kindred powers, or so far as he is like God. then, know God, by virtue of his natural likeness to God, only to the extent of that natural likeness. That natural likeness is natural, therefore in the order of nature ; and therefore by it man can know God only in the order of nature. can know God only to the extent of his likeness to God. Then, to know God as supernatural, he must have a supernatural likeness to God. Then, either God as supernatural cannot be known, or man's natural likeness to God may be supernaturally elevated. The minister, then, must either admit the necessity of the supernatural elevation of our powers, or else deny the possibility of knowing the supernatural. “ Man may know the supernatural, if he have kindred pow
Unquestionably. But from the fact that man has a natural likeness to God, and may by his natural powers know God in the order of nature, we cannot conclude ihat he has a natural likeness to him as supernatural, and may know him in the supernatural order. We have, if you will, kindred powers in the natural order ; but natural powers can be kin
dred only to the natural. Since the minister says we can know only by virtue of kindred powers, it follows that we can know the supernatural only by supernatural powers ; for only the supernatural is kindred to the supernatural. The minister, therefore, refutes himself, and assigns an unanswerable reason against the natural ability of man either to know or to do the supernatural. His mistake, however, is not in his logic, but in his premises, in his notion of the supernatural. If he had understood what we mean by supernatural, he would either have admitted our positions at once, or denied the supernatural altogether.
“ If man cannot by nature know the supernatural, when it lies before him, then he cannot know it at all.” This conclusion follows only from the false assumption, that the capacity to be supernaturally assisted is the natural ability to know the supernatural. This assumption, after what we have said, cannot be insisted upon. Setting this aside, the true conclusion is, if man's nature cannot be supernaturally elevated to the level of the supernatural order, then he cannot know the supernatural, which we grant. That he can be so elevated implies no contradiction ; and we know God, who is omnipotent, can so elevate him, if he chooses. What is meant by the supernatural lying before us we do not know. The natural lies before us; but the supernatural, so long as we are in the natural order only, does not. If all that is intended be, that we, by our natural powers, can apprehend the propositions of the supernatural revelation, when placed before our minds, we do not object ; but even if we could not so apprehend them, we should not concede that we could not apprehend them at all ; for nothing hinders God from elevating us supernaturally to their apprehension, if he pleases.
“ For he must know the supernatural either by natural means or by supernatural. If by natural, my view is sustained. If by supernatural, he must understand his means, or he cannot use them." If by natural means, his view is sustained, we grant. But the supernatural cannot be known by natural means, as we have proved, even from his own principles. Therefore his view is not and cannot be sustained. If by supernatural means, he must understand his means, or he cannot use them. Conceded. Quid inde ? Then he must understand them by his natural powers ? This does not appear. For aught that appears, the supernatural means may bring with them the supernatural ability to understand them. The minister,