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entitle them to the veneration of every Christian; but because eso they may be
proved by most certain warrants of holy Scripture.”
It has been objected to this course of argument, that it inculcates a blind and implicit credulity, unworthy a being, to whom the Creator has given the faculty of reason as his director.
To this however it may be answered, that, although reason be competent to direct us in the affairs of this life, it is not; and f cannot be, without instruction from above, a sufficient guide in our religious concerns; for it cannot teach us to walk in a path which it is not able to discover : and since we never could have known the way which leadeth unto life, unless God had revealed it; revelation must first enlighten reason, to qualify it to be our conductor.
Hence the Apostle declares, that we g“walk by faith ;” that is, our conduct, as Christians, is determined by our belief in those doctrines, which God has given us for our direction.' But, though we refuse to unenlightened reason that supremacy over faith which it has sometimes arrogantly claimed, we by no means exclude it from its proper office, in which it is eminently useful, and indeed absolutely necessary.
f See Note XLIX. Appendix.
e Article VIII.
hi Reason is employed in its own sphere, when it is exerted to try the evidence on which revelation is supported. It is com petent to determine, whether the holy Scriptures have sufficient claim to be believed, as the compositions of men divinely inspired, and what particular doctrines they inculcate.
But when once reason itself has decided, that the Bib9
is the word of God; and that those fundamental doctrines, which the Church has uniformly maintained, are to be found in it; it then becomes irrational to sày, that such doctrines may yet be made subjects of doubt as to their truth; or that they may be altered or rejected, in compliance with human notions of their probability or expediency. h See Note L. Appendix. i See Note LI. Appendix.
reason which demands our assent to credible testimony, also proves the necessity of believing what it attests, according to the plain and natural meaning of the terms in which it is conveyed.
Since then the faith of a Christian is built upon
the word of God himself, which is infallible, we conceive not how it can be otherwise than one. When facts are stated upon human authority only, if we have no reason to doubt the integrity or the knowledge of the relator, we do not hesitate to believe them to be as he has asserted; nor do we think ourselves justified in torturing his words, to impose upon them different
How then can they be defended, who deal thus with the language of a God of infinite wisdom and holiness ? How can they suppose, that the words which the Holy Ghost has dictated, may be fairly made to bear any interpretation, which the perverted subtlety of man can impose on them; or that more than one faith can be built upon the same foundation?
The position then under consideration may now, I trust, be considered as sufficiently established. It has been tried by the rule of Scripture, and by the practice of the Church; and it has appeared, that as truth is one, so the faith of Christians must be one also; that this one faith is by the word of God declared to be an indispensable condition of salvation; and that in the primitive Church, which ad. hered to the instruction and the example of the Apostles themselves, it was constantly so regarded.
By investigating also the nature of faith, as an assent of the mind, upon the authority of divine revelation, to certain truths not discoverable by human inquiry; I have endeavoured to shew, that it is irreconcileable with the principles of sound reasoning to suppose, that this revelation can speak other than one and the same meaning to all who interpret it aright; or that we are at liberty to understand it in any sense but that which the manifest import of the language proves that it was intended to convey.
The result then of the inquiry may be thus briefly stated : our blessed Lord has declared, that none but they who believe in him can be his disciples; and that all may know what they are to believe, he has left upon record with the Church the doctrines which she is to teach.
These doctrines are to be found in the holy Scriptures; whence they are to be gathered, not from a few dark or doubtful passages, but from the full, clear, and harmonious testimony of all the inspired writers; by each of whom, in his own method, varied according to the specific purpose of his labours, but still under the controlling influence of the same Spirit of truth, they have been stated, illustrated, and enforced,
Taken together, these doctrines constitute that one faith, by which alone we can arrive unto “ the perfect man, unto the
measure of the stature of the fulness of " Christ;"? and therefore, he who does not hold this mo form of sound words,"
I See Note LIII. Appendix.
m 2 Tim. i. 13.