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النشر الإلكتروني

THE

EDINBURGH REVIEW,

OCTOBER, 1849.

N. CLXXXII.

ART. I.-1. Historic Doubts relative to Napoleon Buonaparte.

Eighth edition, pp. 60. 8vo. London. 2. The Nemesis of Faith. By J. A. FROUDE, M. A., Fellow

of Exeter College, Oxford. 12mo. London: pp. 227. 3. Popular Christianity, its Transition State and Probable De

velopment. By F. J. Foxton, B. A.; formerly of Pembroke College, Oxford, and Perpetual Curate of Stoke Prior and Docklow, Herefordshire. ^12mo. London:

pp.

226. 'R EASON and Faith,' says one of our old divines, with the

quaintness characteristic of his day, resemble the two sons of the patriarch; Reason is the firstborn, but Faith in• herits the blessing.' The image is ingenious, and the antithesis striking; but nevertheless the sentiment is far from just. It is hardly right to represent Faith as younger than Reason: the fact undoubtedly being, that human creatures trust and believe, long before they reason or know. But the truth is, that both Reason and Faith are coeval with the nature of man, and were designed to dwell in his heart together. In truth they are, and were, and, in such creatures as ourselves, must be, reciprocally complementary; - neither can exclude the other. It is as impossible to exercise an acceptable faith without reason for so exercising it, – that is, without exercising reason while we exercise faith *, –

* Let it not be said that we are here playing upon an ambiguity in the word Reason ; — considered in the first clause as an argument;

VOL. XC. NO. CLXXXII.

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as it is to apprehend by our reason, exclusive of faith, all the truths on which we are daily compelled to act, whether in relation to this world or the next. Neither is it right to represent either of them as failing of the promised heritage, except as both may fail alike, by perversion from their true end, and depravation of their genuine nature; for if to the faith of which the New Testament speaks so much, a peculiar blessing is promised, it is evident from that same volume that it is not a faith without reason' any more than a faith without works, which is approved by the Author of Christianity. And this is sufficiently proved by the injunction to be ready to give a reason for the hope,'and therefore for the faith,- which is in us.'

If, therefore, we were to imitate the quaintness of the old divine, on whose dictum we have been commenting, we should rather compare Reason and Faith to the two trusty spies, ' faith'ful amongst the faithless,' who confirmed each other's report of that good land which flowed with milk and honey,' and to both of whom the promise of a rich inheritance there, was given, — and, in due time, amply redeemed. Or, rather, if we might be permitted to pursue the same vein a little further, and throw over our shoulders for a moment that mantle of allegory which none but Bunyan could wear long and successfully, we should represent Reason and Faith as twin-born beings, - the one, in form and features the image of manly beauty,--the other, of feminine grace and gentleness; but to each of whom, alas! was allotted a sad privation. While the bright eyes of Reason are full of piercing and restless intelligence, his ear is closed to sound; and while Faith has an ear of exquisite delicacy, on her sightless orbs, as she lifts them towards heaven, the sunbeam plays in vain. Hand in hand the brother and sister, in all mutual love, pursue their way, through a world on which, like ours, day breaks and night falls alternate ; by day the eyes of Reason are the guide of Faith, and by night the ear of Faith is the guide of Reason. As is wont with those who labour under these privations respectively, Reason is apt to be eager, impetuous, impatient of that instruction which his infirmity will not permit him readily to apprehend; while Faith, gentle and docile, is ever willing to listen to the voice by which alone truth and wisdom can effectually reach her.

and in the second, as the characteristic endowment of our species. The distinction between Reason and Reasoning (though most important) does not affect our statement; for though Reason may be exercised where there is no giving of reasons, there can be no giving of reasons without the exercise of Reason.

It has been shown by Butler in the fourth and fifth chapters (Part I.) of his great work, that the entire constitution and condition of man, viewed in relation to the present world alone, and consequently all the analogies derived from that fact in relation to a future world, suggest the conclusion that we are here the subjects of a probationary discipline, or in a course of education for another state of existence. But it has not, perhaps, been sufficiently insisted on, that if in the actual course of that education, of which enlightened obedience to the • law of virtue,' as Butler expresses it, or, which is the same thing, to the dictates of supreme wisdom and goodness, is the great end, we give an unchecked ascendency to either Reason or Faith, we vitiate the whole process. The chief instrument by which that process is carried on is not Reason alone, or Faith alone, but their well-balanced and reciprocal interaction. It is a system of alternate checks and limitations, in which Reason does not supersede Faith, nor Faith encroach on Reason. But our meaning will be more evident when we have made one or two remarks on what are conceived to be their respective provinces.

In the domain of Reason men generally include, Ist, what are called intuitions,' 2d, 'necessary deductions from them; and 3d, deductions from their own direct experience ;' while in the domain of Faith are ranked all truths and propositions which are received, not without reasons indeed, but for reasons underived from the intrinsic evidence (whether intuitive or deductive, or from our own experience) of the propositions themselves ;– for reasons (such as credible testimony, for example,) extrinsic to the proper meaning and significance of such propositions : although such reasons, by accumulation and convergency, may be capable of subduing the force of any difficulties or improbabilities, which cannot be demonstrated to involve absolute contradictions.*

• Of the first kind of truths, or those perceived by intuition, we have examples in what are called 'self-evident axioms,' and 'funda'mental laws' or 'conditions of thought,' which no wise man has ever attempted to prove. Of the second, we have examples in the whole fabric of mathematical science, reared from its basis of axioms and definitions, as well as in every other necessary deduction from admitted premises. The third virtually includes any conclusion in science based on direct experiment, or observation; though the belief of the truth even of Newton's system of the world, when received as Locke says he received and as the generality of men receive it, – without being able to follow the steps by which the great geometer proves his conclusions, - may be represented rather as an act of Faith than an act of Reason; as much so as a belief in the truth of Christianity, founded on its historic and other evidences. The greater In receiving important doctrines on the strength of such evidence, and in holding to them against the perplexities they involve, or, what is harder still, against the prejudices they oppose, every exercise of an intelligent faith will, on analysis, be found to consist; its only necessary limit will be proven contradictions in the propositions submitted to it; for, then, no evidence can justify belief, or even render it possible. But no other difficulties, however great, will justify unbelief, where man has all that he can justly demand, - evidence such in its nature as he can deal with, and on which he is accustomed to act in his most important affairs in this world (thus admitting its validity), and such in amount as to render it more likely that the doctrines it substantiates are true, than, from mere ignorance of the mode in which these difficulties can be solved, he can infer them to be false. Probabilities,' says Bishop Butler, are to us the very guide of life;' and when the probabilities arise out of evidence on which we are competent to pronounce, and the improbabilities merely from our surmises, where we have no evidence to deal with, and perhaps, from the limitation of our capacities, could not deal with it, if we had it, it is not difficult to see what course practical wisdom tells man he

part of men's knowledge, indeed, even of science, even the greater part of a scientific man's knowledge of science, based as it is on testimony alone (and which so often compels him to renounce to-day what he thought certain yesterday), -may be not unjustly considered as more allied to Faith than Reason. It may be said, perhaps, that the above classification of the truths received by Reason and Faith respectively is arbitrary ; that even as to some of their alleged sources, they are not always clearly distinguishable ; that the evidence of experience may in some sort be reduced to testimony, — that of sense; and testimony reduced to experience, — that of human veracity under given circumstances; both being founded on the observed uniformity of certain phenomena under similar conditions. We admit the truth of this: and we admit it the more willingly, as it shows that so inextricably intertwined are the roots both of Reason and Faith in our nature, that no definitions that can be framed will completely separate them; none that will not involve many phenomena which may be said to fall under the dominion of one as much as of the other. We have been content, for our practical purpose, without any too subtle refinement, to take the line of demarcation which is, perhaps, as obvious as any, and as generally recognised. Few would say that a generalised inference from direct experiment was not matter of reason rather than of faith ; though an act of faith is involved in the process; and few would not call confidence in testimony where probabilities were nearly balanced, by the name of faith rather than reason, though an act of reason is involved in that process. We are much more anxious to show their general involution with one another than the points of discrimination between them.

ought to pursue; and which he always does

pursue,

whatever difficulties beset him, in all cases except one!

Such is that strict union — that mutual dependence of Reason and Faith — which would seem to be the great law under which the moral school in which we are being educated is conducted. This law is equally, or almost equally, its characteristic, whether we regard man simply in his present condition, or in his present in relation to his future condition, - as an inhabitant only of this world, or a candidate for another; and to this law, by a series of analogies as striking as any of those which Butler has pointed out (and on which we heartily wish his comprehensive genius had expended a chapter or two), Christianity, in the demands it makes on both principles conjointly, is evidently adapted.

Men often speak, indeed, as if the exercise of faith was excluded from their condition as inhabitants of the present world. But it requires but a very slight consideration to show that the boasted prerogative of reason is here also that of a limited monarch; and that its attempts to make itself absolute can only end in its own dethronement, and, after successive revolutions, in all the anarchy of absolute pyrrhonism.

For in the intellectual and moral education of man, considered merely as a citizen of the present world, we see the constant and inseparable union of the two principles, and provision made for their perpetual exercise. He cannot advance a step, indeed, without both. We see faith demanded not only amidst the dependence and ignorance in which childhood and youth are passed; not only in the whole process by which we acquire the imperfect knowledge which is to fit us for being men; but to the very last we may be truly said to believe far more than we know. • Indeed,' says Butler, 'the unsatisfactory nature of the evidence

with which we are obliged to take up in the daily course of • life, is scarce to be expressed.' Nay, in an intelligible sense, even the primary truths,' or 'first principles,' or • fundamental • laws of thought,' or self-evident maxims, or intuitions,' or by whatever other names philosophers have been pleased to designate them, which, in a special sense, are the very province of reason, as contra-distinguished from 'reasoning' or logical deduction, may be said almost as truly to depend on faith as on reason for their reception.* For the only ground for believing

Common language seems to indicate this : Since we call that disposition of mind which leads some men to deny the above fundamental truths (or affect to deny them), not by a word which in es the opposite of reason, but the opposite of faith, - Scepticism, Unbelief, Incredulity.

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