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evil, or which attribute to him human members and passions. So long, therefore, as God “cannot deny himself," we must resort to this very principle.

The simple inquiry appears then to be, whether the use of a judicious system opens the door for the abuse of the analogy of faith. It is contended, that it necessarily does so, by expanding this analogy so far as to make the whole of a certain theological system a canon of faith, which nothing is suffered to contravene. There are slavish minds in which this effect will doubtless be produced; but the result in such cases would be the same, if, instead of a written system, the learner availed himself of the oral effusions of some idolized errorist. And in this whole controversy, let it be observed, the choice is at last between the dead and the living, between the tried systems of the ancients, and the ill-compacted schemes of contemporaries. We forget the place which has been assigned to the theological system, when we hold it responsible for excesses of this kind. It is by no means a rule of faith, else were it needless to refer to the Bible. It may be compared to the map of a country over which a geographer travels, and which affords convenient direction, while at the same time the traveller does not hold it to be perfect, but proceeds to amend it by actual survey. Without it, he might lose his way, yet he is unwilling to give implicit faith to its representations.

There are many problems in analytic mathematics, in which the unknown quantity is to be sought by successive approximations. In these cases, it is necessary to assume some result as true, and to correct it by comparison with the data. Not unlike this is the process by which we arrive at certain conclusions in the other sciences, and in theology among the rest. If, in the course of our investigation, we are met by scriptural statements which positively contradict any position of the system which is assumed as approximating to the truth; the consequence will be a doubt, or an abandonment of the

a system itself.

Precisely in this way, every independent thinker knows that he has been affected by the difficulties of Scripture. The case would not be rendered more favourable, if he had in his hand no system.

As it is manifestly impossible for any one to come to the study of the Word of God without entertaining some general scheme of divine truth as substantially correct, we can see no reason why the student should not avail himself of that which he esteems true in its great outline. It will be no bar to just inquiry, that he is

hereby prevented from hastily catching at specious error, by perceiving that it varies from his guide. Life is too short for every man to be left to the hazard of running through the whole cycle of errors and heresies, before he arrives at the truth; and this is prevented only by presenting to the learner some beacon against seductive falsehoods. He may-as many have done—conclude, upon due inquiry, that his own impressions are right, and his system wrong:

We have compared the theological system to the hypothesis by which the natural philosopher directs his inquiries. The comparison is good for the present instance. The system, like the hypothesis, is not unalterable. It is to be studiously scrutinized, and even suspected; adopted if verified, and rejected if proved to be false. There is a well-known process by which natural philosophers arrive at the primary physical laws, viz. by assuming indeed the laws discover, but so generally expressed, that they shall include an unlimited variety of particular laws; following out the consequences of this assumption, by the application of such general principles as the case admits; comparing them in succession with all the particular cases within our knowledge; and lastly, on this comparison, so modifying and restricting the general enunciation of our laws as to make the results

* Analogous to this is the process according to which, by the hypothetical assumption of a given system, we proceed to determine upon its truth.

But we are here arrested by an objection urged against this whole method of proceeding, which comes in a specious shape, and with the air of sincerity, and therefore demands a serious examination. We are addressed in some such terms as these: “ The whole method of investigating theological truth by the advocates of systems is erroneous, because it is diametrically opposed to the principles of the inductive philosophy. Instead of framing a system a priori, and making it a bed of Procrustes, to which every declaration of the Bible is to be forcibly adapted, the only safe method is to reject all the hypotheses of divines, to come to the examination divested of all preconceived opinions, to consider the scattered revelations of Scripture as so many phenomena, and to classify, generalize, and deduce from these phenomena; just as the astronomer or the botanist uses physical data in framing a


* Herschell's Discourse, $ 210.

sound hypothesis. The study of theology should be exegetical, and the obsolete classifications of past ages should be entirely laid aside.” We have endeavoured to state the objection fairly and strongly, and we shall now inquire how far it operates against the positions which we have taken. The objection assumes an analogy between theological investigation of revealed truth and physical inquiry into the system of the universe. This analogy we have already noticed, and in reply to so much of the objection as concerns the original investigation of divine truth, we grant that nothing can be more unphilosophical or untheological than to receive any system as true, previously to examination, however it may have been supported by consent of antiquity, or wideness of diffusion. This were to forsake the great principles of the Reformation, and revert to the implicit faith of the apostate Church. We ask no concession of private judgment on the part of the learner; we acknowledge that the fival appeal is, in every instance, to the Scriptures themselves. We go further, in meeting those who differ from us, and accept their illustration. Let the Scriptures be considered as analogous to the visible universe; and its several propositions as holding the same place with regard to the interpreter, which the phenomena of the heavens do with regard to the astronomer. Let it be agreed that the method of arriving at truth is in both instances the same, that is, by careful examination of these data, from which result generalization, cautious induction, and the position of ultimate principles. Let it be further conceded that exegesis answers to experiment or observation in the natural world, and consequently that the theologian is to consider exegetical results as the basis of all his reasonings. In all this there is not so wide a separation between us, as might at first appear. We avow our belief that the theologian should proceed in his investigation precisely as the chemist or the botanist proceeds. " The botanist does not shape his facts," says a late ingenious writer. Granted, provided that you mean that the botanist does not wrest his facts, to a forced correspondence with a hypothesis. Neither does the genuine theologian “shape his texts," nor constrain them to an agreement with his system. But both the botanist and the theologian do, in this sense, “shape their facts,” that they classify and arrange the fruits of their observation, and gather from them new proofs of that general system which has previously commended itself to their faith.

every science.

There is an entire agreement between the contending parties, as to the independent principles upon which original investigation for the discovery of truth is to be conducted, in

It is the method which bears the name of Bacon, though practised, to a limited extent, by the wise of every age. It is the method of Newton, which, in his case, resulted in the most splendid series of demonstrations which the world has ever known. Up to this point we agree, yet we have left the main question still untouched—whether in pursuing this method it is absolutely necessary to reject all the results of precedent labours. It is not merely concerning the way in which original investigation should be pursued, but also the way in which the results of such investigation are to be communicated. The former would be the inquiry how to make a system-how to deduce it from its original disjected elements; the latter is the inquiry how the general truths thus deduced, may be made available to the benefit of the learner. Systems of theology are in their nature synthetical. They are the result of the toilsome analysis of great minds, and they are to be put to the test by a comparison of all the separate truths, of which they purport to be a scientific arrangement. That they are convenient helps, in the transmission of such results as have been attained by the wisdom and diligence of our predecessors-results which else would have perished with their discoverers—is made evident by reference to the very analogy above stated. In every science, it is by such synthetical arrangements that the observations and inductions of philosophers are embodied, in order to facilitate the advance of those who follow. Thus, for instance, when the Abbé Haiy, by a tedious and laborious induction of a

particulars, had traced up the apparently amorphous crystals of the mineral kingdom, to certain clear and primitive figures, he reduced the whole of his discoveries to the form of a system, so that future crystallographers might with less toil follow out his inquiries, and with immense advantage take up the subject where he left it.

But, lest we should be suspected of the slightest misrepresentation or evasion of the argument, let it be supposed that the gist of the objection is, not that systems are useless, but that they should not be put into the hands of learners, lest they fill their minds with doctrines unproved and unexamined, and close the door against manly and independent inquiry. Far be it from us to lay one shackle upon the chartered free

VOL. IV. No. IV.—2 A

dom of the theologian! We would that there were a thousandfold more independence in the search of truth and that so many hundreds were not enslaved by the prejudice of novelty, whilst they clamour against the prejudice of authority and antiquity. To the objection, under this new phase, we reply: the only possible method of making the labours of past theologians available and profitable to the tyro, is by presenting to him the fruits of these labours in some compendious form. In every other case, the learner is despoiled of all the aids afforded by superior wisdom and learning, and reduced to the condition of one who has to build the whole structure for himself from the very foundation. But it is rejoined, “ The Bible is the text-book: Theology is to be pursued exegetically; let the student, with his hermeneutical apparatus, come to the investigation of the Bible itself, to the neglect of all systems of human composition.” Again we reply, that in correspondence with the analogy above suggested, exegesis is the true instrument of discovery, and the test of all pretended results. It may be compared to the glasses and quadrant of the astronomer. But is this all that is afforded to the inchoate astronomer? Let the analogy be pursued. We suppose a professor in this new school of physics to say to his pupil, “ Here are your telescopes and other instruments, your logarithmic tables and ephemeris--yonder is the observatory. Proceed to make your observations. Be independent and original in your inquiries, and cautious in your inductions. You are not to be informed whether the sun moves around the earth, or the earth around the sun. This would be to prepossess you in favour of a system. Ptolemy and Copernicus are alike to be forgotten!” What is our estimate of such a method of philosophizing? The unfortunate youth is not permitted to take a glance at Newton's Principia, lest his mind should librate from its exact poise, towards some preconceived opinion. He is reduced to the very condition of the thousands who grope in disastrous twilight, for want of direction. He is called upon to be a Galileo without his powers, or a Kepler without his previous training.

To an unprejudiced mind it must commend itself as reasonable, that the beginner in any science should be furnished at least with some syllabus of its details, which may serve as a clew in the labyrinth of his doubts. In order to discover truth, it is not the safest nor the wisest plan to reduce the mind to the unenviable condition of a tabula rasa; although

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