Phases of Faith eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 325 pages of information about Phases of Faith.
I most rigidly demanded a clear, single, self-consistent sense.  If he did not know what he meant, why did he not hold his peace?  If he did know, why did he so speak as to puzzle us?  It was for this uniform refusal to allow of self-contradiction, that it was more than once sadly predicted of me at Oxford that I should become “a Socinian;” yet I did not apply this logical measure to any compositions but those which were avowedly “uninspired” and human.

As to moral criticism, my mind was practically prostrate before the Bible.  By the end of this period I had persuaded myself that morality so changes with the commands of God, that we can scarcely attach any idea of immutability to it.  I am, moreover, ashamed to tell any one how I spoke and acted against my own common sense under this influence, and when I was thought a fool, prayed that I might think it an honour to become a fool for Christ’s sake.  Against no doctrine did I dare to bring moral objections, except that of “Reprobation.”  To Election, to Preventing Grace, to the Fall and Original Sin of man, to the Atonement, to Eternal Punishment, I reverently submitted my understanding; though as to the last, new inquiries had just at this crisis been opening on me.  Reprobation, indeed, I always repudiated with great vigour, of which I shall presently speak.  That was the full amount of my original thought; and in it I preserved entire reverence for the sacred writers.

As to miracles, scarcely anything staggered me.  I received the strangest and the meanest prodigies of Scripture, with the same unhesitating faith, as if I had never understood a proposition of physical philosophy, nor a chapter of Hume and Gibbon.

[Footnote 1:  Very unintelligent criticism of my words induces me to add, that “the credentials of Revelation,” as distinguished from “the contents of Revelation,” are here intended.  Whether such a distinction can be preserved is quite another question.  The view here exhibited is essentially that of Paley, and was in my day the prevalent one at Oxford.  I do not think that the present Archbishop of Canterbury will disown it, any more than Lloyd, and Burton, and Hampden,—­bishops and Regius Professors of Divinity.]

[Footnote 2:  Borrowed from Acts viii. 37.]

[Footnote 3:  Virgil (AEneid vi.) gives the Stoical side of the same thought:  Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito.]



After the excitement was past, I learned many things from the events which have been named.

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