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wholly unnecessary, even if it could have been satisfactorily accomplished within the limits of the single Lecture which

alone could have been given to it.

But granting for the present the main position of these Lectures, namely, that the human mind inevitably and by virtue of its essential constitution, finds itself involved in self-contra

dictions whenever it ventures on certain courses of speculation;

it may be asked, in the next place, what conclusion does this

admission warrant, as regards the respective positions of Faith

and Reason in determining the religious convictions of men. These Lectures have been charged with condemning, under the name of Dogmatism, all Dogmatic Theology; with censuring “the exercise of Reason in defence and illustration of the truths of Revelation;" with including "schoolmen and

saints and infidels alike” in one and the same condemnation.

Such sweeping assertions are surely not warranted by anything that is maintained in the Lectures themselves. Dogmatism and Rationalism are contrasted with each other, not as em

ploying reason for opposite purposes, but as employing it in

extremes. The contrast was naturally suggested by the historical connection between the Wolfian philosophy and the Kantian, the one as the stronghold of Dogmatism, the other of Rationalism. The religious philosophy of Wolf and his fol

lowers, whose system, and not that of either “schoolmen or

saints,” is cited as the chief specimen of Dogmatism, was

66 He

founded on the assumption that philosophical proofs of theological doctrines were absolutely necessary in all cases. maintained,” says a writer quoted in the Notes," that philosophy was indispensable to theology, and that, together with biblical proofs, a mathematical or strictly demonstrative dogmatical system, according to the principles of reason, was absolutely necessary." Dogmatism, as thus exemplified, is surely not the use of reason in theology, but its abuse. Unless a critic is prepared to accept, as legitimate reasoning, Canz's demonstration of the Trinity, cited at p. 232 of the present volume, or the more modern specimen of the same method

noticed at p. 51, he must surely admit the conclusion which

these instances were adduced to prove; namely, that the methods of the Dogmatist and the Rationalist are alike open to criticism,“ in so far as they keep within or go beyond those limits of sound thought which the laws of man's mind, or the

circumstances in which he is placed, have imposed upon him.”

All Dogmatic Theology is not Dogmatism, nor all use of


Reason Rationalism, any more than all drinking is drunken.

The dogmatic or the rational method may be rightly or wrongly employed, and the question is to determine the limits

of the legitimate or illegitimate use of each. It is expressly as

extremes that the two systems are contrasted: each is described

as leading to error in its exclusive employment, yet as being, in its utmost error, only a truth abused. If reason may not be used without restriction in the defence any more than in the refutation of religious doctrines; if there are any mysteries of revelation which it is our duty to believe, though we

cannot demonstrate them from philosophical premises, - this

is sufficient to show that the provinces of Faith and Reason

are not coëxtensive. But to assert this is surely not to deny.

that the dogmatic method may be and has been rightly used

within certain limits. The dogmatism which is condemned

is not system, but the extravagance of system.

If syste

matic completeness is made the end which the theologian is

bound to pursue, at every cost; if whatever is left obscure

and partial in revealed truth is, as a matter of necessity, to be cleared and completed by definitions and inferences, certain or uncertain ; if the declarations of Scripture are in

all cases to be treated as conclusions to be supported by

philosophical premises, or as principles to be developed into

philosophical conclusions, —- then indeed Dogmatic Theology

is in danger of degenerating into mere Dogmatism.


it is only the indiscriminate use of the method which is condemned, and that not simply as an employment of reason in religious questions, but as an employment beyond its just


And if, in citing instances of this misuse, it has

been occasionally necessary to point out the errors of writers

whose names are justly honored in the Church, and whose

labors, as a whole, are entitled to the reverence and gratitude of posterity, I wish distinctly to state, that the censure, such as it is, reaches only to the points directly indicated,

by reference or quotation, and is not intended to apply further.

What, then, is the practical lesson which these Lectures are designed to teach concerning the right use of reason in religious questions? and what are the just claims of a reasonable faith, as distinguished from a blind credulity ? In the first place, it is obvious that, if there is any object

whatever of which the human mind is unable to form a

clear and distinct conception, the inability equally disquali

fies us for proving or disproving a given doctrine, in all cases in which such a conception is an indispensable condi

tion of the argument.

If, for example, we can form no

positive notion of the Nature of God as an Infinite Being,


are not cntitled either to demonstrate the mystery of

the Trinity as a necessary property of that Nature, or to

reject it as necessarily inconsistent therewith.

Such mys

teries clearly belong, not to Reason, but to Faith; and the

preliminary inquiry which distinguishes a reasonable from

an unreasonable belief, must be directed, not to the premises by which the doctrine can be proved or disproved as rea

sonable or unreasonable, but to the nature of the authority

on which it rests, as revealed or unrevealed.

The brief

summary of Christian Evidences contained in my concluding Lecture,' and others which might be added to them, are surely sufficient to form an ample field for the use of Reason,

1 See below, p. 214.

even in regard to those mysteries which it cannot directly

examine. If to submit to an authority which can stand the test of such investigations, and to believe it when it tells

us of things which we are unable to investigate, — if this

be censured as a blind credulity, it is a blindness which in

these things is a better guide than the opposite quality so justly described by the philosopher as “the sharp-sightedness

of little souls."

In the second place, a caution is needed concerning the

kind of evidence which reason is competent to furnish within

the legitimate sphere of its employment. If we have not

such a conception of the Divine Nature as is sufficient for

the a priori demonstration of religious truth, our rational conviction in any particular case must be regarded, not as a certainty, but as a probability. We must remember the Aris

totelian rule, to be content with such evidence as the nature

of the object matter allows. A single infallible criterion of

all religious truth can be obtained only by the possession of a perfect Philosophy of the Infinite. If such a philosophy

is unattainable; if the infinite can only be apprehended under finite symbols, and the authority of those symbols tested by finite evidences, – there is always room for error, in consequence of the inadequacy of the conception to express completely the nature of the object. In other words, we must

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