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sion of such previous knowledge? Whence came it, then, that the doctrines of the existence and the attributes of Jehovah, which they had received, did not lead them to the conclusion, that God would not set the seal of Omnipotence to a forged commission? Jewish unbelief shewed itself to be miracle-proof in spite of all the light that Natural Theology could furnish; and we have the apology of a modern Jew in explanation and attestation of the wilful unbelief of the race who witnessed the "signs from Heaven."
Right reasoning would, most assuredly, have led all the Jewish people to believe upon Our Lord as, at least, a teacher sent from God, and to receive all that he taught as of Divine authority. But the light of reason, which seems to be what is generally meant by Natural Theology, never yet conducted men to right reasoning. The knowledge which Lord Brougham represents as a pre-requisite in order to appreciating the evidence of Revelation, is derivable only from Revelation itself. He admits, indeed, that it is Revelation which converts every inference of reason into certainty': how then can it derive certainty from those inferences which, without it, are uncertain? Reason may, indeed, establish what it could never have discovered; it may illustrate truths. which it could never have ascertained, by shewing their harmony with our actual knowledge, and by proving the infinite reasonableness of the testimony of inspired teachers. And this seems to us to describe the office of Natural Theology, which is the theology of reasoning, rather than the theology of nature, and of reasoning informed by the Divine testimony. The consistency of Revelation with right reason, forms an important branch of the internal evidence of Christianity; and in this sense, it is true, that Revelation makes its appeal to reason and previous knowledge, as well as to conscience. That is to say, it assumes men to be reasonable, if not correct reasoners,-to be rational, if not philosophical,-beings whose conscience tells them there is a God, though they may be unable by inductive reasoning to demonstrate it. The capacity of receiving knowledge in all cases depends upon previous knowledge; and he who knew nothing would be incapable of learning, unless the latent power of understanding could, as in an infant, be developed by sensible impressions. Revelation then assumes a previous knowledge, as all teaching, all testimony, all reasoning, must assume something already known. But then, that previous know
that, because some miracles might be an equivocal test, no miracles could be a distinctive criterion.
ledge is not to be considered as the basis of the new knowledge*, since it may be itself of the most crude, imperfect, and uncertain character, like that of childhood: it is but the means of understanding and appreciating what is made known. Revelation assumes common sense and natural religion, but it does not rest upon the deductions of either. It detects the insufficiency and the positive errors of both, and rectifies the very knowledge which it presupposes, as a stronger light corrects the previous decisions of the eye. Instead, then, of saying, that' Revelation cannot be true, if Natural Religion is false, though we do not deny the proposition, if taken in a certain sense,-we should prefer to say, that, without Revelation, Natural Religion must needs be false, since, from its necessary imperfection, it has always proved fallacious. And still more certainly must it be false, if Revelation is not true, since the latter supposition would overthrow all certain belief in Natural Religion itself.
We are far from denying the utility of the services of Natural Religion as subsidiary to and co-operative with the great help of Revelation'; but we hesitate to subscribe to the position which is adduced by the noble Author in proof of its utility, that, were our whole knowledge of the Deity drawn from Reve‘lation, its foundation must become weaker and weaker as the 'distance in point of time increases from the actual interposition,' because tradition, or the evidence of testimony, must of necessity be its only proof." For, in the first place, the force of testimony is not necessarily weakened by distance or lapse of time. On the contrary, as Lord Brougham remarks in a very valuable Note on Hume's Sceptical Writings, the degree of excellence and of strength to which testimony may rise, seems almost in'definite. The endless multiplication of witnesses-the un'bounded variety of their habits of thinking, their prejudices, their interests-afford the means of conceiving the force of 'their testimony augmented ad infinitum, because those circumstances afford the means of diminishing indefinitely the chances "of their being all mistaken, all misled, or all combining to de'ceive us. Now testimony such as this remains, as a fact, in perpetual and undiminished strength; and its general reception through successive ages, though in itself only a presumptive evidence, is certainly an additional fact, that increases the difficulties of scepticism. For example, the original testimony in support of the Mosaic miracles, instead of being weakened by lapse of time, is indefinitely strengthened by their having been constantly believed, on the strength of existing memorials, by the Jewish nation.
* Or, if it may be said to be its basis in the mind of the individual, it is not the basis of the truth which is the matter of the knowledge.
In the second place, admitting that the foundation of our belief in the miraculous attestation of Revelation is testimony, such testimony is not correctly represented as the foundation of the knowledge drawn from Revelation, which would be not the less true in itself, even though its authority had never been attested by miracle. The internal evidence of Revelation is confessedly independent of the miraculous attestation; and this is, perhaps, what we are to understand by the perpetually new and living evidence of Natural Religion.' But Revelation, as we have endeavoured to shew, is the source of the only certain knowledge which Natural Theology comprehends, beyond the mere fact of the Divine existence. And as to those truths to which Revelation demands the homage of faith, on the simple ground of the Divine testimony, and which, from their transcendent nature, are incapable of borrowing support from à priori reasoning, from analogy, from experience, or from any species of philosophical induction, such as the resurrection of the body, the pardon of sin, the manifestation of the Godhead in "The Word made flesh," the scheme of human redemption ;-truths like these, which never could have been known unless they had been revealed, and the belief of which is a test of the disposition to be "taught of God," cannot be said to 'borrow any prop' from Natural Theology on the one hand; nor, on the other, do they rest upon tradition, or the evidence of human testimony. We derive our knowledge of these stupendous facts from an inspired document; the inspiration of which is attested by the historic proof of the miraculous credentials of the writers, (a proof resting certainly upon testimony,) but also attested by internal evidence all but irresistible, and by the moral effects which have for eighteen hundred years uniformly attended the cordial belief in this religion. Of the document we are invited to judge; and Natural Theology may pronounce upon its consistency with all that is known of the Divine perfections, but it can go no further. The true foundation of our religious knowledge, then, is the revelation itself, contained in that inspired document; that is to say, it rests upon the Divine testimony cordially embraced, not simply as credible, but as authoritative, under sanctions which render unbelief fatally perilous. Moreover, the experimental evidence of the truths believed, which is peculiar to Christianity, is wholly independent alike of tradition and of natural religion, though in agreement with accumulated experience, and supported by the highest reasons; and this experimental evidence is, to each believer, the most satisfactory and certain proof of the Divine origin of his knowledge. "He that believeth hath the witness in himself."* In a word, Revelation can be seen only by its own
* 1 John v. 10.
light; nay, by the very organ which its supernatural light as it were develops: it is not merely knowledge, but is at the same time the instrument of producing the power of spiritual perception by which that knowledge is received. Without rejecting lower evidence, it brings with it evidence peculiar to itself; and it stakes its own truth upon this cardinal article of the Christian doctrine, that faith is dependent upon the state of the heart, and that the heart requires to be brought under Divine influence in order to the obedience of faith. This doctrine lies at the threshold of the Christian temple; and it is at this that the proud reasoner stumbles. But he who rejects this doctrine, by his very unbelief, becomes an unconscious witness to the truth of the Revelation which he either misconceives or impugns.
It might, indeed, be urged, that the doctrine of Inspiration, as the source of all wisdom and heavenly knowledge, is one which even the heathens obscurely recognised, and which might therefore claim to rank among the doctrines of Natural Religion. Nay, we find something approaching to the Christian doctrine of Regeneration in some of the systems of profane philosophy. But upon this point, as upon all others, the inferences and speculations of reason, guided, perhaps, by the vestiges of traditional revelation, are found fluctuating in uncertainty, till confirmed by the authority of the Christian doctrine. Natural Theology is capable of being more and more assimilated, as it were, to the Theology of Revelation, as it becomes permeated by its light, and informed by its spirit; but we must know God before we can behold His glory in His works, and we must love Him before we can know Him, or reason rightly concerning Him.
To the truly religious man, Natural Theology, taking its character from his faith, may be justly described as standing far above all other sciences, from the sublime and elevating nature ' of its objects.' Beautifully and eloquently does the noble Author expatiate upon the pleasure and improvement it is peculiarly adapted to afford.
It tells of the creation of all things,-of the mighty power that fashioned and that sustains the universe; of the exquisite skill that contrived the wings, and beak, and feet of insects invisible to the naked eye, and that lighted the lamp of day, and launched into space comets a thousand times larger than the earth, whirling a million of times swifter than a cannon ball, and burning with a heat which a thousand centuries could not quench. It exceeds the bounds of material existence, and raises us from the creation to the Author of Nature. Its office is, not only to mark what things are, but for what purpose they were made by the infinite wisdom of an all-powerful Being, with whose existence and attributes its high prerogative is to bring us acquainted.. Persons of such lives as should make it extremely desirable to them that there was no God, and no future
state, might very well, as philosophers, derive gratification from contemplating the truths of Natural Theology, and from following the chain of evidence by which these are established; and might, in such sublime meditation, find some solace to the pain which reflection upon the past, and fears of the future, are calculated to inflict upon them. But it is equally certain, that the science derives an interest incomparably greater from the consideration that we ourselves, who cultivate it, are most of all concerned in its truth, that our own highest destinies are involved in the results of the investigation. This, indeed, makes it, beyond all doubt, the most interesting of the sciences, and sheds on the other branches of philosophy an interest beyond that which otherwise belongs to them; rendering them more attractive in proportion as they connect themselves with this grand branch of human knowledge and are capable of being made subservient to its uses. See only in what contemplations the wisest of men end their most sublime inquiries! Mark where it is that a Newton finally reposes, after piercing the thickest veil that envelopes Nature,-grasping and arresting in their course the most subtile of her elements, and the swiftest,-traversing the regions of boundless space, exploring worlds beyond the solar way,-giving out the law which binds the universe in eternal order! He rests, as by an inevitable necessity, upon the contemplation of the great First Cause, and holds it his highest glory to have made the evidence of His existence, and the dispensations of His power and of His wisdom, better understood by man.
If such are the peculiar pleasures which appertain to this science, it seems to follow, that those philosophers are mistaken who would restrict us to a very few demonstrations, to one or two instances of design, as sufficient proofs of the Deity's power and skill in the creation of the world. That one sufficient proof of this kind is in a certain sense enough, cannot be denied: a single such proof overthrows the dogmas of the atheist, and dispels the doubts of the sceptic; but is it enough to the gratification of the contemplative mind? The great multiplication of proofs undeniably strengthen our positions; nor can we ever affirm respecting the theorems in a science not of necessary, but of contingent truth*, that the evidence is sufficiently cogent without variety and repetition. But, independently altogether of this consideration, the gratification is renewed by each instance of design which we are led to contemplate. Each is different from the other. Each step renews our delight. The finding that at every step we make in one science, and with one object in view, a new proof is added to those before possessed by another science, affords a perpetual source of new interest and fresh enjoyment. This would be true, if the science in question were one of an ordinary description. But when we consider what its nature is, how intimately connected with our highest concerns, how immediately and necessarily leading to the adoration of
* This is a somewhat unusual use of the term contingent. No science can consist of contingent truth, for what is only possible is not known, and cannot be matter of science. But what is necessary truth, if that is not; the denial of which is absurdity?