|« Prev||III. Examination of the contribution of Rev.…||Next »|
III. The third Essay in the present volume is by “the Rev. Baden Powell, M.A., F.R.S., Savilian Professor of Geometry in the University of Oxford,”—a gentleman with whose labours I shall deal briefly and gently for two reasons. His assertions admit of summary refutation; and he has already, (alas!) passed beyond the limit of earthly Criticism. I desire to add concerning him, that in the private relations of life he was a friendly and amiable person.
The solemn circumstance already adverted to, would have kept me silent altogether. When a writer is no longer able to defend himself, it is ungenerous to attack him: and at a time when he knows far more wonders than are dreamed of by any one on the Earth’s surface, it seems unbecoming to stand reasoning over his grave about an “antecedent probability.” But I am addressing not the dead, but the living,—to whom, in the pages of ‘Essays and Reviews,’ Professor Powell “being dead yet speaketh.”
He entitles his contribution,—“On the Study of the Evidences of Christianity:” but, as often happens with performances of the like nature, the title of his Essay gives a wrong notion of its contents. It ought to have been called “The Validity of the Evidence from Miracles considered,” or rather “denied.”
There is nothing new in the present attack on the Miracles of Scripture. The author disposes of them xlviiby a single assertion. “What is alleged,” (he says,) “is a case of the supernatural. But no testimony can reach to the supernatural.” (p. 107.) The inference is obvious.—Again: “an event may be so incredible intrinsically as to set aside any degree of testimony.” (p. 106.) Such an event he declares a Miracle to be; and explains that “from the nature of our antecedent convictions, the probability of some kind of mistake or deception somewhere, though we know not where, is greater than the probability of the event really happening in the way, and from the causes assigned.” (pp. 106-7.) This merely amounts to asserting that the antecedent improbability of Miracles is so great as to make them incredible. The writer does not attempt to establish this point. “The present discussion,” (he says,) “is not intended to be of a controversial kind; it is purely contemplative and theoretical.” (p. 100.) And yet, he cannot suppose that the Universal Church will surrender its convictions and reverse its deliberate judgment, at the merely “contemplative and theoretical” suggestions of an individual, however respectable he may happen to be. Against his mere assertion, we claim a right to set the result of Bp. Butler’s careful investigation of the same subject:—“That there certainly is no such presumption against Miracles, as to render them in any wise incredible: that, on the contrary, our being able to discern reasons for them, gives a positive credibility to the history of them, in cases where those reasons hold: and that it is by no means certain that there is any peculiar presumption at all, from analogy, even in the lowest degree, against Miracles, as distinguished from other extraordinary phenomena6464 Analogy, P. II. ch. ii., ad fin..”xlviii
Professor Powell’s objection against Miracles is, in fact, practically that of the infidel Hume; who asserted “that no testimony for any kind of Miracle can ever possibly amount to a probability, much less to a proof.” He argued that Miracles, being contrary to general experience, are incapable of proof. He maintained also, (with Spinoza,) that Miracles, being contrary to the established laws of Nature, imply, in the very character of them, a palpable contradiction. This latter position seems to be identical with that adopted by Professor Powell.
In a certain place, this author finds fault with “the too frequent assumption . . . of the part of the . . . . Advocate, when the character to be sustained should be rather that of the unbiassed Judge.” (p. 95.) But what are we to think of the judicial fairness of one who is not only Advocate and Judge in his own cause; but who even turns the Witnesses out of Court; and will listen to no evidence,—on the plea that it cannot be trustworthy; or at least, that it shall be unavailing?—“I express myself with caution,” (says Bp. Butler, with reference to arguments against the credibility of Revelation,) “lest I should be mistaken to vilify Reason; which is indeed the only faculty we have wherewith to judge concerning anything, even Revelation itself: or be misunderstood to assert that a supposed revelation cannot be proved false, from internal characters. For it may contain clear immoralities, or contradictions; and either of these would prove it false. Nor will I take upon me to affirm, that nothing else can possibly render any supposed revelation incredible. Yet still the observation is, I think, true beyond doubt; that objections against xlix Christianity, as distinguished from objections against its evidence, are frivolous6565 Analogy, P. II. ch. iii., ad init..”
That a certain occurrence or phenomenon “is due to supernatural causes,” Professor Powell maintains is “entirely dependent on the previous belief and assumptions of the parties.” (p. 107.) He forgets that he grounds his own denial of the possibility of a Miracle, on nothing stronger than “the nature of” his own “antecedent convictions.” Thus, the question becomes merely a personal one between Mr. Baden Powell and the Apostles of Christ. The reasonableness of the “antecedent convictions” in the one case have to be set against the reasonableness of the “antecedent convictions” in the other. Either party, (according to this view,) has its own “previous belief and assumptions;” which, in the one case, are known to have produced conviction; in the other, they are unhappily found to have resulted in a rejection of Miracles. But then it happens, unfortunately, that in the case of the Apostles and others, conviction of the truth of our Lord’s Miracles was based on knowledge, and experience of a matter of fact: in the case of Professor Powell, disbelief is founded on certain “antecedent convictions” only: namely, “the inconceivableness of imagined interruptions of natural Order, or supposed suspensions of the Laws of matter.” (p. 110.) He is never tired of repeating that “in an age of physical research like the present, all highly cultivated minds and duly advanced intellects (!) have imbibed, more or less, the lessons of the Inductive Philosophy; and have, at least in some measure, learned to appreciate the grand foundation conception of universal Law:” (p. 133:) that “the entire range lof the Inductive Philosophy is at once based upon, and in every instance tends to confirm, by immense accumulation of evidence, the grand truth of the universal Order and constancy of natural causes, as a primary law of belief; so strongly entertained and fixed in the mind of every truly inductive inquirer, that he cannot even conceive the possibility of its failure.” (p. 109.)
I gladly avail myself of a page from the writings of a thoughtful writer of our own, who, half a century ago, reviewed the very errors which are being so industriously reproduced among ourselves at this day,—certainly not with more ability than of old:—“Let us examine a little farther into the weight of the argument derived from the supposed immutability of the Laws of Nature. It has constantly been the theme of modern Unbelievers, that the course of Nature is fixed, eternal, unalterable; and that nothing which is supposed to violate it can possibly take place. Now, we may readily allow, that the course of Nature is unalterable by human power; nay, even by the power of any created being whatsoever. But the question is,—Are these Laws unalterable by Him who made them? Proof of this is requisite, before the argument from the immutability of the Laws of Nature can have the least force. We may safely assert, however, that proof of this is absolutely impossible.—‘Facts,’ it may be said, ‘daily passing before us, warrant us in supposing its laws to be unchangeable.’ Perhaps so. But if a thousand or more facts have occurred, since the Creation of the World, in which those Laws appear to have been over-ruled, or suspended, is such a conclusion then warrantable? Even if there had never been a single instance of a Miracle recorded, since the liCreation; yet the conclusion would not be just or logical, that no such thing is possible. But with such a multiplicity of instances to the contrary as are already on record, it is no better than a shameless assertion, in direct opposition to the evidence of men’s senses and experience. Nay, more; the argument is atheistical. For, either God made and ordained these Laws of Nature; and may, consequently, at His pleasure, unmake or suspend them: or else, these laws are self-framed, and Nature is independent of the God of Nature; which is saying, in other words, that the material Universe is not governed by any Supreme Intelligence.
“This latter opinion appears, indeed, to be the tenet of all who resort to arguments of this kind, in opposition to the credibility of Miracles. Thus it is said, [by Hume,] that every effect must have a cause; and. that, therefore, a Miracle must have a cause in Nature; otherwise, it cannot be effected.—But, is not the Will of God, without any other agency, or pro-disposing cause, sufficient for the purpose? When God created the World out of nothing, what preexisting cause was there, except His own omnipotent Will to produce the effect? Why then is not the same Will sufficient to work Miracles?
“‘But,’ says another Sophist, [Spinoza,]—‘God is the Author of the Laws of Nature; so that whatever opposes those Laws, is necessarily repugnant to the Divine nature: if, therefore, we believe that God may act in a manner contrary to those laws, we, in effect, believe that He may do what is contrary to His own nature; which is absurd and impossible.’
“The reasoning turns upon the supposition that God is actuated by an absolute necessity of His Nature, liiand not by his Will: or, rather, that He hath neither Will, nor Intellect. Otherwise, it were easy to perceive, that in suspending the operation of His own Laws, God cannot be charged with doing anything contradictory to His own nature; since He may justly be supposed to have as good reasons for departing from those Laws, as for framing them: and as we know not why He framed them in such a manner, and no otherwise; so He may have the best and wisest reasons for the suspension of them, which it is not for us to call in question. To speak of the Supreme Being as actuated by a kind of physical necessity, and not by His Will, is to confound the God of Nature with Nature itself; which is the very essence of Atheism, and never can be reconciled with any just notions of the Deity, as a Being of intellectual and moral perfections6666 Van Mildert’s Historical View of the Rise and Progress of Infidelity, &c. Serm. xxi., (ed. 1806,) vol. ii. pp. 313-17..”
It is by no means inconceivable, therefore, that the great Cause of Creation, and first Author of Law should interfere at any given time in the established Order of Nature. Moreover, it is irrational, on sufficient testimony, to disbelieve that He has sometimes so interposed. To deny that this is conceivable, is to make God inferior to His own decree; to pronounce it incredible that the Lawgiver should be superior to His own Laws. “The universal subordination of causation,” (p. 134,) we as freely admit as the Professor himself: but then we contend that everything else must be subordinate to the First great Cause of all. Worse than unphilosophical is it to argue as the Professor presumes to do, concerning the Most High; but unphilosophical in the strictest sense it is. For it is to reason about Him, (the finite concerning the liiiInfinite!) as if we understood Him; we, who can barely decipher a little part of His works! A few more remarks on this subject will be found in my viith Sermon.
We are anxious to know if the whole of the case is really before us. A few more extracts from Professor Powell’s Essay seem necessary to do full justice to his view of the matter:—“All moral evidence must essentially have respect to the parties to be convinced. ’Signs’ might be adapted peculiarly to the state of moral or intellectual progress of one age, or one class of persons, and not be suited to that of others. . . . And it is to the entire difference in the ideas, prepossessions, modes, and grounds of belief in those times, that we may trace the reason why Miracles, which would be incredible now, were not so in the age, and under the circumstances, in which they are stated to have occurred.” (p. 117.) . . . “An evidential appeal which in a long past age was convincing, as made to the state of knowledge in that age6767 “Columbus’ prediction of the eclipse to the native islanders, was as true an argument to them as if the event had really been supernatural.” p. 115., might have not only no effect, but even an injurious tendency, if urged in the present, and referring to what is at variance with existing scientific conceptions; just as the arguments of the present age would have been unintelligible to a former.”
“In a period of advanced physical knowledge, the reference to what was believed in past times, if at variance with principles now acknowledged, could afford little ground of appeal: in fact, would damage the argument rather than assist it.” (p. 126.)
“It becomes imperatively necessary, that such views should be suggested as may be really suitable to livbetter informed minds, and may meet the increasing demands of an age pretending at least to greater enlightenment.” (p. 126.)
There is nothing in the additional suggestions thus thrown out which in reality affects the question at issue. Certain antecedent considerations were before insisted on, which (it was said) “must be paramount to all attestation.” (p. 107.) These have been disposed of. The writer now tells us that he does not question “the honesty or veracity of the testimony, or the reality of the impressions on the minds of the witnesses.” (p. 106.) It remains to inquire therefore to what natural causes, events which were once thought miraculous, may reasonably be referred since the so-called Miracles of the imperfectly-informed age of our Lord and His Apostles will not endure the scrutiny of the present age of scientific enlightenment.
But this, unless it be a proposal to open the whole question afresh,—to examine the Miracles themselves,—to consider them one by one,—to inquire into their exact nature,—and to investigate their attendant circumstances,—is unmeaning. For we cannot, as reasonable men, dismiss a vast body of august events, differing so considerably one from another, with a vague inuendo that there was probably “some kind of mistake or deception somewhere, though we do not know where:” (p. 106:) a hint that natural events may have been regarded as supernatural by an unscientific age, (which I believe was Schleiermacher’s view:) and so forth. The two miraculous Draughts of fishes,—the Stater found in the fish’s mouth,—the stilling of the Storm,—might perhaps, by a little rhetorical sophistry, in unscrupulous hands, be so disposed of. But the Creative Power displayed on the two occasions of lva miraculous feeding of thousands,—the giving of sight to a man born blind,—the calling of Lazarus out of the grave where he had been for four days buried;—these are transactions which resist every attempt of the enemy to explain away, as unscientific misconceptions. They may be powerless to produce conviction in some now, as they were powerless to produce conviction in some then: but they cannot be set aside by an insinuation. There could not have been any mistake when the Five Thousand were fed with five loaves, and twelve baskets full were gathered up; or when the Four Thousand were fed with seven loaves, and fragments enough to fill seven baskets remained over6868 St. Mark viii. 19, 20.. There was no room for deception in the case of the man born blind; for that case immediately underwent a judicial scrutiny6969 St. John ix.. Lazarus bound hand and foot with grave-clothes required that the bystanders should “loose him and let him go7070 St. John xi. 44.:” but from that moment, neither supposed scientific necessity, nor antecedent considerations, nor the ordinary course of Nature, nor any other creature, will avail to bind him any more!
This may suffice on the subject of Professor Powell’s Essay. On the great question itself, I have said something in my Seventh Sermon, to which the reader is requested to refer.—The performance now under consideration abounds in incorrect statements, while it revives not a few exploded objections; but I have considered the only points in it which are material.
Thus the author assumes “that, unlike the essential Doctrines of Christianity, ‘the same yesterday, to-day, lviand for ever,’ these external accessories, [Miracles, for example,] constitute a subject which of necessity is perpetually taking somewhat at least of a new form, with the successive phases of opinion and knowledge.” (p. 94.) But, (waiving for the moment the impossibility of severing the Doctrines of the Gospel from the miraculous evidence that our Lord was a Teacher sent from Heaven7171 Consider St. John iii. 2, (referring to ii. 23 and iv. 45.) So ix. 16: x. 21 and 38: xiv. 10, 11. Also xv. 24.; and consider St. Luke vii. 16: also 21, 22: St. Matth. xii. 22, 23: St. John vii. 31: xii. 17-19., it requires no ability to perceive that although “opinion” should alter daily, and “knowledge” increase ever so much, yet, events professing to be miraculous, being plain matters of fact, are to-day exactly what and where they were many centuries ago. Physical Science may pretend (with Paulus) to explain them on natural principles, truly; and while she does so, the world is sure to give her a patient, even an indulgent hearing. But then she must let it be known what she proposes to explain, and how she proposes to explain it. She must be so indulgent also, as to listen while we, in turn, shew her on what grounds we find it impossible to accept her Theory. “The inevitable progress of research,” (says this author,) “must, within a longer or shorter period, unravel all that seems most marvellous; and what is at present least understood will become as familiarly known to the Science of the future, as those points which a few centuries ago, were involved in equal obscurity, but are now thoroughly understood.” (p. 109.) Such a vaticination as regards Miracles, is, to say the least, premature and until it can appeal to incipient accomplishment, it must be regarded lviias nugatory also. I am not aware, that as yet one single Miracle has been struck off the list; yet Miracles have now been before the world a long time, and they have not wanted enemies either.
To begin Divinity with a discussion of the “Evidences,” we do indeed hold to be a beginning at the wrong end. At the same time, all of Professor Powell’s opening remarks, in which he insinuates that the Church would bar, or would stifle discussion concerning the evidences of Religion, are obviously untrue. No scrutiny of Christian Miracles, however rigid, is stopped by the admonition that such narratives “ought to be held sacred, and exempt from the unhallowed criticism of human Reason.” (p. 110.) We do not, by any means, “treat all objections as profane, and discard exceptions unanswered as shocking and immoral.” (p. 100.) Neither does the Church think herself “omniscient and infallible;” (p. 96;) though she holds Omniscience to be an attribute of God; and Infallibility, of the Bible. But she deprecates in the strongest manlier vague insinuations and unsupported doubts of the reality of her Lord’s Miracles, sown broad-cast over the land; and she is at a loss to understand how the “difficulties” of any, can be in this manner “removed;” (p. 96;) except by a process analogous to that which would cure a malady by taking away the life of the patient. We are not in fact at all disposed to admit that “Miracles, which in the estimation of a former age were among the chief supports of Christianity, are at present among the main difficulties, and hindrances to its acceptance,” (p. 140,)—although Professor Powell and Dr. Temple say so.
This Essay in fact is full of incorrect, or objectionable lviiistatements. Thus Professor Powell asserts that since “evidential arguments are avowedly addressed to the intellect, it is especially preposterous to shift the ground, and charge the rejection of them on moral motives.” (p. 100.) And yet it is worthy of notice that our Lord himself assures us that the reception of Truth depends on our moral, rather than on our intellectual condition. “How can ye believe,” (He said to the Jews,) “which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only7272 St. John v. 44. Comp. vii. 17: viii. 12. St. Matth. v. 8. Ps. xis. 8: cxix. 100. Also, Ecclus. i. 26: xxi. 11.—“There is,” (says an excellent living writer,) “scarcely any doctrine or precept of our Saviour more distinctly and strongly stated, than that the capacity for judging of, and for believing the Truths of Christianity, depends upon Moral Goodness, and the practice of Virtue.”—Let us hear our own Hooker on this subject:—“We find by experience that although Faith be an intellectual habit of the mind, and have her seat in the understanding, yet an evil moral disposition obstinately wedded to the love of darkness dampeth the very light of heavenly illumination, and permitteth not the Mind to see what doth shine before it.”—Eccl. Pol., B. v. c. lxiii. § 2.?”
This writer reasons also with singular laxity and inaccuracy. After quoting the dictum that “on a certain amount of testimony we might believe any statement, however improbable,” (pp. 140-1,) he scornfully adds;—“So that if a number of respectable witnesses were to concur in asseverating that on a certain occasion they had seen two and two make five, we should be bound to believe them!” (p. 141.) Does he fail to perceive, (1) that mathematical truths do not come within the province of probable reasoning, and (2) are not dependent on testimony? . . . . Again, “The case of the antecedent argument of Miracles lixis very clear, however little some are inclined to perceive it. In Nature and from Nature, by Science and by Reason, we neither have nor can possibly have any evidence of a Deity working by Miracles;—for that, we must go out of Nature, and beyond Science.” (pp. 141-2.) Very true. We must go to Scripture. We must have recourse to testimony. This is precisely what we are maintaining But,—“Testimony, after all, is but a second-hand assurance; it is but a blind guide; testimony can avail nothing against Reason.” (p. 141.) True. But this, if it is intended as an argument against the reasonableness of admitting the truth of Miracles, is a mere petitio principii. . . . . Again. “It is not the mere fact but the cause or explanation of it, which is the point at issue.” (p. 141.) Admitting then, as the learned author here does, that when Christ said “Lazarus, come forth,” “he that was dead,” (though he had been buried four days,) “came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes7373 St. John xi. 44.;”—admitting these “facts,” I say, what other “cause,” or “explanation” does the reverend gentleman propose to assign but the supernatural power of the Divine Speaker?
Far graver exception, however, must be taken against certain parts of Professor Powell’s labours, which betray an animus fatally indicative of the tendency of such Essays and Reviews as these. Witness his assertion that “it is now acknowledged that ‘Creation’ is only another name for our ignorance of the mode of production;” (p. 139;) and that a recent work on the Origin of Species “substantiates on undeniable grounds the very principle so long denounced lxby the first naturalists,—the origination of new Species by natural causes;” (p. 139;) and that the said work “must soon bring about an entire revolution of opinion in favour of the grand principle of the self-evolving powers of Nature.” (p. 139.)
One object of the present Essay is to insist that since Miracles belong to the world of matter, “we must recognize the due claims of Science to decide” upon them. We are reminded that “beyond the domain of physical causation and the possible conceptions of intellect or knowledge, there lies open the boundless region of spiritual things, which is the sole dominion of Faith:” (p. 127:) and that “Advancing knowledge, while it asserts the dominion of Science in physical things, confirms that of Faith in spiritual.” (p. 127.) It is proposed that “we thus neither impugn the generalizations of Philosophy, nor allow them to invade the dominion of Faith; and admit that what is not a subject for a problem, may hold its place in a Creed.” (p. 127.)
But the fatal consequences of this plausible fallacy become apparent the instant we turn the leaf, and read that “the more knowledge advances, the more it has been, and will be acknowledged, that Christianity, as a real religion, must be viewed apart from connexion with physical things.” (p. 128.) That “the first dissociation of the spiritual from the physical was rendered necessary by the palpable contradictions disclosed by astronomical discovery with the letter of Scripture. Another still wider and more material step has been effected by the discoveries of Geology. More recently, the antiquity of the human Race, and the development of Species, and the rejection of the idea of ‘Creation’ (!) have caused new advances in the lxisame direction.” (p. 129.) . . . . From this it is evident, not only that the object of Science in thus taking the Miracles of Scripture into her own keeping, is (like an unnatural step-dame) to slay them; but that downright Atheism is to be the attitude in which men are expected to survey that “boundless region of spiritual things” which is yet proclaimed to be “the sole dominion of Faith!”
Faith, on the other hand, does not object to the constant visits of Science to any part of her treasure. She does but insist that all discussion shall be conducted according to the rules of right Reason. Vague insinuations about “a progressing Age,” (p. 131,)—“modes of speculation,” (p. 130,)—“the advance of Opinion,” (p. 131,)—and so forth, are as little to the purpose, apart from specific objections, as sneers at “the one-sided dogmas of an obsolete school, coupled with awful denunciations of heterodoxy on all who refuse to listen to them,” (p. 131,) are unsuited to the gravity of the occasion. Faith insists moreover that a divorce between the miraculous parts of Scripture, and the context wherein they stand, is simply impossible. The unbeliever who boldly says, “I disbelieve the Bible,”—however much we may deplore his blindness and pity his misery,—is yet intelligible in his unbelief. But the man who proposes to believe the narrative of the Exode of Israel from Egypt, (for instance,) apart from the supernatural character of the events which are related to have attended it; who believes the history of the Gospels, (holding the Evangelists to have been veracious writers,) yet rejects the Divine nature of the Miracles which the Gospels relate; and proposes, after eliminating from the historical narrative everything which claims to be miraculous, lxiito make what remains of that historical narrative, the strength and stay of his soul in life and in death:—that man we boldly affirm to be one who cannot have studied the Bible with that ordinary attention which would entitle him to dogmatize concerning its contents: or else, whose logical faculty must be so hopelessly defective that discussions of this class are evidently not his proper province.
Finally, we are presented in this Essay with the same offensive assumption of intellectual superiority on the part of the writer, which disfigures the entire volume. “It becomes imperatively necessary that views should be suggested really suitable to better informed minds.” (p. 126.) “Points which may be seen to involve the greatest difficulty to more profound inquirers, are often such as do not occasion the least perplexity to ordinary minds, but are allowed to pass without hesitation.” (p. 125.) (And this, from one of those “profound inquirers,” one of “those who have reflected most deeply,” (p. 126,) who yet cannot get beyond a resuscitation of Hume and Spinoza’s exploded objections to the truth of Miracles!)—Butler’s unanswerable arguments, (for the allusion is evidently to him,) are spoken of as “a few trite and commonplace generalities as to the moral government of the World and the belief in the Divine Omnipotence; or as to the validity of human testimony; or the limits of human experience.” (p. 133.) And yet the author is for ever informing us that his hostility to Miracles “is essentially built upon those grander conceptions of the order of Nature, those comprehensive primary elements of all physical knowledge, those ultimate ideas of universal causation, which can only be familiar to those thoroughly versed in cosmical philosophy in its lxiii widest sense.” (p. 133.) “All highly cultivated minds, and duly advanced intellects,” are supposed to find their exponent in Professor Baden Powell. All other thinkers have “minds of a less comprehensive capacity,” “accustomed to reason on more contracted views.” (p. 133. See also p. 131, top.) Is this the modesty of real Science? the language of a true Philosopher and Divine?
Finally, after all that has gone before we are not much astonished, but we are considerably shocked, to read as follows:—“The Divine Omnipotence is entirely an inference from the language of the Bible, adopted on the assumption of a belief in Revelation. That ‘with God nothing is impossible’ is the very declaration of Scripture; yet on this, the whole belief in Miracles is built7474 P. 113. The italics are in the original..” Now, it happens that ‘the whole belief in Miracles’ is built on nothing of the kind: but the point is immaterial. By no means immaterial, however, is the intimation that the Divine attribute of Omnipotence is a mere inference from the language of Revelation,—the very belief in which is also a mere “assumption.” If belief in Holy Scripture is to be treated as an assumption,—without at all complaining of the unreasonableness of one who so speaks,—we yet desire that he would say it very plainly; and let us know at least with whom we have to do, and what we are expected to prove. We do not complain, if any one calls upon us to shew that a belief in the Bible cannot be called an assumption; but it makes us very sad: and when the challenge comes from a Minister of the Church, we are unable to forbear the remark that there is something altogether lxivimmoral7575 See the Quarterly Review, (on Prof. Baden Powell’s “Order of Natnre,”)—for Oct. 1859, (No. 212,) pp. 420-3. in the entire proceeding. On the other hand, to find ourselves involved in an argument on questions of Divinity with one who believes nothing, is in a manner absurd; and provokes a feeling of resentment as well as of pity. . . . What need to add that life is not long enough for such processes of proof? “He that cometh unto God must believe that He is!” We cannot be for ever laying the foundation. The building must begin, at last, to grow. And when it has grown up, and is compact as well as beautiful, it cannot be necessary to pull it all down again once or twice in every century in order to ascertain whether the strong foundations be still there!
|« Prev||III. Examination of the contribution of Rev.…||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version