The life of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High may be called a Hidden Life, because the animating principle, the vital or operative element, is not so much in itself as in another. It is a life grafted into another life. It is the life of the soul, incorporated into the life of Christ; and in such a way, that, while it has a distinct vitality, it has so very much in the sense, in which the branch of a tree may be said to have a distinct vitality from the root.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Historical Faith

Historical faith, as that phrase is usually employed by theologians, is faith in the facts, persons, and events, which are mentioned in the Bible, considered merely as matters or subjects of history. The Bible has a historical, as well as a religious value. No reason can be given, so far as we can perceive, why the Bible, in its purely historical parts, should not be placed upon the same footing with the other historical narrations of antiquity. Statements, for instance, which are made in the Bible, and which are as well authenticated as other historical statements, furnish us with an account of Jesus Christ, gravely and specifically, much as is done in other historical narrations. And the person, who has faith in the historical narrations of profane antiquity, who believes in the existence of such men as Hannibal and the Scipios and in other historical personages, cannot well doubt, certainly not with any obvious consistency, the truth and facts of the evangelical statements.

An historical faith in the Savior, in accordance with the view just given, is a faith or belief, that such a man as Jesus Christ, possessing many of the virtuous traits, which his biographers have ascribed to him, appeared in Palestine at the commencement of the Christian era. It is the same species of faith, with which we believe in the existence of the Tituses, Vespasians, and other distinguished historical personages of the same period. This sort of faith, however, which has reference merely to the fact of his existence and to his general character, does not necessarily involve the existence of religion, or even of good morals. A man may be vicious in his character, or without being an immoral man, he may entirely reject Christ in his more important religious aspects and relations, and at the same time believe in him historically. And this was the case, as is well known, with Voltaire, with Diderot, and other distinguished opponents of the Christian system, who readily yielded their assent to the historical matter of fact, that Jesus Christ lived at a certain period of the world, that he was a wise and virtuous man, and that he was put to death by the Jews under the procurate of Pontius Pilate. But a faith, which stops at the historical facts, without recognizing the moral and religious relations and issues involved in them, (and this is always the case with the mere historical faith,) is obviously of no religious value.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 10.

No comments:

Post a Comment