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pute, we need not prove, - we need but define. At all events, let us, if we can, do this first of all; and then see who are left for us to dispute with, what is left for us to prove. Controversy, at least in this age, does not lie between the hosts of heaven, Michael and his Angels on the one side, and the powers of evil on the other; but it is a sort of night battle, where each fights for himself, and friend and foe stand together. When men understand what each other mean, they see, for the most part, that controversy. is either superfluous or hopeless.
THE NATURE OF FAITH IN RELATION TO REASON.
Preached January 13, 1839.
1 Cor. i. 27. “ God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the
wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty."
It is usual at this day to speak as if Faith were simply of a moral nature, and depended and followed upon a distinct act of Reason beforehand,—Reason warranting, on the ground of evidence, both ample and carefully examined, that the Gospel comes from God, and then Faith embracing it: on the other hand, the more Scriptural representation seems to be this, which is obviously more agreeable to facts also, that, instead of there being really any such united process of reasoning first, and then believing, the act of Faith is sole and elementary, and complete in itself, and depends on no process of mind previous to it: and this doctrine is borne out by the common opinion of men, who, though they contrast Faith and Reason, yet rather consider Faith to be weak Reason, than a moral quality or act following upon Reason. The Word of Life is offered to a man; and, on its being offered, he has Faith in it. Why? On these two grounds,—the word of its human messenger, and the likelihood of the message. And why does he feel the message to be probable? Because he has a love for it, his love being strong, though the testimony is weak. He has a keen sense of the intrinsic excellence of the message, of its desirableness, of its likeness to what it seems to him Divine Goodness would vouchsafe did He vouchsafe any, of the need of a Revelation, and its probability. Thus Faith is the reasoning of a religious mind, or of what Scripture calls a right or renewed heart, which acts upon presumptions rather than evidence, which speculates and ventures on the future when it cannot make sure of it.
Thus, to take the instance of St. Paul preaching at Athens : he told his hearers that he came as a messenger from that God whom they worshipped already, though ignorantly, and of whom their poets spoke. He appealed to the conviction that was lodged within them of the spiritual nature and the unity of God; and he exhorted them to turn to Him who had appointed One to judge the whole world hereafter. This was an appeal to the antecedent probability of a Revelation, which would be estimated variously according to the desire of it existing in each breast. Now, what was the evidence he gave, in order to concentrate those various antecedent presumptions, to
which he referred in behalf of the message which he brought? Very slight, yet something; not a miracle, but his own word that God had raised Christ from the dead ; very like the evidence given to the mass of men now, or rather not so much. No one will say it was strong evidence; yet, aided by the novelty, and what may be called originality, of the claim, its strangeness and improbability considered as a mere invention, and the personal bearing of the Apostle, and supported by the full force of the antecedent probabilities which existed, and which he stirred within them, it was enough. It was enough, for some did believe,-enough, not indeed in itself, but enough for those who had love, and therefore were inclined to believe. To those who had no fears, wishes, longings, or expectations, of another world, he was but “ a babbler;” those who had such, or, in the Evangelist's words in another place, were “ ordained to eternal life,” “clave unto him, and believed.”
This instance, then, seems very fully to justify the view of Faith which I have been taking, that it is an act of Reason, but of what the world would call weak, bad, or insufficient Reason; and that, because it rests on presumption more, and on evidence less. On the other hand, I conceive that this passage of Scripture does not adjust at all with the modern theory now in esteem, that Faith is a mere moral act, dependent on a previous process of clear and cautious Reason. If so, one would think that St. Paul had no claim upon the faith of his hearers, till he had first wrought a miracle, such as Reason might approve, in token that his message was to be handed over to the acceptance of Faith,
Now, that this difference of theories as regards the nature of religious Faith is not a trilling one, is evident, perbaps, from the conclusions which I drew from it last week, which, if legitimate, are certainly important: and as feeling it to be so, I now proceed to state distinctly what I conceive to be the relation of Faith to Reason. I observe, then, as follows:
We are surrounded by beings which exist quite independently of us, -exist whether we exist, or cease to exist, whether we have cognizance of them or no. These we commouly separate into two great divisions, material and immaterial. Of the material we have direct knowledge through the senses; we are sensible of the existence of persons and things, of their properties and modes, of their relations towards each other, and the courses of action which they carry on. Of all these we are directly cognizant through the senses; we see and hear what passes, and that immediately. As to immaterial beings, that we have faculties analogous to sense by which we have direct knowledge of their presence, does not appear, except indeed as regards our own soul and its acts. But so far is certain at least, that we are not conscious of possessing them; and we account it, and rightly, to be enthusiasm to profess such consciousness. At times, indeed, that con