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sophers have openly opposed even these principles, 'tis clear we cannot, neither in the natural knowledge we have of God, which is acquired by Reason, nor in science founded on geometrical principles and theorems, find absolute and consummate certainty, but only that human certainty I have spoken of, to which nevertheless every wise man ought to submit his understanding. This being not repugnant to the testimony of the Book of Wisdom and the Epistle to the Romans, which declares that men who do not from the make of the world acknowledge the power and divinity of the Maker are senseless and inexcusable.
“For to use the terms of Vasquez: 'By these words the Holy Scripture means only that there has ever been a sufficient testimony of the Being of a God in the fabrick of the world, and in His other works, to make Him known unto men: but the Scripture is not under any concern whether this knowledge be evident or of greatest probability; for these terms are seen and understood, in their common and usual acceptation, to signify all the knowledge of the mind with a determined assent.' He adds after: ‘For if any one should at this time deny Christ, that which would render him inexcusable would not be because he might have had an evident knowledge and reason for believing in Him, but because he might have believed it by Faith and a prudential knowledge.'
"“'Tis with reason then that Suarez teaches that the natural evidence of this principle, God is the first truth, who cannot be deceived, is not necessary, nor sufficient enough to make us believe by infused Faith, what God reveals. He proves, by the testimony of experience, that it is not necessary; for ignorant and illiterate Christians, though they know nothing clearly and certainly of God, do believe nevertheless that God is. Even Christians of parts and learning, as St. Thomas has observed,
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believe that God is, before they know it by Reason. Suarez shows afterwards that the natural evidence of this principle is not sufficient, because divine Faith, which is infused into our understanding, cannot be bottomed upon human faith alone, how clear and firm soever it is, as upon a formal object, because an assent most firm, and of an order most noble and exalted, cannot derive its certainty from a more infirm assent. ...
"As touching the motives of credibility, which, preparing the mind to receive Faith, ought according to you to be not only certain by supreme and human certainty, but by supreme and absolute certainty, I will oppose Gabriel Biel to you, who pronounces that to receive Faith 'tis sufficient that the motives of credibility be proposed as probable. Do you believe that children, illiterate, gross, ignorant people, who have scarcely the use of Reason, and notwithstanding have received the gift of Faith, do most clearly, and most steadfastly conceive those forementioned motives of credibility? No, without doubt; but the grace of God comes into their assistance, and sustains the imbecility of Nature and Reason.
“This is the common opinion of divines. Reason has need of divine grace, not only in gross, illiterate persons, but even in those of parts and learning; for how clear-sighted soever that may be, yet it cannot make us have Faith, if celestial light does not illuminate us within, because, as I have said already, divine Faith being of a superior order cannot derive its efficacy from human faith.? . .... " This is likewise the doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas: 'The light of Faith makes things seen that are believed.' He says moreover, 'Believers have knowledge of the things of Faith, not in a demonstrative way, but so as by the light of Faith it appears to them that they ought to be believed.'" 3
pp. 221, 223. 2 pp. 229, 230. 3 pp. 230, 231.
It is very evident, what a special influence a view such as this must have on the controversial method of those who hold it. Arguments will come to be considered rather as representations and persuasives than as logical proofs; and developments as the spontaneous, gradual and ethical growth, not as intentional and arbitrary deductions, of existing opinions.
APPLICATION OF THE SECOND AND THIRD TESTS.
THE DOGMATIC AND SACRAMENTAL PRINCIPLES, AND THE FORMATION OF
A THEOLOGY BY MEANS OF THEM.
Since religious systems, true and false, have one and the same great and comprehensive subjectmatter, they necessarily interfere with one another as rivals, both in those points in which they agree together, and in those in which they differ. That Christianity on its rise was in these circumstances of competition and controversy, is sufficiently evident even from a foregoing Chapter: it was surrounded by rites, sects, and philosophies, which contemplated the same questions, sometimes advocated the same truths, and in no slight degree wore the same external appearance. It could not stand still, it could not take its own way, and let them take theirs : they came across its path, and a conflict was inevitable. The very nature of a true philosophy relatively to other systems is to be polemical, eclectic, unitive: Christianity was polemical; it could not but be eclectic; but was it also unitive? Had it the power, keeping its own identity, of absorbing its antagonists, as Aaron's rod, according to St. Jerome's illustration, devoured the rods of the sorcerers of Egypt? Did it incorporate them into
ni way; n, and a Chilosophoclectic, t but were its devion merely of terest of the coninds it has
itself, or was it dissolved into them? Did it assimilate them into its own substance, or, keeping its name, was it simply infected by them? In a word, were its developments faithful or corrupt? Nor is this a question merely of the early centuries. When we consider the deep interest of the controversies which Christianity raises, the various minds it has swayed, the range of subjects which it embraces, the many countries it has entered, the deep philosophies it has encountered, the vicissitudes it has undergone, and the length of time through which it has lasted, it requires some assignable explanation, why we should not consider it modified and changed, that is, corrupted, from the first by the numberless influences to which it has been exposed.
Now there was this cardinal distinction between Christianity and the religions and philosophies by which it was surrounded, nay even the Judaism of of the day, that it referred all truth and revelation to one source, and that the Supreme and Only God. Pagan rites which honoured one out of ten thousand deities; philosophies which scarcely taught any source of revelation at all; Gnostic heresies which were based on Dualism, adored angels, or ascribed the two Testaments to distinct authors, could not regard truth as one, unalterable, consistent, imperative, and saving. But Christianity started with the principle that there was but “one God and one Mediator," and that He, “who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the Prophets, had in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.” Hence Christianity, and it alone, revered and protected the Divine word which it had received, as both sacred and as sanctifying. It was grace, and it was truth.
In other words, Christianity has from first to last kept fixed principles in view in the course of its developments, and thereby has been able to incorporate doctrine which was external to it without losing its own. Such continuity of principle, and such assimilating power, are each of them incompatible with the idea of a corruption, as was laid down in an early part of the Volume. The two special principles which the foregoing paragraph introduces, may be called the Dogmatic and the Sacramental, and their assimilating power shall now be illustrated.
1. That opinions in religion are not matters of indifference, but have a definite bearing on the position of their holders in the Divine Sight, is a principle on which the Evangelical Faith has from the first developed, and on which that Faith has been the first to develope. I suppose, it hardly had any exercise under the Law; the zeal and obedience of the ancient people being employed in the maintenance of divine worship and the overthrow of idolatry, not in the assertion of opinion. Faith is in this, as in other respects, a characteristic of the Gospel, except so far as it was, anticipated, as its time drew near. Elijah and the Prophets down to Ezra resisted Baal or restored the Temple Service; the Three Children refused to bow down before the golden image; Daniel would turn his face towards Jerusalem; the Maccabees spurned the Grecian paganism. On the other hand, the Greek Philosophers were authoritative indeed in their teaching, used the “ Ipse dixit," and demanded the faith of their disciples; but they did not commonly attach sanctity or reality to opinions, or view them in a religious light. Our Saviour was the first to “bear witness to the Truth,” and to die for it, when “before Pontius Pilate he witnessed a good confession.” St. John and St. Paul, following his example, both pronounce anathema on those who denied “the Truth” or “ brought in another Gospel.” Tradition tells us that the Apostle of love seconded his word with his deed, and on one occasion hastily quitted a bath