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tainty, that is, an inward persuasion, even though it should exclude all actual doubt, would not be faith, unless warranted by evidence in which reason can detect no deficiency. It is a blind prejudice, and would vanish before the light of intelligence. A man may fancy that his head is set on wrong side before, and be so firmly persuaded of it that no reasoning can convince him to the contrary ; but his internal persuasion has little relation to faith. For faith is eminently, though not exclusively, an act of the understanding, and must be reasonable, and he who has it must have a solid reason which he may assign for it. The man does not believe, if he doubts, or may reasonably doubt; and if the evidence on which he fancies he believes is not sufficient, he may reasonably doubt. He who has for his faith only the testimony of a fallible witness, who may both deceive and be deceived, has always a reasonable ground for doubt, and therefore no solid ground for faith. If he reason at all on the testimony, open his eyes at all to bis liability to be deceived, he cannot, however earnestly he may try to believe, avoid doubting. Therefore, since, with a fallible witness, or fallible interpreter, we can never be sure that we are not mistaken, it follows, if we are to have faith at all, we must have a witness and interpreter that cannot err, therefore infallible.
We sum up again by saying, that it is necessary to believe the truth Jesus Christ revealed, or, in other words, the Christian revelation ; that to believe this is to believe truths which pertain to the supernatural order ; and that, to have a solid ground for believing truths pertaining to the supernatural order, we must have, 1. The word or veracity of God; 2. A witness to the fact of the revelation, and an interpreter of the genuine sense of what God has revealed, infallible and subsisting through all ages and nations, and, with ordinary prudence, unmistakable by even the least gifted and the least instructed. The first the Examiner will not deny us. We proceed to prove that we have the second.
III. There must be such a witness and interpreter, or, in other words, some infallible means of determining what is the word of God, because God has made belief of his word the condition sine qua non of salvation. We know from natural theology, that is, from what we can clearly see of God by natural reason, that he is, that he is just, and that he would not be just, should he make faith the condition sine qua non of salvation, and not
provide the conditions sine qua non of faith. He has made faith the condition sine qua non of salvation, as we have proved, and as the Examiner must admit, unless it chooses to deny the Christian revelation altogether. But the infallible witness and interpreter alleged is the condition sine qua non of faith, as we have shown from the nature of faith itself. Therefore, God, since he is just and cannot belie himself, has provided us with the witness and interpreter required, or, what is the same thing, some infallible means of determining what is the word he commands us to believe.
There is, then, the witness and interpreter of God's word in question. Who or what is it? To this question four answers may be returned :- 1. Reason; 2. The Bible ; 3. Private illumination ; 4. The Apostolic ministry, or Ecclesia docens, the Church teaching. Other answers may be conceived, but the true answer is manifestly one of these four.
1. Reason may be taken in two senses:-1. The cognitive faculty, vis intellectiva, as distinguished from the sensibility, or vis sensitiva ; 2. The discursive faculty, or vis ratiocinativa. In the first sense it is the faculty of knowing intuitively, and is the principle of what we term knowledge, in distinction from what is technically termed science. In this sense, reason, in order to answer our purpose, to serve as the witness and interpreter proved to be necessary, must be able either to know God intuitively, or to apprehend intuitively the intrinsic truth of his word. Reason must see God face to face, know intuitively that it is God who speaks ; or it cannot testify, on its own knowledge, to the fact that the speaker alleged is God. But reason cannot see God thus face to face. We have and can have no intuitive knowledge of God, for him no man seeth or can see and live. Therefore reason cannot be the witness on the ground of its intuitive apprehension of God, nor can it be on the ground of its intuitive perception or apprehension of the intrinsic truth of the matter revealed. Our natural reason or power of knowing cannot extend beyond the bounds of nature. But the matter revealed, or truths to be believed, are supernatural, and therefore transcend the reach of natural intellect. If the natural intellect could attain to them, they would be, not supernatural, but natural. Moreover, if the intrinsic truth of
, the revelation could be apprehended, intuitively known, it would be, not a matter of faith, but of knowledge; for faith is, to believe what is not seen, - argumentum non apparentium. Heb. xi.
. 1. But it is a matter of faith, as already proved, and therefore not of knowledge. Therefore reason cannot apprehend the intrinsic truth of the revelation, and from the intrinsic truth know it to have been divinely revealed. Therefore reason, as the
. vis intellectiva, cannot be the witness.
Reason, in the second sense, is discursive, the subjective principle of science in distinction from intuitive knowledge, the faculty of deducing conclusions from given premises. If the premises are true, the conclusions are valid. But reason cannot furnish its own premises. They must be given it; hence, are called data. These data must be furnished either by knowledge, that is intuition, or by faith. But in the case before us they can be furnished by neither ;- not by knowledge, as we
have just proved ; and not by faith, because faith is the matter in question.
Proof by reason, in the sense we now use the term, is called demonstration. The position assumed, when it is alleged that the discursive reason is the witness of the fact of revelation, is, that reason can find in the internal character of the revelation itself, or what purports to be a revelation, the data from which it can demonstrate that it is actually the word of God. But this is possible only on condition that reason, independently of all revelation, be in possession of so perfect a knowledge of God as to be able to say a priori what a revelation from God will be and must necessarily be. But this is inadmissible ; 1. Because it would imply that the revelation is intrinsically evident to natural reason, and therefore that it is an object of science and not of faith ; and 2. Because the revelation is of God as supernatural, and reason has no intimation, even, of God as the supernatural, save through the medium of supernatural revelation itself. The knowledge which reason has of God prior to the revelation is simply what is contained in natural theology, which is knowledge of God only as author, sustainer, and sovereign of nature. From this it is, indeed, possible to obtain data from which we may conclude, within certain limits, what a supernatural revelation cannot be, but not what it must be. God, whether as author of nature, or as author and dispenser of grace, that is, as natural or as supernatural, is one and the same being, and therefore cannot in the one be in contradiction to what he is in the other. If, in what purports to be a revelation from him, we find that which contradicts what is clearly seen of him from the creation of the world and the things that are made, we have the right to pronounce it, a priori, not his revelation. But beyond this reason cannot go ; for it is not
lawful to conclude from nature to grace, from the natural to the supernatural, from data furnished by natural science to supernatural revelation. Reason, then, has no data from which it can conclude to the fact of the revelation. Therefore it cannot be the witness demanded.
Moreover, if reason knew enough of God, independently of the supernatural revelation, to be able, from the intrinsic character of the revelation, to pronounce on its genuineness, not only negatively but affirmatively, it would know all of God the revelation itself could teach. The revelation would then be superfluous, - in fact, no revelation at all ; and the question of its genuineness would be an idle question, not worth considering To assume the competency of reason, as the witness, would then be to deny the necessity of the revelation and its value, which, in point of fact, is what all our Rationalists do, and apparently wish to do.
But, in denying the competency of reason as the witness to the fact of the revelation, we do not deny the office of reason in determining whether a revelation has been made, nor that the fact of revelation is, can, and should be, made evident to natural reason. We merely deny that it is intrinsically evident. It is not intrinsically evident, but extrinsically evident; not internally demonstrable, but externally provable. It can be proved not by reason, but to reason by testimony ; and of the credibility of the testimony, reason may, can, and should judge.
Three things must always be kept distinct on the question of supernatural revelation : - 1. The ground of faith in the truths revealed ; 2. The authority on which we take the fact of revelation ; 3. The credibility of this authority. The first, as we have seen, is the veracity of God, and is sufficient, because God is prima veritas in essendo, in cognoscendo, et in dicendo, — the ultimate truth in being, in knowing, and in speaking, and therefore can neither deceive nor be deceived. The second we are seeking, and it is not a witness to the truth of the matter revealed, but to the fact that God reveals it, and can be competent only on condition of being itself supernatural or supernaturally enlightened. The third is the credibility of the witness to the fact of revelation, and must be evidenced to natural reason; or there will be an impassable gulf between reason and faith, and we can have no reason for our faith, and therefore no faith.
The fact of revelation, we shall show in its proper place, may be evidenced to natural reason through the credibility of the witness, and therefore, that faith is possible. But because reason is competent to judge of the credibility of the witness, we must not conclude that it is itself a competent witness to the fact of revelation. This conceded, the second answer is inadmissible, for the fact of revelation is neither intuitively certain nor internally demonstrable.
2. The answer just dismissed is that of the Rationalists, and is, in one of its forms, substantially the one which we ourselves gave in all we preached and wrote on the subject while associated with the Unitarians. This second answer is the Protestant answer, and the one, if we understand him, adopted by the writer in the Christian Examiner. This assumes that the Bible is the witness ; that is, the Bible interpreted by the private reason of the believer, availing himself of such aids, philological, critical, historical, &c., as may be within his reach. But this answer cannot be accepted, because, without an infallible authority independent of the Bible, it is impossible, 1. To settle the canon; 2. To establish the sufficiency of the Scriptures ; 3. To determine their genuine sense.
The Bible can be adduced as the witness only in the character of an authentic record of the revelation actually made ; because, according to its own confession, as we may find on examining it, it was not the original medium of the revelation itself. The revelation, according to the Bible itself, in great part at least, was in the first instance made orally, and orally published before it was committed to writing. This is especially true of the Christian revelation, in so far as distinguished from the Jewish. It was communicated orally to the Apostles by Jesus Christ, and by them orally to the public ; and converts were made, and congregations of believers gathered, before one word of it was written. The writing was subsequent to the teaching and believing, and evidently, therefore, the primitive believers believed without having any authority for believing, or had an authority for believing independent of written documents.
To them what we term the Bible was not the witness. It, then, was not the original witness, or, as we have said, the original medium of the revelation. Its value, then, must consist entirely in the fact, that it faithfully records, in an authentic form, what was actually revealed. It is, then, only as a record that it can be adduced as evidence. But a record is no evidence till authenticated. It cannot authenticate itself ; for, till authenticated, its testimony is inadmissible.
It must be authenticated by some competent