Imatges de pÓgina
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PROOFS FROM REVELATION. These confirm and establish the evidences from nature. They specially and distinctly certify the existence of God in the Christian idea of the divine Being.

It is remarkable, however, that the manner of this proof is scarcely at all that of direct dogmatic declaration of the divine existence. This is tacitly assumed, at the beginning, as a truth that already has a natural certification and recognition. And the Scripture revelation begins with at once connecting the creation of the world, man, and the heavenly bodies with God's will and power, and presenting the movement of human life and history as under His government and meant for ends of love, righteousness, and spiritual welfare. As God's creational work had already revealed His existence, the supernatural soteriological revelation assumed fundamentally and mainly the form of a redemptive and historical working that should reflect His character and express His will. It was not the truth of His existence particularly that He meant to make known, but to give that view of Himself and of man's relations to Him in which men might be won back to holiness and be saved to the destiny of eternal life. Again, it is God's working that reveals Him. Whatever direct and formal teaching of truth as truth accompanies the movement, the main demonstration of God by this special revelation shines from what He has been doing in the world.

Hence, to specify how, in positive way, the Scripture revelation gives proof of God's being, it is evident that every manifestation of Himself in the facts of the redemptive work and history becomes testimony that He is. Therefore, not only the entire body of evidence that proves the very fact or reality of a supernatural revelation as a whole, but all the specific supernatural phenomena verified by its records, individually, become evidence of His existence. Thus, the miracles recorded, the prophecies made and fulfilled, the supernatural truths and doctrines disclosed, the supernatural morality taught, the whole phenomenon of Judaism and its history in the world, the supernatural character of Christ, the founding and progress of the Church, the conscious fellowship with God found to attend experience of Christianity, the wonderful and beneficent effects of Christianity on personal, social, and even national life, the whole miracle of Christianity as a unique, supernatural, saving, guiding, permanent power on the earth-all throw their immense and final confirmatory witness to the being and government of God, already assured by the evidence of nature.

CHAPTER II.

THE NATURE AND ATTRIBUTES OF GOD.

We are confronted here on the threshold by the question, pushed into prominence by recent and current agnosticism : “Can God be really known ?Admitting that He exists, can we in any reliable degree know what He is, or understand His nature and attributes? The speculative philosophies which denied the possibility of the proof of the divine existence have been followed by a "synthetic” philosophy, which contends that while, by inexorable logic, a Power back of the evolved universe must be conceded as its First Cause, the Absolute or Infinite, that Power is utterly “inscrutable," and that we cannot predicate anything whatever of it. However, the analysis of the essential conceptions of “First Cause," "The Absolute,” and “The Infinite,” by equally inexorable logic, shows it to be synonymous with the idea of God. In essential thought and practically, God is the First Cause, Absolute and Infinite. We are at this point, therefore, not at all concerned with the question whether we may know that God exists. The whole theistic evidence, as well as the agnostic tacit admission,

1 Herbert Spencer, “First Principles," ch. ii.

· For a showing of Spencer's self-contradiction, see Caird's “Philosophy of Religion,” Vol. I., pp. 10-18.

• Herbert Spencer concedes: “Though the Absolute cannot in any manner or degree be known, in the strict sense of knowing, yet we find that its positive existence is a necessary datum of consciousness ; that so long as consciousness continues, we cannot for an instant rid it

(203)

assures this knowledge. But must God, conceded to exist, be still held to be, with respect to His nature and attributes, utterly “inscrutable,” the “unknown” and “unknowable"? Is He, the great Object of religious thought, so absolutely transcendent that we can form no true conceptions of His being and character, answering to the divine reality? Is the necessary Object of our homage and dependence to stand forever blank in our intelligence, so that we must worship we know not what? Are we excluded from reaching any definite idea of Him ?

For the sake of clearness we must definitely distinguish this question from another with which it is easily confounded. It is not whether we can know all about God, know Him fully, comprehend Him completely. Theology does not need or pretend to do this. In this sense the finite cannot understand the Infinite. But it does assert the possibility of a true and adequate knowledge of God—that He is neither the unrevealed nor the utterly inscrutable." For its rejection of the agnostic claim, theology has a clear warrant in the method or reasoning of the very philosophy which has put forth the agnostic conclusion. For, as its premises it adopts the position inexorably demanded by the necessities of thought and of being, that the Power revealed in the universe must be the “First Cause,” “the Absolute,” and “the Infinite." Though it proceeds to deny our right to affirm “personality” of the First Cause, it has already, in the very terms of designation, affirmed the predicates of power, causality, absoluteness, infinitude, and elsewhere, of the capability of becoming manifest. If it, reasoning in obedience to the call of logical necessity from the sole fact of the existence of the world, has felt constrained to mark these great predicates in order to assert truth, what hinders us, in view of other facts that are about as deeply pervasive and certain in nature as is the single point of finite existence, from legitimately adding further predicates demanded by equal logic for the truth of things? The marks of intelligence, purpose, and consequent Willpower in the order of the intelligible universe, may as imperatively require the predicate of personality, as simple, finite, changing existence requires that of absoluteness. The manifested "power" making for righteousness, in the conscience and in history, may just as truly call for moral predicates, under the same obedience to logic. In truth, the entire theological agnosticism of this nescience philosophy is due to the arbitrary and false limitations it fixes for itself with respect to the use to be made of the realities of cosmic nature in finding the

of this datum; and thus the belief which this datum constitutes, has a higher warrant than any other whatever."-"First Principles,”p. 98. This admission is valuable. In fact, in any true science of the mind and its real action, it amounts to an overthrow of the very contention of Spencer against the possibility of knowing God “in the strict sense of knowing.” For if he had not neglected or falsified the real relation between “belief " and "knowing," which he unjustly proceeds to contrast, he would have had to acknowledge that, since “ belief " or faith only attends or follows the knowing action of the human faculties (see pp. 71-72), the high and immovable "datum of consciousness" is itself a datum of knowledge, the “belief” in the Absolute being the state of mind which he had already acknowledged to be given by “inexorable logic,” a conviction or consciousness which is an outcome of the “knowing" faculty. He has no psychological warrant for so violently contrasting knowledge and belief, substituting belief for knowledge and placing it in independence.

1 Herbert Spencer has reached his agnosticism simply by arbitrariness in fixing for himself the limits under which he would employ the realities of cosmic nature to find the Power disclosed in the universe.

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