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.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

But, Faith Does Not Abandon Reason

It is not uncommon for Christians to eulogize faith in distinction from reason; and not unfrequently they speak of faith as a higher authority than reason. We are aware, that expressions of this kind, which are often on the lips of eminently pious and devoted people, suggest trials and doubts in the minds of some, as if they implied an abandonment of reason. And it is not surprising that they should, when the expressions are taken in their literal and obvious import. But a little reflection on the subject will help to remove this difficulty.

As Christians we do not, and we cannot abandon reason. The abandonment of reason would involve the abandonment of Christianity itself. We abandon reason, only when it is perversely applied; and when we ought to abandon it. We abandon it in its support of particular facts and particular propositions; and then only when such particular facts and propositions come in conflict with some more general facts and propositions, in which our faith is fully established. Abraham did not doubt, he could not doubt, that God is good and holy. His mind, in connection with the antecedent evidence, of which he had the experience both inwardly and outwardly, rested firmly by faith in this general proposition. He did not doubt in the least. Accordingly being established in this general truth by faith, he had nothing left but to reject at once all suggestions adverse to it, which human reason might bring in the shape of particular facts and particular propositions. In other words, believing in God as a God of all knowledge as well as of holiness, he thought it better to distrust human reason, which is limited, than to distrust God’s reason, which is universal. He felt, that he himself in his blindness might be wrong; but that God, in whom “is no darkness at all,” could not be otherwise than right.

These considerations obviously analyze and adjust the conflict, or rather the supposed conflict, between faith and reason. Faith and reason, when the matter is rightly understood, are by no means the opposites of each other. True faith and right reason always have harmonized, always will harmonize. The conflict, which from time to time takes place, is in appearance and not in reality; is relative and not absolute. It is true, that faith, resting upon reflection and reason, sometimes places itself in the attitude of opposition, and will not permit reason hastily and erroneously to undo its own work. And this is a state of things altogether true and right. It is entirely consistent and right, that religious faith, resting for adequate reasons, in general religious propositions of a high and controlling nature, should sustain this sublime position, a position which may be regarded as the result of a higher and more universal reason; and should reject at once and forever all the adverse suggestions of that other and subsequent reasoning, which moves in a lower sphere and with a narrower vision. It is a state of things, which may be regarded as represented in the simple statement, that faith, considering the grounds and circumstances of its origin, is God’s reason against man’s reason, is strong reason against weak reason, true and right reason against false reason.

The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 14.

No comments:

Post a Comment