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CURRENT DISCUSSIONS.

REVELATION, OR REASON. When the Holy Scriptures are represented as embodying a divine revelation addressed to human intelligence and entitled to human reverence and obedience, more than a single fact is intended by the statement. It must, at least, include not only the truths given, but also the manner by which they were communicated; and, considering the subject at all, one is warranted in pushing the inquiry touching the latter withi as great diligence as in urging the former. The word “revelation” refers to the truth received: the word “inspiration,” as commonly used, refers to the influence that prevailed or controlled in making the communication. Revelation has reference to truth; inspiration, though sometimes used interchangeably with revelation, strictly applies either to the divine Being as the initial mocer or to man as the writer. Revelation refers to fact, object, contert; inspiration to manner, power, source of revelation, or person. Or, if we may distinguish them as cause and effect, we may know at once how t» «peak of the Bible, either as a revelation merely expressing truth, or as an inspiration communicating truth from a divine source, or as an inspired rerelotion, fully authenticated by its own contents, or furnishing testimony to its own supernaturalism, and representing all that the divine will chooses to make known to man. In this last or expanded sense we write of the Bible, and shall attempt to present grounds for its high position, as being different from all literature, as being incomparable in its contents, and subject only to literary criteria and tests within clearly specitied limitations.

Perlaps no one, however averse to the theory of supernaturalism, will question the general statement that the Bible contains truths, or represents certain intellectual notions as truths, which human reason did not and could not originate, or, under the circumstances, even suggest. As to an accurate account of the creation of the world, it is evident that with all the light nature throws upon its history, but unaided by revelation, no writer could or would have conceived the scientific process or order of world-building as recorded in Genesis. No one would of himself have projected the theory of the creative days. Even if Moses consulted ancient traditions on the subject, the origin of a correct traditional conception of the universe is as much involved in mystery as the origin of any correct view at all. Moses did not scientifically originate the account, nor dil a prior traditionalist, nor did the first man; for no one could think out a correct account of the origin of the universe. If the account as given be correct, it must be accepted as a revelation to somebody who sent it out into the thought of the race. If this be true as respects prehistoric or prehuman events, it is equally true as respects the prophetical outlook of the future. Prophecy, pointing to the doom of cities and empires hundreds of years in advance of fulfillment; indicating time, birthplace, works, life, and death of the Messiah; and, in its wide a pocalyptic grasp, heralding the thunderings and lightnings of the last decades of time, was entirely beyond the intellectual province of statesman, historian, or theologian; and that such prophecies were made is proof of the fact of an inspired revelation. The attempt made to extinguish the predictive element in prophecy means the destruction of prophecy and of inspiration. Whether, therefore, the book of revelation refers to antehuman history or to the progressive, but always future, history of man, the events it discloses were beyond human power of conception and expression at the time of the disclosure. While this is certainly true of the ancient history and prophecy of the Bible, it is also true of certain doctrines affirmed by the Church as essential to the system of Christianity, and goes far to show that reason had very little to do with the original construction of the biblical religion. The doctrines of the trinity, atonement, and justification by faith are just such doctrines as human intelligence would not originally propound, and are yet, in the light of the accumulated research of the centuries, held in suspense in many quarters, and rejected in others where reason professedly predominates. The only point we are now making is, that human reason did not originate, and could not suggest, the historical, prophetical, and doctrinal foundations of biblical science or the biblical religion; and such biblical religion, whether founded on the old history and prophecy, as was Judaism, or on the tenets of the New Testament, as is Christianity, was, therefore, as respects its original construction, entirely independent of human reason.

Given the biblical or revealed religion, in the manner above siated, it logically follows that many of its truths must be beyond the complete solution of human reason, or, as the apostle says, we must expect things “hard to be understoocl," and difficult to adjust to the human conception of truth. The doctrine of the incarnation is a thorn in the side of a rationalist; the doctrine of the resurrection is a very troublesome theme in Christian circles; the doctrine of immortality reason finds difficulty in supporting, because it seems scientifically improbable; and the doctrine of inspiration, by which these truths come to us, is the greatest conundrum of all. Such truths, constituting the essential material of biblical religion, though not violative of an intelligent faith are resisted by that reason which demands a solution before it receives them. There is no objection to the attempt now making to remove the cloud of mystery with which these truths entered the worla; but it must be confessed that, while it is easy enough to believe them, it is not so easy to explain them. This but confirms our preliminary statement, that revealed truth, by rirtue of its refusal to answer the interrogation of reason, considers itself to some extent beyond the touchstone of reason.

Still further: revealed truth, in exercise of its reserved rights, at times utters itself in such form or by such theatrical process as to contradict the ultimatum of reason, and humiliate it in the presence of its advocates. The very idea of an inspired revelation, or any direct communication of God to man, is contrary to the narrow presumptions of our knowledge and experience, which suggest that truth must wear a human or natural complexion, and clothe itself only in divine garments when in the presence of divine worshipers. Reason, with its enfeebled franchise, is unequal to the comprehension of the supernatural, and it cannot very well be otherwise. Of itself it cannot find God, though it may suspect his existence; it cannot draw aside the curtain that hides the eternal; it cannot explain the supernatural when it is revealed. Reason is not a supernatural but a natural faculty; hence, it does not ascertain, relish, or approve the religious or the supernatural. Hence, it disposes of miracles as the toys of the superstitious, or the inventions of a corrupt priesthood with mercenary ends in view. According to its instinct the story of the resurrection of our Lord is the tale of fanatics, propagated by the pious in the ages past without any regard to its credibility, and in antagonism to all the canons of historical intelligence. Therefore, in the judgment of rationalists, Christianity exists against the protests of natural reason, and will ultimately fall, as intelligence grasps the reins of religion and drives it toward the pessimistic goal of human vision.

If, then, the subject matter of revelation is, in origin and significance, largely independent of reason, being communicated by a process unknown to the human mind instead of being arrived at by a process of the mind, and having an internal significance underived from the external resources of thought, it becomes a question if such revealed truth is in any degree amenable to intelligence, or whether intelligence is amenable to revelation. We are not ready to assume that the human mind is in bondage to truth, although it may be indebted to and dependent upon it. This dependence must first be acknowledged before independence may be proclaimed, after which the province of the human intellect in the sphere of revelation will be discerned.

The first thing for the reason to do is to acknowledge the situation. There are truths it did not originate-it must confess the fact without prejudice or malice. There are truths it cannot explain-it must not arise in fury and tear such truths in pieces. Though mystery is the word that expresses ignorance, it must be confessed that man is ignorant, and he will be ignorant until he shall know as he shall be known. Supernaturalism implies conditions, facts, and truths outside of the plane of the natural, and is of necessity beyond human achievement. Properly, mysterious truths are found in religion, or the records of religion, and are the basis of all religious teaching. It cannot be otherwise if the religion is supernatural or of divine origin. In humility, therefore, the human mind, recognizing its own limitations, must accord to an inspired religion certain truths that may perplex its faculties, and even seem to contradict the intellectual judgment and intuitions. This is not slavery or superstition, but an honest submission of the mental faculties to the problem, and prepares the inquirer for a more intelligent application of his powers to the divine truth and to those things within his sphere of thinking.

Keeping this limitation in view reason must not subordinate the teach

use.

ings of inspired revelation in its wholeness or in its parts to its own standards of truth and falsehood, or trouble will result. The divine system of religion has as much right to apply its standards to the human intellect as the latter has the right to question the former; but if this were done what would become of finite mind? It will assist in realizing the subordination of reason to religion if we consider the reason as an instrument or faculty of investigation, and inquire what kind of an instrument it is, to what it may be applied, and what results usually follow its

If scientific truth must be tested by scientific methods, is it narrow to insist that truth which is not scientific cannot be tested by the scientific method ? Is it not rational to insist that spiritual truth, without an atom of scientific or natural teaching in it, shall be tested by spiritual methods ? If spiritual, non-natural truth must be investigated according to the scientific method, it will be fair to insist that scientific truth shall be tested by spiritual methods. But as in such a case the scientific method may wreck the proof of the supernatural, so the spiritual method may wreck the teaching of the natural, which leads us to write that each sphere is limited to the methods belonging to it; the natural being subject to natural methods, the spiritual to spiritual methods. This clears the atmosphere a little, and makes it possible to determine whether reason has any function in the realm of supernatural truth.

What is the reason? It is not the religious faculty in man; it is the natural, scientific, philosophic faculty, working along natural lines according to natural methods and for the purpose of establishing natural results. Faith is the religious sense that discerns the supernatural, is in sympathy with religious truth, and (Heb. xi, 1) “is assurance of things hoped for, the proving of things not seen.” Any one who hears Bishop Foss's great sermon on Faith as the proving faculty in the realm of the spiritual will apprehend the superiority of faith to reason in the highest field of inquiry. In conformity to Paul's teaching, to compare spiritual things with spiritual, we find that revealed truth answers to the religious faculty of faith; " for (1 Cor. ii, 14) the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged,” or examined, or determined. According to the New Testament, reason is not the religious faculty, nor is it capable of judgment of spiritual things, faith having this ottice, and having accomplished it in the long line of worthies recorded in the eleventh chapter of Ilebrews. The act of the reason, then, is not a religious but a philosophic act; the movement of the mind is not a spiritual but a natural movement, confined to natural ends. Hence the mistake of the rationalist, as a writer in the Unitarian Rerier (Sept., 1880, PP. 193–209) ably shows, is the regarding of a mental movement as a religious instead of a philosophic movement. In pure rationalism, as he says, the religious movement has expired, and left nothing but a movement of thought. Channing said Christianity must be studied, not by the rationalistic method, but by the spiritual. Dr. Hedge, in Reason in Religion, says, "Reason, in its own original capacity and function, has no knowledge of spiritual

truth.” It is evident, then, that reason, or a pure mental movement, when revealed truth is the subject, will conduct not to a religious concept, but to philosophy; that is, that the reason, in handling religion and failing from Decessity to discern its spiritual signiticance, will reduce it to a philosophy, and turn the Bible into a human book and merely declare its literary character. The starting-point is natural and philosophical, the process is natural and philosophical, and the result is natural and philosophical. Rationalism, or the application of pure reason to the Bible, has resulted in its dethronement from its high position as a supernatural revelation; and it could do nothing else. What is rationalism? Some one-sided minds have undertaken to limit its meaning by its etymological sense; but such limitation robs it of use. Historically it has several meanings; some fairly reputable, but others essentially vicious. On the whole, it is a word of bad reputation. Kant introduced it into philosophy, and then it passed into theology, where it has been used as an instrument for the investigation of divine truth. In its purely philosophic character it had no business in the spiritual realm, for it has been Jesuitically wrecking proofs of truth ever since Semler first manipulated it. Like Calvinism, or Arminianism, it is a word representative, not of etymology at all, but of a system of thought; and though it has vacillated in its meaning from a sincere and moderate form of questioning of certain sacred truths to the most complete elimination of the supernatural element in revelation, it has throughout preserved the essential spirit of opposition to the doctrine of inspiration in history, prophecy, and established biblical authorship, or to the thought of an inspired revelation. A Christian rationalist is one who professes to believe in the supernatural, but whose work is destructive of it. We determine what he is, not by what he professes to believe, but by the results of his work. He dislikes the definition because it describes him so accurately. The Nestorians and Pelagians professed to accept certain supernatural facts as recorded in the Scriptures, but they were heretics. A biblical critic may believe in the resurrection of Christ, but deny the Old Testament, and much of the New Testament, in which case he would be a rationalist. A “higher critic” may be as orthodox as Paul, or he may be as rationalistic as Baur, Kuenen, and Renan. If he is solely governed by reason, deciding what is true and false, or human and supernatural, in the Scripture, he is on the way to a desperate form of rationalism, because he cannot help it. Though he may not intend to go there he is going there. Faith, not reason, is the faculty in man that will save him from the abyss of unbelief. Professor C. A. Briggs, in his Biblical Study, speaking of higher criticism, says, “Many who are engaged in it are rationalistic and unbelieving, and they are using it with disastrous effect upon the Scriptures and the orthodox faith.” This is just what we have claimed all the time, and we now insist that the rationalistic perversion of higher criticism in this country shall cease. By it the supernatural in prophecy, infallibility in history, and the authorship of Old Testament books as determined from the New Testament have been assailed, with no other purpose than to overthrow them. The rationalist

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