Phases of Faith eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 325 pages of information about Phases of Faith.
independent discernment of the great truths of moral Theism is a postulate, to be proved or conceded before the Christian can begin the argument in favour of Biblical preternaturalism.  I had thought it would have been avowed and maintained with a generous pride, that eminently in Christian literature we find the noblest, soundest, and fullest advocacy of moral Theism, as having its evidence in the heart of man within and nature without, independently of any postulates concerning the Bible.  I certainly grew up for thirty years in that belief.  Treatises on Natural Theology, which (with whatever success) endeavoured to trace—­not only a constructive God in the outer world, but also a good God when that world is viewed in connexion with man; were among the text-books of our clergy and of our universities, and were in many ways crowned with honour.  Bampton Lectures, Bridgewater Treatises, Burnet Prize Essays, have (at least till very recently in one case) been all, I rather think, in the same direction.  And surely with excellent reason.  To avow that the doctrines of Moral Theism have no foundation to one who sees nothing preternatural in the Bible, is in a Christian such a suicidal absurdity, that whenever an atheist advances it, it is met with indignant denial and contempt.

The argumentative strength of this Appendix, as a reply to those who call themselves “orthodox” Christians, is immensely increased by analysing their subsidiary doctrines, which pretend to relieve, while they prodigiously aggravate, the previous difficulties of Moral Theism; I mean the doctrine of the fall of man by the agency of a devil, and the eternal hell.  But every man who dares to think will easily work out such thoughts for himself.


I here reproduce (merely that it may not be pretended that I silently withdraw it) the substance of an illustration which I offered in my 2nd edition, p. 184.

When I deny that History can be Religion or a part of Religion, I mean it exactly in the same sense, in which we say that history is not mathematics, though mathematics has a history.  Religion undoubtedly comes to us by historical transmission:  it has had a slow growth; but so is it with mathematics, so is it with all other sciences. (I refer to mathematics, not as peculiarly like to religion, but as peculiarly unlike; it is therefore and a fortiori argument.  What is true of them as sciences, is true of all science.) No science can flourish, while it is received on authority.  Science comes to us by external transmission, but is not believed because of that transmission.  The history of the transmission is generally instructive, but is no proper part of the science itself.  All this is true of Religion.


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