Sermon 4. The Usurpations of Reason

"Wisdom is justified of her children." Matt. xi. 19.

{54} [Note 1] SUCH is our Lord's comment upon the perverse conduct of His countrymen, who refused to be satisfied either with St. John's reserve or His own condescension. John the Baptist retired from the world, and when men came to seek him, spoke sternly to them. Christ, the greater Prophet, took the more lowly place, and freely mixed with sinners. The course of God's dealings with them was varied to the utmost extent which the essential truth and unchangeableness of His moral government permitted; but in neither direction of austereness nor of grace did it persuade. Having exposed this remarkable fact in the history of mankind, the Divine Speaker utters the solemn words of the text, the truth which they convey being the refuge of disappointed {55} mercy, as well as a warning addressed to all whom they might concern. "Wisdom is justified of her children:" as if He said, "There is no act on God's part, no truth of religion, to which a captious Reason may not find objections; and in truth the evidence and matter of Revelation are not addressed to the mere unstable Reason of man, nor can hope for any certain or adequate reception with it. Divine Wisdom speaks, not to the world, but to her own children, or those who have been already under her teaching, and who, knowing her voice, understand her words, and are suitable judges of them. These justify her."

2. In the text, then, a truth is expressed in the form of a proverb, which is implied all through Scripture as a basis on which its doctrine rests—viz. that there is no necessary connexion between the intellectual and moral principles of our nature [Note 2]; that on religious subjects we may prove any thing or overthrow any thing, and can arrive at truth but accidentally, if we merely investigate by what is commonly called Reason [Note 3], which is in such matters but the instrument at best, in the hands of the legitimate judge, spiritual discernment. When we consider how common it is in the world at large to consider the intellect as the characteristic part of our nature, the silence of Scripture in regard to it (not to mention its positive disparagement of it) is very striking. In the {56} Old Testament scarcely any mention is made of the existence of the Reason as a distinct and chief attribute of mind; the sacred language affording no definite and proper terms expressive either of the general gift or of separate faculties in which it exhibits itself. And as to the New Testament, need we but betake ourselves to the description given us of Him who is the Only-begotten Son and Express Image of God, to learn how inferior a station in the idea of the perfection of man's nature is held by the mere Reason? While there is no profaneness in attaching to Christ those moral attributes of goodness, truth, and holiness, which we apply to man, there would be an obvious irreverence in measuring the powers of His mind by any standard of intellectual endowments, the very names of which sound mean and impertinent when ascribed to Him. St. Luke's declaration of His growth "in wisdom and stature," with no other specified advancement, is abundantly illustrated in St. John's Gospel, in which we find the Almighty Teacher rejecting with apparent disdain all intellectual display, and confining Himself to the enunciation of deep truths, intelligible to the children of wisdom, but conveyed in language altogether destitute both of argumentative skill, and what is commonly considered eloquence.

3. To account for this silence of Scripture concerning intellectual excellence, by affirming that the Jews were not distinguished in that respect, is hardly to the point, for surely a lesson is conveyed to us in the very circumstance of such a people being chosen as the medium of a moral gift. If it be further objected, that to speak {57} concerning intellectual endowments fell beyond the range of inspiration, which was limited by its professed object, this is no objection, but the very position here maintained. No one can deny to the intellect its own excellence, nor deprive it of its due honours; the question is merely this, whether it be not limited in its turn, as regards its range [Note 4], so as not without intrusion to exercise itself as an independent authority in the field of morals and religion.

4. Such surely is the case; and the silence of Scripture concerning intellectual gifts need not further be insisted on, either in relation to the fact itself, or the implication contained in it. Were a being unacquainted with mankind to receive information concerning human nature from the Bible, would he ever conjecture its actual state, as developed in society, in all the various productions and exhibitions of what is called talent? And, next viewing the world as it is, and the Bible in connexion with it, what would he see in the actual history of Revelation, but the triumph of the moral powers of man over the intellectual, of holiness over ability, far more than of mind over brute force? Great as was the power of the lion and the bear, the leopard, and that fourth nameless beast, dreadful and terrible and strong exceedingly, God had weapons of their own kind to bruise and tame them. The miracles of the Church displayed more physical power than the hosts of Pharaoh and Sennacherib. Power, not mind, was opposed {58} to power; yet to the refined Pagan intellect, the rivalry of intellect was not granted. The foolish things of the world confounded the wise, far more completely than the weak the mighty. Human philosophy was beaten from its usurped province, but not by any counter-philosophy; and unlearned Faith, establishing itself by its own inherent strength, ruled the Reason as far as its own interests were concerned [Note 5], and from that time has employed it in the Church, first as a captive, then as a servant; not as an equal, and in nowise (far from it) as a patron.

5. I propose now to make some remarks upon the place which Reason holds in relation to Religion, the light in which we should view it, and certain encroachments of which it is sometimes guilty; and I think that, without a distinct definition of the word, which would carry us too far from our subject, I can make it plain what I take it to mean. Sometimes, indeed, it stands for all in which man differs from the brutes, and so includes in its signification the faculty of distinguishing between right and wrong, and the directing principle in conduct. In this sense I certainly do not here use it, but in that narrower signification, which it usually bears, as representing or synonymous with the intellectual powers, and as opposed as such to the moral qualities, and to Faith.

6. This opposition between Faith and Reason takes {59} place in two ways, when either of the two encroaches upon the province of the other [Note 6]. It would be an absurdity to attempt to find out mathematical truths by the purity and acuteness of the moral sense. It is a form of this mistake which has led men to apply such Scripture communications as are intended for religious purposes to the determination of physical questions. This error is perfectly understood in these days by all thinking men. This was the usurpation of the schools of theology in former ages, to issue their decrees to the subjects of the Senses and the Intellect. No wonder Reason and Faith were at variance. The other cause of disagreement takes place when Reason is the aggressor, and encroaches on the province of Religion, attempting to judge of those truths which are subjected to another part of our nature, the moral sense [Note 7]. For instance, suppose an acute man, who had never conformed his life to the precepts of Scripture, attempted to decide on the degree and kind of intercourse which a Christian ought to have with the world, or on the measure of guilt involved in the use of light and profane words, or which of the Christian doctrines were generally necessary to salvation, or to judge of the wisdom or use of consecrating places of worship, or to determine what kind and extent of reverence should be paid to the Lord's Day, or what portion of our possessions set apart for religious purposes; questions these which are addressed to the cultivated moral perception, or, what is sometimes improperly {60} termed, "feeling;"—improperly, because feeling comes and goes, and, having no root in our nature, speaks with no divine authority; but the moral perception, though varying in the mass of men, is fixed in each individual, and is an original element within us. Hume, in his Essay on Miracles, has well propounded a doctrine, which at the same time he misapplies. He speaks of "those dangerous friends or disguised enemies to the Christian Religion, who have undertaken to defend it by the principles of human Reason." "Our most holy Religion," he proceeds, "is founded on Faith, not on Reason." This is said in irony; but it is true as far as every important question in Revelation is concerned, and to forget this is the error which is at present under consideration.

7. That it is a common error is evident from the anxiety generally felt to detach the names of men of ability from the infidel party. Why should we be desirous to disguise the fact, if it be such, that men distinguished, some for depth and originality of mind, others for acuteness, others for prudence and good sense in practical matters, yet have been indifferent to Revealed Religion,—why, unless we have some misconceived notion concerning the connexion between the intellect and the moral principle? Yet, is it not a fact, for the proof or disproof of which we need not go to history or philosophy, when the humblest village may show us that those persons who turn out badly, as it is called,—who break the laws first of society, then of their country,—are commonly the very men who have received more than the ordinary share of intellectual {61} gifts? Without turning aside to explain or account for this, thus much it seems to show us, that the powers of the intellect (in that degree, at least, in which, in matter of fact, they are found amongst us) do not necessarily lead us in the direction of our moral instincts, or confirm them; but if the agreement between the two be but matter of accident, what testimony do we gain from the mere Reason to the truths of Religion?

8. Why should we be surprised that one faculty of our compound nature should not be able to do that which is the work of another? It is as little strange that the mind, which has only exercised itself on matters of literature or science, and never submitted itself to the influence of divine perceptions, should be unequal to the contemplation of a moral revelation, as that it should not perform the office of the senses. There is a strong analogy between the two cases. Our Reason assists the senses in various ways, directing the application of them, and arranging the evidence they supply; it makes use of the facts subjected to them, and to an unlimited extent deduces conclusions from them, foretells facts which are to be ascertained, and confirms doubtful ones; but the man who neglected experiments and trusted to his vigour of talent, would be called a theorist; and the blind man who seriously professed to lecture on light and colours could scarcely hope to gain an audience [Note 8]. Or suppose his lecture {62} proceeded, what might be expected from him? Starting from the terms of science which would be the foundation and materials of his system, instead of apprehended facts, his acuteness and prompt imagination might in reasoning carry him freely forward into the open field of the science, he might discourse with ease and fluency, till we almost forgot his lamentable deprivation; at length on a sudden, he would lose himself in some inexpressibly great mistake, betrayed in the midst of his career by some treacherous word, which he incautiously explained too fully or dwelt too much upon; and we should find that he had been using words without corresponding ideas:—on witnessing his failure, we should view it indulgently, qualifying our criticism by the remark, that the exhibition was singularly good for a blind man.

9. Such would be the fate of the officious Reason [Note 9], busying itself without warrant in the province of sense. In its due subordinate place there, it acts but as an instrument; it does but assist and expedite, saving the senses the time and trouble of working. Give a man a hundred eyes and hands for natural science, and you materially loosen his dependence on the ministry of Reason.

10. This illustration, be it observed, is no adequate parallel of the truth which led to it; for the subject of light and colours is at least within the grasp of scientific definitions, and therefore cognizable by the intellect {63} far better than morals. Yet apply it, such as it is, to the matter in hand, not, of course, with the extravagant object of denying the use of the Reason in religious inquiries, but in order to ascertain what is its real place in the conduct of them. And in explanation of it I would make two additional observations:—first, we must put aside the indirect support afforded to Revelation by the countenance of the intellectually gifted portion of mankind; I mean, in the way of influence. Reputation for talent, learning, scientific knowledge, has natural and just claims on our respect, and recommends a cause to our notice. So does power; and in this way power, as well as intellectual endowments, is necessary to the maintenance of religion, in order to secure from mankind a hearing for an unpleasant subject; but power, when it has done so much, attempts no more; or if it does, it loses its position, and is involved in the fallacy of persecution. Here the parallel holds good—it is as absurd to argue men, as to torture them, into believing.

11. But in matter of fact (it will be said) Reason can go farther; for we can reason about Religion, and we frame its Evidences. Here, then, secondly, I observe, we must deduct from the real use of the Reason in religious inquiries, whatever is the mere setting right of its own mistakes. The blind man who reasoned himself into errors in Optics might possibly reason himself out of them; yet this would be no proof that extreme acuteness was necessary or useful in the science itself. It was but necessary for a blind man; that is, supposing he was bent on attempting to do {64} what from the first he ought not to have attempted; and, after all, with the uncertainty whether he would gain or lose in his search after scientific truth by such an attempt. Now, so numerous and so serious have been the errors of theorists on religious subjects (that is, of those who have speculated without caring to act on their sense of right; or have rested their teaching on mere arguments, instead of aiming at a direct contemplation of its subject-matter), that the correction of those errors has required the most vigorous and subtle exercise of the Reason, and has almost engrossed its efforts. Unhappily the blind teacher in morals can ensure himself a blind audience, to whom he may safely address his paradoxes, which are sometimes admitted even by religious men, on the ground of those happy conjectures which his acute Reason now and then makes, and which they can verify. What an indescribable confusion hence arises between truth and falsehood, in systems, parties and persons! What a superhuman talent is demanded to unravel the chequered and tangled web; and what gratitude is due to the gifted individual who by his learning or philosophy in part achieves the task! yet not gratitude in such a case to the Reason as a principle of research, which is merely undoing its own mischief, and poorly and tardily redressing its intrusion into a province not its own; but to the man, the moral being, who has subjected it in his own person to the higher principles of his nature.

12. To take an instance. What an extreme exercise of intellect is shown in the theological teaching of the Church! Yet how was it necessary? chiefly, from the {65} previous errors of heretical reasonings, on subjects addressed to the moral perception. For while Faith was engaged in that exact and well-instructed devotion to Christ which no words can suitably describe, the forward Reason stepped in upon the yet unenclosed ground of doctrine, and attempted to describe there, from its own resources [Note 10], an image of the Invisible. Henceforth the Church was obliged, in self-defence, to employ the gifts of the intellect in the cause of God, to trace out (as near as might be) the faithful shadow of those truths, which unlearned piety admits and acts upon, without the medium of clear intellectual representation.

13. This obviously holds good as regards the Evidences [Note 11] also, great part of which are rather answers to objections than direct arguments for Revelation; and even the direct arguments are far more effective in the confutation of captious opponents, than in the conviction of inquirers. Doubtless the degree in which we depend on argument in religious subjects varies with each individual, so that no strict line can be drawn: still, let it be inquired whether these Evidences are not rather to be viewed as splendid philosophical investigations than practical arguments; at best bulwarks intended for {66} overawing the enemy by their strength and number, rather than for actual use in war. In matter of fact, how many men do we suppose, in a century, out of the whole body of Christians, have been primarily brought to belief, or retained in it, by an intimate and lively perception of the force of what are technically called the Evidences? And why are there so few? Because to the mind already familiar with the truths of Natural Religion, enough of evidence is at once afforded by the mere fact of the present existence of Christianity; which, viewed in its connexion with its principles and upholders and effects [Note 12], bears on the face of it the signs of a divine ordinance in the very same way in which the visible world attests to us its own divine origin;—a more accurate investigation, in which superior talents are brought into play, merely bringing to light an innumerable alternation of arguments, for and against it, which forms indeed an ever-increasing series in its behalf, but still does not get beyond the first suggestion of plain sense and religiously-trained reason; and in fact, perhaps, never comes to a determination. Nay, so alert is the instinctive power of an educated conscience, that by some secret faculty, and without any intelligible reasoning process [Note 13], it seems to detect moral truth wherever it lies hid, and feels a conviction of its own accuracy which bystanders cannot account for; and this especially in the case of Revealed Religion, which is one comprehensive moral fact,—according to the saying {67} which is parallel to the text, "I know My sheep, and am known of Mine." [John x. 14.]

14. From considerations such as the foregoing, it appears that exercises of Reason are either external, or at least only ministrative, to religious inquiry and knowledge: accidental to them, not of their essence; useful in their place, but not necessary. But in order to obtain further illustrations, and a view of the importance of the doctrine which I would advocate, let us proceed to apply it to the circumstances of the present times. Here, first, in finding fault with the times, it is right to disclaim all intention of complaining of them. To murmur and rail at the state of things under which we find ourselves, and to prefer a former state, is not merely indecorous, it is absolutely unmeaning. We are ourselves necessary parts of the existing system, out of which we have individually grown into being, into our actual position in society. Depending, therefore, on the times as a condition of existence, in wishing for other times we are, in fact, wishing we had never been born. Moreover, it is ungrateful to a state of society, from which we daily enjoy so many benefits, to rail against it. Yet there is nothing unbecoming, unmeaning, or ungrateful in pointing out its faults and wishing them away.

15. In this day, then, we see a very extensive development of an usurpation which has been preparing, with more or less of open avowal, for some centuries,—the usurpation of Reason in morals and {68} religion [Note 14]. In the first years of its growth it professed to respect the bounds of justice and sobriety: it was little in its own eyes; but getting strength, it was lifted up; and casting down all that is called God, or worshipped, it took its seat in the temple of God, as His representative. Such, at least, is the consummation at which the Oppressor is aiming;—which he will reach, unless He who rids His Church of tyrants in their hour of pride, look down from the pillar of the cloud, and trouble his host.

16. Now, in speaking of an usurpation of the Reason at the present day, stretching over the province of Religion, and in fact over the Christian Church, no admission is made concerning the degree of cultivation which the Reason has at present reached in the territory which it has unjustly entered. A tyrant need not be strong; he keeps his ground by prescription and through fear. It is not the profound thinkers who intrude with their discussions and criticisms within the sacred limits of moral truth. A really philosophical mind, if unhappily it has ruined its own religious perceptions, will be silent; it will understand that Religion does not lie in its way: it may disbelieve its truths, it may account belief in them a weakness, or, on the other hand, a happy dream, a delightful error, which it cannot itself enjoy;—any how, it will not usurp. But men who know but a little, are for that very reason most under the {69} power of the imagination, which fills up for them at pleasure those departments of knowledge to which they are strangers; and, as the ignorance of abject minds shrinks from the spectres which it frames there, the ignorance of the self-confident is petulant and presuming.

17. The usurpations of the Reason may be dated from the Reformation. Then, together with the tyranny, the legitimate authority of the ecclesiastical power was more or less overthrown; and in some places its ultimate basis also, the moral sense. One school of men resisted the Church; another went farther, and rejected the supreme authority of the law of Conscience. Accordingly, Revealed Religion was in a great measure stripped of its proof; for the existence of the Church had been its external evidence, and its internal had been supplied by the moral sense. Reason now undertook to repair the demolition it had made, and to render the proof of Christianity independent both of the Church and of the law of nature. From that time (if we take a general view of its operations) it has been engaged first in making difficulties by the mouth of unbelievers, and then claiming power in the Church as a reward for having, by the mouth of apologists, partially removed them.

18. The following instances are in point, in citing which let no disrespect be imagined towards such really eminent men as were at various times concerned in them. Wrong reason could not be met, when miracle and inspiration were suspended, except by rightly-directed Reason.

19. (1.) As to the proof of the authority of Scripture. {70} This had hitherto rested on the testimony borne to it by the existing Church. Reason volunteered proof, not different, however, in kind, but more subtle and complicated in its form,—took the evidence of past ages, instead of the present, and committed its keeping (as was necessary) to the oligarchy of learning: at the same time, it boasted of the service thus rendered to the cause of Revelation, that service really consisting in the external homage thus paid to it by learning and talent, not in any great direct practical benefit, where men honestly wish to find and to do God's will, to act for the best, and to prefer what is safe and pious, to what shows well in argument.

20. (2.) Again, the Evidences themselves have been elaborately expanded; thus satisfying, indeed, the liberal curiosity of the mind, and giving scope for a devotional temper to admire the manifold wisdom of God, but doing comparatively little towards keeping men from infidelity, or turning them to a religious life. The same remark applies to such works on Natural Theology as treat of the marks of design in the creation, which are beautiful and interesting to the believer in a God; but, when men have not already recognized God's voice within them, ineffective, and this moreover possibly from some unsoundness in the intellectual basis of the argument [Note 15]. {71}

21. (3.) A still bolder encroachment was contemplated by the Reason, when it attempted to deprive the Moral Law of its intrinsic authority, and to rest it upon a theory of present expediency. Thus, it constituted itself the court of ultimate appeal in religious disputes, under pretence of affording a clearer and more scientifically-arranged code than is to be collected from the obscure precedents and mutilated enactments of the Conscience.

22. (4.) A further error, connected with the assumption just noticed, has been that of making intellectually-gifted men arbiters of religious questions, in the place of the children of wisdom. As far as the argument for Revelation is concerned, it is only necessary to show that Christianity has had disciples among men of the highest ability; whereas a solicitude already alluded to has been shown to establish the orthodoxy of some great names in philosophy and science, as if truly it were a great gain to religion, and not to themselves, if they were believers. Much more unworthy has been the practice of boasting of the admissions of infidels concerning the beauty or utility of the Christian system, as if it were a great thing for a divine gift to obtain praise for human excellence from proud or immoral men. Far different is the spirit of our own Church, which, rejoicing, {72} as she does, to find her children walking in truth, never forgets the dignity and preciousness of the gifts she offers; as appears, for instance, in the warnings prefacing the Communion Service, and in the Commination,—above all, in the Athanasian Creed, in which she but follows the example of the early Church, which first withdrew her mysteries from the many, then, when controversy exposed them, guarded them with an anathema,—in each case, lest curious Reason might rashly gaze and perish.

23. (5.) Again,—another dangerous artifice of the usurping Reason has been, the establishment of Societies, in which literature or science has been the essential bond of union, to the exclusion of religious profession. These bodies, many of them founded with no bad intention, have gradually led to an undue exaltation of the Reason, and have formed an unconstitutional power, advising and controlling the legitimate authorities of the soul. In troubled times, such as the present, associations, the most inoffensive in themselves, and the most praiseworthy in their object, hardly escape this blame. Of this nature have been the literary meetings and Societies of the last two centuries, not to mention recently-established bodies of a less innocent character.

24. (6.) And lastly, let it be a question, whether the theories on Government, which exclude Religion from the essential elements of the state, are not also off-shoots of the same usurpation.

25. And now, what remains but to express a confidence, which cannot deceive itself, that, whatever be {73} the destined course of the usurpations of the Reason in the scheme of Divine Providence, its fall must at last come, as that of other proud aspirants before it? "Fret not thyself," says David, "because of evil doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity; for they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb;" perishing as that high-minded power, which the Prophet speaks of, who sat in the seat of God, as if wiser than Daniel, and acquainted with all secrets, till at length he was cast out from the holy place as profane, in God's good time [Note 16]. Our plain business, in the meantime, is to ascertain and hold fast our appointed station in the troubled scene, and then to rid ourselves of all dread of the future; to be careful, while we freely cultivate the Reason in all its noble functions, to keep it in its subordinate [Note 17] place in our nature: while we employ it industriously in the service of Religion, not to imagine that, in this service, we are doing any great thing, or directly advancing its influence over the heart; and, while we promote the education of others in all useful knowledge, to beware of admitting any principle of union, or standard of reward, which may practically disparage the supreme authority of Christian fellowship. Our great danger is, lest we should not understand our own principles, and should weakly surrender customs and institutions, which go far to constitute the Church what she is, the pillar and ground of moral truth,— {74} lest, from a wish to make religion acceptable to the world in general, more free from objections than any moral system can be made, more immediately and visibly beneficial to the temporal interests of the community than God's comprehensive appointments condescend to be, we betray it to its enemies; lest we rashly take the Scriptures from the Church's custody, and commit them to the world, that is, to what is called public opinion; which men boast, indeed, will ever be right on the whole, but which, in fact, being the opinion of men who, as a body, have not cultivated the internal moral sense, and have externally no immutable rules to bind them, is, in religious questions, only by accident right, or only on very broad questions, and tomorrow will betray interests which today it affects to uphold.

26. However, what are the essentials of our system, both in doctrine and discipline; what we may safely give up, and what we must firmly uphold; such practical points are to be determined by a more mature wisdom than can be expected in a discussion like the present, or indeed can be conveyed in any formal treatise. It is a plainer and a sufficiently important object, to contribute to the agitation of the general subject, and to ask questions which others are to answer.

(Preached on Sunday afternoon, December 11, 1831, in the Author's turn as Select Preacher.)

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Notes

1. [Wisdom, Reason, in this Discourse, is taken for secular Reason, or the "wisdom of the world," that is, Reason exercising itself on secular principles in the subject-matter of religion and morals, whereas every department of thought has its own principles, homogeneous with itself, and necessary for reasoning justly in it. Vide Preface.]
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2. [That is, as found in individuals, in the concrete.]
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3. [Because we may be reasoning from wrong principles, principles unsuitable to the subject-matter reasoned upon. Thus, the moral sense, or "spiritual discernment" must supply us with the assumptions to be used as premisses in religious inquiry.]
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4. [That is, the secular Reason, or Reason, as informed by a secular spirit, or starting from secular principles, as, for instance, utilitarian, or political, epicurean, or forensic.]
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5. [That is, unlearned Faith was strong enough, in matters relating to its own province, to compel the reasoning faculty, as was just, to use as its premisses in that province the truths of Natural Religion.]
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6. [Vide "Discourses on University Education," Nos. ii. and iii., 2nd edition.]
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7. [By "aggressive Reason" is meant the mind reasoning unduly, that is, on assumptions foreign and injurious to religion and morals.]
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8. [That is, not only are the principles proper to a given subject-matter necessary for a successful inquiry into that subject-matter, but there must be also a personal familiarity with it. Vide the Preface.]
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9. [And so "captious Reason," supr. 1; "mere Reason," 2; "human Reason," 6; "forward Reason," infr. 12; "usurping Reason," 23; "rebellious Reason," v. 18; "versatile Reason," v. 27, that is, the reason of secular minds, venturing upon religious questions.]
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10. ["Canons, founded on physics, were made" by the early heretics, "the basis of discussions about possibilities and impossibilities in a spiritual substance. A contemporary writer, after saying that they supported their 'God-denying apostasy' by syllogistic forms of argument, proceeds, 'Abandoning the inspired writings they devote themselves to geometry.' And Epiphanius: 'Aiming to exhibit the divine nature by means of Aristotelic syllogisms and geometrical data they are led on to declare, &c.'" History of Arians, p. 35, Edit. 3.]
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11. [By the Evidences of Christianity are meant exercises of Reason in proof of its divinity, explicit and posteriori. Vide Preface.]
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12. [That is, viewed in the light of verisimilitudes or "the Notes of the Church."]
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13. [That is, by an implicit act of reasoning.]
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14. [That is, the usurpation of secular Reason, or the claim of men of the world to apply their ordinary sentiments and conventional modes of judging to the subject of religion; parallel to the conduct of the man in the fable, who felt there was "nothing like leather."]
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15. [This remark does not touch the argument from order as seen in the universe. "As a cause implies a will, so does order imply a purpose. Did we see flint celts, in their various receptacles all over Europe, scored always with certain special and characteristic marks, even though those marks had no assignable meaning or final cause whatever, we should take that very repetition, which indeed is the principle of order, to be a proof of intelligence. The agency, then, which has kept up and keeps up the general laws of nature, energizing at once in Sirius and on the earth, and on the earth in its primitive period as well as in the nineteenth century, must be Mind, and nothing else; and Mind at least as wide and as enduring in its living action as the immeasurable ages and spaces of the universe on which that agency has left its traces." Essay on Assent, iv. i. 4.]
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16. Ezek. xxviii. 3, 16.
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17. [Subordinate, because the knowledge of God is the highest function of our nature, and, as regards that knowledge, Reason only holds the place of an instrument.]
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