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doctrines by the intrinsic demonstration of the agreement or disagreement of the objects of these doctrines with the principles of natural science. This consequence has been fully proved to have been realized in the history of religious opinions, that bave been adopted by those who have folowed this rule of judgment. This has been shewn by a multitude of writers; and lately by a Protestant minister, the late Baron de Starck, in his “ Entrétiens Philosophiques,” translated into English, under the title of “ Philosophical Dialogues on the Reunion of the different Christian Communions.” Is it not by a direct consequence from this principle, that the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the truth of the Sacred Scriptures, and other articles of revealed religion, are publicly denied, at present, in this country? On what principle can these errors be consistently condemned or d'efuted, by those who admit that the truth or falsehood of the doctrines of revealed religion is to be proved by intrinsic arguments, drawn from the principles of natural science ?
Is then the light of reason to be extinguished by revelation? Is the total exercise of natural reason to be pro. hibited in the search of religious truths? No, certainly not. The truths which are the objects of reason and of revelation are distinct, and are .grounded on distinct motives of assent. Reason and revelation have their separate provinces, in which they may respectively exercise their rights.;
Revelation leaves reason free to range over the vast field of nature, and to pursue the study of natural and moral truth by the principles of natural science. Revelation brings a new light to the human mind, by infusing a sublime knowledge of supernatural truths, and by giving additional testimony, perfection, and sanction to the truths and precepts of the moral law of nature. But revelation opposes, no obstacle to discoveries and improvements in the natural sciences. Indeed, have not civilization and literature been introduced into many countries, by those who introduced the belief of the doctrines of revelation? Has not reason been improved, to the highest degree, in minds enlightened with the knowledge of revealed truths ? Were an Origen, a St. Chrysostom, a St. Augustin, a St. Jerom, in former ages; or a Bossuet, a Fénélon, a Paschal, a
Descartes, in later times, impeded in the improvement of their natural talents, or in the acquisition of natural sciences, by their belief of the doctrines of revelation? Have not the ministers and professors of revealed religion been the greatest -encouragers and promoters of the arts and sciences in all ages ? Revelation, as well as good sense, commends the use, and condemns the misuse, of the powers of reason. '!
In the search of religious and revealed truths, reason is by no means prohibited the use and exercise of her powers, provided she employ them about those objects, wbich lie within her proper jurisdiction, and she do not wander out of her own province. But if reason attempt to demonstrate the truth or falsehood of the doctrines and mysteries of revelation, by discussing the intrinsic pature of the objects of these doctrines and mysteries, or by philosophical arguments drawn from self-evident principles of natural science, with which they have no connexion, reason does go out of her own province; she acts unreasonably, by attempting to demonstrate that - by intrinsic evidence, which is not the object of it; any more than colour is the object of the ear, or sound of the eye, or the existence of an historical fact is the object of a mathematical demonstration.
Admitting the existence of God, whose infinite wisdom knows more than the mind of man can comprehend ; whose infinite power can do more than map can conceive possible; whose infinite goodness surpasses all understanding; reason may exert her powers in demonstrating, from these admitted principles, that if this great God reveal, or manifest, any thing relating to the perfections of his nature, or to his own works or designs in favour of man, what he reveals must be most certainly true, because, being infinitely wise, he knows all things rs they are in themselves; and, being infinitely true and good, he cannot deceive us, by making any declaration contrary to what he knows to be the truth. Again, reason may demonstrate, that it is most reasonable to beliere, with a firm conviction of mind, whatever God has revealed; because it is reasonable to believe most firmly whatever is certainly true ; and whatever God has revealed, is most certainly true.
It then only remains to inquire whether, in fact, Almighty God has revealed any thing to men, and what he has revealed.
These are plain questions of FACT, the existence of which like that of all historical facts, is to be ascertained by the evidence of testimony. Here, again, reason may employ her powers, in applying to the external evidences of divine revelation, which are so many external facts, all the principles and rules of criticisin by which the certitude of testimony is established. · But, when reason las discovered and ascertained the fact of divine revelation, there she must stop. Reason has, indeed, a right to be satisfied that God has spoken. But when it is made certain, by satisfactory extrinsic evidence, that he has really spoken; reason has no right, she is not qualified por competent, to sit in judgment on the TRUTH, or JUSTICE, of what God has taught or commanded. Reason herself teaches, that it is the duty of man to do homage to the truth and veracity of God, by submitting his understanding to the obedience of faith, and by believing, implicitly and firmly, whatever God has reveuled; as it is his duty to do homage to the wisdom and justice of God, by submitting his will to the obedience of the divine law, and by faithfully doing whatever God has commanded.
But what, then, becomes of religious liberty? If by religious liberty it be only ineant, that every man should be at liberty to inquire into the existence of the fact of divine revelation, and to examine the evidence of the testimonies brought to ascertain its reality, it is clear that this is the natural right of every rational creature. The same must be said of the right that each one has, to examine the evidence of the extrinsic motives of credibility, relative to the divinely established medium, by which the revealed doctrines are to be communicated, with certitude, to mankind. Without this, we should be exposed to the danger of mistaking the erroneous opinions of men for the revealed truths of God, and of being the dupes of every impostor or self-authorized fanatical teacher.
If by religious liberty be meant a right, to believe or to disbelieve what is certainly revealed by the God of truth, and what is proposed as revealed to our belief, by an authority, which God himself has commissioned to promulgate his revealed law, and which he has commanded us to obey : no such right can exist. For it is as wrong and as criminal to refuse to believe an article of doctrine, which God has certainly taught, as it is to refuse to observe a moral duty, which God has certainly commanded. · But is not the mind of man as free as air ? If it is to be fixed, by what is it to be fixed but by the evidence of truth? In answer to this, I ask, is the mind more free than the will ? Is not the will of man subject to the supreme will and command of God? Though it be free, is it not under a moral obligation of obeying the divine command, which is a restriction on its liberty ? May notGod, who has a right to command the will to observe the moral precept, which he has given, have also a right to command the understanding to assent to the doctrine he has revealed? But can the mind reasonably assent to a doctrine without evidence of its truth? Certainly not; without either intrinsic evidence, if the doctrine be the object of intrinsic ; or without extrinsic, if the doctrine be the object of extrinsic evidence. Thus the mind assents to the truth of mathematical doctrines, on the intrinsic evidence of mathematical demonstrations; it assents to the truth of historical assertions, on the extrinsic evidence of human testimony; it assents to the truth of revealed doctrines, on the extrinsic evidence of the testimony of God.
THE CERTITUDE OF THE TRUTH OF THE REVEALED DOCTRINES - OF CHRISTIANITY CAN BE OBTAINED ONLY BY THE MEDIUM 7. OF EXTRINSIC EVIDENCE, OR BY THE TESTIMONY OF GOD,
GIVEN IN THE ACT OF THE DIVINE REVELATION OF THESE DOCTRINES. --Shewn from the nature of the question--from the
reasoning of St. Paul—from the natural method of coming to - the true and certain knowledge of the will of a Legislator,
Ir bas been shewn that the certitude of the truth of the revealed doctrines of Christianity cannot be obtained by the medium of intrinsic evidence; it follow's, therefore, that it can be obtained only by extrinsic evidence, or by the evidence of the testimony of God. : ...,)? ::.. . sterone
The testimony of God must be, in the nature of things, the only proper medium of ascertaining the truth of these revealed doctrines; because these doctrines have for their objects, either the nature of God or the designs and works of God. To whom is the nature of God perfectly known, but to God himself? To whom are the designs and works of God perfectly known, but to God himself? God only has a perfect and comprehensive knowledge of his own nature, designs, and works; therefore, his manifestation or revelation of them is the proper medium by which the truth of them can be ascertained.
The eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him. The knowledge of the designs and works of God in favour of man could never have been acquired, either by the testimony of the senses, or by the demonstrations of human reason. But to us God. HATH REVEALED them by his spirit. For the spirit of God searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God. No other can know liis designs or intentions, unless he manifest them. For what man knoweth the