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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 not God, 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 doctrive 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 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.
It has been shewn that the certitude of the truth of the revealed doctrines of Christianity cannot be obtained by the medium of intrinsic evidence; it follows, therefore, that it can be obtained only by extrinsic evidence, or by the evidence of the testimony of God. ?":"1::
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 his designs or intentions, unless he manifest them. For what man knoweth the CHAPTER IV.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE PRINCIPLE OF NOT ADMITTING THE
TRUTH or REVEALED DOCTRINES, UNLESS IT CAN BE PROVED BY INTRINSIC DEMONSTRATIVE EVIDENCE.-Uncertainty in religious doctrines.--- Infidelity.--These consequences appear in the history of religious opinions, since the changes made in religion in the 16th century.- Reason and revelation not opposed to each other. The province of reason, in the search of
revealed truths.--Religious liberty. If the truth of any one of the revealed doctrines of Christianity can be resonably denied by any individual, because he cannot intrinsically demonstrate it, by 'shewing the connexion of the doctrine with some principle of natural science; what mystery, what doctrine of the Christian religion, can such a man consistently support or believe? If on that ground he denies the truth of the doctrine of the real presence, or of transubstantion, must he not, to be consistent with himself, deny the truth of the doctrine of the Trinity of persons in God; of the union of two natures in one person in Christ; of original sin; of the resurrection of the dead
; of the eternity of torments in hell; of the creation of the world; and, indeed, of all the revealed doctrines of Christianity, since they all relate to objects which, intrinsically considered, have no connexion with the principles of natural science! It is evident, therefore, that the medium of intrinsic demonstrative evidence cannot be reasonably applied to the objects of divine revelation, and that when perversely followed in this respect, as a medium of the certitude of revealed truth, it must lead to uncertainty in matters of religion, and even to absolute infidelity.
This is not a mere speculative and possible consequence of the rule of determining the truth or falsehood of revealed 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 have been adopted by those who have fodowed 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, which 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 nature 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 as 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 be liere, 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.