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CHAPTER VThat it is an advantage for things that cannot he searched out by Reason to be proposed as Tenets of Faith

SOME may possibly think that points which reason is unable to investigate ought not to be proposed to man to believe, since Divine Wisdom provides for every being according to the measure of its nature; and therefore we must show the necessity of things even that transcend reason being proposed by God to man for his belief.

1. One proof is this. No one strives with any earnestness of desire after anything, unless it be known to him beforehand. Since, then, as will be traced out in the following pages (B. III, Chap. CXLVIII), Divine Providence directs men to a higher good than human frailty can experience in the present life, the mental faculties ought to be evoked and led onward to something higher than our reason can attain at present, learning thereby to desire something and earnestly to tend to something that transcends the entire state of the present life. And such is the special function of the Christian religion, which stands alone in its promise of spiritual and eternal goods, whereas the Old Law, carrying temporal promises, proposed few tenets that transcended the enquiry of human reason.1010Cf. Vatican Council, Sess. 2, cap. 2: “Though it is due to divine revelation that truths of God, in themselves not inaccessible to human reason, in the present condition of mankind can be known by all readily, with firm certitude, and without admixture of error; still not on that account is revelation to be called absolutely necessary, but because God in His infinite goodness has destined man to a supernatural end, that is, to a share in the good things of God, which altogether surpass the intelligence of the human mind.” Faith is the indispensable prelude to the beatific vision, the supernatural end of man. Both are immediate knowledges of God, faith the hearing of His word on earth, vision the seeing of His face in heaven. Without revelation there would be some natural knowledge of God, but not the knowledge of faith.

2. Also another advantage is thence derived, to wit, the repression of presumption, which is the mother of error. For there are some so presumptuous of their own genius as to think that they can measure with their understanding the whole nature of the Godhead, thinking all that to be true which seems true to them, and that to be false which does not seem true to them. 6In order then that the human mind might be delivered from this presumption, and attain to a modest style of enquiry after truth, it was necessary for certain things to be proposed to man from God that altogether exceeded his understanding.

3. There is also another evident advantage in this, that any knowledge, however imperfect, of the noblest objects confers a very high perfection on the soul. And therefore, though human reason cannot fully grasp truths above reason, nevertheless it is much perfected by holding such truths after some fashion at least by faith. And therefore it is said: Many things beyond the understanding of man are shown to thee (Ecclus iii, 23). And, The things that are of God, none knoweth but the Spirit of God: but to us God hath revealed them through his Spirit (1 Cor. ii, 10, 11).


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