The Eye Sees Only That Which It Brings With It The Power Of Seeing.” —
“Open Thou Mine Eyes, That I May Behold Wondrous
Things Out Of Thy Law.” —

Psalm 119:18.
“For With Thee Is The Fountain Of Life: In Thy Light Shall We See Light.”

Psalm 36:9.
“For We Know In Part, And We Prophesy In Part; But When That Which Is
Perfect Is Come, That Which Is In Part Shall Be Done Away.”

1 Corinthians 13:9, 10.3
The present work is a revision and enlargement of my “Systematic
Theology,” first published in 1836. Of the original work there have been
printed seven editions, each edition embodying successive corrections and
supposed improvements. During the twenty years which have intervened
since its first publication I have accumulated much new material, Which I
now offer to the reader. My philosophical and critical point of view
meantime has also somewhat changed. While I still hold to the old
doctrines, I interpret them differently and expound them more clearly,
because I seem to myself to have reached a fundamental truth which
throws new light upon them all. This truth I have tried to set forth in my
book entitled “Christ in Creation” and to that book I refer the reader for
further information.
That Christ is the one and only Revealer of God, in nature, in humanity, in
history, in science, in Scripture, is in my judgment the key to theology.
This view implies a monistic and idealistic conception of the world,
together with an evolutionary idea as to its origin and progress. But it is
the very antidote to pantheism, in that it recognizes evolution as only the
method of the transcendent and personal Christ, who fills all in all, and who
makes the universe teleological and moral from its center to its
circumference and from its beginning until now.
Neither evolution nor the higher criticism has any terrors to one who
regards them as parts of Christ’s creating and educating process. The
Christ in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge himself
furnishes all the needed safeguards and limitations. It is only because Christ
has been forgotten that nature and law have been personified, that history
has been regarded as unpurposed development, that Judaism has been
referred to a merely human origin, that Paul has been thought to have
switched the church off from its proper track even before it had gotten
fairly started on its course, that superstition and illusion have come to seem
the only foundation for the sacrifices of the martyrs and the triumphs of
modern missions. I believe in no such irrational and atheistic evolution as
this. I believe rather in him in whom all things consist, who is with his
people even to the end of the world, and who has promised to lead them
into all the truth..4
Philosophy and science are good servants of Christ, but they are poor
guides when they rule out the Son of God. As I reach my seventieth year
and write these words on my birthday, I am thankful for that personal
experience of union with Christ which has enabled me to see in science and
philosophy the teaching of my Lord. But this same personal experience has
made me even more alive to Christ’s teaching in Scripture, has made me
recognize in Paul and John a truth profounder than that disclosed by any
secular writers, truth with regard to sin and atonement for sin, that satisfies
the deepest wants of my nature and that is self-evidencing and divine.
I am distressed by some common theological tendencies of our time,
because I believe them to be false to both science and religion. How men
who have ever felt themselves to be lost sinners and who have once
received pardon from their crucified Lord and Savior can thereafter seek to
pare down his attributes, deny his deity and atonement, tear from his brow
the crown of miracle and sovereignty, relegate him to the place of a merely
moral teacher who influences us only as does Socrates by words spoken
across a stretch of ages, passes my comprehension. here is my test of
orthodoxy: Do we pray to Jesus? Do we call upon the name of Christ, as
did Stephen and all the early church? Is he our living Lord, omnipresent
omniscient omnipotent? Is he divine only in the sense in which we are
divine, or is he the only-begotten Son, God manifest in the flesh, in whom
is all the fullness of the Godhead bodily? What think ye of the Christ? is
still the critical question, and none are entitled to the name of Christian
who, in the face of the evidence he has furnished us, cannot answer the
question aright.
Under the influence of Ritschl and his Kantian relativism, many of our
teachers and preachers have swung off into a practical denial of Christ’s
deity and of his atonement. We seem upon the verge of a second Unitarian
defection, that will break up churches and compel secessions, in a worse
manner than did that of Channing and Ware a century ago. American
Christianity recovered from that disaster only by vigorously asserting the
authority of Christ and the inspiration of the Scriptures. We need a new
vision of the Savior like that which Paul saw on the way to Damascus and
John saw on the isle of Patmos, to convince us that Jesus is lifted above
space and time, that his existence antedated creation, that he conducted the
march of Hebrew history, that he was born of a virgin, suffered on the
cross, rose from the dead, and now lives forevermore, the Lord of the
universe, the only God with whom we have to do, our Savior here and our.5
Judge hereafter. Without a revival of this faith our churches will become
secularized, mission enterprise will die out, and the candlestick will be
removed out of its place as it was with the seven churches of Asia, and as it
has been with the apostate churches of New England.
I print this revised and enlarged edition of my “Systematic theology,” in the
hope that its publication may do something to stem this fast advancing tide,
and to confirm the faith of God’s elect. I make no doubt that the vast
majority of Christians still hold the faith that was once for all delivered to
the saints, and that they will sooner or later separate themselves from those
who deny the Lord who bought them. When the enemy comes in like a
flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him. I would
do my part in raising up such a standard. I would lead others to avow
anew, as I do now, in spite of the supercilious assumptions of modern
infidelity, my firm belief, only confirmed by the experience and reflection of
a half century, in the old doctrines of holiness as the fundamental attribute
of God, of an original transgression and sin of the whole human race, in a
divine preparation in Hebrew history for man’s redemption, in the deity,
pre-existence, virgin birth, vicarious atonement and bodily resurrection of
Jesus Christ our Lord, and in his future coming to judge the quick and the
dead. I believe that these are truths of science as well as truths of
revelation; that the supernatural will yet be seen to be most truly natural;
and that not the open-minded theologian but the narrow-minded scientist
will be obliged to hide his head at Christ’s coming.
The present volume, in its treatment of Ethical Monism, inspiration, the
Attributes of God, amid the Trinity, contains an antidote to most of the
false doctrine which now threatens the safety of the church. I desire
especially to call attention to the section on Perfection, and the Attributes
therein involved, because I believe that the recent merging of holiness in
Love, and the practical denial that Righteousness is fundamental in God’s
nature, are responsible for the utilitarian views of law and the superficial
views of sin which now prevail in some systems of theology. There can be
no proper doctrine of the atonement and no proper doctrine of retribution,
so long as holiness is refused its preeminence. Love must have a norm or
standard, and this norm or standard can be found only in Holiness. The old
conviction of sin and the sense of guilt that drove the convicted sinner to
the cross are inseparable from a firm belief in the self-affirming attribute of
God as logically prior to and as conditioning the self-communicating
attribute. The theology of our day needs a new view of the Righteous One..6
Such a view will make it plain that God must be reconciled before man can
be saved, and that the human conscience can be pacified only upon
condition that propitiation is made to the divine Righteousness. In this
volume I propound what I regard as the true Doctrine of God, because
upon it will be based all that follows in the volumes on the Doctrine of
Man, and the Doctrine of Salvation.
The universal presence of Christ, the Light that lighteth every man, in
heathen as well as in Christian lands, to direct or overrule all movements of
the human mind, gives me confidence that the recent attacks upon the
Christian faith will fail of their purpose. It becomes evident at last that not
only the outworks are assaulted, but the very citadel itself. We are asked to
give up all belief in special revelation. Jesus Christ, it is said, has come in
the flesh precisely as each one of us has come, and he was before Abraham
only in the same sense that we were. Christian experience knows how to
characterize such doctrine so soon as it is clearly stated. And the new
theology will be of use in enabling even ordinary believers to recognize
soul-destroying heresy even under the mask of professed orthodoxy.
I make no apology for the homiletical element in my book. To be either
true or useful, theology must be a passion. Pectus est quod theologum
facit, and no disdainful cries of “Pectoral Theology” shall prevent me from
maintaining that the eyes of the heart must be enlightened in order to
perceive the truth of God, and that to know the truth it is needful to do the
truth. Theology is a science which can be successfully cultivated only in
connection with its practical application. I would therefore, in every
discussion of its principles, point out its relations to Christian experience,
and its power to awaken Christian emotions amid lead to Christian
decisions, Abstract theology is not really scientific. Only that theology is
scientific which brings the student to the feet of Christ I would hasten the
day when in the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. I believe that if any
man serve Christ. him the Father will honor, and that he serve Christ means
to honor him as I honor the Father. I would not pride myself that I believe
so little, but rather that I believe so much. Faith is God’s measure of a man.
Why should I doubt that God spoke to the fathers through the prophets?
Why should I think it incredible that God should raise the dead? The things
that are impossible with men are possible with God. When the Son of man
comes, shall he find faith on the earth? Let him at least find faith in us who
profess to be his followers. In the conviction that the present darkness is
but temporary and that it will be banished by a glorious sun rising, I give.7
this new edition of my “Theology” to the public with the prayer that
whatever of good seed is in it may bring forth fruit, and that whatever plant
the heavenly Father has not planted may be rooted up.
ROCHESTER, N. Y., AUGUST 3. 1906..8
I. — Definition of Theology
II. — Aim of Theology
III. — Possibility of Theology. — grounded in
1. The existence of a God
2. Man’s capacity for the knowledge of God
3. God’s revelation of himself to man
IV. — Necessity of ‘Theology
V. — Relation of Theology to Religion
I. — Sources of Theology
1. Scripture and Nature
2. Scripture and Rationalism
3. Scripture and Mysticism
4. Scripture and Romanism
II. — Limitations of Theology
III. — Relations of Material to Progress in Theology
I. — Requisites to the study of Theology
II. — Divisions of Theology
III. — History of Systematic Theology.9
IV. — Order of Treatment
V. — Text-Books in Theology
I. — First Truths in General
II. — The Existence of God a First Truth
1. Its universality
2. Its necessity
3. Its logical independence and priority
III. — Other supposed Sources of the Idea
IV. — Contents of this Intuition
I. — The Cosmological Argument
II. — The Teleological Argument
III. — The Anthropological Argument
IV. — The Ontological Argument
I. — Materialism
II. — Materialistic Idealism
III. — Idealistic Pantheism
IV. — Ethical Monism
I. — Reasons a priori for expecting a Revelation from God
II. — Marks of the Revelation man may expect.10
III. — Miracles as attesting a Divine Revelation
1. Definition of Miracle
2. Possibility of Miracles
3. Probability of Miracles
4. Amount of Testimony necessary to prove a Miracle
5. Evidential Force of Miracles
6. Counterfeit Miracles
IV. — Prophecy as attesting a Divine Revelation
V. — Principles of Historical Evidence applicable to the Proof of a Divine
1. As to Documentary Evidence
2. As to Testimony in General
I. — Genuineness of the Christian Documents
1. Genuineness of the Books of the New Testament
1st. The Myth-theory of Strauss
2d. The Tendency-theory of Baur
3d. The Romance-theory of Renan
4th. The Development-theory of Harnack
2. Genuineness of the Books of the Old Testament The Higher Criticism in
General The Authorship of the Pentateuch in particular
II. — Credibility of the Writers of the Scriptures
III. — Supernatural Character of the Scripture Teaching
1. Scripture Teaching in General
2. Moral System of the New Testament Heathen Systems of Morality
3. The Person and Character of Christ
4. The Testimony of Christ to himself
IV. — Historical Results of the Propagation of Scripture Doctrine.11
I. — Definition of Inspiration
II. — Proof of Inspiration
III. — Theories of Inspiration
1. The Intuition-theory
2. The Illumination-theory.
3. The Dictation-theory
4. The Dynamical theory
IV. — The Union of the Divine and Human Elements in Inspiration
V. — Objections to the Doctrine of Inspiration
1. Errors in matters of Science
2. Errors in matters of History
3. Errors in Morality
4. Errors of Reasoning
5. Errors in Quoting or Interpreting the Old Testament
6. Errors in Prophecy
7. Certain Books unworthy of a Place in inspired Scripture
8. Portions of the Scrip. Books written by others than the Persons to
whom they are ascribed
9. Skeptical or Fictitious Narratives.
10. Acknowledgment of the non-inspiration of Scripture Teachers and their
I. — Definition of the term Attributes244
II. — Relation of the Divine Attributes to the Divine Essence
III. — Methods of Determining the Divine Attributes
IV. — Classifieatiou of the Attributes
V. — Absolute or Immanent Attributes.12
First Division. — Spirituality, and Attributes therein Involved
1. Life
2. Personality
Second Division. — lnfinity. and Attributes therein involved
1. Self-existence
2. Immutability
3. Unity
Third Division. — Perfection and Attributes therein involved
1. Truth
2. Love
3. Holiness
VI. — Relative or Transitive Attributes
First Division. — Attributes having relation to Time and Space
1. Eternity
2. Immensity
Second Division. — Attributes having relation to Creation
1. Omnipresence
2. Omniscience
3. Omnipotence
Third Division. — Attributes having relation to Moral Beings
1. Veracity and Faithfulness, or Transitive Truth
2. Mercy and Goodness, or Transitive Love
3. Justice and Righteousness, or Transitive Holiness
VII. — Rank and Relations of the several Attributes.295-303
1. Holiness the Fundamental Attribute in God
2. The Holiness of God the Ground of Moral Obligation
I. — In Scripture there are Three who are recognized as God
1. Proofs from the New Testament.13
A. The Father is recognized as God305
B. Jesus Christ is recognized as God
C. The Holy Spirit is recognized as God
2. Intimations of the Old Testament
A. Passages which seem to teach Plurality of some sort in the Godhead
B. Passages relating to the Angel of Jehovah
C. Descriptions of the Divine Wisdom and Word
D. Descriptions of the Messiah
II. — These Three are so described in Scripture, that we are compelled to
conceive them as distinct Persons
1. The Father and the Son are Persons distinct from each other.322
2. The Father and the Son are Persons distinct from the Spirit
3. The Holy Spirit is a Person
III. — This Tripersonality of the Divine Nature is not merely economic
and temporal, but is immanent and eternal
1. Scripture Proof that these distinctions of Personality are eternal326
2.Errors refuted by the Scripture Passages
A. The Sabellian
B. The Arian
IV. — While there are three Persons, there is but one Essence
V. — These three Persons are Equal
1. These Titles belong to the Persons
I. — Definition of Creation
II. — Proof of the Doctrine.14
1. Direct Scripture Statements
2. Indirect Evidence from Scripture
III. — Theories which oppose Creation
1. Dualism
2. Emanation
3. Creation from Eternity
4. Spontaneous Generation
IV. — The Mosaic Account of Creation
1. Its Twofold Nature
2. Its Proper Interpretation
V. — God’s End in Creation
1. The Testimony of Scripture
2. The Testimony of Reason
VI. — Relation of the Doctrine of Creation to other Doctrines
1. To the Holiness and Benevolence of God
2. To the Wisdom and Free Will of God
3. To Christ as the Revealer of God
4. To Providence and Redemption
5. To the Observance of the Sabbath
I. — Definition of Preservation
II. — Proof of the Doctrine of Preservation
1. From Scripture
2. From Reason
III. — Theories which virtually deny the Doctrine of Preservation
1. Deism
2. Continuous Creation
IV. — Remarks upon the Divine Concurrence
I. — Definition of Providence.15
II. — Proof of the Doctrine of Providence
1. Scriptural Proof
2. Rational Proof
III. — Theories opposing the Doctrine of Providence
1. Fatalism427
2. Casualism
3. Theory of a merely General Providence
IV. — Relations of the Doctrine of Providence
1. To Miracles and Works of Grace
2. To Prayer and its Answer
3. To Christian Activity
4. To the Evil Acts Of Free Agents
I. — Scripture Statements and Intimations
1. As to the Nature and Attributes of Angels
2. As to their Number and Organization
3. As to their Moral Character
4. As to their Employments
A. The Employments of Good Angels
B. The Employments of Evil Angels
II. — Objections to the Doctrine of Angels
1. To the Doctrine of Angels in General
2. To the Doctrine of Evil Angels in Particular
III. — Practical Uses of the Doctrine of Angels
1. Uses of the Doctrine of Good Angels
2. Uses of the Doctrine of Evil Angels
I. — Man a Creation of God and a Child of God.16
II. — Unity of the Race
1. Argument from History
2. Argument from Language
3. Argument from Psychology
4. Argument from Physiology
III. — Essential Elements of Human Nature
1. The Dichotomous Theory
2. The Trichotomous Theory
IV. — Origin of the Soul
1. The Theory of Pre-existence
2. The Creation Theory
3. The Traducian Theory
V. — The Moral Nature of Man
1. Conscience
2. Will
I. — Essentials of Man’s Original State
1. Natural Likeness to God, or Personality
2. Moral Likeness to God, or Holiness
A.. The Image of God as including only Personality
B. The Image of God as consisting simply in Man’s natural capacity for
II. — Incidents of Man’s Original State
1. Results of Man’s Possession of the Divine Image
2. Concomitants of Man’s Possession of the Divine Image
1st The Theory of an Original Condition of Savagery
2nd. The Theory of Comte as to the Stages of Human Progress
I. — Law in General
II. — The Law of God in Particular
1. Elemental Law
2. Positive Enactment
III. — Relation of the Law to the Grace of God
I. — Definition of Sin
1. Proof
2. Inferences
II. — The Essential Principle of Sin
1. Sin as Sensuousness
2. Sin as Finiteness
3. Sin as Selfishness
I. — Every human being who has arrived at moral consciousness has
committed acts, or cherished dispositions, contrary to the Divine Law
II. — Every member of the human race, without exception, Possesses a
corrupted nature, which is a source of actual sin, and is itself sin
I. — The Scriptural Account in Genesis
1. Its General Character not Mythical or Allegorical, but Historical
2. The Course of the Temptation, and the resulting Fall
II. — Difficulties connected with the Fall, considered as the personal Act
of Adam
1. How could a holy being fall?
2. How could God justly permit Satanic Temptation?
3. How could a Penalty so great be justly connected
with Disobedience to so slight a Command?
III. — Consequences of the Fall. — so far as respects Adam
1. Death.18
A. Physical Death or the Separation of the Soul from the Body
B. Spiritual Death, or the Separation of the Soul from God
2. Positive and formal Exclusion from God’s Presence
Scripture Teaching as to Race-sin and Race-responsibility
I. — Theories of Imputation
1. The Pelagian Theory, or Theory of Man’s Natural Innocence
2. The Arminian Theory, or Theory of voluntarily appropriated Depravity
3. The New-School Theory, or Theory of uncondemnable Vitiosity
4. The Federal Theory, or Theory of Condemnation by Covenant
5. Theory of Mediate Imputation, or Theory of Condemnation for
6. Augustinian Theory, or Theory of Adam’s Natural Headship. Exposition

Romans 5:12-19
II. — Objections to the Augustinian Theory of Imputation
I. — Depravity
1. Depravity Partial or Total?
2. Ability or Inability?
II. — Guilt
1. Nature of Guilt
2. Degrees of Guilt
III. — Penalty
1. Idea of Penalty.
2. Actual Penalty of Sin
I. Negative Preparation, in the History of the Heathen World
II. — Positive Preparation, in the history of Israel
I. — Historical Survey of Views respecting the Person of Christ
1. The Ebionites
2. The Docette
3. The Arians
4. The Apollinarians
5. The Nestorians
6. The Eutychians
7. The Orthodox Doctrine
II. — The two Natures of Christ,. — their Reality and Integrity
1. The Humanity of Christ
A. Its Reality
B. Its Integrity
2. The Deity of Christ
III. — The Union of the two Natures in one Person
1. Proof of this Union
2. Modem Misrepresentations of this Union
A. The Theory of Gess and Beecher, that the Humanity of Christ is a
Contracted and Metamorphosed Deity
B. The Theory of Dorner and Rothe, that the Union between the Divine
and the human Natures is not completed by the Incarnating Act
3. The Real Nature of this Union..20
I. — The State of Humiliation
1. The Nature of Christ’s Humiliation
A. The Theory of Thomasius, Delitzsch, and Crosby, that the Humiliation
consisted in the Surrender of the Divine Exercise of the Relative
B. The Theory that the Humiliation consisted in the Surrender of the
Independent Exercise of the Divine Attributes
2. The Stages of Christ’s Humiliation Exposition of Philippians 2 5-9
II. — The State of Exaltation
1. The Nature of Christ’s Exaltation
2. The Stages of Christ’s Exaltation
I. The Prophetic Office of Christ
1. The Nature of Christ’s Prophetic Work
2. The Stages of Christ’s Prophetic Work
II. The Priestly Office of Christ
1. Christ’s Sacrificial Work, or the Doctrine of the Atonement
A. Scriptural Methods of Representing the Atonement
B. The Institution of Sacrifice, especially as found In the Mosaic System
C. Theories of the Atonement
1st. The Socinian, or Example Theory of the Atonement
2nd. The Bushuellian, or Moral Influence Theory of the Atonement
3rd. The Grotian, or Governmental Theory of the Atonement
4th. The Irvingian Theory, or Theory of gradually extirpated Depravity
5th. The Anselmic, or Commercial Theory of the Atonement
6th. The Ethical Theory of the Atonement
D. Objections to the Ethical Theory of the Atonement..
E. The Extent of the Atonement
2. Christ’s Intercessory Work
III. — The Kingly Office of Christ.21
I. — Election
1. Proof of the Doctrine of Election
2. Objections to the Doctrine of Election
II. — Calling
A. Is God’s General Call Sincere?
B. Is God’s Special Call Irresistible?
I. Union with Christ
1. Scripture Representations of this Union
2. Nature of this Union
3. Consequences of this Union
II. — Regeneration
1. Scripture Representations
2. Necessity of Regeneration
3. The Efficient Cause of Regeneration
4.The Instrumentality used in Regeneration
5. The Nature of the Change wrought in Regeneration
III. Conversion
1. Repentance
2. Faith
IV. — Justification
1. Definition of Justification849.22
2. Proof of the Doctrine of Justification
3. Elements of Justification
4. Relation of Justification to God’s Law and Holiness
5. Relation of Justification to Union with Christ and the Work of the Spirit,
6. Relation of Justification to Faith
7. Advice to Inquirers demanded by a Scriptural View of Justification868
I. — Sanctification
1. Definition of Sanctification
2. Explanations and Scripture Proof
3. Erroneous Views refuted by the Scripture Passages
A. The Antinomian
B. The Perfectionist
II. — Perseverance
1. Proof of the Doctrine of Perseverance
2. Objections to the Doctrine of Perseverance
I. — Definition of the Church
1. The Church, like the Family and the State, is an Institution of Divine
2. The Church, unlike the Family and the State, is a Voluntary Society
II. — Organization of the Church
1. The Fact of Organization
2. The Nature of this Organization
3. The Genesis of this Organization
III. — Government of the Church.23
1. Nature of this Government in General
A. Proof that the Government of the Church is Democratic or
B. Erroneous Views as to Church Government, refuted by the Scripture
(a) The World-church Theory, or the Romanist View
(b) The National church Theory, or the Theory of Provincial or National
2. Officers of the Church
A. The Number of Offices in the Church is two
B. The Duties belonging to these Offices
C. Ordination of Officers
(a) What is Ordination?
(b) Who are to Ordain?
3. Discipline of the Church
A. Kinds of Discipline
B. Relation of the Pastor to Discipline
IV. — Relation of Local Churches to one another
1. The General Nature of this Relation is that of Fellowship between
2. This Fellowship involves the Duty of Special Consultation with regard
to Matters affecting the common Interest
3. This Fellowship may lie broken by manifest Departures from the Faith or
Practice of the Scriptures on the part of any Church
I. — Baptism
1. Baptism an Ordinance of Christ
2. The Mode of Baptism
A. The Command to Baptize is a Command to Immerse
B. No Church has the Right to Modify or Dispense with this Command of
3. The Symbolism of Baptism
A. Expansion of the Statement as to the Symbolism of Baptism
B. Inferences from the Passages referred to
4. The Subjects of Baptism
A. Proof that only Persons giving Evidence of being Regenerated are
proper Subjects of Baptism
B. Inferences from the Fact that only Persons giving Evidence of being
Regenerate are proper Subjects of Baptism
C. Infant Baptism
(a) Infant Baptism without Warrant in the Scripture
(b) Infant Baptism expressly Contradicted by Scripture
(c) Its Origin in Sacramental Conceptions of Christianity
(d) The Reasoning by which it is supported Unscriptural, Unsound, and
Dangerous in its Tendency
(e) The Lack of Agreement among Pedo-baptists
(f) The Evil Effects of Infant Baptisms
II. — The Lord’s Supper
1. The Lord’s Supper an Ordinance instituted by Christ
2. The Mode of Administering the Lord’s Supper
3. The Symbolism of the Lord’s Supper
A. Expansion of the Statement as to the Symbolism of the Lord’s Supper
B. Inferences from this Statement
4. Erroneous Views of the Lord’s Supper
A. The Romanist View
B. The Lutheran and High Church View
5.Prerequisites to Participation in the Lord’s Supper
A. There are Prerequisites
B Laid down by Christ and his Apostles
C. The Prerequisites are Four
First — Regeneration
Secondly – Baptism.25
Thirdly – Church Membership
Fourthly – An Orderly Walk
D. The Local Church is the Judge whether these Prerequisites are fulfilled
E. Special Objections to Open Communion
I. — Physical Death
1. Upon Rational Grounds
2. Upon Scriptural Grounds
II. — The Intermediate State
1. Of the Righteous
2. Of the Wicked
(a) That the Soul sleeps, between Death and the Resurrection
(b) That the Suffering of the Intermediate State Is Purgatorial
III. — The Second Coining of Christ
1. The Nature of Christ’s Coming
2. The Time of Christ’s Coming
3. The Precursors of Christ’s Coming
IV. — The Resurrection
1. The Exegetical Objection
2. The Scientific Objection
V. — The Last Judgment
1. The Nature of the Final Judgment
2. The Object of the Final Judgment
3. The Judge in the Final Judgment
4. The Subjects of the Final Judgment
5. The Grounds of the Final Judgment
VI. — The Final States of the Righteous and of the Wicked
1. Of the Righteous.26
A. Is Heaven a Place as well as a State?
B. Is this Earth to be the Heaven of the Saints?
2. Of the Wicked
A. Future Punishment is not Annihilation
B. Punishment after Death excludes new Probation and ultimate
C. This Future Punishment is Everlasting
D. Everlasting Punishment is not inconsistent with God’s Justice
E. Everlasting Punishment is not inconsistent with God’s Benevolence
F. Preaching of Everlasting Punishment is not a Hindrance to the Success
of the Gospel.27
Theology is the science of God and of the relations between God and the
Though the word “theology” is sometimes employed in dogmatic writings
to designate that single department of the Science which treats of the
divine nature and attributes, prevailing usage, since Abelard (AD 1079-
1142) entitled his general treatise “Theologia Christiana,” has included
under that term the whole range of Christian doctrine. Theology,
therefore, gives account, not only of God, but also of those relations
between God and the Universe in view of which we speak of Creation,
Providence and redemption.
The Fathers call John the Evangelist “the theologian,” because he most
fully treats of the internal relations of the persons of the Trinity. Gregory
Nazianzen (328) received this designation because be defended the deity
of Christ against the Arians. For a modern instance of this use of the term
“theology” in the narrow sense, see the title of Dr. Hodges first volume:
“Systematic Theology, Vol. I: Theology.” But theology is not simply “the
science of God,” nor even “the science of God and man.” It also gives
account of the relations between God and the universe.
If the universe were God, theology would be the only science. Since the
universe is but a manifestation of God and is distinct from God, there are.28
sciences of nature and of mind. Theology is “the science of the sciences,”
not in the sense of including all these sciences, but in the sense of using
their results and of slowing their underlying ground; (see Wardlaw
Theology, 1:1, 2). Physical science is not a part of theology. As a mere
physicist, Humboldt did not need to mention the name of God in his
“Cosmos” (but see Cosmos, 2:413, where Humboldt says: “Psalm 104
presents an image of the whole Cosmos”). Bishop of Carlisle: “Science is
atheous, and therefore cannot be atheistic.” Only when we consider the
relations or finite things to God, does the study of them furnish material
for theology. Anthropology is a part of theology, because man’s nature is
the work of God and because God’s dealings with man throws light upon
the character of God, God is known through his works and his activities.
Theology therefore gives account of these works and activities so far as
they come within our knowledge. All other sciences require theology for
their complete explanation. Proudbon: “If you go very deeply into
politics, you are sure to get into theology.” On the definition of theology,
see Luthardt, Compendium der Dogmatik, 1; 2; Blant, Dict. Doct. and
Hist. Theol., art: Theology; H. B. Smith, Introd., to Christ. Theol., 44:
Aristotle, Metaph., 10, 7, 4; 11, 6, 4; and Lactantius, De Ira Dei, 11.
The aim of theology is the ascertainment of the facts respecting God and
the relations between God and the universe, and the exhibition of these
facts in their rational unity, as connected parts of a formulated and organic
system of truth.
In defining theology as a science, we indicate its aim. Science does not
create; it discovers. Theology answers to this description of a science. It
discovers facts and relations, but it does not create them. Fisher, Nature
and Method of Revelation, 141 — “Schiller, referring to the ardor of
Columbus’ faith, says that, if the great discoverer had not found a
continent, he would have created one. But faith is not creative. Had
Columbus not found the land — had there been no real object answering
to his belief — his faith would have been a mere fancy.” Because theology
deals with objective facts, we refuse to define it as “the science of
religion”; versus Am. Theol. Rev., 1850:101-120, and Thornwell,
Theology, 1:139, Both the facts and the relations with which theology has
to deal have an existence independent of the subjective mental processes
of the theologian.
Science is not only the observing, recording, verifying, and formulating of
objective facts; it is also the recognition and explication of the relations.29
between these facts, and the synthesis of both the facts and the rational
principles which unite them in a comprehensive, rightly proportioned, and
organic system. Scattered bricks and timbers are not a house; severed
arms, legs, heads and trunks from a dissecting room are not living men;
and facts alone do not constitute science. Science facts + relations;
Whewell, Hist. Inductive Sciences, I, Introduction, 43 — ‘There may be
facts without science, as in the knowledge of the common quarryman;
there may be thought without science, as in the early Greek philosophy.”
A. MacDonald: “The a priori method is related to the a posteriori as the
sails to the ballast of the boat: the more philosophy the better, provided
there are a sufficient number of facts; otherwise, there is danger of
upsetting the craft.”
President Woodrow Wilson: “‘Give us the facts” is the sharp injunction of
our age to its historians…But facts of themselves does not constitute the
truth. The truth is abstract, not concrete. It is the just idea, the right
revelation, of what things mean. It is evoked only by such arrangements
and orderings of facts as suggest meanings.” Dove, Logic of the Christian
Faith, 14 — “The pursuit of science is the pursuit of relations.” Everett,
Science of Thought, 3 — “Logy” (e.g., in “theology”), from lo>gov =
word + reason, expression ± thought, fact + idea; cf.

John 1:1 — “In
the beginning was the Word”.
As theology deals with objective facts and their relations, so its
arrangement of these facts is not optional, but is determined by the nature
of the material with which it deals. A true theology thinks over again
God’s thoughts and brings them into God’s order, as the builders of
Solomon’s temple took the stones already hewn, and put them into the
places for which the architect had designed them; Reginald Heber: “No
hammer fell, no ponderous axes rung; Like some tall palm, the mystic
fabric sprung,” Scientific men have no fear that the data of physics will
narrow or cramp their intellects; no more should they fear the objective
facts which are the data of theology. We cannot make theology, any more
than we can make a law of physical nature. As the natural philosopher is
“Naturæ minister et interpres,” so the theologian is the servant and
interpreter of the objective truth of God. On the Idea of Theology as a
System, see H. B. Smith, Faith and Philosophy, 125-166.
— The possibility of theology has a threefold ground:
1. In the existence of a God who has relations to the universe;.30
2. In the capacity of the human mind for knowing God and certain of these
relations; and
3. In the provision of means by which God is brought into actual contact
with the mind, or in other words, in the provision of a revelation.
Any particular science is possible only when three conditions combine,
namely, the actual existence of the object with which the science deals, the
subjective capacity of the human mind to know that object, and the
provision of definite means by which the object is brought into contact
with the mind. We may illustrate the conditions of theology from
selenology — the science, not of “lunar politics,” which John Stuart Mill
thought so vain a pursuit, but of lunar physics. Selenology has three
conditions: 1. the objective existence of the moon; 2. the subjective
capacity of the human mind to know the moon; and 3. the provision of
some means (e. g.. the eye and the telescope) by which the gulf between
man and the moon is bridged over, and by which the mind can come into
actual cognizance of the facts with regard to the moon.
1. In the existence of a God who has relations to the universe — It has
been objected, indeed, that since God and these relations are objects
apprehended only by faith, they are not proper objects of knowledge or
subjects for science. We reply:
A. Faith is knowledge, and a higher sort of knowledge — Physical science
also rests upon faith — faith in our own existence, in the existence of a
world objective and external to us, and in the existence of other persons
than ourselves; faith in our primitive convictions, such as space, time,
cause, substance, design, right; faith in the trustworthiness of our faculties
and in the testimony of our fellow men. But physical science is not thereby
invalidated, because this faith, though unlike sense — perception or logical
demonstration, is yet a cognitive act of the reason, and may be defined as
certitude with respect to matters in which verification is unattainable.
The objection to theology thus mentioned and answered is expressed in the
words of Sir William Hamilton, Metaphysics, 44, 531 — “Faith — belief
— is the organ by which we apprehend what is beyond our knowledge.”
But science is knowledge, and what is beyond our knowledge cannot be
matter for science. Pres. E. C. Robinson says well, that knowledge and
faith cannot be severed from one another, like bulkheads in a ship, the
first of which may be crushed in, while the second still keeps the vessel
afloat. The mind is one, — “it cannot be cut in two with a hatchet.” Faith.31
is not antithetical to knowledge — it is rather a larger and more
fundamental sort of knowledge. It is never opposed to reason, but only to
sight. Tennyson was wrong when he wrote: “We have but faith: we cannot
know; For knowledge is of things we see” (In Memoriam, Introduction).
This would make sensuous phenomena the only objects of knowledge.
Faith in supersensible realities, on the contrary, is the highest exercise of
Sir William Hamilton consistently declares that the highest achievement
of science is the erection of an altar “To the Unknown God.” This,
however, is not the representation of Scripture. (cf.

John 17:3 —
“This is life eternal, that they should know the, the only true God”: and

Jeremiah 9:24 — “let him that glorieth glory in that he hath
understanding and knoweth me” For criticism of Hamilton, see H. B.
Smith, Faith and Philosophy, 207-336. Fichte: “We arc born in faith.”
Even Goethe called himself a believer in the five senses. Balfour, Defense
of Philosophic Doubt, 277-295, shows that intuitive beliefs in space, time,
cause, substance, right, are presupposed in the acquisition of all other
knowledge. Dove, Logic of the Christian Faith, 14 — “If theology is to be
overthrown because it starts from some primary terms and propositions,
then all other sciences are overthrown with it.” Mozley, Miracles, defines
faith as “unverified reason.” See A. H. Strong, Philosophy and Religion,
B. Faith is knowledge conditioned by holy affection, — The faith, which
apprehends God’s being and working, is not opinion or imagination. It is
certitude with regard to spiritual realities, upon the testimony of our
rational nature and upon the testimony of God. Its only peculiarity as a
cognitive act of the reason is that it is conditioned by holy affection. As the
science of aesthetics is a product of reason as including a power of
recognizing beauty practically inseparable from a love for beauty, and as
the science of ethics is a product of reason as including a power of
recognizing the morally right practically inseparable from a love for the
morally right, so the science of theology is a product of reason, but of
reason as including a power of recognizing God, which is practically
inseparable from a love for God.
We here use the term “reason” to signify the mind’s whole power of
knowing. Reason in this sense includes states of the sensibility, so far as
they are indispensable to knowledge. We cannot know an orange by the
eye alone; to the understanding of it, taste is as necessary as sight. The
mathematics of sound cannot give us an understanding of music; we need.32
also a musical ear. Logic alone cannot demonstrate the beauty of a sunset,
or of a noble character; love for the beautiful and the right precedes
knowledge of the beautiful and the right. Ullman draws attention to the
derivation of sapientia, wisdom, from sap’re, to taste. So we cannot know
God by intellect alone: the heart must go with the intellect to make
knowledge of divine timings possible. “Human things,” said Pascal, “need
only to be known, in order to he loved; but divine things must first be
loved, in order to be known.” “This [religious] faith of the intellect,” said
Kant, “is founded on the assumption of moral tempers.” If one were
utterly indifferent to moral laws, the philosopher continues, even then
religious truths “would be supported by strong arguments from analogy,
but not by such as an obstinate, skeptical heart might not overcome.”
Faith, then, is the highest knowledge, because it is the act of the integral
soul, the insight, not of one eye alone, but of the two eyes of the mind,
intellect and love to God. With one eye we can see an object as flat, but, if
we wish to see around it and get the stereoptic effect, we must use both
eyes. It is not the theologian, not the undevout astronomer, whose science
is one-eyed and therefore incomplete. The errors of the rationalist are
errors of defective vision. Intellect has been divorced from heart, that is,
from a right disposition, right affections, and right purpose in life.
Intellect says: “I cannot know God”: and intellect is right. What intellect
says, the Scripture also says:

1 Corinthians 2:14 — “the natural man receiveth not the things of the
Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know
them, because they are spiritually judged”; 1:21 — “in the wisdom of God
the world through its wisdom know not God..”
The Scripture on the other hand declares that “by faith we know”

Hebrews 11:3). By “heart” the Scripture means simply the governing
disposition, or the sensibility + the will; and it intimates that the heart is
an organ of knowledge:

Exodus 35:25 — the women that were wise

Psalm 34:8. — — “O taste and see that Jehovah is good”
— a right taste precedes correct sight:

Jeremiah 24:7 — “I will give
them a heart to know me”;

Matthew 5:8 — Blessed are the pure in
heart; for they shall see God”;

Luke 24:25 — “slow of heart to

John 7:17 — “If any man willeth to do his will, he shall
know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from

Ephesians 1:19 — “having the eyes of your heart
enlightened, that ye may know’’

1 John 4:7, 8 — “Every one that
loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth
not God.” See Frank, Christian Certainty, 303-324; Clarke, Christ..33
Theol.,362; Illingworth, Div. and Hum. Personality, 114-137; R. T.
Smith, Man’s Knowledge of Man and of God, 6; Fisher, Nat. and Method
of Rev., 6; William James, The Will to Believe, 1-31; Geo. T.. Ladd, on
Lotze’s view that love is essential to the knowledge of God, in New
World, Sept. 1895:401-406; Gunsaulus, Transfig. of Christ, 14, 15.
C. Faith, therefore, can furnish, and only faith can furnish, fit and sufficient
material for a scientific theology. — As an operation of man’s higher
rational nature, though distinct from ocular vision or from reasoning, faith
is not only a kind, but the highest kind, of knowing. It gives us
understanding of realities which to sense alone are inaccessible, namely,
God’s existence, and some at least of the relations between God and his
Philippi, Glaubenslehre, I:50, follows Gerhard in making faith the joint
act of intellect and will. Hopkins, Outline Study of Man, 77, 78, speaks
not only of “the aesthetic reason” but of “the moral reason.” Murphy,
Scientific Bases of Faith, 91:109, 145, 191 — “Faith is the certitude
concerning matter in which verification is unattainable.” Emerson,
Essays, 2:96 — “Belief consists in accepting the affirmations of the soul
— unbelief in rejecting them.” Morell, Philos. of Religion, 38, 52, 53,
quotes Coleridge: “Faith consists in the synthesis of the reason and of the
individual will, …and by virtue of the former (that is, reason), faith must
be a light, a form of knowing, a beholding of truth.” Faith, then, is not to
be pictured as a blind girl clinging to a cross — faith is not blind — “Else
the cross may just as well be a crucifix or an image of Gaudama.” “Blind
unbelief’,” not blind faith, “is sure to err, And scan his works in vain.” As
in conscience we recognize an invisible authority, amid know the truth
just in proportion to our willingness to “do the truth,” so in religion only
holiness can understand holiness, and only hove can understand love. (cf.

John 3:21 — “he that doeth the truth cometh to the light”).
If a right state of heart be indispensable to faith and so to the knowledge
of God. can there be any “theologia irregenitorum,” or theology of the
unregenerate? Yes, we answer; just as the blind man can leave a science
of optics. The testimony of others gives it claims upon him; the dim light
penetrating the obscuring membrane corroborates this testimony. The
unregenerate man can know God as power and justice, and came fear him.
But this is not knowledge of God’s inmost character; it furnishes some
material for a defective and ill — proportioned theology; but it does not
furnish fit or sufficient material for a correct theology. As, in order to
make his science of optics satisfactory and complete, the blind man must.34
have the cataract removed from his eyes by some competent oculist, so, in
order to any complete or satisfactory theology, the veil must be taken
away from the heart by God himself (cf.

2 Corinthians 3:15, 16 — a
veil lieth upon their heart But whensoever it [margin ‘a man’] shall turn to
the Lord, the veil is taken away”).
Our doctrine that faith is knowledge and the highest knowledge is to be
distinguished from that of Ritschl, whose theology is an appeal to the
heart to the exclusion of the head — to fiducia without notitia. But
fiducia includes notitia else it is blinding, irrational and unscientific.
Robert Browning, in like manner, fell into a deep speculative error, when,
in order to substantiate his optimistic faith, he stigmatized human
knowledge as merely apparent. The appeal of both Ritschl and Browning
from the head to the heart should rather be an appeal from the narrower
knowledge of the mere intellect to the larger knowledge conditioned upon
right affection. See A. H. Strong, The: Great Poets aced their Theology.
441. Ore Ritschl’s postulates, see Stearns, Evidence of Christian
Experience, 274-280, and Pfleiderer, Die Ritschl’sche Theologie. On the
relation of love and will to knowledge, see Kaftan, in Am. Jour. Theology,
1900:717; Hovey, Manual Christ. Theol., 9; Foundations of our Faith,
12, 13; Shedd, Hist. Doct., 1:154-164; Presb. Quar., Oct. 1871, Oct.
1872, Oct. 1873; Calderwood, Philos. Infinite, 99, 117; Van Oosterzee,
Dogmatics, 2-8; New Englander, July, 1873:481; Princeton Rev.,
1864:122; Christlieb, Mod. Doubt, 124, 125: Grau, Glaube als hochste
Vernunft, in Beweis des Glaubens, 1865:110 Dorner, Gesch. prot. Theol.,
228; Newman, Univ. Sermons, 206; Hinton, Art of Thinking, Introduction
by Hodgson, 5.
2. In the capacity of the human m/nd for knowing God and certain of
these relations — But it has urged that such knowledge is impossible for
the following reasons:
A. Because we can know only phenomena. We reply:
(a) We know mental as well as physical phenomena.
(b) In knowing phenomena, whether mental or physical, we know
substance as underlying the phenomena, as manifested thorough them, and
as constituting their ground of unity.
(c) Our minds bring to the observation of phenomena not only this
knowledge of substance, but also knowledge of time, space, cause, and
right, realities which are in no sense phenomenal. Since these objects of.35
knowledge are not phenomenal, the fact that God is not phenomenal
cannot prevent us from knowing him.
What substance is, we need not here determine. Whether we are realists or
idealists, we are compelled to grant that there cannot be phenomena
without noumena, cannot be appearances without something that appears,
cannot be qualities without something that is qualified. This something
which underlies or stands under appearance or quality we call substance.
We are Lotzeans rather than Kantians, in our philosophy. To say that we
know, not the self, but only its manifestations in thought, is to confound
self with its thinking and to teach psychology without a soul. To say that
we know no external world, but only its manifestations in sensations, is to
ignore the principle that binds these sensations together’, for without a
somewhat in which qualities inhere they can have no ground of unity. In
like manner, to say that we know nothing of God but his manifestations is
to confound God with the world and practically to deny that there is a
Stahlin, in his work on Kant, Lotze and Ritschl, 186-191, 218, 219, says
well that “limitation of knowledge to phenomena involves the elimination
from theology of all claim to know the subjects of the Christian faith as
they are in themselves..” This criticism justly classes Ritschl with Kant,
rather than with Lotze who maintains that knowing phenomena we know
also the noumena manifested in them. While Ritschl professes to follow
Lotze, the whole drift of his theology is in the direction of the Kantian
identification of the world with our sensations, mind with our thoughts,
and God with such activities of his as we can perceive. A divine nature
apart from its activities, a pre — existent Christ, an immanent Trinity, is
practically denied. Assertions that God is self — conscious love and
fatherhood become judgments of merely subjective value. On Ritschl, see
the works of Orr,. of Garvie, and of Swing; also Minton, in Pres. and Ref.
Rev., Jan. 1902:162 — l69, and C. W. Hodge, ibid., Apl. 1902:321-326;
Flint. Agnosticism, 590-597; Everett, Essays Theol. and Llt., 92-99..
We grant that we can know God only so far as his activities reveal him,
and so far our minds and hearts are receptive of his revelation. The
appropriate faculties must be exercised — not the mathematical, the
logical, or the prudential, but the ethical and the religious. It is the merit
of Ritschl that he recognizes the practical in distinction from the
speculative reason; his error is in not recognizing that, when we do thus
use the proper powers of knowing, we gain not merely subjective but also
objective truth, and come in contact not simply with God’s activities but
also with God himself. Normal religious judgements, though dependent.36
upon subjective conditions, are not simply “judgments of worth” or “value
— judgments,” — they give us the knowledge of “things in themselves..”
Edward Caird says of his brother John Caird (Fund. Ideas of Christianity,
Introduction cxxi) — “The conviction that God can be known and is
known, and that, in the deepest sense, all our knowledge is knowledge of
him, was the corner — stone of his theology.”
Ritschl’s phenomenalism is allied to the positivism of Comte, who
regarded all so — called knowledge of other than phenomenal objects as
purely negative. The phrase “Positive Philosophy” implies indeed that all
knowledge of mind is negative; see Comte, Pos. Philosophy, Martineau’s
translation, 26, 28, 33 — “In order to observe, your intellect must pause
from activity — yet it is this very activity you want to observe. If you
cannot effect the cause, you cannot observe; if you do effect it, there is
nothing to observe.” ‘This view is refuted by the two facts:
(1) consciousness, mind and
(2) memory for consciousness is the knowing of the self side by side with the
knowing of its thoughts, and memory is the knowing of the self side by side
with the knowing of its past; see Martineau, Essays Philos. and Theol., 1:24-
40, 207-212. By phenomena we mean “facts, in distinction from their ground,
principle, or law’’; “neither phenomena nor qualities, as such, are perceived,
but objects. percepts, or beings; and it is by an after — thought or reflex
process that these are connected as qualities and are referred to as
substances”; see Porter, Human Intellect, 51, 238, 520, 619-637, 640-645.
Phenomena may be internal, e.g., thoughts; in this case the noumenom is
the mind, of which these thoughts are the, manifestations. Or, phenomena
may be external, e.g., color, hardness, shape, and size; in this case the
noumenon is matter, of which these qualities are the manifestations. But
qualities, whether mental or material, imply the existence of a substance
to which they belong: they can no more be conceived of as existing apart
from substance, than the upper side of a plank can be conceived of as
existing without an under side; see Bowne, Review of Herbert Spencer,
47, 207-217; Martineau, Types of Ethical Theory, 1; 455, 456 —
“Comte’s assumption that mind cannot know itself or its states is exactly
balanced by Kant’s assumption that mind cannot know anything outside
of itself… It is precisely because all knowledge is of relations that it is not
and cannot be of phenomena alone. The absolute cannot per se be known,
because in being known it would ipso facto enter into relations and be
absolute no more. But neither can the phenomenal per se be known, i.e.,
be known as phenomenal without simultaneous cognition of what is non.37
— phenomenal.” McCosh, Intuitions, 138-154, states the characteristics
of substance as (1) being, (2) power, and (3) permanence. Diman,
Theistic Argument, 337, 363 — “The theory that disproves God,
disproves an external world and the existence of the soul.” We know
something beyond phenomena, viz.: law, cause, force — or we can have
no science; see Tulloch, on Comte, in Modern Theories, 53-73; see also
Bibliotheca Sacra, 1874:211; Alden, Philosophy, 44; Hopkins, Outline
Study of Man, 87: Fleming, Vocab. of Philosophy, art.: Phenomena; New
Englander. July, 1875:537-539
B. Because we can know only that which bears analogy to our own nature
or experience. We reply:
(a) It is not essential to knowledge that there be similarity of nature
between the knower and the known. We know by difference as well as by
(b) Our past experience, though greatly facilitating new acquisitions, is not
the measure of our possible knowledge. Else the first act of knowledge
would be inexplicable, and all revelation of higher characters to lower
would be precluded, as well as all progress to knowledge, which surpasses
our present attainments.
(c) Even if knowledge depended upon similarity of nature and experience,
we might still know God, since we are made in God’s image, and there are
important analogies between the divine nature and our own.
(a) The dictum of Empedocles, “Similia similibus percipiuntur,” must be
supplemented by a second dictum, “Similia dissemilibus percipiuntur.”
All things are alike, in being objects. But knowing is distinguishing, and
there must be contrast between objects to awaken our attention. God
knows sin, though it is the antithesis to his holy being. The ego knows the
non — ego. We cannot know even self, without objectifying it,
distinguishing it from its thoughts, and regarding it as another.
(b) Versus Herbert Spencer, First Principles, 79-82 — “Knowledge is
recognition and classification.” But we reply that a thing must first he
perceived in order to be recognized or compared with something else; and
this is as true of the first sensation as of the later and more definite forms
of knowledge — indeed there is no sensation which does not involve, as
its complement, an at least incipient perception; see Sir William Hamilton
Metaphysics, 351, 352; Porter, Human Intellect, 206..38
(c) Porter, Human Intellect, 486 — “Induction is possible only upon the
assumption that the intellect of man is a reflex of the divine intellect, or
that man is made in the image of God.” Note, however, that man is made
in God’s image, not God in man’s. The painting is the image of the
landscape, not, vice versa, the landscape the image of the painting; for
there is much in the landscape that has nothing corresponding to it in the
painting. Idolatry perversely makes God in the image of man, and so
defies man’s weakness and impurity. Trinity in God may have no exact
counterpart in man’s present constitution, though it may disclose to us the
goal of man’s future development and the meaning of the increasing
differentiation of man’s powers. Gore, Incarnation, 116 — “If
anthropomorphism as applied to God is false, yet theomorphism as
applied to man is true; man is made in God’s image, and his qualities are,
not the measure of the divine, but their counterpart and real expression.”
See Murphy, Scientific Bases, 122; McCosh, in Internat. Rev., 1875:105;
Bibliotheca Sacra, 1867:624; Martineau, Types of Ethical Theory, 2:4-8,
and Study of Religion, 1:94.
C. Because we know only that of which we can conceive, in the sense of
forming an adequate mental image. We reply:
(a) It is true that we know only that of which we can conceive, if by the
term “conceive’ we mean near distinguishing in thought the object known
from all other objects. But,
(b) the objection confounds conception with that which is merely its
occasional accompaniment and help, namely, the picturing of the object by
the imagination. In this sense, conceivability is not a final test of truth.
(c) That the formation of a mental image is not essential to conception or
knowledge, is plain when we remember that, as a matter of fact, we both
conceive and know many things of which we cannot form a mental image
of any sort that in the least corresponds to the reality; for example, force,
cause, law, space, our own minds. So we may know God, though we
cannot form an adequate mental image of him.
The objection here refuted is expressed most clearly in the words of
Herbert Spencer, First Principles, 23-36, 98 — “The reality underlying
appearances is totally and forever inconceivable by us.” Mansel,
Prolegomena Logica. 77, 78 (cf. 26) suggests the source of this error in a
wrong view of the nature of the concept: “The first distinguishing feature
of a concept, viz.: that it cannot in itself be depicted to sense or
Imagination.” Porter, human Intellect, 392 (see also 429, 656) — “The.39
concept is not a mental image — only the percept is. Lotze: “Color in
general is not representable by any image; it looks neither green nor red,
but has no look whatever.” The generic horse has no particular color,
though the individual horse may be black, white, or bay. So Sir William
Hamilton speaks of “the unpicturable notions of the intelligence.”
Martineau, Religion and Materialism.39, 40 — “This doctrine of
Nescience stands in exactly the same relation to causal power, whether
you construe it as Material Force or as Divine Agency. Neither can be
observed; one or the other must be assumed. If you admit to the category
of knowledge only what we learn from observation, particular or
generalized, then is Force unknown; if you extend the word to what is
imported by the intellect itself into our cognitive acts, to make them such,
then is God known.” Matter, ether, energy, protoplasm, organism, lire, —
no one of these can be portrayed to time imagination; yet Mr. Spencer
deals with them as objects of Science. If these are not inscrutable, why
should he regard the Power that gives unity to all things as inscrutable?
Herbert Spencer is not in fact consistent with himself, for in divers parts
of his writings he calls time inscrutable Reality back of phenomena the
one, eternal, ubiquitous, infinite, ultimate, absolute Existence, Power and
Cause. “It seems,” says Father Dalgairns, “that a great deal is known
about the Unknowable.” Chadwick, Unitarianism, 75 — “The beggar
phrase ‘Unknowable’ becomes, after Spencer’s repeated designations of
it, as rich as Croesus with all saving knowledge.” Matheson: “To know
that we know nothing is already to have reached a fact of knowledge.” If
Mr. Spencer intended to exclude God from the realm of Knowledge, he
should first have excluded him from the realm of Existence; for to grant
that he is, is already to grant that we not only may know him, but that we
actually to some extent do know him; see D. J. Hill, Genetic Philosophy,
22; McCosh, Intuitions, 186-189 (Eng. ed.. 214); Murphy, Scientific
Bases, 133; Bowne, Review of Spencer, 30-34; New Englander, July,
1875:54, 543, 544; Oscar Craig, in Presb. Rev., July, 1883:594-602.
D. Because we can know truly only that which we know in whole and not
in part. We reply:
(a) The objection confounds partial knowledge with the knowledge of a
part. We know the mind in part, but we do not know a part of the mind.
(b) If the objection were valid, no real knowledge of anything would be
possible, since we know no single thing in all its relations. We conclude
that, although God is a being not composed of parts, we may yet have a.40
partial knowledge of him, and this knowledge, though not exhaustive, may
yet be real, and adequate to the purposes of science.
(a) The objection mentioned in the text is urged by Mansel, Limits of
Religious Thought, 97, 98, and is answered by Martineau, Essays, 1; 291.
The mind does not exist in space, and it has no parts: we cannot speak of
its southwest corner, nor can we divide it into halves. Yet we find the
material for mental science in partial knowledge of the mind. So, while we
are not “geographers of the divine nature” (Bowne, Review of Spencer,
72), we may say with Paul, not “now know we a part of God,” but “now I
knew God, in part” (

1 Corinthians13:12). We may know truly what
we do not know exhaustively; see Ephesians3:19 — “to know the love of
Christ which passeth knowledge.” I do not perfectly understand myself,
yet I know myself in part; so I may know God. though I do not perfectly
understand him.
(b) The same argument that proves God unknowable proves the universe
unknowable also. Since every particle of matter in the universe attracts
every other, no one particle can be exhaustively explained without taking
account of all the rest. Thomas Carlyle: “It is a mathematical fact that the
casting of this pebble from my hand alters the center of gravity of the
universe.” Tennyson, Higher Panetheism: “Flower in the crannied wall, I
pluck you out of the crannies; hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower; but if I could understand What you are, root and all, and all
in all, I should know what God and man is.” Schurman, Agnosticism, 119
— “Partial as it is, this vision of the divine transfigures the life of man on
earth.” Pfleiderer, Philos. Religion,, 1:167 — “A faint — hearted
agnosticism is worse than the arrogant and titanic Gnosticism against
which it protests..”
B. Because all predicates of God are negative, and therefore furnish no real
knowledge. We answer:
(a) Predicates derived from our consciousness, such as spirit, love, and
holiness, are positive.
(b) The terms ‘infinite” and ‘ absolute,” moreover, express not merely a
negative but a positive idea — the idea, in the former case, of the absence
of all limit, the idea that the object thus described goes on and on forever;
the idea, in the latter case, of entire self-sufficiency. Since predicates of
God, therefore, are not merely negative, the argument mentioned above
furnishes no valid reason why we may not know him..41
Versus Sir William Hamilton, Metaphysics, 530 — “The absolute and the
infinite can each only be conceived as a negation of time thinkable; in
other words, of the absolute and infinite we have no conception at all.”
Hamilton here confounds the infinite, or the absence of all limits, with the
indefinite, or the absence of all known limits. Per contra, see Calderwood,
Moral Philosophy, 248, and Philosophy of the Infinite, 272 — “Negation
of one thing is possible only by affirmation of another.” Porter, Human
Intellect, 652 — “If the Sandwich Islanders, for lack of name, had called
the ox a not-hog, the use of a negative appellation would not necessarily
authorize the inference of a want of definite conceptions or positive
knowledge.” So with the infinite or not finite, time unconditioned or not
— conditioned, the independent or not dependent, — these names do not
imply that we cannot conceive and know it as something positive.
Spencer, First Principles, 92 — “Our consciousness of time Absolute,
indefinite though it is, is positive, and not negative.”
Schurman Agnosticism, 100, speaks of “the farce of nescience playing at
omniscience in setting the bounds of science.” “The agnostic,” he says,
“sets up the invisible picture of a grand ’tre, formless and colorless in
itself, absolutely separated from man and from the world — blank within
and void without — its very existence indistinguishable from its non-existence,
and, bowing down before this idolatrous creation, he pours out
his soul in lamentations over time incognizableness of such a mysterious
and awful non — entity…The truth is that the agnostic’s abstraction of a
Deity is unknown, only because it is unreal.” See McCosh, Intuitions,
194, note; Mivart Lessons from Nature, 363. God is not necessarily
infinite in every respect. He is infinite only in every excellence. A plane,
which is unlimited in the one respect of length, may be limited in another
respect, such as breadth. Our doctrine here is not therefore inconsistent
with what immediately follows.
F. Because to know is to limit or define. Hence the Absolute as unlimited,
and the Infinite as undefined, cannot be known. We answer:
(a) God is absolute, not as existing in no relation, but as existing in no
necessary relation; and
(b) God is infinite, not as excluding all coexistence of the finite with
himself, but as being the ground of the finite, and so unfettered by it.
(c) God is actually limited by the unchangeableness of his own attributes
and personal distinctions, as well as by his self-chosen relations to the
universe he has created and to humanity in the person of Christ. God is.42
therefore limited and defined in such a sense as to render knowledge of him
Versus Mansel, Limitations of Religious Thought, 75-84, 93-95; cf.
Spinoza: “Omnis determinatio est negatio;” hence to define God is to deny
him. But we reply that perfection is inseparable from limitation. Man can
be other than he is: not so God, at least internally. But this limitation,
inherent in his unchangeable attributes and personal distinctions, is God’s
perfection. Externally, all limitations upon God are self-limitations, and so
are consistent with his perfection. That God should not be able thus to
limit himself in creation and redemption would render all self-sacrifice in
him impossible, and so would subject him to the greatest of limitations.
We may say therefore that God’s
1. Perfection involves his limitation to
(a) personality,
(b) trinity,’
(c) righteousness;
2. Revelation involves his self-limitation in
(a) decree,
(b) creation,
(c) preservation.
(d) government.
(e) education of the world:
3. Redemption involves his infinite self-limitation in the
(a) person and
(b) work of Jesus Christ: see A. H. Strong, Christ in Creation, 87. — 101,
and in Bap. Quar. Rev.. Jan. 1891:521-532.
Bowne, Philos. of Theism, 135 — The infinite is not the quantitative all;
the absolute Is not the unrelated….Both absolute and infinite mean only
the independent ground of things.” Julius Muller, Doct. Sin, Introduc., 10
— “Religion has to do, not with an Object that must let itself be known
because its very existence is contingent upon its being known, but with
the Object in relation to whom we are truly subject, dependent upon him,
and waiting until he manifest himself.” James Martineau, Study of
Religion, 1:346 — “We must not confound the infinite with the total…The
self-abnegation of infinity is but a form of self-assertion, and the only
form. in which it can reveal itself….However instantaneous the omniscient
thought, however sure the almighty power, the execution has to be
distributed in time, and must have an order of successive steps; on no.43
other terms can the eternal become temporal, and the infinite articulately
speak in the finite.”
Perfect personality excludes, not self-determination, but determination
from without, determination by another. God’s self-limitations are the
self-limitations of love, and therefore the evidences of his perfection. They
are signs, not of weakness but of power. God has limited himself to the
method of evolution, gradually unfolding himself in nature and in history.
The government of sinners by a holy God involves constant self-repression.
The education of the race is a long process of divine
forbearance; Herder: “The limitations of the pupil are limitations of the
teacher also.” in inspiration, God limits himself by the human element
through which he works. Above all, in the person and work of Christ, we
have infinite self-limitation: Infinity narrows itself down to a point in the
incarnation, and holiness endures the agonies of the Cross. God’s
promises are also self-limitations. Thus both nature and grace are self-imposed
restrictions upon God, and these self-limitations are the means by
which he reveals himself. See Pfleiderer, Die Religion, 1:189, 195; Porter,
Human Intellect, 653; Murphy, Scientific Bases, 130; Calderwood,
Philos. Infinite, 168; McCosh, Intuitions, 186; Hickok, Rational
Cosmology, 85; Martineau. Study of Religion, 2:85, 86, 362; Shedd,
Dogmatic Theology, 1:189-191.
G. Because all knowledge is relative to the knowing agent; that is, what we
know, we know, not as it is objectively, but only as it is related to our own
senses and faculties. In reply:
(a) We grant that we can know only that which has relation to our
faculties. But this is simply to say that we know only that which we come
into mental contacts with, that is, we know only what we know. But,
(b) we deny that what we come into mental contact with is known by us as
other than it is. So far as it is known at all, it is known as it is. In other
words, the laws of our knowing are not merely arbitrary and regulative, but
correspond to the nature of things. We conclude that, in theology, we are
equally warranted in assuming that the laws of our thought are laws of
God’s thought, and that the results of normally conducted thinking with
regard to God correspond to the objective reality.
Versus Sir Wm. Hamilton, Metaph., 96-116, and Herbert Spencer, First
Principles, 38-97. This doctrine of relativity is derived from Kant,
Critique of Pure Reason, who holds that a priori judgments are simply
“regulative.” But we reply that when our primitive beliefs are found to be.44
simply regulative, they will cease to regulate. The forms of thought are
also facts of nature. The mind does not, like the glass of a kaleidoscope,
itself furnish the forms; it recognizes these as having an existence external
to itself. The mind reads its ideas, not into nature, but in nature. Our
intuitions are not green goggles, which make all the world seem green;
they are the lenses of a microscope, which enable us to see what is
objectively real (Royce, Spirit of Mod. Philos, 125). Kant called our
understanding “the legislator of nature.” But it is so, only as discoverer of
nature’s laws, not as creator of them. Human reason does impose its laws
and forms upon the universe; but, in doing this, it interprets the real
meaning of the universe.
[Illegible] Philos. of Knowledge ‘”All judgment implies an objective truth
according to which we judge, which constitutes the standard, and with
which we have something in common, i.e., our minds are part of an
infinite and eternal Mind.” French aphorism: “When you are right, you
are more right than you think you are.” God will not put us to permanent
intellectual confusion. Kant vainly wrote “No thoroughfare “over the
reason in its highest exercise. Martineau, Study of Religion, 1:135, 136
— “Over against Kant’s assumption that the mind cannot know anything
outside of itself, we may set Comte’s equally unwarrantable assumption
that the mind cannot know itself or its states. We cannot have philosophy
without assumptions You dogmatize if you say that the forms correspond
with reality; but you equally dogmatize if you say that they do not….79 —
That our cognitive faculties correspond to things as they are, is much less
surprising than that they should correspond to things as they are not.” W.
T. Harris, in Journ. Spec. Philos., 1:22. exposes Herbert Spencer’s self-contradiction:
“All knowledge is, not absolute, but relative; our knowledge
of this fact however is, not relative, but absolute.”
Ritschl, Justification and Reconciliation, 3:16-21, sets out with a correct
statement of the nature of knowledge, and gives in his adhesion to the
doctrine of Lotze, as distinguished from that of Kant. Ritschl’s statement
may be summarized as follows:
“We deal, not with the abstract God of metaphysics, but with the God
self-limited, who is revealed in Christ. We do not know either things or
God apart from their phenomena or manifestations, as Plato imagined; we
do not know phenomena or manifestations alone without knowing either
things or God, as Kant supposed; but we do know both things and God in
their phenomena or manifestations, as Lotze taught. We hold to no
mystical union with God, back of all experience in religion, as Pietism
does; soul is always and only active, and religion is the activity of the.45
human spirit, in which feeling, knowing and willing combine in an
intelligible order.”
But Dr. C. M.. Mead, Ritschl’s Place in the History of Doctrine, has well
shown that Ritschl has not followed Lotze. His “value — judgments” are
simply an application to theology of the “regulative” principle of Kant. He
holds that we can know things not as they are in themselves, but only as
they are for us. We reply that what things are worth for us depends on
what they are in themselves. Ritschl regards the doctrines of Christ’s pre-existence,
divinity and atonement as intrusions of metaphysics. into
theology, matters about which we cannot know, and with which we have
nothing to do. There is no propitiation or mystical union with Christ; and
Christ is our Example, but not our atoning Savior Ritschl does well in
recognizing that love in us gives eyes to the mind, and enables us to see
the beauty of Christ and his truth. But our judgement is not, as he holds, a
merely subjective value judgment — it is a coming in contact with
objective fact. On the theory of knowledge held by Kant, Hamilton and
Spencer, see Bishop Temple, Bampton Lectures for 1884:13; H. B.
Smith, Faith and Philosophy, 297-336; J. S. Mill, Examination, 1:113-
134; Herbert, Modern Realism Examined; M..B. Anderson, art.:
“Hamilton,” in Johnson’s Encyclopedia; McCosh, Intuitions, 139-146,
340, 341, and Christianity and Positivism, 97-123; Maurice, What is
Revelation? Alden, Intellectual Philosophy, 48-79, esp. 71-79; Porter,
Hum. Intellect, 523; Murphy, Scientific Bases, 103; Bibliotheca Sacra
April, 1868:341; Princeton Rev., 1864:122; Bowne, Review of Herbert
Spencer, 76; Bowen, in Princeton Rev., March, 1878:445-448; Mind,
April, 1878:257; Carpenter, Mental Physiology, 117; Harris, Philos.
Basis of Theism, 109-113; Iverach, in Present Day Tracts, 5: No. .29;
Martineau, Study of Religion, 1:79, 120, 121, 135, 136.
3. In God’s actual revelation of himself and certain of these relations. —
As we do not in this place attempt a positive proof of God’s existence or
of man’s capacity for the knowledge of God, so we do not now attempt to
prove that God has brought himself into contact with mans mind by
revelation. We shall consider the grounds of this belief hereafter. Our aim
at present is simply to show that, granting the fact of revelation, a scientific
theology is possible. This has been denied upon the following grounds:
A. That revelation, as a making known, is necessarily internal and
subjective — either a mode of intelligence, or a quickening of man’s
cognitive powers — and hence can furnish no objective facts such as
constitute the proper material for science..46
Morell, Philos. Religion, 128-131, 143 — “The Bible cannot in strict
accuracy of language be called a revelation, since a revelation always
implies an actual process of intelligence in a living mind.” F. W.
Newman, Phases of Faith, 152 — “Of our moral and spiritual God we
know nothing without — everything within.” Theodore Parker: “Verbal
revelation can never communicate a simple idea like that of God, Justice.
Love, Religion”; see review of Parker in Bibliotheca Sacra, 18:14-27.
James Martineau, Seat of Authority in Religion: “As many minds as there
are that know God at first hand, so many revealing acts there have been,
and as many as know him at second hand are strangers to revelation”; so,
assuming external revelation to be impossible, Martineau subjects all the
proofs of such revelation to unfair destructive criticism. Pfleiderer, Philos.
Religion, 1:185 — “As all revelation is originally an inner living
experience, the springing up of religious truth in the heart, no external
event can belong in itself to revelation, no matter whether it be naturally
or supernaturally brought about.” Professor George M. Forbes: “Nothing
can be revealed to us which we do not grasp with our reason. It follows
that, so far as reason acts normally, it is a part of revelation.” Ritchie,
Darwin and Hegel, 30 — “The revelation of God is the growth of the idea
of God.”
In reply to this objection, urged mainly by idealists in philosophy,
(a) We grant that revelation, to be effective, must be the means of inducing
a new mode of intelligence, or in other words, must be understood. We
grant that this understanding of divine things is impossible without a
quickening of man’s cognitive powers. We grant, moreover, that
revelation, when originally imparted, was often internal and subjective.
Matheson, Moments on the Mount, 51-53, on

Galatians 1:16 — “to
reveal his Son in me”: “The revelation on the way to Damascus would not
have enlightened Paul, had it keen merely a vision to his eye. Nothing can
be revealed to us which has not been revealed in us. The eye does not see
the beauty of the landscape, nor the ear hears the beauty of music. So
flesh and blood do not reveal Christ to us. Without the teaching of the
Spirit, the external facts will be only like the letters of a book to a child
that cannot read.” We may say with Channing: “I am more sure that my
rational nature is from God, than that any book is the expression of his
(b) But we deny that external revelation is therefore useless or impossible.
Even if religious ideas sprang wholly from within, an external revelation
might stir up the dormant powers of the mind. Religious ideas, however,.47
do not spring wholly from within. External revelation can impart them Man
can reveal himself to man by external communications, and, if God has
equal power with man, God can reveal himself to man in like manner.
Rogers, in his Eclipse of Faith, asks pointedly: “If Messrs. Morehl and
Newman can teach by a book, cannot God do the same? ‘ Lotze.
Microcosmos. 2:660 (book 9, chap. 4), speaks of revelation as “either
contained in some divine act of historic occurrence, or continually
repeated in men’s hearts.” But in fact there is no alternative here; the
strength of the Christian creed is that God’s revelation is both external
and internal; see Gore, in Lux Mundi, 338.Rainy, in Critical Review, 1:1-
21, well says that Martineau unwarrantably isolates the witness of God to
the individual sent. The inward needs to be combined with the outward, in
order to make sure that it is not a vagary of the imagination. We need to
distinguish God’s revelations from our own fancies. Hence, before giving
the internal, God commonly gives us the external, as a standard by which
to try our impressions. We are finite and sinful, and we need authority.
The external revelation commends itself as authoritative to the heart,
which recognizes its own spiritual needs. External authority evokes the
inward witness and gives added clearness to it, but only historical
revelation furnishes indubitable proof that God is love, and gives us
assurance that our longings after God are not in vain
(c) Hence God’s revelation may be, and, as we shall hereafter see, it is, in
great part, an external revelation in works and words. The universe is a
revelation of God; God’s works in nature precede God’s words in history.
We claim, moreover, that, in many cases where truth was originally
communicated internally, the same Spirit who communicated it has brought
about an external record of it, so that the internal revelation might be
handed down to others than those who first received it.
We must not limit revelation to the Scriptures. The eternal Word
antedated the written word, and through the eternal Word God is made
known in nature and in history. Internal revelation is preceded by, and
conditioned upon, external revelation. In point of time earth comes before
man, and sensation before perception. Action best expresses character,
and historic revelation is more by deeds than by words. Dorner, Hist.
Prot. Theol., 1:231-264 — “The Word is not in the Scriptures alone.
Time whole creation reveals the Word. In measure God shows his power;
in incarnation his grace and truth. Scripture testifies of these, but
Scripture is not the essential Word. The Scripture is truly apprehended
and appropriated when in it and through it we see the living and present.48
Christ. It does not bind men to itself alone, but it points them to the Christ
of whom it testifies. Christ is the authority. In the Scriptures he points us
to himself and demands our faith in him. This faith, once begotten, leads
us to new appropriation of Scripture, but also to new criticism of
Scripture. We find Christ more and more in Scripture, and yet we judge
Scripture more and more by time standard which we find in Christ.”
Newman Smyth, Christian Ethics, 71-82: “There is but one authority —
Christ. His Spirit works in many ways, but chiefly in two: first, the
inspiration of the Scriptures, and secondly, the leading of the church into
the truth The latter is not to be isolated or separated from the former.
Scripture is law to the Christian consciousness, and Christian
consciousness in time becomes law to the Scripture — interpreting,
criticizing. verifying it. The word and the spirit answer to each other.
Scripture and faith are coordinate. Protestantism has exaggerated the first;
Romanism the second. Martineau fails to grasp the coordination of
Scripture and faith.”
(d) With this external record we shall also see that there is given under
impossible conditions special influence of God’s Spirit, so too quicken our
cognitive powers that the external record reproduces in our minds the ideas
with which the minds of the writers were at first divinely filled.
We may illustrate the need of internal revelation from Egyptology, which
is impossible so long as the external revelation in the hieroglyphics is
uninterpreted: from the ticking of the clock in a dark room, where only the
lit candle enables us to tell the time; from the landscape spread out around
the Rigi in Switzerland, invisible until the first rays of the sun touch the
snowy mountain peaks. External revelation (fane>rwsiv,

1:19,20) must be supplemented by internal revelation (ajpoka>luyiv

Corinthians 2:10,12) Christ is the organ of external, the Holy Spirit the
organ of internal revelation. In Christ

2 Corinthians 1:20) are “the
yea” and “the Amen” — the objective certainty and the subjective
certitude. the reality and the realization.
Objective certainty must become subjective certitude in order to a
scientific theology. Before conversion we have the first, the external truth
of Christ; only at conversion and after conversion do we have the second,
“Christ formed in us” (

Galatians 4:19). We heave objective revelation
at Sinai (

Exodus 20:22) subjective revelation in Elisha’s knowledge of
Gehazi (

2 Kings 5:26). James Russell Lowell, Winter Evening Hymn
to my Fire: “Therefore with the I love to read Our brave old poets; at thy
touch how stirs Life in the withered words! how swift recede Time’s.49
shadows! and how glows again Through its dead mass the incandescent
verse, As when upon the anvil of the brain It glittering lay, cyclopically
wrought By time fast throbbing hammers of the poet’s thought!”
(e) Internal revelations thus recorded, need external revelations thus
interpreted, both furnish objective facts which may serve as proper material
for science. Although revelation in its widest sense may include, and as
constituting the ground of the possibility of theology does include, both
insight and illumination, it may also be used to denote simply a provision of
the external means of knowledge, and theology has to do with inward
revelations only as they are expressed in, or as they agree with, this
objective standard.
We have here suggested the vast scope and yet the insuperable limitations
of theology. So far as God is revealed, whether in nature, history,
conscience, or Scripture, theology may find material for its structure..
Since Christ is not simply the incarnate Son of God but also the eternal
Word, the only Revealer of God, there is no theology apart from Christ,
and all theology is Christian theology. Nature and history are but the
dimmer and more general disclosures of the divine Being, of which the
Cross is the culmination and the key. God does not intentionally conceal
himself.. He wishes to be known. He reveals himself at all times just as
fully as the capacity of his creatures will permit. The infantile intellect
cannot understand God’s boundlessness, nor can the perverse disposition
understand God’s disinterested affection. Yet all truth is in Christ and is
open to discovery by the prepared mind and heart.
The Infinite One, so far as be is unrevealed. is certainly unknowable to the
finite. But the Infinite One, so far as manifests himself, is knowable. This
suggests the meaning of the declarations:

John 1:18 — and no man
hath seen God at any time; the only begotten son who is in the bosom of
the Father, he hath declared him”; 14:9 — “he that hath seen me hath seen
the Father”;

1 Timothy 6:16 — “whom no man hath seen, nor can
see” We therefore approve of the definition of Kaftan, Dogmatik, I —
“Dogmatics is the science of the Christian truth which is believed and
acknowledged in the church upon the ground of the divine revelation” —
in so far as it limits the scope of theology to truth revealed by God and
apprehended by faith. But theology presupposes both God’s external and
God’s internal revelations, and these, as we shall see, include nature,
history, conscience and Scripture. On the whole subject, see Kahnis,
Dogmatik, 3:37-43; Nitzsch, System Christ. Doct., 72; Luthardt, Fund
Truths, 193; Auberlen, Div. Rev., Introduction, 29; Martineau, Essays,.50
1:171, 280; Bibliotheca Sacra, 1867:593, and 1872:428; Porter, Human
Intellect, 373-375; C. M. Mead, in Boston Lectures, 1871:58.
B. That many of the truths thus revealed are too indefinite to constitute the
material for science, because they belong to the region of the feelings,
because they are beyond our full understanding, or because they are
destitute of orderly arrangement.
We reply:
(a) Theology has to do with subjective feelings only as they can be defined,
and shown to be effects of objective truth upon the mind. They are not
more obscure than are the facts of morals or of psychology, and the same
objection which would exclude such feelings from theology would make
these latter sciences impossible.
See Jacobi and Schleiermacher, who regard theology as a mere account of
devout Christian feelings, the grounding of which in objective historical
facts is a matter of comparative indifference (Hagenbach, Hist. Doctrine,
2:401-403) Schleiermacher therefore called his system of theology “Der
Christliche Glaube.” and many since his time have called their systems by
the name of “Glaubenslehre.” Ritschl’s “value — judgments,” in like
manner, render theology a merely subjective science, if any subjective
science is possible. Kaftan improves upon Ritschl, by granting that we
know, not only Christian feelings, but also Christian facts. Theology is the
science of God, and not simply the science of faith. Allied to the view
already mentioned is that of Feuerbach, to whom religion is a matter of
subjective fancy; and that of Tyndall, who would remit theology to the
region of vague feeling and aspiration, but would exclude it from the
realm of science; see Feuerbach, Essence of Christianity, translated by
Marian Evans (George Eliot); also Tyndall, Belfast Address.
(b) Those facts of revelation which are beyond our full understanding may,
like the nebular hypothesis in astronomy, the atomic theory in chemistry, or
the doctrine of evolution in biology, furnish a principle of union between
great classes of other facts otherwise irreconcilable. We may define our
concepts of God, and even of the Trinity, at least sufficiently to distinguish
them from all other concepts; and whatever difficulty may encumber the
putting of them into language only shows the importance of attempting it
and the value of even an approximate success.
Horace Bushnell: “Theology can never be a science, on account of the
infirmities of language.” But this principle would render void both ethical.51
and political science. Fisher, Nat. and Meth. of Revelation, 145 — Hume
and Gibbon refer to faith as something too sacred to rest on proof. Thus
religious beliefs are made to hang in mid air, without any support. But the
foundation of these beliefs is no less solid for the reason that empirical
tests are not applicable to them. The data on which they rest are real, and
the inferences from the data are fairly drawn.” Hodgson indeed pours
contempt on the whole intuitional method by saying: “Whatever you are
totally ignorant of, assert to be the explanation of everything else!” Yet he
would probably grant that he begins his investigations by assuming his
own existence. The doctrine of the Trinity is not wholly comprehensible
by us, and we accept it at the first upon the testimony of Scripture; the
full proof of it is found in the fact that each successive doctrine of
theology is bound up with it, and with it stands or falls. The Trinity is
rational because it explains Christian experience as well as Christian
(c) Even though there were no orderly arrangement of these facts, either in
nature or in Scripture, an accurate systematizing of them by the human
mind would not therefore be proved impossible, unless a principle were
assumed which would show all physical science to be equally impossible.
Astronomy and geology are constructed by putting together multitudinous
facts, which at first sight seem to have no order. So with theology. And
yet, although revelation does not present to us a dogmatic system ready
made, a dogmatic system is not only implicitly contained therein, but parts
of the system are wrought out in the epistles of the New Testament, as for
example in

Romans 5:12-19;

1 Corinthians 15:3,4; 8:6;

Timothy 3:16;

Hebrews 6:1, 2.
We may illustrate the construction of theology from the dissected map,
two pieces of which a father puts together, leaving his child to put
together the rest. Or we may illustrate from the physical universe, which
to the unthinking reveals little of its order “Nature makes no fences.” One
thing seems to glide into another. It is man’s business to distinguish and
classify and combine. Origen: “God gives us truth in single threads, which
we must weave into a finished texture.” Andrew Fuller said of the
doctrines of theology that “they are united together like chain-shot, so
that, whichever one enters the heart, the others must certainly follow.”
George Herbert ‘”Oh, that I knew how all thy lights combine, And the
configuration of their glory; Seeing not only how each verse doth shine,
But all the constellations of the story !”.52
Scripture hints eat the possibilities of combination, in

Romans 5:12-
19, with its grouping of the facts of sin and salvation about the two
persons, Adam and Christ; in

Romans 4:24, 25, with its linking of the
resurrection of Christ and our justification; in

1 Corinthians 8:6, with
its indication of the relations between the Father and Christ; in

Timothy 3:16, with its poetical summary of the facts of redemption (see
Commentaries of DeWette, Meyer, and Fairbairn); in

Hebrews 6:1, 2,
with its statement of the first principles of the Christian faith. God’s
furnishing of concrete facts in theology, which we ourselves are left to
systematize, is in complete accordance with his method of procedure with
regard to the development of Other sciences. See Martineau, Essays, 1 29,
40; Am. Theol. Rev., 1859:101-126 — art, use the Idea, Sources and
Uses of Christian Theology.
(a) In the organizing instinct of the human mind. This organizing principle
is a part of our constitution. The mind cannot endure confusion or apparent
contradiction in known facts. The tendency to harmonize and unify its
knowledge appears as soon as the mind becomes reflective just in
proportion to its endowments and culture does the impulse to systematize
and formulate increase. This is true of all departments of human inquiry,
but it is peculiarly true of our knowledge of God. Since the truth with
regard to God is the most important of all, theology meets the deepest
want of man’s rational nature. Theology is a rational necessity. If all
existing theological systems were destroyed today, new systems would rise
tomorrow. So inevitable is the operation of this law, that those who most
decry theology show nevertheless that they have made a theology for
themselves, and often one sufficiently meager and blundering. Hostility to
theology, where it does not originate in mistaken fears for the corruption
of God’s truth or in a naturally illogical structure of mind, often proceeds
from a license of speculation which cannot brook the restraints of a
complete Scriptural system.
President E. G. Robinson: “Every man has as much theology as he can
hold.” Consciously or unconsciously, we philosophize, as naturally as we
speak prose. “Se moquer de la philosophie c’est vraiment philosopher.”
Gore, Incarnation, 21 — “Christianity became metaphysical, only
because man is rational. This rationality means that he must attempt ‘to
give account of things,’ as Plato said, ‘because he was a man, not merely.53
because he was a Greek.’” Men often denounce systematic theology, while
they extol the sciences of matter. Has God then left only the facts with
regard to himself in so unrelated a state that man cannot put them
together? All other sciences are valuable only as they contain or promote
the knowledge of God. If it is praiseworthy to classify beetles, one science
may be allowed to reason concerning Cool and the soul. to speaking of
Schelling, Royce, Spirit of Modern Philosophy, 173, satirically exhorts
us: “Trust your genius; follow your noble heart; change your doctrine
whenever your heart changes, and change your heart often — such is the
practical creed of the romanticists.” Ritchie, Darwin and Hegel, 3 —
“Just those persons who disclaim metaphysics are sometimes most apt to
be infected with the disease they profess to abhor — and not know when
they have it.” See Shedd, Discourses and Essays, 27-52; Murphy,
Scientific Bases of Faith, 195-199.
(b) In the relation of .systematic truth to the development of character.
Truth thoroughly digested is essential to the growth of Christian character
in the individual and in the church. All knowledge of God has its influence
upon character, but most of all the knowledge of spiritual facts in their
relations. Theology cannot, as has sometimes been objected, deaden the
religious affections, since it only draws out from their sources and puts into
rational connection with each other the truths which are best adapted to
nourish the religious affections. On the other hand, the strongest Christians
are those who have the firmest grasp upon the great doctrines of
Christianity; the heroic ages of the church are those which have witnessed
most consistently to them; the piety that can be injured by the systematic
exhibition of them must be weak, or mystical, or mistaken.
Some knowledge is necessary to conversion — at least, knowledge of sin
and knowledge of a Savior; and the putting together of these two great
truths is a beginning of theology. All subsequent growth of character is
conditioned upon the increase of this knowledge.

Colossians 1:10. —
aujxano>menoi th~| ejpignw>sei tou~ Qeou~ = increasing by the knowledge of
God — the instrumental dative represents the knowledge of God as the
dew or rain which nurtures the growth of the plant; cf.

2 Peter 3:18 —
“grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”
For texts which represent truth as nourishment, see

Jeremiah 3:15 —
“feed you with knowledge and understanding”; Matthew . 4:4 — “Man
shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the
mouth of God”;

1 Corinthians 3:1, 2 — “babes in Christ… I fed you
with milk, not with meat”;

Hebrews 5:14 — “but solid food is for full-.54
grown men.” Christian character rests upon Christian truth as its
foundation: see

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 — “I laid a foundation, and
another buildeth thereon.” See Dorus Clarke, Saying the Catechism;
Simon, on Christ Doct. and Life, in Bibliotheca Sacra, July, 1884:433-439
Ignorance is the mother of superstition, not of devotion. Talbot W
Chambers: — “Doctrine without duty is a tree without fruits; duty
without doctrine is a tree without roots.” Christian morality is a fruit,
which grows only from the tree of Christian doctrine. We cannot long
keep the fruits of faith after have cut down the tree upon which they have
grown. Balfour, Foundations of Belief, 82 “Naturalistic virtue is
parasitic, mined when the host perishes, the parasite perishes also. Virtue
without religion will die.” Kidd, Social Evolution, 214 — “Because the
fruit survives for a time when removed from the tree, and even mellows
and ripens, shall we say that it is Independent of the tree?” The twelve
manner of fruits on the Christmas tree are only tacked on, — they never
grew there, and they can never reproduce their kind. The withered apple
swells out under the exhausted receiver, but it will go back again to its
former shrunken form; so the self righteousness of those who get out of
the atmosphere of Christ and have no divine ideal with which to compare
themselves. W/. M. Lisle: “It is the mistake and disaster of the Christian
world the effects are sought instead of causes.” George A. Gordon, Christ
of Today, 28 — “Without the historical Christ and personal love for that
Christ, the broad theology of our day will reduce itself to a dream,
powerless to rouse a sleeping church.”
(c) In the importance to the preacher of definite and just views of
Christian doctrine. His chief intellectual qualification must be the power
clearly and comprehensively to conceive, and accurately and powerfully to
express, the truth. He can be the agent of the Holy Spirit in converting and
sanctifying men, only as he can wield “the sword of the Spirit, which is the
word of God” (

Ephesians 6:17), or, in other language, only as he can
impress truth upon the minds and consciences of his hearers. Nothing more
certainly nullifies his efforts than confusion and inconsistency in his
statements of doctrine. His object is to replace obscure and erroneous
conceptions among his hearers by those, which are correct and vivid. He
cannot do this without knowing the facts with regard to God in their
relations — knowing them, in short, as parts of a system. With this truth he
is put in trust. To mutilate it or misrepresent it, is not only sin against the
Revealer of it — it may prove the ruin of men’s souls. The best safeguard
against such mutilation or misrepresentation, is the diligent study of the.55
several doctrines of the faiths in their relations to one another, and
especially to the central theme of theology, the person and work of Jesus
The more refined and reflective the age, the more it requires reasons for
feeling. Imagination, as exercised in poetry and eloquence and as
exhibited in politics or war, is not less strong than of old — it is only
more rational. Notice the progress from “Buncombe”, in legislative and
forensic oratory, to sensible and
logical address. Bassanio in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice 1:1:113
“Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing…. his reasons are as two
grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff.” So in pulpit oratory, mere
Scripture quotation and fervid appeal are no longer sufficient. As well be
a howling dervish, as to indulge in windy declaration. Thought is the
staple of preaching. Feeling must be roused, but only by bringing men to
“the knowledge of the truth” (

2 Timothy 2:25). The preacher must
furnish the basis for feeling by producing intelligent conviction. He must
instruct before he can move. If the object of the preacher is first to know
God, and secondly to make God known, then the study of theology is
absolutely necessary to his success.
Shall the physician practice medicine without study of physiology, or the
lawyer practice law without study of jurisprudence? Professor Blackie:
“One may as well expect to make a great patriot out of a fencing master.
as to make a great orator out of a mere rhetorician.” The preacher needs
doctrine, to prevent his being a mere barrel — organ, playing over and
over the same tunes. John Henry Newman: “The false preacher is one who
has to say something; the true preacher is one who has something to say.”
Spurgeon, Autobiography, 1:167 — “Constant change of creed is sure
If a tree has to be taken up two or three times a year, you will not need to
build a very large loft in which to store the apples. When people are
shifting their doctrinal principles, they do not bring forth much fruit…We
shall never have great preachers till we have great divines. You cannot
build a man of war out of a currant bush, nor can great soul moving
preachers be formed out of superficial students.” Illustrate the
harmfulness of ignorant and erroneous preaching, by the mistake in a
physician’s prescription; by the wrong trail at Lake Placid which led
astray those ascending Whiteface; by the sowing of acorns whose crop
was gathered only after a hundred years. Slight divergences from correct
doctrine on our part may be ruinously exaggerated in those who come.56
after us. Though the moth — miller has no teeth, its offspring has.

Timothy 2:2 — and the things which thou hast heard from me among
many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able
to teach others also.”
(d) In the intimate connection between correct doctrine and the safety and
aggressive power of the church. The safety and progress of the church is
dependent upon her “holding the pattern of sound words” (

2 Timothy
3:13), and serving as “pillar and ground of the truth” (

1 Timothy 3:15).
Defective understanding of the truth results sooner or later in defects of
organization, of operation, and of life. Thorough comprehension of
Christian truth as an organized system furnishes, on the other hand, not
only an invaluable defense against heresy and immorality, but also an
indispensable stimulus and instrument in aggressive labor for the world’s
The creeds of Christendom have not originated in mere speculative
curiosity and logical hair splitting. They are statements of doctrine in
which the attacked and imperiled church has sought to express the truth,
which constitutes her very life. Those who deride the early creeds have
small conception of the intellectual acumen and the moral earnestness that
went to the making of them. The creeds of the third and fourth centuries
embody the results of controversies which exhausted the possibilities of
heresy with regard to the Trinity and the person of Christ, and which set
up bars against false doctrine to the end of time. Mahaffy: “What
converted the world was not the example of Christ’s life, — it was the
dogma of his death.” Coleridge: “He who does not withstand, has no
standing ground of his own.” Mrs. Browning: “Entire intellectual
toleration is the mark of those who believe nothing.” E. G. Robinson,
Christian Theology, 360-362 — “A doctrine is but a precept in the style
of a proposition; and a precept is but a doctrine in the form of a
command….Theology is God’s garden; its trees are trees of his planting;
and “all the trees of the Lord are full of sap (

Psalm 104:16).”
Bose, Ecumenical Councils: “A creed is not catholic because a council of
many or of few bishops decreed it, but because it expresses the common
conviction of entire generations of men and women who turned their
understanding of the New Testament into those forms of words.” Derner:
“The creeds are the precipitate of the religions consciousness of mighty
seen and times.” Foster, Christ. Life and Theol., 162 — “It ordinarily
requires the shock of some great event to startle men into clear
apprehension and crystallization of their substantial belief. Such a shock.57
was given by the rough and coarse doctrine of Arius, upon which the
conclusion arrived at in the Council of Nice followed as rapidly as in
chilled water the crystals of ice will sometimes form when the containing
vessel receives a blow.” Balfour, Foundations of Belief, 287 — “The
creeds were not explanations, but rather denials that the Arian and
Gnostic explanations were sufficient, and declarations that they
irremediably impoverished the idea of the Godhead. They insisted on
preserving that idea in all its inexplicable fullness.” Denny, Studies in
Theology, 192 — “Pagan philosophies tried to capture the church for
their own ends, and to turn it into a school. In self-defense the church was
compelled to become somewhat of a school on its own account. It had to
assert its facts; it had to define its ideas; it had to interpret in its own way
those facts which men were misinterpreting.”
Professor Howard Osgood: “A creed is like a backbone. A man does not
need to wear his backbone in front of him; but he must have a backbone,
and a straight one, or he will be a flexible if not a humpbacked Christian.”
Yet we must remember that creeds are credita, and not credenda;
historical statements of what the church has believed. not infallible
prescriptions of what the church must believe. George Dana Boardman,
The Church, 98 — “Creeds are apt to become cages.” Schurman,
Agnosticism, 151 — “The creeds were meant to be defensive
fortifications of religion; alas, that they should have sometimes turned
their artillery against the citadel itself.” T. H.. Green: “We are told that
we must be loyal to the beliefs of the Fathers. Yes, but who knows what
the Fathers believe now?” George A. Gordon, Christ of Today. 60 —
“The assumption that the Holy Spirit is not concerned in the development
of theological thought, nor manifest in the intellectual evolution of
mankind, is the superlative heresy of our generation The metaphysics of
Jesus are absolutely essential to his ethics… If his thought is a dream, his
endeavor for man is a delusion.” See Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, 1:8,
15, 16; Storrs, Div. Origin of Christianity, 121; Ian Maclaren (John
Watson), Cure of Souls, 152; Frederick Harrison, in Fortnightly Rev.,
Jan. 1889.
(e) In the direct and indirect injunctions of Scripture. The Scripture urges
upon us the thorough and comprehensive study of the truth (

John 5:39,
margin, — “Search the Scriptures”), the comparing and harmonizing of its
different parts (

1 Corinthians 2:13 — “comparing spiritual things with
spiritual”), the gathering of all about the great central fact of revelation

Colossians 1:27 — “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”), the
preaching of it in its wholeness as well as in its due proportions (

Timothy 4:2 — “Preach the word”) The minister of the Gospel is called “a
scribe who hath been made a disciple to the kingdom of heaven”

Matthew 13:52); the “pastors” of the churches are at the same time to
be “teachers” (

Ephesians 4:11); the bishop must be “apt to teach” (

Timothy 3:2), “handling aright the word of truth” (

2 Timothy 2:15),
“holding to the faithful word which is according to the teaching, that he
may be able both to exhort in the sound doctrine and to convict the
gainsayers” (

Titus 1:9).
As a means of instructing the church and of securing progress in his own
understanding of Christian truth, it is well for the pastor to preach
regularly each month a doctrinal sermon, and to expound in course the
principal articles of the faith. The treatment of doctrine in these sermons
should be simple enough to be comprehensible by intelligent youth; it
should he made vivid and interesting by the help of brief illustrations; and
at least one third of each sermon should be devoted to the practical
applications of the doctrine propounded. See Jonathan Edwards’s sermon
on the Importance of the Knowledge of Divine Truth, in Works, 4:5-11.
The actual sermons met Edwards, however, are not models of doctrinal
preaching for our generation. They are too scholastic in form, too
metaphysical for substance; there is too little of Scripture and too little of
illustration. The doctrinal preaching of the English Puritans in a similar
manner addressed itself almost wholly to adults. The preaching of our
Lord on the other hand was adapted also to children. No pastor should
count himself faithful; who permits his young people to grow up without
regular instruction from the pulpit in the whole circle of Christian
doctrine. Shakespeare, K. Henry VI, 2nd part, 4:7 — “Ignorance is the
curse of God; knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.”
Theology and religion are related to each other as effects, in different
spheres, of the same cause. As theology is an effect produced in the sphere
of systematic thought by the facts respecting God and the universe, so
religion is an effect that these same facts produce in the sphere of
individual and collective life. With5 regard to the term ‘religion’, notice:
1. Derivation.
(a) The derivation from relig‚re, ‘to bind back’ (man to God), is negatived
by the authority of Cicero and of the best modern etymologists; by the
difficulty, on this hypothesis, of explaining such terms as religio, religens,.59
and by the necessity, in that case of presupposing a fuller knowledge of sin
and redemption than was common to the ancient world.
(b) The mere correct derivation is from relegere, “to go over again,”
“carefully to ponder.” Its original meaning is therefore “reverent
observance” (of duties due to the gods).
For advocacy of the derivation of religio, as meaning “binding duty,”
from religare, see Lange, Dogmatik, 1:185-196. This derivation was first
proposed by Lactantius, Inst. Div., 4:28, a Christian writer. To meet the
objection that the form religio seems derived from a verb of the third
conjugation, Lange cites rebellio, from rebellare, and optio, from optare
. But we reply that these verbs of the first conjugation, like many others,
are probably derived from obsolete verbs of the third conjugation. For the
derivation favored in the text, see Curtius, Griechische Etymologie, 5te
Aufl., 364; Fick, Vergl. Worterb.,. der indoger. Spr.. 2:227; Vanicek, Gr.
— Etym.. Worterb.,.,2:829; Andrews, Latin Lexicon, in voce;
Nitzsch, System of Christ. Doctrine,7; Van Oosterzee, Dogmatics, 7577;
Philippi, Glaubenslehre, 1:6; Kahnis, Dogmatik, 3:18; Menzies, History
of Religion, 11; Max Muller, Natural Religion, lect. 2.
2. False Conceptions.
(a) Religion is not, as Hegel declared, a kind of knowing; for it would then
be only an incomplete form of philosophy, and the measure of knowledge
in each case would be the measure of piety.
In a system of idealistic pantheism, like that of Hegel, God is the subject
of religion as well as its object. Religion is God’s knowing of himself
through the human consciousness.. Hegel did not utterly ignore other
elements in religion. “Feeling, intuition, and faith belong to it,” he said,
“and mere cognition is one — sided.” Yet he was always looking for the
movement of thought in all forms of life; God and the universe were best
developments of the primordial idea. “What knowledge is worth
knowing,” he asked, “if God is unknowable? To know God is eternal life,
and thinking is also true worship.” Hegel’s error was in regarding life as a
process of thought, rather than in regarding thought as a process of life.
Here was the reason for the bitterness between Hegel and Schleiermacher.
Hegel rightly considered that feeling must become intelligent before it is
truly religious, but he did not recognize the supreme importance of love in
a theological system. He gave even less place to the will than he gave to
the emotions, and he failed to see that the knowledge of God of which.60
Scripture speaks is a knowing, not of the intellect alone, but of the whole
man, including the affectional and voluntary nature.
Goethe: “How can a man come to know himself? Never by thinking, but
by doing. Try to do your duty, and you will know at once what you are
worth. You cannot play the flute by blowing alone, — you must use your
fingers.” So we can never come to know God by thinking alone.

7:17 — “If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching,
whether it is of God” The Gnostics, Stapfer, Henry VIII. all show that
there may be much theological knowledge without true religion.
Chillingworth’s maxim, “The Bible only, the religion of Protestants,” is
inadequate and inaccurate; for the Bible, without faith, love, and
obedience, may become a fetich and a snare:

John 5:59,48 — “Ye
search the Scriptures,…and ye will not come to me, that ye may have life”
See Sterrett, Studies in Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion; Porter, Human
Intellect, 59, 60, 412, 525-526, 589, 650; Moreli, Hist. Philos., 476, 477;
Hamerton, Intel. Life, 214; Bibliotheca Sacra, 9:374.
(b) Religion is not, as Schleiermacher held, the mere feeling of
dependence; for such feeling of dependence is not religious, unless
exercised toward God and accompanied by moral effort.
In German theology, Schleiermacher constitutes the transition from the
old rationalism to the evangelical faith. “Like Lazarus, with the grave
clothes of a pantheistic philosophy entangling his steps,” yet with a
Moravian experience of the life of God in the soul, he based religion upon
the inner certainties of Christian feeling But, as Principal Fairbairn
remarks, “Emotion is impotent unless it speaks out of conviction; and
where conviction is, there will he emotion which is potent to persuade.” If
Christianity is religious feeling alone, then there is no essential difference
between it and other religions, for all alike are products of the religious
sentiment. But Christianity is distinguished from other religions by its
peculiar religious conceptions. Doctrine precedes life, and Christian
doctrine, not mere religious feeling, is the cause of Christianity as a
distinctive religion. Though faith begins in feeling, moreover, it does not
end there. We see the worthlessness of mere feeling in the transient
emotions of theatre — goers, and in the occasional phenomena of revivals.
Sabatier, Philos. Relig., 27, adds to Schleiermacher’s passive element of
dependence, the active element of Prayer — . Kaftan, Dogmatik, 10 —
Schleiermacher regards God as the Source of our being, but forgets that
he is also our End.” Fellowship and progress are as important elements in
religion as is dependence; and fellowship must come before progress —.61
such fellowship as presupposes pardon and life. Schleiermacher
apparently believed in neither a personal God nor his own personal
immortality; see his Life and Letters, 2:77-90; Martineau, Study of
Religion, 2:357. Charles Hedge compares him to a ladder in a pit — a
good thing for these who wish to get out, but not for those who wish to get
in. Dorner: “The Moravian brotherhood was his mother; Greece was his
nurse.” On Schleiermacher, see Herzog, Realencyclopadie, in voce;
Bibliotheca Sacra, 1852:375; 1883:534; Liddon, Elements of Religion,
lect. I; Ebrard, Dogmatik, 1:14; Julius Muller. Doctrine of Sin, 1:175;
Fisher, Supernat. Origin of Christianity, 563-570; Caird, Philos. Religion,
(c) Religion is not, as Kant maintained, morality or moral action; for
morality is conformity to an abstract law of right, while religion is
essentially a relation to a person, from whom the soul receives blessing and
to whom it surrenders itself in love and obedience.
Kant, Kritik der praktischen Vernunft, Beschluss: “I know of but two
beautiful things, the starry heavens above my head, and the sense of duty
within my heart.” But the mere sense of duty often distresses. We object
to the word “obey” as the imperative of religion, because
(1) it makes religion a matter of the will only;
(2) will presupposes affection;
(3) love is not subject to will;
(4) it makes God all law, and no grace;
(5) it makes the Christian a servant only, not a friend; cf.

John 15:15 —
“No longer do I call you servants — but I have called you friends” — a
relation not of service but of love (Westcott, Bib. Com., in loco.). The voice
that speaks is the voice of love, rather than the voice of law. We object also to
Matthew Arnold’s definition: “Religion is ethics heightened, enkindled, and lit
up by feeling; morality touched with emotion.” This leaves out of view the
receptive element in religion, as well as its relation to a personal God. A truer
statement would be that religion is morality toward God, as morality is
religion toward man. Bowne. Philos. of Theism, 251 — “Morality that goes
beyond mere conscientiousness must have recourse to religion”; see Lotze,
Philos. of Religion 128-142. Goethe: “Unqualified activity, of whatever kind,
heads at last to bankruptcy”; see also Pfleiderer, Philos. Religion, S:65-69;
Shedd, Sermons to the Natural Man, 244-246; Lidden, Elements of Religion.
3. Essential Idea. Religion in its essential idea is a life in God, a 1ife lived
in recognition of God, in communion with God, and under control of the
indwelling Spirit of God. Since it is a life, it cannot be described as
consisting solely in the exercise of any one of the powers of intellect,
affection, or will. As physical life involves the unity and cooperation of all
the organs of the body, so religion, or spiritual life, involves the united
working of all the powers of the soul. To feeling, however, we must assign
the logical priority, since holy affection toward God, imparted in
regeneration, is the condition of truly knowing God and of truly serving
See Godet, on the Ultimate Design of Man — “God in man, and man in
God” — in Princeton Rev., Nov. 1880; Pfieiderer, Die Religion, 5-79,
and Religionsphilosophie, 255 — Religion is “Sache des ganzen
Geisteslebens “: Crane, Religion of Tomorrow, 4 — Religion is the
personal influence of the immanent God “; Sterrett, Reason and Authority
in Religion, 31, 32 — “Religion is the reciprocal relation or communion
of God and man, involving (1) revelation, (2) faith”; Dr. J. W. A. Stewart:
“Religion is fellowship with God”; Pascal: “Piety is God sensible to the
heart”; Ritschl, Justif and Reconcil 13 — “Christianity is an ellipse with
two foci — Christ as Redeemer and Christ as King, Christ for us and
Christ in us, redemption and morality, religion and ethics”; Kaftan,
Dogmatik. 8 — The Christian religion is
(1) the kingdom of God as a goal above the world, to be attained by moral
development here, and
(2) reconciliation with God permitting attainment of this goal in spite of our
sins. Christian theology once grounded itself in man’s natural knowledge of
God; we now start with religion, i e that Christian knowledge of God which
we call faith.”
Herbert Spencer: “Religion is an a priori theory of the universe”;
Romanes, Thoughts on Religion, 43, adds: “which assumes intelligent
personality as the originating cause of the universe, science dealing with
the How, the phenomenal process, religion dealing with the Wise, the
intelligent Personality who works through the process.” Holland, In Lux
Mundi, 27 — “Natural life is the life in God which has not yet arrived at
this recognition” — the recognition of the fact that God is in all things —
“it is not yet, as such, religious… Religion is the discovery, by the son, of
a Father who is in all his works, yet is distinct from them all.” Dewey,
Psychology, 283 — “Feeling finds its absolutely universal expression in
religious emotion, which is the finding or realization of self in a.63
completely realized personality which unites in itself truth, or the
complete unity of the relations of all objects, beauty or the complete unity
of all ideal values, and rightness or the complete unity of all persons. The
emotion which accompanies the religions life is that which accompanies
the complete activity of ourselves; the self is realized and finds its true life
in God.” Upton, Hibbert Lectures, 262 — “Ethics is simply the growing
insight into, and the effort to actualize in society, the sense of fundamental
kinship and identity of substance in all men; while religion is the emotion
and the devotion which attend the realization in our self-consciousness of
an inmost spiritual relationship arising out of that unity of substance
which constitutes man the true son of the eternal Father.” See Van
Ooeterzee, Dogmatics, 81-85; Julius Muller, Beet. Sin, 2:227; Nitzsch.
Syst of Christ. Doct., 10-28; Luthardt, Fund Truths, 147; Twesten,
Dogmatik, 1:12.
4. Inferences.
From this definition of religion it follows:
(a) That in strictness there is but one religion. Man is a religious being,
indeed, as having the capacity for this divine life. He is actually religious,
however, only when he enters into this living relation to God. False
religions are the caricatures which men given to sin, or the imaginations
which men groping after light, form of this life of the soul in God.
Peabody, Christianity the Religion of Nature, 18 — “If Christianity be
true, it is not a religion, but the religion. If Judaism be also true, it is so
not as distinct from but as coincident with Christianity, the one religion to
which it can bear only the relation of a part to the whole. If there be
portions of truth in other religious systems, they are not portions of other
religions, but portions of the one religion which somehow or other became
incorporated with fables and falsities.” John Caird, Fund. Ideas of
Christianity, 1:23 — “You can never get at the true idea or essence of
religion merely by trying to find out something that is common to all
religions; and it is not the lower religions that explain the higher, but
conversely the higher religion explains all the lower religions.” George P.
Fisher: “The recognition of certain elements of truth in the ethnic religions
does not mean that Christianity has defects which are to be repaired by
borrowing from them; it only means that the ethnic faiths have in
fragments what Christianity has as a whole. Comparative religion does
not bring to Christianity new truth; it provides illustrations of how
Christian truth meets human needs and aspirations, and gives a full vision.64
of that which the most spiritual and gifted among the heathen only dimly
Dr. C. H. Parkhurst, sermon on

Proverbs 29:27 — “The spirit of man
is the lamp of Jehovah — a lamp, but not necessarily lighted; a lamp that
can be lit only by the touch of a divine flame” = mean has naturally and
universally a capacity for religion, but is by no means naturally and
universally religious. All false religions have some element of truth;
otherwise they could never have gained or kept their hold upon mankind.
We need to recognize these elements of truth in dealing with them. There
is some silver in a counterfeit dollar, else it would deceive no one; but the
thin washing of silver over the head does not prevent it from being bad
money. Clarke, Christian Theology. 8 — “See Paul’s methods of dealing
with heathen religion, in Acts 14 with gross paganism and in Acts 17 with
its cultured form. He treats it with sympathy and justice. Christian
theology has the advantage of walking in the light of God’s self —
manifestation in Christ, while heathen religions grope after God and
worship him in ignorance”; cf.

Acts 14:15 — “We bring you good
tidings, that ye should turn from these vain things unto a Living God”;
17:22 — I perceive that ye are more than usually reverent toward the
divinities. What therefore ye worship in ignorance, this I set forth unto
Matthew Arnold: “Children of men ! the unseen Power whose eye Forever
doth. accompany mankind, Hath looked on no religion scornfully That
man did ever find. Which has not taught weak wills how much they can?
Which has not fallen on the dry heart like rain? Which has not cried to
sunk, self — weary man, Thou must be born again?” Christianity is
absolutely exclusive, because it is absolutely inclusive. It is not an
amalgamation of other religions, but it has in it all that is best and truest
in other religions. It is the white light that contains all the colored rays.
God may have made disclosures of truth outside of Judaism, and did so in
Balam amid Melchizedek, in Confucius and Socrates. But while other
religions have a relative excellence, Christianity is the absolute religion
that contains all excellencies. Matheson, Messages of the Old Religions,
328-342 — “Christianity is reconciliation Christianity includes the
aspiration of Egypt; it sees, in this aspiration, God in the soul
(Brahmnamism): recognizes the evil power of sin with Parseeism; goes
back to a pure beginning like China; surrenders itself to human
brotherhood like Buddha; gets all things from within like Judaism; makes
the present life beautiful like Greece; seeks a universal kingdom like
Rome; shows a growth of divine life, hike the Teuton. Christianity is the
manifold wisdom of God.” See also Van Oosterzee, Dogmatics, 88-93..65
Shakespeare: “There is some soul of goodness in things evil, Would men
observingly distill it out.”
(b) That the content of religion is greater than that of theology. The facts
of religion come within the range of theology only so far as they can be
definitely conceived, accurately expressed in language, and brought into
rational relation to each other.
This principle enables us to define the proper limits of religious
fellowship. It should be as wide as is religion itself. But it is important to
remember what religion is. Religion is not to be identified with the
capacity for religion. Nor can we regard the perversions and caricatures
of religion as meriting our fellowship. Otherwise we might be required to
have fellowship with devil worship, polygamy, thuggery, and the
inquisition; for all these have been dignified with the name of religion.
True religion involves some knowledge, however rudimentary, of the true
God, the God of righteousness; some sense of sin as the contrast between
human character and the divine standard; some casting of the soul upon
divine mercy and a divine way of salvation, in place of self — righteous
earning of merit and reliance upon one’s works and one’s record; some
practical effort to realize ethical principle in a pure life and in influence
over others. Wherever these marks of true religion appear, even in
Unitarians, Romanists, Jews or Buddhists, there we recognize the demand
for fellowship. But we also attribute these germs of true religion to the in
working of the omnipresent Christ, “the light which lighteth every man”

John 1:9), and we see in them incipient repentance and faith, even
though the Christ who is their object is yet unknown by name. Christian
fellowship must have a larger basis in accepted Christian truth, and
Church fellowship a still larger basis in common acknowledgment of N.T.
teaching as to the church. Religious fellowship, in the widest sense, rests
upon the fact that “God is no respecter at persons: but in every nation he
that feareth him and worketh righteousness is acceptable to him” (

(c) That religion is to be distinguished from formal worship, which is
simply the outward expression of religion. As such expression, worship is
“formal communion between God and his people.” In it God speaks to
man, and man to God. It therefore properly includes the reading of
Scripture and preaching on the side of God, and prayer and in song on the
side of the people.
Sterrett, Reason and Authority in Religion, 166 — “Christian worship is
the utterance (outerance) of the spirit.” But there is more in true love than.66
can be put into a love — letter, and there is more in true religion than can
be expressed either in theology or in worship. Christian worship is
communion between God and man. But communion cannot be one-sided.
Madame de Sta”h, whom Heine called” a whirlwind in petticoats,” ended
one of her brilliant soliloquies by saying: “What a delightful conversation
we have had !” We may find a better illustration of the nature of worship
in Thomas  Kempis’s dialogues between the saint and his Savior, in the
Imitation of Christ. Goethe: “Against the great superiority of another
there is no remedy but love… To praise a man is to put one’s self on his
level.” If this be the effect of loving and praising man, what must be the
effect of loving and praising God! Inscription in Grasmere Church:
“Whoever thou art that enterest this church, leave it not without one
prayer to God for thyself, for those who minister, and for those who
worship here.” In

James 1:27 — “Pure religion and undefiled before
our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their
affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” — “religion,”
qrhskoi>a is cultus exterior; and the meaning is that “the external
service, the outward garb, the very ritual of Christianity, is a life of
purity, love and self — devotion. What its true essence. its inmost spirit
may be, the writer does not say, but leaves this to be inferred” On the
relation between religion and worship, see Prof. Day, in New Englander,
Jan. 1882; Prof. T. Harwood Pattison, Public Prayer; Trench, Syn. N. T,
I; sec. 48; Coleridge, Aids to Reflection, Introduction, Aphorism 23;
Lightfoot, Galatians, 351, note 2..67
God himself, in the last analysis, must be the only source of knowledge
with regard to his own being and relations. Theology is therefore a
summary and explanation of the content of God’s self-revelations. These
are, first, the revelation of God in nature; secondly and supremely, the
revelation of God in the Scriptures.
Ambrose: “To whom shall I give greater credit concerning God than to
God himself?” Von Baader: “To knew God without God is impossible;
there is no knowledge without him who is the prime source of knowledge.”
C. A. Briggs, Whither, 8 — “God reveals truth in several spheres: in
universal nature, in the constitution of mankind, in the history of our race,
in the Sacred Scriptures, but above all in the person of Jesus Christ our
Lord.” F. H. Johnson, What is Reality? 399 — “The teacher intervenes
when needed. Revelation helps reason and conscience, but is not a
substitute for them. But Catholicism affirms this substitution for the
church, and Protestantism for the Bible. The Bible, like nature, gives
many free gifts, but more in the germ. Growing ethical ideals must
interpret the Bible.” A. J. F. Behrends: “The Bible is only a telescope, nor
the eye which sees, nor the stars which the telescope brings to view. It is
your business and mine to see the stars with our own eyes.” Schurmnan,
Agnosticism, 175 — “The Bible is a glass through which to see the living
God. but it is useless when you put your eyes out.”
We can know God only so far as he has revealed himself. The immanent
God is known, but the transcendent God we do not know any more than
we know the side of the moon that is turned away from us. A. H. Strong,
Christ in Creation, 113 — “The word ‘authority’ is derived from auctor,
augeo, ‘to add.’ Authority adds something to the truth communicated.
The thing added is the personal element of witness. This is needed
wherever there is ignorance, which cannot be removed by our own effort,
or unwillingness, which results from our own sin. In religion I need to add
to my own knowledge that which God imparts. Reason, conscience,
church, Scripture, are all delegated and subordinate authorities; the only
original and supreme authority is God himself, or Christ, who is only God.68
revealed and made comprehensible by us.” Gore, Incarnation, 181 — “All
legitimate authority represents the reason of God, educating the reason of
man and communicating itself to it Man is made in God’s image: he is, in
his fundamental capacity, a son of God, and he becomes so in fact, and
fully, through union with Christ. Therefore in the truth of God, as Christ
presents it to him, he can recognize his own better reason, — to use
Plato’s beautiful expression, he can salute it by force of instinct as
something akin to himself, before he can give intellectual account of it.”
Balfour, Foundations of Belief, 332-337, holds that there is no such thing
as unassisted reason. and that, even if there were, natural religion is not
one of its products. Behind all evolution of our own reason, he says,
stands the Supreme Reason. “Conscience, ethical ideals, capacity for
admiration, sympathy, repentance, righteous indignation, as well as our
delight in beauty and truth, are all derived from God.” Kaftan, in Am.
Jour. Theology, 1900; 718, 719:), maintains that there is no other
principle for dogmatics than Holy Scripture. Yet he holds that knowledge
never comes directly from Scripture, but from faith. The order is not
Scripture, doctrine, faith; but rather Scripture, faith, doctrine. Scripture is
no more a direct authority than is the church. Revelation is addressed to
the whole man, that is, to the will of the man, and it claims obedience
from him. Since all Christian knowledge is mediated through faith, it rests
on obedience to the authority of revelation, and revelation is self-manifestation
on the part of God. Kaftan should have recognized more
fully that not simply Scripture, but all knowable truth, is a revelation from
God, and that Christ is “the light which lighteth every man” (

1:9). Revelation is an organic whole, which begins in nature, but finds its
climax and key in the historical Christ whom Scripture presents to us. See
H. C. Minton’s review of Martheau’s Seat of Authority, in Presb, and
Ref. Rev., Apr. 1900:203 sq.
1. Scripture and Nature. By nature we here mean not only physical facts,
or facts with regard to the substances, properties, forces, and laws of the
material world, but also spiritual facts, or facts with regard to the
intellectual and moral constitution of man, and the orderly arrangement of
human society and history.
We here use the word “nature” in the ordinary sense, as including man.
There is another and more proper use of the word “nature,” which makes
it simply a complex of forces and beings under the law of cause and
effect. To nature in this sense man belongs only as respects his body,
while as immaterial and personal he is a supernatural being. Free will is
not under the law of physical and mechanical causation. As Bushnell has.69
said: “Nature and the supernatural together constitute the one system of
God.” Drummond, Natural Law in the Spiritual World, 232 — “Things
are natural or supernatural according to where we stand. Man is
supernatural to the mineral; God is supernatural to the man.” We shall in
subsequent chapters use the term “nature” in the narrow sense. The
universal rise of the phrase “Natural Theology,’ however, compels us in
this chapter to employ the word “nature “in its broader sense as including
man, although we do this under protest, and with this explanation of the
more proper meaning of the term. See Hopkins, in Princeton Review,
Sept. 1882:183 sq.
E. G. Robinson: “Bushnell separates nature from the supernatural. Nature
is a blind train of causes. God has nothing to do with it, except as he steps
into it from without. Man is supernatural, because He is outside of nature,
having the power of originating an independent train of causes.” If this
were the proper conception of nature, then we might be compelled to
conclude with P. T. Forsyth, in Faith and Criticism, 100) — “There is no
revelation in nature. There can be none, because there is no forgiveness.
We cannot be sure about her. She is only aesthetic. Her ideal is harmony,
not reconciliation….For the conscience, stricken or strong, she has no
word….Nature does not contain her own teleology, and for the moral soul
that refuses to be fancy-fed, Christ is the one luminous smile on the dark
face of the world.” But this is virtually to confine Christ’s revelation to
Scripture or to the incarnation. As there was an astronomy without the
telescope, so there was a theology before the Bible. George Harris, Moral
Evolution, 411 — “Nature is both evolution and revelation. As soon as
the question How is answered, the questions Whence and Why arise.
Nature is to God what speech is to thought.” The title of Henry
Drummond’s book should have been: “Spiritual Law in the Natural
World,” for nature is but the free though regular activity of God; what we
call the supernatural is simply his extraordinary working.
(a) Natural Theology. The universe is a source of theology. The Scriptures
assert that God has revealed himself in nature. There is not only an
outward witness to his existence and character in the constitution and
government of the universe (Psalm 19;

Acts 14:17;

Romans 1:20),
but an inward witness to his existence and character in the heart of every
man (

Romans 1:17, 18, 19, 20, 32; 2:15). The systematic exhibition of
these facts, whether derived from observation, history or science,
constitutes natural theology.70
Outward witness: Pr. 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God”; Acts:
14:17 — “he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and
gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons”

Romans 1:20 —
“for the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly
seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his
everlasting power and divinity.” Inward witness:

Romans 1:19 — to>
gnwstoptetai of the gospel in verse 17, with the
ajpokalu>ptetai of wrath in verse 18 — two revelations, one of ojrgh>,
the other of ca>riv; see Shedd, Homiletics, 11.

Romans 1:32 —
“knowing the ordinance of God”; 2:15 — “they show the Work of the law
written in their hearts.” Therefore even the heathen are “without excuse”

Romans 1:29) There are two books: Nature and Scripture — one
written, the other unwritten: and there is need of studying both. On the
passages in Romans, see the Commentary of Hodge.
Spurgeon told of a godly person who, when sailing down the Rhine,
closed his eyes, lest the beauty of the scene should divert his mind from
spiritual themes. The Puritan turned away from the moss-rose, saying that
he would count nothing on earth lovely. But this is to despise God’s
works. .J. H. Burrows: “The Himalayas are the raised letters upon which
we blind children put our fingers to spell out the name of God.” To
despise the works of God is to despise God himself. God is present in
nature, and is now speaking.

Psalm 19:4 — “The heavens declare the
glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork” — present
tenses. Nature is not so much a book, as a voice. Hutton, Essays, 2:236
— “The direct knowledge of spiritual communion must be supplemented
by knowledge of God’s ways gained from the study of nature. To neglect
the study of the natural mysteries of the universe leads to an arrogant and
illicit intrusion of moral and spiritual assumptions into a different world.
This is the lessons of the book of Job.” Thatch, Hibbert Lectures, 85 —
“Man, the servant and interpreter of nature, is also, and is thereby, the
servant and interpreter of the living God.” Books of science are the record
of man’s past interpretations of God’s works.
(b) Natural Theology Supplemented. — The Christian revelation is the
chief source of theology. The Scriptures plainly declare that the revelation
of God in nature does not supply all the knowledge which a sinner needs

Acts 17:23;

Ephesians 3:9). This revelation is therefore
supplemented by another, in which divine attributes and merciful provisions
only dimly shadowed forth in nature are made known to men. This latter.71
revelation consists of a series of supernatural events and communications,
the record of which is presented in the Scriptures.

Acts 17:23 — Paul shows that, though the Athenians, in the erection
of an altar to an unknown God, “acknowledged a divine existence beyond
any which the ordinary rites of their worship recognized, that Being was
still unknown to them; they had no just conception of his nature and
perfections” (Hackett, in loco).

Ephesians 3:9 — “the mystery which
hath been hid in God” — this mystery is in the gospel made known for
man’s salvation. Hegel, in his Philosophy of Religion, says that
Christianity is the only revealed religions, because the Christians God is
the only one from whom a revelation can come. We may add that as
science is the accord of man’s progressive interpretation of God’s
revelation in the realm of nature, so Scripture is the record of man’s
progressive interpretation of God’s revelation in the realm of spirit. The
phrase “word of God” does not primarily denote a record, — it is the
spoken word, the doctrine, the vitalizing truth, disclosed by Christ; see

Matthew 13:19Æ “heareth the word of the kingdom”:

Luke 5:1 —
“heard the word of God”;

Acts 1:25 — “spoken the word of the
Lord”; 13:48,49 “glorified the word of God: …the word of the Lord was
spread abroad”; 19:18, 20-19:10,20 — “heard the word of the Lord…
mightily grew the word of the Lord”.

1 Corinthians 1:18 — “the word
of the cross” — all designating not a document, but an unwritten word; cf.
Jeremiah 1 4 — “the word of Jehovah came unto me”

Ezekiel 1:3 —
‘”the word of Jehovah came expressly ants Ezekiel, the priest.”
(c) The Scriptures the Final Standard of Appeal. — Science and Scripture
throw light upon each other. The same divine Spirit who gave both
revelations is still present, ennabling the believer to interpret the one by the
other and thus progressively to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Because of our finiteness and sin, the total record in Scripture of God’s
past communications is a more trustworthy source of theology than are our
conclusions from nature or our private impressions of the teaching of the
Spirit. Theology therefore looks to the Scripture itself as its chief source of
material and its final standard of appeal.
There is an internal work of the divine Spirit by which the outer word is
made an inner word, and its truth and power are manifested to the heart.
Scripture represents this work of the Spirit, not as a giving of new truth,
but as an illumination of the mind to perceive the fullness of meaning
which lay wrapped up in the truth already revealed. Christ is “the truth”

John 14:6); “in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.72
hidden” (

Colossians 2:3) the Holy Spirit, Jesus says, “shall take of
mine. and shall declare it unto you” (

John 16:14). The incarnation and
the Cross express the heart of God and the secret of the universe; all
discoveries in theology are but the unfolding of truth involved in these
facts. The Spirit of Christ enables us to compare nature with Scripture,
and Scripture with nature, and to correct mistakes in interpreting the one
by light gained from the other. Because the church as a whole, by which
we mean the company of true believers in all lands and ages, has the
promise that it shall be guided “into all the truth” (

John 16:13), we
may confidently expect the progress of Christian doctrine.
Christian experience is sometimes regarded as an original source of
religious truth. Experience, however, is but a testing and proving of the
truth objectively contained in God’s revelation. The word “experience” is
derived from experior, to test, to try. Christian consciousness is not
“norma normans,” but ‘ norma normata.” Light, like life, comes to us
through the mediation of others. Yet the first comes from God as really as
the last, of which without hesitation we say: “God made me,” though we
have human parents. As I get through the service pipe in my house the
same water, which is stored in the reservoir upon the hillside, so in the
Scriptures I get the same truth, which the Holy Spirit originally
communicated to prophets and apostles. Calvin, Institutes, book l, chap. 7
— As nature has an immediate manifestation of God in conscience, a
mediate in his works., so revelation has an immediate manifestation of
God in the Spirit, a mediate in the Scriptures.” “Man’s nature,” said
Spurgeon, “is not an organized lie, yet his inner consciousness has been
warped by sin, and though once it was an infallible guide in truth and
duty, sin has made it very deceptive. The standard of infallibility is not in
man’s consciousness, but in the Scriptures. When consciousness in any
matter is contrary to the word of God, we must know that it is not God’s
voice within us, but the devil’s.” Dr. George A. Gordon says that
“Christian history is a revelation of Christ additional to that contained in
the New Testament.” Should we not say “illustrative,” instead of
“additional”? On the relation between Christian experience and Scripture,
see Stearns, Evidence of Christian Experience, 286-309: Twestem,
Dogmatik, 1:344-348; Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1:15.
H. H. Bawden: “God is the ultimate authority, but there are delegated
authorities, such as family, state, church; instincts, feelings, conscience;
the general experience of the race, traditions, utilities; revelation in nature
and in Scripture But the highest authority available for men in morals and
Religion is the truth concerning Christ contained in the Christian
Scriptures. What the truth concerning Christ is, is determined by:.73
(1) the human reason, conditioned by a right attitude of the feelings and the
(2) in the light of all the truth derived from nature, including man;
(3) in the light of the history of Christianity;
(4) in the light of the origins and development of the Scriptures themselves.
The authority of the generic reason and the authority of the Bible are co-relative,
since they both have been developed in the providence of God, and
since the latter is in large: measure but the reflection of the former. ‘This view
enables us to hold a rational conception of the function of the Scripture in
religion. This view, further, enables us to rationalize what is called the
inspiration of the Bible, the nature and extent of inspiration, the Bible as
history — a record of the historic unfolding of revelation; the Bible as
literature — a compendium of life principles, rather than a book of rules; the
Bible Christocentric — an incarnation of the divine thought and will in human
thought and language.”
(d) The Theology of Scripture Not Unnatural — Though we speak of the
systematized truths of nature as constituting natural theology, we are not
to infer that Scriptural theology is unnatural. Since the Scriptures have the
same author as nature, the same principles are illustrated in the one as in
the other. All the doctrines of the Bible have their reason in that same
nature of God, which constitutes the basis of all material things.
Christianity is a supplementary dispensation, not as contradicting, or
correcting errors in, natural theology, but as more perfectly revealing the
truth. Christianity is indeed the ground plan upon which the whole creation
is built — the original and eternal truth of which natural theology is but a
partial expression. Hence the theology of nature and the theology of
Scripture are mutually dependent. Natural theology not only prepares the
way for, but it receives stimulus and aid from, Scriptural theology. Natural
theology may now be a source of truth, which, before the Scriptures came,
it could not furnish.
John Caird, Fund. Ideas of Christianity, 23 — “There is no such thing as
a natural religion or religion of reason distinct from revealed religion.
Christianity is more profoundly, more comprehensively, rational, more
accordant with the deepest principles of human nature and human thought
than is natural religion; or as we may put it, Christianity is natural
religion elevated and transmuted into revealed.” Peabody, Christianity the
Religion of Nature, lecture 2,ƔRevelation is the unveiling, uncovering of.74
what previously existed, and it excludes the idea of newness, invention,
creation….The revealed religion of earth is the natural religion of heaven.”

Revelation 13:8 — “the Lamb that hath been slain from the
foundation of the world” = the coming of Christ was no make shift; in a
true sense the Cross existed in eternity: /the atonement is a revelation of
an eternal fact in the being of God.
Note Plato’s illustration of the cave which can be easily threaded by one
who has previously entered it with a torch. Nature is the dim light from
the cave’s mouth; the torch is Scripture. Kant to Jacobi, in Jacobi’s
Werke, 3:523 — “If the gospel had not previously taught the universal
moral laws, reason would not yet have obtained so perfect an insight into
them.” Alexander McLaren: “Non-Christian thinkers now talk eloquently
about God’s love, and even reject the gospel in the name of that love, thus
kicking down the ladder by which they have climbed. But it was the Cross
that taught the world the love of God, and apart from the death of Christ
men may hope that there is a heart at the center of the universe, but they
can never be sure of it.” The parrot fancies that he taught men to talk, So
Mr. Spencer fancies that he invented ethics. He is only using the twilight,
after his sun has gone down. Dorner, Hist. Prot. Theol., 252,253 —
“Faith, at the Reformation, first gave scientific certainty; it had God sure:
hence it proceeded to banish skepticism in philosophy and science.” See
also Dove, Logic of Christian Faith, 333; Bowne, Metaph. And Ethics,
442-463; Bibliotheca Sacra, 1874:436; A. H. Strong, Christ in Creation,
226, 227.
2. Scripture and Rationalism. Although the Scriptures make known much
that is beyond the power of man’s unaided reason to discover or fully to
comprehend, their teachings, when taken together, in no way contradict a
reason conditioned in its activity by a holy affection and enlightened by the
Spirit of God. To reason in the large sense, as including the mind’s power
of cognizing God and moral relations — not in the narrow sense of mere
reasoning, or the exercise of the purely logical faculty — the Scriptures
continually appeal.
A. The proper office of reason, in this large sense, is:
(a) To furnish us with those primary ideas of space, time, cause, substance,
design, right, and God, which are the conditions of all subsequent
(b) To judge with regard to man’s need of a special and supernatural
(c) To examine the credentials of communications professing to be, or of
documents professing to record, such a revelation.
(d) To estimate and reduce to system the facts of revelation, when these
have been found properly attested.
(e) To deduce from these facts their natural and logical conclusions. Thus
reason itself prepares the way for a revelation above reason, and warrants
an implicit trust in such revelation when once given.
Dove, Logic of the Christian Faith, 318 — “Reason terminates in the
proposition: Look for revelation.” Leibnitz: “Revelation is the viceroy
who first presents his credentials to the provincial assembly (reason), and
then himself presides.” Reason can recognize truth after it is made known,
as for example in the demonstrations of geometry, although it could never
discover that truth for itself. See Calderwood’s illustration of the party
lost in the woods, who wisely take the course indicated by one at the tree
top with a larger view than their own (philosophy of the Infinite, 126.) the
novice does well to trust his guide in the forest, at least till he learns to
recognize for himself the marks blazed upon the trees. Luthardt, Fund.
Truths, lect. viii- “Reason could never have invented a self-humiliating
God, cradled in a manger and dying on a cross.” Lessing, Zur Geschichte
und Litteratur, 6:134 — “What is the meaning of a revelation that reveals
Ritschl denies the presuppositions of any theology based on the Bible as
the infallible work of God on the one hand, and on the validity of the
knowledge of God as obtained by scientific and philosophic processes on
the other. Because philosophers, scientists, and even exegetes, are not
agreed among themselves, he concludes that no trustworthy results are
attainable by human reason. We grant that reason without love will fall
into may errors with regard to God, and that faith is therefore the organ
by which religious truth is to be apprehended. But we claim that this faith
includes reason, and is itself reason in its highest form. Faith criticizes
and judges the processes of natural science as well as the contents of
Scripture. But it also recognizes in science and Scripture prior workings
of that same Spirit of Christ, which is the source and authority of the
Christian life. Ritschl ignores Christ’s world relations and therefore
secularizes and disparages science and philosophy, as well as in the
interpretation of Scripture as a whole, and that these results constitute an
authoritative revelation. See Orr, the Theology of Ritschl; Dorner, Hist.
Prot. Theol., 1:233 — “The unreasonable in the empirical reason is taken.76
captive by faith, which is the nascent true reason that despairs of itself
and trustfully lays hold of objective Christianity.”
B. Rationalism, on the other hand, holds reason to be the ultimate source
of all religious truth, while Scripture is authoritative only so far as its
revelations agree with previous conclusions of reason, or can be rationally
demonstrated. Every form of rationalism, therefore, commits at least one of
the following errors:
(a) That of confounding reason with mere reasoning, or the exercise of the
logical intelligence.
(b) That of ignoring the necessity of a holy affection as the condition of all
right reason in religious things.
(c) That of denying our dependence in our present state of sin upon god’s
past revelations of himself.
(d) That of regarding the unaided reason, even its normal and unbiased
state, as capable of discovering, comprehending, and demonstrating all
religious truth.
Reason must not be confounded with ratiocination, or mere reasoning.
Shall we follow reason? Yes, but not individual reasoning, against the
testimony of those who are better informed than we; nor by insisting on
demonstration, where probable evidence alone is possible; not by trusting
solely to the evidence of the senses, when spiritual things are in question.
Coleridge, in replying to those who argued that all knowledge comes to us
from the senses, says: “At any rate we must bring to all facts the light in
which we see them.” This the Christian does. The light of love reveals
much that would otherwise be invisible. Wordsworth, Excursion, book 5
(598) — “The mind’s repose on evidence is not likely to be ensured by act
of naked reason. Moral truth is no mechanic structure, built by rule.”
Rationalism is the mathematical theory of knowledge. Spinoza’s Ethics is
an illustration of it. It would deduce the universe from an axiom. Dr.
Hodge very wrongly described rationalism as “an overuse of reason.” It is
rather the use of an abnormal, perverted, improperly conditi0ned reason;
see Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1:34, 39, 55, and criticism by Miller, in
his Fetich in theology. The phrase “sanctified intellect” means simply
intellect accompanied by right affections toward God, and trained to work
under their influence. Bishop Butler: “Let reason be kept to, but let not
such poor creatures as we are go on objecting to infinite scheme that we.77
do not see the necessity or usefulness of all its parts, and call that
reasoning.” Newman Smyth, Death’s Place in Evolution, 86 — “Unbelief
is a shaft sunk down into the darkness of the earth.
Drive the shaft deep enough, and it would come out into the sunlight on
the earth’s other side.” The most unreasonable people in the world are
those who depend solely upon reason in the narrow sense. “The better to
exalt reason, they make the world irrational.” “The hen that has hatched
ducklings walks with them to the water’s edge but there she stops, and she
is amazed when they go on. So reason stops and faith goes on, finding its
proper element in the invisible. Reason is the feet that stand on solid earth;
faith is the wings that enable us to fly; and normal man is a creature with
wings.” Compare gnw~siv (

1 Timothy 6:20 — the knowledge which is
falsely so call”) with ejpi>gnwsi (

2 Peter 1:2 — “the knowledge of
God and of Jesus our Lord” = full knowledge, or true knowledge). See
Twesten, Dogmatik 1:467-500; Julius Muller, Proof-texts, 4,5; Mansel,
Limits of Religious thought, 96; Dawson, Modern Ideas of Evolution.
3. Scripture and Mysticism. As rationalism recognizes too little as coming
from God, so mysticism recognizes too much.
A. True mysticism. — We have seen that there is an illumination of the
minds of all believers by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit, however makes no
new revelation of truth, but uses for his instrument the truth already
revealed by Christ in nature and in the Scriptures. The illuminating work of
the Spirit is therefore an opening of men’s minds to understand Christ’s
previous revelations. As one initiated into the mysteries of Christianity,
every true believer may be called a mystic. True mysticism is that higher
knowledge and fellowship which the Holy Spirit gives through the use of
nature and scripture as subordinate and principal means
“Mystic” = one initiated, from mu>w, “to close the eyes” — probably in
order that the soul may have inward vision of truth. But divine truth is a
“mystery,” not only as something into which one must be initiated, but as
ujperba>llousa th~v gnw>sewv (

Ephesians 3:19) — surpassing full
knowledge, even to the believer; see Meyer on

Romans 11:25 — “I
would not, brethren, have you ignorant of this mystery.” The Germans
have Mystik. With a favorable sense,…Mysticismus with an unfavorable
sense, — corresponding respectively to our true and false mysticism. True
mysticism is intimated in

John 16:13 — “the spirit of truth…shall
guide you into all the truth”;

Ephesians 3:9 — “dispensation of the

1 Corinthians 2:10 — “unto us God revealed them through.78
the Spirit.” Nitzsch, Syst. of Christ. Doct., 35 — “Whenever the true
religion revives. There is an outcry against mysticism, i.e. higher
knowledge, fellowship. activity through the Spirit of God in the heart.”
Compare the charge against Paul that he was mad. in

Acts 26:24, 25,
with his self vindication in

2 Corinthians 5:13 — “whether we are
beside ourselves, it is unto God.”
Inge, Christian Mysticism,21 — “Harnack speaks of mysticism as
rationalism applied to a sphere above reason. He should have said reason
applied to a sphere above rationalism. Its fundamental doctrine is the
unity of all existence. Man can realize his individuality only by
transcending it and finding himself in the larger unity of God — being.
Man is a microcosm. He recapitulates the race, the universe, Christ
himself.” Ibid., 5 — Mysticism is “the attempt to realize in thought and
feeling the immanence of the temporal in the eternal, and of the eternal in
the temporal. It implies
(1) that the soul can see and perceive spiritual truth;
(2) that man, in order to know God, must be a partaker of the divine nature;
(3) that without holiness no man can see the Lord;
(4) that the true hierophant of the mysteries of God is love. The ‘scala
perfectionis’ is
(a) the purgative life;
(b) the illuminative life;
(c) the unitive life.”
Stevens. Johannine Theology, 239, 240 — “The mysticism of John…is not a
subjective mysticism which absorbs the soul in self contemplation and revery,
but an objective and rational mysticism, which lives in a world of realities,
apprehends divinely revealed feelings and fancies, but upon Christ. It involves
an acceptance of him and a life of obedience to him. Its motto is: Abiding in
Christ.” As the power press cannot dispense with the type, so the Spirit of
God does not dispense with Christ’s external revelations in nature and in
Scripture. E.G. Robinson, Christian Theology, 364 — “The word of God is a
form or mould, into which the Holy Spirit delivers us when he creates us
anew” cf.

Romans 6:17 — “became obedient from the heart to that form
of teaching whereunto ye were delivered.”
B. False Mysticism. — Mysticism, however, as the term is commonly used,
errs in holding to the attainment of religious knowledge by direct.79
communication from God, and by passive absorption of the human
activities into the divine. It either partially or wholly loses sight of
(a) the outward organs of revelation, nature and the Scriptures;
(b) the activity of the human powers in the reception of all religious
(c) the personality of man, and, by consequence, the personality of God.
In opposition to false mysticism, we are to remember that the Holy Spirit
works through the truth externally revealed in nature and in Scripture

Acts 14:17 — “he left not himself without witness”;

Romans 1:20
— “the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly

Acts 7:51 — “ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your
fathers did, so do ye”;

Ephesians 6:17 — “the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God”). By this truth already given we are to test all
new communications which would contradict or supersede it (

1 John
4:1 — “believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of

Ephesians 5:10 — “proving what is well pleasing unto the
Lord”). By these tests we may try Spiritualism, Mormonism,
Swedenborgianism. Note the mystical tendency in Francis de Sales,
Thomas a Kempis, Madame Guyon, Thomas C. Upham. These writers
seem at times to advocate an unwarrantable abnegation of our reason and
will, and a “swallowing up of man in God.” But Christ does not deprive
us of reason and will; he only takes from us the perverseness of our
reason and the selfishness of our will; so reason and will are restored to
their normal clearness and strength. Compare

Psalm 16:7 —
“Jehovah, who hath given me counsel; yea, my heart instructeth me in the
night seasons” = God teaches his people through the exercise of their own
False mysticism is sometime present though unrecognized. All expectation
of results without the use of means partakes of it. Martineau, seat of
Authority, 288 — “The lazy will would like to have the vision while the
eye that apprehends it sleeps.” Preaching without preparation is like
throwing ourselves down from a pinnacle of the temple and depending on
God to send an angel to hold up up. Christian Science would trust to
supernatural agencies, while casting aside the natural agencies God has
already provided; as if a drowning man should trust to prayer while
refusing to seize the rope. Using Scripture “ad aperturam libri” is like
guiding one’s actions by a throw of the dice. Allen, Jonathan Edwards,
171, note — “Both Charles and John Wesley were agreed in accepting the.80
Moravian method of solving doubts as to some course of action by
opening the Bible at hazard and regarding the passage on which the eye
first alighted as a revelation of God’s will in the matter”; cf. Wedgewood,
Life of Wesley, 193; Southey, Life of Wesley, 1:216. J.G. Paton, Life,
2:74 — “After many prayers and wrestlings and tears, I went alone before
the Lord, and on my knees cast lots, with a solemn appeal to God, and the
answer came: ‘Go home!’” He did this only once in his life, in
overwhelming perplexity, and finding no light from human counsel. “To
whomsoever this faith is given,” he says, “let him obey it.”
F.B. Meyer, Christian Living, 18 — “It is a mistake to seek a sign from
heaven; to run from counselor to counselor; to cast a lot; or to trust in
some chance coincidence. Not that God may not reveal his will thus; but
because it is hardly the behavior of a child with its Father. There is a
more excellent way,” — namely, appropriate Christ who is wisdom, and
then go forward, sure that we shall be guided, as each new step must be
taken, or word spoken, or decision made. Our service is to be “rational
service” (

Romans 12:1); blind and arbitrary action is inconsistent with
the spirit of Christianity. Such action makes us victims of temporary
feeling and a prey to Satanic deception. In cases of perplexity, waiting for
light and waiting upon God will commonly enable us to make an
intelligent decision, while “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (

14:23). “False mysticism reached its logical result in the Buddhistic
theosophy. In that system man becomes most divine in the extinction of
his own personality. Nirvana is reached by the eightfold path of right
view, aspiration, speech, conduct, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, rapture;
and Nirvana is the loss of ability to say: ‘This is I’ and ‘This is mine.’
Such was Hypatia’s attempt, by subjection of self, to be wafted away into
the arms of Jove. George Eliot was wrong when she said: ‘The happiest
woman has no history.’ Self-denial is not self-effacement. The cracked
bell has no individuality. In Christ we become our complete selves.”

Colossians 2:9,10 — “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the
Godhead bodily, and in him ye are make full.”
Royce, World and Individual, 2:248, 249 — “Assert the spiritual man;
abnegate the natural man. The fleshly self is the root of all evil; the
spiritual self belongs to a higher realm.
But this spiritual self lies at first outside the soul; it becomes ours only by
grace. Plato rightly made the eternal ideas the source of all human truth
and goodness. Wisdom comes into a man, like Aristotle’s nou~v.” A.H.
Bradford, The Inner Light, in making the direct teaching of the Holy
Spirit the sufficient if not the sole source of religious knowledge, seems to.81
us to ignore the principle of evolution in religion. God builds upon the
past. His revelation to prophets and apostles constitu8tes the norm and
corrective of our individual experience, even while our experience throws
new light upon that revelation. On Mysticism, true and false, see Inge,
Christian Mysticism, 4, 5, 11; Stearns, Evidence of Christian Experience,
280-294; Dorner, Geschichte d. prot. Theol., 48-59, 243; Herzog,
Encycl., art.:Mystik,m by Lange; Vaughn,Hours with the Mystics, 1:199;
Morell, Hist. Philos., 58, 191-215, 445-625, 726; Hodge, Syst. theol.,
1:61-69, 97, 104; Fleming, Vocab. Philos., in voce; Tholuck, Introduction
To Bluthendasmmlung aus der morgenlandischen Mystik; William James,
Varieties of Religious Experience, 379-429.
4. Scripture and Romanism. While the history of doctrine, as showing the
progressive apprehension and unfolding by the church of the truth
contained in nature and Scripture, is a subordinate source of theology,
Protestantism recognizes the Bible as under Christ the primary and final
Romanism., on the other hand, commits the two-fold error
(a) of making the church, and not the Scriptures, the immediate and
sufficient source of religious knowledge; and
(b) of making the relation of the individual to Christ depend upon his
relation to the church, instead of making his relation to the church depend
upon, follow, and express his relation to Christ.
In Roman Catholicism there is a mystical element. The Scriptures are not
complete or final standard of belief and practice. God gives to the world
from time to time, through popes and councils, new communications of
truth. Cyprian: “He who has not the church for his mother, has not God
for his Father.” Augustine: “I would not believe the Scripture, unless the
authority of the church also influenced me.” Francis of Assisi and Ignatius
Loyola both represented the truly obedient person as one dead, moving
only as moved by his superior; the true Christian has no life of his own,
but is the blind instrument of the church. John Henry Newman, Tracts,
Theol, and Ecclesiastes, 287 — “The Christian Dogmas were in the
church from the time of the apostles, — they were ever in their substance
what they are now.” But this is demonstrably untrue of the immaculate
conception of the Virgin Mary; of the treasury of merits to be distributed
in indulgences; of the infallibility of the pope (see Gore. Incarnation, 186)
In place of the true doctrine, “Ubi Spiritus, ibi ecclesia,” Romanism
substitutes her maxim, “Ubi ecclesia, ibi Spiritus.” Luther saw in this the.82
principle of mysticism, when he said: “Papatus est merus enthusiasmus.”
See Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1:61-69.
In reply to the Romanist argument that the church was before the Bible,
and that the same body that gave the truth at the first can make additions
to that truth, we say that the unwritten word was before the church and
made the church possible. The word of God existed before it was written
down and by that word the first disciples as well as the latest were
begotten (

1 Peter 1:23 — “begotten again…through the word of God”.
The grain of truth in Roman Catholic doctrine is expressed in

Timothy 3:15 — “the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of
the truth” = the church is God’s appointed proclaimer of truth; cf.

Philippians 2:16 — “holding forth the word of life.” But the church
can proclaim the truth, only if it is built upon the truth. So we may say
that the American Republic is the pillar and ground of liberty in the
world; but this is true only so far as the Republic is built upon the
principle of liberty as its foundation. When the Romanist asks: “Where
was your church before Luther?” the Protestant may reply: “Where yours
is not now — in the word of God. Where was your face before it was
washed? Where was the fine flour before the wheat went to the mill?”
Lady Jane Grey, three days before her execution, February 12, 1554,
said: “I ground my faith on God’s word, and not upon the church; for if
the church be a good church, the faith of the church must be tried by
God’s word, and not God’s word by the church, nor yet my faith.”
The Roman church would keep men in perpetual childhood — coming to
her for truth. Instead of going directly to the Bible; “like the foolish
mother who keeps her boy pining in the house lest he stub his toe, and
would love best to have him remain a babe forever, that she might mother
him still.” Martensen, Christian Dogmatics, 30. “Romanism is so busy in
building up a system of guarantees, that she forgets the truth of Christ
which she would guarantee.” George Herbert: “What wretchedness can
give him any room, Whose house is foul while he adores his broom!” It is
a semi-parasitic doctrine of safety without intelligence or spirituality.
Romanism says: “Man for the machine!” Protestantism: “The machine for
man!” Catholicism strangles, Protestantism restores individuality. Yet the
Romanist principle sometimes appears in so called Protestant churches.
The Catechism published by the League of the Holy Cross, in the
Anglican Church, contains the following: “It is to the priest only that the
child must acknowledge his sins, if he desires that God should forgive
him. Do you know why? It is because God, when on earth, gave to his
priests and to them alone the power of forgiving sins. Go to the priest,
who is the doctor of your soul, and who cures you in the name of God.”.83
But this contradicts

John 10:7 — where Christ says “I am the door”;

1 Corinthians 3:11 — “other foundation can no man lay than that
which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” = Salvation is attained by immediate
access to Christ, and there s no door between the soul and him. See
Dorner, Gesch. Prot. Theol., 227; Schleiermacher. Glaubensleher 1:24;
Robinson, in Mad. Av. Lectures, 387; Fisher, Nat. Law in Spir. World,
Although theology derives its material from God’s twofold revelation, it
does not profess to give an exhaustive knowledge of God and of the
relations between God and the universe. After showing what material we
have, we must show what material we have not. We have indicated the
sources of theology; we now examine its limitations. Theology has its
(a) In the finiteness of the human understanding. This gives rise to a class
of necessary mysteries, or mysteries connected with the infinity and
incomprehensibleness of the divine nature (

Job 11:7;


Job 11:7 — “Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find
out the Almighty to perfection?”

Romans 11:33 — “how unsearchable
are his judgements, and his ways past finding out!” Every doctrine,
therefore, has its inexplicable side. Here is the proper meaning of
Tertuillian’s sayings: “Certum est, quia impossible est; quo absurdius, eo
verius”; that of Anseim: “Credo, ut intelligam”; and that of Abelard: “Qui
credit cito, levis corde est.” Drummond, Nat. Law in Sir. World: “A
science without mystery is unknown; a religion without mystery is
absurd.” E.G. Robinson: “A finite being cannot grasp even its own
relations to the Infinite.” Hovy, Manual of Christ, Theol., 7 — “To infer
from the perfection of God that all his works [nature, man, inspiration]
will be absolutely and unchangeably perfect: to infer from the sovereignty
of God that man is not a free moral agent; — all these inferences are rash;
they are inferences from the cause to the effect, while the cause is
imperfectly known.” See Calderwood, Philos. Of Infinite, 491; Sir Wm.
Hamilton, Discussions, 22.
(b) In the imperfect state of science, both natural and metaphysical. This
gives rise to a class of accidental mysteries, or mysteries which consist in.84
the apparently irreconcilable nature of truths, which, taken separately, are
perfectly comprehensible.
We are the victims of a mental or moral astigmatism, which sees a single
point of truth as two. We see God and man, divine sovereignty and human
freedom, Christ’s divine nature and Christ’s human nature, the natural
and the supernatural, respectively, as two disconnected facts, when
perhaps deeper insight would see but one. Astronomy has its centripetal
and centrifugal forces, yet they are doubtless one force. The child cannot
hold two oranges at once in its little hand. Negro preacher: “You can’t
carry two watermelons under one arm.” Shakespeare, Anthony and
Cleopatra, 1:2 — “In nature’s infinite book of secrecy, A little I can
read.” Cooke, Credentials of Science — “Man’s progress in knowledge
has been so constantly and rapidly accelerated that more has been gained
during the lifetime of men still living than during all Human history
before.” And yet we may say with D’Arcy, Idealism and Theology, 248
— “man’s position in the universe is eccentric. God alone is at the center.
To him alone is the orbit of truth completely displayed…There are
circumstances in which, to us the onward movement of truth may seem a
retrogression.” William Watson, Collected Poems, 271 — “Think not thy
wisdom can illume away The ancient tanglement of night and day.
Enough to acknowledge both, and both revere: They see not clearest who
see all things clear.”
(c) In the inadequacy of language. Since language is the medium through
which truth is expressed and formulated, the invention of a proper
terminology in theology, as in every other science, is a condition and
criterion of its progress. The Scripture recognize a peculiar difficulty in
putting spiritual truths into earthly language (

1 Corinthians 2:13;

Corinthians 3:6; 12:4).

1 Corinthians 2:13 — “not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth”;

2 Corinthians 3:6 — “the letter killeth”; 12:4 — “unspeakable
words.” God submits to conditions of revelation; cf.

John 16:12 — “I
have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.”
Language has to be created. Words have to be taken from a common, and
to be put to a larger and more sacred, use so that they “stagger under their
weight of meaning” — e.g. the word “day” in Genesis 1, and the word
ajga>ph in 1 Corinthians 13. See Gould, in Amer. Com., on

Corinthians 13:12 — “now we see in a mirror, darkly” — in a metallic
mirror whose surface is dim and whose images are obscure = Now we
behold Christ, the truth, only as he is reflected in imperfect speech —.85
“but then face to face” = immediately, without the intervention of an
imperfect medium. “As fast as we tunnel into the sandbank of thought, the
stones of language must be built into walls and arches, to allow further
progress into the boundless mine.”
(d) In the incompleteness of our knowledge of the Scriptures. Since it is
not the mere letter of the Scriptures that constitute the truth, the progress
of theology is dependent upon hermeneutics, or the interpretation of the
word of God.
Notice the progress in commenting, from homiletical to grammatical,
historical, dogmatic, illustrated in Scott, Ellicott, Stanley, Lightfoot, John
Robinson: “I am Scripture in the light of its origin and connections. There
has been an evolution of Scripture, as truly as there has been an evolution
of natural science, and the Spirit of Christ who was in the prophets has
brought about a progress from verily persuaded that the Lord hath more
truth yet to break forth from his holy word.” Recent criticism has shown
the necessity of studying each portion of germinal and typical expression
to expression that is complete and clear. Yet we still need to offer the
prayer of

Psalm 119:18 — “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of thy law.” On New Testament Interpretation, see
A.H. Strong, Philosophy and Religion, 324336.
(e) In the silence of written revelation. For our discipline and probation,
much is probably hidden from us. Which we might even with our present
powers comprehend.
Instance the silence of Scripture with regard to the life and death of Mary
the Virgin, the personal appearance of Jesus and his occupations in early,
the origin of evil, the method of the atonement, the state after death. So
also as to social and political questions, such as slavery, the liquor traffic,
domestic virtues, government corruption. “Jesus was in heaven at the
revolt of the angels, yet he tells us little about angels or heaven. He does
not discourse about Eden, or Adam, or the fall of man, or death as a result
of Adam’s sin; and he says little of departed spirits, whether they are lost
or saved.” It was better to inculcate principles, and trust his followers to
apply them. His gospel is not intended to gratify a vain curiosity. He
would not divert men’s minds from pursuing the one thing needful; cf.

Luke 13:23, 24 — “Lord, are they few that are saved? And he said
unto them, Strive to enter by the narrow door: for many, I say unto you,
shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Paul’s silence upon
speculative questions, which he must have pondered with absorbing
interest is a proof of his divine inspiration. John Foster spent his life,.86
“gathering questions for eternity”; cf.

John 13:7 — “What I do though
knowest not now; but thou shalt understand hereafter.” The most beautiful
thing in a countenance is that which a picture can never express. He who
would speak well must omit well. Story: “of every noble work the silent
part is best: If all expressions that which cannot be expressed.” cf.

Corinthians 2:9 “Things which eye saw not and ear heard not, And which
entered not into the heart of man, Whatsoever things God prepared for
them that love him”;

Deuteronomy 29:29 — “The secret things belong
unto Jehovah our God: but the things that are revealed belong unto us and
to our children.” For Luther’s view, see Hagenbach, Hist. Doctrine,
2:338. See also B.D. thomas, The Secret of the Divine Silence.
(f) In the lack of spiritual discernment caused by sin. Since holy affection
is a condition of religious knowledge, all moral imperfection in the
individual Christian and in the church serves as a hindrance to the working
out of a complete theology.

John 3:3 — “Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of
God.” The spiritual ages make most progress in theology, — witness the
half century succeeding the Reformation, and the half century succeeding
the great revival in New England in the time of Jonathon Edwards.
Ueberweg, Logic (Lindsay’s transl.), 514 — “Science is much under the
influence of the will; and the truth of knowledge depends upon the purity
of the conscience. The will has no power to resist scientific evidence; but
scientific evidence is not obtained without the continuous loyalty of the
will.” Lord Bacon declared that man cannot enter the kingdom of science,
any more than he can enter the kingdom of heaven, without becoming a
little child. Darwin describes his won mind as having become a kind of
machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, with
the result of producing “atrophy of that part of the brain on which the
higher tastes depend.” But a similar abnormal atrophy is possible in the
case of the moral and religious faculty)see Gore, Incarnation, 37). Dr.
Allen said in his Introductory Lecture at Lane theological Seminary: “We
are very glad to see you if you wish to be students; but the professors’
chairs are all filled.”
(a) A perfect system of theology is impossible. We do not expect to
construct such a system. All science but reflects the present attainment of
the human mind. No science is complete or finished. However it may be
with the sciences of nature and of man, the science of God will never.87
amount to an exhaustive knowledge. We must not expect to demonstrate
all Scripture doctrines upon rational grounds, or even in every case to see
the principle of connection between them. Where we cannot do this, we
must, as in every other science, set the revealed facts in their places and
wait for further light, instead of ignoring or rejecting any of them because
we cannot understand them or their relation to other parts of our system.
Three problems left unsolved by the Egyptians have been handed down to
our generation: (1) the duplication of the cube; (2) the trisection of the
angle; (3) the quadrature of the circle. Dr. Johnson: “Dictionaries are like
watches; the worst is better than none; and the best cannot be expected to
go quite true.” Hood spoke of Dr. Johnson’s “Contradictionary,” which
had both “interior” and “exterior”. Sir William Thompson (Lord Kelvin)
at the fiftieth anniversary of his professorship said: “One word
characterizes the most strenuous of the efforts for the advancement of
science which I have made perseveringly through fifty five years: that
word is failure; I know no more of electric and magnetic force, or of the
relations between ether, electricity and ponderable matter, or of chemical
affinity than I knew and tried to teach my students of natural philosophy
fifty years ago in my first session as professor.” Allen, Religious
Progress, mentions three tendencies. “The first says: Destroy the New!.
The second says: Destroy the old! The third says: destroy nothing! Let the
old gradually and quietly grow into the new, as Erasmus wished. We
should accept contradictions, whether they can be intellectually reconciled
or not. The truth has never prospered by enforcing some ‘via media.’
Truth lies rather in the union of opposite propositions, as in Christ’s
divinity and humanity, and in grace and freedom. Blanco white went from
Rome to infidelity; Orestes Brownson from infidelity to Rome; so the
brothers John Henry Newman and Francis W. Newman, and the brothers
George Hervert of Bemerton and Lord Herbert of Cherbury. One would
secularize the divine, the other would divinize the secular. But if one is
true, so is the other. Let us adopt both. All progress is a deeper
penetration into the meaning o old truth, and a larger appropriation of it.”
(b) Theology is nevertheless progressive. It is progressive in the sense that
our subjective understanding of the facts with regard to God, and our
consequent expositions of these facts, may and do become more perfect.
But theology is not progressive in the sense that its objective facts change,
either in their number or their nature. With Martineau we may say:
“Religion has been reproached without being progressive, it makes amends
by being imperishable.” Though our knowledge may be imperfect, it will
have great value still. Our success in constructing a theology will depend.88
upon the proportion which clearly expressed facts of Scripture bear to
mere inferences, and upon the degree in which they all cohere about Christ,
the central person and theme.
The progress of theology is progress in apprehension by man, not
progress in communication by God. Originally in astronomy is not man’s
creation of new planets, but man’s discovery of planets that were never
seen before, or the bringing to light of relations between them that were
never before suspected. Robert Kerr Eccles: “Originality is a habit of
recurring to origins — the habit of securing personal experience by
personal application to original facts. It is not an eduction of novelties
either from nature, Scripture, or inner consciousness; it is rather the habit
of resorting to primitive facts, and of securing the personal experiences
which arise from contact with these facts.” Fisher, Nat. and Meth. Of
Revelation, 48 — “The starry heavens are now what they were of old;
there is no enlargement of the stellar universe, except that which comes
through the increased power and use of the telescope.” We must not
imitate the green sailor who, when set to steer, said he had “sailed by that
Martineau, Types, 1:492, 493 — “Metaphysics, so far as they are true to
their work, are stationary, precisely because they have in charge, not what
begins and ceases to be, but what always is…It is absurd to praise motion
for always making way, while disparaging space for still being what it
ever was: as if the motion you prefer could be, without the space which
you reproach.” Newman Smyth, Christian Ethics, 45, 67-70, 79 — “True
conservatism is progress which takes directon from the past and fulfills its
good; false conservatism is a narrowing and hopeless reversion to the
past, which is a betrayal of the promise of the future. So Jesus came not
‘to destroy the law or the prophets’; he ‘came not to destroy, but to fulfill’

Matthew 5:17)…The last book on Christian Ethics will not be written
before Judgment Day.” John Milton, Areopagitica: “Truth is compared in
the Scripture to a streaming fountain; if her waters flow not in a perpetual
progression, they sicken into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition. A
man may be a heretic in the truth.” Paul in

Romans 2:16, and in

Timothy 2:8 — speaks of “my gospel.” It is the duty of every Christian to
have his own conception of the truth, while he respects the conceptions of
others. Tennyson, Locksley Hall: “I that rather held it better men should
perish one by one, Than that earth should stand at gaze like Joshua’s
moon at Ajalon.” We do not expect any new worlds, and we need not
expect any new Scriptures; but we may expect progress in the
interpretation of both. Facts are final, but interpretation is not..89
The requisites to the successful study of theology have already in part been
indicated in speaking of its limitations. In spite of some repetition,
however, we mention the following:
(a) A disciplined mind. Only such a mind can patiently collect the facts,
hold in its grasp may facts at once, educe by continuous reflection their
connecting principles, suspend final judgment until its conclusions are
verified by Scripture and experience.
Robert Browning, Ring and Book, 175 (Pope, 228) — “Truth nowhere
lies, yet everywhere, in these; Not absolutely in a portion, yet Evolveable
from the whole: evolved at last Painfully; held tenaciously by me.”
Teachers and students may be divided into two classes:
(1) those who know enough already;
(2) those wish to learn more than they now know. Motto of Winchester
School in England: “Disce, aut discede.” Butcher, Greek Genius., 213,
230 — “The Sophists fancied that they were imparting education, when
they were only imparting results. Aristotle illustrates their method by the
example of a shoemaker who, professing to teach the art of making
painless shoes, puts into the apprentice’s hand a large assortment of shoes
ready made. A witty Frenchman classes together those who would make
science popular, metaphysics intelligible, and vice respectable. The word
sco>lh which first meant ‘leisure,’ then ‘philosophical discussion,’ and
finally ‘school’ shows the pure love of learning among the Greeks.”
Robert G. Ingersoll said that the average provincial clergyman is alike the
land of the upper Potomas spoken of by Tom Randolph, as almost
worthless in its original state, and rendered wholly so by cultivation.
Lotze, Metaphysics, 1:16 — “the constant whetting of the knife is tedious,
if it is not proposed to cut anything with it.” “To do their duty is their only
holiday,” is the description of Athenian character given by Thucydides.
Chitty asked a father inquiring as to his son’s qualifications for the law:
“Can your son eat sawdust without any butter?” on opportunities for.90
culture in the Christian ministry, see New Englander, Oct 1875: A. H.
Strong, Philosophy and Religion, 273-275; Christ in Creation, 318-320.
(b) An intuitional as distinguished from a merely logical habit of mind, —
or, trust in the mind’s primitive convictions, as well as in its processes of
reasoning. The theologian must have insight as well as understanding. He
must accustom himself to ponder spiritual facts as well as those which are
sensible and material; to see things in their inner relations as well as in their
outward forms; to cherish confidence in the reality and the unity of truth.
Vinet, Outlines of Philosyphy, 39,40 — “If I do not feel that good is
good, who will ever prove it to me?” Pascal: Logic, which is an
abstraction, may shake everything. A being purely intellectual will be
incurably skeptical.” Calvin: “Satan is an acute theologian.” Some men
can see a fly on a barn door a mile away, and yet can never see the door.
Zellar, Outline of Greek Philosophy, 93 — “Gorgias the Sophist was able
to show metaphysically that nothing can exist: that what does exist cannot
be known by us; and that what is known by us cannot be imparted to
others” (quoted by Wenley, Socrates and Christ, 28). Aristotle differed
from those moderate men who thought it impossible to go over the same
river twice, — he held that it could not be done even once (cf.
Wordsworth, Prelude, 536). Dove, Logic of the Christian Faith, 1-20, and
especially 25, gives a demonstration of the impossibility of motion: A
thing cannot move in the place where it is; it cannot move in the places
where it is not; but the place where it is and the places where it is not are
aD the places that there are; therefore a thing cannot move m all. Hazard,
Man a Creative First Cause, 100, shows that the bottom of a wheel duos
not move, since it goes backward as fast as the top goes forward. An
instantaneous photograph makes the upper part a confused blur, while the
spokes of the lower part are distinctly visible. Abp. Whately: “Weak
arguments are often thrust before my path; but, although they are most
unsubstantial, it is not easy to destroy them. Shore is not a more difficult
feat known than to cut through a cushion with a sword” cf.

1 Timothy
6:20 — “oppositions of mime knowledge which is falsely so called”; 3:2
— “the bishop therefore must be…sober-minded” — sw>frwn = “well
balanced.” The Scripture speaks of “sound [uJgih>v = healthful]

1 Timothy 1:11). Contrast

1 Timothy 6:4 — [nosw~n =
ailing] “diseased about questionings and disputes of words”.
(c) An acquaintance with physical, mental, and moral science. The
method of conceiving and expressing Scripture truth is so affected by our
elementary notions of these sciences, and the weapons with which theology.91
is attached and defended are so commonly drawn from them as arsenals,
that the student cannot afford to be ignorant of them.
Goethe explains his own greatness by his avoidance of metaphysics:
“Mein Kind, Ich habe es klug gemacht; lob habe nie uber’s Denken
gedacht” — “I have been wise in never thinking about thinking”; he would
have been wiser, had he pondered more deeply the fundamental principles
of his philosophy; see A. H. Strong, The Great Poets and their Theology
296-299 and Philosophy and Religion, 1-18; also in Baptist Quarterly,
2:393 sq. Many a theological system has fallen, like the Campanile at
Venice, because its foundations were insecure. Sir William Hamilton: “No
difficulty arises in theology which has not first emerged in philosophy.”
N. W. Taylor: “Give me a young man in metaphysics, and I care not who
has him in theology.” President Samson Talbot “I love metaphysics,
because they have to do with realities.” The maxim “Ubi tres medici, ibi
duo athei,” witnesses to the truth of Galen’s words: a]ristov iJatro<v kaisofov; “the best physician is also a philosopher.” Theology cannot
dispense with science, any more than science can dispense with
philosophy. E. G. Robinson: “Science has not invalidated any
fundamental truth of revelation, though it has modified the statement of
many…Physical Science will undoubtedly knock some of our crockery
gods on the head, and the sooner the better” There is great advantage to
the preacher in taking up, as did Frederick W. Robertson, one science
after another. Chemistry entered into his mental structure, as he said, “like
iron into the blood.”
(d) A knowledge of the original languages of the Bible. This is necessary
to enable us not only to determine the meaning of the fundamental terms of
scripture, such as holiness, sin, propitiation, justification, but also to
interpret statements of doctrine by their connections with the context
Emerson said that the man who reads a book in a strange tongue, when he
can have a good translation, is a fool. Dr. Behrends replied that he is a
fool who is satisfied with the substitute. E. G. Robinson: “Language is a
great organism, and no study so disciplines the mind as the dissection of
an organism.” Chrysostom: “This is the cause of all our evils — our not
knowing the Scriptures.” Yet a modern scholar has said: “The Bible is the
most dangerous of all God’s gifts to man” It is possible to adore the letter,
while we fail to perceive its spirit. A narrow interpretation may contradict
its meaning. Much depends upon connecting phrases, as for example, the
dia< tou~to and ejf w=| in

Romans 5:12. Professor Phillip Lindsley of
Princeton, 1813-1853, said to his pupils: “One of the best preparations.92
for death is a thorough knowledge of the Greek grammar.” The youthful
Erasmus; “When I get some money, I will get me some Greek books, and,
after that, some clothes.” The dead languages are the only really living
ones — free from danger of misunderstanding from changing usage.
Divine Providence has put revelation into fixed forms in the Hebrew and
the Greek. Sir William Hamilton, Discussions, 330 — “To be a
competent divine is in fact to be a scholar.” On the true idea of a
Theological Seminary Course, See A. H. Strong, Philos. And Religion,
(e) A holy affection toward God. Only the renewed heart can properly feel
its need of divine revelation, or understand that revelation when given.

Psalm 25:14 — “The secret of Jehovah is with them that fear him”;

Romans 12:2 — “prove hat is the…will of God”; cf.

Psalm 36:1
— “the transgression of the wicked speaks in his heart like an oracle.” It
is the heart and not the brain that to the highest doth attain.” To “learn by
heart” is something more than to learn by mind, or by head. All
heterodoxy is preceded by heteropraxy. In Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress,
Faithful does not go through the Slough of Despond, as Christian did; and
it is by getting over the fence to find an easier road that Christian and
Hopeful get into Doubting Castle and the hands of Gianht Despair. “Great
thoughts come from the heart,” said Vauvenargues. The preacher cannot,
like Dr. Kane, kindle fire with a lens of ice. Aristotle: “The power of
attaining moral truth is dependent upon our acting rightly.” Pascal: “We
know truth, not only by the reason, but by the heart…The heart has its
reasons, which the reason knows nothing of.” Hobbes: “Even the axioms
of geometry would be disputed, if men’s passions were concerned in
them.” Macaulay: “The law of gravitation would still be controverted, if it
interfered with vested interests.” Nordau, Degeneracy: “Philosophic
systems simply furnish the excuses reason demands for the unconscious
impulses of the race during a given period of time.”
Lord Bacon: “A Tortoise on the right path will beat a racer on the wrong
path.” Goethe: “As are the inclinations, so also are the opinions…A work
of art can be comprehended by the head only with the assistance of the
heart…Only law can give us liberty.” Gichte: “Our system of thought is
very often only the history of our heart…Truth is descended from
conscience…Men do not will according to their reason, but they reason
according to their will.” Neander’s motto was: “Pectus est quod
theologum facit” — “It is the heart that makes the theologian.” John
Stirling: “That is a dreadful eye which can be divided from a living human
heavenly heart and still retain its all penetrating vision, such was the eye.93
of the Gorgons.” But such an eye, we add, is not all penetrating. E. G.
Robinson: “Never study theology in cold blood.” W. C. Wilkinson: “The
head is a magnetic needle with truth for its pole. But the heart is a hidden
mass of magnetic iron. The head is drawn somewhat toward its natural
pole, the truth; but more it is drawn by that nearer magnetism.” See an
affecting instance of Thomas Carlyle’s enlightenment, after the death of
his wife, as to the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer, in Fisher, Nat. and Meth.
Of Revelation, 165. On the importance of feeling, in association of ideas,
see Dewey,. Psychology, 106, 107.
(f) The enlightening influence of the Holy Spirit. As only the Spirit
fathoms the things of God, so only he can illuminate our minds to
apprehend them.

1 Corinthians 2:11,12 — “The things of God none knoweth, save the
Spirit of God. But we received…the Spirit which is from God, that we
might know.” Cicero, Nat. Deorum, 66 — “Nemo igitur vir magnus sine
aliquo adflatu divino unquam fuit.” Professor Beck of Tubingen: “For the
student, there is no privileged path leading to the truth; the only one which
leads to it is also that of the unlearned; it is that of regeneration and of
gradual illumination by the Holy Spirit; and without the Holy Spirit,
theology is not only a cold stone, it is a deadly poison.” As all the truths
of the differential and integral calculus are wrapped up in the simplest
mathematical aciom, so all theology is wrapped up in the declaration that
God is holiness and love, or in the protegangeluim uttered at the gates of
Eden. But dull minds cannot of themselves evolve the calculus from the
axiom, no can sinful hearts evolve theology from the first prophecy.
Teachers are needed to demonstrate geometrical theorems, and the Holy
Spirit is needed to show us that the “new commandment” illustrated by
the death of Christ is only an “old commandment which ye had from the
beginning” (

1 John 2:7). The Principia of Newton is a revelation of
Christ, and so are the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit enables us to enter into
the meaning of Christ’s revelations in both Scripture and nature; to
interpret the one by the other; and so to work out original demonstrations
and applications of the truth;

Matthew 13:52 — “Therefore every
scribe who hath been made a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like
unto a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure
things new and old.” See Adolph Monod’s sermons on Christ’s
Temptation, addressed to the theological students of Montauban, in Select
Sermons from the French and German, 117-179..94
Theology is commonly divided into Biblical, Historical, Systematic and
1. Biblical theology aims to arrange and classify the facts of revelation,
confining itself to the Scriptures for its material, and treating of doctrine
only so far as it was developed at the close of the apostolic age.
Instance DeWette,Biblische Theologie; Hofmann, Schriftbeweis; Nitzsch,
System of Christian Doctrine. The last, however, has more of the
philosophical element that properly belongs to Biblical Theology. The
third volume of Ritschl’s Justification and Reconciliation is intended as a
system of Biblical theology, the first and second volumes being little more
than an historical introduction. But metaphysics, of a Kantian relativity
and phenomenalism, enter so largely into Ritschl’s estimates and
interpretations, as to render his conclusions both partial and rationalistic.
Notice a questionable use of the term Biblical Theology to designate the
theology of a part of Scripture severed from the rest, as Steudel’s Biblical
theology of the Old Testament; Schmidt’s Biblical Theology of the New
Testament; and in the common phrases; Biblical Theology of Christ, or of
Paul. These phrases are objectionable as intimating that the books of
Scripture have only a human origin. Upon the assumption that there is no
common divine authorship of Scripture, Biblical theology is conceived of
as a series of fragments, corresponding to the differing teachings of the
various prophets and apostles, and the theology of Paul is held to be an
unwarranted and incongruous addition to the theology of Jesus. Se Reuss,
history of Christian Theology in the Apostolic Age.
2. Historical Theology traces the development of the Biblical doctrines
from the time of the apostles to the present day, and gives account of the
results of this development in the life of the church.
By doctrinal development we mean the progressive unfolding and
apprehension, by the church, of the truth explicitly or implicitly contained
in Scripture. As giving account of the shaping of the Christian faith into
doctrinal statements. Historical Theology is called the History of
Doctrine. As describing the resulting and accompanying changes in the
life of the church, outward and inward, Historical Theology is called
Church History. Instance Cunningham’s Historical Theology;
Hagenbach’s and Shedd’s History of Christian Doctrine has been called
“The History of Dr. Shedd’s Christian Doctrine.” But if Dr. Shedd’s
Augustinianism colors his History, Dr. Sheldon’s Arminianism also colors.95
his. G. P. Fisher’s History oif Christian Doctrine is unusually lucid and
impartial. See Neander’s Introduction and Shedd’s Philosophy of History.
3. Systematic Theology takes the material furnished by Biblical and by
Historical Theology, and with this material seeks to build up into an
organic and consistent whole all our knowledge of God and of the relations
as between God and the universe, whether this knowledge be originally
derived from nature or from the Scriptures.
Systematic Theology is therefore theology proper, of which Biblical and
Historical Theology are the incomplete and preparatory stages.
Systematic Theology is to be clearly distinguished from Dogmatic
Theology/ Dogmatic theology is, in strict usage, the systematizing of the
doctrines expressed in the symbols of the church, together with the
grounding of these in the Scriptures, and the exhibition, so far as may be,
of their rational necessity. Systematic Theology begins, on the other hand,
not with the symbols, but with the Scriptures. It asks first, not what the
church has believed, but what is the truth of God’s revealed word. It
examines that word with all the aids which nature and the Spirit have
given it, using Biblical and Historical Theology as its servants and
helpers, but not as its masters. Notice here the technical use of the word
“symbol,” from sumba>llw = a brief throwing together, or condensed
statement of the essentials of Christian doctrine. Synonyms are:
Confession, creed, consensus, declaration, formulary, canons, articles of
Dogmatism argues to foregone conclusions. The word is not, however,
derived from “dog,” as Douglas Jerrold facetiously suggested, when he
said that “dogmatism is puppyism full grown,” but from doke>w, to think,
to opine. Dogmatic Theology has two principles: (1) The absolute
authority of creeds, as decisions of the church: (2) The application to
these creeds of formal logic, for the purpose of demonstrating their truth
to the understanding. In the Roman Catholic Church, not the Scripture but
the church, and the dogma given by it, is the decisive authority. The
Protestant principle, on the contrary, is that Scripture decides, and that
dogma is to be judged by it. Following Schleiermacher, Al. Schweizer
thinks that the term “Dogmatik” should be discarded as essentially
unprotestant, and that “Glaubenslehre” should take its place; and
Harnack, Hist. Dogma 6, remarks that “Dogma has ever in the progress
of history, devoured its own progenitors.” While it is true that every new
and advanced thinker in theology has been counted a heretic, there has
always been a common faith “the faith which my heavenly Father planted
not, shall be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides” = there is.96
truth planted by God, and it has permanent divine life. Human errors have
no permanent vitality and they perish of themselves. See Karftan,
Dogmatik 2, 3.
4. Practical Theology is the system of truth considered as a means of
renewing and sanctifying men, or, in other words, theology in its
publication and enforcement.
To this department of theology belong Homiletics and Pastoral Theology,
since these are but scientific presentations of the right methods of
unfolding Christian truth, and of bringing it to bear upon men individually
and in the church. See Van Oosterzee, Practical Theology; T. Harwood
Pattison, The Making of the Sermon, and Public Prayer; Yale Lectures on
Preaching by H. W. Beecher, R. W. Dale, Phillips Brooks, E. G.
Robinson, A. J. P. Behrends, John Watson, and others; and the work on
Pastoral Theology, by Harvey.
It is sometimes asserted that there are other departments of theology not
Included In those above mentioned. But most of these, if not all, belong to
other spheres of research, and cannot properly be classed under theology
at all. Moral Theology, so called, or the science of Christian morals,
ethics, or theological ethics, is Indeed the proper result of theology, but is
not to be confounded with it. Speculative theology, so called, respecting,
as it does, such truth as is mere matter of opinion, is either extra-scriptural,
and so belongs to the province of the philosophy of religion, or
is an attempt to explain truth already revealed, and so falls within the
province of Systematic Theology. “Speculative theology starts from
certain a priori principles, and from them undertakes to determine what is
and must be. It deduces its scheme of doctrine from the laws of mind or
from axioms supposed to be inwrought into its constitution.” Bibliotheca
Sacra, 3852:376 — “Speculative theology tries to show that the dogmas
agree with the laws of thought, while the philosophy of religion tries to
show that the laws of thought agree with the dogmas.” Theological
Encyclopædia (the word signifies “instruction in a circle “) is a general
introduction to all the divisions of Theology, together with an account of
the relations between them. Hegel’s Encyclopædia was an attempted
exhibition of the principles and connections of all the sciences. See
Crooks and Hurst, Theological Encyclopædia and Methodology; Zockler,
Handb. der theol. Wissenschaften, 2:606-790.
The relations of theology to science and philosophy have been variously
stated, but by none better than by H. B. Smith, Faith and Philosophy, 38
— “Philosophy is a mode of human knowledge — not the whole of that.97
knowledge, but a mode of it — the knowing of things rationally.” Science
asks; “What do I know?” Philosophy asks; “What can I know ?” William
James, Psychology, 1:145 — “Metaphysics means nothing but an
unusually obstinate effort to think clearly.” Aristotle: “The particular
sciences are toiling workmen, while philosophy is the architect. The
workmen are slaves, existing for the free master. So philosophy rules the
sciences.” With regard to philosophy and science Lord Bacon remarks:
“Those who have handled knowledge have been too much either men of
mere observation or abstract reasoners. ‘The former are like the ant: they
only collect material and put it to immediate use. The abstract reasoners
are like spiders, who make cobwebs out of their own substance. But the
bee takes a middle course: it gathers its material from the flowers of the
garden and the field, while it transforms and digests what it gathers by a
power of its own. Not unlike this is the work of the philosopher” Novalis:
“Philosophy can bake no bread; but it can give us God, freedom and
immortality.” Prof. DeWitt of Princeton; “Science, philosophy, and
theology are the three great modes of organizing the universe into an
intellectual system. Science never goes below second causes; if it does, if
it does it is no longer science, — it becomes philosophy. Philosophy views
the universe as a unity, and the goal it is always seeking to reach is the
source and center of this unity — the Absolute, the First Cause. This goal
of philosophy is the point of departure for theology. What philosophy is
striving to find, theology asserts has been found. Theology therefore starts
with the Absolute, the First Cause.” W. N. Clarke, Christian Theology,
48 — “Science examines and classifies facts; philosophy inquires
concerning spiritual meanings. Science seeks to know the universe;
philosophy to understand it.”
Balfour, Foundations of Belief, 7 — “Natural science has for its subject
matter things and events. Philosophy is the systematic exhibition of the
grounds of our knowledge. Metaphysics is our knowledge respecting
realities which are not phenomenal, e. g., God and the soul.” Knight,
Wssays in Philosophy, 81 — “The aim of the sciences is increase of
knowledge, by tthe discovery of laws within which all phenomena may be
embraced and by means of which they may be explained. The aim of
transcending them. Its sphere is substance and essence.” Bowne, Theory
of Thought and Knowledge, 3-5 — “Philosophy = doctrine of knowledge
(is mind passive or active in knowing? — Epistemology) + doctrine of
being (is fundamental being mechanical and unintelligent, or purposive
and intelligent? — Metaphysics). The systems of Locke, Hume, and Kant
are preeminently theories of knowing; the systems of Spinoza and Leibnitz
are preeminently theories of being. Historically theories of being come.98
first, because the object is the only determinant for reflective thought. But
the instrument of philosophy is thought itself. First then, we must study
Logic o, or the theory of thought; secondly, Epistemology, or the theory of
knowledge; thirdly, Metaphysics, or the theory of being.”
Professor George M. Forbes on the New Psycology: “Locke and Kant
represent the two tendencies in philosophy — the emperical, physical,
scientific, on the cone hand, and the rational, metaphysical, logical on the
other. Locke furnishes the basis for the associational schemes of Hartley,
the Mills, and Bain; Kant for the idealistic scheme of Fichte, Schelling,
and Hegel. The two are not contradictory, but complementary, and the
Scotch Reid and Hamilton combine them both, reacting against the
extreme empiricism and skepticism of Hume. Hickok, Porter, and
McCosh represented the Scotch school in America. It was exclusively an;
analytical its psychology was the faculty-psychology; it represented the
mind as a bundle of faculties. The unitary philosophy of T. H. Green,
Edward Caird, in Great Britain, and in America, of W. T. Harris, George
S. Morris, and John Dewey, was a reaction against this faculty-psychology,
under the influence of Hegel. A second reaction under the
influence of the Herbartian doctrine of apperception substituted function
for faculty, making all the processes phases of apperception. G. F. Stout
and J. Mark Baldwin represent this psychology. A third reaction comes
from the influence of physical science. All attempts to unify are relegated
to a metaphysical Hades. There is nothing but states and processes. The
only unity is the laws of their coexistence and succession. There is nothing
a priori. Wundt identifies apperception with will, and regards it as the
unitary principle. Kulpe and Titchener find no self, or will, or soul, but
treat these as inferences little warranted. Their psychology is psychology
without a soul. The old psychology was exclusively static, while the new
emphasizes the genetic point of view. Growth and development are the
leading ideas of Herbert Spencer, Preyer, Tracy and Stanley Hall.
William James is explanatory, while Gorge T. Ladd is descriptive. Cattell,
Scripture, and Musterberg apply the methods of Fechner, and the
Psychological Review is their organ. Their error is in their negative
attitude. The old psychology is needed to supplement the new. It has
greater scope and more practical significance.” On the relation of theology
to philosophy and to science, see Luthardt, Compend. Der Dogmatik,4;
Hagenbach, Encyclodædie, 109..99
1. In the Eastern Church, Systematic theology may be said to have had its
beginning and end in John of Damascus (700-760).
Ignatius (115 — Ad Trall., c. 9) gives us “the first distinct
statement of the faith drawn up in a series of propositions. This
sytematizing formed the basis of all later efforts” (Prof. A. H.
Newman). Origen of Alexandria (186-254) wrote his Perigov kathchtikogav. Hatch, Hibbert Lectures, 323,
regards the “De Principiis” of Origen as the “first complete system
of dogma,” and speaks of Origen as “the disciple of Clement of
Alexandria, the first great teacher of philosophical Christianity.”
But while the Fathers just mentioned seem to have conceived the
plan of expounding the doctrines in order and of showing their
relation to one another, it was John of Damascus (700-760) who
first actually carried out such a plan, His Ekdosiv ajkribhxou Pi>stewv, or summary of the Orthodox Faith, may be
considered the earliest work of Systematic Theology. Neander call
it “the most important doctrinal textbook of the Greek Church.”
John, like the Greek Church in general, was speculative,
theological, semi-pelagian, sacramentarian. The Apostles’ Creed, so
called, is, in its present form, not earlier than the fifth century; see
Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, 1:19. Mr. Gladstone suggested that
the Apostles’ Creed was a development of the baptismal formula.
McGiffert, Apostles’ Creed, assigns to the meager original form a
date of the third quarter of the second century, and regards the
Roman origin of the symbol as proved. It was framed as a
baptismal formula, but specifically in opposition to the teachings of
Marcion, which were at that time causing much trouble at Rome.
Harnack however dates the original Apostles’ Creed at 150, and
Zahn places it at 120. See also J. C. Long, in Bap. Quar. Rev.,
2. In the Western Church, we may (with Hagenbach) distinguish three
(a) The period of Scholasticism, — introduced by Peter Lombard (1100-
1600), and reaching its culmination in Thomas Aquinas (1221-1274) and
Duns Scotus (1265-1308).
Though Systematic Theology had its beginning in the Eastern Church, its
development has been confined almost wholly to the Western. Augustine
(353-430) wrote his “Encheiridion ad Laurentium” and his “De
CivtateDei,” and John Scotus Erigena (850), Roscelin (1092-1122), and
Abelard (1079-1142), in their attempts at the rational explanation of the
Christian doctrine foreshadowed the works of the great scholastic
teachers. Anselm of Canterbury (1034-1109), with his “Proslogion de Dei
Existentia” and his “Cur Deus Homo,” has sometimes, but wrongly, been
called the founder of Scholasticism. Allen, in his Continuity of Christian
Thought, represents the transcendence of God as the controlling principle
of the augustinian and of the Western theology. The Eastern Church, he
maintains, had founded its theology on God’s immanence. Paine, in his
Evolution of Trinitarianism, shows that this erroneous. Augustine was a
theistic monist. He declares that “dei voluntas rerumnatura est,” and
regards God’s upholding as a continuous creation. Western theology
recognized the immanence of God as well as his transcendence.
Peter Lombard, however, (1100-1160), the “magister sententiaurm,” was
the first great systematizer of the Western Church, and his “Libri
Sententiaurm Quatuor” was the theological textbook of the Middle Ages.
Teachers lectured on the “Sentences” (Sententi a = sentence, Satz, locus,
point, article of faith), as they did on the books of Aristotle, who furnished
to Scholasticism its impulse and guide. Every doctrine was treated in the
order of Aristotle’s four causes: the material, the formal, the efficient, the
final. (“Cause” here = requisite:
(1) matter of which a thing consists, e.g., bricks and motar;
(2) form it assumes, e.g., plan or design;
(3) producing agent, e g., builder;
(4) end for which mad, e.g., house.)
The organization of physical as well as of theological science was due to
Aristofle. Danste called him “the master of those who know.” James Ten
Broeke, Bap. Quar. Rev., Jan. 1892; 1-26 — “The Revival of Learning
showed the world that the real Aristotle was much broader than the
Scholastic Aristotle — information very unwelcome to the Roman
Church.” For the influence of Scholasticism, compare the literary methods
of Augustine and of Calvin, — the former giving us his materials in
disorder, like soldiers bivouacked for the night; the latter arranging them.101
like these same soldiers drawn up in battle array; see A. H. Strong,
Philosopisy and Religion, 4, and Christ in Creation, 188. 189.
Candhish, art.: Dogmatic, in Encycl. Brit., 7:540 — “By and by a mighty
intellectual force took held of the whole collected dogmatic material, and
reared out of it the great scholastic systems, which have been compared to
the grand Gothic cathedrals that wore the work of the same ages.”
Thomas Aquinas 1221-1274), the Dominican, “doctor angelicus,”
Augustinian and Realist, — and Duns Scotus (1265-1308), the
Franciscan, “doctor subtilis,” — wrought out the scholastic theology
more fully, and left behind them, in their Summa, gigantic monuments of
intellectual industry and acumen. Scholasticism aimed at the proof and
systematizing of the doctrines of the Church by means of Aristotle’s
philosophy. It became at last an illimitable morass of useless subtleties
and abstractions, and it finally ended in the nominalistic skepticism of
William of Occam (1270-1347). See Townsend, The Great Schoolmen of
the Middle Ages.
(b) The period of Symbolism, — represented by the Lutheran theology of
Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560), and the Reformed theology of John
Calvin (1509-1564); the former connecting itself with the Analytic
theology of Calixtus (1585-1656), and the latter with the Federal theology
of Cocceius (1603-1669).
The Lutheran Theology. — Preachers precede theologians, and Luther
(1485-1546) was preacher rather than theologian. But Melanchthon
(1497-1560), “the preceptor of Germany,” as he was called, embodied the
theology of the Lutheran church in his “Loci Communes” = points of
doctrine common to believers (first edition Augustinian, afterwards
substantially Arminian; grew out of lectures on the Epistle to the
Romans). He was followed by Chemnitz (1522-1586), “clear and
accurate,” the most learned of the disciples of Melanchthon. Leonhard
Hutter (1563-1616), called “Lutherus redivivus,” and John Gerhard
(1582-1637) followed Luther rather than Melanchthson. “Fifty years after
the death of Melanchthon, Leonhard Hutter, his successor in the chair of
theology at Wittenberg, on an occasion when the authority of
Melanchthon was appealed to, tore down from the wall the portrait of the
great Reformer, and trampled it under foot in the presence of the
assemblage” (E. D. Morris, paper at the 60th Anniversary of Lane
Seminary).. George Calixtus (1586-1656) followed Melanchthon rather
than Luther. He taught a theology which recognized the good element in
both the Reformed and the Romanist doctrine and which was called
“Syncretism.” He separated Ethics freno Systematic ‘Theology, and.102
applied the analytical method of investigation to the latter, beginning with
the end, or final cause, of all things, viz.: blessedness. he was followed in
his analytic method by Dannhauer (1603-1666), who treated theology
allegorically, Calovius (1612-1686), “the most uncompromising defender
of Lutheran orthodoxy and the most drastic polemicist against Calixtus,”
Quenstedt (1617-1688), whom Hovey calls “learned, comprehensive and
logical,” and Hollaz (1730). The Lutheran theology aimed to purify the
existing church, maintaining that what is not against the gospel is for it. It
emphasized the material principle of the Reformation, justification by
faith; but it retained many Romanist customs not expressly forbidden in
Scripture. Kaftan, Am. Jour. Theol., 1900:716 — “Because the medieval
school philosophy mainly held sway, the Protestant theology representing
the new faith was meanwhile necessarily accommodated to forms of
knowledge thereby conditioned, that is, to forms essentially Catholic.”
The Reformed Theology. — The word “Reformed” is here used in its
technical sense, as designating that phase of the new theology which
originated in Switzerland. Zwingle, the Swiss reformer (1484-1531),
differing from Luther as to the Lord’s Supper and as to Scripture, was
more than Luther entitled to the name of systematic theologian. Certain
writings of his may be considered the beginning of Reformed theology.
But, it was left to John Calvin (1109-1564), after the death of Zwingle, to
arrange the principles of that theology in systematic form. Calvin dug
channels for Zwingle’s flood be flow in, as Melanchthon did for Luther’s.
His Institutes (“Institutio Religionis Christianæ”), is one of the great
works in theology (superior as a systematic work to Melanchthon’s
“Loci”). Calvin was followed by Peter Martyr (1500-1562), Chamier
(1565-1621), and Theodore Beza (1519-1605). Beza carried Calvin’s
doctrine of predestination to an extreme supralapsarianism, which is
hyper-Calvanistic rather that Calvinistic. Cocceius (1603-1669), and after
him Witsius (1626-1708), made theology center about the idea of the
covenants, and founded the Federal theology. Leydecker (1642-1721)
treated theology in the order of the persons of the trinity. Amyraldus
(1596-1664) and Placeus of Saumur (1596-1632) modified the
Calvanistic doctrine, the latter by his theory of mediate imputation, and
the former by advocating the hypothetic universalism of divine grace.
Turretin (1671-1737), a clear and strong theologian whose work is still a
textbook at Princeton, and Pictet (1655-1725), both of them Federalists,
showed the influence of the Cartesian philosophy. The Reformed theology
aimed to build a new church, affirming that what is not derived from the
Bible is against it. It emphasized the formal principle of the Reformation,
the sole authority of Scripture..103
In general, while the line between Catholic and Protestant in Europe runs
from west to east, the line between Lutheran and Reformed runs from
south to north, the Reformed theology flowing with the current of the
Rhine northward from Switzerland to Holland and to England, in which
latter country the Thirty-nine Articles represent the Reformed faith, while
the Prayerbook of the English Church is substantially Arminian; see
Dorner, Gesch, prot. Theologie, Einleit., 9. On the difference between
Lutheran and Reformed doctrine, see Schaff, Germany, its Universities,
Theology and Religion, 167-177. On the Reformed Churches of Europe
and America, see H. B. Smith, Faith and Philosophy, 87-124.
(c) The period of Criticism and Speculation, — in its three divisions: the
Rationalistic, represented by Semler (1725-1791); the Transitional, by
Schleiermacher (1768-1834); the Evangelical, by Nitzsch, Muller, Tholuck
and Dorner.
First Division. Rationalistic theologies: Though the Reformation had
freed theology in great part from the bonds of scholasticism, other
philosophies after a time took its place. The Leibnitz — (1646-1754)
Wolffian (1679-1754) exaggeration of the powers of natural religion
prepared the way for rationalistic systems of theology. Buddeus (1667-
1729) combated the new principles, but Semler’s (1725-1791) theology
was built upon them, and represented the Scriptures as having a merely
local and temporary character. Michaelis (1716-1784) and Deoderlein
(1714-1789) followed Semler, and the tendency toward rationalism was
greatly assisted by the critical philosophy of Kant (1724-1804), to whom
“revelation” was problematical, and positive religion merely the medium
through which the practical truths of reason are communicated”
(Hagenbach, Hist. Doct., 2:397). Ammon (1766-1850) and Wegscheider
(1771-1848) were the representatives of the philosophy, Daub,
Marheinecke and Strauss (1808-1874) were the Hegelian dogmatists. The
system of Strauss resembled “Christian theology as a cemetery resembles
a town.” Storr (1746-1805), Reinhard (1753-1812), and Knapp (1753-
1825), in the main evangelical, endeavored to reconcile revelation with
reason, but were more or less influenced by this rationalizing spirit.
Bretschneider (1776-1828) and De Wette (1780-1819) may be said to
have held middle ground.
Second Division. Transition to a more Scriptural theology. Herder (1744-
1803) and Jacobi (1743-1819), by their more spiritual philosophy,
prepared the way for Schleiermacher’s (1768-1834) grounding of doctrine
in the facts of Christina experience. The writings of Schleiermacher.104
constituted an epoch, and had great influence in delivering Germany from
the rationalistic toils into which it had fallen. We may now speak of a
Third division — and in this division we may put the names of Neander
and Tholuck, Twesten and Nitzsch, Muller and Luthhardt, Dorner and
Phillippi, Ebrard and Thomasius, Lange and Kahnis, all of them exponets
of a far more pure and evangelical theology than was common in
Germany a century ago. Two new forms of rationalism, however, have
appeared in Germany, the one based upon the philosophy of Hegel, and
numbering among its adherents Strauss and Baur, Biedermann, Lipsius
and Pfleiderer; the other based upon the philosophy of Kant, and
advocated by Ritschl and his followers, Harnack, Hermann and Kaftan;
the former emphasizing the ideal Christ, the latter emphasizing the
historical Christ; but neither of the two fully recognizing the living Christ
present in every believer (see Johnson’s Cyclopædia, art., Theology, By
A. H. Strong).
3. Among theologians of views diverse from the prevailing Protestant faith,
may be mentioned:
(a) Bellarmine (1542-1621), the Roman Catholic.
Besides Bellarmine, “the best controversial writer of his age” (Bayle), the
Roman Catholic Church numbers among its noted modern theologians; —
Petavius (1583-1682). whose dogmatic theology Gibbon calls “a work of
incredible labor and compass”. Melchior Canus (1523-1560), an
opponent of the Jesuits and their scholastic method; Bossuet (1627-1704),
who idealized Catholicism in his Exposition of Doctrine, and attacked
Protestantism in his History of Variations of Protestant Churches; Jansen
(1585-1638), who attempted, in opposition to the Jesuits, to reproduce the
theology of Augustine, and who had in this the powerful assistance of
Pascal (1623-1662). Jansenism, so far as the doctrines of grace are
concerned, but not as respects the sacraments is virtual Protestantism
within the Roman Catholic Church. Moehler’s Symbolism, Perrone’s
“Prelectiones Theologiæ,” and Hurter’s “Compendium Theologiæ
Dogmaticæ” are the latest and most approved expositions of Roman
Catholic doctrine.
(b) Arminius (1560-1609), the opponent of predestination.
Among the followers of Arminius (1560-1609) must be reckoned
Episcopius (l583-1643), who carried Arminianism to almost Pelagian
extremes; Hugo Grotius (1513-1645), the jurist and statesman, author of.105
the governmental theory of the atonement; and Limborch (1633-1712), the
most thorough expositor of the Arminian doctrine.
(c) Laelius Socinus (1525-1562), and Faustus Socinus (1539-1604), the
leaders of the modern Unitarian movement.
The works of Laelius Socinus (1525-1562) and his nephew, Faustus
Socinus (1539-1604) constituted the beginnings of modernUnitarianism..
Laelius Socinus was the preacher and reformer, as Faustus Socinus was
the theologian; or, as Baumgarten Crusius expresses it: “the former was
the spiritual founder of Socinianism, and the latter the founder of the
sect.” Their writings are collected in the Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum.
The Racovian Catechism, taking its name from the Polish town Racow,
contains the most succinct exposition of their views. In 1660, the
Unitarian church of the Socini in Poland was destroyed by persecution,
but its Hungarian offshoot has still more than a hundred congregations.
4. British Theology, represented by:
(a) The Baptists, John Bunyan (1628-1688), John Gill (1697-1771), and
Andrew Fuller (1754-1815).
Some of the best British theology is Baptist. Among John Bunyan’s works
we may mention his “Gospel Truths Opened” though his “Pilgrim’s
Progress” and “Holy War” are theological treatises in allegorical form.
Macaulay calls Milton and Bunyan the two great creative minds of
England during the latter part of the 17th century. John Gill’s “Body of
Practical Divinity” shows much ability, although the Rabbinical learning
of the author occasionally displays itself ins a curious exegesis, as when
on the word “Abba” he remarks; “You see that this word which means
‘Father’ reads the same whether we read forward or backward; which
suggests that God is the same whichever way we look at him.” Andrew
Fuller’s “Letters on Systematic Divinity” is a brief compendia of
theology. His treatises upon special doctrines are marked by sound
judgment and clear insight. They were the most influential factor in
rescuing the evangelical churches of England from antinomianism. They
justify the epithets which Robert Hall, one of the greatest of Baptist
preachers, gives him: “sagacious,” “luminous,” “powerful.”
(b) The Puritans, John Owen (1616-1683), Richard Baxter (1615-1691),
John Howe (1530-1705), and Thomas Ridgeley (1666-1734).
Owen was the most rigid, as Baxter was the most liberal, of the Puritans.
The Encyclopædia Britannica remarks; “As a theological thinker and.106
writer, John Owen holds his own distinctly defined place among those
titanic intellects with which the age abounded. Surpassed by Baxter in
point and pathos, by Howe in imagination and the higher philosophy, he is
unrivaled in his power of unfolding the rich meanings of Scripture. In his
writings he was preeminently the great theologian.” Baxter wrote a
“Methodus Theologiæ,” and a “Catholic Theology”; John Howe is chiefly
known by his “Living Temple”; Thomas Ridgeley by his “Body of
Divinity.” Charles H. Spurgeon never ceased to urge his students to
become familiar with the Puritan Adams, Ambrose, Bowden, Manton and
(c) The Scotch Presbyterians, Thomas Boston (1676-1732), John Dick
(1764-1833), and Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847).
Of the Scotch Presbyterians, Boston is the most voluminous, Dick the
most calm and fair, Chalmers the most fervid and popular.
(d) The Methodists, John Wesley (1703-1791), and Richard Watson
Of the Methodists, John Wesley’s doctrine is presented in “Christian
Theology.” collected from his writings by the Rev. Thornley Smith. The
great Methodist textbook, however, is the “Institutes” of Watson, who
systematized and expounded the Wesleyan theology. Pope, a recent
English theologian, follows Watson’s modified and improved
Arminianism, while Whedon and Raymond, recent American writers, hold
rather to a radical and extreme Arminianism.
(e) The Quakers, George Fox (1624-1691), and Robert Barclay (1648-
As Jesus, the preacher and reformer, preceded Paul the theologian; as
Luther preceded Melanchthon; as Zwingle preceded Calvin; as Laelius
Socinus preceded Faustus Socinus; as Wesley preceded Watson; so Fox
preceded Barclay. Barclay wrote an “Apology for the true Christian
Divinity,” which Dr. E. G. Robinson described as “not a formal treatise of
Systematic Theology, but the ablest exposition of the views of the
Quakers.” George Fox was the reformer, William Penn the social founder,
Robert Barclay the theologian, of Quakerism.
(f) The English Churchmen, Richard Hooker (1553-1600), Gilbert Burnet
(1643-1715), and John Pearson (1613-1686)..107
The English church has produced no great systematic theologian (see
reasons assigned in Dorner, Gesch. prof. Theologie,. 470). The “judicious
“Hooker is still its greatest theological writer, although his work is only
on “Ecclesiastical Polity.” Bishop Burnet is the author of the “Exposition
of the XXXIX Articles,” and Bishop Pearson of the “Exposition of the
Creed.” Both these are common English textbooks. A recent
“Compendium of Dogmatic Theology,” by Litton, shows a tendency to
return from the usual Arminianism of the Anglican church to the old
Augustinianism; so also Bishop Moule’s “Outlines of Christian
Doctrine,” and Mason’s “Faith of the Gospel.”
5. American theology, running in two lines:
(a) The Reformed system of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), modified.
successively by Joseph Bellamy (1719-1790), Samuel Hopkins (1721-
1803), Timothy Dwight (1752-1817), Nathanael Emmons (1745-1840),
Leonard Woods (1774-1854), Charles G. Finney (1792-1875), Nathaniel
W. Taylor (1786-1858), and Horace Bushnell (1802-1876). Calvinism, as
thus modified, is often called the New England, or New School, theology.
Jonathan Edwards, one of the greatest of metaphysicians and theologians,
was an Idealist who held that God is the only real cause, either in the
realm of matter or in the realm of mind. He regarded the chief good as
happiness — a form of sensibility. Virtue was voluntary choice of this
good. Hence union with Adam in acts and exercises was sufficient. This
God’s will made identity of being with Adam. This led to the exercise
system of Hopkins and Emmons, on the one hand, and to Bellamy’s and
Dwight’s denial of any imputation of Adam’s sin or of inborn depravity,
on the other — in which last denial agree many other New England
theologians who reject the exercise scheme, as for example, Strong, Tyler,
Smalley, Burton, Woods, and Park. Dr. N. W. Taylor added a more
distinctly Arminian element, the power of contrary choice — and with this
tenet of the New Haven theology, Charles G. Finney, of Oberlin,
substantially agreed. Horace Bushnell held to a practically Sabellian view
of the Trinity, and to a moral influence theory of the atonement. Thus
from certain principles admitted by Edwards, who held in the main to an
Old School theology, the New School theology has been gradually
Robert Hall called Edwards “the greatest of the sons of men.” Dr.
Chalmers regarded him as the “greatest of theologians.” Dr. Fairbairn
says: “He is not only the greatest of all the thinkers that America has
produced, but also the highest speculative genius of the eighteenth.108
century. In a far higher degree than Spinoza, he was a ‘God-intoxicated
man.’” His fundamental notion that there is no causality except the divine
was made the basis of a theory of necessity which played into the hands of
the deists when he opposed and was alien not only to Christianity but even
to theism. Edwards could not have gotten his idealism from Berkeley; it
may have been suggested to him by the writings of Locke or Newton,
Cudworth or Descartes, John Norris or Arthur Collier. See Prof. H. N.
Gardiner, in Philos. Rev., Nov. 1900:573-596; Prof. E. C. Smyth, in Am.
Jour. Theol., Oct. 1897:916; Allen, Jonathan Edwards, 16, 308-310, and
in Atlantic Monthly, I)ec. 1891:767; Sanborn, in Jour. Spec. Philos., Oct.
1881:401-420; G. P.. Fisher, Edwards on the Trinity, 18, 19.
(b) The older Calvinism, represented by Charles Hodge the father (1797-
1878) and A. A. Hodge the son (1823-1886), together with Henry B.
Smith (1815-1877), Robert J. Breckinridge (1800-1871), Samuel J. Baird,
and William G. T. Shedd (1820-1894). All these, although with minor
differences, hold to views of human depravity and divine grace more nearly
conformed to the doctrine of Augustine and Calvin, and are for this reason
distinguished from the New England theologians and their followers by the
popular title of Old School.
Old School theology, in its view of predestination, exalts God; New
School theology, by emphasizing the freedom of the will, exalts man. It is
yet more important to note that Old School theology has for its
characteristic tenet the guilt of inborn depravity. Limit among those who
hold this view, some are federalists and creatianists, and justify God’s
condemnation of all men upon the ground that Adam represented his
posterity. Such are the Princeton theologians generally, including Charles
Hodge, A. A. Hodge, and the brothers Alexander. Among those who hold
to the Old School doctrine of the guilt of inborn depravity, however, there
are others who are traducians, and who explain the imputation of Adam’s
sin to his posterity upon the ground of the natural union between him and
them. Baird’s “Elohim Revealed” and Shedd’s essay on “Original Sin”
(Sin a Nature and that Nature Guilt) represent this realistic conception of
the relation of the race to its first father. R.. J. Beckinridge, R. L. Dabney,
and J. H. Thornwell assert the fact of inherent corruption and guilt, but
refuse to assign any rationale for it, though they tend to realism. H. B.
Smith holds guardedly to the theory of mediate imputation.
On the history of Systematic Theology in general, see Hagenbach, History
of Doctrine (from which many of the facts above given are taken), and
Shedd, History of Doctrine; also, Ebrard, Dogmatik, 1:44-100; Kahnis,.109
Dogmatik, 1:15-128; Hase, Hutterus Redivivus, 24-52. Gretillat,
Theologie Systematique, 3:24-120, has given an excellent history of
theology, brought down to the present time. On the history of New
England theology, see Fisher, Discussions and Essays, 285-354.
1. Various methods of arranging the topics of a theological system.
(a) The Analytical method of Calixtus begins with the assumed end of all
things, blessedness, and thence passes to the means by which it is secured.
(b) The Trinitarian method of Leydecker and Martensen regards Christian
doctrine as a manifestation successively of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
(c) The Federal method of Cocceius, Witsius, and Boston treats theology
under the two covenants.
(d) The Anthropological method of Chalmers and Rothe; the former
beginning with the Disease of Man and passing to the Remedy; the latter
dividing his Dogmatik into the Consciousness of Sin and the Consciousness
of Redemption.
(e) The Christological method of Hase, Thomasius and Andrew Fuller
treats of God, man, and sin, as presuppositions of the person and work of
Christ. Mention may also be made of
(f) The Historical method, followed by Ursinus, and adopted in Jonathan
Edwards’s History of Redemption; and
(g) The Allegorical method of Dannhauer, in which man is described as a
wanderer, life as a road, the Holy Spirit as a light, the church as a
candlestick, God as the end, and heaven as the home; so Bunyan’s Holy
War, and Howe’s Living Temple.
See Calixtus, Epitome Theologiæ; Leydecker, De (Economia trium
Personarum in Negotio Salutis humanæ; Martensen(1808-1884),
Christian Dogmatics; Cocceius, Summa Theologiæ, and Summa Doctrinæ
de Fúdere et Testamento Dei, in Works, vol. vi; Witsius, The Economy of
the Covenants; Boston, A Complete Body of Divinity (in Works, vol. 1
and 2), Questions in Divinity (vol. 6), Human Nature in its Fourfold State
(vol. 8); Chalmers, Institutes of Theology; Rothe (1799-1867). Dogmatik,
and Theologische Ethik; Hase (1800-1890), Evangelische Dogmatik;
Thomasius (1802-1875), Christi Person und Werk; Fuller, Gospel.110
Worthy of all Acceptation (in Works, 2:328-416, and Letters on
Systematic Divinity (1:684-711); Ursinus (1534-1583), Loci Theologici
(in Works, 1:426-909); Dannhauer (1603-1666) Hodosophia Christiana,
seu Theologia Positiva in Methodum redacta. Jonathan Edwards’s so
called History of Redemption was in reality a system of theology in
historical form. It “was to begin and end with eternity, all great events and
epochs in the being viewed ‘sub specie eternitatis.’ The three worlds —
heaven, earth and hell — were to be the scenes of this grand drama. It was
to include the topics of theology as living factors, each in its own place,”
and all forming a complete and harmonious whole; see Allen, Jonathan
Edwards, 379, 380.
2. The Synthetic Method, which we adopt in this compendium, is both the
most common and the most logical method of arranging the topics of
theology. This method proceeds from causes to effects, or, in the language
of Hagenbach (Hist. Doctrine, 2; 152), “starts from the highest principle,
God, and proceeds to man, Christ, redemption, and finally to the end of all
things.” In such a treatment of theology we may best arrange our topics in
the following order;
1st. The existence of God.
2d. The Scriptures a revelation from God.
3d. The nature, decrees and works of God.
4th. Man, in his original likeness to God and subsequent apostasy.
5th. Redemption, through the work of Christ and of the Holy Spirit.
6th. The nature and laws of the Christian church.
7th. The end of the present system of things.
valuable for reference
1. Confessions: Schaff, Creeds of Christendom.
2. Compendiums: H. B. Smith, System of Christian Theology; A. A.
Hodge, Outlines of Theology; E. H. Johnson, Outline of Systematic
Theology; Hovey, Manual of Theology and Ethics; W. N. Clarke, Outline.111
of Christian Theology; Hase, Hutterus Redivivus; Luthardt, Compendium
der Dogmatik; Kurtz, Religionslehre.
3. Extended Treatises: Dorner, System of Christian Doctrine; Shedd,
Dogmatic Theology; Calvin, Institutes; Charles Hodge, Systematic
Theology; Van Oosterzee, Christian Dogmatics; Baird, Elohim Revealed;
Luthardt, Fundamental, Saving, and Moral Truths; Phillippi,
Glaubenslehre; Thomasius, Christi Person und Werk.
4. Collected Works: Jonathan Edwards; Andrew Fuller.
5. Histories of Doctrine: Harnack; Hagenbach; Shedd; Fisher; Sheldon;
Orr, Progress of Dogma.
6. Monographs: Julius Muller, Doctrine of Sin; Shedd, Discourses and
Essays; Liddon, Our Lord’s Divinity; Dorner, History of the Doctrine of
the Person of Christ; Dale, Atonement; Strong, Christ in Creation; Upton,
Hibbert Lectures.
7. Theism: Martineau, Study of Religion; Harris, Philosophical Basis of
Theism; Strong, Philosophy and Religion; Bruce, Apologetics; Drummond,
Ascent of Man; Griffith-Jones, Ascent through Christ.
8. Christian Evidences: Butler, Analogy of Natural and Revealed Religion;
Fisher, Grounds of Theistic and Christian Belief; Row, Bampton Lectures
for 1877; Peabody, Evidences of Christianity; Mair, Christian Evidences;
Fairbairn, Philosophy of the Christian Religion; Matheson, Spiritual
Development of St. Paul.
9. Intellectual Philosophy: Stout, Handbook of Psychology; Bowne,
Metaphysics; Porter, Human Intellect; Hill, Elements of Psychology;
Dewey, Psychology.
10. Moral Philosophy: Robinson, Principles and Practice of Morality;
Smyth, Christian Ethics; Porter, Elements of Moral Science; Calderwood,
Moral Philosophy; Alexander, Moral Science; Robins, Ethics of the
Christian Life.
11. General Science: Todd, Astronomy; Wentworth and Hill, Physics;
Remsen, Chemistry; Brigham, Geology; Parker, Biology; Martin,
Physiology; Ward, Fairbanks, or West, Sociology; Walker, Political
12. Theological Encyclopcædias: Schaff-Herzog (English); McClintock
and Strong; Herzog (Second German Edition).
13. Bible Dictionaries: Hastings; Davis; Cheyne; Smith (edited by
14. Commentaries: Meyer, on the New Testament; Philippi, Lange, Shedd,
Sanday, on the Epistle to the Romans; Godet, on John’s Gospel; Lightfoot,
on Philippians and Colossians; Expositor’s Bible, on the Old Testament
15. Bibles: American Revision (standard edition); Revised Greek —
English New Testament (published by Harper & Brothers); Annotated
Paragraph Bible (published by the London Religious Tract Society) Stier
and Theile, Polyglotten — Bibel.
An attempt has been made, in the list of textbooks given above, to put
first in each class the book best worth purchasing by the average
theological student, and to arrange the books that follow this first one in
the order of their value. German books, however when they are not yet
accessible in an English translation, are put last, simply because they are
less likely to be used as books of reference by the average student..113
God is the infinite and perfect Spirit in whom all things have their source,
support, and end.
On the definition of the term God, see Hodge, Systematic Theology,
1:366. Other definitions are those of Calovius: “Essentia spiritualis
infinita”; Ebrad: “The eternal, uncaused, independent, necessary Being,
that hath active power, life, wisdom, goodness, and whatever other
supposable excellency, in the highest perfection, in and of itself”;
Westminster Catechism: “A Spirit infinite, eternal and unchangeable in
his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth”; Andrew
Fuller: “The first cause and the last end of all things.”
The existence of God is a first truth; in other words, the knowledge of
God’s existence is a rational intuition. Logically, it precedes and conditions
all observation and reasoning. Chronologically, only reflection upon the
phenomena of nature and of mind occasions its rise in consciousness.
The term intuition means simply direct knowledge. Lowndes (Philos. Of
Primary Beliefs, 78) and Mansel (metaphysics, 52) would use the term
only of our direct knowledge of substances, as self and body; Porter
applies it by preference to our cognition of first truths, such as have been
already mentioned. Harris (Philos. Basis of Theism, 44-151, but esp. 45,
46) makes it include both. He divides intuitions into two classes:
1. Presentative intuitions, as self consciousness (in virtue of which I
perceive the existence of spirit and already come in contact with the
supernatural), and sense perception (in virtue of which I perceive the
existence of matter, at least in my own organism, and come in contact
with nature);.114
2. Rational intuitions, as space, time, substance cause, final cause, right,
absolute being. We may accept this nomenclature, using the terms “first
truths” and “rational intuitions” as equivalent of each other, and
classifying rational intuitions under the heads of
(1) intuitions of relations, as space and time;
(2) intuitions of principles, as substance, cause, final cause, right and
(3) intuition of absolute Being, Power, Reason, Perfection, Personality, as
God. We hold that, as upon occasion of the senses cognizing (a) extended
matter, (b) succession,, (c) qualities, (d) cause, (e) design, (f) obligation, so
upon occasion of our cognizing our finiteness, dependence and responsibility,
the mind directly cognizes the existence of an Infinite and Absolute Authority,
Perfection, Personality, upon whom we are dependent and to whom we are
Bowne, Theory of Thought and Knowledge, 60 — “As we walk in entire
ignorance of our muscles, so we often thing in entire ignorance of the
principles which underlie and determine thinking. But as anatomy reveals
that the apparently simple act of waling involves a highly complex
muscular activity, so analysis reveals that the apparently simple act of
thinking involves a system of mental principles.” Dewey, Psychology,
238,244 — “Perception, memory, imagination, conception — each of
these is an act of intuition…Every concrete act of knowledge involves an
intuition of God.” Martineau, Types, 1:459 — The attempt to divest
experience of either percepts or intuitions is “like the attempt to peel a
bubble in search for its colors and contents: in tenuem ex oculis evanuit
auram”; Study 1:199 — “Try with all you might to do something
difficult, e.g. to shut a door against a furious wind, and you recognize
Self and Nature — casual will, over against external causality”; 201 —
“Hence our fellow feeling with Nature”; 65 — “As Perception gives Will
in the shape of Causality over against us in the non-ego, so Conscience
gives us Will in the shape of Authority over against us in the non-ego”;
Types, 2:5 — “In perception it is self and nature, in morals it is self and
God, that stand face to face in the subjective and objective antithesis”;
Study, 2:2,3 — “In volitional experience we meet with objective
causality; in moral experience we meet with objective authority, — both
being objects of immediate knowledge, on the same footing of certainty
with the apprehension of the external material world. I know of no logical
advantage which the belief in finite objects around us can boast over the
belief in the infinite and righteous Cause of all”; 51 — “In recognition of
God as Cause, we raise the University; in recognition of God as
Authority, we raise the Church.”.115
Kant declares that the idea of freedom is the source of our idea of
personality, — personality consists in the freedom of the whole soul from
the mechanism of nature. Lotze, Metaphysics ß244 — “So far as, and so
long as, the soul knows itself as the identical subject of inward experience,
it is and is named simply for that reason, substance.” Illingworth,
Personality, Human and Divine, 32 — “Our conception of substance is
derived, not from the physical, but from the mental world. Substance is
first of all that which underlies our mental affections and manifestations.”
James, Will to Believe, 80 — “Substance, as Kant says, means ‘das
Beharrliche,’ the abiding, that which will be as it has been, because its
being is essential and eternal.” In this sense we have an intuitive belief in
an abiding substance which underlies our own thoughts and volition’s,
and this we call the soul. But we also have an intuitive belief in an abiding
substance, which underlies all natural phenomena and all the events of
history, and this we call God. Among those who hold to this general view
of an intuitive knowledge of God may be mentioned the following: —
Calvin, Institutes, book I, chap. 3; Nitzsch, System of Christian Doctrine,
15-26, 133-140; Julius Muller, Doctrine of Sin, 1:78-84; Ulrici, Leib und
Seele, 688-725; Porter, Human Intellect, 497; Hickok, Rational
Cosmology, 58-89; Farrar, Science in Theology, 27-29; Bibliotheca
Sacra, July, 1872:533, and January, 1873:204; Miller, Fetich in theology,
110-122; Fisher, Essays, 565-572; Tulloch, Christian Belief, 75, 76;
Raymond, Syst. Theology, 1:247-262; Bascom, Science of Mind, 256,
247; Knight, Studies in Philos. And Lit, 155-224; A.H. Strong,
Philosophy and Religion, 76-89.
1. Their nature.
A. Negatively. — A first truth is not
(a) Truth written prior to consciousness upon the substance of the soul —
for such passive knowledge implies a materialistic view of the soul
(b) Actual knowledge of which the soul finds itself in possession at birth —
for it cannot be proved that the soul has such knowledge;
(c) An idea, undeveloped at birth, but which has the power of self
development apart from observation and experience — for this contrary to
all we know of the laws of mental growth..116
Cicero, De Natura Deorum, 1:17 — “Intelligi necesse est esse deos,
quoiam insitas eorum vel potius innatas cogitationes habemus.” Origen,
Adv, Celsum, 1:4 — “Men would not be guilty, if they did not carry in
their minds common notions of morality, innate and written in divine
letters.” Calvin, Institutes, 1:3:3 — “Those who rightly judge will always
agree that there is an indelible sense of divinity engraven upon men’s
minds.” Fleming, Vocab. Of Philosophy, art., “Innate Ideas” —
“Descartes is supposed to have taught (and Locke devoted the first book
of his Essays to refuting the doctrine) that these ideas are innate or
connate with the soul; i.e., the intellect finds itself at birth, or as soon as it
wakes to conscious activity, to be possessed of ideas to which it has only
to attach the appropriate names, or of judgments which it only needs to
express in fit propositions — i.e., prior to any experience of individual
Royce, Spirit of Modern Philosophy, 77 — “In certain families, Descartes
teaches, good breeding and the gout are innate. Yet, of course, the
children of such families have to be instructed in deportment, and the
infants just learning to walk seem happily quite free from gout. Even so
geometry is innate in us. But it does not come to our consciousness
without much trouble”; 79 — Locke found no innate ideas. He
maintained, in reply, that “infants with their rattles, showed no sign of
being aware that things which are equal to the same thing are equal to
each other.” Schopenhauer said that “Jacobi had the trifling weakness of
taking all he had learned and approved before his fifteenth year for inborn
ideas of the human mind.” Bowne, Principles of Ethics, 5 — “That
rational ideas are conditioned by the sense experience and are sequent to
it, is unquestioned by anyone; and that experience shows a successive
order of manifestation of what went before; whereas it might be that, and
it might be a new, though conditioned, manifestation of an immanent
nature or law. Chemical affinity is not gravity, although affinity cannot
manifest itself until gravity has brought the elements into certain
Pfleiderer, Philosophy of Religion, 1:103 — “This principle was not from
the beginning in the consciousness of men; for, in order to think ideas,
reason must be clearly developed, which in the first of mankind it could
just as little be as in children. This however does not exclude the fact that
there was from the beginning the unconscious rational impulse which lay
at the basis of the formation of the belief in God, however manifold may
gave been the direct motives which cooperated with it.” Self is implied in
the simplest act of knowledge. Sensation gives us two things, e.g. black
and white; but I cannot compare them without asserting difference for me..117
Different sensations make no knowledge, without a self to bring them
together. Upton, Hibbert, Lectures, lecture 2 — “You could as easily
prove the existence of an external world to a man who had no senses to
perceive it, as you could prove the existence of God to one who had no
consciousness of God.”
B. Positively. — A first truth is a knowledge which, though developed
upon occasion of observation and reflection, is not derived from
observation and reflection, — a knowledge on the contrary which has such
logical priority that it must be assumed or supposed, in order to make any
observation or reflection possible. Such truths are not, therefore,
recognized first in order of time; some of them are assented to somewhat
late in the mind’s growth; by the great majority of men they are never
consciously formulated at all. Yet they constitute the necessary
assumptions upon which all other knowledge rests, and the mind has not
only the inborn capacity to evolve them so soon as the proper occasions
are presented, but the recognition of them is inevitable so soon as the mind
begins to give account to itself of its own knowledge.
Mansel, Metaphysics, 52, 279 — “To describe experience as the cause of
the idea of space would be as inaccurate as to speak of the soil in which it
was planted as the cause of the oak — though the planting in the soil is
the condition which brings into manifestation the latent power of the
acorn.” Coleridge: “We see before we know that we have eyes; but when
once this is known, we perceive that eyes must have preexisted in order to
enable us to see.” Coleridge speaks of first truths as “those necessities of
mind or forms of thinking, which, though revealed to us by experience,
must yet have preexisted in order to make experience possible.” McCosh,
Intuitions, 48, 49 — Intuitions are “like flower and fruit, which are in the
plant from its embryo, but may not be actually formed till there have been
a stalk and branches and leaves.” Porter, Human Intellect, 501, 519 —
“Such truths cannot be acquired or assented to first of all.” Some are
reached last of all. The moral intuition is often developed late, and
sometimes, even then, only upon occasion of corporal punishment. “Every
man is as lazy as circumstances will admit.” Our physical laziness in
occasional; our mental laziness frequent; our moral laziness incessant. We
are too lazy to think, and especially to think of religion. On account of this
depravity of human nature we should expect the intuition of God to be
developed last of all. Men shrink from contact with God and from the
thought of God. In fact, their dislike for the intuition of God leads them
not seldom to deny all their other intuitions, even those of freedom and of
right. Hence the modern “psychology without a soul.”.118
Schurman, Agnosticism and Religion, 105-115 — “The idea of God…is
latest to develop into clear consciousness…and must be latest, for it is the
unity of the difference of the self and the not-self, which are therefore
presupposed.” But “it has not less validity in itself, it gives no less
trustworthy assurance of actuality, than the consciousness of the self, or
the consciousness of the not-self…The consciousness of God is the logical
prius of the consciousness of self and of the world. But not, as already
observed, the chronological; for, according to the profound observation of
Aristotle, what in the nature of things is first, is the order of development
last. Just because God is the first principle of being and knowing, he is the
last to be manifested and known…The finite and the infinite are both
known together, and it is as impossible to know one without the other as it
is to apprehend an angle without the sides which contain it.” For account
of the relation of the intuitions to experience, see especially Cousin, True,
Beautiful and Good, 39-64, and History of Philosophy, 2:199-245.
Compare Kant, critique of Pure Reason, Introduction, 1. See also Basom,
in Bibliotheca Sacra, 23:1-47; 27:68-90.
2. Their criteria. The criteria by which first truths are to be tested are
A. Their universality. By this we mean, not that all men assent to them or
understand them when propounded in scientific form, but that all men
manifest a practical belief in them by their language, actions, and
B. Their necessity. By this we mean, not that it is impossible to deny these
truths, but that the mind is compelled by its very constitution to recognize
them upon the occurrence of the proper conditions, and to employ them in
its arguments to prove their nonexistence.
C. Their logical independence and priority. By this we mean that these
truths can be resolved into no others, and proved by no others; that they
are presupposed in the acquisition of all other knowledge, and can
therefore be derived from no other source than an original cognitive power
of the mind.
Instances of the professed and formal denial of first truths: — the
positivist denies causality; the idealist denies substance; the pantheist
denies personality; the necessitarian denies freedom; the nihilist denies his
own existence. A man may in like manner argue that there is no necessity
for an atmosphere; but even while he argues, he breathes it. Instance the
knockdown argument to demonstrate the freedom of the will. I grant my.119
own existence in the very doubting of it; for “cogito, ergo sum,” as
Descartes himself insisted, really means “cogito, scilicet sum”; H.B.
Smith: “The statement is analysis, not proof.” Ladd, Philosophy of
Knowing, 59 — “The cogito, in barbarous Latin = cogitans sum: thinking
is self-consciousness being.” Bentham: “The word ought is an
authoritative imposture, and ought to be banished from the realm of
morals.” Spinoza and Hegel really deny self-consciousness when they
make man a phenomenon of the infinite. Royce likens the denier of
personality to the man who goes outside of his own house and declares
that on one lives inside.
Professor James, in his Psychology, assumes the reality of a brain, but
refuses to assume the reality of a soul. This is essentially the position of
materialism. But this assumption of a brain is metaphysics, although the
author claims to be writing a psychology without metaphysics. Ladd,
Philosophy of Mind, 3 — “The materialist believes incausation proper so
long as he is explaining the origin of mind from matter, but when he is
asked to see in mind the cause of physical change he at once becomes a
mere phenomenalist.” Royce, Spirit of Modern Philosophy, 400 — “I
know that all beings, if only they can count, must find that three and two
make five. Perhaps the angels cannot count; but, if they can, this axiom is
true for them. If I met an angel who declared that his experience had
occasionally shown him a three and two that did not make five, I should
know at once what sort of an angel hew was.” On the criteria of first
truths, see Porter, Human Intellect, 510, 511. On denial of them, see
Shedd, dogmatic Theology, 1:213.
1. That the knowledge of God’s existence answers the first criterion of
universality, is evident from the following considerations:
A. It is an acknowledged fact that the vast majority of men have actually
recognized the existence of a spiritual being or beings, upon whom they
conceived themselves to be dependent.
The Vedas declare: “There is but one Being — no second.” Max Muller,
Origin and Growth of Religion, 34 — “Not the visible sun, moon and
stars are invoked, but something else that cannot be seen.” The lowest
tribes have conscience, fear death, believe in witches, propitiate or
frighten away evil fates. Even the fetich-worshiper, who calls the stone or
the tree a god, shows that he has already the idea of a God. We must not
measure the ideas of the heathen by their capacity for expression, any.120
more than we should judge the child’s belief in the existence of his father
by his success in drawing the father’s picture. On heathenism, its origin
and nature, see Tholuck, in Bib. Repos., 1832:86; Scholz, Gotzebduebst
und Zauberwesen.
B. Those races and nations which have at first seemed destitute of such
knowledge have uniformly, upon further investigation, been found to
possess it, so that no tribe of men with which we have thorough
acquaintance can be said to be without an object of worship. We may
presume that further knowledge will show this to be true of all.
Moffat, who reported that certain African tribes were destitute of religion,
was corrected by the testimony of his son-in-law, Livingstone: “The
existence of God and of a future life is everywhere recognized in Africa.”
Where men are most nearly destitute of any formulated knowledge of
God, the conditions for the awakening of the idea are most nearly absent.
An apple tree may be so conditioned that it never bears apples. “We do
not judge of the oak by the stunted, flowerless specimens on the edge of
the Arctic Circle.” The presence of an occasional blind, deaf or dumb man
does not disprove the definition that man is a seeing, hearing and speaking
creature. Bowne, Principles of Ethics, 154 — “We need not tremble for
mathematics, even if some tribes should be found without the
multiplication table…Sub-moral and sub-rational existence is always with
us in the case of young children; and, if we should find it elsewhere, it
would have no greater significance.”
Victor Hugo: “Some men deny the Infinite; some, too, deny the sun; they
are the blind.” Gladden, What is Left? 148 — “A man may escape from
his shadow by going into the dark; if he comes under the light of the sun,
the shadow is there. A man may be so mentally undisciplined that he does
not recognize these ideas; but let him learn the use of his reason, let him
reflect on his own mental processes, and he will know that they are
necessary ideas.” On an original monotheism, see Diestel, in Jahrbuch fur
deutsche Theologie, 1860, and vol. 5L669; Max Muller, Chips, 1:337;
Rawlinson, in Present Day Tracts, No. 11; Legge, Religions of China, 8-
11; Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 1:201-208. Per contra, see Asmus,
Indogerm. Relig., 2:1-8; and synopsis in Bibliotheca Sacra, Jan.
C. This conclusion is corroborated by the fact that those individuals, in
heathen or in Christian lands, who profess themselves to be without any
Knowledge of a spiritual power or powers above them, does yet indirectly.121
manifest the existence of such an idea in their minds and its positive
influence over them.
Comnte said that science would conduct God to the frontier and then bow
him out, with thanks for his provisional services. But Herbert Spencer
affirms the existence of a “Power to which no limit in time or space is
conceivable, of which all phenomena as presented in consciousness are
manifestations.” The intuition of God, though formally excluded, is
implicitly contained in Spencer’s system, in the shape of the “irresistible
belief” in Absolute Being, which distinguishes his position from that of
Comte: see H. Spencer, who says: “One truth must ever grow clearer —
the truth that there is an inscrutable existence everywhere manifested, to
which we can neither find nor conceive beginning or end — the one
absolute certainty that we are ever in the presence of an infinite and
eternal energy from which all things proceed.” Mr. Spencer assumes unity
in the underlying Reality. Frederick Harrison sneeringly asks him: “Why
not say ‘forces’ instead of ‘force’?” While Harrison gives us a supreme
moral ideal without a metaphysical ground, Soencer gives us a ultimate
metaphysical principle without a final moral purpose. The idea of god is
the synthesis of the two, — “They are but broken lights of Thee, and
thou, O Lord, art more than they” (Tennyson, In Memoriam).
Solon spoke of oJ qeo>v and Sophocles of oJ me>gav qeo>v. The term for
“God” is identical in all the Indo-European languages, and therefore
belonged to the time before those languages separated; sees Shedd,
Dogmatic Theology, 1:201-208. In Virgil’s Æneid, Mezentius is an
atheist, a despiser of the gods, trusting only in his spear and in his right
arm; but, when the corpse of his son is brought to him, his first act is to
raise his hands to heaven. Hume was a skeptic, but he said to Ferguson,
as they walked on a starry night: “Adam, there is a God!” Voltaire prayed
in an alpine thunderstorm. Shelley6 wrote his name in the visitors’ book
of the inn at Montanvert, and added: “Democrat, philanthropist, atheist”;
yet he loved to think of a “fine intellectual spirit pervading the universe”;
and he also wrote: “The One remains, the many change and pass;
Heaven’s light forever shines, earth’s shadow fly.” Strauss worships the
Cosmos, because “order and law, reason and goodness” are the soul of it.
Renan trusts in goodness, design, and ends. Charles Darwin, Life, 1:274
— “In my most extreme fluctuations, I have never been an atheist, in the
sense of denying the existence of a God.”
D. This agreement among individuals and nations so widely separated in
time and place can be most satisfactorily explained by supposing that it has
its ground, not in accidental circumstances, but in the nature of man as.122
man. The diverse and imperfectly developed ideas of the supreme Being
which prevail among men are best accounted for as misinterpretations and
perversions of an intuitive conviction common to all.
Huxley, Lay Sermons, 163 — “There are savages without God, in any
proper sense of the word; but there are none without ghosts.” Martineau,
study, 2:353, well replies: “Instead of turning other people into ghosts,
and then appropriating one to ourselves [and attributing another to God,
we may add] by way of limitation, we start from the sense of personal
continuity, and then predicate the same of others, under the figures which
keep most clear of the physical and perishable.: Grant Allen describes the
higher religions as “a grotesque fungoid growth,” that has gathered about
a primitive thread of ancestor worship. But this is to derive the greater
from the less. Sayce, Hibbert Lectures, 358 — “I can find no trace of
ancestor worship in the earliest literature of Babylonia which has survived
to us” — this seems fatal to Huxley’s and Allen’s view that the idea of
God is derived from man’s prior belief in spirits of the dead. C.M. Tyler,
in Am. Jour. Theo., Jan. 1899:144 — “It seems impossible to deify a dead
man, unless there is embryonic in primitive consciousness a prior concept
of Deity.”
Renouf, Religion of Ancient Egypt, 93 — “the whole mythology of
Egypt…turns on the histories of Ra and Osiris…Texts are discovered
which identify Osiris and Ra…Other texts are known wherein Ra, Osiris,
Amon, and all other gods disappear, except as simple names, and the
unity of God is asserted in the noblest language of monotheistic religion.”
These facts are earlier than any known ancestor is worship. “They point
to an original idea of divinity above humanity” (see hill, Genetic
Philosophy, 317). We must add the idea of the superhuman, before we
can turn any animism or ancestor worship into a religion. This
superhuman element was suggested to early man by all he saw of nature
about him, especially by the sight of heavens above, and by what he knew
of causality within. For the evidence of a universal recognition of a
superior power, see Flint, Antitheistic theories, 250-289, 522-533;
Renouf, Hibbert Lectures for 1879:100; Bibliotheca Sacra, Jan.
1884:132-157; Peschel, Races of Men, 261; Ulrici, Leib und Seele, 688,
and Gott und die Natur, 658-670, 758; Tylor, Primitive Culture, 1:377,
381, 418; Alexander, Evidences of Christianity, 22; Calderwood,
Philosophy of the Infinite, 512; Liddon, Elements of Religion, 50;
Methodist Quar. Rev., Jan. 1875:1; J.F. Clark, Ten Great Religions,
2. That the knowledge of God’s existence answers the second criterion of
necessity, will be seen by considering:
A. That men, under circumstances fitted to call forth this knowledge,
cannot avoid recognizing the existence of God. In contemplating finite
existence, there is inevitably suggested the idea of an infinite Being as its
correlative. Upon occasion of the mind’s perceiving its own finiteness,
dependence, responsibility, it immediately and necessarily perceives the
existence of an infinite and unconditioned Being upon whom it is
dependent and to whom it is responsible.
We could not recognize the finite as finite, except, by comparing it with
an already existing standard — the Infinite. Mansel, Limits of Religious
Thought, lect. 3 — “We are compelled by the constitution of our minds to
believe in the existence of an Absolute and Infinite Being — a belief
which appears forced upon us as the complement of our consciousness of
the relative and finite.” Fisher, Journ. Chr. Philos., Jan. 1883:113 —
“Ego and non-ego, each being conditioned by the other, presuppose
unconditioned being on which both are dependent. Unconditioned being is
the silent presupposition of all our knowing.” Perceived dependent being
implies an independent; independent being is perfectly self-determining;
self-determination is personality; perfect self-determination is infinite
Personality. John Watson, in Philos. Rev., Sept. 1893:113526 — “There
is no consciousness of self apart from the consciousness of the single
Reality presupposed in both.” E. Caird, Evolution of Religion, 64-68 in
every act of consciousness the primary elements are implied: “the idea of
the object, or not-self; the idea the idea of the subject, or self; and the idea
of the unity which is presupposed in the difference of the self and not-self,
and within which they act and react on each other.” See Calderwood,
Philos. Of Infinite, 46, and Moral Philos., 77; Hopkins, Outline Study of
Man, 283-285; Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 1:211.
B. That men, in virtue of their humanity, have a capacity for religion. This
recognized capacity for religion is proof that the idea of God is a necessary
one. If the mind upon proper occasion did not evolve this idea, there would
be nothing in man to which religion could appeal.
“It is the suggestion of the Infinite that makes the line of the far horizon,
seen over land or sea, so much more impressive than the beauties of any
limited landscape.” In times of sudden shock and danger, this rational
intuition becomes a presentative intuition, — men become more conscious
of God’s existence than of the existence of their fellow men and they.124
instinctively cry to God for help. In the commands and reproaches of the
moral nature the soul recognizes a Lawgiver and Judge whose voice
conscience merely echoes. Aristotle called man “a political animal”; it is
still truer, as Sabatier declares, that “man is incurably religious.” St.
Bernard: “Noverim me, noverim te.” O.P. Gifford: “As milk, from which
under proper conditions cream does not rise, is not milk, so the man, who
upon proper occasion shows no knowledge of God, is not man, but brute.”
We must not however expect cream from frozen milk. Proper environment
and conditions are needed.
It is the recognition of a divine Personality in nature, which constitutes the
greatest merit, and charm of Wordsworth’s poetry. In his Tintern Abbey,
he speaks of “A presence that disturbs me with the joy of elevated
thoughts; a sense sublime of something far more deeply interfused. Whose
dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean and the living
air, And the blue sky and in the mind of man: A motion and a spirit that
impels All thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all
things.” Robert Browning sees God in humanity, as Wordsworth sees God
in nature. In his Hohenstiel — Schwangau he writes: “This is the glory,
that in all conceived Or felt or known, I recognize a Mind — Not mine,
but like mine — for the double joy Making all things for me and me for
Him.” John Ruskin held that the foundation of beauty in the world is the
presence of God in it. In his youth he tells us that he had “a continual
perception of sanctity in the whole of nature, from the slightest thing to
the vastest — an instinctive awe mixed with delight, an indefinable thrill
such as we sometimes imagine to indicate the presence of a disembodied
spirit.” But it was not a disembodied, but an embodied, Spirit that he saw.
Nitzsch, Christian Doctrine ß7 — “Unless education and culture were
preceded by an innate consciousness of God as an operative
predisposition, there would be nothing for education and culture to work
upon.” On Wordsworth’s recognition of a divine personality in nature, see
Knight, Studies, 282-317, 405-426; Hutton, Essays, 2:113
C. That he who denies God’s existence must tacitly assume that existence
in his very argument by employing logical processes whose validity rests
upon the fact of God’s existence. The full proof of this belongs under the
next head.
“I am an atheist, God knows” — was the absurd beginning of an
argument to disprove the divine existence. Cutler, Beginning of Ethics, 22
— “Even the Nihilists, whose first principle is that God and duty are great
bugbears to be abolished, assume that God and duty exist, and they are
impelled by a sense of duty to abolish them.” Mrs. Browning, the Cry of.125
the Human: “‘There is no God,’ the foolish saith: But none, ‘There is no
sorrow’; And nature oft the cry of faith In bitter need will borrow; Eyes
which the preacher could not school By wayside graves are raised; And
lips say. ‘God be pitiful,’ Who ne’er said, ‘God be praised.’” Dr. W.W.
Keen when called to treat an Irishman’s aphasia, said: “Well, Dennis, how
are you?” “Oh, doctor, it’s many a word I cannot spake!” “But, Dennis,
you are speaking.” “Oh, doctor, it’s many a word I cannot spake!” “Well,
Dennis, now I will try you. See if you cannot say, ‘Horse.’” “Oh, doctor
dear, ‘horse’ is the very word I cannot spake!” On this whole section see
A.M. Fairbairn, Origin and Development of Idea of God, in Studies in
Philos. Of Relig. And History; Martineau, Religion and Materialism, 45;
Bishop Temple, Bampton Lectures, 1884:37-65.
3. That the knowledge of God’s existence answers the third criterion of
logical independence and priority, may be shown as follows:
A. It is presupposed in all other knowledge as its logical condition and
foundation. The validity of the simplest mental acts, such as sense-perception,
self-consciousness, and memory, depends upon the assumption
that a god exists who has so constituted our minds that they give us
knowledge of things as they are.
Pfleiderer, Philos. Of Religion, 1:88 — “The ground of science and of
cognition generally is to be found neither in the subject nor in the object
per se, but only in the divine thinking that combines the two, which, as the
common ground of the forms of thinking in all finite minds, and of the
forms of being in all things, makes possible the correspondence or
agreement between the former and the latter, or in a word makes
knowledge of truth possible.” 91 — “Religious belief is presupposed in all
scientific knowledge as the basis of its possibility.” This is the thought of

Psalm 36:10 — “In thy light shall we see light.” A.J. Balfour,
Foundations of Belief, 303 — “The uniformity of nature cannot be proved
from experience, for it is what makes proof from experience
possible…Assume it, and we shall find that facts conform to it…309 —
The uniformity of nature can be established only by the aid of that
principle itself, and is necessarily involved in all attempts to prove
it…There must be a God, to justify our confidence in innate ideas.”
Bowne, Theory of Thought and Knowledge, 276 — “Reflection shows
that the community of individual intelligence is possible only through an
all embracing Intelligence, the source and creator of finite minds.” Science
rests upon the postulate of a world order. Huxley: “The object of science
is the discovery of the rational order which pervades the universe.” This.126
rational order presupposes a rational Author. Dubois, in New Englander,
Nov. 1890:468 — “We assume uniformity and continuity, or we can have
no science. An intelligent Creative Will is a genuine scientific hypothesis
[postulate?], suggested by analogy and confirmed by experience, no
contradicting the fundamental law of uniformity but accounting for it.”
Ritchie, Darwin and Hegel, 18 — “There is such a thing as error; but
error is inconceivable unless there be a seat of truth, an infinite all
including Thought or Mind; therefore such a Mind exists.”
B. The more complex processes of the mind, such as induction and
deduction, can be relied on only by presupposing a thing Deity who has
made the various parts of the universe and the various aspects of truth to
correspond to each other and to the investigating faculties of man.
We argue from one apple to the other on the tree. Newton argued from the
fall of an apple to gravitation in the moon and through the solar system.
Rowland argued from the chemistry of our world to that of Siruis. In all
such argument there is assumed a unifying thought and a thinking Deity.
This Tyndall’s “scientific use of the imagination.” “Nourished,” he says,
“by knowledge partially won, and bounded by cooperant reason,
imagination is the mightiest instrument of the physical discoverer.” What
Tyndall call “imagination”, is really insight into the thoughts of God, the
great Thinker. It prepares the way for logical reasoning, — it is not the
product of mere reasoning. For this reason Geothe called imagination “die
Vorschule des Denkens,” or “thought’s preparatory school.”
Peabody, Christianity the Religion of Nature, 23 — “induction is
syllogism, with the immutable attributes of God for a constant term.”
Porter, Hum. Intellect, 492 — “Induction rests upon the assumption, as it
demands for its ground, that a personal or thing Deity exists”; 658 —
“We analyze the several processes of knowledge into their underlying
assumptions, and we find that the assumption which underlies them all is
that of a self existent Intelligence who not only can be known by man, but
must be known by man in order that man may know anything besides”;
see also pages 486, 509, 518, 519, 585, 616. Harris, Philos, Basis of
Theism, 81 — “The processes of reflective thought imply that the
universe is grounded in, and is the manifestation of, reason”; 500 — “The
existence of a personal God is a necessary datum of scientific
knowledge.” So also, Fisher, Essays on Supernat. Prigin of Christianity,
564, and in Journ. Christ. Philos., Jan.1883; 129, 130.
C. Our primitive belief in final cause, or, in other words, our conviction
that all things have their ends, that design pervades the universe, involves a.127
belief in God’s existence. In assuming that there is a universe, that the
universe is a rational whole, a system of thought-relations, we assume the
existence of an absolute thinker, of whose thought the universe is an
Pfleiderer, Philos of Religion, 1:81 — “The real can only be thinkable of
it is realizes thought, a thought previously thought, which our thinking has
only to think again. Therefore the real, in order to be thinkable for us,
must be the realized thought of the creative thinking of an eternal divine
reason which is presented to our cognitive thinking.” Royce, World and
Individual, 2:41 — “Universal teleology constitutes the essence of all
facts.” A.H. Bradford, The age of Faith, 142 — “Suffering and sorrow
are universal. Either God could prevent them and would not, and therefore
he is neither beneficent nor loving; or else he cannot prevent them and
therefore something is greater than God is, and therefore there is no God?
But here is the use of reason in the individual reasoning. Reasoning in the
individual necessitates the absolute or universal reason. If there is the
absolute reason, the universe and history are ordered and administered in
harmony with reason; then suffering and sorrow can be neither
meaningless or final, since that would be the contradiction of reason, That
cannot be possible in the universal and absolute which contradicts reason
in man.”
D. Our primitive belief in moral obligation, or, in other words, our
conviction that right has universal authority, involves the belief in God’s
existence. In assuming that the universe is a moral whole, we assume the
existence of an absolute Will, of whose righteousness the universe is an
Pfleiderer, Philos of Religion, 1”88 — “The ground of moral obligation is
found neither in the subject nor in society, but only in the universal or
divine Will that combines both…103 — The idea of God is the unity of
the true and the good, or of the two highest ideas which our reason thinks
as theoretical reason, but demands as practical reason…In the idea of God
we find the only synthesis of the world that is — the world of science, and
of the world that ought to be — the world of religion.” Seth, Ethical
Principles, 425 — “This is not a mathematical demonstration. Philosophy
never is an exact science. Rather is it offered as the only sufficient
foundation of the moral life…The life of goodness…is a life based on the
conviction that its source and its issues are in the Eternal and the Infinite.”
As finite truth and goodness are comprehensible only in the light of some
absolute principle, which furnishes for them an ideal standard, so finite.128
beauty is inexplicable except as there exists a perfect standard with which
it may be compared. The beautiful is more than the agreeable or the
useful. Proportions, order, harmony, unity in diversity — all these things
are characteristics of beauty. But they all imply an intellectual and
spiritual Being, from whom they proceed and by whom they can be
measured. Both physical and moral beauty, in finite things and being, are
symbols and manifestations of him who is the author and lover of beauty,
and who is himself in infinite and absolute Beauty. The beautiful in nature
and in art shows that the idea of God’s existence is logically independent
and prior. See Cousin, The True, The Beautiful, and the Good, 140-153;
Kant, Metaphysic of Ethics, who holds that belief in God is the necessary
presupposition of the belief in duty.
To repeat these four points in another form — the intuition of an Absolute
Reason is
(a) the necessary presupposition of all other knowledge, so that we cannot
know anything else to exist except by assuming first of all that God exists;
(b) the necessary basis of all logical thought, so that we cannot put
confidence in any one of our reasoning processes except by taking for
granted that a thinking Deity has constructed our minds with reference to
the universe and to truth;
(c) the necessary implication of our primitive belief in design, so that we
can assume all things to exist for a purpose, only by making the prior
assumption that a purposing God exists — can regard the universe as a
thought, only by postulating the existence of an absolute Thinker; and
(d) the necessary foundation of our conviction of moral obligation, so that
we can believe in the universal authority of right, only by assuming that
there exists a God of righteousness who reveals his will both in the
individual conscience and in the moral universe at large. We cannot prove
that God is; but we can show that, in order to the existence of any
knowledge, thought, reason, conscience, in man, man must assume that
God is.
As Jacobi said of the beautiful: “Es kann gewiesen aber nicht bewiesen
werden” — it can be shown, but not proved. Bowne, Metaphysics, 472 —
“Our objective knowledge of the finite must rest upon ethical trust in the
infinite”; 480 — “Theism is the absolute postulate of all knowledge,
science and philosophy”; “God is the most certain fact of objective
knowledge.” Ladd, Bibliotheca Sacra, Oct. 1877 611-616 — “Cogito,.129
ergo Deus est. We are obliged to postulate a not-ourselves, which makes
for rationality as well as for righteousness.”
W.T. Harris: “Even natural science is impossible, where philosophy has
not yet taught that reason made the world, and that nature is a revelation
of the rational.” Whately, Logic, 270: New Englander, Oct. 1871, art. On
Grounds of Confidence in Inductive Reasoning; Bibliotheca Sacra, 7:415-
425; Dorner, Glaubenslehre, 1:197; Trendelenburg, Logische
Untersuchungen, ch. “Zweck”; Ulrci Gott un die Natur, 540-626;
Lachilier, Du Fondement de l’Induction, 78. Per contra, see Janet, Final
Causes, 174, note, and 457-464, who holds final cause to be, not an
intuition, but the result of applying the principle of causality to cases
which mechanical laws alone will not explain. Pascal: “Nature confounds
the Pyrrhonist, and Reason confounds the Dogmatist. We have an
incapacity of demonstration, which the former cannot overcome; we have
a conception of truth which the latter cannot disturb.” “There is no
Unbelief! Whoever says, ‘Tomorrow,’ ‘The Unknown,’ ‘The Future,’
trusts that Power alone, Nor dares disown.” Jones, Robert Browning, 314
— “We cannot indeed prove God as the conclusion of a syllogism, for he
is the primary hypothesis of all proof.” Robert Browning, Hohenstiel-Schwangau:
“I know that he is there as I am here, But the same proof
which seems no proof at all, It so exceeds familiar forms of proof”;
Paracelsus, 27 — “To know Rather consists in opening out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendor may escape Than in effecting entrance
for a light Supposed to be without.” Tennyson, Holy Grail: “Let visions
of the night or day Come as they will, and many a time they come…In
moments when he feels he cannot die, And knows himself no vision to
himself, Nor the high god a vision, nor that one Who rose again”; The
Ancient Sage, 548 — “Thou canst not prove the Nameless, O my son!
Nor canst thou prove the world thou movest in . Thou canst not prove that
thou art body alone, Nor canst thou prove that thou art immortal, no, Nor
yet that thou art mortal. Nay, my son, thou canst not prove that I, who
speak with thee, Am not thyself in converse with thyself. For nothing
worthy proving can be proven, Nor yet disproven; Wherefore be thou
wise, Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt, And cling to Faith, beyond
the forms of Faith.”
Our proof that the idea of God’s existence is a rational intuition will not be
complete, until we show that attempts to account in other ways for the.130
origin of the idea are insufficient, and require as their presupposition the
very intuition which they would supplant or reduce to a secondary place.
We claim that it cannot be derived from any other source than an original
cognitive power of the mind.
1. Not from external revelation, — whether communicated
(a) through the Scriptures, or
(b) through tradition; for, unless man had from another source a previous
knowledge of the existence of a God from whom such a revelation might
come, the revelation itself could have no authority for him.
(a) See Gillespie, Necessary Existence of God, 10; Ebrard, Dogmatik
1:117; H.B. Smith, Faith and Philosophy, 18 — “A revelation takes for
granted that he to whom it is made has some knowledge of God, though it
may enlarge and purify that knowledge.” We cannot prove god from the
authority of the Scriptures, and then also prove the Scriptures from the
authority of God. The very idea of Scripture as a revelation presupposes
belief in a God who can make it. Newman myth, in New Englander,
1878:355 — We cannot derive from a sundial our knowledge of the
existence of a sun. The sundial presupposes the sun, and cannot be
understood without previous knowledge of the sun. Wuttke, Christian
Ethics, 2:103 — “The voice of the divine ego does not first come to the
consciousness of the individual ego from without; rather does every
external revelation presuppose already this inner one; there must echo out
from within man something kindred to the outer revelation, in order to it
being recognized and accepted as divine.”
Fairbairn, Studies in Philos. Of Relig. and Hist., 21,22 — “If man is
dependent on an outer revelation for his idea of God, then he must have
what Schelling happily termed ‘an original atheism of consciousness.’
Religion cannot, in that case, be rooted in the nature of man, — it must be
implanted from without.” Schurman, Belief in God, 78 — “A primitive
revelation of God could only mean that God had endowed man with the
capacity of apprehending his divine original. This capacity, like every
other, is innate and like every other, it realizes itself only in the presence
of appropriate conditions.” Clarke, Christian Theology, 112 —
“Revelation cannot demonstrate God’s existence, for it must assume it;
but it will manifest his existence and character to men, and will service
them as the chief source of certainty concerning him, for it will teach them
what they could not know by other means.”.131
(b) Nor does our idea of God come primarily from tradition, for “tradition
can perpetuate only what has already been originated” (Patton). If the
knowledge thus handed down is the knowledge of a primitive revelation,
then the argument just stated applies — that very revelation presupposed
in those who first received it, and presupposes in those to whom it is
handed down, some knowledge of a Being from whom such a revelation
might come. If the knowledge of a being from whom such a revelation
might come. If the knowledge thus handed down is simply knowledge of
the results of the reasoning of the race, then the knowledge of God comes
originally from reasoning — an explanation that we consider further on.
On the traditive theory of religion, see Flint, Theism, 23, 338; Cocker,
Christianity and Greek Philosophy, 86-96; Fairbairn, Studies in Philos.
Of Relig. and Hist., 14, 15; Bowen Metaph. And Ethic, 453, and in
Bibliotheca Sacra, Oct. 1876; Pfleiderer, Religionsphilos., 312-322.
Similar answers must be returned to many common explanations of man’s
belief in God: “Primus in orbe deos fecit timor”; Imagination made
religion; Priests invented religion; Religion is a matter of imitation and
fashion. But we ask again: What caused the fear? Who made the
imagination? What made priests possible? What made imitation and
fashion natural? To say that man worships, merely because he sees other
men worshiping, is as absurd as to say that a horse eats hay because he
sees other horses eating it. There must be a hunger in the soul to be
satisfied, or external things would never attract man to worship. Priests
could never impose upon men so continuously, unless there was in human
nature a universal belief in a God who might commission priests as his
representatives. Imagination itself requires some basis of reality, and a
larger basis as civilization advances. The fact that belief in God’s
existence gets a wider hold upon the race with each added century, shows
that, instead of fear having caused belief in God, the truth is that belief in
God has caused fear, indeed, “the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of
wisdom” (

Psalm 111:10).
2.Not from experience, — whether this mean
(a) the sense perception and reflection of the individual (Locke),
(b) the accumulated results of the sensations and associations of past
generations of the race (Herbert Spencer), or
(c) the actual contact of our sensitive nature with God, the supersensible
reality, through the religious feeling (Newman Smyth)..132
The First form of this theory is inconsistent with the fact that the idea of
God is not the idea of a sensible or material object, not a combination of
such ideas. Since the spiritual and infinite are direct opposites of the
material and finite, no experience of the latter can account for our idea of
the former.
With Lock (Essay of Hum, Understanding, 2:1:4), experience is the
passive reception of ideas by sensation or by reflection. Locke’s “tabula
rasa” theory mistakes the occasion of our primitive ideas for their cause.
To his statement: “Nihil est in intellectu nisi quod ante fuerit insensu,”
Leibnitz replied: “Nisi intellectu ipse.” Consciousness is sometime called
the source of our knowledge of God. But consciousness, as simply an
accompanying knowledge of ourselves and our states, is not properly the
source of any other knowledge. The German Gottesbewusstein = not
“consciousness of God” but “knowledge of God”; Bewesstein here = not a
“conknowing” but a “beknowing”; see Porter, Human Intellect, 86;
Cousin, True, Beautiful and Good, 48, 49.
Fraser, Locke, 143-147 — Sensations are the bricks, and association the
mortar, of the mental house. Bowne, Theory of Thought and Knowledge,
47 — “Develop language by allowing sounds to associate and evolve
meaning for themselves? Yet this is the exact parallel of the philosophy,
which aims to build intelligence out of sensation.…52 — One who does
not know how to read would look in vain for meaning in a printed page,
and in vain would he seek to help his failure by using strong spectacles.”
Yet even if the idea of God were a product of experience, we should not
be warranted in rejecting it as irrational. See Brooks, Foundations of
Zooilogy, 132 — “There is no antagonism between those who attribute
knowledge to experience and those who attribute it to our innate reason;
between those who attribute the development of the germ to mechanical
conditions and those who attribute it to the inherent potency of the germ
itself; between those who hold that all nature was latent in the cosmic
vapor and those who believe that everything in nature is immediately
intended rather than predetermined.” All these may be methods of the
immanent God.
The second form of the theory is open to the objection that the very first
experience of the first man, equally with man’s latest experience,
presupposes this intuition, as well as the other intuitions, and therefore
cannot be the cause of it. Moreover, even though this theory of its origin
were correct, it would still be impossible to think of the object of the
intuition as not existing, and the intuition would still represent to us the.133
highest measure of certitude at present attainable by man. If the evolution
of ideas is toward truth instead of falsehood, it is the part of wisdom to act
upon the hypothesis that our primitive belief is veracious.
Martineau. Study, 2:26 — “Nature is as worthy of trust in her processes,
as in her gifts.” Bowne, Examination of Spencer, 163, 164 — “Are we to
seek truth in the minds of pre-human apes, or in the blind stirrings of
some primitive pulp? In that case we can indeed put away all our science,
but we must put away the great doctrine of evolution along with it. The
experience-philosophy cannot escape this alternative: either the positive
deliverance of our mature consciousness must be accepted as they stand,
or all truth must be declared impossible.” See also Harris, Philos. Basis
Theism, 137-142.
Charles Darwin, in a letter written a year before his death, referring to his
doubts as to the existence of God, asks: “Can we trust to the convictions
of a monkey’s mind?” We may reply: “Can we trust the conclusions of
one who was once a baby?” Bowne, Ethics, 3 — “The genesis and
emergence of an idea are one thing; its validity is quite another. The
logical value of chemistry cannot be decided by reciting its beginnings in
alchemy: and the logical value of astronomy is independent of the fact that
it began in astrology…11 — Even if man came from the ape, we need not
tremble for the validity of the multiplication table or of the Golden Rule.
If we have moral insight, it is no matter how we got it; and if we have no
such insight, there is no help in any psychological theory…159 — We
must not appeal to savages and babies to find what is natural to the
human mind…In the case of anything that is under the law of development
we can find its true nature, not by going back to its crude beginnings, but
by studying the finished outcome.” Dawson, Mod. Ideas of Evolution, 13
— “If the idea of God be the phantom of an apelike brain, can we trust to
reason or conscience in any other matter? May not science and philosophy
themselves be similar fantasies, evolved by mere chance and unreason?”
Even though man came from the ape, there is no explaining his ideas by
the ideas of the ape: “A man’s a man for a’ that.’’
We must judge beginnings by endings, not endings by beginnings. It
matters not how the development of the eye took place nor how imperfect
was the first sense of sight, if the eye now gives us correct information of
external objects. So it matters not how the intuitions of right and of God
originated, if they now give us knowledge of objective truth. We must take
for granted that evolution of ideas is not from sense to nonsense. G. H.
Lewes, Study of Psychology, 122 — “We can understand the amúba and
the polyp only by a light reflected from the study of man.” Seth, Ethical.134
Principles, 429 — “The oak explains the acorn even more truly than the
acorn explains the oak.” Sidgwick: “No one appeals from the artist’s
sense of beauty to the child’s. Higher mathematics are no less true,
because they can be apprehended only by trained intellect. No strange
importance attaches to what was first felt or thought.” Robert Browning,
Paracelsus: “Man, once descried, imprints forever His presence on all
lifeless things…A supplementary reflux of light Illustrates all the inferior
grades, explains Each back step in the circle.” Man, with his higher ideas,
shows the meaning and content of that led up to him. He is the last round
of the ascending ladder, and from this highest product and from his ideas
we may infer what his Maker is.
Bixby, Crisis in Morals, 162, 245 — “Evolution simply gave man such
height that he could at last discern the stars of moral truth which had
previously been below the horizon. This is very different from saying that
moral truths are merely transmitted products of the experiences of
utility…The germ of the idea of God, as of the idea of right, must have
been in man just so soon as he became man, — the brute’s gaining it
turned him into man. Reason is not simply a register of physical
phenomena and of experiences of pleasure and pain: it is creative also. It
discerns the oneness of things and the supremacy of God.” Sir Charles
Lyell: “The presumption is enormous that all our faculties, though liable
to err, are true in the main and point to real objects. The religious faculty
in man is one of the strongest of all. It existed in the earliest ages, and
instead of wearing out before advancing civilization, it grows stronger and
stronger, and is today more developed among the highest races than it ever
was before. I think we may safely trust that it points to a great truth.”
Fisher, Nat. and Meth. of Rev., 137, quotes Augustine: “Securus judicat
orbis terrarum,” and tells us that the intellect is assumed to be an organ of
knowledge, however the intellect may have been evolved. But if the
intellect is worthy of trust, so is the moral nature. George A. Gordon, The
Christ of Today, 103 — “To Herbert Spencer. human history is but an
incident of natural history, and force is supreme. To Christianity nature is
only the beginning, and man the consummation. Which gives the higher
revelation of the life of the tree — the seed, or the fruit?”
The third form of the theory seems to make God a sensuous object, to
reverse the proper order of knowing and feeling, to ignore the fact that in
all feeling there is at least some knowledge of an object, and to forget that
the validity of this very feeling can be maintained only by previously
assuming the existence of a rational Deity..135
Newman Smyth tells us that feeling comes first; the idea is secondary.
Intuitive ideas arc not denied, but they are declared to be direct
reflections, in thought, of the feelings. They are the mind’s immediate
perception of what it feels to exist. Direct knowledge of God by intuition
is considered to be idealistic, reaching God by inference is regarded as
rationalistic, in its tendency. See Smyth, The Religious Feeling; reviewed
by Harris, in New Englander, Jan., 1878: reply by Smyth, in New
Englander, May, 1878.
We grant that, even in the ease of unregenerate men, great peril, great joy,
great sin often turn the rational intuition of God into a presentative
intuition. The presentative intuition, however, cannot be affirmed to be
common to all men. It does not furnish the foundation or explanation of a
universal capacity for religion. Without the rational intuition, the
presentative would not be possible, since it is only the rational that
enables man to receive and to interpret the presentative. The very trust
that we put in feeling presupposes an intuitive belief in a true and good
God. Tennyson said in 1869: “Yes, it is true that there are moments when
the flesh is nothing to me; when I know and feel the flesh to be the vision;
God and the spiritual is the real; it belongs to me more than the hand and
the foot. You may tell me that my hand and my foot are only imaginary
symbols of my existence, — I could believe you; but you never, never can
convince me that the I is not an eternal Reality, and that the spiritual is
not the real and true part of me.”
3. Not from reasoning, — because
(a) The actual rise of this knowledge in the great majority of minds is not
the result of any conscious process of reasoning. On the other hand, upon
occurrence of the proper conditions, it flashes upon the soul with the
quickness and force of an immediate revelation.
(b) The strength of men’s faith in God’s existence is not proportioned to
the strength of the reasoning faculty. On the other hand, men of greatest
logical power are often inveterate skeptics, while men of unwavering faith
are found among those who cannot even understand the arguments for
God’s existence.
(c) There is more in this knowledge than reasoning could ever have
furnished. Men do not limit their belief in God to the just conclusions of
argument. The arguments for the divine existence, valuable as they are for
purposes to be shown hereafter, are not sufficient by themselves to warrant
our conviction that there exists an infinite and absolute Being. It will.136
appear upon examination that the a priori argument is capable of proving
only an abstract and ideal proposition, but can never conduct us to the
existence of a real Being. It will appear that the a posteriori arguments,
from merely finite existence, can never demonstrate the existence of the
infinite. In the words of Sir Win. Hamilton (Discussions, 23) — “A
demonstration of the absolute from the relative is logically absurd, as in
such a syllogism we must collect in the conclusion what is not distributed
in the premises” — in short from finite premises we cannot draw an infinite
Whately, Logic, 290-292; Jevons, Lessons in Logic, 81; Thompson,
Outline Laws of Thought, sections 82-92; Calderwood, Philos. of Infinite,
60-69, and Moral Philosophy, 238; Turnbull, in Bap. Quarterly, July,
1872:271; Van Oosterzee, Dogmatics, 239; Dove, Logic of Christian
Faith, 21. Sir Win. Hamilton: “Departing from the particular, we admit
that we cannot, in our highest generalizations, rise above the finite.” Dr.
E.G. Robinson: “The human mind turns out larger grists than are ever put
in at the hopper. There is more in the idea of God than could have come
out so small a knothole as human reasoning. A single word, a chance
remark, or an attitude of prayer, suggests the idea to a child. Helen Keller
told Phillips Brooks that she had always known that there was a God, but
that she had not known his name. Ladd, Philosophy of Mind, 119 — “It is
a foolish assumption that nothing can be certainly known unless it be
reached as the result of a conscious syllogistic process, or that the more
complicated and subtle this process is, the more sure is the conclusion.
Inferential knowledge is always dependent upon the superior certainty of
immediate knowledge.” George M. Duncan, in Memorial of Noah Porter,
246 — “All deduction rests either on the previous process of induction, or
on the intuitions of time and space which involve the Infinite and
(d) Neither do men arrive at the knowledge of God’s existence by
inference; for inference is condensed syllogism, and, as a form of
reasoning, is equally open to the objection just mentioned. We have seen,
moreover, that all logical processes are based upon the assumption of
God’s existence. Evidently reasoning cannot itself prove that which is
presupposed in all reasoning.
By inference, we of course mean mediate inference, for in immediate
inference (e.g., “All good rulers are just; therefore no unjust rulers are
good”) there is no reasoning, and no progress in thought. Mediate
inference is reasoning — is condensed syllogism; and what is so.137
condensed may be expanded into regular logical form. Deductive
inference: “A Negro is a fellow creature; therefore he who strikes a Negro
strikes a fellow creature.” Inductive inference: “The first finger is before
the second; therefore it is before the third.” On inference, see Martineau,
Essays, 1:105-108; Porter, Human Intellect, 444-448; Jevons, Principles
of Science, 1:14, 136-139, 168, 262.
Flint, in his Theism, 77, and Herbert, in his Mod. Realism Examined,
would reach the knowledge of God’s existence by inference. The latter
says God is not demonstrable, but his existence is inferred, like the
existence of our fellow men. But we reply that in this last case we infer
only the finite from the finite, while the difficulty in the case of God is in
inferring the infinite from the finite. This very process of reasoning,
moreover, presupposes the existence of God as the absolute Reason, in the
way already indicate I.
Substantially the same error is committed by H. B. Smith, Introduction to
Chr. Theol., 84-133, and by Diman, Theistic Argument, 316, 364, both of
whom grant an intuitive element, but use it only to eke out the
insufficiency of reasoning. They consider that the intuition gives us only
an abstract idea, which contains in itself no voucher for the existence of
an actual being corresponding to the idea, and that we reach real being
only by inference from the facts of our own spiritual natures and of the
outward world. But we reply, in the words of McCosh, that “the intuitions
are primarily directed to individual objects.” We know, not the infinite in
the abstract, but infinite space and time, and the infinite God. See
McCosh, Intuitions, 26, 199, who, however, holds the view here
Schurman, Belief in God, 43 — “I am unable to assign to our belief in
God a higher certainty than that possessed by the working hypotheses of
science… 57 — The nearest approach made by science to our hypothesis
of the existence of God lies in the assertion of the universality of
law…based on the conviction of the unity and systematic connection of all
reality…64 — This unity can be found only in self-conscious spirit.” The
fault of this reasoning is that it gives us nothing necessary or absolute.
Instances of working hypotheses are the nebular hypothesis in astronomy,
the law of gravitation, the atomic theory in chemistry, the principle of
evolution. No one of these is logically independent or prior. Each of them
is provisional, and each may be superseded by new discovery. Not so with
the idea of God. All the others, as the condition of every mental process
and the guarantee of its validity presuppose this idea..138
1. In this fundamental knowledge that God is, it is necessarily implied that
to some extent men know intuitively what God is, namely,
(a) a Reason in which their mental processes are grounded;
(b) a Power above them upon which they are dependent;
(c) a Perfection which imposes law upon their moral natures;
(d) a Personality which they may recognize in prayer and worship.
In maintaining that we have a rational intuition of God, we by no means
imply that a presentative intuition of God is impossible. Such a presentative
intuition was perhaps characteristic of unfallen man; it does belong at times
to the Christian; it will be the blessing of heaven (

Matthew 5:8 — “the
pure in heart…shall see God”;

Revelation 22:4 — “they shall see his
face”). Men’s experiences of face to face apprehension of God, in danger
and guilt, give some reason to believe that a presentative knowledge of
God is the normal condition of humanity. But, as this presentative intuition
of God is not in our present state universal, we here claim only that all men
have a rational in tuition of God.
It is to be remembered, however, that the loss of love to God has greatly
obscured even this rational intuition, so that the revelation of nature and
the Scriptures is needed to awaken, confirm and enlarge it, and the special
work of the Spirit of Christ to make it the knowledge of friendship and
communion. Thus from knowing about God, we come to know God

John 17:3 — “This is life eternal, that they should know thee”;

Timothy 1:12 — “I know him whom I have believed”).
Plato said, for substance, that there can be o[ti oi=den without something
of the aj oi=den. Harris, Philosophical Basis of Theism, 208 — “By
rational intuition man knows that absolute Being exists; his knowledge of
what it is, is progressive with his progressive knowledge of man and of
nature.” Hutton, Essays: “A haunting presence besets man behind and
before. He cannot evade it. It gives new meanings to his thoughts, new
terror to his sins. It becomes intolerable. He is moved to set up some idol,
carved out of his own nature, that will take its place — a non-moral God
who will not disturb his dream of rest. It is a righteous Life and Will, and
not the mere idea of righteousness that stirs men so.” Porter, Hum. Int.,
661 — “The Absolute is a thinking Agent.” The Intuition does not grow.139
in certainty; what grows is the mind’s quickness in applying it and power
of expressing it. The intuition is not complex; what is complex is the
Being intuitively cognized. See Calderwood, Moral Philosophy 232;
Lownes, Philos. of Primary Beliefs, 108-112; Luthardt, Fund. Truths,
157 — Latent faculty of speech is called forth by speech of others; the
choked-up well flows again when debris is cleared away. Bowen, in
Bibliotheca Sacra, 33:740-754; Bowne, Theism, 79.
Knowledge of a person is turned into personal knowledge by actual
communication or revelation. First, comes the intuitive knowledge of God
possessed by all men — the assumption that there exists a Reason, Power,
Perfection, Personality, that makes correct thinking and acting possible.
Secondly, comes the knowledge of God’s being and attributes which
nature and Scripture furnish. Thirdly, comes the personal and presentative
knowledge derived from actual reconciliation and intercourse with God,
through Christ and the Holy Spirit. Stearns, Evidence of Christian
Experience, 208 — “Christian experience verifies the claims of doctrine
by experiment, — so transforming probable knowledge into real
knowledge.” Biedermann, quoted by Pfleiderer, Grundriss, 18 — “God
reveals himself to the human spirit,
1. as its infinite Ground, in the reason;
2. as its infinite Norm, in the conscience;
3. as its infinite Strength, in elevation to religious truth, blessedness, and
Shall I object to this Christian experience, because only comparatively
few have it, and I am not among the number? Because I have not seen the
moons of Jupiter, shall I doubt the testimony of the astronomer to their
existence? Christian experience, like the sight of the moons of Jupiter, is
attainable by all. Clarke, Christian Theology, 113
One who will have full proof of the good God’s reality must put it to the
experimental test. He must take the good God for real, and receive the
confirmation that will follow. When faith reaches out after God, it finds
him… They who have found him will be the sanest and truest of their kind,
and their convictions will be among the safest convictions of man…Those
who live in fellowship with the good God will grow in goodness, and will
give practical evidence of his existence aside from their oral testimony.”
2. The Scriptures, therefore, do not attempt to prove the existence of God,
but, on the other hand, both assume and declare that the knowledge that.140
God is, is universal (

Romans 1:19-21, 28, 32; 2:15). God has inlaid the
evidence of this fundamental truth in the very nature of man, so that
nowhere is he without a witness. The preacher may confidently follow the
example of Scripture by assuming it. But he must also explicitly declare it,
as the Scripture does. “For the invisible things of him since the creation of
the world are clearly seen” (kaqora~tai — spiritually viewed); the organ
given for this purpose is the noou>mena; but then — and this forms the
transition to our next division of the subject — they are “perceived through
the things that are made” toi~v poih>masin,

Romans 1:20).

Romans 1:19-21, see Weiss, Bib. Theol. des N.T., 251, note; also
commentaries of Meyer, Alford, Tholuck, and Wordsworth; to< gnwstomena kaqora~tai = are clearly seen in
that they are perceived by the reason — noou>mena expresses the manner
of the kaqora~tai (Meyer); compare

John 1:9;

Acts 17:27;

Romans 1:28; 2:15. On

1 Corinthians 15:34, see Calderwood,
Philos. of Inf., 466 — ajgnwsi>an Qeou~ tine<v e]cousi = do not possess
the specially exalted knowledge of God which belongs to believers in
Christ (cf.

1 John 4:7 — “every one that loveth is begotten of God,
and knoweth God). On

Ephesians 2:12, see Pope, Theology, 1:24 —
a]qeoi ejn tw~| ko>mw| is opposed to being in Christ, and signifies rather
forsaken of God, than denying him or entirely ignorant of him. On
Scripture passages, see Schmid, Bib. Theol. des N.T., 486; Hofmann,
Schriftbeweis, 1:62.
B.G. Robinson: “The first statement of the Bible is, not that there is a
God, but that ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’
((Gen. 1:1). The belief in God never was and never can be the result of
logical argument, else the Bible would give us proofs.” Many texts relied
upon as proofs of God’s existence are simply explications of the idea ‘if
God, as for example:

Psalm 94:9,10 — “He that planted the ear, shall
he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see? He that chastiseth
the nations, shall not he correct, even he that teacheth man knowledge?”
Plato says that God holds the soul by its roots, — he therefore does not
need to demonstrate to the soul the fact of his existence. Martineau, Seat
of Authority, 308, says well that Scripture and preaching only interpret
what is already in the heart which it addresses: “Flinging a warm breath
on the inward oracles hid in invisible ink, it renders them articulate and
dazzling as the handwriting on the wall. The divine Seer does not convey
to you his revelation, but qualifies you to receive your own. This mutual
relation is possible only through the common presence of God in the.141
conscience of mankind.” Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 1:195-220 — “The
earth and sky make the same sensible impressions on the organs of a brute
that they do upon those of a man; but the brute never discerns the
‘invisible things’ of God, his ‘eternal power and godhood’” (

Our subconscious activity, so far as it is normal, is under the guidance of
the immanent Reason. Sensation, before it results in thought, has in it
logical elements which are furnished by mind — not ours, but that of the
Infinite One. Christ, the Revealer of God, reveals God in every man’s
mental life, and the Holy Spirit may be the principle of self-consciousness
in man as in God. Harris, God the Creator, tells us that “man finds the
Reason that is eternal and universal revealing itself in the exercise of his
own reason.” Savage, Life after Death, 268 — “How do you know that
your subliminal consciousness does not tap Omniscience, and get at the
facts of the universe?” Savage negatives this suggestion, however, and
wrongly favors the spirit-theory. For his own experience, see pages 295-
329 of his book.
C.M. Barrows, in Proceedings of Soc. for Psychical Research, vol. 12,
part 30, pages 34-36 — “There is a subliminal agent. What if this is
simply one intelligent Actor, filling the universe with his presence, as the
ether fills space; the common Inspirer of all mankind, a skilled Musician,
presiding over many pipes and keys, and playing through each what music
he will? The subliminal self is a universal fountain of energy, and each
man is an outlet of the stream. Each man’s personal self is contained in it,
and thus each man is made one with every other man. In that deep Force,
the last fact behind which analysis cannot go, all psychical and bodily
effects find their common origin.” The statement needs to be qualified by
the assertion of man’s ethical nature and distinct personality; see section
of this work on Ethical Monism, in chapter III. But there is truth here like
that which Coleridge sought to express in his Lolian Harp: “And what if
all of animated Nature Be but organic harps diversely framed, That
tremble into thought, as o’er them sweeps, Plastic and vast, one
intellectual breeze, At once the soul of each, and God of all?” See F. W.
H. Myers, human Personality.
Dorner, System of Theology, 1:75 — “The consciousness of God is the
true fastness of our self-consciousness…Since it is only in the God-conscious
man that the innermost personality comes to light, in like
manner, by means of the interweaving of that consciousness of God and
of the world, the world is viewed in God (‘sub specie eternitatis’), and the
certainty of the world first obtains its absolute security for the spirit.”.142
Royce, Spirit of Mod. Philosophy, synopsis in N. Y. Nation: “The one
indubitable fact is the existence of an infinite self, a Logos or World-mind
(345). That it exists is clear, I. Because idealism shows that real things
are nothing more nor less than ideas, or ‘possibilities of experience’; but a
mere ‘possibility’, as such, is nothing, and a world of ‘possible’
experiences, in so far as it is real, must be a world of actual experience to
some self (367). If then there be a real world, it has all the while existed
as ideal and mental, even before it became known to the particular mind
with which we conceive it as coming into connection (368). II. But there is
such a real world; for, when I think of an object, when I mean it, I do not
merely have in mind an idea resembling it, for I aim at the object, I pick it
out, I already in some measure possess it. The object is then already
present in essence to my hidden self-(370). As truth consists in knowledge
of the conformity of a cognition to its object, that alone can know a truth,
which includes within itself both idea and object. This inclusive Knower is
the Infinite Self-(374). With this I am in essence identical (371); it is my
larger self (372); and this larger self alone is (379). It includes all reality,
and we know other finite minds, because we arc one with them in its
unity” (409).
The experience of George John Romanes is instructive. For years he could
recognize no personal Intelligence controlling the universe. He made four
1. He forgot that only love can see, that God is not disclosed to the mere
intellect, but only to the whole man, to the integral mind, to what the
Scripture calls “the eyes of your heart” (

Ephesians 1:18). Experience
of life taught him at last the weakness of mere reasoning, and led him to
depend more upon the affections and intuitions. Then, as one might say,
he gave the X-rays of Christianity a chance to photograph God upon his
2. He began at the wrong end, with matter rather than with mind, with
cause and effect rather than with right and wrong, and so got involved in
the mechanical order and tried to interpret the moral realm by it. The
result was that instead of recognizing freedom, responsibility, sin, guilt,
he threw them out as pretenders. But study of conscience and will set him
right. He learned to take what he found instead of trying to turn it into
something else, and so came to interpret nature by spirit, instead of
interpreting spirit by nature.
3. He took the Cosmos by bits, instead of regarding it as a whole. His
early thinking insisted on finding design in each particular part, or.143
nowhere. But his more mature thought recognized wisdom and reason in
the ordered whole. As he realized that this is a universe, he could not get
rid of the idea of an organizing Mind. He came to see that the Universe, as
a thought, implies a Thinker.
4. He fancied that nature excludes God, instead of being only the method
of God’s working. When he learned how a thing was done, he at first
concluded that God had not done it. His later thought recognized that God
and nature are not mutually exclusive. So he came to find no difficulty
even in miracles and inspiration; for the God who is in man and of whose
mind and will nature is only the expression, can reveal himself, if need be,
in special ways. So George John Romanes came back to prayer, to Christ,
to the church.
On the general subject of intuition as connected with our idea of God, see
Ladd, in Bibliotheca Sacra, 1877:1-36, 611-616; 1878:619; Fisher, on
Final Cause an Intuition, in Journ. Christ. Philos., Jan. 1883:113-134;
Patton, on Genesis of Idea of God, in Jour. Christ. Philos., Api.
1883:283-307; McCosh, Christianity and Positivism, 124-140; Mansel, in
Eneyc. Brit., 8th ed., vol. 14:604 and 615; Robert Hall, sermon on
Atheism; Hutton on Atheism, in Essays, 1:3-37; Shairp, in Princeton
Rev., March, 1881:284..144
Although the knowledge of God’s existence is intuitive, it may be
explicated and confirmed by arguments drawn from the actual universe and
from the abstract ideas of the human mind.
Remark 1. These arguments are probable, not demonstrative. For this
reason they supplement each other, and constitute a series of evidences
which is cumulative in its nature. Though, taken singly, none of them can
be considered absolutely decisive, they together furnish a corroboration of
our primitive conviction of God’s existence, which is of great practical
value, and is in itself sufficient to bind the moral action of men.
Butler, Analogy, Introduction, Bohn’s ed., 72 — Probable evidence
admits of degrees, from the highest moral certainty to the lowest
presumption. Yet probability is the guide of life. In matters of morals and
religion, we are not to expect mathematical or demonstrative, but only
probable, evidence, and the slightest preponderance of such evidence may
be sufficient to bind our moral action. The truth of our religion, like the
truth of common matters, is to be judged by the whole evidence taken
together; for probable proofs, by being added, not only increase the
evidence, but multiply it. Dove. Logic of Christ. Faith, 24 — Value of the
arguments taken together is much greater than that of any single one.
Illustrated from water, air and food, together but not separately,
supporting life; value of £1000 note, not in paper, stamp, writing,
signature, taken separately. A whole bundle of rods cannot be broken,
though each rod in the bundle may be broken separately. The strength of
the bundle is the strength of the whole. Lord Bacon, Essay on Atheism:
“A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in
philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion. For while the mind of
man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them
and go no further, but, when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate
and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity.” Murphy,
Scientific Bases of Faith, 221-223 — “The proof of a God and of a
spiritual world which is to satisfy us must consist in a number of different
but converging lines of proof.”.145
In a case where only circumstantial evidence is attainable, many lines of
proof sometimes converge, and though no one of the lines reaches the
mark, the conclusion to which they all point becomes the only rational
one. To doubt that there is a London, or that there was a Napoleon, would
indicate insanity; yet London and Napoleon are proved by only probable
evidence. There is no constraining efficacy in the arguments for God’s
existence; but the same can be said of all reasoning that is not
demonstrative. Another interpretation of the facts is possible, but no other
conclusion is so satisfactory, as that God is; see Fisher, Nature and
Method of Revelation, 129. Prof. Rogers: “If in practical affairs we were
to hesitate to act until we had absolute and demonstrative certainty, we
should never begin to move at all.” For this reason an old Indian official
advised a young Indian judge “always to give his verdict, but always to
avoid giving the grounds of it.”
Bowne, Philos. of Theism, 11-14 — “Instead of doubting everything that
can be doubted, let us rather doubt nothing until we are compelled to
doubt…In society we get on better by assuming that men are truthful, and
by doubting only for Special reasons, than we should if we assumed that
all men are liars, and believed them only when compelled. So in all our
Investigations we make more progress If we assume the truthfulness of
the universe and of our own nature than we should If we doubted
both…The first method seems the more rigorous, but it can be applied
only to mathematics, which is a purely subjective science. When we come
to deal with reality, the method brings thought to a standstill…The law the
logician lays down is this: Nothing may be believed which is not proved.
The law the mind actually follows is this: Whatever the mind demands for
the satisfaction of its subjective interests and tendencies may be assumed
as real, in default of positive disproof.”
Remark 2. A consideration of these arguments may also serve to explicate
the contents of an intuition, which has remained obscure and only half
conscious for lack of reflection. The arguments, indeed, are the efforts of
the mind that already has a conviction of God’s existence to give to itself a
formal account of its belief. An exact estimate of their logical value and of
their relation to the intuition, which they seek to express in syllogistic form,
is essential to any proper refutation of the prevalent atheistic and
pantheistic reasoning.
Diman, Theistic Argument, 363 — “Nor have I claimed that the
existence, even, of this Being can be demonstrated as we demonstrate the
abstract truths of science. I have only claimed that the universe, as a great.146
fact, demands a rational explanation. and that the most rational
explanation that can possibly be given is that furnished in the conception
of such a Being. In this conclusion reason rests, and refuses to rest in any
other.” Ruckert: “Wer Gott nicht fuhlt in sich und allen Lebenskreisen,
Dem werdet ihr nicht ihn beweisen mit Beweisen.” Harris, Philos. Basis
of Theism, 307 — “Theology depends on noetic and empirical science to
give the occasion on which the idea of the Absolute Being arises, and to
give content to the idea.” Andrew Fuller, Part of Syst. of Divin., 4:283,
questions “whether argumentation in favor of the existence of God has not
made more skeptics than believers.” So far as this true, it is due to an
overstatement of the arguments and an exaggerated notion of what is to be
expected from them. See Nitzsch, Christian Doctrine, translation, 140;
Ebrard, Dogmatik, 1:119, 120; Fisher, Essays on Supernatural Origin of
Christianity, 572, 573; Van Oosterzee, 238, 241.
“Evidences of Christianity?” said Coleridge, “1 am weary of the word.”
The more Christianity was proved, the less it was believed. The revival of
religion under Whitefield and Wesley did what all the apologists of the
eighteenth century could not do, — it quickened men’s intuitions into life,
and made them practically recognize God. Martineau, Types, 2:231 —
Men can “bow the knee to the passing Zeitqeist, while turning the back to
the consensus of all the ages”; Seat of Authority, 312 — “Our reasonings
lead to explicit Theism because they start from implicit Theism.”
Illingworth, Div. and Hum. Personality, 81 — “The proofs are… attempts
to account for and explain and justify something that already exists; to
decompose a highly complex though immediate judgment into its
constituent elements, none of which when isolated can have the
completeness or the cogency of the original conviction taken as a whole.”
Bowne, Philos. of Theism, 31, 32 — “Demonstration is only a makeshift
for helping ignorance to insight…When we come to an argument in which
the whole nature is addressed, the argument must seem weak or strong,
according as the nature is feebly, or fully, developed. The moral argument
for theism cannot seem strong to one without a conscience. The argument
from cognitive interests will be empty when there is no cognitive interest.
Little souls find very little that calls for explanation or that excites
surprise, and they are satisfied with a correspondingly small view of life
and existence. In such a case we cannot hope for universal agreement. We
can only proclaim the faith that is in us, in hope that this proclamation
may not be without some response in other minds and hearts…We have
only probable evidence for the uniformity of nature or for the affection of
friends. We cannot logically prove either. The deepest convictions are not
the certainties of logic, but the certainties of life.”.147
Remark 3. The arguments for the divine existence may be reduced to four,
I. The Cosmological;
II. The Teleological;
III. The Anthropological; and
IV. The Ontological.
We shall examine these in order, seeking first to determine the precise
conclusions to which they respectively lead, and then to ascertain in what
manner the four may be combined
This is not properly an argument from effect to cause; for the proposition
that every effect must have a cause is simply identical, and means only that
every caused event must have a cause. It is rather an argument from begun
existence to a sufficient cause of that beginning, and may be accurately
stated as follows:
Everything begun, whether substance or phenomenon, owes its existence
to some producing cause. The universe, at least so far as its present form is
concerned, is a thing begun, and owes its existence to a cause which is
equal to its production. This cause must be indefinitely great.
It is to be noticed that this argument moves wholly in the realm of nature.
The argument from man’s constitution and beginning upon the planet is
treated under another head (see Anthropological Argument). That the
present form of the universe is not eternal in the past, but has begun to be,
not only personal observation but the testimony of geology assures us. For
statements of the argument, see Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (Bohn’s
transl.),370; Gillespie, Necessary Existence of God, 8:34-44; Bibliotheca
Sacra, 1849:613; 1850:613; Porter, Hum. Intellect, 50; Herbert Spencer,
First Principles, 93. It has often been claimed, as by Locke, Clarke, and
Robert Hall, that this argument is sufficient to conduct the mind to an
Eternal and Infinite First Cause. We proceed therefore to mention
1. The defects of the Cosmological Argument..148
A. It is impossible to show that the universe, so far as its substance is
concerned, has had a beginning. The law of causality declares, not that
everything has a cause — for then God himself must have a cause — but
rather that everything begun has a cause, or in other words, that every
event or change has a cause.
Hume, Philos. Works, 2:411 sq., urges with reason that we never saw a
world made. Many philosophers in Christian lands, as Martineau, Essays,
1:206, and the prevailing opinions of anti-Christian times, have held
matter to be eternal. Bowne, Metaphysics, 107 — “For being itself, the
reflective reason never asks a cause, unless the being show signs of
dependence. It is change that first gives rise to the demand for cause.”
Martineau, Types, 1:291 — “it is not existence, as such, that demands a
cause, but the coming into existence of what did not exist before. The
intellectual law of causality is a law for phenomena, and not for entity.”
See also McCosh, Intuitions, 225-241; Calderwood, Philos. of Infinite,
61. Per contra, see Murphy, Scient. Bases of Faith, 49, 195, and Habit
and Intelligence, 1:55-67; Knight, Lect. on Metaphysics, lect. ii, p. 19.
B. Granting that the universe, so far as its phenomena are concerned, has
had a cause, it is impossible to show that any other cause is required than a
cause within itself, such as the pantheist supposes.
Flint. Theism, 65 — “The cosmological argument alone proves only
force, and no mere force is God. Intelligence must go with power to make
a Being that can be called God.” Diman, Theistic Argument: “The
cosmological argument alone cannot decide whether the force that causes
change is permanent self-existent mind, or permanent self-existent
matter.” Only intelligence gives the basis for an answer. Only mind in the
universe enables us to infer mind in the maker. But the argument from
intelligence is not the Cosmological, but the Teleological, and to this last
belong all proofs of Deity from order and combination in nature.
Upton, Hibbert Lectures, 201-296 — Science has to do with those
changes which one portion of the visible universe causes in another
portion. Philosophy and theology deal with the Infinite Cause that brings
into existence and sustains the entire series of finite causes. Do we ask the
cause of the stars? Science says: Fire-mist, or an indefinite regress of
causes. Theology says: Granted; but this infinite regress demands for its
explanation the belief In God. We must believe both in God, and in an
endless series of finite causes. God is the cause of all causes, the soul of
all souls: “Center and soul of every sphere, Yet to each loving heart how.149
near!” We do not need, as mere matter of science, to think of any
C. Granting that the universe must have had a cause outside of itself, it is
impossible to show that this cause has not itself been caused, i.e, consists
of an infinite series of dependent causes. The principle of causality does not
require that everything begun should be traced back to an uncaused cause;
it demands that we should assign a cause, but not that we should assign a
first cause.
So with the whole series of causes. The materialist is bound to find a
cause for this series, only when the series is shown to have had a
beginning. But the very hypothesis of an infinite series of causes excludes
the idea of such a beginning. An infinite chain has no topmost link (versus
Robert Hall); an uncaused and eternal succession does not need a cause
(versus Clarke and Locke). See Whately, Logic, 270; New Englander,
Jan. 1874:75; Alexander, Moral Science, 221; Pfleiderer, Die Religion,
1:160-164; Calderwood, Moral Philos., 225; Herbert Spencer, First
Principles, 37 — criticized by Bowne, Review of H. Spencer, 36. Julius
Muller, Doct. Sin, 2:128, says that the causal principle is not satisfied till
by regress we come to a cause which is not itself an effect — to one who
is causa sui; Aids to Study of German Theology, 15-17 — Even if the
universe be eternal, its contingent and relative nature requires us to
postulate an eternal Creator; Diman, Theistic Argument, 86 — “While the
law of causation does not lead logically up to the conclusion of a first
cause, it compels us to affirm it.” We reply that it is not the law of
causation that compels us to affirm it, for this certainly “does not lead
logically up to the conclusion.” If we infer an uncaused cause, we do it,
not by logical process, but by virtue of the intuitive belief within us. So
substantially Secretan, and Whewell, in Indications of a Creator, and in
Hist. of Scientific Ideas, 2:321, 322 — “The mind takes refuge, in the
assumption of a First Cause, from an employment inconsistent with its
own nature”; “we necessarily infer a First Cause, although the
palætiological sciences only point toward it, but do not lead us to it.”
D. Granting that the cause of the universe has not itself been caused, it is
impossible to show that this cause is not finite, like the Universe itself. The
causal principle requires a cause no greater than just sufficient to account
for the effect.
We cannot therefore infer an infinite cause, unless the universe is infinite
— which cannot be proved, but can only be assumed — and this is
assuming an infinite in order to prove an infinite. All we know of the.150
universe is finite. An infinite universe implies infinite number. But no
number can be infinite, for to any number, however great, a unit can be
added, which shows that it was not infinite before. Here again we see that
the most approved forms of the Cosmological Argument are obliged to
avail themselves of the intuition of the infinite, to supplement the logical
process. Versus Martineau, Study, 1:416 — “Though we cannot directly
infer the infinitude of God from a limited creation, indirectly we may
exclude every other position by resort to its unlimited scene of existence
(space). “But this would equally warrant our belief in the infinitude of our
fellow men. Or, it is the argument of Clarke and Gillespie (see
Ontological Argument below). Schiller, Die Grosse der Welt, seems to
hold to a boundless universe. He represents a tired spirit as seeking the
last limit of creation. A second pilgrim meets him from the spaces beyond
with the words: “Steh! du segelst umsonst, — vor dir Unendlichkeit” —
“Hold! thou journeyest in vain, — before thee is only Infinity.” On the
law of parsimony, see Sir Win. Hamilton, Discussions, 628.
2. The Value of the Cosmological Argument, then, is simply this, — it
proves the existence of some cause of the universe indefinitely great. When
we go beyond this and ask whether this cause is a cause of being, or merely
a cause of change, to the universe; whether it is a cause apart from the
universe, or one with it; whether it is an eternal cause, or a cause
dependent upon some other cause; whether it is intelligent or unintelligent,
infinite or finite, one or many, — this argument cannot assure us.
On the whole argument, see Flint, Theism, 93-130; Mozley, Essays, Hist,
and Theol., 2:414-444; Hedge, Ways of the Spirit 148-154; Studien und
Kritiken, 1876:9-31.
This is not properly an argument from design to a designer; for that design
implies a designer is simply an identical proposition. It may be more
correctly stated as follows: Order and useful collocation pervading a
system respectively imply intelligence and purpose as the cause of that
order and collocation. Since order and useful collocation pervade the
universe, there must exist an intelligence adequate to the production of this
order, and a will adequate to direct this collocation to useful ends.
Etymologically, “teleological argument” = argument to ends or final
causes, that is, “causes which, beginning as a thought, work themselves.151
out into a fact as an end or result” (Porter. Hum. Intellect, 592-618); —
health, for example, is the final cause of exercise, while exercise is the
efficient cause of health. This definition of the argument would be broad
enough to cover the proof of a designing intelligence drawn from the
constitution of man. This last, however, is treated as a part of the
Anthropological Argument, which follows this, and the Teleological
Argument covers only the proof of a designing intelligence drawn from
nature. Hence Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (Bohn’s trans.), 381, calls it
the physico-theological argument. On methods of stating the argument,
see Bibliotheca Sacra, Oct. 1867:625. See also Hedge, Ways of the Spirit,
155-185; Mozley, Essays Hist. and Theol, 2:365-413.
Hicks, in his Critique of Design — Arguments, 347-389, makes two
arguments instead of one: (1) the argument from order to intelligence, to
which he gives the name Eutaxiological; (2) the argument from
adaptation to purpose, to which he would restrict the name Teleological.
He holds that teleology proper cannot prove intelligence, because in
speaking of “ends” at all, it must assume the very intelligence, which it
seeks to prove; that it actually does prove simply the intentional exercise
of an intelligence whose existence has been previously established.
“Circumstances, forces or agencies converging to a definite rational result
imply volition — imply that this result is intended — is an end. This is the
major premise of this new teleology.” He objects to the term “final cause.”
The end is not a cause at all — it is a motive. The characteristic element
of cause is power to produce an effect. Ends have no such power. The will
may choose them or set them aside. As already assuming intelligence,
ends cannot prove intelligence.
With this in the main we agree, and count it a valuable help to the
statement and understanding of the argument. In the very observation of
order, however, as well as in arguing from it, we are obliged to assume
the same all arranging intelligence. We see no objection therefore to
making Eutaxiology the first part of the Teleological Argument, as we do
above. See review of Hicks, in Methodist Quarterly Rev., July, 1883:569-
576. We proceed however to certain
1. Further explanations.
A. The major premise expresses a primitive conviction. It is not invalidated
by the objections:.152
(a) that order and useful collocation may exist without being purposed —
for we are compelled by our very mental constitution to deny this in all
cases where the order and collocation pervade a system:
(b) that order and useful collocation may result from the mere operation of
physical forces and laws — for these very forces and laws imply, instead of
excluding, an originating and superintending intelligence and will.
Janet, in his work on Final Causes, 8, denies that finality is a primitive
conviction, like causality, and calls it the result of an induction. He
therefore proceeds from (1) marks of order and useful collocation to (2)
finality in nature, and then to (3) an intelligent cause of this finality or
“pre-conformity to future event.” So Diman, Theistic Argument, 105,
claims simply that, as change requires cause, so orderly change requires
intelligent cause. We have shown, however, that induction and argument
of every kind presupposes intuitive belief in final cause. Nature does not
give us final cause; but no more does she give us efficient cause. Mind
gives us both, and gives them as clearly upon one experience as after a
thousand. Ladd: “Things have mind in them; else they could not be
minded by us.” The Duke of Argyll told Darwin that it seemed to him
wholly impossible to ascribe the adjustments of nature to any other
agency than that of mind. “Wells” said Darwin, “that impression has
often come upon me with overpowering force. But then, at other times, it
all seems — ; “and then he passed his hands over his eyes, as if to
indicate the passing of a vision out of sight. Darwinism is not a refutation
of ends in nature, but only of a particular theory with regard to the way in
which ends are realized in the organic world. Darwin would begin with an
infinitesimal germ, and make all the subsequent development
unteleological; see Schurman, Belief in God, 193.
(a) Illustration of unpurposed order in the single throwing of “double
sixes,” — constant throwing of double sixes indicates design. So
arrangement of detritus at mouth of river, and warming pans sent to the
West Indies, — useful but not purposed. Momerie, Christianity and
Evolution, 72 — “It is only within narrow limits that seemingly
purposeful arrangements are produced by chance. And therefore, as the
signs of purpose increase, the presumption in favor of their accidental
origin diminishes.” Elder, Ideas from Nature, 81, 82 — “The uniformity
of a boy’s marbles shows them to be products of design. A single one
might be accidental, but a dozen cannot be. So atomic uniformity
indicates manufacture.” Illustrations of purposed order, in Beattie’s
garden, Tillotson’s blind men, Kepler’s salad. Dr. Carpenter: “The atheist
is like a man examining the machinery of a great mill, who, finding that.153
the whole is moved by a shaft proceeding from a brick wall, infers that the
shaft is a sufficient explanation of what he sees, and that there is no
moving power behind it.” Lord Kelvin: “The atheistic idea is
nonsensical.” J. G. Paton, Life, 2:191 — The sinking of a well on the
island of Aniwa convinces the cannibal chief Namakei that Jehovah God
exists, the invisible One. See Chauncey Wright, in N. Y. Nation, Jan. 15,
1874; Murphy, Scientific Bases of Faith, 208.
(b) Bowne, Review of Herbert Spencer, 231-247 — “Law is method, not
cause. A man cannot offer the very fact to be explained, as its sufficient
explanation.” Martineau, Essays, 1:144 — “Patterned damask, made not
by the weaver, but by the loom?” Dr. Stevenson: “house requires no
architect, because it is built by stone-masons and carpenters?” Joseph
Cook: “Natural law without God behind it is no more than a glove without
a hand in it, and all that is done by the gloved hand of God in nature is
done by the hand and not by the glove. Evolution is a process, not a
power: a method of operation, not an operator. The laws of spelling and
grammar, but according to those laws do not write a book. So the book of
the universe is not written by the laws of heat, electricity, gravitation,
evolution, but according to those laws.” G. F. Wright, Ant, and Orig. of
Hum. Race, lecture IX — “It is impossible for evolution to furnish
evidence which shall drive design out of nature. It can only drive it back
to an earlier point of entrance, thereby increasing our admiration for the
power of the Creator to accomplish ulterior designs by unlikely means.”
Evolution is only the method of God. It has to do with the how, not with
the why, of phenomena, and therefore is not inconsistent with design, but
rather is a new and higher illustration of design. Henry Ward Beecher:
“Design by wholesale is greater than design by retail.” Frances Power
Cobbe: “It is a singular fact that, whenever we find out how a thing is
done, our first conclusion seems to be that God did not do it.” Why should
we say: “The more law, the less God?” The theist refers the phenomena to
a cause that knows itself and what it is doing; the atheist refers them to a
power which knows nothing of itself and what it is doing (Bowne). George
John Romanes said that, if God be immanent, then all natural causation
must appear to be mechanical, and it is no argument against the divine
origin of a thing to prove it due to natural causation: “Causes in nature do
not obviate the necessity of a cause in nature.” Shaler, Interpretation of
Nature, 47 — Evolution shows that the direction of affairs is under
control of something like our own intelligence: “Evolution spells
Purpose.” Clarke, Christ. Theology, 105 — “The modern doctrine of
evolution has been awake to the existence of innumerable ends within the.154
universe, but not to the one great end for the universe itself.” Huxley,
Critques and Addresses, 274, 275, 307 —
“The teleological and mechanical views of the universe are not mutually
exclusive.” Sir William Hamilton, Metaphysics: “Intelligence stands first
in the order of existence. Efficient causes are preceded by final causes.”
See also Thornton, Old Fashioned Ethics, 199-265; Archbp. Temple.
Bampton Lect., 1884:99-123; Owen, Anat. of Vertebrates, 3:796: Peirce,
Ideality in the Physical Sciences, 1-35; Newman Smyth, Through Science
to Faith, 96; Fisher, Nat. and Meth. of Rev., 135.
B. The minor premise expresses a working principle of all science, namely,
that all things have their uses, that order pervades the universe, and that the
methods of nature are rational methods. Evidences of this appear in the
correlation of the chemical elements to each other; in the fitness of the
inanimate world to be the basis and support of life; in the typical forms and
unity of plan apparent in the organic creation; in the existence and
cooperation of natural laws; in cosmical order and compensations.
This minor premise is not invalidated by the objections:
(a) That we frequently misunderstand the end actually subserved by natural
events and objects; for the principle is, not that we necessarily know the
actual end, but that we necessarily believe that there is some end, in every
case of systematic order and collocation.
(b) That the order of the universe is manifestly imperfect; for this, if
granted, would argue, not absence of contrivance, but some special reason
for imperfection, either in the limitations of the contriving intelligence
itself, or in the nature of the end sought (as, for example, correspondence
with the moral state and probation of sinners).
The evidences of order and useful collocation are found both in the
indefinitely small and the indefinitely great. The molecules are
manufactured articles; and the compensations of the solar system which
provide that a secular flattening of the earth’s orbit shall be made up for
by a secular rounding of that same orbit, alike show an intelligence far
transcending our own; see Cooke, Religion and Chemistry, and
Credentials of Science, 23 — “Beauty is the harmony of relations which
perfect fitness produces: law is the prevailing principle which underlies
that harmony. Hence both beauty and law imply design. From energy,
fitness, beauty, order, sacrifice, we argue might, skill, perfection, law, and
love in a Supreme Intelligence. Christianity implies design, and is the.155
completion of the design argument.” Pfleiderer, Philos. Religion, 1:168 —
“A good definition of beauty is immanent purposiveness, the teleological
ideal background of reality, the shining of the Idea through phenomena.”
Bowne, Philos. Theism, 85 — “Design is never causal. It is only ideal,
and it demands an efficient cause for its realization. If ice is not to sink,
and to freeze out life, there must be some molecular structure which shall
make its bulk greater than that of an equal weight of water.” Jackson,
Theodore Parker, 355 — “Rudimentary organs are like the silent letters in
many words, — both are witnesses to a past history; and there is
intelligence in their preservation.” Diman, Theistic Argument: “Not only
do we observe in the world the change which is the basis of the
Cosmological Argument, but we perceive that this change proceeds
according to a fixed and invariable rule. In inorganic nature, general
order, or regularity; in organic nature, special order or adaptation.”
Bowne, Review of H. Spencer, 113-115, 224-230: “Inductive science
proceeds upon the postulate that the reasonable and the natural are one.”
This furnished the guiding clue to Harvey and Cuvier; see Whewell, Hist.
Induct. Sciences, 2:489-491. Kant: “The anatomist must assume that
nothing in man is in vain.” Aristotle: “Nature makes nothing in vain.” On
molecules as manufactured articles, see Maxfield, in Nature, Sept. 25,
1873. See also Tulloch, Theism, 116, 120; LeConte, Religion and
Science, lect. 2 and 3; McCosh, Typical Forms, 81, 420; Agassiz, Essay
on Classification, 9, 10; Bibliotheca Sacra 1849:626 and 1850:613;
Hopkins, in Princeton Review, 1882:181
(a) Design, in fact that rivers always run by large towns? that springs are
always found at gambling places? Plants made for man, and man for
worms? Voltaire: “Noses are made for spectacles — let us wear them!”
Pope: “While man exclaims ‘See all things for my use,’ ‘See man for
mine,’ replies the pampered goose.” Cherries do not ripen In the cold of
winter when they do not taste as well, and grapes do not ripen in the heat
of summer when the new wine would turn to vinegar?
Nature divides melons into sections for convenience in family eating?
Cork tree made for bottle-stoppers? The child, who was asked the cause
of salt in the ocean, attributed it to codfish, thus dimly confounding final
cause with efficient cause. Teacher: “What are marsupials?” Pupil:
“Animals that have pouches in their stomachs.” Teacher: “And what do
they have pouches for?” Pupil: “To crawl into and conceal themselves in,
when they are pursued.” Why are the days longer in summer than in
winter? Because it is the property of all natural objects to elongate under
the influence of heat. A Jena professor held that doctors do not exist.156
because of disease, but that diseases exist precisely in order that there
may be doctors. Kepler was an astronomical Don Quixote. He discussed
the claims of eleven different damsels to become his second wife, and he
likened the planets to huge animals rushing through the sky. Many of the
objections to design arise from confounding a part of the creation with the
whole, or a structure in the process of development with a structure
completed. For illustrations of mistaken ends, see Janet, Final Causes.
(b) Alphonso of Castile took offense at the Ptolemaic system, and
intimated that, if he had been consulted at the creation, he could have
suggested valuable improvements. Lange, in his History of Materialism,
illustrates some of the methods of nature by millions of gun barrels shot in
all directions to kill a single hare; by ten thousand keys bought at
haphazard to get into a shut room; by building a city in order to obtain a
house. Is not the ice a little overdone about the poles? See John Stuart
Mill’s indictment of nature, in his posthumous Essays on Religion, 29 —
“Nature impales men, breaks men as if on a wheel, casts them to be
devoured by wild beasts crushes them with stones like the first Christian
martyr, starves them with hunger, freezes them with cold, poisons them
with the quick or slow venom of her exhalations, and has hundreds of
other hideous deaths in reserve, such as the ingenious cruelty of a Nabis
or a Domitian never surpassed.” So argue Schopenhauer and Von
The doctrine of evolution answers many of these objections, by showing
that order and useful collocation in the system as a whole is necessarily
and cheaply purchased by imperfection and suffering in the initial stages
of development. The question is: Does the system as a whole imply
design? My opinion is of no value as to the usefulness of an intricate
machine the purpose of which I do not know. If I stand at the beginning of
a road and do not know whither it leads; it is presumptuous in me to point
out a more direct way to its destination. Bowne, Philos. of Theism, 20-22
— “In order to counterbalance the impressions which apparent disorder
and immorality in nature make upon us, we have to assume that the
universe at its root is not only rational, but good. This is faith, but it is an
act on which our whole moral life depends.” Metaphysics, 165 — “The
same argument which would deny mind in nature denies mind in man.”
Fisher, Nat. and Meth. of Rev., 264 — “Fifty years ago, when the crane
stood on top of the tower of unfinished Cologne Cathedral, was there no
evidence of design in the whole structure?” Yet we concede that, so long
as we cannot with John Stuart Mill explain the imperfections of the
universe by any limitations in the Intelligence which contrived it, we are
shut up to regarding them as intended to correspond with the moral state.157
and probation of sinners which God foresaw and provided for at the
creation. Evil things in the universe are symbols of sin, and helps to its
overthrow. See Bowne, Review of H. Spencer, 264, 205; McCosh, Christ.
and Positivism, 82 sq.; Martineau, Essays, 1:50, and Study, 1:851-398;
Porter, Hum. Intellect, 599; Mivart, Lessons from Nature, 366-371;
Princeton Rev., 1878:272-303; Shaw, on Positivism.
2. Defects of the Teleological Argument. These attach not to the premises
but to the conclusion sought to be drawn therefrom.
A. The argument cannot prove a personal God. The order and useful
collocations of the universe may be only the changing phenomena of an
impersonal intelligence and will, such as pantheism supposes. The finality
may be only immanent finality.
There is such a thing as immanent and unconscious finality. National
spirit, without set purpose, constructs language. The bee works
unconsciously to ends. Strato of Lampsacus regarded the world as a vast
animal. Aristotle, Phys., 2:8 — “Plant the shin-builder’s skill within the
timber itself, and you have the mode in which nature produces.”
Here we see a dim anticipation of the modern doctrine of development
from within instead of creation from without. Neander: “The divine work
goes on from within outward.” John Fiske: “The argument from the watch
has been superseded by the argument from the flower.” Iverach, Theism,
91 — “The effect of evolution has been simply to transfer the cause from
a mere external influence working from without to an immanent rational
principle.” Martineau, Study, 1:349, 350 — “Theism is in no way
committed to the doctrine of a God external to the world…nor does
intelligence require, in order to gain an object, to give it externality.”
Newman Smyth, Place of Death, 62-80 — “The universe exists in some
all pervasive Intelligence. Suppose we could see a small heap of brick,
scraps of metal, and pieces of mortar, gradually shaping themselves into
the walls and interior structure of a building, adding needed material as
the work advanced, and at last presenting in its completion a factory
furnished with varied and finely wrought machinery. Or, a locomotive
carrying a process of self-repair to compensate for wear, growing and
increasing in size, detaching from itself at intervals pieces of brass or iron
endowed with the power of growing up step by step into other locomotives
capable of running themselves and of reproducing new locomotives in
their turn.” So nature in its separate parts may seem mechanical, but as a
whole it is rational. Weismann does not “disown a directive power,” —.158
only this power is “behind the mechanism as its final cause …it must be
Impressive as are these evidences of intelligence in the universe as a
whole, and increased in number as they are by the new light of evolution,
we must still hold that nature alone cannot prove that this intelligence is
personal. Hopkins, Miscellanies, 18-36 — “So long as there is such a
thing as impersonal and adapting intelligence in the brute creation, we
cannot necessarily infer from unchanging laws a free and personal God.”
See Fisher, Supernat. Origin of Christianity, 576-578. Kant shows that
the argument does not prove intelligence apart from the world (Critique,
370). We must bring mind to the world, if we would find mind in it. Leave
out man, and nature cannot be properly interpreted: the intelligence and
will in nature may still be unconscious. But, taking in man, we are bound
to get our idea of the intelligence and will in nature from the highest type
of intelligence and will we know, and that is man’s “Nullus in
microcosmo spiritus, nullus in macrocosmo Deus.” “We receive but what
we give, And in our life alone does Nature live.”
The Teleological Argument therefore needs to be supplemented by the
Anthropological Argument, or the argument from the mental and moral
constitution of man. By itself, it does not prove a Creator. See
Calderwood, Moral Philosophy, 26; Ritter, Hist. Anc. Philos., bk. 9,
chap. 6: Foundations of our Faith, 38; Murphy, Scientific Bases, 215;
Habit and Intelligence, 2:6, and chap. 27. On immanent finality, see Janet,
Final Causes, 345-415; Diman, Theistic Argument, 201-203. Since
righteousness belongs only to personality, this argument cannot prove
righteousness in God. Flint, Theism, 66 — “Power and Intelligence alone
do not constitute God, though they be infinite. A being may have these,
and, if lacking righteousness, may be a devil.” Here again we see the need
of the Anthropological Argument to supplement this.
B. Even if this argument could prove personality in the intelligence and will
that originated the order of the universe, it could not prove either the unity,
the eternity, or the infinity of God; not the unity — for the useful
collocations of the universe might be the result of oneness of counsel,
instead of oneness of essence, in the contriving intelligence; not the eternity
— for a created demiurge might conceivably have designed the universe;
not the infinity — since all marks of order and collocation within our
observation are simply finite.
Diman asserts (Theistic Argument, 114) that all the phenomena of the
universe must be due to the same source — since all alike are subject to.159
the same method of sequence, e. g., gravitation — and that the evidence
points us irresistibly to some one explanatory cause. We can regard this
assertion only as the utterance of a primitive belief in a first cause, not as
the conclusion of logical demonstration, for we know only an infinitesimal
part of the universe. From the point of view of the intuition of an Absolute
Reason, however, we can cordially assent to the words of F.L. Patton:
“When we consider Matthew Arnold’s ‘stream of tendency,’ Spencer’s
‘unknowable’ Schopenhauer’s’world as will’, and Hartmann’s elaborate
defense of finality as the product of unconscious intelligence, we may well
ask if the theists, with their belief in one personal God are not in
possession of the only hypothesis that can save the language of these
writers from the charge of meaningless and idiotic raving” (Journ. Christ.
Philos., April, 1883:283-307).
The ancient world, which had only the light of nature, believed in many
gods. William James, Will to Believe, 44 — “If there be a divine Spirit of
the universe, nature, such as we know her, cannot possibly be its ultimate
word to man. Either there is no spirit revealed in nature, or else it is
inadequately revealed there; and (as all the higher religions have assumed)
what we call visible nature, or this world, must be but a veil and surface
show whose full meaning resides in a supplementary unseen, or other
world.” Bowne, Theory of Thought and Knowledge, 234 — “But is not
intelligence itself the mystery of mysteries?…No doubt, intellect is a great
mystery…But there is a choice in mysteries. Some mysteries leave other
things clear, and some leave things as dark and impenetrable as ever. The
former is the case with the mystery of intelligence. It makes possible the
comprehension of everything but itself.”
3. The value of the Teleological Argument is simply this, — it proves from
certain useful collocations and instances of order which have clearly had a
beginning, or in other words, from the present harmony of the universe,
that there exists an intelligence and will adequate to its contrivance. But
whether this intelligence and will is personal or impersonal, creator or only
fashioner, one or many, finite or infinite, eternal or owing its being to
another, necessary or free, this argument cannot assure us.
In it, however, we take a step forward. The causative power, which we
have proved, by the Cosmological Argument has now become an
intelligent and voluntary power.
John Stuart Mill, Three Essays on Theism, l68-170 — “In the present
state of our knowledge, the adaptations in nature afford a large balance of
probability in favor of causation by intelligence.” Ladd holds that,.160
whenever one being acts upon its like, each being undergoes changes of
state that belong to its own nature under the circumstances. Action of one
body on another never consists in transferring the state of one being to
another. Therefore there is no more difficulty in beings that are unlike
acting on one another than in beings that are like. We do not transfer ideas
to other minds, — we only rouse them to develop their own ideas. So
force also is positively not transferable. Bowne, Philos. of Theism, 49,
begins with “the conception of things interacting according to law and
forming an intelligible system. Such a system cannot be construed by
thought without the assumption of a unitary being which is the
fundamental reality of the system. 53 — No passage of influences or
forces will avail to bridge the gulf, so long as the things are regarded as
independent. 56 — The system itself cannot explain this interaction, for
the system is only the members of it. There must be some being in them
which is their reality, and of which they are in some sense phases or
manifestations. In other words, there must be a basal monism.” All this is
substantially the view of Lotze, of whose philosophy see criticism in
Stahlin’s Kant, Lotze, and Ritschl, 116-156, and especially 123.
Falckenberg, Gesch. der neueren Philosophic, 454, shows as to Lotze’s
view that his assumption of monistic unity and continuity does not explain
how change of condition in one thing should, as equalization or
compensation, follow change of condition in another thing. Lotze explains
this actuality by the ethical conception of an all-embracing Person. On the
whole argument, see Bibliotheca Sacra, 1819:634; Murphy, Sci. Bases.
216; Flint, Theism, 131-210; Pfleiderer, Die Religion, 1:164-174; W. R.
Benedict, on Theism and Evolution, in Andover Rev., 1886:307-350, 607-
This is an argument from the mental and moral condition of man to the
existence of an Author, Lawgiver, and End. It is sometimes called the
Moral Argument.
The common title “Moral Argument” is much too narrow, for it seems to
take account only of conscience in man, whereas the argument which this
title so imperfectly designates really proceeds from man’s intellectual and
emotional, as well as from his moral, nature. In choosing the designation
we have adopted, we desire, moreover, to rescue from the mere physicist
the term “Anthropology” — a term to which he has attached altogether
too limited a signification, and which, in his use of it, implies that man is.161
a mere animal, — to him Anthropology is simply the study of la b’te
humaine. Anthropology means, not simply the science of man’s physical
nature, origin, and relations, but also the science, which treats of his
higher spiritual being. Hence, in Theology, the term Anthropology
designates that division of the subject, which treats of man’s spiritual
nature and endowments, his original state and his subsequent apostasy. As
an argument, therefore, from man’s mental and moral nature, we can with
perfect propriety call the present argument the Anthropological Argument.
The argument is a complex one, and may be divided into three parts.
1. Man’s intellectual and moral nature must have had for its author an
intellectual and moral Being. The elements of the proof are as follows: —
(a) Man, as an intellectual and moral being, has had a beginning upon the
(b) Material and unconscious forces do not afford a sufficient cause for
man’s reason, conscience, and free will.
(c) Man, as an effect, can be referred only to a cause possessing self-consciousness
and a moral nature, in other words, personality.
This argument is in part an application to man of the principles of both
the Cosmological and the Teleological Arguments. Flint, Theism, 74 —
“Although causality does not involve design, nor design goodness, yet
design involves causality, and goodness both causality and design.”
Jacobi: “Nature conceals God; man reveals him.”
Man is an effect. The history of the geologic ages proves that man has not
always existed, and even if the lower creatures were his progenitors, his
intellect and freedom are not eternal a parte ante. We consider man, not
as a physical, but as a spiritual, being. Thompson, Christian Theism, 75
— “Every true cause must be sufficient to account for the effect.” Locke,
Essay, book 4, chap. 10 — “Cogitable existence cannot be produced out
of incogitable.” Martineau, Study of Religion, 1:258 sq.
Even if man had always existed, however, we should not need to abandon
the argument. We might start, not from beginning of existence, but from
beginning of phenomena. I might see God in the world, just as I see
thought, feeling, will, in my fellow men. Fullerton, Plain Argument for
God: I do not infer you, as cause of the existence of your body: 1
recognize you as present and working through your body. Its changes of
gesture and speech reveal a personality behind them. So I do not need to.162
argue back to a Being who once caused nature and history; I recognize a
present Being, exercising wisdom and power, by signs such as reveal
personality in man. Nature is itself the Watchmaker manifesting himself
in the very process of making the watch. This is the meaning of the noble
Epilogue to Robert Browning’s Dramatis Personæ, 252 — “That one
Face, far from vanish, rather grows, Or decomposes but to recompose,
Become my universe that feels and knows.” “That Face,” said Mr.
Browning to Mrs. Orr, “That Face is the face of Christ; that is how I feel
him.” Nature is an expression of the mind and will of Christ, as my face is
an expression of my mind and will. But in both cases, behind and above
the face is a personality, of which the face is but the partial and temporary
Bowne, Philos. Theism, 104, 107 — “My fellow beings act as if they had
thought, feeling, and will. So nature looks as if thought, feeling, and will
were behind it. If we deny mind in nature, we must deny mind in man. If
there be no controlling mind In nature, moreover, there can be none in
man, for if the basal power is blind and necessary, then all that depends
upon it is necessitated also.” LeConte, in Royce’s Conception of God, 44
— “There is only one place in the world where we can get behind physical
phenomena, behind the veil of matter, namely, in our own brain, and we
find there a self, a person. Is it not reasonable that, if we could get behind
the veil of nature, we should find the same, that is, a Person? But if so, we
must conclude, an infinite Person, and therefore the only complete
Personality that exists. Perfect personality is not only self-conscious, but
self-existent. They are only imperfect images, and, as it were, separated
fragments, of the infinite Personality of God.
Personality = self-consciousness + self-determination in view of moral
ends. The brute has intelligence and will, but has neither self-consciousness,
conscience, nor free will. See Julius Muller, Doctrine of
Sin, 1:76 sq. Diman, Theistic Argument, 91, 251 — “Suppose ‘the
intuitions of the moral faculty are the slowly organized results of
experience received from the race’; still, having found that the universe
affords evidence of a supremely intelligent cause, we may believe that
man’s moral nature affords the highest illustration of its mode of
working”; 358 — “Shall we explain the lower forms of will by the higher,
or the higher by the lower?”
2. Man’s moral nature proves the existence of a holy Lawgiver and Judge.
The elements of the proof are.163
(a) Conscience recognizes the existence of a moral law, which has supreme
(b) Feelings of ill desert and fears of judgment follow known violations of
this moral law.
(c) This moral law, since it is not self-imposed, and these threats of
judgment, since they are not self-executing, respectively argues the
existence of a holy will that has imposed the law, and of a punitive power
that will execute the threats of the moral nature.
See Bishop Butler’s Sermons on Human Nature, in Works, Bohn’s ed.,
385-414. Butler’s great discovery was that of the supremacy of
conscience in the moral constitution of man: “Had it strength as it has
right, had it power as it has manifest authority, it would absolutely govern
the world.” Conscience = the moral judiciary of the soul — not law, nor
sheriff, but judge; see under Anthropology. Diman, Theistic Argument,
251 — “Conscience does not lay down a law; it warns us of the existence
of a law; and not only of a law, but of a purpose — not our own, but the
purpose of another, which it is our mission to realize.” See Murphy,
Scientific Bases of Faith, 218 sq. It proves personality in the Lawgiver,
because its utterances are not abstract, like those of reason, but are in the
nature of command: they are not in the indicative, but in the imperative,
mood; it says, “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not.” This argues will.
Hutton, Essays, 1:11 — “Conscience is an ideal Moses, and thunders
from an invisible Sinai”; “the Atheist regards conscience not as a skylight,
opened to let in upon human nature an infinite dawn from above, but as a
polished arch or dome, completing and reflecting the whole edifice
beneath.” But conscience cannot be the mere reflection and expression of
nature, for it represses and condemns nature. Tulloch, Theism:
“Conscience, like the magnetic needle, indicates the existence of an
unknown Power which from afar controls its vibrations and at whose
presence it trembles.” Nero spends nights of terror in wandering through
the halls of his Golden House. Kant holds that faith in duty requires faith
in a God who will defend and reward duty — see Critique of Pure
Reason, 359-387. See also Porter, Human Intellect, 524.
Kant, in his Metaphysic of Ethics, represents the action of conscience as
like “conducting a case before a court,” and he adds: “Now that he who is
accused before his conscience should lie figured to be just the same person
as his judge, is an absurd representation of a tribunal; since, in such an
event, the accuser would always lose his suit. Conscience must therefore.164
represent to itself always some other than itself as Judge, unless it is to
arrive at a contradiction with itself.” See also his Critique of the Practical
Benson, Werke, 8:214 — “Duty, thou sublime and mighty name, that hast
in thee nothing to attract or win, but challengest submission; and yet dost
threaten nothing to sway the will by that which may arouse natural terror
or aversion, but merely holdest forth a Law; a Law which of itself finds
entrance into the mind, and even while we disobey, against our will
compels our reverence, a Law in presence of which all inclinations grow
dumb, even while they secretly rebel; what origin is there worthy of thee?
Where can we find the root of thy noble descent, which proudly rejects all
kinship with the inclinations?” Archbishop Temple answers, in his
Bampton Lectures, 58, 59, “This eternal Law is the Eternal himself, the
almighty God.” Robert Browning: “The sense within me that I owe a debt
Assures me — Somewhere must be Somebody, Ready to take his due. All
comes to this: Where due is, there acceptance follows: find him who
accepts the due.”
Salter, Ethical Religion, quoted in Pfleiderer’s article on Religionless
Morality, Am. Jour. Theol., 3:237 — “The earth and the stars do not
create the law of gravitation which they obey; no more does man, or the
united hosts of rational beings in the universe, create the law of duty.”
The will expressed in the moral imperative is superior to ours, for
otherwise it would issue no commands, Yet it is one with ours as the life
of an organism is one with the life of its members, Theonomy is not
heteronomy but the highest autonomy, the guarantee of our personal
freedom against all servitude of man. Seneca: “Deo parere libertas est.”
Knight, Essays in Philosophy, 272 — “In conscience we see an ‘alter
ego’, in us yet not of us, another Personality behind our own.” Martineau,
Types, 2:105 — “Over a person only a person can have authority…A
solitary being, with no other sentient nature in the universe, would feel no
duty”; Study, 1:26 — “As Perception gives us Will in the shape of
Causality over against us in the Non-Ego, so Conscience gives us Will in
the shape of Authority over against us in the Non-Ego…2:7 — We cannot
deduce the phenomena of character from an agent who has none.” Hutton,
Essays, 1:41, 42 — “When we disobey conscience, the Power which has
therein ceased to move us has retired only to observe — to keep watch
over us as we mould ourselves.” Cardinal Newman, Apologia, 377 —
“Were it not for the voice speaking so clearly in my conscience and my
heart, I should be an atheist, or a pantheist, or a polytheist, when I looked
into the world.”.165
3. Man’s emotional and voluntary nature proves the existence of a Being
who can furnish in himself a satisfying object of human affection and an
end which will call forth man’s highest activities and ensure his highest
Only a Being of power, wisdom, holiness, and goodness, and all these
indefinitely greater than any that we know upon the earth, can meet this
demand of the human soul. Such a Being must exist. Otherwise man’s
greatest need would be unsupplied, and belief in a lie be more productive
of virtue than belief in the truth.
Fenerbach calls God “the Brocken-shadow of man himself”;
“consciousness of God = self-consciousness”; “religion is a dream of the
human soul “; “all theology is anthropology”; “man made God in his own
image.” But conscience shows that man does not recognize in God simply
his like, but also his opposite. Not as Galton: “Piety = conscience +
instability.” The finest minds are of the leaning type; see Murphy,
Scientific Bases, 370; Augustine, Confessions, 1:1 — “Thou hast made
us for thyself, and our heart is restless till it finds rest in thee.” On John
Stuart Mill — “a mind that could not find God, and a heart that could not
do without him” — see his Autobiography, and Browne, in Strivings for
the Faith (Christ. Ev. Socy.), 259-287. Comte, in his later days,
constructed an object of worship in Universal Humanity, and invented a
ritual which Huxley calls “Catholicism minus Christianity.’’ See also
Tyndall, Belfast Address: “Did I not believe, said a great man to me once,
that an Intelligence exists at the heart of things, my life on earth would be
intolerable.” Martineau, Types of Ethical Theory, 1:505, 506.
The last line of Schiller’s Pilgrim reads: “Und das Dort ist niemals hier.”
Time finite never satisfies. Tennyson, Two Voices: “‘Tis life, whereof our
nerves are scant, Oh life, not death, for which we pant; More life, and
fuller, that I want.” Seth, Ethical Principles, 419 — “A moral universe,
an absolute immoral Being, is the indispensable environment of the ethical
life, without which it cannot attain to its perfect growth…There is a moral
God, or this is no universe.” James, Will to Believe, 116
— “A God is the most adequate possible object for minds framed like our
own to conceive as lying at the root of the universe. Anything short of
God is not a rational object, anything more than God is not possible, if
man needs an object of knowledge, feeling, and will.”
Romanes, Thoughts on Religion, 41 — “To speak of the Religion of the
Unknowable, the Religion of Cosmism, the Religion of Humanity, where.166
the personality of the First Cause is not recognized, is as unmeaning as it
would be to speak of the love of a triangle or the rationality of the
equator.” It was said of Comte’s system that, “that the wine of the real
presence being poured out, we are asked to adore the empty cup.” “We
want an object of devotion, and Comte presents us with a looking glass”
(Martineau). Huxley said he would as soon adore a wilderness of apes as
the Positivist rationalized conception of humanity. It is only the ideal in
humanity, the divine element in humanity that can be worshiped. And
when we once conceive of this, we cannot be satisfied until we find it
somewhere realized, as in Jesus Christ.
Upton, Hibbert Lectures, 265-272 — Huxley believes that Evolution is “a
materialized logical process”; that nothing endures save the flow of energy
and “the rational order which pervades it.” In the earlier part of this
process, nature, there is no morality or benevolence. But the process ends
by producing man, who can make progress only by waging moral war
against the natural forces, which impel him. He must be benevolent and
just. Shall we not say, in spite of Mr. Huxley, that this shows what the
nature of the system is, and that there must be a benevolent and just Being
who ordained it? Martineau, Seat of Authority, 63-68 — “Though the
authority of the higher incentive is self-known, it cannot be self-created:
for while it is in me, it is above me…his authority to which conscience
introduces me, though emerging in consciousness, is yet objective to us
all, and is necessarily referred to the nature of things, irrespective of the
accidents of our mental constitution. It is not dependent on us, but
independent. All minds born into the universe are ushered into the
presence of a real righteousness, as surely as into a scene of actual space.
Perception reveals another than ourselves; conscience reveals a higher
than ourselves.”
We must freely grant, however, that this argument from man’s aspirations
has weight only upon the supposition that a wise, truthful, holy, and
benevolent God exists, who has so constituted our minds that their
thinking and their affections correspond to truth and to himself. An evil
being might have so constituted us that all logic would lead us into error.
The argument is therefore the development and expression of our intuitive
idea of God. Luthardt, Fundamental Truths: “Nature is like a written
document containing only consonants. It is we who must furnish the
vowels that shall decipher it. Unless we bring with us the idea of God, we
shall find nature but dumb.” See also Pfleiderer, Die Religion, 1:174.
A. The defects of the Anthropological Argument are:.167
(a) It cannot prove a creator of the material universe.
(b) It cannot prove the infinity of God, since man from whom we argue is
(c) It cannot prove the mercy of God. But,
B. The value of the Argument is that it assures us of the existence of a
personal Being, who rules us in righteousness, and who is the proper object
of supreme affection and service. But whether this Being is the original
creator of all things, or merely the author of our own existence, whether he
is infinite or finite, whether he is a Being of simple righteousness or also of
mercy, this argument cannot assure us.
Among the arguments for the existence of God, however, we assign to this
the chief place, since it adds to the ideas of causative power (which we
derived from the Cosmological Argument) and of contriving intelligence
(which we derived from the Teleological Armament), the far wider ideas of
personality and righteous lordship.
Sir Wm. Hamilton, Works of Reid, 2:974, note U; Lect. on Metaph., I:33
— “The only valid arguments for the existence of God and for the
immortality of the soul rest upon the ground of man’s moral nature”;
“theology is wholly dependent upon psychology, for with the proof of the
moral nature of man stands or falls the proof of the existence of a Deity.”
But Diman, Theistic Argument, 244, very properly objects to making this
argument from the nature of man the sole proof of Deity: “It should be
rather used to show the attributes of the Being whose existence has been
already proved from other sources”; “hence the Anthropological
Argument is as dependent upon the Cosmological and Teleological
Arguments as they are upon it.”
Yet the Anthropological Argument is needed to supplement the
conclusions of the two others. Those who, like Herbert Spencer, recognize
an infinite and absolute Being, Power and Cause, may yet fail to
recognize this being as spiritual and personal, simply because they do not
recognize themselves as spiritual and personal beings, that is, do not
recognize reason, conscience and free-will in man. Agnosticism in
philosophy involves agnosticism in religion. H.K. Eccles: “All the most
advanced languages capitalize the word ‘God,’ and the word I.’” See
Flint, Theism, 68; Mill, Criticism of Hamilton, 2:266; Dove, Logic of
Christian Faith, 211-236, 261-299; Martineau, Types, Introduction, 3;
Cooke, Religion and Chemistry: “God is love; but nature could not prove.168
it, and the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world in order to
attest it.”
Everything in philosophy depends on where we begin, whether with nature
or with self, whether with the necessary or with the free. In one sense,
therefore, we should in practice begin with the Anthropological Argument,
and then use the Cosmological and Teleological Arguments as warranting
the application to nature of the conclusions, which we have drawn from,
man. As God stands over against man in Conscience, and says to him:
“Thou”; so man stands over against God in Nature, and may say to him:
“Thou.” Mulford, Republic of God, 28 — “As the personality of man has
its foundation in the personality of God, so the realization by man of his
own personality always brings man nearer to God.” Robert Browning:
“Quoth a young Sadducee: ‘Reader of many rolls, Is it so certain we
Have, as they tell us, souls?’ ‘Son, there is no reply:’ The Rabbi bit his
beard: ‘Certain, a soul have I — We may have none,’ he sneered. Thus
Karshook, the Hiram’s Hammer, The Right-hand Temple-column, Taught
babes in grace their grammar, And struck the simple, solemn.”
It is very common at this place to treat of what are called the Historical
and the Biblical Arguments for the existence of God — the former
arguing, from the unity of history, the latter arguing, from the unity of the
Bible, that this unity must in each case have for its cause and explanation
the existence of God. It is a sufficient reason for not discussing these
arguments, that, without a previous belief in the existence of God, no one
will see unity either in history or in the Bible. Turner, the painter,
exhibited a picture, which seemed all mist and cloud until he put a dab of
scarlet into it. That gave the true point of view, and all the rest became
intelligible. So Christ’s coming and Christ’s blood make intelligible both
the Scriptures and human history. He carries in his girdle the key to all
mysteries. Schopenhauer, knowing no Christ, admitted no philosophy of
history. He regarded history as the mere fortuitous play of individual
caprice. Pascal: “Jesus Christ is the center of everything, and the object of
everything, and he that does not know him knows nothing of nature4 and
nothing of himself.”
This argument infers the existence of God from the abstract and necessary
ideas of the human mind. It has three forms.169
1. That of Samuel Clarke. Space and time are attributes of substance or
being. But space and time are respectively infinite and eternal. There must
therefore be an infinite and eternal substance or Being to whom these
attributes belong.
Gillespie states the argument somewhat differently. Space and time are
modes of existence. But space and time are respectively infinite and
eternal. There must therefore be an infinite and eternal Being who subsists
in these modes. But we reply:
Space and time are neither attributes of substance nor modes of existence.
The argument, if valid, would prove that God is not mind but matter, for
that could not be mind, but only matter, of which space and time were
either attributes or modes.
The Ontological Argument is frequently called the a priori argument, that
is, the argument from that which is logically prior, or earlier than
experience, viz., our intuitive ideas. All the forms of the Ontological
Argument are in this sense a priori. Space and time are a priori ideas.
See Samuel Clarke, Works, 2:521; Gillespie, Necessary Existence of
God. Per contra, see Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 364: Calderwood,
Moral Philosophy, 226 — “To begin, as Clarke did, with the proposition
that ‘something has existed from eternity,’ is virtually to propose an
argument after having assumed what is to be proved. Gillespie’s form of
the a priori argument starting with the proposition ‘infinity of extension is
necessarily existing,’ is liable to the same objection, with the additional
disadvantage of attributing a property of matter to the Deity.
H. B. Smith says that Brougham misrepresented Clarke: “Clarke’s
argument is in his sixth proposition, and supposes the existence proved in
what goes before. He aims here to establish the infinitude and
omnipresence of this First Being. He does not prove existence from
immensity.” But we reply, neither can he prove the infinity of God from
the immensity of space. Space and time are neither substances nor
attributes, but are rather relations; see Calderwood, Philos. of Infinite,
331-335; Cocker, Theistic Conception of the World, 66-93. The doctrine
that space and time are attributes or modes of God’s existence tends to
materialistic pantheism like that of Spinoza, who held that “the one and
simple substance” (substantia una et unica) is known to us through the
two attributes of thought and extension; mind = God in the mode of
thought; matter = God in the mode of extension. Dove, Logic of the
Christian Faith, 127, says well that an extended God is a material God;
“space and time are attributes neither of matter nor mind”; “we must.170
carry the moral idea into the natural world, not the natural idea into the
moral world.” See also, Blunt, Dictionary Doct. and list. Theol., 740;
Porter, Human Intellect, 567. H. M. Stanley, on Space and Science, in
Philos. Rev., Nov. 1898:615 — “Space is not full of things, but things are
spaceful. … Space is a form of dynamic appearance. ‘ Prof. C. A. Strong:
“The world composed of consciousness and other existences is not in
space, though it may be in something of which space is the symbol.”
2. That of Descartes. We have the idea of an infinite and perfect Being.
This idea cannot be derived from imperfect and finite things. There must
therefore be an infinite and perfect Being who is its cause.
But we reply that this argument confounds the idea of the infinite with an
infinite idea. Man’s idea of the infinite is not infinite but finite, and from a
finite effect we cannot argue an infinite cause.
This form of the Ontological Argument, while it is a priori as based upon
a necessary idea of the human mind, is, unlike the other forms of the same
argument, a posteriori, as arguing from this idea, as an effect, to the
existence of a Being who is its cause. A posteriori argument = from that
which is later to that which is earlier, that is, from effect to cause. The
Cosmological, Teleological, and Anthropological Arguments are
arguments a posteriori. Of this sort is the argument of Descartes; see
Descartes, Meditation 3: Hæc idea quæ in nobis est requirit Deum pro
causa; Deusque proinde existit.” The idea in men’s minds is the
impression of the workman’s name stamped indelibly on his work — the
shadow cast upon the human soul by that unseen One of whose being and
presence it dimly informs us. Blunt, Diet. of Theol., 739; Saisset,
Pantheism., 1:54 — “Descartes sets out from a fact of consciousness,
while Anselm sets out from an abstract conception”; “Descartes’s
argument might be considered a branch of the Anthropological or Moral
Argument, but for the fact that this last proceeds from man’s constitution
rather than from his abstract ideas.” See Bibliotheca Sacra, 1849:637.
3. That of Anselm. We have the idea of an absolutely perfect Being. But
existence is an attribute of perfection. An absolutely perfect Being must
there- fore exist.
But we reply that this argument confounds ideal existence with real
existence. Our ideas are not the measure of external reality.
Anselm, Proslogion, 2 — “Id, quo majus cogitari nequit, non potest esse
in intellectu solo.” See translation of the Proslogion, in Bibliotheca Sacra,.171
1851:529, 699; Kant, Critique, 308. The arguments of Descartes and
Anselm, with Kant’s reply, are given in their original form by Harris, in
Journ. Spec. Philos., 15:420-428. The major premise here is not that all
perfect ideas imply the existence of the object which they represent, for
then, as Kant objects, I might argue from my perfect idea of a $l00 bill
that I actually possessed the same, which would be far from the fact. So I
have a perfect idea of a perfectly evil being, of a centaur, of nothing, —
but it does not follow that the evil being, that the centaur, that nothing,
exists. The argument is rather from the idea of absolute and perfect Being
— of “that no greater than which can be conceived.” There can be but one
such being and there can be but one such idea.
Yet, even thus understood, we cannot argue from the idea to the actual
existence of such a being. Case, Physical Realism, 173 — “God is not an
idea, and consequently cannot be inferred from mere ideas.” Bowne,
Philos. Theism, 43 — The Ontological Argument “only points out that the
idea of the perfect must include the idea of existence; but there is nothing
to show that the self-consistent idea represents an objective reality.” I can
imagine the Sea-serpent, the Jinn of the Thousand and One Nights, “The
Anthropophagi, and men whose heads Do grow beneath their shoulders.”
The winged horse of Uhland possessed every possible virtue, and only one
fault, — it was dead. If every perfect idea implied the reality of its object,
there might be horses with ten legs, and trees with roots in the air.
“Anselm’s argument implies,” says Fisher, in Journ. Christ. Philos., Jan.
1883:114, “that existence in re is a constituent of the concept. It would
conclude the existence of a being from the definition of a word. This
inference is justified only on the basis of philosophical realism.” Dove,
Logic of the Christ. Faith, 141 — “The Ontological Argument is the
algebraic formula of the universe, which leads to a valid conclusion with
regard to real existence, only when we fill it in with objects with which we
become acquainted in the arguments a posteriori.” See also Shedd, Hist.
Doct., 1:331, Dogmatic Theology, 1:221-241, and in Presb. Rev., April,
1884:212-227 (favoring the argument); Fisher, Essays, 574; Thompson,
Christian Theism, 171; H. B. Smith, Introduction to Christ. Theol., 122;
Pfleiderer, Die Religion, 1:181-187; Studien und Kritiken, 1875:611-655.
Dorner, in his Glaubenslehre, 1:197, gives us the best statement of the
Ontological Argument: “Reason thinks of God as existing. Reason would
not be reason, if it did not think of God as existing. Reason only is, upon
the assumption that God is.” But this is evidently not argument, but only
vivid statement of the necessary assumption of the existence of an
absolute Reason, which conditions and gives validity to ours..172
Although this last must be considered the most perfect form of the
Ontological Argument, it is evident that it conducts us only to an ideal
conclusion, not to real existence. In common with the two preceding forms
of the argument, moreover, it tacitly assumes, as already existing in the
human mind, that very knowledge of God’s existence that it would derive
from logical demonstration. It has value, therefore, simply as showing what
God must be, if he exists at all.
But the existence of a Being indefinitely great, a personal Cause, Contriver
and Lawgiver, has been proved by the preceding arguments; for the law of
parsimony requires us to apply the conclusions of the first three arguments
to one Being, and not to many. To this one Being we may now ascribe the
infinity and perfection, the idea of which lies at the basis of the Ontological
Argument — ascribe them, not because they are demonstrably his, but
because our mental constitution will not allow us to think otherwise. Thus
clothing him with all perfection that the human mind can conceive and
these in illimitable fullness, we have one whom we may justly call God.
McCosh, Div. Govt., 12, note — “It is at this place, if we do not mistake,
that the idea of the Infinite comes in. The capacity of the human mind to
form such an idea, or rather its intuitive belief in an Infinite of which it
feels that it cannot form an adequate conception, may be no proof (as
Kant maintains) of the existence of an infinite Being; but it is, we are
convinced, the means by which the mind is enabled to invest the Deity,
shown on other grounds to exist, with the attributes of infinity, i.e., to
look on his being, power, goodness, and all his perfections, as infinite.”
Even Flint, Theism, 68, who holds that we reach the existence of God by
inference, speaks of “necessary conditions of thought and feeling, and
ineradicable aspirations, which force on us ideas of absolute existence,
infinity, and perfection, and will neither permit us to deny these
perfections to God, nor to ascribe them to any other being.” Belief in God
is not the conclusion of a demonstration, but the solution of a problem.
Calderwood, Moral Philosophy, 226 — Either the whole question is
assumed in starting, or the Infinite is not reached in concluding.”
Clarke, Christian Theology, 97-114, divides his proof into two parts:
I. Evidence of the existence of God from the intellectual starting-point: The
discovery of Mind in the universe is made, 1. through the intelligibleness of
the universe to us; 2. through the idea of cause: 3. through the presence of
ends in the universe..173
II. Evidence of the existence of God from the religious starting point: The
discovery of the good God is made, 1. through the religious nature of man; 2.
through the great dilemma — God the best, or the worst; 3. through the
spiritual experience of men, especially in Christianity. So far as Dr. Clarke’s
proof is intended to be a statement, not of a primitive belief, but of a logical
process, we must hold it to be equally defective with the three forms of proof
which we have seen to furnish some corroborative evidence of God’s
existence. Dr. Clarke therefore does well to add: “Religion was not produced
by proof of God’s existence, and will not be destroyed by its insufficiency to
some minds. Religion existed before argument; in fact, it is the preciousness
of religion that leads to the seeking for all possible confirmations of the reality
of God.”
The three forms of proof already mentioned — the Cosmological, the
Teleological, and the Anthropological Arguments — may be likened to the
three arches of a bridge over a wide and rushing river. The bridge has
only two defects, but these defects are very serious. The first is that one
cannot get on to the bridge; the end toward the hither bank is wholly
lacking; the bridge of logical argument cannot be entered upon except by
assuming the validity of logical processes; this assumption takes for
granted at the outset the existence of a God who has made our faculties to
act correctly; we get on to the bridge, not by logical process, but only by a
leap of intuition, and by assuming at the beginning the very thing which
we set out to prove. The second defect of the so-called bridge of argument
is that when one has once gotten on, he can never get off. The connection
with the further bank is also lacking. All the premises from which we
argue being finite, we are warranted in drawing only a finite conclusion.
Argument cannot reach the Infinite, and only an infinite Being is worthy
to be called God. We can get off from our logical bridge, not by logical
process, but only by another and final leap of intuition, and by once more
assuming the existence of the infinite Being whom we had so vainly
sought to reach by mere argument. The process seems to be referred to in

Job 11:7 — Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find
out the Almighty unto perfection?
As a logical process this is indeed defective, since all logic as well as all
observation depends for its validity upon the presupposed existence of
God, and since this particular process, even granting the validity of logic in
general, does not warrant the conclusion that God exists, except upon a
second assumption that our abstract ideas of infinity and perfection are to
be applied to the Being to whom argument has actually conducted us..174
But although both ends of the logical bridge are confessedly wanting, the
process may serve and does serve a more useful purpose than that of mere
demonstration, namely, that of awakening, explicating, and confirming a
conviction which, though the most fundamental of all, may yet have been
partially slumbering for lack of thought.
Morell, Philos. Fragments, 177, 179 — “We can, in fact, no more prove
the existence of a God by a logical argument, than we can prove the
existence of an external world; but none the less may we obtain as strong
a practical conviction of time one, as the other.” “We arrive at a scientific
belief in the existence of God just as we do at any other possible human
truth. We assume it, as a hypothesis absolutely necessary to account for
the phenomena of the universe; and then evidences from every quarter
begin to converge upon it, until, in process of time, the common sense of
mankind, cultivated and enlightened by ever accumulating knowledge,
pronounces upon the validity of the hypothesis with a voice scarcely less
decided and universal than it does in the case of our highest scientific
Fisher, Supernat. Origin of Christianity, 572 — “What then is the purport
and force of the several arguments for the existence of God? We reply
that these proofs are the different modes in which faith expresses itself
and seeks confirmation. In them faith, or the object of faith, is more
exactly conceived and defined, and in them is found a corroboration, not
arbitrary but substantial and valuable, of that faith which springs from the
soul itself. Such proofs, therefore, are neither on the one hand sufficient to
create and sustain faith, nor are they on the other hand to be set aside as
of no value.” A.J. Barrett: “The arguments are not so much a bridge in
themselves, as they are guys, to hold firm the great suspension bridge of
intuition, by which we pass the gulf from man to God. Or, while they are
not a ladder by which we may reach heaven, they are the Ossa on Pehion,
from whose combined height we may descry heaven.”
Anselm: “Negligentia mihi videtur, si postquam confirmati sumus in fide
non studemus quod credimus intelligere.” Bradley, Appearance and
Reality: “Metaphysics is the finding of bad reasons for what we believe
upon instinct; but to find these reasons is no less an instinct.” Illingworth,
Div. and Hum. Personality, lect. III — “Belief in a personal God is an
instinctive judgment, progressively justified by reason.” Knight, Essays in
Philosophy, 241 — The arguments are “historical memorials of the
efforts of the human race to vindicate to itself the existence of a reality of
which it is conscious, but which it cannot perfectly define.” H. Fielding,
The Hearts of Men, 313 — “Creeds are the grammar of religion. They are.175
to religion on what grammar is to speech. Words are the expression of our
wants; grammar is the theory formed afterwards. Speech never proceeded
from grammar, but the reverse. As speech progresses and changes from
unknown causes, grammar must follow.” Pascal: “The heart has reasons
of its own which the reason does not know.” Frances Power Cobbe:
“Intuitions are Gods tuitions.” On the whole subject, see Cudworth, Intel.
System, 3:42; Calderwood, Philos. of Infinite, 150 sq.; Curtis, Human
Element in Inspiration, 242; Peabody, in Andover Rev., July, 1884; Hahn,
History of Arguments for Existence of God; Lotze, Philos. of Religion, 8-
34: Am. Jour. Theol., Jan. 1906:53-71.
Hegel, in his Logic, page 3, speaking of the disposition to regard the
proofs of God’s existence as the only means of producing faith in God,
says: “Such a doctrine would find its parallel, if we said that eating was
impossible before we had acquired a knowledge of the chemical, botanical
and zoological qualities of our food; and that we must delay digestion till
we had finished the study of anatomy and physiology.” It is a mistake to
suppose that there can be no religious life without a correct theory of life.
Must I refuse to drink water or to breathe air, until I can manufacture
both for myself? Some things are given to us. Among these things are
“grace and truth” (

John 1:17; cf. 9).
But there are ever those who are willing to take nothing as a free gift, and
who insist on working out all knowledge, as well as all salvation, by
processes of their own. Pelagianism, with its denial of the doctrines of
grace, is but the further development of a rationalism that refuses to
accept primitive truths unless these can be logically demonstrated. Since
the existence of the soul, of the world, and of God cannot be proved in
this way, rationalism is led to curtail, or to misinterpret, the deliverances
of consciousness, and hence result certain systems now to be mentioned..176
Any correct explanation of the universe must postulate an intuitive
knowledge of the existence of the external world, of self, and of God. The
desire for scientific unity, however, has occasioned attempts to reduce
these three factors to one, and according as one or another of the three has
been regarded as the all-inclusive principle, the result has been Materialism,
Materialistic Idealism, or Idealistic Pantheism. This scientific impulse is
better satisfied by a system that we may designate as Ethical Monism.
We may summarize the present chapter as follows:
1. Materialism: Universe = Atoms. Reply: Atoms can do nothing without
force, and can be nothing (intelligible) without ideas.
2. Materialistic Idealism: Universe = Force + Ideas. Reply: Ideas belong
to Mind, and only Will can exert Force.
3. Idealistic Pantheism: Universe = Immanent and Impersonal Mind and
Will. Reply: Spirit in man shows that the Infinite Spirit must be
Transcendent and Personal Mind and Will. We are led from these three
forms of error to a conclusion that we may denominate
4. Ethical Monism: Universe = Finite, partial, graded manifestation of the
divine Life; Matter being God’s self limitation under the law of necessity,
Humanity being God’s self limitation under the law of freedom,
Incarnation and Atonement being God’s self limitations under the law of
grace. Metaphysical Monism, or the doctrine of one Substance, Principle,
or Ground of Being, is consistent with Psychological Dualism, or the
doctrine that the soul is personally distinct from matter on the one hand
and from God on the other.
Materialism is that method of thought which gives priority to matter, rather
than to mind, in its explanations of the universe. Upon this view, material
atoms constitute the ultimate and fundamental reality of which all things,
rational and irrational, are but combinations and phenomena. Force is
regarded as a universal and inseparable property of matter..177
The element of truth in materialism is the reality of the external world. Its
error is in regarding the external world as having original and independent
existence, and in regarding mind as its product.
Materialism regards atoms as the bricks of which the material universe,
the house we inhabit, is built. Sir William Thomson (Lord Kelvin)
estimates that, if a drop of water were magnified to the size of our earth,
the atoms of which it consists would certainly appear larger than boy’s
marbles, and yet would be smaller than billiard balls. Of these atoms, all
things, visible and invisible, are made. Mind, with all its activities, is a
combination or phenomenon of atoms. “Man ist was er iszt: ohne
Phosphor kein Gedanke” — “One is what he eats: without phosphorus, no
thought.” Ethics is a bill of fare; and worship, like heat, is a mode of
motion. Agassiz, however, wittily asked:
Are fishermen, then, more intelligent than farmers, because they eat so
much fish, and therefore take in more phosphorus?”
It is evident that much is here attributed to atoms, which really belongs to
force. Deprive atoms of force, and all that remains is extension, which =
space = zero. Moreover, “if atoms are extended, they cannot be ultimate,
for extension implies ‘divisibility, and that which is conceivably divisible
cannot be a philosophical ultimate.
But, If atoms are not extended then even an infinite multiplication and
combination of them could not produce an extended substance.
Furthermore, an atom that is neither extended substance nor thinking
substance is inconceivable. The real ultimate is force, and this force
cannot be exerted by nothing, but, as we shall hereafter see, can be
exerted only by a personal Spirit, for this alone possesses the
characteristics of reality, namely, definiteness, unity, and activity.”
Not only force but also intelligence must be attributed to atoms, before
they can explain any operation of nature. Herschel says not only that “the
force of gravitation seems like that of a universal will,” but that the atoms
themselves, in recognizing each other in order to combine, show a great
deal of “presence of mind.” Ladd, introd. to Philosophy, 269 “A
distinguished astronomer has said that every body in the solar system is
behaving as if it knew precisely how it ought to behave in consistency
with its own nature, and with the behavior of every other body in the same
system…Each atom has danced countless millions of miles, with countless
millions of different partners, many of which required an important
modification of its mode of motion, without ever departing from the
correct step or the right time.” J. P. Cooke, Credentials of Science, 104,.178
177 suggests that something more than atoms are needed to explain the
universe. A correlating Intelligence and Will must be assumed. Atoms by
themselves would be like a heap of loose nails, which need to be
magnetized if they are to hold together. All structures would be resolved,
and all forms of matter would disappear, if the Presence, which sustains
them, were withdrawn. The atom, like the monad of Leibnitz. is “parvus
in suo genere deus” — “a little god in its nature” — only because it is the
expression of the mind and will of an immanent God.
Plato speaks of men who are “dazzled by too near a look at material
things.” They do not perceive that these very material things, since they
can be interpreted only in terms of spirit, must themselves be essentially
spiritual. Materialism is the explanation of a world of which ‘ye know
something — the world of mind — by a world of which we know next to
nothing — the world of matter. Upton, Hibbert Lectures, 297, 29 —
“How about your material atoms and brain molecules? They have no real
existence save as objects of thought, and therefore the very thought, which
you say your atoms produce, turns out to be the essential precondition of
their own existence.” With this agree the words of Dr. Ladd: “Knowledge
of matter involves repeated activities of sensation and reflection, of
inductive and deductive inference, of intuitional belief in substance. These
are all activities of mind. Only as the mind has a self-conscious life, is any
knowledge of what matter is, or can do, to be gained…Everything is real
which is the permanent subject of changing states. That which touches,
feels, sees, is more real than that which is touched, felt, seen.”
H. N. Gardner, Presb. Rev., 1885:301, 865, 666 — “Mind gives to
matter its chief meaning, — hence matter alone can never explain the
universe.” Gore, Incarnation, 31 — “Mind is not the product of nature,
but the necessary constituent of nature, considered as an ordered
knowable system.” Fraser, Philos. of Theism: “An immoral act must
originate in the immoral agent; a physical effect is not known to originate
in its physical cause.” Matter, inorganic and organic, presupposes mind;
but it is not true that mind presupposes matter. LeConte: “If I could
remove your brain cap, what would I see? Only physical changes. But you
— what do you perceive? Consciousness, thought, emotion, will. Now
take external nature, the Cosmos. The observer from the outside sees only
physical phenomena. But must there not be in this case also — on the
other side — psychical phenomena, a Self, a Person, a Will?”
The impossibility of finding in matter, regarded as mere atoms, any of the
attributes of a cause, has led to a general abandonment of this old
Materialism of Democritus, Epicurus, Lucretius, Condillac, Holbach,.179
Feuerbach, Buchner; and Materialistic Idealism has taken its place, which
instead of regarding force as a property of matter, regards matter as a
manifestation of force. From this section we therefore pass to
Materialistic Idealism, and inquire whether the universe can be interpreted
simply as a system of force and of ideas, A quarter of a century ago, John
Tyndall, in his opening address as President of the British Association at
Belfast, declared that in matter was to be found the promise and potency
of every form Of life. But in 1898, Sir William Crookes, in his address as
President of that same British Association, reversed the apothegm, and
declared that in life he saw the promise and potency of every form of
matter. See Lange, History of Materialism; Janet, Materialism; Fabri,
Materialismus; Herzog. Encyclopadie, art.: Materialismus; but esp.,
Stallo, Modern Physics. 148-170.
In addition to the general error indicated above, we object to this system as
1. In knowing matter, the mind necessarily judges itself to be different in
kind and higher in rank, than the matter, which it knows.
We here state simply an intuitive conviction. The mind, in using its
physical organism and through it bringing external nature into its service,
recognizes itself as different from and superior to matter. See Martineau,
quoted in Brit. Quar., April, 1882:173, and the article of President
Thomas Hill in the Bibliotheca Sacra, April, 1852:353 — “All that is
really given by the act of sense-perception is the existence of the
conscious self, floating in boundless space and boundless time,
surrounded and sustained by boundless power. The material moved,
which we at first think the great reality, is only the shadow of a real being,
which is immaterial.” Harris, Philos. Basis of Theism, 317 — “Imagine
an infinitesimal being in the brain, watching the action of the molecules,
but missing the thought. So science observes the universe, but misses
God.” Hebberd, in Journ. Spec. Philos., April, 1886:135.
Robert Browning, “the subtlest assertor of the soul in song,” makes the
Pope, in The Ring and the Book, say: “Mind is not matter, nor from
matter, but above.” So President Francis Wayland: “What is mind?” “No
matter.” “What is matter?” “Never mind.” Sully, The Human Mind,
2:369 — “Consciousness is a reality wholly disparate from material
processes, and cannot therefore be resolved into these. Materialism makes
that which is immediately known (our mental states) subordinates to that
which is only indirectly or inferentially known (external things).
Moreover, a material entity existing per se out of relation to a cogitant.180
mind is an absurdity.’ As materialists work out their theory, their so-called
matter grows more and more ethereal, until at last a stage is
reached when it cannot be distinguished from what others call spirit.
Martineau: “The matter they describe is so exceedingly clever that it is up
to anything, even to writing Hamlet and discovering its own evolution. In
short, but for the spelling of its name, it does not seem to differ
appreciably from our old friends, Mind and God.” A. W. Momerie, in
Christianity and Evolution, 54 — “A being conscious of his unity cannot
possibly be formed out of a number of atoms unconscious of their
diversity. Any one who thinks this possible is capable of asserting that
half a dozen fools might be compounded into a single wise man.”
2. Since the mind’s attributes of
(a) continuous identity,
(b) self-activity,
(c) unrelatedness to space, are different in kind and higher in rank than the
attributes of matter, it is rational to conclude that mind is itself different in
kind from matter and higher in rank than matter.
This is an argument from specific qualities to that which underlies and
explains the qualities.
(a) Memory proves personal identity. This is not an identity of material
atoms, for atoms change. The molecules that come cannot remember those
that depart. Some immutable part in the brain? organized or unorganized?
Organized decays; unorganized = soul.
(b) Inertia shows that matter is not self-moving. It acts only as it is acted
upon. A single atom would never move. Two portions are necessary, and
these, in order to useful action, require adjustment by a power, which does
not belong to matter. Evolution of the universe inexplicable, unless matter
were first moved by some power outside itself. See Duke of Argyll, Reign
of Law, 92.
(c) The highest activities of mind are independent of known physical
conditions. Mind controls and subdues the body. It does not cease to grow
when the growth of the body ceases. When the body nears dissolution, the
mind often asserts itself most strikingly.
Kant: “Unity of apprehension is possible on account of the transcendental
unity of self consciousness.” I get my idea of unity from the indivisible
self. Stout, Manual of psychology 53 — “So far as matter exists
independently of its presentation to a cognitive subject, it cannot have.181
material properties, such as extension, hardness, color, weight, etc…The
world of material phenomena presupposes a system of immaterial agency.
In this immaterial system the individual consciousness originates. This
agency, some say, is thought, others will.” A. J. Dubois, in Century
Magazine, Dec. 1894:228 — Since each thought involves a molecular
movement in the brain, and this moves the whole universe, mind is the
secret of the universe, and we should interpret nature as the expression of
underlying purpose. Science is mind following the traces of mind. There
can be no mind without antecedent mind. That all human beings have the
same menta. modes shows that these modes are not due simply to
environment. Bowne: “Things act upon the mind and the mind reacts with
knowledge. Knowing is not a passive receiving, but an active construing.”
Wundt: “We are compelled to admit that the physical development is not
the cause, but much more the effect, of psychical development.”
Paul Carus, Soul of Man, 52-64, defines soul as “the form of an
organism,” and memory as “the psychical aspect of the preservation of
form in living substance.” This seems to give priority to the organism
rather than to the soul, regardless of the fact that without soul no
organism is conceivable. Clay cannot be the ancestor of the potter, nor
stone the ancestor of the mason, nor wood the ancestor of the carpenter.
W.N. Clarke, Christian Theology, 99 — “The intelligibleness of the
universe to us is strong and ever present evidence that there is an all
pervading rational Mind, from which the universe received its character.”
We must add to the maxim, “Cogito, ergo sum,” the other maxim,
“Intelligo, ergo Deus est.” Pfleiderer, Philos. Relig., 1:273 — “The whole
idealistic philosophy of modern times is in fact only the carrying out and
grounding of the conviction that Nature is ordered by Spirit and for Spirit,
as a subservient means for its eternal ends; that it is therefore not, as the
heathen naturalism thought, the one and all, the last and highest of things,
but has the Spirit, and the moral Ends over it, as its Lord and Master.”
The consciousness by which things are known precedes the things
themselves, in the order of logic, and therefore cannot be explained by
them or derived from them. See Porter, Human Intellect, 22, 131, 132.
McCosh, Christianity and Positivism, chap. on Materialism; Divine
Government, 71-94; Intuitions, 140-145. Hopkins, Study of Man, 53-56;
Morell, Hist. of Philosophy, 318-334; Hickok, Rational Cosmology, 403;
Theol. Eclectic, 6:555; Appleton, Works, 1:151-154; Calderwood, Moral
Philos., 235; Ulrici, Leib und Seele, 688-725, and synopsis, in Bap.
Quar., July, 1873:380..182
3. Mind rather than matter must therefore be regarded as the original and
independent entity, unless it can be scientifically demonstrated that mind is
material in its origin and nature. But all attempts to explain the psychical
from the physical, or the organic from the inorganic, are acknowledged
failures. The most that can be claimed is, that psychical are always
accompanied by physical changes, and that the inorganic is the basis and
support of the organic. Although the precise connection between the mind
and the body is unknown, the fact that the continuity of physical changes is
unbroken in times of psychical activity renders it certain that mind is not
transformed physical force. If the facts of sensation indicate the
dependence of mind upon body, the facts of volition equally indicate the
dependence of body upon mind.
The chemist can produce organic, but not organized, substances. The life
cannot be produced from matter. Even in living things progress is secured
only by plan. Multiplication of desired advantage, in the Darwinian
scheme, requires a selecting thought; in other words the natural selection
is artificial selection after all. John Fiske, Destiny of the Creature, 109 —
“Cerebral physiology tells us that, during the present life, although
thought and feeling are always manifested in connection with a peculiar
form of matter, yet by no possibility can thought and feeling be in any
sense the product of matter. Nothing could be more grossly unscientific
than the famous remark of Cabanis, that the brain secretes thought as the
liver secretes bile. It is not even correct to say that thought goes on in the
brain. What goes on in the brain is an amazingly complex series of
molecular movements, with which thought and feeling are in some
unknown way correlated, not as effects or as causes, but as
concomitants.” Leibnitz’s “pre-established harmony” indicates the
difficulty of defining the relation between mind and matter. They are like
two entirely disconnected clocks, the one of which has a dial and indicates
time hour by its hands, while the other without a dial simultaneously
indicates the same hour by its striking apparatus. To Leibnitz the world is
an aggregate of atomic souls leading absolutely separate lives. There is no
real action of one upon another. Everything in the monad is the
development of its individual unstimulated activity. Yet there is a pre-established
harmony of them all, arranged from the beginning by the
Creator. The internal development of each monad is so adjusted to that of
all the other monads, as to produce the false impression that each other
mutually influence them (see Johnson, in Andover Rev., Apl. 1800:407,
408). Leibnitz’s theory involves the complete rejection of the freedom of
the human will in the libertarian sense. To escape from this arbitrary.183
connection of mind and matter in Leibnitz’s pre-established harmony,
Spinoza rejected the Cartesian doctrine of two God created substances,
and maintained that there is but one fundamental substance, namely, God
himself (see Upton, Hibbert Lectures, 172).
There is an increased flow of blood to the head in times of mental activity.
Sometimes, in intense heat of literary composition, the blood fairly surges
through the brain. No diminution, but further increase, of physical activity
accompanies the greatest efforts of mind. Lay a man upon a balance; fire
a pistol shot or inject suddenly a great thought into his mind; at once he
will tip the balance, and tumble upon his head. Romanes, Mind and
Motion, 21 — “Consciousness causes physical changes, but not vice
versa. To say that mind is a function of motion is to say that mind is a
function of itself, since motion exists only for mind. Better suppose the
physical and the psychical to be only one; as in the violin sound and
vibration are one. Volition is a cause in nature because it has cerebration
for its obverse and inseparable side. But if there is no motion without
mind, then there can be no universe without God.”…34 — “Because
within the limits of human experience mind is only known as associated
with brain, it does not follow that mind cannot exist without brain.
Helmholtz’s explanation of the effect of one of Beethoven’s sonatas on the
brain may be perfectly correct, but the explanation of the effect given by a
musician may be equally correct within its category.”
Herbert Spencer, Principles of Psychology, 1:ß56 — “Two things, mind
and nervous action, exist together, but we cannot imagine how they are
related” (see review of Spencer’s Psychology, in N. Englander, July,
1873). Tyndall, Fragments of Science, 120 — “The passage from the
physics of the brain to the facts of consciousness is unthinkable.”
Schurman, Agnosticism and Religion, 95 — “The metamorphosis of
vibrations into conscious ideas is a miracle, in comparison with which the
floating of iron or the turning of water into wine is easily credible.” Bain,
Mind and Body, 131 — There is no break in the physical continuity. See
Brit. Quar., Jan. 1874; art, by Herbert, on Mind and the Science of
Energy; McCosh, Intuitions, 145; Talbot, in flap. Quar., Jan. 1871. On
Geulinex’s “occasional causes” and Descartes’s dualism, see Martineau,
Types, 144, 145, 156-158, and Study, 2:77.
4. The materialistic theory, denying as it does the priority of spirit, can
furnish no sufficient cause for the highest features of the existing universe,
namely, its personal intelligence, its intuitive ideas, its free will, its moral
progress, its beliefs in God and immortality..184
Herbert, Modern Realism Examined: “Materialism has no physical
evidence of the existence of consciousness in others. As it declares our
fellow men to be destitute of free volition, so it should declare them
destitute of consciousness; should call them, as well as brutes, pure
automata. If physics are all, there is no God, but there is also no man,
existing.” Some of the early followers of Descartes used to kick and beat
their dogs, laughing meanwhile at their cries and calling them the
“creaking of the machine.” Huxley, who calls the brutes “conscious
automata,” believes in the gradual banishment, from all regions of human
thought, of what we call spirit and spontaneity: “A spontaneous act is an
absurdity; it is simply an effect that is uncaused.”
James, Psychology, 1:119 — “The girl in Midshipman Easy could not
excuse the illegitimacy of her child by saying that ‘it was a very small
one.’ And consciousness, however small, is an illegitimate birth in any
philosophy that starts without it, and yet professes to explain all facts by
continued evolution… Materialism denies reality to almost all the
impulses, which we most cherish. Hence it will fail of universal adoption.”
Clerk Maxwell, Life, 391 “Time atoms are a very tough lot, and can stand
a great deal of knocking about, and it is strange to find a number of them
combining to form a man of feeling…426 — I have looked into most
philosophical systems, and I have seen none that will work without a
God.” President E.B. Andrews: “Mind is the only substantive thing in this
universe, and all else is adjective. Matter is not primordial, but is a
function of spirit.” Theodore Parker: “Man is the highest product of his
own history. The discoverer finds nothing so tall or grand as himself,
nothing so valuable to him. The greatest star is at the small end of the
telescope — the star that is looking, not looked after, nor looked at.”
Materialism makes men to be “a serio-comic procession of wax figures or
of cunning casts in clay” (Bowne). Man is “the cunningest of clocks.” But
if there were nothing but matter, there could be no materialism, for a
system of thought, like materialism, implies consciousness. Martineau,
Types, preface, xii, xiii — “It was the irresistible pleading of the moral
consciousness which first drove me to rebel against the limits of the
merely scientific conception. It became incredible to me that nothing was
possible except the actual…Is there then no ought to be, other than what
is?” Dewey, Psychology, 84 — “A world without ideal elements would
be one in which the home would be four walls and a roof to keep out cold
and wet; the table a mess for animals; and the grave a hole in the ground.”
Omar Khayy•m, Rubaiyat, stanza 72 — “And that inverted bowl they call
the Sky, Where under crawling coop’d we live and die, Lift not your
hands to It for help — for it As impotently moves as you or I.” Victor.185
Hugo: “You say the soul is nothing but the resultant of bodily powers?
Why then is my soul more luminous when my bodily powers begin to fail?
Winter is on my head, and eternal spring is in my heart…The nearer I
approach the end, the plainer I hear the immortal symphonies of the
worlds which invite me.”
Diman, Theistic Argument, 348 — “Materialism can never explain the
fact that matter is always combined with force. Coordinate principles?
then dualism, instead of monism. Force cause of matter? then we preserve
unity, but destroy materialism; for we trace matter to an immaterial
source. Behind multiplicity of natural forces we must postulate some
single power — which can be nothing but coordinating mind.” Mark
Hopkins sums up Materialism in Princeton Rev., Nov. 1879:490 — “1.
Man, who is a person, is made by a thing, i.e., matter. 2. Matter is to be
worshiped as man’s maker, if anything is to be (

Romans 1:25). 3.
Man is to worship himself — his God is his belly.” See also Martineau,
Religion and Materialism, 25-31, Types, 1: preface, xii, xiii, and Study,
1:248, 250, 345; Christlieb, Modern Doubt and Christian Belief, 145-
161; Buchanan, Modern Atheism, 247, 248; McCosh, in International
Rev., Jan. 1895; Contemp. Rev., Jan. 1875, art.: Man Transcorporeal;
Calderwood, Relations of Mind and Brain; Laycock, Mind and Brain;
Diman, Theistic Argument, 358; Wilkinson, in Present Day Tracts, 3: no.
17; Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 1:487-499; A.H. Strong, Philos. and
Relig., 31-38.
Idealism proper is that method of thought which regards all knowledge as
conversant only with affections of the percipient mind.
Its element of truth is the fact that these affections of the percipient mind
are the conditions of our knowledge. Its error is in denying that through
these and in these we know that which exists independently of our
The idealism of the present day is mainly a materialistic idealism. It defines
matter and mind alike in terms of sensation, and regards either as opposite
sides or successive manifestations of one underlying and unknowable force.
Modern subjective idealism is the development of a principle found as far
back as Locke. Locke derived all our knowledge from sensation; the mind
only combines Ideas which sensation furnishes, but gives no material of
its own. Berkeley held that externally we can be sure only of sensations,.186
— cannot be sure that any external world exists apart from mind.
Berkeley’s idealism, however, was objective; for he maintained that while
things do not exist independently of consciousness, they do exist
independently of our consciousness, namely, in the mind of God, who in a
correct philosophy takes the place of a mindless external world as the
cause of our ideas. Kant, in like manner, held to existences outside of our
own minds, although line regarded these existences as unknown and
unknowable. Over against these forms of objective idealism we must put
the subjective idealism of Hume, who held that internally also we cannot
be sure of anything but mental phenomena; we know thoughts, feelings
and volition, but we do not know mental substance within, any more than
we know material substance without: our ideas are a string of beads,
without any string; we need no cause for these ideas, in an external world,
a soul, or God. Mill, Spencer, Bain and Tyndall are Humists, and it is
their subjective idealism, which we oppose.
All these regard the material atom as a mere center of force, or a
hypothetical cause of sensations. Matter is therefore a manifestation of
force, as to the old materialism force was a property of matter. But if
matter, mind and God are nothing but sensations, then the body itself is
nothing but sensations. There is no body to have the sensations, and no
spirit, either human or divine, to produce them. John Stuart Mill, in his
Examination of Sir William Hamilton, 1:234-253, makes sensations the
only original sources of knowledge. He defines matter as “a permanent
possibility of sensation,” and mind as “a series of feelings aware of
itself.” So Huxley calls matter “only a name for the unknown cause of the
states of consciousness”; although he also declares: “If I am compelled to
choose between the materialism of a man like Buchner and the idealism of
Berkeley, I would have to agree with Berkeley.” He would hold to the
priority of matter and yet regard matter as wholly ideal. Since John Stuart
Mill, of all the materialistic idealists, gives the most precise definitions of
matter and of mind, we attempt to show the inadequacy of his treatment.
The most complete refutation of subjective idealism is that of Sir William
Hamilton, in his Metaphysics, 348-372, and Theories of Sense perception
— the reply to Brown. See condensed statement of Hamilton’s view, with
estimate and criticism, in Porter, Human Intellect, 236-240, and on
Idealism, 129, 132. Porter holds that original perception gives us simply
affections of our own sensorium; as cause of these, we gain knowledge of
extended externality. So Sir William Hamilton: “Sensation proper has no
object but a subject-object.” But both Porter and Hamilton hold that
through these sensations we know that which exists independently of our
sensations. Hamilton’s natural realism, however, was an exaggeration of.187
the truth. Bowne, Introduction to Psych. Theory, 257, 258 — “In Sir
William Hamilton’s desire to have no go-betweens in perception, he was
forced to maintain that every sensation is felt where it seems to be, and
hence that the mind fills out the entire body. Likewise he had to affirm
that the object in vision is not the thing, but the rays of light, and even the
object itself had, at last, to be brought into consciousness. Thus he
reached the absurdity that time true object in perception is something of
which we are totally unconscious.” Surely we cannot be immediately
conscious of what is outside of consciousness. James, Psychology, 1:11
— The terminal organs are telephones, and brain cells are the receivers at
which the mind listens.” Berkeley’s view is to be found in his Principles of
Human Knowledge, ß18 sq. See also Presb. Rev., Apl. 1885:301-315;
Journ. Spec. Philos., 1884:246-260, 383-399; Tulloch, Mod. Theories,
360, 361; Encyc. Britannica, art.: Berkeley.
There is, however, an idealism, which is not open to Hamilton’s
objections, and to which most recent philosophers give their adhesion. It is
the objective idealism of Lotze. It argues that we know nothing of the
extended world except through the forces, which impress our nervous
organism. These forces take the form of vibrations of air or ether, and we
interpret them as sound, light, or motion, according as they affect our
nerves of hearing, sight, or touch. But the only force which we
immediately know is that of our own wills, and we can either not
understand matter at all or we must understand it as the product of a will
comparable to our own. Things are simply “concreted laws of action,” or
divine ideas to which permanent reality has been given by divine will.
What we perceive in the normal exercise of our faculties has existence not
only for us but also for all intelligent beings and for God himself: in other
words, our idealism is not subjective, but objective. We have seen in the
previous section that atoms cannot explain the universe, — they
presuppose both ideas and force. We now see that this force presupposes
will, and these ideas presuppose mind. But, as it still may be claimed that
this mind is not self conscious mind and that this will is net personal will,
we pass in the next section to consider Idealistic Pantheism, of which
these claims are characteristic. Materialistic Idealism, in truth, is but a
halfway house between Materialism and Pantheism, in which no
permanent lodging is to be found by the logical intelligence.
Lotze, Outlines of Metaphysics, 152 — “The objectivity of our cognition
consists therefore in this, that it is not a meaningless play of mere
seeming; but it brings before us a world whose coherency is ordered in
pursuance of the injunction of the sole Reality in the world, to wit, the
Good. Our cognition thus possesses more of truth than if it copied exactly.188
a world that has no value in itself. Although it does not comprehend in
what manner all that is phenomenon is presented to the view, still it
understands what is the meaning of it all; and is like to a spectator who
comprehends the æsthetic significance of that which takes place on the
stage of a theater, and would gain nothing essential if he were to see
besides the machinery by means of which the changes are effected on the
stage.” Professor C. A. Strong: “Perception is a shadow thrown upon the
mind by a thing — in — itself. The shadow is the symbol of the thing;
and, as shadows are soulless and dead, physical objects may seem
soulless and dead, while the reality symbolized is never so soulful and
alive. Consciousness is reality. The only existence of which we can
conceive is mental in its nature. All existence for consciousness is
existence of consciousness. The horse’s shadow accompanies him, but it
does not help him to draw the cart. The brain-event is simply the mental
state itself regarded from the point of view of the perception.”
Aristotle: “Substance is in its nature prior to relation” = there can be no
relation without things to be related. Fichte: “Knowledge, just because it
is knowledge, is not reality, — it comes not first, but second.” Veitch,
Knowing and Being, 216, 217, 292, 293 — “Thought can do nothing,
except as it is a synonym for Thinker either the finite nor the infinite
consciousness, alone or together, can constitute an object external, or
explain its existence. The existence of a thing logically precedes the
perception of it. Perception is not creation. It is not the thinking that
makes the ego, but the ego that makes the thinking.” Seth, Hegelianism
and Personality: “Divine thoughts presuppose a divine Being. God’s
thoughts do not constitute the real world. The real force does not lie in
them, — it lies in the divine Being, as living, active Will.” Here was the
fundamental error of Hegel, that he regarded the Universe as mere Idea,
and gave little thought to the Love and the Will that constitute it. See John
Fiske, Cosmic Philosophy, 1:75; 2:80; Contemp. Rev., Oct. 1872: art, on
Huxley; Lowndes, Philos. Primary Beliefs, 115-143; Atwater (on Ferrier),
in Princeton Rev., 1857:258, 280; Cousin, Hist. Philosophy, 2:239-343;
Veitch’s Hamilton, (Blackwoods Philos. Classics,) 176, 191; A.H.
Strong, Philosophy and Religion, 58-74.
To this view we make the following objections:
1. Its definition of matter as a “permanent possibility of sensation
contradicts our intuitive judgment that, in knowing the phenomena of
matter, we have direct knowledge of substance as underlying phenomena,
as distinct from our sensations, and as external to the mind which
experiences these sensations..189
Bowne, Metaphysics, 432 — “How the possibility of an odor and a flavor
can be the cause of the yellow color of an orange is probably unknowable,
except to a mind that can see that two and two may make five.” See
Iverach’s Philosophy of Spencer Examined, in Present Day Tracts, 5: no.
29. Martineau, Study, 1:102-112 — “If external impressions are
telegraphed to the brain, intelligence must receive the message at the
beginning as well as deliver it at the end…It is the external object which
gives the possibility, not the possibility which gives the external object.
The mind cannot make both its cognita and its cognitio. It cannot dispense
with standing ground for its own feet, or with atmosphere for its own
wings.” Professor Charles A. Strong: “Kant held to things-in-themselves
back of physical phenomena, as well as to things-in-themselves back of
mental phenomena; he thought things-in-themselves back of physical
might be identical with things-in-themselves back of mental phenomena.
And since mental phenomena, on this theory, are not specimens of reality,
and reality manifests itself indifferently through them and through
physical phenomena, he naturally concluded that we have no ground for
supposing reality to be like either — that we must conceive of it as ‘weder
Materie noch ein denkend Wesen’ — ‘ neither matter nor a thinking
being’ — a theory of the Unknowable. Would that it had been also the
Unthinkable and the Unmentionable!” Ralph Waldo Emmerson was a sub-jective
idealist; but, when called to inspect a farmer’s load of wood, he
said to his company: “Excuse me a moment, my friends; we have to attend
to these matters, just as if they were real.” See Mivart, On Truth, 71-14 1.
2. Its definition of mind as a “series of feelings aware of itself”
contradicts our intuitive judgment that, in knowing the phenomena of
mind, we have direct knowledge of a spiritual substance of which these
phenomena are manifestations, which retains its identity independently of
our consciousness, and which, in its knowing, instead of being the passive
recipient of impressions from without, always acts from within by a power
of its own.
James, Psychology, 1:226 — “It seems as if the elementary psychic fact
were not thought, or this thought, or that thought, but my thought, every
thought being owned. The universal conscious fact is not ‘feelings and
thoughts exist,’ but ‘I think,’ and ‘I feel.’” Professor James is compelled
to say this, even though he begins his Psychology without insisting upon
the existence of a soul. Hamilton’s Reid, 443 — “Shall I think that
thought can stand by itself? or that ideas can feel pleasure or pain?” R.T.
Smith, Man’s Knowledge, 44 — “We say ‘my notions and my passions,’.190
and when we use these phrases we imply that our central self is felt to be
something different from the notions or passions which belong to it or
characterize it for a time.” Liehtenberg: “We should say, ‘It thinks; ‘ just
as we say, ‘It lightens,’ or ‘It rains.’ In saying ‘Cogito,’ the philosopher
goes too far if he translates it, ‘I think.’” Are the faculties, then, an army
without a general, or an engine without a driver? In that case we should
not have sensations, — we should only be sensations.
Professor C.A. Strong: “I have knowledge of other minds. This non-empirical
knowledge — transcendent knowledge of things-in-themselves,
derived neither from experience nor reasoning, and assuming that like
consequents (intelligent movements) must have like antecedents (thoughts
and feelings)’ and also assuming instinctively that something”exists
outside of my own mind — this refutes the post-Kantian phenomenalism.
Perception and memory also involve transcendence. In both I transcend
the bounds of experience, as truly as in my knowledge of other minds. In
memory I recognize a past, as distinguished from time present. In
perception I cognize a possibility of other experiences like the present,
and this alone gives the sense of permanence and reality. Perception and
memory refute phenomenalism. Things-in-themselves must be assumed in
order to fill the gaps between individual minds, and to give coherence and
intelligibility to the universe, and so to avoid pluralism. If matter can
influence and even extinguish our minds, it must have some force of its
own, some existence in itself. If consciousness is an evolutionary product,
it must have arisen from simpler mental facts. But these simpler mental
facts are only another name for things-in-themselves. A deep pre-rational
instinct compels us to recognize them, for they cannot be logically
demonstrated. We must assume them in order to give continuity and
intelligibility to our conceptions of the universe.” See, on Bain’s Cerebral
Psychology, Martineau’s Essays, 1:265. On the physiological method of
mental philosophy, see Talbot, in Bap. Quar., 1871:1; Bowen, in
Princeton Rev., March, 1878:423-450; Murray, Psychology, 279-287.
3. In so far as this theory regards mind as the obverse side of matter, or as
a later and higher development from matter, the mere reference of both
mind and matter to an underlying force does not save the theory from any
of the difficulties of pure materialism already mentioned; since in this case,
equally with that, force is regarded as purely physical, and the priority of
spirit is denied.
Herbert Spencer, Psychology, quoted by Fiske, Cosmic Philosophy, 2:80
— “Mind and nervous action are the subjective and objective faces of the
same thing. Yet we remain utterly incapable of seeing, or even of.191
imagining, how the two are related. Mind still continues to us a something
without kinship to other things.” Owen, Anatomy of Vertebrates, quoted
by Talbot, Bap. Quar., Jan. 1871:5 — “All that I know of matter and
mind in themselves is that the former is an external center of force, and
the latter an internal center of force.” New Englander, Sept. 1883:636 —
“If the atom be a mere center of force and not a real thing in itself, then
the atom is a supersensual essence, an immaterial being. To make
immaterial matter the source of conscious mind is to make matter as
wonderful as an immortal soul or a personal Creator.” See New
Englander, July, 1875:532-535; Martineau, Study, 102-130, and Relig.
and Mod. Materialism, 25 — “If it takes mind to construe the universe,
how can the negation of mind constitute it?”
David J. Hill, in his Genetic Philosophy, 200, 201, seems to deny that
thought precedes force, or that force precedes thought: “Objects, or things
in the external world may be elements of a thought process in a cosmic
subject, without themselves being conscious…A true analysis and a
rational genesis require the equal recognition of both the objective and the
subjective elements of experience, without priority in time, separation in
space or disruption of being. So far as our minds can penetrate reality, as
disclosed in the activities of thought, we are everywhere confronted with a
Dynamic Reason.” In Dr. Hill’s account of the genesis of the universe,
however, the unconscious comes first, and from it the conscious seems to
be derived. Consciousness of the object is only the obverse side of the
object of consciousness. This is, as Martineau, Study, 1:341, remarks, “to
take the sea on board the boat.” We greatly prefer the view of Lotze,
2:641 — “Things are acts of the Infinite wrought within minds alone, or
states which the Infinite experiences nowhere but in minds…Things and
events are the sum of those actions which the highest Principle performs
in all spirits so uniformly and coherently, that to these spirits there must
seem to be a world of substantial and efficient things existing in space
outside themselves.” The data from which we draw our inferences as to
the nature of the external world being mental and spiritual, it is more
rational to attribute to that world a spiritual reality than a kind of reality
of which our experience knows nothing. See also Schurman, Belief in
God, 208, 225.
4. In so far as this theory holds the underlying force of which matter and
mind are manifestations to be in any sense intelligent or voluntary, it
renders necessary the assumption that there is an intelligent and voluntary
Being who exerts this force. Sensations and ideas, moreover, are explicable
only as manifestations of Mind..192
Many recent Christian thinkers, as Murphy, Scientific Bases of Faith, 13-
15, 29-36, 42-52 would define mind as a function of matter, matter as a
function of force, force as a function of will, and therefore as the power of
an omnipresent and personal God All force, except that of man’s free will,
is the will of God. So Herschel, Lectures, 460 Argyll, Reign of Law, 121-
127; Wallace on Nat. Selection, 363-371; Martineau, Essays, 1:63, 121,
145, 265; Bowen, Metaph. and Ethics, 146-162. These writers are led to
their conclusion in large part by the considerations that nothing dead can
be a proper cause; that will is the only cause of which we have immediate
knowledge; that the forces of nature are intelligible only when they are
regarded as exertions of will. Matter, therefore, is simply centers of force
— the regular and, as it was, automatic expression of God’s mind and
will. Second causes in nature are only secondary activities of the great
First Cause.
This view is held also by Bowne, in his Metaphysics. He regards only
personality as real. Matter is phenomenal, although it is an activity of the
divine will outside of us. Bowne’s phenomenon is therefore an objective
idealism, greatly preferable to that of Berkeley who held to God’s
energizing indeed, but only within the soul. This idealism of Bowne is not
pantheism, for it holds that, while there are no second causes in nature,
man is a second cause, with a personality distinct from that of God, and
lifted above nature by his powers of free will. Royce, however, in his
Religious Aspect of Philosophy, and in his The World and the Individual,
makes man’s consciousness a part or aspect of a universal consciousness,
and so, instead of making God come to consciousness in man, makes man
come to consciousness in God. While this scheme seems, in one view, to
save God’s personality, it may be doubted whether it equally guarantees
man’s personality or leaves room for man’s freedom, responsibility, sin
and guilt. Bowne, Philos. Theism, 175 — “‘Universal reason’ is a class
term which denotes no possible existence, and which has reality only in
the specific existences from which it is abstracted.” Bowne claims that the
impersonal finite has only such otherness as a thought or act has to its
subject. There is no substantial existence except in persons. Seth,
Hegelianism and Personality: “Neo-Kantianismn erects into a God the
mere form of self-consciousness in general, that is, confounds
consciousness uberlhaupt with a universal consciousness.”
Bowne, Theory of Thought and Knowledge, 318-343, esp. 328 — “Is
there anything in existence but myself? Yes. To escape solipsism I must
admit at least other persons. Does the world of apparent objects exist for
me only? No; it exists for others also, so that we live in a common world.
Does this common world consist in anything more than a similarity of.193
impressions in finite minds, so that the world apart from these is nothing?
This view cannot be disproved but it accords so ill with the impression of
our total experience that It is practically impossible. Is then the world of
things a continuous existence of some kind independent of finite thought
and consciousness This claim cannot be demonstrated, but it is the only
view that does not involve insuperable difficulties. What is the nature and
where is the place of this cosmic existence? That is the question between
Realism and Idealism. Realism views things as existing in a real space,
and as true ontological realities. Idealism views both them and the space
in which they are supposed to be existing as existing only in and for a
cosmic Intelligence, and apart from which they are absurd and
contradictory. Things are independent of our thought, but not independent
of all thought, in a lumpish materiality which is the antithesis and
negation of consciousness. See also Martineau, Study, 1:214-230, 341.
For advocacy of the substantive existence of second causes, see Porter,
Hum. Intellect, 582-588; Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1:596; Alden,
Philosophy, 48-80: Hodgson, Time and Space, 149-218; A.J. Balfour, in
Mind, Oct. 1893:430.
Pantheism is that method of thought which conceives of the universe as the
development of one intelligent and voluntary, yet impersonal, substance,
which reaches consciousness only in man. It therefore identifies God, not
with each individual object in the universe, but with the totality of things.
The current Pantheism of our day is idealistic.
The elements of truth in Pantheism are the intelligence and voluntariness of
God, and his immanence in the universe; its error lies in denying God’s
personality and transcendence.
Pantheism denies the real existence of the finite, at the same time that it
deprives the Infinite of self-consciousness and freedom. See Hunt, History
of Pantheism; Manning, Half truths and the Truth; Bayne, Christian Life,
Social and Individual, 21-53; Hutton, on Popular Pantheism, in Essays,
1:55-76 — “The pantheist’s ‘I believe in God’, is a contradiction. He
says: ‘I perceive the external as different from myself: but on further
reflection, I perceive that this external was itself the percipient agency.’
So the worshiped is really the worshiper after all.” Harris, Philosophical
Basis of Theism, 173 — “Man is a bottle of the ocean’s water, in the
ocean, temporarily distinguishable by its limitation within the bottle, but
lost again in the ocean, so soon as these fragile limits are broken.”.194
Martineau, Types, 1:23 — Mere immanency excludes Theism;
transcendency leaves it still possible; 211-225 — Pantheism declares that
“there is nothing but God; he is not only sole cause but entire effect; he is
all in all.” Spinoza has been falsely called “the God-intoxicated man.”
“Spinoza, on the contrary, translated God into the universe; it was
Malebranche who transfigured the universe into God.”
The later Brahmanism is pantheistic. Rowland Williams, Christianity and
Hinduism, quoted in Mozley on Miracles, 284 — “In the final state
personality vanishes. You will not, says the Brahman, accept the term
‘void’ as an adequate description of the mysterious nature of the soul, but
you will clearly apprehend soul, in the final state, to be unseen and
ungrasped being, thought, knowledge, joy — no other than very God.”
Flint, Theism, 69 — “Where the will is without energy, and rest is longed
for as the end of existence, as among the Hindus, there is marked inability
to think of God as cause or will, and constant inveterate tendency to
Hegel denies God’s transcendence: “God is not a spirit beyond the stars;
he is spirit in all spirit”; which means that God, the impersonal and
unconscious Absolute, comes to consciousness only in man. If the eternal
system of abstract thoughts were itself conscious, finite consciousness
would disappear; hence the alternative is either no God. or no man.
Stirling: “The Idea, so conceived, is a blind, dumb, invisible idol, and the
theory is the most hopeless theory that has ever been presented to
humanity.” It is practical autolatry, or self-deification. The world is
reduced to a mere process of logic; thought thinks; there is thought
without a thinker. To this doctrine of Hegel we may well oppose the
remarks of Lotze: “We cannot make mind the equivalent of the infinitive
to think, — we feel that it must be that which thinks; the essence of things
cannot be either existence or activity, — it must be that which exists and
that which acts. Thinking means nothing, if it is not the thinking of a
thinker; acting and working mean nothing, if we leave out the conception
of a subject distinguishable from them and from which they proceed.” To
Hegel. Being is Thought; to Spinoza, Being has Thought + Extension; the
truth seems to be that Being has Thought + Will, and may reveal itself in
Extension and Evolution (Creation).
By other philosophers, however. Hegel is otherwise interpreted. Prof. H.
Jones, in Mind, July, 1893:289-306, claims that Hegel’s fundamental Idea
is not Thought, but Thinking: “The universe to him was not a system of
thoughts, but a thinking reality, manifested most fully in man…The
fundamental reality is the universal intelligence whose operation we.195
should seek to detect in all things. All reality is ultimately explicable as
Spirit, or Intelligence, — hence our ontology must be a Logic, and the
laws of things must be laws of thinking.” Sterrett, in like manner, in his
Studies in Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion, 17, quotes Hegel’s Logic,
Wallace’s translation, 89, 91, 236: Spinoza’s Substance is, as it were, a
dark, shapeless abyss, which devours all definite content as utterly null,
and produces from itself nothing that has positive subsistence in
itself…God is Substance, — he is, however, no less the Absolute Person.”
This is essential to religion, but this, says Hegel, Spinoza never perceived:
“Everything depends upon the Absolute Truth being perceived, not merely
as Substance but as Subject.” God is self — conscious and self-determining
Spirit. Necessity is excluded. Man is free and immortal. Men
are not mechanical parts of God, nor do they lose their identity, although
they find themselves truly only in him. With this estimate of Hegel’s
system Caird, Erdmann and Mulford substantially agree. This is
Tennyson’s “Higher Pantheism.”
Seth, Ethical Principles, 446 — “Hegel conceived the superiority of his
system to Spinozism to he in the substitution of Subject for Substance.
The true Absolute must contain, instead of abolishing, relations; the true
Monism must include, instead of excluding, Pluralism. A One, which, like
Spinoza’s Substance, or the Hegelian Absolute, does not enable us to
think the Many, cannot be the true One — the unity of the Manifold.
…Since evil exists, Schopenhauer substituted for Hegel’s Panlogism,
which asserted the identity of the rational and the real, a blind impulse of
life, — for absolute Reason he substituted a reasonless Will” — a system
of practical pessimism. Alexander, Theories of Will, 5 — “Spinoza
recognized no distinction between will and intellectual affirmation or
denial.’’ John Caird, Fund. Ideas of Christianity, 1: 107 — “As there is
no reason in the conception of pure Space why any figures or forms, lines,
surfaces, solids, should arise in it, so there is no reason in the pure
colorless abstraction of Infinite Substance why any world of finite things
and beings should ever come into existence. It is the grave of all things,
the productive source of nothing.’’ Hegel called Schelling’s Identity or
Absolute “the infinite night in which all cows are black” — an allusion to
Goethe’s Faust, part 2, act 1, where the words are added: “and cats are
gray.’’ Although Hegel’s preference of the term Subject, instead of the
term Substance, has led many to maintain that he believed in a personality
of God distinct from that of man, his overemphasis of the Idea, and his
comparative ignoring of the elements of Love and Will, leave it still
doubtful whether his Idea was anything more than unconscious and.196
impersonal intelligence — less materialistic than that of Spinoza indeed,
yet open to many of the same objections.
We object to this system as follows:
1. Its idea of God is self-contradictory, since it makes him infinite, yet
consisting only of the finite; absolute, yet existing in necessary relation to
the universe, supreme, yet shut up to a process of self-evolution and
dependent for self-consciousness on man; without self-determination, yet
the cause of all that is.
Saisset, Pantheism, 148 — “An imperfect God, yet perfection arising
from imperfection.” Shedd, Hist. Doctrine, 1:13 — “Pantheism applies to
God a principle of growth and imperfection, which belongs only to the
finite.” Calderwood, Moral Plums. 245 — Its first requisite is moment, or
movement, which it assumes, but does not account for.” Caro’s sarcasm
applies here: “Your God is not yet made — he is in process of
manufacture.’’ See H.B. Smith, Faith and Philosophy, 25. Pantheism is
practical atheism, for impersonal spirit is only blind and necessary force.
Angelus Silesius “Wir beten ‘Es gescheh’, mein Herr und Gott, dein
Wille’; Und sieh’, Er hat nicht, — Will Er ist ein ew’ge Stille” — which
Max Muller translates as follows: “We pray, ‘O Lord our God, Do thou
thy holy Will; and see! God has no will; He is at peace and still.” Angelus
Silesius consistently makes God dependent for self-consciousness on man:
“I know that God cannot live An instant without me; He must give up the
ghost, If I should cease to be.” Seth, Hegelianism and Personality:
“Hegelianism destroys both God and man. It reduces man to an object of
the universal Thinker, and leaves this universal Thinker without any true
personality.” Pantheism is a game of solitaire, in which God plays both
2. Its assumed unity of substance is not only without proof, but also it
directly contradicts our intuitive judgments. These testify that we are not
parts and particles of God, but distinct personal subsistence.
Martineau, Essays, 1:158 “Even for immanency, there must be something
wherein to dwell, and for life, something whereon to act.” Many systems
of monism contradict consciousness; they confound harmony between two
with absorption in one. “In Scripture we never find the universe called to<
pa~n, for this suggests the idea of a self-contained unity: we have
everywhere tanta instead.” The Bible recognizes the element of truth
in pantheism — God is ‘through all’; also the element of truth in.197
mysticism — God is ‘in you all’ but it adds the element of transcendence
which both these fail to recognize — God is ‘above all’ (

4:6). See Fisher, Essays on Supernat. Orig. of Christianity, 539. G.D.B.
Pepper: “He who is over all and in all is yet distinct from all, if one is
over a thing, he is not that very thing which he is over. If one is in
something, he must be distinct from that something. And so the universe,
over which and in which God is, must be thought of as something distinct
from God. The creation cannot be identical with God, or a mere form of
God.” We add, however, that it may be a manifestation of God ‘and
dependent upon God, as our thoughts and acts are manifestations of our
mind and will and dependent upon our mind and will, yet are not
themselves our mind and will.
Pope wrote: “All are but parts of one stupendous whole, Whose body
nature is and God the soul.” But Case, Physical Realism, 193, replies:
“Not so. Nature is to God as works are to a man; and as man’s works are
not his body, so neither is nature the body of God.” Matthew Arnold, On
Heine’s Grave: “What are we all but a mood, A single mood of the life Of
the Being in whom we exist, Who alone is all things in one?” Hovey,
Studies, 51 — “Scripture recognizes the element of truth in pantheism,
but it also teaches the existence of a world of things, animate and
inanimate, in distinction from God. It represents men as prone to worship
the creature more than the Creator. It describes them as sinners worthy of
death… moral agents…It no more thinks of men as being literally parts of
God, than it thinks of children as being parts of their parents, or subjects
as being parts of their king.” A.J.F. Behrends: “The true doctrine lies
between the two extremes of a crass dualism which makes God and the
world two self-contained entities, and a substantial monism in which the
universe has only a phenomenal existence. There is neither identity of
substance nor division of the divine substance. The universe is eternally
dependent, the product of the divine Word, not simply manufactured.
Creation is primarily a spiritual act.” Prof. George M. Forbes: “Matter
exists in subordinate dependence upon God; spirit in coordinate
dependence upon God. The body of Christ was Christ externalized, made
manifest to sense perception. In apprehending matter, I am apprehending
the mind and will of God. This is the highest sort of reality. Neither matter
nor finite spirits, then, are mere phenomena.’’
3. It assigns no sufficient cause for that fact of the universe, which is
highest in rank, and therefore most needs explanation, namely, the
existence of personal intelligences. A substance which is itself unconscious,.198
and under the law of necessity, cannot produce beings who are self-conscious
and free.
Gess, Foundations of our Faith, 36 — “Animal instinct, and the spirit of a
nation working out its language, might furnish analogies, if they produced
personalities as their result, but not otherwise. Nor were these tendencies
self-originated, but received from an external source.” McCosh,
Intuitions, 215, 393, and Christianity and Positivism, 180. Seth, Freedom
as an Ethical Postulate, 47 — “If man is an ‘imperium in imperio,’ not a
person, but only an aspect or expression of the universe or God, then he
cannot be free. Man may be depersonalized either into nature or into God.
Through the conception of our own personality we reach that of God. To
resolve our personality into that of God would be to negate the divine
greatness itself by invalidating the conception through which it was
reached.” Bradley, Appearance and Reality, 551, is more ambiguous:
“The positive relation of every appearance as an adjective to Reality; and
the presence of Reality among its appearances in different degrees and
with diverse values; this double truth we have found to be the center of
philosophy.” He protests against both “an empty transcendence” and “a
shallow pantheism.” Hegelian immanence and knowledge, he asserts,
identified God and man. But God is more than man or man’s thought. He
is spirit and life — best understood from the human self, with its
thoughts, feelings, volition. Immanence needs to be qualified by
transcendence. “God is not God till he has become all in all, and a God
which is all in all is not the God of religion. God is an aspect, and that
must mean but an appearance of the Absolute.” Bradley’s Absolute,
therefore, is not so much personal as super-personal; to which we reply
with Jackson, James Martineau, 416 — “Higher than personality is lower;
beyond it is regression from its height. From the equator we may travel
northward, gaining ever higher and higher latitudes; but, if ever the pole is
reached, pressing on from thence will be descending into lower latitudes,
not gaining higher…Do I say, I am a pantheist? Then, ipso facto, I deny
pantheism; for, in the very assertion of the Ego, I imply all else as
objective to me.”
4. It therefore contradicts the affirmations of our moral and religious
natures by denying man’s freedom and responsibility; by making God to
include in himself all evil as well as all good; and by precluding all prayer,
worship, and hope of immortality.
Conscience is the eternal witness against pantheism. Conscience witnesses
to our freedom and responsibility, and declares that moral distinctions are
not illusory. Renouf, Hibbert Lect., 234 — “It is only out of.199
condescension to popular language that pantheistic systems can recognize
the notions of right and wrong, of iniquity and sin. If everything really
emanates from God, there can be no such thing as sin. And the ablest
philosophers who have been led to pantheistic views have vainly
endeavored to harmonize these views with what we understand by the
notion of sin or moral evil. The great systematic work of Spinoza is
entitled ‘Ethica’: but for real ethics we might as profitably consult the
Elements of Euclid.” Hodge, System. Theology, 1:299-330 — “Pantheism
is fatalistic. On this theory, duty = pleasure; right = might; sin = good in
the making. Satan, as well as Gabriel, is a self-development of God. The
practical effects of pantheism upon popular morals and life, wherever it
has prevailed, as in Buddhist India and China, demonstrate its falsehood.”
See also Dove, Logic of the Christian Faith, 118; Murphy, Scientific
Bases of Faith, 202; Bib. Sac, Oct. 1867:603-615; Dix, Pantheism,
Introduction, 12. On the fact of sin as refuting the pantheistic theory, see
Bushnell, Nature and the Supernat., 140-164.
Wordsworth: “Look up to heaven! The industrious sun Already half his
course hath run; He cannot halt or go astray; but our immortal spirits
may.” President John H. Harris; “You never ask a cyclone’s opinion of
the Ten Commandments.” Bowne, Philos. of Theism, 245 — “Pantheism
makes man an automaton. But how can an automaton have duties?”
Principles of Ethics, 18 — “Ethics is defined as the science of conduct,
and the conventions of language are relied upon to cover up the fact that
there is no ‘conduct’ in the case. If man be a proper automaton, we might
as well speak of the conduct of the winds as of human conduct; and a
treatise on planetary motions is as truly the ethics of the solar system as a
treatise on human movements is the ethics of man.” For lack of a clear
recognition of personality, either human or divine, Hegel’s Ethics is
devoid of all spiritual nourishment, — his “Rechtsphilosophie” has been
called “a repast of bran.” Yet Professor Jones, in Mind, July, 1893:304,
tells us that Hegel’s task was “to discover what conception of the single
principle or fundamental unity which alone is, is adequate to the
differences which it carries within it. ‘Being,’ he found, leaves no room
for differences, — it is overpowered by them…He found that the Reality
can exist only as absolute Self-consciousness, as a Spirit, who is
universal, and who knows himself in all things. In all this he is dealing,
not simply with thoughts, but with Reality.” Prof. Jones’s vindication of
Hegel, however, still leaves it undecided whether that philosopher
regarded the divine self-consciousness as distinct from that of finite
beings, or as simply inclusive of theirs. See John Caird, Fund. Ideas of
Christianity, 1:109..200
5. Our intuitive conviction of the existence of a God of absolute perfection
compels us to conceive of God as possessed of every highest quality and
attribute of men, and therefore, especially, of that which constitutes the
chief dignity of the human spirit, its personality.
Diman, Theistic Argument, 328 — “We have no right to represent the
supreme Cause as inferior to ourselves, yet we do this when we describe it
under phrases derived from physical causation.” Mivart, Lessons from
Nature, 351 — “We cannot conceive of anything as impersonal, yet of
higher nature than our own, — any being that has not knowledge and will
must be indefinitely inferior to one who has them.” Lotze holds truly, not
that God is supra personal, but that man is infra-personal, seeing that in
the infinite Being alone is self-subsistence, and therefore perfect
personality. Knight, Essays in Philosophy, 224 — “The radical feature of
personality is the survival of a permanent self, under all the fleeting or
deciduous phases of experience; in other words, the personal identity that
is involved in the assertion ‘I am.’…Is limitation a necessary adjunct of
that notion?” Seth, Hegelianism: “As in us there is more for ourselves
than for others, so in God there is more of thought for himself than he
manifests to us. Hegel’s doctrine is that of immanence without
transcendence.” Heinrich Heine was a pupil and intimate friend of Hegel.
He says: “I was young and proud, and it pleased my vain glory when I
learned from Hegel that the true God was not, as my grandmother
believed, the God who lived in heaven, but was rather myself upon the
earth.” John Fiske, Idea of God, xvi — “Since our notion of force is
purely a generalization from our subjective sensations of overcoming
resistance, there is scarcely less anthropomorphism in the phrase ‘Infinite
Power’ than in the phrase ‘Infinite Person.’ We must symbolize Deity in
some form that has meaning to us; we cannot symbolize it as physical: we
are bound to symbolize it as psychical. Hence we may say, God is Spirit.
This implies God’s personality.”
6. Its objection to the divine personality, that over against the Infinite there
can be in eternity past no non-ego to call forth self-consciousness, is
refuted by considering that even man’s cognition of the non-ego logically
presupposes knowledge of the ego, from which the non-ego is
distinguished; that, in an absolute mind, self-consciousness cannot be
conditioned, as in the case of finite mind, upon contact with a not-self; and
that, if the distinguishing of self from a not-self were an essential condition
of divine self-consciousness, the eternal personal distinctions in the divine
nature or the eternal states of the divine mind might furnish such a
Pfleiderer, Die Religion, 1:163, 190 sq. — “Personal self-consciousness
is not primarily a distinguishing of the ego from the non-ego, but rather a
distinguishing of itself from itself, i. e, of the unity of the self from the
plurality of its contents…Before the soul distinguishes self from the not-self,
it must know self — else it could not see the distinction. Its
development is connected with the knowledge of the non-ego, but this is
due, not to the fact of personality, but to the fact of finite personality. The
mature man can live for a long time upon his own resources. God needs
no other, to stir him up to mental activity. Finiteness is a hindrance to the
development of our personality. Infiniteness is necessary to the highest
personality.” Lotze, Microcosmos, vol. 3, chapter 4; translation in N.
Eng., March, 1881:191-200 — “Finite spirit, not having conditions of
existence in itself, can know the ego only upon occasion of knowing the
non-ego. The Infinite is not so limited. He alone has an independent
existence, neither introduced nor developed through anything not himself,
but, in an inward activity without beginning or end, maintains himself in
himself.’’ See also Lotze, Philos. of Religion, 55-69; H.N. Gardiner on
Lotze, in Presb. Rev., 1885:669-67:3; Webb, in Jour. Theol. Studies,
Dorner, Glaubenslehre: “Absolute Personality perfect consciousness of
self, and perfect power over self. We need something external to waken
our consciousness — yet self-consciousness comes [logically] before
consciousness of the world. It is the soul’s act. Only after it has
distinguished self from self, can it consciously distinguish self from
another.” British Quarterly, Jan. 1874:32, note; July. 1884:108 — “The
ego is thinkable only in relation to the non-ego; but the ego is livable long
before any such relation.” Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 1:185, 186 — In
the pantheistic scheme, “God distinguishes himself from the world, and
thereby finds the object required by the subject…in the Christian scheme,
God distinguishes himself from himself, not from something that is not
himself.” See Julius Muller, Doctrine of Sin, 2:122-126; Christlieb, Mod.
Doubt and Christ. Belief, 161-190; Hanne, Idee der absoluten
Personlichkeit Eichhorn, Die Personlichkeit Gottes; Seth, Hegelianism and
Personality; Knight, on Personality and the Infinite, in Studies in Philos.
and Lit., 70-118.
On the whole subject of Pantheism, see Martineau, Study of Religion,
2:141-194, esp. 192 “The personality of God consists in his voluntary
agency as free cause in an unpledged sphere, that is, a sphere transcending
that of immanent law. But precisely this also it is that constitutes his
infinity, extending his sway, after it has tilled the actual, over all the
possible, and giving command over indefinite alternatives. Though you.202
might deny his infinity without prejudice to his personality, you cannot
deny his personality without sacrificing his infinitude: for there is a mode
of action — the preferential, the very mode which distinguishes rational
beings — from which you exclude him”; 341 — The metaphysicians who,
in their impatience of distinction, insist on taking the sea on board the
boat, swamp not only it but the thought it holds, and leave an infinitude
which, as it can look into no eye and whisper into no ear, they contradict
in the very act of affirming.” Jean Paul Richter’s “Dream: “I wandered to
the farthest verge of Creation, and there I saw a Socket, where an Eye
should have been, and I heard the shriek of a Fatherless World” (quoted in
David Brown’s Memoir of John Duncan, 49-70). Shelley, Beatrice Cenci:
“Sweet Heaven, forgive weak thoughts! If there should be No God, no
Heaven, no Earth, in the void world — The wide, gray, lampless, deep,
unpeopled world!”
For the opposite view, see Biedermann, Dogmatik, 638-647 — “Only
man, as finite spirit, is personal; God, as absolute spirit, is not personal,
Yet in religion the mutual relations of intercourse and communion are
always personal…. Personality is the only adequate term by which we can
represent the theistic conception of God.” Bruce, Providential Order, 76
— “Schopenhauer does not level up cosmic force to the human, but levels
down human will-force to the cosmic. Spinoza held intellect in God to be
no more like man’s than the Dog Star is like a dog. Hartmann added
intellect to Schopenhauer’s will, but the intellect is unconscious and
knows no moral distinctions.” See also Bruce, Apologetics, 71-90;
Bowne, Philos. of Theism. l28 — l34, 171-186; J. M. Whiton, Am. Jour.
Theol., Apl. 1901:306 — Pantheism = God consists in all things; Theism
= All things consist in God, their ground, not their sum. Spirit in man
shows that the infinite Spirit must be personal and transcendent Mind and
Ethical Monism is that method of thought which holds to a single
substance, ground, or principle of being, namely, God, but which also
holds to the ethical facts of God’s transcendence as well as his immanence,
and of God’s personality as distinct from, and as guaranteeing, the
personality of man.
Although we do not here assume the authority of the Bible, reserving our
proof of this to the next following division on The Scriptures a Revelation
from God, we may yet cite passages which show that our doctrine is not
inconsistent with the teachings of holy Writ. The immanence of God is.203
implied in all statements of his omnipresence, as for example:

139:7 sq. — “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee
from thy presence?”

Jeremiah 23:23. 24 — “Am I a God at hand,
saith Jehovah, and not a God afar off…Do not I fill heaven and earth?”

Acts 17:27, 28 — “he is not far from each one of us: for in him we
live, and more, and have our being.” The transcendence of God is implied
in such passages as:

1 Kings 8:27 — “the heaven and the heaven of
heavens cannot contain thee”;

Psalm 113:5 — “that hath his seat on

Isaiah 57:15 — “the high and lofty One that inhabiteth
This is the faith of Augustine: “O God, thou hast made us for thyself, and
our heart is restless till it find rest in thee…could not be, O my God, could
not be at all, wert thou not in me; rather, were not I in thee, of whom are
all things, by whom are all things, in whom are all things.’’ And Anselm,
in his Proslogion, says of the divine nature: “It is the essence of the being,
the principle of the existence, of all things…Without parts, without
differences, without accidents, without changes, it might be said in a
certain sense alone to exist, for in respect to it the other things which
appear to be have no existence. The unchangeable Spirit is all that is, and
it is this without limit, simply, interminably. It is the perfect and absolute
Existence. The rest has come from non-entity and thither returns if not
supported by God. It does not exist by itself. In this sense the Creator
alone exists; created things do not.”
1. While Ethical Monism embraces the one element of truth contained in
Pantheism — the truth that God is in all things and that all things are in
God — it regards this scientific unity as entirely consistent with the facts of
ethics — man’s freedom, responsibility, sin, and guilt; in other words,
Metaphysical Monism, or the doctrine of one substance, ground, or
principle of being, is qualified by Psychological Dualism, or the doctrine
that the soul is personally distinct from matter on the one hand, and from
God on the other.
Ethical Monism is a monism which holds to the ethical facts of the
freedom of man and the transcendence and personality of God; it is the
monism of free-will, in which personality, both human and divine, sin and
righteousness, God and the world, remain — two in one, and one in two
— in their moral antithesis as well as their natural unity. Ladd,
Introduction to Philosophy: “Dualism is yielding, in history and in the
judgment halls of reason, to a monistic philosophy…Some form of
philosophical monism is indicated by the researches of psycho-physics,.204
and by that philosophy of mind which builds upon the principles
ascertained by these researches. Realities correlated as are the body and
the mind must have, as it were, a common ground…They have their reality
in the ultimate one Reality; they have their interrelated lives as
expressions of the one Life which is immanent in the two…Only some
form of monism that shall satisfy the facts and truths to which both
realism and idealism appeal can occupy the place of the true and final
philosophy…Monism must so construct its tenets as to preserve, or at
least as not to contradict and destroy, the truths implicated in the
distinction between the me and the not-me…between the morally good and
the morally evil. No form of monism can persistently maintain itself which
erects its system upon the ruins of fundamentally ethical principles and
ideals.” Philosophy of Mind, 411 — “Dualism must be dissolved in some
ultimate monistic solution. The Being of the world, of which all particular
beings are but parts, must be so conceived of as that in it can be found the
one ground of all interrelated existences and activities. …This one
Principle is an Other and an Absolute Mind.”
Dorner, Hist. Doct. Person of Christ, II, 3:101, 231 — “The unity of
essence in God and man is the great discovery of the present age…The
characteristic feature of all recent Christologies is the endeavor to point
out the essential unity of the divine and human. To the theology of the
present day, the divine and human are not mutually exclusive, but are
connected magnitudes…Yet faith postulates a difference between the
world and God, between whom religion seeks a union. Faith does not wish
to be a relation merely to itself, or to its own representations and thoughts;
that would be a monologue, — faith desires a dialogue. Therefore it does
not consort with a monism, which recognizes only God, or only the world;
it opposes such a monism as this. Duality is, in fact, a condition of true
and vital unity. But duality is not dualism. It has no desire to oppose the
rational demand for unity.” Professor Small of Chicago: “With rare
exceptions on each side, all philosophy today is monistic in its ontological
presumptions; it is dualistic in its methodological procedures.” A.H.
Bradford, Age of Faith, 71 — “Men and God are the same in substance,
though not identical as individuals.” The theology of fifty years ago was
merely individualistic, and ignored the complementary truth of solidarity.
Similarly we think of the continents and islands of our globe as disjoined
from one another. The dissociable sea is regarded as an absolute barrier
between them. But if the ocean could be dried, we should see that all the
while there had been submarine connections, and the hidden unity of all
lands would appear. So the individuality of human beings, real as it is, is
not the only reality. There is the profounder fact of a common life. Even.205
the great mountain-peaks of personality are superficial distinctions,
compared with the organic oneness in which they are rooted, into which
they all dip down, and from which they all, like volcanoes, receive at
times quick and overflowing impulses of insight, emotion and energy; see
A.H. Strong. Christ in Creation and Ethical Monism, 189, 190.
2. In contrast then with the two errors of Pantheism — the denial of God’s
transcendence and the denial of God’s personality — Ethical Monism holds
that the universe, instead of being one with God and conterminous with
God, is but a finite, partial and progressive manifestation of the divine Life
Matter being God’s self-limitation under the law of Necessity; Humanity
being God’s self-limitation under the law of Freedom; Incarnation and
Atonement being God’s self-limitations under the law of Grace.
The universe is related to God as my thoughts are related to me, the
thinker. I am greater than my thoughts, and my thoughts vary in moral
value. Ethical Monism traces the universe back to a beginning, while
Pantheism regards the universe as co-eternal with God. Ethical Monism
asserts God’s transcendence, while Pantheism regards God as imprisoned
in the universe. Ethical Monism asserts that the heaven of heavens cannot
contain him, but that contrariwise the whole universe taken together, with
its elements and forces, its suns and systems, is but a light breath from his
mouth, or a drop of dew upon the fringe of his garment. Upton, Hibbert
Lectures: “The Eternal is present in every finite thing, and is felt and
known to be present in every rational soul; but still is not broken up into
individualities, but ever remains one and the same eternal substance, one
and the same unifying principle, immanently and indivisibly present in
every one of that countless plurality of finite individuals into which man s
analyzing understanding dissects the Cosmos.” James Martineau, in 19th
Century, Apl. 1895:559 — “What is Nature but the province of God’s
pledged and habitual causality? And what is Spirit, but the province of his
free causality, responding to the needs and affections of his
children?…God is not a retired architect, who may now and then be called
in for repairs. Nature is not self-active, and God’s agency is not
intrusive.” Calvin: Pie hoc potest dici, Deum esse Naturam.
With this doctrine many poets show their sympathy. “Every fresh and new
creation, A divine improvisation, From the heart of God proceeds.”
Robert Browning asserts God’s immanence; “This is the glory that, in all
conceived Or felt, or known, I recognize a Mind — Not mine, but like
mine — for the double joy, Making all things for me, and me for him”;
Ring and Book, Pope: “O thou, as represented to me here In such.206
conception as my soul allows — Under thy measureless, my atom width!
Man’s mind, what is it but a convex glass, Wherein are gathered all the
scattered points Picked out of the immensity of sky, To reunite there, be
our heaven for earth, Our Known Unknown, our God revealed to man?”
But Browning also asserts God’s transcendence: in Death in the Desert,
we read: “Man is not God, but hath God’s end to serve, A Master to obey,
a Cause to take, Somewhat to cast off, somewhat to become”; in
Christmas Eve, the poet derides “The important stumble Of adding, he,
the sage and humble, Was also one with the Creator”; he tells us that it
was God’s plan to make man in his image: “To create man, and then leave
him Able, his own word saith, to grieve him; But able to glorify him too,
As a mere machine could never do That prayed or praised, all unaware Of
its fitness for aught but praise or prayer, Made perfect as a thing of
course…God, whose pleasure brought Man into being, stands away, As it
were, a handbreadth off, to give Room for the newly made to live And
look at him from a place apart And use his gifts of brain and heart”;
“Life’s business being just the terrible choice.”
So Tennyson’s Higher Pantheism: “The sun, the moon, the stars, the seas,
the hills, and the plains, Are not these, O soul, the vision of Him who
reigns? Dark is the world to thee; thou thyself art the reason why; For is
not He all but thou, that hast power to feel ‘I am I’? Speak to him, thou,
for he hears, and spirit with spirit can meet; Closer is he than breathing,
and nearer than hands and feet. And the ear of man cannot hear, and the
eye of man cannot see; But if we could see and hear, this vision — were it
not He?” Also Tennyson’s Ancient Sage: “But that one ripple on the
boundless deep Feels that the deep is boundless, and itself Forever
changing form, but evermore One with the boundless motion of the deep”;
and In Memoriam: “One God, one law, one element, And one far-off
divine event, Toward which the whole creation moves.” Emerson: “The
day of days, the greatest day in the feast of life, is that in which the
inward eye opens to the unity of things”; “In the mud and scum of things
Something always, always sings.” Mrs. Browning: “Earth is crammed
with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; but only he who
sees takes off his shoes.” So manhood is itself potentially a divine thing.
All life, in all its vast variety, can have but one Source. It is either one
God, above all, through all, and in all, or it is no God at all. E. M. Poteat,
On Chesapeake Bay: “Night’s radiant glory overhead, A softer glory there
below, Deep answered unto deep, and said: A kindred fire in us doth glow.
For life is one — of sea and stars, Of God and man, of earth and heaven
— And by no theologic bars shall my scant life from God’s be riven.” See
Professor Henry Jones, Robert Browning..207
3. The immanence of God, as the one substance, ground and principle of
being, does not destroy, but rather guarantees, the individuality and rights
of each portion of the universe, so that there is variety of rank and
endowment. In the case of moral beings, the degree of their voluntary
recognition and appropriation of the divine determine worth. While God is
all, he is also in all; so making the universe a graded and progressive
manifestation of himself, both in his love for righteousness and his
opposition to moral evil.
It has been charged that the doctrine of monism necessarily involves moral
indifference; that the divine presence in all things breaks down all
distinctions of rank and makes each thing equal to every other; that the
evil as well as the good is legitimated and consecrated. Of pantheistic
monism all this is true, — it is not true of ethical monism; for ethical
monism is the monism that recognizes the ethical fact of personal
intelligence and will in both God and man, and with these God’s purpose
in making the universe a varied manifestation of himself. The worship of
cats and bulls and crocodiles in ancient Egypt, and the deification of lust
in the Brahmanic temples of India, were expressions of a non-ethical
monism, which saw in God no moral attributes, and which identified God
with his manifestations. As an illustration of the mistakes into which the
critics of monism may fall for lack of discrimination between monism that
is pantheistic and monism that is ethical, we quote from Emma Marie
Caillard: “Integral parts of God are, on monistic premises, liars,
sensualists, murderers, evil livers and evil thinkers of every description.
Their crimes and their passions enter intrinsically into the divine
experience. The infinite Individual in his wholeness may reject them
indeed, but none the less are these evil finite individuals constituent parts
of him, even as the twigs of a tree, though they are not the tree, and
though the tree transcends any or all of them, are yet constituent parts of
it. Can he whose universal consciousness includes and defines all finite
consciousnesses be other than responsible for all finite actions and
To this indictment we may reply in the words of Bowne, The Divine
Immanence, 180-183 — “Some weak heads have been so heated by the
new wine of immanence as to put all things on the same level, and make
men and mice of equal value. But there is nothing in the dependence of all
things on God to remove their distinctions of value. One confused talker
of this type was led to say that he had no trouble with the notion of a
divine man, as he believed in a divine oyster. Others have used the
doctrine to cancel moral differences; for if God be in all things, and if all.208
things represent his will, then whatever is, is right. But this too is hasty.
Of course even the evil will is not independent of God, but lives and
moves and has its being in and through the divine. But through its
mysterious power of self-hood and self-determination the evil will is able
to assume an attitude of hostility to the divine law, which forthwith
vindicates itself by appropriate reactions.
“These reactions are not divine in the highest or ideal sense. They
represent nothing, which God desires or in which he delights; but they are
divine in the sense that they are things to be done under the circumstances.
The divine reaction in the case of the good is distinct from the divine
reaction against evil. Both are divine as representing God’s action, but
only the former is divine in the sense of representing God’s approval and
sympathy. All things serve, said Spinoza. The good serve, and are
furthered by their service. The bad also serves and are used up in the
serving. According to Jonathan Edwards, the wicked are useful ‘in being
acted upon and disposed of.’ As vessels of dishonor’ they may reveal the
majesty of God. There is nothing therefore in the divine immanence, in its
only tenable form, to cancel moral distinctions or to minify retribution.
The divine reaction against iniquity is even more solemn in this doctrine.
The besetting God is the eternal and inescapable environment; and only as
we are in harmony with him can there be any peace…What God thinks of
sin, and what his will is concerning it can be plainly seen in the natural
consequences which attend it…In law itself we are face to face within
God; and natural consequences bare a supernatural meaning.”
4. Since Christ is the Logos of God, the immanent God, God revealed in
Nature, in Humanity, in Redemption, Ethical Monism recognizes the
universe as created, upheld, and governed by the same Being who in the
course of history was manifest in human form and who made atonement
for human sin by his death on Calvary. The secret of the universe and the
key to its mysteries are to be found in the Cross.

John 1:1-4 (margin), 14, 18 — “In the beginning was the Word, and
the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the
beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him
was not any thing made. That which hath been made was life in him; and
the life was the light of men… And the Word became flesh, and dwelt
among us…No man hath seen God at ant time; the only begotten Son, who
is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”

1:16,17 — “for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon
the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions
or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him and.209
unto him; and he is before all things, and in him all thing? consist.”

Hebrews 1:2, — “his Son…through whom also he made the
worlds…upholding all things by the word of his power”

1:22, 23 — “the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth
all in all” = fills all things with all that they contain of truth, beauty, and

Colossians 2:2,3,9 — the mystery of God, even Christ, in
whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden…for in him
dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”
This view of the relation of the universe to God lays the foundation for a
Christian application of recent philosophical doctrine. Matter is no longer
blind and dead, but is spiritual in its nature, not in the sense that it is
spirit, but in the sense that it is the continual manifestation of spirit, just
as my thoughts are a living and continual manifestation of myself. Yet
matter does not consist simply in ideas, for ideas, deprived of an external
object and of an internal subject, are left suspended in the air. Ideas are
the product of Mind. But matter is known only as the opera Lion of force,
and force is the product of Will. Since this force works in rational ways, it
can be the product only of Spirit. The system of forces which we call the
universe is the immediate product of the mind and will of God; and, since
Christ is the mind and will of God in exercise, Christ is the Creator and
Upholder of the universe. Nature is the omnipresent Christ, manifesting
God to creatures.
Christ is the principle of cohesion, attraction, interaction, not only in the
physical universe, but in the intellectual and moral universe as well. In all
our knowing, the knower and known are “connected by some Being who
is their reality,” and this being is Christ, “the Light which lighteth every
man” (

John 1:9). We know in Christ, just as “in him we live, and
move, and have our being” (

Acts 7:28). As the attraction of
gravitation and the principle of evolution are only other names for Christ,
so line is the basis of inductive reasoning and the ground of moral unity in
the creation. I am bound to love my neighbor as myself because he has in
him the same life that is in me, the life of God in Christ. The Christ in
whom all humanity is created, and in whom all humanity consists, holds
together the moral universe, drawing all men to himself and so drawing
them to God. Through him God “reconciles all things unto
himself…whether things upon the earth, or things in the heavens”

Colossians 1:20).
As Pantheism = exclusive immanence = God imprisoned, so Deism =
exclusive transcendence = God banished. Ethical Monism holds to the
truth contained in each of these systems, while avoiding their respective.210
errors. It furnishes the basis for a new interpretation of many theological
as well as of many philosophical doctrines. It helps our understanding of
the Trinity. If within the bounds of God’s being there can exist
multitudinous finite personalities, it becomes easier to comprehend how
within those same bounds there can be three eternal and infinite
personalities, — indeed, the integration of plural consciousnesses in an all
embracing divine consciousness may find a valid analogy in the
integration of subordinate consciousnesses in the unit-personality of man;
see Baldwin, Handbook of Psychology-, Feeling and Will, 53, 54.
Ethical Monism, since it is ethical, leaves room for human wills and for
their freedom. While man could never break the natural bond, which
united him to God, he could break the spiritual bond and introduce into
creation a principle of discord and evil. Tie a cord tightly about your
finger; you partially isolate the finger, diminish its nutrition, and bring
about atrophy and disease. So there has been given to each intelligent and
moral agent the power, Spiritually to isolate himself from God while yet
he is naturally joined to God.
As humanity is created in Christ and lives only in Christ, man’s self-isolation
is his moral separation from Christ. Simon, Redemption of Man,
369 — Rejecting Christ is not so much refusal to become one with Christ
as it is refusal to remain one with him, refusal to let him be our life.” All
men are naturally one within Christ by physical birth, before they become
morally one with him by spiritual birth. They may set themselves against
him and may oppose him forever. This our Lord intimates, when he tells
us that there are natural branches of Christ, which do not “abide in the
vine” or “bear fruit,” and so are “cast forth,” “withered,” and “burned”

John 15:4-6).
Ethical Monism, however, since it is Monism, enables us to understand
the principle of the Atonement. Though God’s holiness binds him to
punish sin, the Christ who has joined himself to the sinner must share the
sinner’s punishment. He who is the life of humanity must take upon his
own heart the burden of shame and penalty that belongs to his members.
Tie the cord about your finger; not only the finger suffers pain, but also
the heart; the life of the whole system rouses itself to put away the evil, to
untie the cord, to free the diseased and suffering member. Humanity is
bound to Christ, as the finger to the body. Since human nature is one of
the “all things” that “consist” or hold together in Christ (

1:17), and man’s sin is a self-perversion of a part of Christ’s own body,
the whole must be injured by the self-inflicted injury of the part, and “it
must needs be that Christ should suffer” (

Acts 17:3). Simon,.211
Redemption of Man, 321 — “If the Logos is the Mediator of the divine
immanence in creation, especially in man; if men are differentiations of
the effluent divine energy; and if the Logos is the immanent controlling
principle of all differentiations — i.e., the principle of all form — must
not the self-perversion of these human differentiations react on him who is
their constitutive principle?” A more full explanation of the relations of
Ethical Monism to other doctrines must be reserved to our separate
treatment of the Trinity, Creation, Sin, Atonement, Regeneration. Portions
of the subject are treated by Upton, Hibbert Lectures; Le Conte, in
Royce’s Conception of God, 43-50: Bowne, Theory of Thought and
Knowledge, 297-301, 311-317, and Immanence of God, 5-32, 116-153;
Ladd, Philos. of Knowledge, 574-590, and Theory of Reality, 525-529;
Edward Caird, Evolution of Religion, 2:48; Ward, Naturalism and
Agnosticism, 2:258-283; Goschel, quoted In Dorner, Hist. Doct. Person
of Christ, 5:170. An attempt has been made to treat the whole subject by
A.H. Strong, Christ in Creation and Ethical Monism, 1-86, 141-162, 166-
180, 186-208..212
1. Needs of man’s nature. Man’s intellectual and moral nature requires, in
order to preserve it from constant deterioration, and to ensure its moral
growth and progress, an authoritative and helpful revelation of religious
truth, of a higher and completer sort than any to which, in its present state
of sin, it can attain by the use of its unaided powers. The proof of this
proposition is partly psychological, and partly historical
A. Psychological proof. —
(a) Neither reason nor intuition throws light upon certain questions whose
solution is of the utmost importance to us; for example, Trinity, atonement,
pardon, method of worship, personal existence after death.
(b) Even the truth to which we arrive by our natural powers needs divine
confirmation and authority when it addresses minds and wills perverted by
(c) To break this power of sin, and to furnish encouragement to moral
effort, we need a special revelation of the merciful and helpful aspect of the
divine nature.
(a) Bremen Lectures, 72, 73; Plato, Second Alcibiades, 22, 23; Phædo, 85
— lo>gou qei>ou tino>v, Iamblicus, peri> tou~ Puqagorikou~ bi>ou,
chap. 28.Æschylus, in his Agamemnon, shows how completely reason and
intuition failed to supply the knowledge of God which man needs:
“Renown is loud,” he says, “and not to lose one’s senses is God’s greatest
gift…The being praised outrageously Is grave; for at the eyes of such a.213
one Is launched, from Zeus, the thunder-stone. Therefore do I decide for
so much and no more prosperity than of his envy passes unespied.”
Though the gods might have favorites, they did not love men as men, but
rather, envied and hated them. William James, Is Life Worth Living?
Internat. Jour. Ethics, Oct. 1895:10 — “All we know of good and beauty
proceeds from nature, but none the less all we know of evil…To such a
harlot we owe no moral allegiance…If there be a divine Spirit of the
universe, nature, such as we know her, cannot possibly be its ultimate
word to man. Either there is no Spirit revealed in nature, or else it is
inadequately revealed there; and, as all the higher religions have assumed,
what we call visible nature, or this world, must be but a veil and surface
show whose full meaning resides in a supplementary unseen or other
(b) Versus Socrates: Men will do right, if they only know the right.
Pfleiderer Philos. Relig., 1:219 — “In opposition to the opinion of
Socrates that badness rests upon ignorance, Aristotle already called the
fact to mind that the doing of the good is not always combined with the
knowing of it, seeing that it depends also on the passions. If badness
consisted only in the want of knowledge, then those who are theoretically
most cultivated must also be morally the best, which no one will venture
to assert.” W.S. Lilly, On Shibboleths: “Ignorance is often held to be the
root of all evil. But mere knowledge cannot transform character. It cannot
minister to a mind diseased. It cannot convert the will from bad to good. It
may turn crime into different channels, and render it less easy to detect. It
does not change man’s natural propensities or his disposition to gratify
them at the expense of others. Knowledge makes the good man more
powerful for good, the bad man more powerful for evil. And that is all it
can do.” Gore, Incarnation, 174 — “We must not depreciate the method
of argument, for Jesus and Paul occasionally used it in a Socratic fashion,
but we must recognize that it is not the basis of the Christian system nor
the primary method of Christianity.” Martineau, in Nineteenth Century,
1:331, 531, and Types, 1:112 — “Plato dissolved the idea of the right into
that of the good, and this again was indistinguishably mingled with that of
the true and the beautiful.” See also Flint, Theism, 305.
(c) Versus Thomas Paine: “Natural religion teaches us, without the
possibility of being mistaken, all that is necessary or proper to be known.”
Plato, Laws, 9:854, c, for substance: “Be good; but, if you cannot, then
kill yourself.” Farrar, Darkness and Dawn, 75 — “Plato says that man
will never know God until God has revealed himself in the guise of
suffering man, and that, when all is on the verge of destruction, God sees
the distress of the universe, and, placing himself at the rudder, restores it.214
to order.” Prometheus, the type of humanity, can never be delivered “until
some god descends for him into the black depths of Tartarus.” Seneca in
like manner teaches that man cannot save himself. He says: “Do you
wonder that men go to the gods? God comes to men, yes, into men.” We
are sinful, and God’s thoughts are not as our thoughts, nor his ways as
our ways. Therefore he must make known his thoughts to us, teach us
what we are, what true love is, and what will please him. Shaler.
Interpretation of Nature, 227 — “The inculcation of moral truths can be
successfully effected only in the personal way; …it demands the influence
of personality…the weight of the impression depends upon the voice and
the eye of a teacher.” In other words, we need not only the exercise of
authority, but also the manifestation of love.
B. Historical proof. —
(a) The knowledge of moral and religious truth possessed by nations and
ages in which special revelation is unknown is grossly and increasingly
(b) Man’s actual condition in anti-Christian times, and in modern heathen
lands, is that of extreme moral depravity.
(c) With this depravity is found a general conviction of helplessness, and on
the part of some nobler natures, a longing after, and hope of, aid from
Pythagoras: “It is not easy to know [duties], except men were taught them
by God himself, or by some person who had received them from God, or
obtained the knowledge of them through some divine means.” Socrates:
“Wait with patience, till we know with certainty how we ought to behave
ourselves toward God and man.” Plato: “We will wait for one, be he a
God or an inspired man, to instruct us in our duties and to take away the
darkness from our eyes.” Disciple of Plato: “Make probability our raft,
while we sail through life, unless we could have a more sure and safe
conveyance, such as some divine communication would be.” Plato
thanked God for three things: first that he was born a rational soul;
secondly, that he was born a Greek; and, thirdly, that he lived in the days
of Socrates. Yet, with all these advantages, he had only probability for a
raft on which to navigate strange seas of thought far beyond his depth,
and he longed for “a more sure word of prophecy” (

1 Peter 1:19). See
references and (quotations in Peabody, Christianity the Religion of
Nature, 35, and in Luthardt, Fundamental Truths, 156-172, 335-338;
Farrar, Seekers after God; Garbett, Dogmatic Faith, 187..215
2. Presumption of supply. What we know of God, by nature, affords
ground for hope that these wants of our intellectual and moral being will be
met by a corresponding supply, in the shape of a special divine revelation.
We argue this:
(a) From our necessary conviction of God’s wisdom. Having made man a
spiritual being, for spiritual ends, it may be hoped that he will furnish the
means needed to secure these ends.
(b) From the actual, though incomplete, revelation already given in nature.
Since God has actually undertaken to make himself known to men, we may
hope that he will finish the work he has begun.
(c) From the general connection of want and supply. The higher our needs,
the more intricate and ingenious are, in general, the contrivances for
meeting them. We may therefore hope that the highest want will be all the
more surely met.
(d) From analogies of nature and history. Signs of reparative goodness in
nature and of forbearance in providential dealings lead us to hope that,
while justice is executed, God may still make known some way of
restoration for sinners.
(a) There were two stages in Dr. John Duncan’s escape from pantheism:
1. When he came first to believe in the existence of God, and “danced for
joy upon the brig o’ Dee”; and 2. When, under Malan’s influence, he
came also to believe that “God meant that we should know him.” In the
story in the old Village Reader, the mother broke completely down when
she found that her son was likely to grow up stupid, but her tears
conquered him and made him intelligent. Laura Bridgman was blind, deaf
and dumb, and had but small sense of taste or smell. When her mother,
after long separation, went to her in Boston, the mother’s heart was in
distress lest the daughter should not recognize her. When at last, by some
peculiar mother’s sign, she pierced the veil of insensibility; it was a glad
time for both. So God, our Father, tries to reveal himself to our blind,
deaf and dumb souls. The agony of the Cross is the sign of God’s distress
over the insensibility of humanity which sin has caused. If he is the Maker
of man’s being, he will surely seek to fit it for that communion with
himself for which it was designed.
(b) Gore, Incarnation, 52, 53 — “Nature is a first volume, in itself
incomplete, and demanding a second volume, which is Christ.”.216
(c) R.T. Smith, Man’s Knowledge of Man and of God, 238 —
“Mendicants do not ply their calling for years in a desert where there are
no givers. Enough of supply has been received to keep the sense of want
(d) In the natural arrangements for the healing of bruises in plants and for the
mending of broken bones in the animal creation, in the provision of remedial
agents for the cure of human diseases, and especially in the delay to inflict
punishment upon the transgressor and the space given him for repentance, we
have some indications, which, if uncontradicted by other evidence, might lead
us to regard the God of nature as a God of forbearance and mercy. Plutarch’s
treatise “De Sera Numinis Vindicta “is proof that this thought had occurred to
the heathen. It may be doubted, indeed, whether a heathen religion could even
continue to exist, without embracing in it some element of hope. Yet this very
delay in the execution of the divine judgments gave its own occasion for
doubting the existence of a God who was both good and just. “Truth forever
on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,” is a scandal to the divine
government, which only the sacrifice of Christ can fully remove.
The problem presents itself also in the Old Testament. In Job 21, and in
Psalm 1; 37, 49, 73, there are partial answers; see

Job 21:7 —
“Wherefore do the wicked live, Become old, yea, wax mighty in power?”
24:1 — “Why are not judgment times determined by the Almighty? And
they that know him, why see they not his days?” The New ‘Testament
intimates the existence of a witness to God’s goodness among the heathen,
while at the same the it declares that the full knowledge of forgiveness and
salvation is brought only by Christ. Compare

Acts 14:17 — “And yet
he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave you from
heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and
gladness” 17:25-27 — “he himself giveth to all life, and breath, and all
things; and he made, of one every nation of men…that they should seek
God, if haply they might feel after him and find him”;

Romans 2:4 —
“the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance”; 3:25 — “the passing
over of the sins done aforetime, in the forbearance of God”;

3:9 — “to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery which
for ages hath been hid in God”;

2 Timothy 1:10 — “our Savior Christ
Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and incorruption to light
through the gospel.” See Hackett’s edition of the treatise of Plutarch, as
also Bowen, Metaph. and Ethics, 462-487; Diman, Theistic Argument,
We conclude this section upon the reasons a priori for expecting a
revelation from God with the acknowledgment that the facts warrant that.217
degree of expectation, which we call hope, rather than that larger degree of
expectation which we call assurance: and this, for the reason that, while
conscience gives proof that God is a God of holiness, we have not, from
the light of nature, equal evidence that God is a God of love. Reason
teaches man that, as a sinner, he merits condemnation; but he cannot, from
reason alone, know that God will have mercy upon him and provide
salvation. His doubts can be removed only by God’s own voice, assuring
him of “redemption…the forgiveness of… trespasses” (

Ephesians 1:7)
and revealing to him the way in which that forgiveness has been rendered
Conscience knows no pardon, and no Savior. Hovey, Manual of Christian
Theology, 9, seems to us to go too far when he says, “Even natural
affection and conscience afford some clue to the goodness and holiness of
God, though much more is needed by one who undertakes the study of
Christian theology.” We grant that natural affection gives some clue to
God’s goodness, but we regard conscience as reflecting only God’s
holiness and his hatred of sin. We agree with Alexander McLaren: “Does
God’s love need to be proved? Yes, as all paganism shows. Gods vicious,
gods careless, gods cruel, gods beautiful, there are in abundance; but
where is there a god who loves?”
1. As to its substance. We may expect this later revelation not to
contradict, but to confirm and enlarge, the knowledge of God, which we
derive from nature, while it remedies the defects of natural religion and
throws light upon its problems.
Isaiah’s appeal is to God’s previous communications of truth:

8:20 — “To the law and to the testimony! If they speak not according to
this word, surely there is no morning for them.” And Malachi follows the
example of Isaiah;

Malachi 4:4 — “Remember ye the Law of Moses
my servant.” Our Lord himself based his claims upon the former
utterances of God:

Luke 24:27 — beginning from Moses and from all
the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things
concerning himself”
2. As to its method. We may expect it to follow God’s methods of
procedure in other communications of truth..218
Bishop Butler (Analogy, part ii, chap. iii) has denied that there is any
possibility of judging a priori how a divine revelation will be given. “We
are in no sort judges beforehand,” he says, “by what methods, or in what
proportion, it were to be expected that this supernatural light and
instruction would be afforded us.” But Bishop Butler somewhat later in
his great work (part ii, chap. iv) shows that God’s progressive plan in
revelation has its analogy in the slow, successive steps by which God
accomplishes his ends in nature. We maintain that the revelation in nature
affords certain presumptions with regard to the revelation of grace, such
for example as those mentioned below.
Leslie Stephen, in Nineteenth Century, Feb. 1891:180 — “Butler
answered the argument of the deists, that the God of Christianity was
unjust, by arguing that the God of nature was equally unjust. James Mill,
admitting the analogy, refused to believe in either God. Dr. Martineau has
said, for similar reasons, that Butler ‘wrote one of the most terrible
persuasives to atheism ever produced.’ So J.H. Newman’s ‘kill or cure’
argument is essentially that God has either revealed nothing, or has made
revelations in some other places than in the Bible. His argument, like
Butler’s, may be as good a persuasive to skepticism as to belief.” To this
indictment by Leslie Stephen we reply that it has cogency only so long as
we ignore the fact of human sin. Granting this fact, our world becomes a
world of discipline, probation and redemption, and both the God of nature
and the God of Christianity are cleared from all suspicion of injustice.
The analogy between God’s methods in the Christian system and his
methods in nature becomes an argument in favor of the former.
(a) That of continuous historical development, — that it will be given in
germ to early ages, and will be more fully unfolded as the race is prepared
to receive it.
Instances of continuous development in God’s impartations are found in
geological history; in the growth of the sciences; in the progressive
education of the individual and of the race. No other religion but
Christianity shows “a steady historical progress of the vision of one
infinite Character unfolding itself to man through a period of many
centuries.” See sermon by Dr. Temple, on the Education of the World, in
Essays and Reviews; Rogers, Superhuman Origin of the Bible, 374-381;
Walker, Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation. On the gradualness of
revelation, see Fisher, Nature and Method of Revelation, 46-86; Arthur
H. Hallam, in John Brown’s Rab and his Friends, 282 — “Revelation is a
gradual approximation of the infinite Being to the ways and thoughts of.219
finite humanity.” A little fire can kindle a city or a world; but ten times
the heat of that little fire, if widely diffused, would not kindle anything.
(6) That of original delivery to a single nation, and to single persons in that
nation, that it may through them be communicated to mankind.
Each nation represents an idea. As the Greek had a genius for liberty and
beauty, and the Roman a genius for organization and law, so the Hebrew
nation had a “genius for religion” (Renan); this last, however, would have
been useless without special divine aid and superintendence, as witness
other productions of this same Semitic race, such as Bel and the Dragon,
in the Old Testament Apocrypha; the gospels of the Apocryphal New
Testament; and later still, the Talmud and the Koran.
The O.T. Apocrypha relates that, when Daniel was thrown a second the
into the lions’ den, an angel seized Habbakuk in Judea by the hair of his
head and carried him with a bowl of pottage to give to Daniel for his
dinner. There were seven lions, and Daniel was among them seven days
and nights. Tobias starts from his father’s house to secure his inheritance,
and his little dog goes with him. On the banks of the great river a great
fish threatens to devour him, but he captures and despoils the fish. He
finally returns successful to his father’s house, and his little dog goes in
with him. In the Apocryphal Gospels, Jesus carries water in his mantle
when his pitcher is broken; makes clay birds on the Sabbath, and, when
rebuked, causes them to fly’; strikes a youthful companion with death,
and then curses his accusers with blindness; mocks his teachers, and
resents control. Later Moslem legends declare that Mohammed caused
darkness at noon; whereupon the moon flew to him, went seven times
around the Ka„ba, bowed, entered his right sleeve, split into two halves
after slipping out at the left, and the two halves, after retiring to the
extreme east and west, were reunited. These products of the Semitic race
show that neither the influence of environment nor a native genius for
religion furnishes an adequate explanation of our Scriptures. As the flame
on Elijah’s altar was caused, not by the dead sticks, but by the fire from
heaven, so only the inspiration of the Almighty can explain the unique
revelation of the Old and New Testaments.
The Hebrews saw God in conscience. For the most genuine expression of
their life we “must look beneath the surface, in the soul, where worship
and aspiration and prophetic faith come face to face with God” (Genung,
Epic of the Inner Life, 28). But the Hebrew religion needed to be
supplemented by the sight of God in reason, and in the beauty of the
world. The Greeks had the love of knowledge, and the æsthetic sense..220
Butcher, Aspects of the Greek Genius, 34 — “The Phúnicians taught the
Greeks how to write, but it was the Greeks who wrote.” Aristotle was the
beginner of science and outside the Aryan race none but the Saracens ever
felt the scientific impulse. But the Greek made his problem clear by
striking all the unknown quantities out of it. Greek thought would never
have gained universal currency and permanence if it had not been for
Roman jurisprudence and imperialism. England has contributed her
constitutional government and America her manhood suffrage and her
religious freedom. So a definite thought of God is incorporated in each
nation, and each nation has a message to every other.

Acts 17:26 —
God “made of one every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the
earth, having determined their appointed seasons, and the bounds of their

Romans 3:12 — “What advantage then hath the Jew?
…First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.” God’s
choice of the Hebrew nation, as the repository and communicator of
religious truth is analogous to his choice of other nations; it’s the
repositories and communicators of æsthetic, scientific, governmental
Hegel: “No nation that has played a weighty and active part in the world’s
history has ever issued from the simple development of a single race along
the unmodified lines of blood-relationship. There must be differences,
conflicts, a composition of opposed forces.” The conscience of the
Hebrew, the thought of the Greek, the organization of the Latin, the
personal loyalty of the Teuton, must all be united to form a perfect whole.
“While the Greek Church was orthodox the Latin Church was Catholic:
while the Greek treated of the two wills in Christ, the Latin treated of the
harmony of our wills with God; while the Latin saved through a
corporation, the Teuton saved through personal faith.” Brereton, in
Educational Review, Nov. 1901:339 — “The problem of France is that of
the religious orders; that of Germany, the construction of society; that of
America, capital and labor.” Pfleiderer, Philos. Religion, 1:183, 184 —
“Great ideas never come from the masses, but from marked individuals.
These ideas, when propounded, however, awaken an echo in the masses,
which shows that the ideas had been slumbering unconsciously in the
souls of others.” The hour strikes, and a Newton appears, who interprets
God’s will in nature. So the hour strikes, and a Moses or a Paul appears,
who interprets God’s will in morals and religion. The few grains of wheat
found in the clasped hand of the Egyptian mummy would have been
utterly lost if one grain had been sown in Europe, a second in Asia, a third
in Africa, and a fourth in America; all being planted together in a
flowerpot, and their product in a garden bed, and the still later fruit in a.221
farmer’s field, there came at last to be a sufficient crop of new
Mediterranean wheat to distribute to all the world. So God followed his
ordinary method in giving religious truth first to a single nation and to
chosen individuals in that nation, that through them it might be given to
all mankind. See British Quarterly, Jan. 1874: art.; Inductive Theology.
(c) That of preservation in written and accessible documents, handed down
from those to whom the revelation is first communicated.
Alphabets, writing, books, are our chief dependence for the history of the
past; all the great religions of the world are book religions; the Karens
expected their teachers in the new religion to bring to them a book. But
notice that false religions have scriptures, but not Scripture; their sacred
books lack the principle of unity which is furnished by divine inspiration.
H.P. Smith, Biblical Scholarship and Inspiration, 68 — “Mohammed
discovered that the Scriptures of the Jews were the source of their
religion. He called them a ‘book people,’ and endeavored to construct a
similar God for his disciples. In it God is the only speaker; all its contents
are made known to the prophet by direct revelation; its Arabic style is
perfect; its text is incorruptible; it is absolute authority in law, science and
history.” The Koran is a grotesque human parody of the Bible; its
exaggerated pretensions of divinity, indeed, are the best proof that it is of
purely human origin. Scripture, on the other hand, makes no such claims
for itself, but points to Christ as the sole and final authority. In this sense
we may say with Clarke, Christian Theology, 20 — “Christianity is not a
book religion, but a life religion. The Bible does not give us Christ, but
Christ gives us the Bible.” Still it is true that for our knowledge of Christ
we are almost wholly dependent upon Scripture. In giving his revelation to
the world, God has followed his ordinary method of communicating and
preserving truth by means of written documents. Recent investigations,
however, now render it probable that the Karen expectation of a book was
the survival of the teaching of the Nestorian missionaries, who as early as
the eighth century penetrated the remotest parts of Asia, and left in the
wall of the city of Singwadu in Northwestern China a tablet as a
monument of their labors. On book revelation, see Rogers, Eclipse of
Faith, 73-96, 281-304.
3. As to its attestation. We may expect that this revelation will be
accompanied by evidence that its author is the same being whom we have
previously recognized as God of nature. This evidence must constitute
(a) a manifestation of God himself;
(b) in the outward as well as the inward world;.222
(c) such as only God’s power or knowledge can make; and
(d) such as cannot be counterfeited by the evil, or mistaken by the
candid, soul.
In short, we may expect God to attest by miracles and by prophecy, the
divine mission and authority of those to whom he communicates a
revelation. Some such outward sign would seem to be necessary, not only
to assure the original recipient that the supposed revelation is not a vagary
of his own imagination, but also to render the revelation received by a
single individual authoritative to all (compare

Judges 6:17, 36-40 —
Gideon asks a sign. for himself:

1 Kings 18:36-38 — Elijah asks a sign
for others).
But in order that our positive proof of a divine revelation may not be
embarrassed by the suspicion that the miraculous and prophetic elements in
the Scripture history create a presumption against its credibility, it will be
desirable to take up at this point the general subject of miracles and
1. Definition of Miracle.
A. Preliminary Definition. — A miracle is an event palpable to the senses,
produced for a religious purpose by the immediate agency of God; an event
therefore which, though not contravening any law of nature, the laws of
nature, if fully known, would not without this agency of God be competent
to explain.
This definition corrects several erroneous conceptions of the miracle: —
(a) A miracle is not a suspension or violation of natural law; since natural
law is in operation at the time of the miracle just as much as before.
(b) A miracle is not a sudden product of natural agencies — a product
merely foreseen, by him who appears to work it; it is the effect of a will
outside of nature.
(c) A miracle is not an event without a cause since it has for its cause a
direct volition of God..223
(d) A miracle is not an irrational or capricious act of God; but an act of
wisdom, performed in accordance with the immutable laws of his being, so
that in the same circumstances the same course would be again pursued.
(e) A miracle is not contrary to experience since it is not contrary to
experience for a new cause to be followed by a new effect.
(f) A miracle is not a matter of internal experience, like regeneration or
illumination; but is an event palpable to the senses, which may serve as an
objective proof to all that the worker of it is divinely commissioned as a
religious teacher.
For various definitions of miracles, see Alexander, Christ and
Christianity, 302. On the whole subject; see Mozley, Miracles; Christlieb,
Mod. Doubt and Christ. Belief, 285-339; Fisher, in Princeton Rev., Nov.
1880, and Jan. 1881; A.H. Strong, Philosophy and Religion, 129-147,
and in Baptist Review, April, 1879. The definition given above is intended
simply as a definition of the miracles of the Bible, or, in other words, of
the events which profess to attest a divine revelation in the Scriptures. The
New Testament designates these events in a two-fold way, viewing them
either subjectively, as producing effects upon men, or objectively, as
revealing the power and wisdom of God. In the former aspect they are
called te>rata, ‘wonders,’ and shmei~a ‘signs,’ (

John 4:48;

2:22). In the latter aspect they are called duna>meiv, ‘powers,’ and e]rga,
‘works,’ (

Matthew 7:22;

John 14:11). See H.B. Smith, Lect. on
Apologetics, 90-116, esp. 94 — shmei~on, sign, marking the purpose or
object, the moral end, placing the event in connection with revelation.”
The Bible Union Version uniformly and properly renders te>rav by
‘wonder,’ duna>miv by ‘miracle,’ e]rgon by ‘work,’ and shmei~on by
‘sign.’ Goethe, Faust: “Alles Vergangliche ist nur ein Gleichniss: Das
Unzulangliche wird hier Ereigniss” — “Everything transitory is but a
parable; The unattainable appears as solid fact.” So the miracles of the
New Testament are acted parables, — Christ opens the eyes of the blind
to show that he is the Light of the world, multiplies the loaves to show
that he is the Bread of Life, and raises the dead to show that he lifts men
up from the death of trespasses and sins. See Broadus on Matthew, 175.
A modification of this definition of the miracle, however, is demanded by
a large class of Christian physicists, in the supposed interest of natural
law. Babbage proposes such a modification. in the Ninth Bridgewater
Treatise, chap. viii. Babbage illustrates the miracle by the action of his
calculating machine, which would present to the observer in regular
succession the series of units from one to ten million, but which would.224
then make a leap and show, not ten million and one, but a hundred
million; Ephraim Peabody illustrates the miracle from the cathedral clock,
which strikes only once in a hundred years; yet both these results are due
simply to the original construction of the respective machines. Bonnet held
this view; see Dorner, Glaubenslehre 1:591, 592; Eng. translation, 2:155,
156; so Matthew Arnold, quoted in Bruce, Miraculous Element in
Gospels, 52; see also A.H. Strong. Philosophy and Religion, 129-147.
Babbage and Peabody would deny that the miracle is due to the direct and
immediate agency of God, and would regard it as belonging to a higher
order of nature. God is the author of the miracle only in the sense that he
instituted the laws of nature at the beginning and provided that at the
appropriate time miracle should be their outcome. In favor of this view it
has been claimed that it does not dispense with the divine working, but
only puts it further back at the origination of the system, while it still
holds God’s work to be essential, not only to the upholding of the system,
but also to the inspiring of the religious teacher or leader with the
knowledge needed to predict the unusual working of the system. The
wonder is confined to the prophecy, which may equally attest a divine
revelation. See Matheson, in Christianity and Evolution, 1-26.
But it is plain that a miracle of this sort lacks to a large degree the element
of ‘signality’, which is needed, if it is to accomplish its purpose. It
surrenders the great advantage which miracle, as first defined, possessed
over special providence, as an attestation of revelation — the advantage,
namely, that while special providence affords some warrant that this
revelation comes from God, miracle gives full warrant that it comes from
God. Since man may by natural means possess himself of the knowledge
of physical laws, the true miracle which God works, and the pretended
miracle which only man works, are upon this theory far less easy to
distinguish from each other: Cortez, for example, could deceive
Montezuma by predicting an eclipse of the sun. Certain typical miracles,
like the resurrection of Lazarus, refuse to be classed as events within the
realm of nature, in the sense in which the term nature is ordinarily used.
Our Lord, moreover, seems clearly to exclude such a theory as this, when
he says: “If I by the finger of God cast out demons” (

Luke 11:20);

Mark 1:41 — “I will; be thou made clean.” The view of Babbage is
inadequate, not only because it fails to recognize any immediate exercise
of will in the miracle, but also because it regards nature as a mere
machine which can operate apart from God — a purely deistic method of
conception. On this view, many of the products of mere natural law might
be called miracles. The miracle would be only the occasional
manifestation of a higher order of nature, like the comet occasionally.225
invading the solar system. William Elder, ldeas from Nature: “The
century plant which we have seen growing from our childhood may not
unfold its blossoms until our old age comes upon us, but the sudden
wonder is natural notwithstanding.” If, however, we interpret nature
dynamically, rather than mechanically, and regard it as the regular
working of the divine will instead of the automatic operation of a machine,
there is much in this view which we may adopt. Miracle may be both
natural and supernatural. We may hold, with Babbage, that it has natural
antecedents, while at the same time we hold that it is produced by the
immediate agency of God. We proceed therefore to an alternative and
preferable definition, which in our judgment combines the merits of both
that have been mentioned. On miracles as already defined, see Mozley,
Miracles, preface, ix — xxvi, 7, 143-160; Bushnell. Nature and
Supernatural, 338-3 A; Smith’s and Hastings’ Diet, of Bible, art.;
Miracles; Abp. Temple, Bampton Lectures for 1884:193-221; Shedd,
Dogm. Theology. 1:541, 542.
B. Alternative and Preferable Definition. — A miracle is an event in nature,
so extraordinary in itself and so coinciding with the prophecy or command
of’ a religions teacher or leader, as fully to warrant the conviction, on the
part of those who witness it, that God has wrought it with the design of
certifying that this teacher or leader has been commissioned by him.
This definition has certain marked advantages as compared with the
preliminary definition given above:
(a) It recognizes the immanence of God and his immediate agency in
nature, instead of assuming an antithesis between the laws of nature and
the will of God.
(b) It regards the miracle as simply an extraordinary act of that same God
who is already present in all-natural operations and who in them is
revealing his general plan.
(c) It holds that natural law, as the method of God’s regular activity, in no
way precludes unique exertions of his power when these will best secure
his purpose in creation.
(d) It leaves it possible that all miracles may have their natural explanations
and may hereafter be traced to natural causes, while both miracles and their
natural causes may be only names for the one and selfsame will of God..226
(e) It reconciles the claims of both science and religion: of science, by
permitting any possible or probable physical antecedents of the miracle; of
religion, by maintaining that these very antecedents together with the
miracle itself are to be interpreted as signs of God’s special commission to
him under whose teaching or leadership the miracle is wrought.
Augustine, who declares that “Dei voluntas rerum natura est,” defines the
miracle in De Civitate Dei, 2:8 — “Portentum ergo fit non contra
naturam, sed contra quam est nota natura.” He says also that a birth is
more miraculous than a resurrection because it is more wonderful that
something that never was should begin to be, than that something that was
and ceased to be should begin again. E.G. Robinson, Christ. Theology,
104 — “The natural is God’s work. He originated it. There is no
separation between the natural and the supernatural. The natural is
Supernatural. God works on everything. Every end, even though attained
by mechanical means, is God’s end as truly as if he wrought by miracle.”
Shaler, Interpretation of Nature, 141, regards miracle as something
exceptional, yet under the control of natural law; the latent in nature
suddenly manifesting itself; the revolution resulting from the slow
accumulation of natural forces. In the Windsor Hotel fire, the heated and
charred woodwork suddenly burst into flame. Flame is very different from
mere heat, but it may be the result of a regularly rising temperature.
Nature may be God’s regular action, miracle its unique result. God’s
regular action may be entirely free, and yet its extraordinary result may be
entirely natural. With these qualifications and explanations, we may adopt
the statement of Biedermann, Dogmatik, 581-591 — “Everything is
miracle, — therefore faith sees God everywhere; Nothing is miracle, —
therefore science sees God nowhere.”
Miracles are never considered by the Scripture writers as infractions of
law. Bp. Southampton, Place of Miracles, 18 — “The Hebrew historian
or prophet regarded miracles as only the emergence into sensible
experience of that divine force which was all along, though invisibly,
controlling the course of nature.” Hastings, Bible Pictionar; 4:117 —
“The force of a miracle to us, arising from our notion of law, would not
be felt by a Hebrew, because he had no notion of natural law.”

77:19, 20 — “Thy way was in the sea, And thy paths in the great waters,
And thy footsteps were not known” = They knew not, and we know not,
by what precise means the deliverance was wrought, or by what precise
track the passage through the Red Sea was effected; all we know is that
“Thou leddest thy people like a flock, By the hand of Moses and Aaron.”
J.M. Whiton, Miracles and Supernatural Religion; “The supernatural is in.227
nature itself, at its very heart, at its very life…not an outside power
interfering within the course of nature, but an inside power vitalizing
nature and operating through it.” Griffith-Jones, Ascent through Christ,
35 — “Miracle, instead of spelling ‘monster’, as Emerson said, simply
bears witness to some otherwise unknown or unrecognized aspect of the
divine character.” Shedd, Dogmn. Theol., 1:533 — “To cause the sun to
rise and to cause Lazarus to rise, both demand omnipotence; but the
manner in which omnipotence works in one instance is unlike the manner
in the other.”
Miracle is an immediate operation of God; but, since all natural processes
are also immediate operations of God, we do not need to deny the use of
these natural processes, so far as they will go, in miracle. Such wonders
of the Old Testament as the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, the
partings of the Red Sea and of the Jordan, the calling down of fire from
heaven by Elijah and the destruction of the army of Sennacherib, are none
the less works of God when regarded as wrought by the use of natural
means. In the New Testament Christ took water to make wine, and took
the five loaves to make bread, just as in ten thousand vineyards to-day he
is turning the moisture of the earth into the juice of the grape, and in ten
thousand fields is turning carbon into corn. The virgin birth of Christ may
be an extreme instance of parthenogenesis which Professor Loeb of
Chicago has just demonstrated to take place in other than the lowest forms
of life and which he believes to be possible in all. Christ’s resurrection
may be an illustration of the power of the normal and perfect human spirit
to take to itself a proper body, and so may be the type and prophecy of
that great change when we too shall lay down our life and take it again.
The scientist may yet find that his disbelief is not only disbelief in Christ,
but also disbelief in science. All miracle may have its natural side, though
we now are not able to discern it; and, if this were true, the Christian
argument would not one whit be weakened, for still miracle would
evidence the extraordinary working of the immanent God, and the
impartation of his knowledge to the prophet or apostle who was his
This view of the miracle renders entirely unnecessary and irrational the
treatment accorded to the Scripture narratives by some modern
theologians. There is a credulity of skepticism, which minimizes the
miraculous element in the Bible and treats it as mythical or legendary, in
spite of clear evidence that it belongs to the realm of actual history.
Pfleiderer, Philos. Relig.,1:295 — “Miraculous legends arise in two ways,
partly out of the idealizing of the real, and partly out of the realizing of
the ideal..228
…Every occurrence may obtain for the religious judgment the significance
of a sign as proof of the world-governing power, wisdom, justice or
goodness of God…Miraculous histories are a poetic realizing of religious
ideas.” Pfleiderer quotes Goethe’s apothegm: “Miracle is faith’s dearest
child.” Foster, Finality of the Christian Religion, 128-138 — We most
honor biblical miraculous narratives when we seek to understand them as
poesies.” Ritschl defines miracles as “those striking natural occurrences
with which the experience of God’s special help is connected.” He leaves
doubtful the bodily resurrection of Christ, and many of his school deny it;
see Mead, Ritschl’s Place in the History of Doctrine, 11. We do not need
to interpret Christ’s resurrection as a mere appearance of his spirit to the
disciples. Gladden, Seven Puzzling Books, 202 — “In the hands of
perfect and spiritual man, the forces of nature are pliant and tractable as
they are not in ours. The resurrection of Christ is only a sign of the
superiority of the life of the perfect spirit over external conditions. It may
be perfectly in accordance with nature.” Myers, Human Personality,
2:288 — “I predict that, in consequence of the new evidence, all
reasonable men, a century hence, will believe the resurrection of Christ.”
We may add that Jesus himself intimates that the working of miracles is
hereafter to be a common and natural manifestation of the new life which
he imparts:

John 14:12 — “He that believeth on me, the works that I
do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go
unto the Father.”
We append a number of opinions, ancient and modern, with regard to
miracles, all tending to show the need of so defining them as not to
conflict with the just claims of science. Aristotle: “Nature is not full of
episodes, like a bad tragedy.” Shakespeare, All’s Well that Ends Well,
2:3:1 — “They say miracles are past; and we have out philosophical
persons to make modern and familiar things supernatural and causeless.
Hence it is that we make trifles of terrors, ensconsing ourselves into
seeming knowledge, when we should submit ourselves to an unknown
fear.” Keats, Lamia: “There was an awful rainbow once in heaven; We
know her woof, her texture: she is given in the dull catalogue of common
things.” Hill, Genetic Philosophy, 334 — “Biological and psychological
science unite in affirming that every event, organic or psychic, is to be
explained in the terms of its immediate antecedents, and that it can be so
explained. There is therefore no necessity; theme is even no room, for
interference. If the existence of a Deity depends upon the evidence of
intervention and supernatural agency, faith in the divine seems to be
destroyed in the scientific mind.” Theodore Parker: “No whim in God, —
therefore no miracle in nature.” Armour, Atonement and Law, 15-33 —.229
“The miracle of redemption, like all miracles, is by intervention of
adequate power, not by suspension of law. Redemption is not ‘the great
exception.’ It is the fullest revelation and vindication of law.” Gore, in
Lux Mundi, 320 — “Redemption is not natural but supernatural —
supernatural, that is, in view of the false nature which man made for
himself by excluding God. Otherwise, the work of redemption is only the
reconstitution of the nature which God had designed.” Abp. Trench: “The
world of nature is throughout a witness for the world of spirit, proceeding
from the same hand, growing out of the same root, and being constituted
for this very end. The characters of nature which everywhere meet the eye
are not a common but a sacred writing, — they are the hieroglyphics of
God.” Pascal: “Nature is the image of grace.” President Mark Hopkins:
“Christianity and perfect Reason are identical.” See Mend, Supernatural
Revelation, 97-123; art.; Miracle, by Bernard, in Hastings’ Dictionary of
the Bible. The modern and improved view of the miracle is perhaps best
presented by T.H. Wright, The Finger of God; and by W.N. Rice,
Christian Faith in an Age of Science, 336.
2. Possibility of Miracle.
An event in nature may be caused by an agent in nature yet above nature.
This is evident from the following considerations:
(a) Lower forces and laws in nature are frequently counteracted and
transcended by the higher (as mechanical forces and laws by chemical, and
chemical by vital), while yet the lower forces and laws are not suspended
or annihilated, but are merged in the higher, and made to assist in
accomplishing purposes to which they are altogether unequal when left to
By nature we mean nature in the proper sense — not ‘everything that is
not God,’ but everything that is not God or made in the image of God’;
see Hopkins, Outline Study of Man, 258, 259. Man’s will does not belong
to nature, but is above nature. On the transcending of lower forces by
higher, see Murphy, Habit and Intelligence, 1:88. James Robertson, Early
Religion, of Israel, 23 — “Is it impossible that there should be unique
things in the world? Is it scientific to assert that there are not?” Ladd,
Philosophy of Knowledge, 406 — “Why does not the projecting part of
the coping-stone fall, in obedience to the law of gravitation, from the top
of yonder building? Because, as physics declares, the forces of cohesion,
acting under quite different laws, thwart and oppose for the time being the
law of gravitation…But now, after a frosty night, the coping-stone
actually breaks off and tumbles to the ground; for that unique law which.230
makes water forcibly expand at 32deg Fahrenheit has contradicted the
laws of cohesion and has restored to the law of gravitation its temporarily
suspended rights over this mass of matter.” Come, Incarnation, 48 —
“Evolution views nature as a progressive order in which there are new
departures, fresh levels won, phenomena unknown before. When organic
life appeared, the future did not resemble the past. So when man came.
Christ is a new nature — the creative Word made flesh. It is to be
expected that, as new nature, he will exhibit new phenomena. New vital
energy will radiate from him, controlling the material forces. Miracles are
the proper accompaniments of his person.” We may add that, as Christ is
the immanent God, be is present in nature while at the same the he is
above nature, and he whose steady will is the essence of all natural law
can transcend all past exertions of that will. The infinite One is not a
being of endless monotony. William Elder, Ideas from Nature, 156 —
“God is not bound hopelessly to his process, like Ixion to his wheel.”
(b) The human will acts upon its physical organism, and so upon nature,
and produces results which nature left to herself never could accomplish,
while yet no law of nature is suspended or violated. Gravitation still
operates upon the axe, even while man holds it at the surface of the water
— for the axe still has weight (cf. 2Kings 6:5-7).
Versus Flume, Philos. Works, 4:130 — “A miracle is a violation of the
laws of nature.” Christian apologists have too often needlessly
embarrassed their argument by accepting Hume’s definition. The stigma
is entirely undeserved. If man can support the axe at the surface of the
water while gravitation still acts upon it, God can certainly, at the
prophet’s word, make the iron to swim, while gravitation still acts upon it.
But this last is miracle. See Mansel, Essay on Miracles, in Aids to Faith,
26, 27: After the greatest wave of the season has landed its pebble high up
on the beach, I can move the pebble a foot further without altering the
force of wind or wave or climate in a distant continent. Fisher, Supernat.
Origin of Christianity, 471; Hamilton, Autology, 685-690; Bowen,
Metaph. and Ethics, 445; Row, Bampton Lectures on Christian
Evidences, 54-74; A. A. Hodge: Pulling out a new stop of the organ does
not suspend the working or destroy the harmony of the other stops. The
pump does not suspend the law of gravitation, nor does our throwing a
ball into the air. If gravitation did not act, the upward velocity of the ball
would not diminish and the ball would never return.
Gravitation draws iron down. But the magnet overcomes that attraction
and draws the iron up. Yet here is no suspension or violation of law, but.231
rather a harmonious working of two laws, each in its sphere. Death and
not life is the order of nature. But men live notwithstanding.
Life is supernatural. Only as a force additional to mere nature works
against nature does life exist. So spiritual life uses and transcends the
laws of nature” (Sunday school Times). Gladden, What Is Left? 60 —
“Wherever you find thought, choice, love, you find something that is not
under the dominion of fixed law. These are the attributes of a free
personality.” William James: “We need to substitute the personal view of
life for the impersonal and mechanical view. Mechanical rationalism is
narrowness and partial induction of facts, — it is not science.”
(c) In all free causation, there is an acting without means. Man acts upon
external nature through his physical organism, but, in moving his physical
organism, he acts directly upon matter. In other words, the human will can
cause use means, only because it has the power of acting initially without
See Hopkins, on Prayer-gauge, 10, and in Princeton Review, Sept.
1882:188. A. J. Balfour, Foundations of Belief, 311 — “Not Divinity
alone intervenes in the world of things. Each living soul, in its measure
and degree, does the same.” Each soul that acts in any way on its
surroundings does so on the principle of the miracle. Phillips Brooks,
Life, 2:350 — “The making of all events miraculous is no more an
abolition of miracle than the flooding of the world with sunshine is an
extinction of the sun.” George Adam Smith, on

Isaiah 33:14 —
“devouring fire everlasting burnings”: “If we look at a conflagration
through smoked glass, we see buildings collapsing, but we see no fire. So
science sees results, but not the power which produces them; sees cause
and effect, but does not see God.” P. S. Henson: “The current in an
electric wire is invisible so long as it circulates uniformly. But cut the
wire and insert pieces of carbon between the two broken ends, and at once
you have an arc light that drives away the darkness. So miracle is only the
momentary interruption in the operation of uniform laws, which thus gives
light to the ages,” — or, let us say rather, the momentary change on the
method of their operation whereby the will of God takes a new form of
manifestation. Pfleiderer, Grundriss, 100 — “Spinoza leugnete ihre
metaphysiche Moglichkeit, Hume ihre geschichtliche Erkennbarkeit, Kant
ihre practische Brauchbarkeit, Schleiermacher ihre religiose
Bedeutsamkeit, Hegel ihre geistige Beweiskraft, Fichte ihre wahre
Christlichkeit, und die kritische Theologie ihre wahre Geschichtlichkeit”.232
(d) What the human will, considered as a supernatural force, and what the
chemical and vital forces of nature itself, are demonstrably able to
accomplish, cannot be regarded as beyond the power of God, so long as
God dwells in and controls the universe. If man’s will can act directly upon
matter in his own physical organism, God’s will can work immediately
upon the system which he has created and which he sustains. In other
words, if there be a God, and if he be a personal being, miracles are
possible. The impossibility of miracles can be maintained only upon
principles of atheism or pantheism.
See Westcott, Gospel of the Resurrection, 19; Cox, Miracles, an
Argument and a Challenge: “Anthropomorphism is preferable to
hylomorphism.” Newman Smyth, Old Faiths in a New Light, ch. 1 — “A
miracle is not a sudden blow struck in the face of nature, but a use of
nature, according to its inherent capacities, by higher powers.” See also
Gloatz, Wunder und Naturgesetz, in Studien und Kritiken, 1886:403-546;
Gunsaulus, Transfiguration of Christ, 18, 19, 26; Andover Review, on
“Robert Elsmere,” 1888:303; W.E. Gladstone, in Nineteenth Century,
1888:766-788; Dubois, on Science and Miracle, in New Englander, July,
1889:1-32 — Three postulates: (1) Every particle attracts every other in
the universe; (2) Man’s will is free; (2) Every volition is accompanied by
corresponding brain action. Hence every volition of ours causes changes
throughout the whole universe; also, in Century Magazine, Dec. 1894: —
Conditions are never twice the same in nature; all things are the results of
will, since we know that the least thought of ours shakes the universe;
miracle is simply the action of will in unique conditions; the beginning of
life, the origin of consciousness, these are miracles, yet they are strictly
natural; prayer and the mind that frames it are conditions which the Mind
in nature cannot ignore. Cf. Ps 115:3 — “Our God is in the heavens: He
hath done whatsoever he pleased’ = his almighty power and freedom do
away with all a priori objections to miracles. If God is not a mere force,
but a person, then miracles are possible.
(e) This possibility of miracles becomes doubly sure to those who see in
Christ none other than the immanent God manifested to creatures. The
Logos or divine Reason who is the principle of all growth and evolution
can make God known only by means of successive new impartations of his
energy. Since all progress implies increment, and Christ is the only source
of life, the whole history of creation is a witness to the possibility of
See A.H. Strong, Christ in Creation, 163-166 — “This conception of
evolution is that of Lotze. That great philosopher, whose influence is more
potent than any other in present thought, does not regard the universe as a
plenum to which nothing can be added in the way of force. He looks upon
the universe rather as a plastic organism to which new impulses can be
imparted from him of whose thought and will it is an expression. These
impulses, once imparted, abide in the organism and are thereafter subject
to its law. Though these impulses come from within, they come not from
that finite mechanism but from the immanent God. Robert Browning’s
phrase, ‘All’s love but all’s law,’ must be interpreted as meaning that the
very movements of the planets and all the operations of nature are
revelations of a personal and present God, but it must not be interpreted
as meaning that God runs in a rut, that he is confined to mechanism, that
he is incapable of unique and startling manifestations of power.
“The idea that gives to evolution its hold upon thinking minds is the idea
of continuity. But absolute continuity is inconsistent with progress. If the
future is not simply a reproduction of the past, there must be some new
cause of change. In order to progress there must be either a new force, or
a new combination of forces, and only some new force that causes the
combination can explain the new combination of forces. This new force,
moreover, must be intelligent force, if the evolution is to be toward the
better instead of toward the worse. The continuity must be continuity not
of forces but of plan. The forces may increase, nay; they must increase,
unless the new is to be a mere repetition of the old. There must be
additional energy imparted, the new combination brought about, and all
this implies purpose and will. But through all there runs one continuous
plan, and upon this plan the rationality of evolution depends.
“A man builds a house. In laying the foundation he uses stone and mortar,
but he makes the walls of wood and the roof of tin. In the superstructure
he brings into play different laws from those which apply to the
foundation. There is continuity, not of material, but of plan. Progress
from cellar to garret requires breaks here and there, and the bringing in of
new forces; in fact, without the bringing in of these new forces the
evolution of the house would be impossible. Now substitute for the
foundation and superstructure living things like the chrysalis and the
butterfly; imagine the power to work from within and not from without;
and you see that true continuity does not exclude but involves new
“Evolution, then, depends on increments of force plus continuity of plan.
New creations are possible because the immanent God has not exhausted.234
himself. Miracle is possible because God is not far away, but is at hand to
do whatever the needs of his moral universe may require. Regeneration
and answers to prayer are possible for the very reason that these are the
objects for which the universe was built, if we were deists, believing in a
distant God and a mechanical universe, evolution and Christianity would
be irreconcilable. But since we believe in a dynamical universe, of which
the personal and living God is the inner source of energy, evolution is but
the basis, foundation and background of Christianity, the silent and
regular working of him who, in the fullness of time, utters his voice in
Christ and the Cross.”
Lotze’s own statement of his position may be found in his Microcosmos,
2:479 sq. Professor James Ten Broeke has interpreted him as follows:
“He makes the possibility of the miracle depend upon the close and
intimate action and reaction between the world and the personal Absolute,
in consequence of which the movements of the natural world are carried
on only through the Absolute, with the possibility of a variation in the
general course of things, according to existing facts and the purpose of the
divine Governor.”
3. Probability of Miracles.
A. We acknowledge that, so long as we confine our attention to nature,
there is a presumption against miracles. Experience testifies to the
uniformity of natural law. A general uniformity is needful, in order to make
possible a rational calculation of the future, and a proper ordering of life.
See Butler, Analogy, part ii, chap. ii; F. W. Farrar, Witness of History to
Christ, 3-45; Modern Skepticism, 1:179-227; Chalmers, Christian
Revelation, 1:47. G. D. B. Pepper: “Where there is no law, no settled
order, there can be no miracle. The miracle presupposes the law, and the
importance assigned to miracles is the recognition of the reign of law. But
the making and launching of a ship may be governed bylaw, no less than
the sailing of the ship after it is launched. So the introduction of a higher
spiritual order into a merely natural order constitutes a new and unique
event.” Some Christian apologists have erred in affirming that the miracle
was antecedently as probable as any other event, whereas only its
antecedent improbability gives it value as a proof of revelation. Horace:
“Nec deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus Inciderit.”
B. But we deny that this uniformity of nature is absolute and universal.
(a) It is not a truth of reason that can have no exceptions, like the axiom
that a whole is greater than its parts..235
(b) Experience could not warrant a belief in absolute and universal
uniformity, unless experience was identical with absolute and universal
(c) We know, on the contrary, from geology, that there have been breaks
in this uniformity, such as the introduction of vegetable, animal and human
life, which cannot be accounted for, except by the manifestation in nature
of a supernatural power.
(a) Compare the probability that the sun will rise tomorrow morning with
the certainty that two and two make four. Huxley, Lay Sermons, 158,
indignantly denies that there is any ‘must’ about the uniformity of nature:
“No one is entitled to say a priori that any given so called miraculous
event is impossible.” Ward, Naturalism and Agnosticism, 1:84 — “There
is no evidence for the statement that the mass of the universe is a definite
and unchangeable quantity”; 108, 109 — “Why so confidently assume
that a rigid and monotonous uniformity — is the only, or the highest,
indication of order, the order of an ever living Spirit, above all? How is it
that we depreciate machine made articles, and prefer those in which the
artistic impulse, or the fitness of the individual case, is free to shape and
to make what is literally manufactured, handmade?
Dangerous as teleological arguments in general may be, we may at least
safely say the world was not designed to make science easy…To call the
verses of a poet, the politics of a statesman, or the award of a judge
mechanical, implies, as Lotze has pointed out, marked disparagement,
although it implies, too, precisely those characteristics — exactness and
invariability — in which Maxwell would have us see a token of the
divine.” Surely then we must not insist that divine wisdom must always
run in a rut, must never repeat itself, must never exhibit itself in unique
acts like incarnation and resurrection. See Edward Hitchcock, in
Bibliotheca Sacra, 20:489-561, on “The Law of Nature’s Constancy
Subordinate to the Higher Law of Change”; Jevons, Principles of Science,
2:430-438; Mozley, Miracles, 26.
(b) S.T. Coleridge, Table Talk, 18 December, 1831 — “The light which
experience gives us is a lantern on the stern of the ship, which shines only
on the waves behind us.” Hobbes: “Experience concludeth nothing
universally.” Brooks, Foundations of Zoology, 131 — “Evidence can tell
us only what has happened, and it can never assure us that the future must
be like the past; 132 — Proof that all nature is mechanical would not be
inconsistent with the belief that everything in nature is immediately
sustained by Providence, and that my volition counts for something in.236
determining the course of events.” Royce, World and Individual, 2:264 —
“Uniformity is not absolute. Nature is a vaster realm of life and meaning,
of which we men form a part, and of which the final unity is in God’s life.
The rhythm of the heartbeat has its normal regularity yet its limited
persistence. Nature may be merely the habits of free will. Every region of
this universally conscious world may be a center whence issues new
conscious life for communication to all the worlds.” Principal Fairbairn:
“Nature is Spirit.” We prefer to say: “Nature is the manifestation of
spirit, the regularities of freedom.”
(c) Other breaks in the uniformity of nature are the coming of Christ and
the regeneration of a human soul. Harnack, What is Christianity, 18,
holds that though there are no interruptions to the working of natural law,
natural law is not yet fully known. While there are no miracles, there is
plenty of the miraculous. The power of mind over matter is beyond our
present conceptions. Bowne, Philosophy of Theism, 210 — The effects
are no more consequences of the laws than the laws are consequences of
the effects = both laws and effects are exercises of divine will. King,
Reconstruction in Theology, 56 — We must hold, not to the uniformity of
law, but to the universality of law; for evolution has successive stages
with new laws coming in and becoming dominant that had not before
appeared. The new and higher stage is practically a miracle from the point
of view of the lower. See British Quarterly Review, Oct. 1881:154;
Martineau, Study, 2:200, 203, 209.
C. Since the in-working of the moral law into the constitution and course
of nature shows that nature exists, not for itself, but for the contemplation
and use of moral beings, it is probable that the God of nature will produce
effects aside from those of natural law, whenever there are sufficiently
important moral ends to be served thereby.
Beneath the expectation of uniformity is the intuition of final cause; the
former may therefore give way to the latter. See Porter, Human Intellect,
592-615 — Efficient causes and final causes may conflict, and then the
efficient give place to the final. This is miracle. See Hutton, in Nineteenth
Century, Aug. 1883, and Channing, Evidences of Revealed Religion,
quoted in Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 1:534, 535 — “The order of the
universe is a means, not an end, and like all other means must give way
when the end can be best promoted without it. It is the mark of a weak
mind to make an idol of order and method; to cling to established forms of
business when they clog instead of advancing it.” Balfour, Foundations of
Belief, 357 — “The stability of the heavens is in the sight of God of less
importance than the moral growth of the human spirit.” This is proved by.237
the Incarnation. The Christian sees in this little earth the scene of Gods
greatest revelation. The superiority of the spiritual to the physical helps us
to see our true dignity in the creation, to rule our bodies, to overcome our
sins. Christ’s suffering shows us that God is no indifferent spectator of
human pain. He subjects himself to our conditions, or rather in this
subjection reveals to us God’s own eternal suffering for sin. The
atonement enables us to solve the problem of sin.
D. The existence of moral disorder consequent upon the free acts of man’s
will, therefore, changes the presumption against miracles into a
presumption in their favor. The nonappearance of miracles, in this case,
would be the greatest of wonders.
Stearns, Evidence of Christian Experience, 331-4335 — So a man’s
personal consciousness of sin and above all his personal experience of
regenerating grace, will constitute the best preparation for the study of
miracles. “Christianity cannot be proved except to a bad conscience.” The
dying Vinet said well: “The greatest miracle that I know of is that of my
conversion. I was dead, and I live; I was blind, and I see; I was a slave,
and l am free: I was an enemy of God, and I love him; prayer, the Bible,
the society of Christians, these were to me a source of profound ennui;
whilst now it is the pleasures of the world that are wearisome to me, and
piety is the source of all my joy. Behold the miracle! And if God has been
able to work that one, there are none of which he is not capable.”
Yet the physical and the moral are not “sundered as with an axe.” Nature
is but the lower stage or imperfect form of the revelation of God’s truth
and holiness and love. It prepares the way for the miracle by suggesting,
though more dimly, the same essential characteristics of the divine nature.
Ignorance and sin necessitate a larger disclosure. G.S. Lee, The Shadow
Christ, 84 — “The pillar of cloud was the dim night lamp that Jehovah
kept burning over his infant children, to show them that he was there.
They did not know that the night itself was God.” Why do we have
Christmas presents in Christian homes? Because the parents do not love
their children at other times?
No, but because the mind becomes sluggish in the presence of merely
regular kindness, and special gifts are needed to wake it to gratitude. So
our sluggish and unloving minds need special testimonies of the divine
mercy. Shall God alone be shut up to dull uniformities of action? Shall the
heavenly Father alone be unable to make special communications of love?
Why then are not miracles and revivals of religion constant and uniform?
Because uniform blessings would be regarded simply as workings of a.238
machine. See Mozley, Miracles, preface, xxiv; Turner, Wish and Will,
291-315; N. W. Taylor, Moral Government, 2:388-423.
E. As belief in the possibility of miracles rests upon our belief in the
existence of a personal God, so belief in the probability of miracles rests
upon our belief that God is a moral and benevolent being. He who has no
God but a God of physical order will regard miracles as an impertinent
intrusion upon that order. But he, who yields to the testimony of
conscience and regards God as a God of holiness, will see that man’s
unholiness renders God’s miraculous interposition most necessary to man
and most becoming to God. Our view of miracles will therefore be
determined by our belief in a moral, or in a non-moral, God.
Philo, in his Life of Moses, 1:88, speaking of the miracles of the quails
and of the water from the rock, says, “all these unexpected and
extraordinary things are amusements or playthings of God.” He believes
that there is room for arbitrariness in the divine procedure. Scripture
however represents miracle as an extraordinary, rather than as an
arbitrary, act. It is “his work, his strange work …his act, his strange act”

Isaiah 28:21). God’s ordinary method is that of regular growth and
development. Chadwick, Unitarianism, 72 — “Nature is economical. If
she wants an apple, she develops a leaf; if she wants a brain, she develops
a vertebra. We always thought well of backbone; and, if Goethe’s was a
sound suggestion, we think better of it now.”
It is commonly, but very erroneously, taken for granted that miracle
requires a greater exercise of power than does God’s upholding of the
ordinary processes of nature. But to an omnipotent Being our measures of
power have no application. The question is not a question of power, but of
rationality and love. Miracle implies self-restraint, as well as self-unfolding,
on the part of him who works it. It is therefore not God’s
common method of action; it is adopted only when regular methods will
not suffice; it often seems accompanied by a sacrifice of feeling on the
part of Christ (

Matthew 17:17 — “O faithless and perverse
generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I bear with you?
Bring him hither to me”;

Mark 7:34 — “looking up to heaven, he
sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened”; cf.

Matthew 12:39 — “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a
sign; and there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of Jonah the
F. From the point of view of ethical monism the probability of miracle
becomes even greater. Since God is not merely the intellectual but the.239
moral Reason of the world, the disturbances of the world order which are
due to sin are the matters which most deeply affect him. Christ, the life of
the whole system and of humanity as well, must suffer; and, since we have
evidence that he is merciful as well as just, it is probable that he will rectify
the evil by extraordinary means, when merely ordinary means do not avail.
Like creation and providence, like inspiration and regeneration, miracle is
a work in which God limits himself, by a new and peculiar exercise of his
power, — limits himself as part of a process of condescending love and as
a means of teaching sense-environed and sin burdened humanity what it
would not learn in any other way. Self limitation, however, is the very
perfection mind glory of God, for without it no self sacrificing love would
be possible (see page 9. F.). The probability of miracles is therefore
argued not only from God’s holiness but also from his love. His desire to
save men from their sins must be as infinite as his nature. The
incarnation, the atonement, the resurrection, when once made known to
us, commend themselves, not only as satisfying our human needs, but also
as worthy of a God of moral perfection.
An argument for the probability of the miracle might be drawn from the
concessions of one of its chief modern opponents. Thomas H. Huxley. He
tells us in different places that the object of science is “the discovery of
the rational order that pervades the universe,” which in spite of his
professed agnosticism is an unconscious testimony to Reason and Will at
the basis of all things. He tells us again that there is no necessity in the
uniformity of nature: “When we change ‘will’ into ‘must,’ we introduce
an idea of necessity which has no warrant in the observed facts, and has
no warranty that I can discover elsewhere.” He speaks of “the infinite
wickedness that has attended the course of human history.” Yet he has no
hope in man’s power to save himself: “I would as soon adore a wilderness
of apes,” as the Pantheist’s rationalized conception of humanity. He
grants that Jesus Christ is “the noblest ideal of humanity which mankind
has yet worshiped.” Why should he not go further and concede that Jesus
Christ most truly represents the infinite Reason at the heart of things, and
that his purity and love, demonstrated by suffering and death, make it
probable that God will use extraordinary means for man’s deliverance? It
is doubtful whether Huxley recognized his own personal sinfulness as
fully as he recognized the sinfulness of humanity in general. If he had
done so, he would have been willing to accept miracle upon even a slight
preponderance of historical proof. As a matter of fact, he rejected miracle
upon the grounds assigned by Hume, which we now proceed to mention..240
4. The amount of testimony necessary to prove a miracle is no greater than
that which is requisite to prove the occurrence of any other unusual but
confessedly possible event.
Hume, indeed, argued that a miracle is so contradictory of all human
experience that it is more reasonable to believe any amount of testimony
false than to believe a miracle to be true.
The original form of the argument can be found in Hume’s Philosophical
Works, 4:124-150. See also Bibliotheca Sacra, Oct. 1887:615. For the
most recent and plausible statement of it, see Supernatural Religion, 1:55-
94, The argument maintains for substance that things are impossible
because improbable. It ridicules the credulity of those who “thrust their
fists against the posts, And still insist they see the ghosts,” and holds with
the German philosopher who declared that he would not believe in a
miracle, even it he saw one with his own eyes. Christianity is so
miraculous that it takes a miracle to make one believe it.
The argument is fallacious, because
(a) It is chargeable with a petitio prineip ii, in making our own personal
experience the measure of all human experience. The same principle would
make the proof of any absolutely mew fact impossible. Even though God
should work a miracle, he could never prove it.
(b) It involves a self-contradiction, since it seeks to overthrow our faith in
human testimony by adducing to the contrary the general experience of
men, of which we know only from testimony. This general experience,
moreover, is merely negative, and cannot neutralize that, which is positive,
except upon principles which would invalidate all testimony whatever.
(c) It requires belief in a greater wonder than those that it would escape
do. That multitudes of intelligent and honest men should against all their
interests unite in deliberate and persistent falsehood, under the
circumstances narrated in the New Testament record, involves a change in
the sequences of nature far more incredible than the miracles of Christ and
his apostles.
(a) John Stuart Mill, Essays on Theism, 216-241, grants that, even if a
miracle were wrought, it would be impossible to prove it. In this he only
echoes Hume, Miracles, 112 — “The ultimate standard by which we
determine all disputes that may arise is always derived from experience
and observation.” But here our own personal experience is made the.241
standard by which to judge all human experience. Whately, Historic
Doubts relative to Napoleon Bonaparte, shows that the same rule would
require us to deny the existence of the great Frenchman, since Napoleon’s
conquests were contrary to all experience, and civilized nations had never
before been so subdued. The London Times for June 18, 1888, for the
first time in at least a hundred years or in 31,200 issues, was misdated,
and certain pages read June 17, although June 17 was Sunday. Yet the
paper would have been admitted in a court of justice as evidence of a
marriage. The real wonder is not the break in experience, but the
continuity without the break.
(b) Lyman Abbott: “If the Old Testament told the story of a naval
engagement between the Jewish people and a pagan people, in which all
the ships of the pagan people were absolutely destroyed and not a single
man was killed among the Jews, all the skeptics would have scorned the
narrative. Every one now believes it, except those who live in Spain.”
There are people who in a similar way refuse to investigate the
phenomena of hypnotism, second sight, clairvoyance, and telepathy,
declaring a priori that all these things are impossible. Prophecy, in the
sense of prediction, is discredited. Upon the same principle wireless
telegraphy might be denounced as an imposture. The son of Erin charged
with murder defended himself by saying: “Your honor, I can bring fifty
people who did not see me do it.” Our faith in testimony cannot be due to
(c) On this point, see Chalmers, Christian Revelation, 3:70; Starkie on
Evidence, 739; De Quincey, Theological Essays, 1:162-188; Thornton,
Old Fashioned Ethics, 143-153; Campbell on Miracles. South’s sermon
on The Certainty of our Savior’s Resurrection had stated and answered
this objection long before Hume propounded it.
5. Evidential force of Miracles.
(a) Miracles are the natural accompaniments and attestations of new
communications front God. The great epochs of miracles — represented by
Moses, the prophets, the first and second comings of Christ — are
coincident with the great epochs of revelation. Miracles serve to draw
attention to new truth, and cease when this truth has gained currency and
Miracles are not scattered evenly over the whole course of history. Few
miracles are recorded during the 2500 years from Adam to Moses. When
the N.T. Canon is completed and the internal evidence of Scripture has.242
attained its greatest strength, the external attestations by miracle are either
wholly withdrawn or begin to disappear. The spiritual wonders of
regeneration remain, and for these the way has been prepared by the long
progress from the miracles of power wrought by Moses to the miracles of
grace wrought by Christ. Miracles disappeared because newer and higher
proofs rendered them unnecessary. Better things than these are now in
evidence. Thomas Fuller: “Miracles are the swaddling clothes of the
infant church.” John Foster: “Miracles are the great bell of the universe,
which draws men to God’s sermon.” Henry Ward Beecher: “Miracles are
the midwives of great moral truths; candles lit before the dawn but put out
after the sun has risen.” Illingworth, in Lux Mundi, 210 — “When we are
told that miracles contradict experience, we point to the daily occurrence
of the spiritual miracle of regeneration and ask: ‘Which is easier to say,
Thy sins are forgiven; or to say, Arise and walk?’ (

Matthew 9:5).”
Miracles and inspiration go together; if the former remain in the church,
the latter should remain also; see Marsh, in Bap. Quar. Rev., 1887:225-
242. On the cessation of miracles in the early church, see Henderson,
Inspiration, 443-490; Buckmann, in Zeitsch. f. luth. Theol. u. Kirche,
1878:216. On miracles in the second century, see Barnard. Literature of
the Second Century, 139-180. A.J. Gordon, Ministry of the Spirit, 167 —
“The apostles were commissioned to speak for Christ till the N.T.
Scriptures, his authoritative voice, were completed. In the apostolate we
have a provisional inspiration; in the N.T. a stereotyped inspiration; the
first being endowed with authority ad interim to forgive sins, and the
second having this authority in perpetuo.” Dr. Gordon draws an analogy
between coal, which is fossil sunlight, and the New Testament, which is
fossil inspiration. Sabatier, Philos. Religion, 74 — “The Bible is very free
from the senseless prodigies of oriental mythology. The great prophets,
Isaiah, Amos, Micah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, work no miracles.
Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness is a victory of the moral consciousness
over the religion of mere physical prodigy.” Trench says that miracles
cluster about the foundation of the theocratic kingdom under Moses and
Joshua, and about the restoration of that kingdom under Elijah and
Elisha. In the O.T., miracles confute the gods of Egypt under Moses, the
Phoenician Baal under Elijah and Elisha, and the gods of Babylon under
Daniel. See Diman, Theistic Argument, 376, and art.; Miracle, by
Bernard, in Hastings’ Bible Dictionary.
(b) Miracles generally certify to the truth of doctrine, not directly, but
indirectly; otherwise a new miracle must needs accompany each new
doctrine taught. Miracles primarily and directly certify to the divine.243
commission and authority of a religious teacher, and therefore warrant
acceptance of his doctrines and obedience to his commands as the
doctrines and commands of God, whether these be communicated at
intervals or all together, orally or in written documents.
The exceptions to the above statement are very few, and are found only in
cases where the whole commission and authority of Christ, and not some
fragmentary doctrine are involved. Jesus appeals to his miracles as proof
of the truth of his teaching in

Matthew 9:5, 6 — “Which is easier to
say, Thy sins are forgiven; or to say, Arise and walk? But that we may
know that the Son of man hath authority on earth to forgive sins (then
saith he to the sick of the palsy), Arise, and take up thy bed, and go unto
thy house” 12:28 — “if I by the spirit of God cast out demons, then is the
Kingdom of God come upon you.” So Paul in

Romans 1:4, says that
Jesus “was declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection
from the dead.” Mair, Christian Evidences, 223, quotes from Natural
Religion, 181 — “It is said that the Theo-philanthropist Larevellier-Lepeaux
once confided to Talleyrand his disappointment at the ill success
of his attempt to bring into vogue a sort of improved Christianity, a sort
of benevolent rationalism which he had invented to meet the wants of a
benevolent age. ‘His propaganda made no way.’ he said. ‘What was he to
do?’ he asked. The ex-bishop Talleyrand politely condoled with him,
feared it was a difficult task to found a new religion, more difficult than
he had imagined, so difficult that he hardly knew what to advise. ‘Still,’
— so he went on after a moment’s reflection, — ‘there is one plan which
you might at least try: I should recommend you to he crucified, and to rise
again the third day.” Sec also Murphy, Scientific Bases of Faith, 147-
167; Farrar, Life of Christ, 1:168-172.
(c) Miracles, therefore, do not stand alone as evidences. Power alone
cannot prove a divine commission. Purity of life and doctrine must go with
the miracles to assure us that a religious teacher has come from God. The
miracles and the doctrine in this manner mutually support each other, and
form parts of one whole. The internal evidence for the Christian system
may have greater power over certain minds and over certain ages than the
external evidence.
Pascal’s aphorism that “doctrines must be judged by miracles, miracles
by doctrine,” needs to be supplemented by Mozley’s statement that “a
supernatural fact is the proper proof of a supernatural doctrine, while a
supernatural doctrine is not the proper proof of a supernatural fact.” E.G.
Robinson, Christian Theology, 107, would “defend miracles, but would.244
not buttress up Christianity by them…No amount of miracles could
convince a good man of the divine commission of a known bad man; nor,
on the other hand, could any degree of miraculous power suffice to silence
the doubts of an evil minded man…The miracle is a certification only to
him who can perceive its significance…The Christian church has the
resurrection written all over it. Its very existence is proof of the
resurrection. Twelve men could never have founded the church, if Christ
had remained in the tomb. The living church is the burning bush that is
not consumed.” Gore, Incarnation, 57 — “Jesus did not appear after his
resurrection to unbelievers, but to believers only, — which means that this
crowning miracle was meant to confirm an existing faith, not to create one
where it did not exist.”
Christian Union, July 11, 1891 — “If the anticipated resurrection of
Joseph Smith were to take place, it would add nothing whatever to the
authority of the Mormon religion.” Schurman, Agnosticism and Religion,
57 — “Miracles are merely the bells to call primitive peoples to church.
Sweet as the music they once made, modern ears find them jangling and
out of tune, and their dissonant notes scare away pious souls who would
fain enter the temple of worship.” A new definition of miracle which
recognizes their possible classification as extraordinary occurrences in
nature, yet sees in all nature the working of the living God, may do much
to remove this prejudice. Bishop of Southampton, Place of Miracle, 53 —
“Miracles alone could not produce conviction. The Pharisees ascribed
them to Beelzebub. Though Jesus had done so many signs, yet they
believed not…Though miracles were frequently wrought, they were rarely
appealed to as evidence of the truth of the gospel. They are simply signs
of God’s presence in his world. By itself a miracle had no evidential force.
The only test for distinguishing divine from Satanic miracles is that of the
moral character and purpose of the worker; and therefore miracles depend
for all their force upon a previous appreciation of the character and
personality of Christ (79). The earliest apologists make no use of
miracles. They are of no value except in connection with prophecy.
Miracles are the revelation of God, not the proof of revelation.” Versus
Supernatural Religion, 1:23, and Stearns, in New Englander, Jan.
1882:80. See Mozley, Miracles, 15; Nicoll, Life of Jesus Christ, 133;
Mill, Logic, 374-382; H.B. Smith. Int. to Christ. Theology, 167-169;
Fisher, in Journ. Christ. Philos., April, 1863:270-283.
(d) Yet the Christian miracles do not lose their value as evidence in the
process of ages. The loftier the structure of Christian life and doctrine the
greater need that its foundation be secure. The authority of Christ as a.245
teacher of supernatural truth rests upon his miracles, and especially upon
the miracle of his resurrection. That one miracle to which the church looks
back as the source of her life carries with it irresistibly all the other miracles
of the Scripture record; upon it alone we may safely rest the proof that the
Scriptures are an authoritative revelation from God.
The miracles of Christ are simple correlates of the Incarnation — proper
insignia of his royalty and divinity. By mere external evidence however we
can more easily prove the resurrection than the incarnation. In our
arguments with skeptics, we should not begin with the ass that spoke to
Balaam, or the fish that swallowed Jonah, but with the resurrection of
Christ; that conceded, all other Biblical miracles will seem only natural
preparations, accompaniments, or consequences. G.F. Wright, in
Bibliotheca Sacra, 1889:707 — “The difficulties created by the
miraculous character of Christianity may be compared to those assumed
by a builder when great permanence is desired in the structure erected. It
is easier to lay the foundation of a temporary structure than of one which
is to endure for the ages.” Pressense: “The empty tomb of Christ has been
the cradle of the church, and if in this foundation of her faith the church
has been mistaken, she must needs lay herself down by the side of the
mortal remains, I say, not of a man, but of a religion.”
President Schurman believes the resurrection of Christ to be “an obsolete
picture of an eternal truth — the fact of a continued life with God.”
Harnack, Wesen des Christenthums, 102, thinks no consistent union of the
gospel accounts of Christ’s resurrection can be attained; apparently
doubts a literal and bodily rising; yet traces Christianity back to an
invincible faith in Christ’s conquering of death and his continued life. But
why believe the gospels when they speak of the sympathy of Christ, yet
disbelieve them when they speak of his miraculous power? We have no
right to trust the narrative when it gives us Christ’s words “Weep not” to
the widow of Nain, (

Luke 7:13), and then to distrust it when it tells us
of his raising the widow’s son. The words “Jesus wept” belong
inseparably to a story of which “Lazarus, come forth!” forms a part

John 11:35, 43). It is improbable that the disciples should have
believed so stupendous a miracle as Christ’s resurrection, if they had not
previously seen other manifestations of miraculous power on the part of
Christ. Christ himself is the great miracle. The conception of him as the
risen and glorified Savior can be explained only by the fact that he did so
rise. E.G. Robinson, Christ. Theology, 109 — “The Church attests the
fact of the resurrection quite as much as the resurrection attests the divine.246
origin of the church. Resurrection, as an evidence, depends on the
existence of the church which proclaims it.”
(e) The resurrection of our Lord. Jesus Christ — by which we mean his
coming forth from the sepulchre in body as well as in spirit — is
demonstrated by evidence as varied and as conclusive as that, which proves
to us any single fact of ancient history. Without it Christianity itself is
inexplicable, as is shown by the failure of all modern rationalistic theories
to account for its rise and progress.
In discussing the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection, we are confronted with
three main rationalistic theories:
I. The Swoon theory of Strauss. This holds that Jesus did not really die. The
cold and the spices of the sepulchre revived him. We reply that the blood and
water, and the testimony of the centurion (

Mark 15:45), proved actual
death (see Bibliotheca Sacra, April, 1839:228; Forrest, Christ of History and
Experience. 137-170). The rolling away of the stone, and Jesus’ power
immediately after, are inconsistent with immediately preceding swoon and
suspended animation. How was his life preserved? Where did he go? When
did he die? His not dying implies deceit on his own part or on that of his
II. The Spirit theory of Keim. Jesus really died, but only his spirit appeared.
The spirit of Jesus gave the disciples a sign of his continued life, a telegram
from heaven. But we reply that the telegram was untrue, for it asserted that
his body had risen from the tomb. The tomb was empty and the linen cloths
showed an orderly departure. Jesus himself denied that he was a bodiless
spirit: “a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me having” (

24:39). Did “his flesh see corruption” (

Acts 2:31)? Was the penitent thief
raised from the dead as much as he? Godet, Lectures in Defense of the
Christian Faith, lect. i: A dilemma for those who deny the fact of Christ’s
resurrection: Either his body remained in the hands of his disciples, or it was
given up to the Jews. If the disciples retained it, they were impostors but, this
is not maintained by modern rationalists. If the Jews retained it, why did they
not produce it as conclusive evidence against the disciples?
III. The Vision theory of Renan. Jesus died, and there was no objective
appearance even of his spirit. Mary Magdalene was the victim of subjective
hallucination, and her hallucination became contagious. This was natural
because the Jews expected that the Messiah would work miracles and would
rise from the dead. We reply that the disciples did not expect Jesus’
resurrection. The women went to the sepulchre, not to see a risen Redeemer,.247
but to embalm a dead body. Thomas and those at Emmaus had given up all
hope. Four hundred years had passed since the days of miracles; John the
Baptist did no miracle” (

John 10:41); the Sadducees said, “there is no
resurrection” (

Matthew 22:23). There were thirteen different appearances,
1. the Magdalen;
2. other women;
3. Peter;
4. Emmaus;
5. the Twelve;
6. the Twelve after eight days;
7. Galilee seashore;
8. Galilee mountain;
9. Galilee five hundred;
10. James;
11. ascension at Bethany;
12. Stephen;
13. Paul on way to Damascus.
Paul describes Christ’s appearance to him as something objective, and he
implies that Christ’s previous appearances to others were objective also: “last
of all [these bodily appearances]…he appeared to me also” (

1 Corinthians
15:8). Bruce, Apologetics, 396 — “Paul’s interest and intention in classing
the two together was to level his own vision [of Christ] up to the objectivity of
the early Christophanies. He believed that the eleven, that Peter in particular,
had seen the risen Christ with the eye of the body, and he meant to claim for
himself a vision of the same kind.” Paul’s was a sane, strong nature.
Subjective visions do not transform human lives; the resurrection molded the
apostles; they did not create the resurrection (see Gore, Incarnation, 76).
These appearances soon ceased, unlike the law of hallucinations, which
increase in frequency and intensity. It is impossible to explain the ordinances,
the Lord’s day, or Christianity itself, if Jesus did not rise from the dead.
The resurrection of our Lord teaches three important lessons:
(1) It showed that his work of atonement was completed and was stamped
with the divine approval;
(2) It showed him to be Lord of all and gave the one sufficient external proof
of Christianity;.248
(3) It furnished the ground and pledge of our own resurrection, and thus
“brought life and immortality to light” (

2 Timothy 1:10). It must be
remembered that the resurrection was the one sign upon which Jesus himself
staked his claims — “the sign of Jonah” (

Luke 11:29); and that the
resurrection is proof, not simply of God’s power, but of Christ’s own power:

John 10:18 — “I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it
again”; 2:19 — “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”…21
— “he spake of the temple of his body.” See Alexander, Christ and
Christianity, 9, 158-224, 302; Mill, Theism, 216; Auberlen, Div. Revelation,
56; Boston Lectures, 203-239; Christlieb. Modern Doubt and Christian
Belief, 448-503; Row, Bampton Lectures, 1887:358-423; Hutton, Essays,
1:119; Schaff, in Princeton Rev., May, 1880; 411-419 Fisher, Christian
Evidences, 41-46, 82-85; West, in Defense and Conf. of Faith, 80-129; also
special works on the Resurrection of our Lord, by Milligan, Morrison.
Kennedy, J. Baldwin Brown.
6. Counterfeit Miracles.
Since only an act directly wrought by God can properly be called a miracle,
it follows that surprising events brought about by evil spirits or by men,
through the use of natural agencies beyond our knowledge, are not entitled
to this appellation. The Scriptures recognize the existence of such, but
denominate them “lying wonders” (

2 Thessalonians 2:9).
These counterfeit miracles in various ages argue that the belief in miracles
is natural to the race, and that somewhere there must exist the true. They
serve to show that not all supernatural occurrences are divine, and to
impress upon us the necessity of careful examination before we accept
them as divine.
False miracles may commonly be distinguished from the true by
(a) theft accompaniments of immoral conduct or of doctrine contradictory
to truth already revealed — as in modern spiritualism;
(b) their internal characteristics of inanity and extravagance — as in the
liquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius, or the miracles of the
Apocryphal New Testament;
(c) the insufficiency of the object which they are designed to further — as
in the case of Apollonius of Tyana, or of the miracles said to accompany
the publication of the doctrines of the immaculate conception and of the
papal infallibility;.249
(d) their lack of substantiating evidence — as in medieval miracles, so
seldom attested by contemporary and disinterested witnesses;
(e) their denial or undervaluing of God’s previous revelation of himself in
nature — as shown by the neglect of ordinary means, in the cases of Faith
cure and of so called Christian Science.
Only what is valuable is counterfeited. False miracles presuppose the true.
Fisher, Nature and Method of Revelation, 283 — “The miracles of Jesus
originated faith in him, while medieval miracles follow established faith.
The testimony of the apostles was given in the face of incredulous
Sadducees. They were ridiculed and maltreated on account of it. It was no
the for devout dreams and the invention of romances.” The blood of St.
Januarius at Naples is said to be contained in a vial, one side of which is
of thick glass, while the other side is of thin. A similar miracle was
wrought at Hales in Gloucestershire. St. Alban, the first martyr of Britain,
after his head is cut off, carries it about in his hand. In Ireland the place is
shown where St. Patrick in the fifth century drove all the toads and snakes
over a precipice into the nether regions. The legend however did not
become current until some hundreds of years after the saint’s bones had
crumbled to dust at Saul, near Downpatrick (see Hemphill, Literature of
the Second Century, 180-182). Compare the story of the book of Tobit (6-
8), which relates the expulsion of a demon by smoke from the burning
heart and liver of a fish caught in the Tigris, and the story of the
Apocryphal New Testament (I, Infancy), which tells of the expulsion of
Satan in the form of a mad dog from Judas by the child Jesus. On
counterfeit miracles in general, see Mozley, Miracles, 15, 161; F. W.
Farrar, Witness of History to Christ, 72; A.S. Farrar, Science and
Theology, 208; Tholuck, Vermischte Schriften, 1:27; Hodge, Systematic
Theology, 1:630; Presb. Rev., 1881:687-719.
Some modern writers have maintained that the gift of miracles still
remains in the church. Bengel: “The reason why many miracles are not
now wrought is not so much because faith is established, as because
unbelief reigns.” Christlieb: “It is the want of faith in our age which is the
greatest hindrance to the stronger and more marked appearance of that
miraculous power which is working here and there in quiet concealment.
Unbelief is the final and most important reason for the retrogression of
miracles.” Edward Irving, Works, 5:464 — “Sickness is sin apparent in
the body, the presentiment of death, the forerunner of corruption. Now, as
Christ came to destroy death, and will yet redeem the body from the
bondage of corruption, if the church is to have a first fruits or earnest of
this power, it must be by receiving power over diseases that are the first.250
fruits and earnest of death.” Dr. A.T. Gordon, in his Ministry of Healing,
held to this view. See also Boys, Proofs of the Miraculous in the
Experience of the Church; Bushnell, Nature and the Supernatural, 446-
492; Review of Gordon, by Vincent, in Presb. Rev., 1883:473-502;
Review of Vincent, in Presb. Rev., 1884:49-79.
In reply to the advocates of faith cure in general, we would grant that
nature is plastic in God’s hand; that he can work miracle when and where
it pleases him; and that he has given promises which, with certain
Scriptural and rational limitations encourage believing prayer for healing
in cases of sickness. But we incline to the belief that in these later ages
God answers such prayer, not by miracle, but by special providence, and
by gifts of courage, faith and will, thus acting by his Spirit directly upon
the soul and only indirectly upon the body. The laws of nature are generic
volition of God, and to ignore them and disuse means is presumption and
disrespect to God himself. The Scripture promise to faith is always
expressly or impliedly conditioned upon our use of means: we are to work
omit our own salvation, for the very reason that it is God who works in
us: it is vain for the drowning man to pray, so long as he refuses to lay
hold of the rope that is thrown to him. Medicines and physicians are the
rope thrown to us by God; we cannot expect miraculous help, while we
neglect the help God has already given us; to refuse this help is practically
to deny Christ’s revelation in nature. Why not live without eating, as well
as recover from sickness without medicine? Faith feeding is quite as
rational as faith healing. To except cases of disease from this general rule
as to the use of means has no warrant either in reason or in Scripture. The
atonement has purchased complete salvation, and some day salvation shall
be ours. But death and depravity still remain, not as penalty, but as
chastisement. So disease remains also. Hospitals for Incurables, and the
deaths even of advocates of faith cure, show that they too are compelled
to recognize some limit to the application of the New Testament promise.
In view of the preceding discussion we must regard the so-called Christian
Science as neither Christian nor scientific. Mrs. Mary Baker G. Eddy
denies the authority of all that part of revelation which God has made to
man in nature, and holds that the laws of nature may be disregarded with
impunity by those who have proper faith; see U.F. Wright, in Bibliotheca
Sacra April, 1899:375. Bishop Lawrence of Massachusetts: “One of the
errors of Christian Science is its neglect of accumulated knowledge, of the
fund of information stored up for these Christian centuries. That
knowledge is just as much God’s gift as is the knowledge obtained from
direct revelation. In rejecting accumulated knowledge and professional
skill, Christian Science rejects the gift of God.” Most of the professed.251
cures of Christian Science are explicable by the influence of the mind
upon the body, through hypnosis or suggestion; (see A. A. Bennett, in
Watchman, Feb. 13, 1903). Mental disturbance may make the mother’s
milk a poison to the child; mental excitement is a common cause of
indigestion; mental depression induces bowel disorders; depressed mental
and moral conditions render a person more susceptible to grippe,
pneumonia, typhoid fever. Reading the account of an accident in which
the body is torn or maimed, we ourselves feel pain in the same spot; when
the child’s hand is crushed, the mother’s hand, though at a distance,
becomes swollen the medieval stigmata probably resulted from
continuous brooding upon the sufferings of Christ (see Carpenter, Mental
Physiology, 676-690).
But mental states may help as well as harm the body. Mental expectancy
facilitates cure in cases of sickness. The physician helps the patient by
inspiring hope and courage. Imagination works wonders, especially in the
case of nervous disorders. The diseases said to be cured by Christian
Science are commonly of this sort. In every age fakirs, mesmerists, and
quacks have availed themselves of these underlying mental forces. By
inducing expectancy, imparting courage, rousing the paralyzed will, they
have indirectly caused bodily changes, which have been mistaken for
miracle. Tacitus tells us of the healing of a blind man by the Emperor
Vespasian. Undoubted cures have been wrought by the royal touch in
England. Since such wonders have been performed by Indian medicine
men, we cannot regard them as having any specific Christian character,
and when, as in the present case, we find them used to aid in the spread of
false doctrine with regard to sin Christ, atonement, and the church, we
must class them with the “lying wonders” of which we are warned in
2Thess. 2:9. See Harris, Philosophical Basis of Theism, 381-386;
Buckley, Faith Healing, and in Century Magazine, June, 1886:221-236;
Bruce, Miraculous Element in Gospels, lecture 8; Andover Review,
We here consider prophecy in its narrow sense of mere prediction,
reserving to a subsequent chapter the consideration of prophecy, as
interpretation of the divine will in general.
1. Definition. Prophecy is the foretelling of future events by virtue of direct
communication from God — a foretelling, therefore, which, though not.252
contravening any laws of the human mind, those laws, if fully known,
would not, without this agency of God, be sufficient to explain.
In discussing the subject of prophecy, we are met at the outset by the
contention that there is not, and never has been, any real foretelling of
future events beyond that which is possible to natural prescience. This is
the view of Kuenen, Prophets and Prophecy in Israel. Pfleiderer, Philos.
Relig., 2:42, denies any direct prediction. Prophecy in Israel, he intimates,
was simply the consciousness of God’s righteousness, proclaiming its
ideals of the future, and declaring that the will of God is the moral ideal of
the good and the law of the world’s history, so that the fates of nations are
conditioned by their bearing toward this moral purpose of God: “The
fundamental error of the vulgar apologetics is that it confounds prophecy
with heathen soothsaying — national salvation without character.” W.
Robertson Smith, in Encyc. Britannica, 19:821, tells us that “detailed
prediction occupies a very secondary place in the writings of the prophets;
or rather indeed what seem to be predictions in detail are usually only free
poetical illustrations of historical principles, which neither received nor
demanded exact fulfillment.”
As in the case of miracles, our faith in an immanent God, who is none
other than the Logos or larger Christ, gives us a point of view from which
we may reconcile the contentions of the naturalists and super-naturalists.
Prophecy is an immediate act of God; but since all natural genius is also
due to God’s energizing, we do not need to deny the employment of man’s
natural gifts in prophecy. The instances of telepathy, presentiment, and
second sight which the Society for Psychical Research has demonstrated
to be facts show that prediction, in the history of divine revelation, may be
only an intensification, under the extraordinary impulse of the divine
Spirit, of a power that is in some degree latent in all men. The author of
every great work of creative imagination knows that a higher power than
his own has possessed him. In all human reason there is a natural activity
of the divine Reason or Logos, and he is “the light which lighteth every
man” (

John 1:9). So there is a natural activity of the Holy Spirit, and
he who completes the circle of the divine consciousness completes also the
circle of human consciousness gives selfhood to every soul, makes
available to man the natural as well as the spiritual gifts of Christ; cf.

John 16:14 — “he shall take of mine, and shall declare it unto you”
The same Spirit who in the beginning “brooded over the face of the
waters” (

Genesis 1:2) also broods over humanity, and it is he who,
according to Christ’s promise, was to “declare unto you the things that
are to come” (

John 16:13). The gift of prophecy may have its natural.253
side like the gift of miracles, yet may be finally explicable only as the
result of an extraordinary working of that Spirit of Christ who to some
degree manifests himself in the reason and conscience of every man; cf.

1 Peter 1:11 — “searching what time or what manner of the Spirit of
Christ which was in them did point unto, when it testified beforehand the
sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow them.” See Myers,
Human Personality, 2:262-292.
A.B. Davidson, in his article on Prophecy and Prophets, in Hastings’
Bible Dictionary, 4:120, 121, gives little weight to this view that prophecy
is based on a natural power of the human mind: “The arguments by which
Giesebrecht, Berufsgabung, 13 ff., supports the theory of a ‘faculty of
presentiment’ have little cogency. This faculty is supposed to reveal itself
particularly on the approach of death (Gen. 28 and 49). The
contemporaries of most great religious personages have attributed to them
a prophetic gift. The answer of John Knox to those who credited him with
such a gift is worth reading: ‘My assurances are not marvels of Merlin,
nor yet the dark sentences of profane prophecy. But first, the plain truth
of God’s word; second, the invincible justice of the everlasting God; and
third, the ordinary course of his punishments and plagues from the
beginning, are my assurances and grounds.’” While Davidson grants the
fulfillment of certain specific predictions of Scripture, to be hereafter
mentioned, he holds that “such presentiments as we can observe to be
authentic are chiefly products of the conscience or moral reason. True
prophecy is based on moral rounds. Everywhere the menacing future is
connected with the evil past by ‘therefore’ (

Micah 3:12;


Amos 1:2).” We hold with Davidson to the moral element in
prophecy, but we also recognize a power in normal humanity, which he
would minimize or deny. We claim that the human mind even in its
ordinary and secular working gives occasional signs of transcending the
limitations of the present. Believing in the continual activity of the divine
Reason in the reason of man, we have no need to doubt the possibility of
an extraordinary insight into the future, and such insight is needed at the
great epochs of religious history. Expositor’s Gk. Test., 2:34 —
“Savonarola foretold as early as 1496 the capture of Rome, which
happened in 1527, and he did this not only in general terms but in detail;
his words were realized to the letter when the sacred churches of St. Peter
and St. Paul became, as the prophet foretold, stables for the conquerors’
horses.” On the general subject, see Payne-Smith, Prophecy a Preparation
for Christ; Alexander, Christ and Christianity; Farrar, Science and
Theology, 106; Newton on Prophecy; Fairbairn on Prophecy..254
2. Relation of Prophecy to Miracles. Miracles are attestations of revelation
proceeding from divine power; prophecy is an attestation of revelation
proceeding from divine knowledge. Only God can know the contingencies
of the future. The possibility and probability of prophecy may be argued
upon the same grounds upon which we argue the possibility and probability
of miracles. As an evidence of divine revelation, however, prophecy
possesses two advantages over miracles, namely:
(a) The proof, in the case of prophecy, is not derived from ancient
testimony, but is under our eyes.
(b) The evidence of miracles cannot become stronger, whereas every new
fulfillment adds to the argument from prophecy.
3. Requirements in Prophecy, considered as an Evidence of Revelation)
(a) The utterance must be distant from the event
(b) Nothing must exist to suggest the event to merely natural prescience.
(c) The utterance must be free from ambiguity.
(d) Yet it must not be so precise as to secure its own fulfillment.
(e) It must be followed in due the by the event predicted.
Hume: “All prophecies are real miracles, and only as such can be
admitted as proof of any revelation.” See Wardlaw, Systematic Theology,
(a) Hundreds of years intervened between certain of the O.T. predictions and
their fulfillment.
(b) Stanley instances the natural sagacity of Burke, which enabled him to
predict the French Revolution. But Burke also predicted in 1793 that France
would be partitioned like Poland among a confederacy of hostile powers.
Canning predicted that South American colonies would grow up as the United
States had grown. D’Israeli predicted that our Southern Confederacy would
become an independent nation. Ingersoll predicted that within ten years there
would be two theaters for one church.
(c) Illustrate ambiguous prophecies by the Delphic oracle to Crúsus:
“Crossing the river, thou destroyest a great nation” — whether his own or his
enemy’s the oracle left undetermined. “Ibis et redibis nunquam peribis in
(d) Strauss held that O.T. prophecy itself determined either the events or the
narratives of the gospels. See Greg, Creed of Christendom, chap. 4.
(e) Cardan, the Italian mathematician, predicted the day and hour of his own
death, and committed suicide at the proper time to prove the prediction true.
Jehovah makes the fulfillment of his predictions the proof of his deity in the
controversy with false gods:

Isaiah 41:23 — “Declare the things that are
to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods”; 42:9 — “Behold, the
former things are come to pass and new things do I declare: before they spring
forth I tell you of them.”
4. General Features of Prophecy in the Scriptures.
(a) Its large amount — occupying a great portion of the Bible, and
extending over many hundred years.
(b) Its ethical and religious nature — the events of the future being
regarded as outgrowths and results of men’s present attitude toward God.
(c) Its unity in diversity — finding its central points in Christ the true
servant of God and deliverer of his people.
(d) Its actual fulfillment as regards many of its predictions — while
seeming non-fulfillment is explicable from its figurative and conditional
A.B. Davidson, in Hastings’ Bible Dictionary, 4:125, has suggested
reasons for the apparent non-fulfillment of certain predictions. Prophecy
is poetical and figurative; its details are not to be pressed: they are only
draperies, needed for the expression of the idea. In

Isaiah 13:16 —
“Their infants shall be dashed in pieces… and their wives ravished” — the
prophet gives an ideal picture of the sack of a city; these things did not
actually happen, but Cyrus entered Babylon “in peace.” Yet the essential
truth remained that the city fell into the enemy’s hands. The prediction of
Ezekiel with regard to Tyre, Ecclesiastes 26:7-14, is recognized in

Ezekiel 29:17-20 as having been fulfilled not in its details but in its
essence — the actual event having been the breaking of the power of Tyre
by Nebuchadnezzar. Isaiah 17: —
“Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a
ruinous heap” — must be interpreted ‘as predicting the blotting out of its
dominion, since Damascus has probably never ceased to be a city. The
conditional nature of prophecy explains other seeming non-fulfillment.
Predictions were often threats, which might be revoked upon repentance..256

Jeremiah 26:13 — “amend your ways…and the Lord will repent him
of the evil which he hath pronounced against you.

Jonah 3:4 — “Yet
forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown…10 — “God saw their
works, that they turned from their evil way; and. God repented of the evil,
which he said he would do unto them; and he did it not”; cf.

18:8; 26:19.
Instances of actual fulfillment of prophecy are found, according to
Davidson, in Samuel’s prediction of some things that would happen to
Saul, which the history declares did happen (1 Samuel 1 and 10).
Jeremiah predicted the death of Hannah within the year, which took place
(Jeremiah 28). Micaiah predicted the defeat and death of Ahab at
Ramoth-Gilead (1 Kings 22). Isaiah predicted the failure of the northern
coalition to subdue Jerusalem (Isaiah 7): the overthrow in two or three
years of Damascus and Northern Israel before the Assyrians (Isaiah 8 and
17); the failure of Sennacherib to capture Jerusalem, and the melting
away of his army (

Isaiah 37:34-37). “And in general, apart from
details, the main predictions of the prophets regarding Israel and the
nations were verified in history, for example, Amos 1 and 2. The chief
predictions of the prophets relate to the imminent downfall of the
kingdoms of Israel and Judah; to what lies beyond this, namely, the
restoration of t
e kingdom of God; and to the state of the people in their
condition of final felicity.” For predictions of the exile and the return of
Israel, see especially

Amos 9:9 — “For, lo, I will command, and I will
sift the house of Israel among all the nations, like as grain is sifted in a
sieve, yet shall not the least kernel fall upon the earth…14 — And I will
bring again the captivity of my people Israel, and they shall build the
waste cities and inhabit them.” Even if we accept the theory of composite
authorship of the book of Isaiah, we still have a foretelling of the sending
back of the Jews from Babylon, and a designation of Cyrus as God’s
agent, in

Isaiah 44:28 — “that saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and
shall perform all my pleasure: even saying of Jerusalem She shall be built;
and of the temple, Thy foundation shall he laid”; see George Adam Smith,
in Hastings’ Bible Dictionary, 2:493. Frederick the Great said to his
chaplain: “Give me in one word a proof of the divine origin of the Bible”;
and the chaplain well replied: “The Jews, your Majesty.” In the case of
the Jews we have even now the unique phenomena of a people without a
land, and a land without a people, — yet both these were predicted
centuries before the event.
5. Messianic Prophecy in general..257
(a) Direct predictions of events — as in Old Testament prophecies of
Christ’s birth, suffering and subsequent glory.
(b) General prophecy of the Kingdom in the Old Testament, and of its
gradual triumph.
(c) Historical types in a nation and in individuals — as Jonah and David.
(d) Prefigurations of the future in rites and ordinances — as in sacrifice,
circumcision, and the Passover.
6. Special Prophecies uttered by Christ.
(a) As to his own death and resurrection.
(b) As to events occurring between his death and the destruction of
Jerusalem (multitudes of impostors; wars and rumors of wars; famine and
(c) As to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish polity (Jerusalem
compassed with armies; abomination of desolation in the holy place; flight
of Christians; misery; massacre; dispersion).
(d) As to the worldwide diffusion of his gospel (the Bible already the most
widely circulated book in the world).
The most important feature in prophecy is its Messianic element; see

Luke 24:7 — “Beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he
interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself”;

Acts 10:43 — “to him bear all the prophets witness”;

19:10 — “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Types are
intended resemblances, designed prefigurations: for example, Israel is a
type of the Christian church; outside nations are types of the hostile
world; Jonah and David are types of Christ. The typical nature of Israel
rests upon the deeper fact of the community of life. As the life of God the
Logos lies at the basis of universal humanity and interpenetrates it in
every part, so out of this universal humanity grows Israel in general; out
of Israel as a nation springs the spiritual Israel, and out of spiritual Israel
Christ according to the flesh, — the upward rising pyramid finds its apex
and culmination in him. Hence the predictions with regard to “the servant
of Jehovah” (

Isaiah 42:1-7), and “the Messiah” (

Isaiah 61:1;

John 1:41), have partial fulfillment in Israel, but perfect fulfillment
only in Christ; so Delitzsch, Oehler, and Cheyne on Isaiah, 2:253.
Sabatier, Philos. Religion, 59 — “If humanity were not potentially and in.258
some degree Emmanuel, God with us, there would never have issued from
its bosom he who bore and revealed this blessed name.” Gardiner, O.T.
and N.T. in their Mutual Relations, 170-194.
In the O.T., Jehovah is the Redeemer of his people. He works through
judges, prophets, kings, but he himself remains the Savior; “it is only the
Divine in them that saves”; “Salvation is of Jehovah” (

Jonah 2:9).
Jehovah is manifested in the Davidic King under the monarchy; in Israel,
the Servant of the Lord, during the exile; and in the Messiah, or Anointed
One, in the post-exillian period. Because of its conscious identification
with Jehovah, Israel is always a forward looking people. Each new judge,
king, prophet is regarded as heralding the coming reign of righteousness
and peace. These earthly deliverers are saluted with rapturous
expectation; the prophets express this expectation in terms that transcend
the possibilities of the present; and, when this expectation fails to be fully
realized, the Messianic hope is simply transferred to a larger future. Each
separate prophecy has its drapery furnished by the prophet’s immediate
surroundings, and finds its occasion in some event of contemporaneous
history. But by degrees it becomes evident that only an ideal and perfect
King and Savior can fill out the requirements of prophecy. Only when
Christ appears, does the real meaning of the various Old Testament
predictions become manifest. Only then mere men able to combine the
seemingly inconsistent prophecies of a priest who is also a king (Psalm
110), and of a royal but at the same the a suffering Messiah (Isaiah 53). It
is not enough for us to ask what the prophet himself meant, or what his
earliest hearers understood, by his prophecy. This is to regard prophecy
as having only a single, and that a human, author. With the spirit of man
cooperated the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit (

1 Peter 1:11 — “the
Spirit of Christ which was in them”;

1 Peter 1:21 — “no prophecy
ever came by the will of man; but men spake from God, being moved by
the Holy Spirit”). All prophecy has a twofold authorship, human and
divine; the same Christ who spoke through the prophets brought about the
fulfillment of their words.
It is no wonder that he who through the prophets uttered predictions with
regard to himself should, when he became incarnate, be the prophet par
excellence (

Deuteronomy 18:15;

Acts 3:22 — “Moses indeed said,
A prophet shall the Lord God raise up from among your brethren, like
unto me; to him shall ye hearken”). In the predictions of Jesus we find the
proper key to the interpretation of prophecy in general, and the evidence
that while no one of the three theories — the preterist, the continuist, the
futurist — furnishes an exhaustive explanation, each one of these has its
element of truth. Our Lord made the fulfillment of the prediction of his.259
own resurrection a test of his divine commission: it was “the sign of Jonah
the prophet” (

Matthew 12:39). He promised that his disciples should
have prophetic gifts:

John 15:15 — No longer do I call you servants;
for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you
friends; for all things that I heard from my Father I have made known
unto you”; 16:13 — “the Spirit of truth…he shall declare unto you the
things that are to come.” Agabus predicted the famine and Paul’s
imprisonment (

Acts 11:28; 21:10); Paul predicted heresies (

20:29, 30), shipwreck (

Acts 27:10, 21-26), “the man of sin (

Thessalonians 2:3), Christ’s Second Coming, and the resurrection of the
saints (

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).
7. On the double sense of Prophecy.
(a) Certain prophecies apparently contain a fullness of meaning, which is
not exhausted by the event to which they most obviously and literally refer.
A prophecy, which had a partial fulfillment at a time not remote from its
utterance, may find its chief fulfillment in an event far distant. Since the
principles of God’s administration find ever recurring and ever enlarging
illustration in history, prophecies that have already had a partial fulfillment
may have whole cycles of fulfillment yet before them.
In prophecy there is an absence of perspective; as in Japanese pictures the
near and the far appear equally distant; as in dissolving views, the
immediate future melts into a future immeasurably far away. The candle
that shines through a narrow aperture sends out its light through an ever
increasing area; sections of the triangle correspond to each other, but the
more distant are far greater than the near. The chalet on the mountainside
may turn out to be only a black cat on the woodpile, or a speck upon the
windowpane. “A hill which appears to rise close behind another is found
on nearer approach to have receded a great way from it.” The painter, by
foreshortening, brings together things or parts that are relatively distant
from each other. The prophet is a painter whose fore shortenings are
supernatural; he seems freed from the law of space and time, and, rapt
into the timelessness of God, he views the events of history “sub specie
eternitatis.” Prophecy was the sketching of an outline map. Even the
prophet could not fill up the outline. The absence of perspective in
prophecy may account for Paul’s being misunderstood by the
Thessalonians, and for the necessity of his explanations in

Thessalonians 2:1, 2. In Isaiah 10 and 11, the fall of Lebanon (the
Assyrian) is immediately connected with the rise of the Branch (Christ); in

Jeremiah 51:41, the first capture and the complete destruction of.260
Babylon are connected with each other, without notice of the interval of a
thousand years between them. Instances of the double sense of prophecy
may be found in

Isaiah 7:14-16; 9:6, 7 — “a virgin shall conceive and
bear a son…unto us a son is given” — compared with

Matthew 1:22,
23, where the prophecy is applied to Christ (see Meyer, in loco);

Hosea 11:1 — “I…called my son out of Egypt” — refering originally
to the calling of the nation out of Egypt — is in

Matthew 2:15 referred
to Christ, who embodied and consummated the mission of Israel;

Psalm 118:22, 23 — “The stone which the builders rejected is become
the head of the corner” — which primarily referred to the Jewish nation,
conquered, carried away, and flung aside as of no use, but divinely
destined to a future of importance and grandeur, is in

Matthew 21:42
referred by Jesus to himself, as the true embodiment of Israel. William
Arnold Stevens, on The Man of Sin, in Bap. Quar. Rev., July, 1889:328-
360 — As in

Daniel 11:36, the great enemy of the faith, who “shall
exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god,” is the Syrian King,
Antiochus Epiphanes, so “the man of lawlessness” described by Paul in

2 Thessalonians 2:3 is the corrupt and impious Judaism of the
apostolic age. This had its seat in the temple of God, but was doomed to
destruction when the Lord should come at the fall of Jerusalem. But even
this second fulfillment of the prophecy does not preclude a future and
final fulfillment. Broadus on Matthew, page 480 — In

Isaiah 41:8 to
chapter 53, the predictions with regard to “the servant of Jehovah” make a
gradual transition from Israel to the Messiah, the former alone being seen
in 41:8, the Messiah also appearing in 42:1 sq., and Israel quite sinking
out of sight in chapter 53.
The most marked illustration of the double sense of prophecy however is
to be found in Matthew 24 and 25, especially 24:34 and 25:31, where
Christ’s prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem passes into a prophecy
of the end of the world. Adamson, The Mind in Christ, 183 — “To him
history was the robe of God, and therefore a constant repetition of
positions really similar, kaleidoscopic combining of a few truths, as the
facts varied in which they were to be embodied.” A.J. Gordon: “Prophecy
has no sooner become history, than history in turn becomes prophecy.”
Lord Bacon: “Divine prophecies have springing and germinate
accomplishment through many ages, though the height or fullness of them
may refer to some one age.” In a similar manner there is a manifoldness of
meaning in Dante’s Divine Comedy. C. E. Norton, Inferno, xvi — “The
narrative of the poet’s spiritual journey is so vivid and consistent that it
has all the reality of an account of an actual experience; but within and
beneath runs a stream of allegory not less consistent and hardly less.261
continuous than the narrative itself.” A.H. Strong, The Great Poets and
their Theology. 116 — “Dante himself has told us that there are four
separate senses which he intends his story to convey. There are the literal,
the allegorical, the moral, and the anagogical. In

Psalm 114:1 we have
the words, ‘When Israel went forth out of Egypt.’ This, says the poet,
may be taken literally, of the actual deliverance of God’s ancient people;
or allegorically, of the redemption of the world through Christ; or morally,
of the rescue of the sinner from the bondage of his sin; or anagogically, of
the passage of both soul and body from the lower life of earth to the
higher life of heaven. So from Scripture Dante illustrates the method of
his poem.” See further our treatment of Eschatology. See also Dr. Arnold
of Rugby, Sermons on the Interpretation of Scripture, Appendix A, pages
441-454; Aids to Faith, 449-462; Smith’s Bible Dict., 4:2727. Per
contra, see Elliott, Hoær Apocalypticæ, 4:662. Gardiner. O.T. and N.T.,
262-274, deny double sense, but affirms manifold applications of a single
sense. Broadus, on

Matthew 24:1, denies double sense, but affirms the
use of types.
(b) The prophet was not always aware of the meaning of his own
prophecies (

1 Peter 1:11). It is enough to constitute his prophecies a
proof of divine revelation, if it can be shown that the correspondences
between them and the actual events are such as to indicate divine wisdom
and purpose in the giving of them — in other words, it is enough if the
inspiring Spirit knew their meaning, even though the inspired prophet did
It is not inconsistent with this view, but rather confirms it, that the near
event, and not the distant fulfillment, was often chiefly, if not exclusively,
in the mind of the prophet when he wrote. Scripture declares that the
prophets did not always understand their own predictions:

1 Peter 1:11
— “searching what time or what manner of the Spirit of Christ which was
in them did point unto, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of
Christ, and the glories that should follow them.” Emerson: “Himself from
God he could not free; he builded better than he knew.” Keble: “As little
children lisp and tell of heaven, So thoughts beyond their thoughts to
those high bards were given.” Westcott: Preface to Com. on Hebrews, vi
— “No one would limit the teaching of a poet’s words to that which was
definitely present to his mind. Still less can we suppose that he who is
inspired to give a message of God to all ages sees himself the
completeness of the truth which all life serves to illuminate.” Alexander
McLaren: “Peter teaches that Jewish prophets foretold the events of
Christ’s life and especially his sufferings; that they did so as organs of.262
God’s Spirit; that they were so completely organs of a higher voice that
they did not understand the significance of their own words, but were
wiser than they knew and had to search what were the date and the
characteristics of the strange things which they foretold; and that by
further revelation they learned that ‘the vision is yet for many days

Isaiah 24:22;

Daniel 10:14). If Peter was right in his conception
of the nature of Messianic prophecy, a good many learned men of today
are wrong.” Matthew Arnold, Literature and Dogma: “Might not the
prophetic ideals be poetic dreams, and the correspondence between them
and the life of Jesus, so far as real, only a curious historical
phenomenon?” Bruce, Apologetics, 359, replies: “Such skepticism is
possible only to those who have no faith in a living God who works out
purposes in history.” It is comparable only to the unbelief of the
materialist who regards the physical constitution of the universe as
explicable by the fortuitous concourse of atoms.
8. Purpose of Prophecy — so far as it is yet unfulfilled.
(a) Not to enable us to map out the details of the future; but rather
(b) To give general assurance of God’s power and foreseeing wisdom, and
of the certainty of his triumph; and
(c) To furnish, after fulfillment, the proof that God saw the end from the

Daniel 12:8, 9 — “And I heard, but I understood not; then said I, O
my Lord, what shall be the issue of these things? And he said, Go thy
way, Daniel; for the words are shut up and sealed till the of the end”;

1 Peter 1:19 — prophecy is “a lamp shining in a dark place, until the
day dawn” not until day dawns can distant objects be seen; 20 — “no
prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation” only God, by the event,
can interpret it. Sir Isaac Newton: “God gave the prophecies, not to
gratify men’s curiosity by enabling them to foreknow things, but that after
they were fulfilled they might be interpreted by the event, and his own
providence, not the interpreter’s, be thereby manifested to the world.”
Alexander McLaren: “Great tracts of Scripture are dark to us till life
explains them, and then they come on us with the force of a new
revelation, like the messages which of old were sent by a strip of
parchment coiled upon a b‚ton and then written upon, and which were
unintelligible unless the receiver had a corresponding b‚ton to wrap them
round.” A.H. Strong, The Great Poets and their Theology, 23 —
“Archilochus, a poet of about 700 B. C., speaks of ‘a grievous scytale —.263
the scytail being the staff on which a strip of leather for writing purposes
was rolled slantwise, so that the message inscribed upon the strip could
not be read until the leather was rolled again upon another staff of the
same size; since only the writer and the receiver possessed staves of the
proper size, the scytale answered all the ends of a message in cipher.”
Prophecy is like the German sentence, — it can be understood only when
we have read its last word. A.J. Gordon, Ministry of the Spirit, 48 —
“God’s providence is like the Hebrew Bible; we must begin at the end and
read backward, in order to understand it.” Yet Dr. Gordon seems to assert
that such understanding is possible even before fulfillment: “Christ did not
know the day of the end when here in his state of humiliation; but he does
know now. He has shown his knowledge in the Apocalypse, and we have
received ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show
unto his servants, even the things which must shortly come to pass’

Revelation 1:1).” A study however of the multitudinous and
conflicting views of the so called interpreters of prophecy leads us to
prefer to Dr. Gordon’s view that of Briggs, Messianic Prophecies, 49 —
“The first advent is the resolver of all Old Testament prophecy…the
second advent will give the key to New Testament prophecy. It is ‘the
Lamb that hath been slain’ (

Revelation 5:12)…who alone opens the
sealed book, solves the riddles of time, and resolves the symbols of
Nitzsch: “It is the essential condition of prophecy that it should not
disturb man’s relation to history.” In so far as this is forgotten, and it is
falsely assumed that the purpose of prophecy is to enable us to map out
the precise events of the future before they occur, the study of prophecy
ministers to a diseased imagination and diverts attention from practical
Christian duty. Calvin: “Aut insanum inveniet aut faciet”; or, as Lord
Brougham translated it: “The study of prophecy either finds a man crazy,
or it leaves him so.” Second Adventists do not often seek conversions. Dr.
Cumming warned the women of his flock that they must not study
prophecy so much as to neglect their household duties. Paul has such in
mind in

2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2 — “touching the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ… that ye be not quickly shaken from your mind…as that the
day of the Lord is just at hand; 3:11 — “For we hear of some that walk
among you disorderly.”
9. Evidential force of Prophecy — so far as it is fulfilled. Prophecy, like
miracles, does not stand alone as evidence of the divine commission of the
Scripture writers and teachers. It is simply a corroborative attestation,
which unites with miracles to prove that a religious teacher has come from.264
God and speaks with divine authority. We cannot, however, dispense with
this portion of the evidences, — for unless the death and resurrection of
Christ are events foreknown and foretold by himself, as well as by the
ancient prophets, we lose one main proof of his authority as a teacher sent
front God.
Stearns, Evidence of Christian Experience, 338 — “The Christian’s own
life is the progressive fulfillment of the prophecy that whoever accepts
Christ’s grace shall be born again, sanctified, and saved. Hence the
Christian can believe in God’s power to predict, and in God’s actual
predictions.” See Stanley Leathes, O.T. Prophecy, xvii — “Unless we
have access to the supernatural, we have no access to God.” In our
discussions of prophecy, we are to remember that before making the truth
of Christianity stand or fall with any particular passage that has been
regarded as prediction, we must be certain that the passage is meant as
prediction, and not as merely figurative description. Gladden, Seven
Puzzling Bible Books, 195 — “The book of Daniel is not a prophecy, —
it is an apocalypse…The author [of such books] puts his words into the
mouth of some historical or traditional writer of eminence. Such are the
Book of Enoch, the Assumption of Moses, Baruch, 1 and 2 Esdras, and
the Sibylline Oracles. Enigmatic form indicates persons without naming
them, and historic events as animal forms or as operations of nature…The
book of Daniel is not intended to teach us history. It does not look forward
from the sixth century before Christ, but backward from the second
century before Christ. It is a kind of story which the Jews called Haggada.
It is aimed at Antiochus Epimanes, who from his occasional fits of
melancholy, was called Epimanes, or Antiochus the Mad.”
Whatever may be our conclusion as to the authorship of the book of
Daniel, we must recognize in it an element of prediction, which has been
actually fulfilled. The most radical interpreters do not place its date later
than 163 B. C. Our Lord sees in the book clear reference to himself

Matthew 26:64 — “the Son of man, sitting at the right hand of Power
and coming on the clouds of heaven”; cf.

Daniel 7:13); and he repeats
with emphasis certain predictions of the prophet which were yet
unfulfilled (

Matthew 24:15 — “When ye see the abomination of
desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet”; cf.

Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). The book of Daniel must therefore be
counted profitable not only for its moral and spiritual lessons, but also for
its actual predictions of Christ and of the universal triumph of his
kingdom (

Daniel 2:45 — “a stone cut out of the mountain without
hands”). See on Daniel, Hastings’ Bible Dictionary; Farrar, in Expositor’s.265
Bible. On the general subject see Annotated Paragraph Bible, Introduction
to Prophetical Books; Cairns, on Present State of Christian Argument
from Prophecy, in Present Day Tracts, 5: no. 27; Edersheim, Prophecy
and History; Briggs, Messianic Prophecy; Redford, Prophecy, its Nature
and Evidence; Willis J. Beecher, the Prophet and the Promise; Orr,
Problem of the O.T., 455-465.
Having thus removed the presumption originally existing against miracles
and prophecy, we may now consider the ordinary laws of evidence and
determine the rules to be followed in estimating the weight of the Scripture
(mainly derived from Greenleaf, Testimony of the Evangelists, and from
Starkie on Evidence).
1. As to documentary evidence.
(a) Documents apparently ancient, not bearing upon their face the marks of
forgery, and found in proper custody, are presumed to be genuine until
sufficient evidence is brought to the contrary. The New Testament
documents, since they are found in the custody of the church, their natural
and legitimate depository, must by this rule are presumed to be genuine.
The Christian documents were not found, like the Book of Mormon, in a
cave, or in the custody of angels. Martineau, Seat of Authority, 322 —
“The Mormon prophet, who cannot tell God from devil close at hand, is
well up with the history of both worlds, and commissioned to get ready
the second promised land.” Washington Gladden, Who wrote the Bible?
— “An angel appeared to Smith and told him where he would find this
book; he went to the spot designated and found in a stone box a volume
six inches thick, composed of thin gold plates, eight inches by seven, held
together by three gold rings; these plates were covered with writing, in the
‘Reformed Egyptian tongue’; with this book were the ‘Urim and
Thummim, a pair of supernatural spectacles, by means of which he was
able to read and translate this ‘Reformed Egyptian language.” Sagebeer,
The Bible in Court, 113 — “If the ledger of a business firm has always
been received and regarded as a ledger, its value is not at all impeached if
it is impossible to tell which particular clerk kept this ledger…The epistle
to the Hebrews would be no less valuable as evidence, if shown not to.266
have been written by Paul.” See Starkie on Evidence, 480 sq.; Chalmers,
Christian Revelation, in Works, 3:147-171.
(b) Copies of ancient documents, made by those most interested in their
faithfulness, are presumed to correspond with the originals, even although
those originals no longer exist. Since it was the church’s interest to have
faithful copies, the burden of proof rests upon the objector to the Christian
Upon the evidence of a copy of its own records, the originals having been
lost, the House of Lords decided a claim to the peerage; see Starkie on
Evidence, 51. There is no manuscript of Sophocles earlier than the tenth
century, while at least two manuscripts of the N.T. go back to the fourth
century. Frederick George Kenyon, Handbook to Textual Criticism of
N.T.: “We owe our knowledge of most of the great works of Greek and
Latin literature — Æschylus, Sophocles, Thucydides, Horace, Lucretius,
Tacitus, and many more — to manuscripts written from 900 to 1500
years after their authors’ deaths; while of the N.T. we have two excellent
and approximately complete copies at an interval of only 250 years.
Again, of the classical God writers we have as a rule only a few score of
copies (often less), of which one or two stand out ‘is decisively superior to
all the rest; but of the N.T. we have more than 3000 copies (besides a
very large number of versions), and many of these have distinct and
independent value.” The mother of Tischendorf named him Lobgott,
because her fear that her babe would be born blind had not come true. No
man ever had keener sight than he did. He spent his life in deciphering old
manuscripts, which other eyes could not read. The Sinaitic manuscript
which he discovered takes us back within three centuries of the of the
(c) In determining matters of fact, after the lapse of considerable the,
documentary evidence is to be allowed greater weight than oral testimony.
Neither memory nor tradition can long be trusted to give absolutely correct
accounts of particular facts. The New Testament documents, therefore, are
of greater weight in evidence than tradition would be, even if only thirty
years had elapsed since the death of the actors in the scenes they relate.
See Starkie on Evidence, 51, 730. The Roman Catholic Church, in its
legends of the saints, shows how quickly mere tradition can become
corrupt. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, yet sermons
preached today on the anniversary of his birth make him out to be
Unitarian, Universalist, or Orthodox, according as the preacher himself
2. As to testimony in general.
(a) In questions as to matters of fact, the proper inquiry is not whether it is
possible that the testimony may be false, but whether there is sufficient
probability that it is true. It is unfair, therefore, to allow our examination of
the Scripture witnesses to be prejudiced by suspicion, merely because their
story is a sacred one.
There must be no prejudice against, there must be open-mindedness to,
truth; there must be a normal aspiration after the signs of communication
from God. Telepathy, forty days fasting, parthenogenesis, all these might
once have seemed antecedently incredible. Now we see that it would have
been more rational to admit their existence on presentation of appropriate
(b) A proposition of fact is proved when its truth is established by
competent and satisfactory evidence. By competent evidence is meant such
evidence as the nature of the thing to be proved admits. By satisfactory
evidence is meant that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an
unprejudiced mind beyond a reasonable doubt. Scripture facts are therefore
proved when they are established by that kind and degree of evidence,
which would, in the affairs of ordinary life, satisfy the mind and conscience
of a common man. When we have this kind and degree of evidence it is
unreasonable to require more.
In matters of morals and religion competent evidence need not be
mathematical or even logical. The majority of cases in criminal courts are
decided upon evidence that is circumstantial. We do not determine our
choice of friends or of partners in life by strict processes of reasoning.
The heart as well as the head must be permitted a voice, And competent
evidence includes considerations arising from the moral needs of the soul.
The evidence, moreover, does not require to be demonstrative. Even a
slight balance of probability, when nothing more certain is attainable, may
suffice to constitute rational proof and to bind our moral action.
(c) In the absence of circumstances, which generate suspicion, every
witness is to be presumed credible, until the contrary is shown; the burden
of impeaching his testimony lying upon the objector. The principle, which
leads men to give true witness to facts, is stronger than that which leads
them to give false witness. It is therefore unjust to compel the Christian to
establish the credibility of his witnesses before proceeding to adduce their
testimony, and it is equally unjust to allow the uncorroborated testimony of.268
a profane writer to outweigh that of a Christian writer. Christian witnesses
should not be considered interested, and therefore untrustworthy for they
became Christians against their worldly interests, and because they could
not resist the force of testimony. Varying accounts among them should be
estimated as we estimate the varying accounts of profane writers.
John’s account of Jesus differs from that of the synoptic gospels; but in a
very similar manner, and probably for a very similar reason, Plato’s
account of Socrates differs from that of Xenophon. Each saw and
described that side of his subject which he was by nature best fitted to
comprehend, — compare the Venice of Canaletto with the Venice of
Turner, the former the picture of an expert draughtsman, the latter the
vision of a poet who sees the palaces of the Doges glorified by air and
mist and distance. In Christ there was a “hiding of his power”

Habakkuk 3:4); “how small a whisper do we hear of him!” (

26:14); he, rather than Shakespeare, is “the myriad minded”; no one
evangelist can be expected to know or describe him except “in part” (

Corinthians 13:12). Frances Power Cobbe, Life, 2:405 — “All of us
human beings resemble diamonds, in having several distinct facets to our
characters; and, as we always turn one of those to one person and another
to another, there is generally some fresh side to be seen in a particularly
brilliant gem.” E. P. Tenet, Coronation, 45 — “The secret and powerful
life he [the hero of the story] was leading was like certain solitary streams,
deep, wide, and swift, which run unseen through vast and unfrequented
forests. So wide and varied was this man’s nature, that whole courses of
life might thrive in its secret places, — and his neighbors might touch him
and know him only on that side on which he was like them.”
(d) A slight amount of positive testimony, so long as it is uncontradicted,
outweighs a very great amount of testimony that is merely negative. The
silence of a second witness, or his testimony that he did not see a certain
alleged occurrence, cannot counterbalance the positive testimony of a first
witness that he did see it. We should therefore estimate the silence of
profane writers with regard to facts narrated in Scripture precisely as we
should estimate it if the facts about which they are silent were narrated by
other profane writers, instead of being narrated by the writers of Scripture.
Egyptian monuments make no mention of the destruction of Pharaoh and
his army: but then, Napoleon’s dispatches also make no mention of his
defeat at Trafalgar. At the tomb of Napoleon in the Invalides of Paris, the
walls are inscribed with names of a multitude of places where his battles
were fought, but Waterloo, the scene of his great defeat, is not recorded.269
there. So Sennacherib, in all his monuments, does not refer to the
destruction of his army in the time of Hezekiah. Napoleon gathered
450,000 men at Dresden to invade Russia. At Moscow the soft falling
snow conquered him. In one night 20,000 horses perished with cold. Not
without reason at Moscow, on the anniversary of the retreat of the French,
the exaltation of the prophet over the fall of Sennacherib is read in the
churches. James Robertson, Early History of Israel, 395, note —
“Whately, in his Historic Doubts, draws attention to the fact that the
principal Parisian journal in 1814, on the very day on which the allied
armies entered Paris as conquerors, makes no mention of any such event.
The battle of Poictiers in 732, which effectually checked the spread of
Mohammedanism across Europe, is not once referred to in the monastic
annals of the period. Sir Thomas Browne lived through the Civil Wars
and the Commonwealth, yet there is no syllable in his writings with regard
to them. Sale says that circumcision is regarded by Mohammedans as an
ancient divine institution, the rite having been in use many years before
Mohammed yet it is not so much as once mentioned in the Koran.”
Even though we should grant that Josephus does not mention Jesus, we
should have a parallel in Thucydides, who never once mentions Socrates,
the most important character of the twenty years embraced in his history.
Wieseler, however, in Jahrbuch f. d. Theologie, 23:98, maintains the
essential genuineness of the commonly rejected passage with regard to
Jesus in Josephus, Antiq., 18:3:3, omitting, however, as interpolations, the
phrases: “if it be right to call him man”; “this was the Christ”; “he
appeared alive the third day according to prophecy “; for these, if genuine,
would prove Josephus a Christian, which he, by all ancient accounts, was
not. Josephus lived from A. D. 34 to possibly 114. He does elsewhere
speak of Christ; for he records (20:9:1) that Albinus “assembled the
Sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus who
was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others…and
delivered them to be stoned.” See Niese’s new edition of Josephus: also a
monograph on the subject by Gustav Adolph Muller, published at
Innsbruck, 1890. Rush Rhees, Life of Jesus of Nazareth, 22 — “To
mention Jesus more fully would have required some approval of his life
and teaching. This would have been a condemnation of his own people
whom he desired to commend to Gentile regard, and he seems to have
taken the cowardly course of silence concerning a matter more
noteworthy, for that generation, than much else of which line writes very
(e) ‘The credit due to the testimony of witnesses depends upon: first, their
ability; secondly, their honesty; thirdly, their number and the consistency of
their testimony; fourthly, the conformity of their testimony with experience;
and fifthly, the coincidence of their testimony with collateral
circumstances.” We confidently submit the New Testament witnesses to
each and all of these tests.
See Starkie on Evidence, 726..271
or proof that the books of the Old and New Testaments were written at the
age to which they are assigned and by the men or class of men to whom
they are ascribed.
Our present discussion comprises the first part and only the first part, of
the doctrine of the Canon (kanw>n, a measuring reed; hence, a rule, a
standard). It is important to observe that the determination of the Canon,
or list of the books of sacred Scripture, is not the work of the church as an
organized body. We do not receive these books upon the authority of
Fathers or Councils. We receive them, only as the Fathers and Councils
received them, because we have evidence that they are the writings of the
men, or class of men, whose names they bear, and that they are also
credible and inspired. If the previous epistle alluded to in

Corinthians 5:9 should be discovered and be universally judged authentic,
it could be placed with Paul’s other letters and could form part of the
Canon, even though it has been lost for 1800 years. Bruce, Apologetics,
321 — “Abstractly the Canon is an open question. It can never be
anything else on the principles of Protestantism, which forbid us to accept
the decisions of church councils, whether ancient or modern, as final. But
practically the question of the Canon is closed.” The Westminster
Confession says that the authority of the word of God “does not rest upon
historic evidence; it does not rest upon the authority of Councils; it does
not rest upon the consent of the past or the excellence of the matter; but it
rests upon the Spirit of God bearing witness to our hearts concerning its
divine authority.” Clarke, Christian Theology, 24 — “The value of the
Scriptures to us does not depend upon our knowing who wrote them. In
the O.T. half its pages are of uncertain authorship. New dates mean new
authorship. Criticism is a duty, for dates of authorship give means of
interpretation. The Scriptures have power because God is in them, and
because they describe the entrance of God into the life of man.”
Saintine, Picciola, 782 — “Has not a feeble reed provided man with his
first arrow, his first pen, his first instrument of music?” Hugh Macmillan:.272
“The idea of stringed instruments was first derived from the twang of the
well strung bow, as the archer shot his arrows; the lyre and the harp
which discourse the sweetest music of peace were invented by those who
first heard this inspiring sound in the excitement of battle. And so there is
no music so delightful amid the jarring discord of the world, turning
everything to music and harmonizing earth and heaven, as when the heart
rises out of the gloom of anger and revenge, and converts its bow into a
harp, and sings to it the Lord’s song of infinite forgiveness.” George
Adam Smith, Mod. Criticism and Preaching of O.T., 5 — “The church
has never renounced her liberty to revise the Canon. The liberty at the
beginning cannot be more than the liberty thereafter. The Holy Spirit has
not forsaken the leaders of the church. Apostolic writers nowhere define
the limits of the Canon, any more than Jesus did. Indeed, they employed
extra-canonical writings. Christ and the apostles nowhere bound the
church to believe all the teachings of the O.T. Christ discriminates, and
forbids the literal interpretation of its contents. Many of the apostolic
interpretations challenge our sense of truth. Much of their exegesis was
temporary and false. Their judgment was that much in the O.T. was
rudimentary. This opens the question of development in revelation, and
justifies the attempt to fix the historic order. The N.T. criticism of the
O.T. gives the liberty of criticism, and the need, and the obligation of it.
O.T. criticism is not, like Baur’s of the N.T., the result of a Priori
Hegelian reasoning. From the time of Samuel we have real history. The
prophets do not appeal to miracles. There is more gospel in the book of
Jonah, when it is treated as a parable. The O.T. is a gradual ethical
revelation of God. Few realize that the church of Christ has a higher
warrant for her Canon of the O.T. than she has for her Canon of the N.T.
The O.T. was the result of criticism in the widest sense of that word. But
what the church thus once achieved, the church may at any the revise.”
We reserve to a point somewhat later the proof of the credibility and the
inspiration of the Scriptures. We now show their genuineness, as we
would show the genuineness of other religious books, like the Koran, or of
secular documents, like Cicero’s Orations against Catiline. Genuineness,
in the sense in which we use the term, does not necessarily imply
authenticity (i.e., truthfulness and authority); see Blunt, Dict. Doct. and
Hist. Theol., art.: Authenticity. Documents may be genuine which persons
other than they whose names they bear, provided these persons belong to
the same class write in whole or in part. The Epistle to the Hebrews,
though not written by Paul, is genuine, because it proceeds from one of
the apostolic class. The addition of Deuteronomy 34, after Moses’ death,
does not invalidate the genuineness of the Pentateuch; nor would the.273
theory of a later Isaiah, even if it were established, disprove the
genuineness of that prophecy; provided, in both cases, that the additions
were made by men of the prophetic class. On the general subject of the
genuineness of the Scripture documents, see Alexander, McIlvaine,
Chalmers, Dodge, and Peabody, on the Evidences of Christianity; also
Archibald, The Bible Verified.
1. Genuineness of the Books of the New Testament.
We do not need to adduce proof of the existence of the books of the New
Testament as far back as the third century, for we possess manuscripts of
them which are at least fourteen hundred years old, and, since the third
century, references to them have been in-woven into all history and
literature. We begin our proof, therefore, by showing that these documents
not only existed, but also were generally accepted as genuine, before the
close of the second century.
Origen was born as early as 186 A. D.; yet Tregelles tells us that Origen’s
works contain citations embracing two-thirds of the New Testament.
Hatch, Hibbert Lectures, 12 — “The early years of Christianity were in
some respects like the early years of our lives…Those early years are the
most important in our education. We learn then, we hardly know how,
through effort and struggle and innocent mistakes, to use our eyes and
ears, to measure distance and direction, by a process which ascends by
unconscious steps to the certainty which we feel in our maturity…It was in
some such unconscious way that the Christian thought of the early
centuries gradually acquired the form which we find when it emerges as it
were into the developed manhood of the fourth century.”
A. All the books of the New Testament, with the single exception of 2
Peter, were not only received as genuine, but were used in more or less
collected form, in the latter half of the second century. These collections of
writings, so slowly transcribed and distributed, imply the long continued
previous existence of the separate books, and forbid us to fix their origin
later than the first half of the second century.
(a) Tertullian (160-230) appeals to the ‘New Testament’ as made up of the
‘Gospels’ and ‘Apostles.’ He vouches for the genuineness of the four
gospels, the Acts, 1 Peter, 1 John, thirteen epistles of Paul, and the
Apocalypse, in short, to twenty-one of the twenty-seven books of our
Sanday, Bampton Lectures for 1893, is confident that the first three
gospels took their present shape before the destruction of Jerusalem. Yet
he thinks the first and third gospels of composite origin, and probably the
second. Not later than 125 A. D. the four gospels of our Canon had
gained a recognized and exceptional authority. Andover Professors,
Divinity of Jesus Christ, 40 — “The oldest of our gospels was written
about the year 70. The earlier one, now lost, a great part of which is
preserved in Luke and Matthew, was probably written a few years earlier.
(b) The Muratorian Canon in the West and the Peshito Version in the East
(having a common date of about 160) in their catalogues of the New
Testament writings mutually complement each other’s slight deficiencies,
and together witness to the fact that at that time every book of our present
New Testament, with the exception of 2 Peter, was received as genuine.
Hovey, Manual of Christian Theology, 50 — “The fragment on the
Canon, discovered by Muratori in 1738, was probably written about 170
A. D., in Greek. It begins with the last words of a sentence, which must
have referred to the Gospel of Mark, and proceeds to speak of the Third
Gospel as written by Luke the physician, who did not see the Lord, and
then of the Fourth Gospel as written by John, a disciple of the Lord, at the
request of his fellow disciples and his elders.” Bacon, N.T. Introduction,
50, gives the Muratorian Canon in full; 30 — “Theophilus of Antioch
(181-190) is the first to cite a gospel by name, quoting

John 1:1 as
from ‘John, one of those who were vessels of the Spirit.” On the
Muratorian Canon, see Tregelles, Muratorian Canon. On the Peshito
Version, see Schaff, Introduction to Rev. Gk.-Eng. N.T., xxxvii; Smith’s
Bible Dict., pp. 3388, 3389.
(c) The Canon of Marcion (140), though rejecting all the gospels but that
of Luke, and all the epistles but ten of Paul’s, shows, nevertheless, that at
that early day “apostolic writings were regarded as a complete original rule
of doctrine.” Even Marcion, moreover, does not deny the genuineness of
those writings, which for doctrinal reasons he rejects.
Marcion, the Gnostic, was the enemy of all Judaism, and regarded the
God of the O.T. as a restricted divinity, entirely different from the God of
the N.T. Marcion was “ipso Paulo paulinior” — “plus loyal que le roi.”
He held that Christianity was something entirely new, and that it stood in
opposition to all that went before it. His Canon consisted of two parts: the
“Gospel” (Luke, with its text curtailed by omission of the Hebraistic
elements) and the Apostolicon (the epistles of Paul). The epistle to
Diognetus by an unknown author, and the epistle of Barnabas, shared the.275
view of Marcion. The name of the Deity was changed from Jehovah to
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. If Marcion’s view had prevailed, the Old
Testament would have been lost to the Christian Church. God’s revelation
would have been deprived of its proof from prophecy. Development from
the past, and divine conduct of Jewish history would have been denied.
But without the Old Testament, as H. W. Beecher maintained, the New
Testament would lack background; our chief source of knowledge with
regard to God’s natural attributes of power, wisdom, and truth would be
removed: the love and mercy revealed in the New Testament would seem
characteristics of a weak being, who could not enforce law or inspire
respect. A tree has as much breadth below ground as there is above; so
the O.T. roots of God’s revelation are as extensive and necessary as are
its N.T. trunk and branches and leaves. See Allen, Religious Progress, 81;
Westcott Hist. N.T. Canon, and art.; Canon, in Smith’s Bible Dictionary.
Also Reuss, History of Canon; Mitchell, Critical Handbook, part I.
B. The Christian and Apostolic Fathers who lived in the first half of the
second century not only quote from these books and allude to them, but
testify that they were written by the apostles themselves. We are therefore
compelled to refer their origin still further back, namely, to the first
century, when the apostles lived.
(a) Irenæus (120-200) mentions and quotes the four gospels by name, and
among them the gospel according to John: “Afterwards John, the disciple
of the Lord, who also leaned upon his breast, he likewise published a
gospel, while he dwelt in Ephesus in Asia.” And Irenæus was the disciple
and friend of Polycarp (80-166), who was himself a personal acquaintance
of the Apostle John. The testimony of Irenæus is virtually the evidence of
Polycarp, the contemporary and friend of the Apostle, that each of the
gospels was written by the person whose name it bears/
To this testimony it is objected that Irenæus says there are four gospels
because there are four quarters of the world and four living creatures in
the cherubim. But we reply that Irenæus is here stating, not his own
reason for accepting four and only four gospels, but what he conceives to
be God’s reason for ordaining that there should be four. We are not
warranted in supposing that he accepted the four gospels on any other
ground than that of testimony that they were the productions of apostolic
Chrysostom, in a similar manner, compares the four gospels to a chariot
and four: When the King of Glory rides forth in it, he shall receive the.276
triumphal acclamations of all peoples. So Jerome: God rides upon the
cherubim, and since there are four cherubim there must be four gospels.
All this however is an early attempt at the philosophy of religion, and not
an attempt to demonstrate historical fact. L. L Paine, Evolution of
Trinitarianism, 319-367, presents the radical view of the authorship of the
fourth gospel. He holds that John the apostle died A. D. 70, or soon after,
and that Irenæus confounded the two Johns whom Papias so clearly
distinguished — John the Apostle and John the Elder. With Harnack,
Paine supposes the gospel to have been written by John the Elder, a
contemporary of Papias. But we reply that the testimony of Irenæus
implies a long continued previous tradition. H. W. Dale. Living Christ
and Four Gospels, 145 — “Religious veneration such as that with which
Irenæus regarded these books is of slow growth. They must have held a
great place in the Church as far back as the memory of living men
extended.” See Hastings’ Bible Dictionary, 2:695.
(b) Justin Martyr (died 148) speaks of ‘memoirs ajpomnhmoneu>mata of
Jesus Christ’ and his quotations, though sometimes made from memory are
evidently cited from our gospels.
To this testimony it is objected:
(1) that Justin Martyr uses the term ‘memoirs’ instead of gospels.’ We reply
that he elsewhere uses the term ‘gospels’ and identifies the ‘memoirs’ with
them: Apol., 1:66 — “The apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which
are called gospels,” i.e., not memoirs, but gospels, was the proper title of his
written records. In writing his Apology to the heathen Emperors, Marcus
Aurelius and Marcus Antoninus, he chooses the term ‘memoirs’, or
‘memorabilia’, which Xenophon had used as the title of his account of
Socrates, simply in order that he may avoid ecclesiastical expressions
unfamiliar to his readers and may commend his writing to lovers of classical
literature. Notice that Matthew must be added to John, to justify Justin’s
repeated statement that there were “memoirs” of our Lord “written by
apostles,” and that Mark and Luke must be added to justify his further
statement that these memoirs were compiled by “his apostles and those who
followed them.” Analogous to Justin’s use of the word ‘memoirs’ is his use of
the term ‘Sunday’, instead of Sabbath: Apol. 1:67 — “On the day called
Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place,
and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read.” Here
is the use of our gospels in public worship, as of equal authority with the O.T.
Scriptures; in fact, Justin constantly quotes the words and acts of Jesus’ life
from a written source, using the word ge>graptai. See Morison, Com. on
Matthew, ix; Hemphill, Literature of Second Century, 234..277
To Justin’s testimony it is objected:
(2) That in quoting the words spoken from heaven at the Savior’s baptism, he
makes them to be: “My son, this day have I begotten thee,” so quoting

Psalm 2:7, and showing that he was ignorant of our present gospel,

Matthew 3:17. We reply that this was probably a slip of the memory, quite
natural in a day when the gospels existed only in the cumbrous form of
manuscript rolls. Justin also refers to the Pentateuch for two facts, which it
does not contain; but we should not argue from this that he did not possess our
present Pentateuch. The plays of Terence are quoted by Cicero and Horace,
and we require neither more nor earlier witnesses to their genuineness, — yet
Cicero and Horace wrote a hundred years after Terence. It is unfair to refuse
similar evidence to the gospels. Justin had a way of combining into one the
sayings of the different evangelists — a hint which Tatian, his pupil, probably
followed out in composing his Diatessaron. On Justin Martyr’s testimony, see
Ezra Abbot, Genuineness of the Fourth Gospel, 49, note. B. W. Bacon,
Introduction to N.T., speaks of Justin as “writing circa 155 A. D.”
(c) Papias (80-164), whom Irenæus calls a ‘hearer of John,’ testifies that
Matthew “wrote in the Hebrew dialect the sacred oracles ta loga>,” and
that “Mark, the interpreter of Peter, wrote after Peter, uJsteron Petrw| [or
under Peter’s direction], an unsystematic account ouj ta>xei” of the same
events and discourses.
To this testimony it is objected:
(1) That Papias could not have had our gospel of Matthew, for the reason that
this is Greek. We reply, either with Bleek, that Papias erroneously supposed a
Hebrew translation of Matthew, which he possessed, to be the original; or
with Weiss, that the original Matthew was in Hebrew, while our present
Matthew is an enlarged version of the same. Palestine, like modern Wales,
was bilingual: Matthew, like James, might write both Hebrew and Greek.
While B.W. Bacon gives to the writing of Papias a date so late as 145-160
A.D., Lightfoot gives that of 130 A.D. At this latter date Papias could easily
remember stories told him so far back as 80 A.D., by men who were youths at
the time when our Lord lived, died, rose and ascended. The work of Papias
had for its title Logi>wn kuriakw~n ejxh>ghsiv — “Exposition of Oracles
relating to the Lord” Commentaries on the Gospels. Two of these gospels
were Matthew and Mark. The view of Weiss mentioned above has been
criticized upon the ground that the quotations from the O.T. in Jesus’
discourses in Matthew are all taken from the Septuagint and not from the
Hebrew. Westcott answers this criticism by suggesting that, in translating his
Hebrew gospel into Greek, Matthew substituted for his own oral version of.278
Christ’s discourses the version of these already existing in the oral common
gospel. There was a common oral basis of true teaching, the “deposit” —
paraqh>khn — committed to Timothy (

1 Timothy 6:20;

2 Timothy
1:12, 14), the same story told many times and getting to be told in the same
way. The narratives of Matthew, Mark and Luke are independent versions of
this apostolic testimony. First came belief; secondly, oral teaching; thirdly,
written gospels. That the original gospel was in Aramaic seems probable from
the fact that the Oriental name for ‘tares” zawan, (

Matthew 13:25) has
been transliterated into Greek, ziza>nia. Morison, Com. on Matthew, thinks
that Matthew originally wrote in Hebrew a collection of Sayings of Jesus
Christ, which the Nazarenes and Ebionites added to, partly from tradition, and
partly from translating his full gospel, till the result was the so called Gospel
of the Hebrews; but that Matthew wrote his own gospel in Greek after he had
written the Sayings in Hebrew, Professor W. A. Stevens thinks that Papias
probably alluded to the original autograph which Matthew wrote in Aramaic,
but which he afterwards enlarged and translated into Greek. See Hemphill,
Literature of the Second Century, 267.
To the testimony of Papias it is also objected:
(2) that Mark is the most systematic of all evangelists, presenting events as a
true annalist, in chronological order. We reply that while, so far as
chronological order is concerned, Mark is systematic, so fain as logical order
is concerned he is the most unsystematic of the evangelists, showing little of
the power of historical grouping which is so discernible in Matthew. Matthew
aimed to portray a life, rather than to record a chronology. He groups Jesus’
teachings in chapters 5, 6, and 7; his miracles in chapters 8 and 9; his
directions to the apostles in chapter 10; chapters 11 and 12 describe the
growing opposition; chapter 13 meets this opposition with his parables; the
remainder of the gospel describes our Lord’s preparation for his death, his
progress to Jerusalem, the consummation of his work in the Cross and in the
resurrection. Here is true system, a philosophical arrangement of material,
compared with which the method of Mark is eminently unsystematic. Mark is
a Froissart, while Matthew has the spirit of J. R. Green. See Bleek,
Introduction to N.T., 1:108, 126; Weiss, Life of Jesus, I:27-39.
(d) The Apostolic Fathers, — Clement of Rome (died 101), Ignatius of
Antioch (martyred 115), and Polycarp (80-166), — companions and
friends of the apostles, have left us in their writings over one hundred
quotations from or allusions to the New Testament writings, and among
these every book, except four minor epistles (2 Peter, Jude, 2 and 3 John)
is represented..279
Although these are single testimonies, we must remember that they are the
testimonies of the chief men of the churches of their day, and that they
express the opinion of the churches themselves. “Like banners of a hidden
army, or peaks of a distant mountain range, they represent and are
sustained by compact, continuous bodies below.” In an article by P. W.
Calkins, McClintock and Strong’s Encyclopædia, 1:315-317, quotations
from the Apostolic Fathers in great numbers are put side by side with the
New Testament passages from which they quote or to which they allude.
An examination of these quotations and allusions convinces us that these
Fathers were in possession of all the principal books of our New
Testament. See Ante-Nicene Library of T. and T. Clark; Thayer, in
Boston Lectures for 1871:324; Nash, Ethics and Revelation, 11 —
“Ignatius says to Polycarp: ‘The times call for thee, as the winds call for
the pilot.’ So do the times call for reverent, fearless scholarship in the
church.” Such scholarship, we are persuaded, has already demonstrated
the genuineness of the N.T. documents.
(e) In the synoptic gospels, the omission of all mention of the fulfillment of
Christ’s prophecies with regard to the destruction of Jerusalem is evidence
that these gospels were written before the occurrence of that event. In the
Acts of the Apostles, universally attributed to Luke, we have an allusion to
‘the former treatise’, or the gospel by the same author, which must,
therefore, have been written before the end of Paul’s first imprisonment at
Rome, and probably with the help and sanction of that apostle.

Acts 1:1 — “The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, concerning all
that Jesus began both to do and to teach.” If the Acts was written A. D.
63, two years after Paul’s arrival at Rome, then “the former treatise,” the
gospel according to Luke, can hardly be dated later than 60; and since the
destruction of Jerusalem took place in 70, Matthew and Mark must have
published their gospels at least as early as the year 68, when multitudes of
men were still living who had been eye-witnesses of the events of Jesus’
life. Fisher, Nature and Method of Revelation, 180 — “At any
considerably later date [than the capture of Jerusalem] the apparent
conjunction of the fall of the city and the temple with the Parousia would
have been avoided or explained…Matthew, in its present form, appeared
after the beginning of the mortal struggle of the Romans with the Jews, or
between 65 and 70. Mark’s gospel was still earlier. The language of the
passages relative to the Parousia, in Luke, is consistent with the
supposition that he wrote after the fall of Jerusalem, but not with the
supposition that it was long after.” See Norton, Genuineness of the
Gospels; Alford, Greek Testament, Prolegomena, 30, 31, 36, 45-47..280
C. It is to be presumed that this acceptance of the New Testament
documents as genuine, on the part of the Fathers of the churches, was for
good and sufficient reasons, both internal and external, and this
presumption is corroborated by the following considerations:
(a) There is evidence that the early churches took every care to assure
themselves of the genuineness of these writings before they accepted them.
Evidences of care are the following: — Paul, in

2 Thessalonians 2:2,
urged the churches to use care, “to the end that ye be not quickly shaken
from your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by
epistle as from us”

1 Corinthians 5:9 — “I wrote unto you in my
epistle to have no company with fornicators”; Colossians: 16 — “when
this epistle hath been read among you, cause that it be read also in the
church of the Laodiceans; and that ye also read the epistle from
Laodicea.” Melito (169), Bishop of Sardis, who wrote a treatise on the
Revelation of John, went as far as Palestine to ascertain on the spot the
facts relating to the Canon of the O.T., and as a result of his
investigations excluded the Apocrypha. Ryle, Canon of O.T., 203 —
“Melito, the Bishop of Sardis, sent to a friend a list of the O.T. Scriptures
which he professed to have obtained from accurate inquiry, while
traveling in the East, in Syria. Its contents agree with those of the Hebrew
Canon, save in the omission of Esther.” Serapion, Bishop of Antioch
(191-213, Abbot), says: “We receive Peter and other apostles as Christ,
but as skillful men we reject those writings which are falsely ascribed to
them.” Geo. H. Ferris, Baptist Congress, 1899:94 — “Serapion, after
permitting the reading of the Gospel of Peter in public services, finally
decided against it, not because he thought there could be no fifth gospel,
but because he thought it was not written by Peter.” Tertullian (160-230)
gives an example of the deposition of a presbyter in Asia Minor for
publishing a pretended work of Paul; see Tertullian, De Baptismo,
referred to by Godet on John, Introduction; Lardner, Works, 2:304, 305;
McIlvaine, Evidences. 92.
(b) The style of the New Testament writings, and their complete
correspondence with all we know of the lands and times in which they
profess to have been written, affords convincing proof that they belong to
the apostolic age.
Notice the mingling of Latin and Greek, as in spekoula>twr (

6:27) and kenturi>wn (

Mark 15:39); of Greek and Aramæan, as in
prasiai (

Mark 6:40) and ejrhmw>sewv (

24:15); this could hardly have occurred after the first century. Compare.281
the anachronisms of style and description in Thackeray’s “Henry
Esmond,” which, in spite of the author’s special studies and his
determination to exclude all words and phrases that had originated in his
own century, was marred by historical errors that Macaulay, in his most
remiss moments, would hardly have made. James Russell Lowell told
Thackeray that “different to” was not a century old. “Hang it, no!” replied
Thackeray. In view of this failure, on the part of an author of great
literary skill, to construct a story purporting to be written a century before
his time and that could stand the test of historical criticism, we may well
regard the success of our gospels in standing such tests as a practical
demonstration that they were written in, and not after, the apostolic age.
See Alexander, Christ and Christianity, 27-37; Blunt, Scriptural
Coincidences, 244-354.
(c) The genuineness of the fourth gospel is confirmed by the fact that
Tatian (155-170), the Assyrian, a disciple of Justin, repeatedly quoted it
without naming the author, and composed a Harmony of our four gospels
which he named the Diatessaron; while Basilides (130) and Valentinus
(150), the Gnostics, both quote from it.
The skeptical work entitled “Supernatural Religion” said in 1874: “No
one seems to have seen Tatian’s Harmony, probably for the very simple
reason that there was no such work” and “There is no evidence whatever
connecting Tatian’s Gospel with those of our Canon.” In 1876, however,
there was published in a Latin form in Venice the Commentary of
Ephraem Syrus on Tatian, and the commencement of it was: “In the
beginning was the Word” (

John 1:1). In 1888, the Diatessaron itself
was published in Rome in the form of an Arabic translation made in the
eleventh century from the Syriac. J. Rendel Harris. in Contemp. Rev.,
1893:800 sq., says that the recovery of Tatian’s Diatessaron has
indefinitely postponed the literary funeral of St. John. Advanced critics, he
intimates, are so called, because they run ahead of the facts they discuss.
The gospels must have been well established in the Christian church when
Tatian undertook to combine them. Mrs. A.S. Lewis, in SS Times, Jan.
23, 1904 — “The gospels were translated into Syriac before AD 160. It
follows that the Greek document from which they were translated was
older still, and since the one includes the gospel of St. John, so did the
other.” Hemphill, Literature of the Second Century, 183-231, gives the
birth of Tatian about 120, and the date of his Diatessaron as 172 AD
The difference in style between the Revelation and the gospel of John is
due to the fact that the Revelation was written during John’s exile in
Patmos, under Nero, in 67 or 68, soon after John had left Palestine and.282
had taken up his residence at Ephesus. He had hitherto spoken Aramæan,
and Greek was comparatively unfamiliar to him. The gospel was written
thirty years after, probably about 97, when Greek had become to him like
a mother tongue. See Lightfoot on Galatians, 343, 347; per contra, see
Milligan, Revelation of St. John. Phrases and ideas, which indicate a
common authorship of the Revelation and the gospel, are the following:
“the Lamb of God.” “the Word of God,” “the True” as an epithet applied
to Christ, “the Jews” as enemies of God, “manna,” “him whom they
pierced” see Elliott, Horæ Apocalypticæ, 1:4,5. In the fourth gospel we
have ajmno>v, in Apoc. ajrni>on, perhaps better to distinguish “the Lamb”
from the diminutive toon, “the best.” Common to both Gospel and
Revelations are poiei~n, “to do” [the truth]; peripatei~n, of moral
conduct; ajlhqino>v, “genuine”; diya~|n peina~|n, of the higher wants of
the soul; skhnou~n ejn poimai>nein oJdhgei~n; also ‘overcome,’
‘testimony,’ ‘Bridegroom,’ ‘Shepherd,’ ‘Water of Life.’ In the Revelation
there are grammatical solecisms: nominative for genitive, 1:4 — ajpov; accusative for
nominative, 20:2 — tokonta oJ o]fiv. Similarly, we have in

Romans 12:5 — to< de< kaq ei]v instead of to< de< kaq e]na, where
kata< has lost its regimen — a frequent solecism in later Greek writers;
see Godet on John, 1:269, 270. Emerson reminded Jones Very that the
Holy Ghost surely writes good grammar. The Apocalypse seems to show
that Emerson was wrong.
The author of the fourth gospel speaks of John in the third person, “and
scorned to blot it with a name.” But so does Caesar speak of himself in
his Commentaries.
Harnack regards both the fourth gospel and the Revelation as the work of
John the Presbyter or Elder, the former written not later than about 110
AD; the latter from 93 to 96, but being a revision of one or more
underlying Jewish apocalypses. Vischer has expounded this view of the
Revelation; and Porter holds substantially the same, in his article on the
Book of Revelation in Hastings’ Bible Dictionary, 4:239-266. “It is the
obvious advantage of the Vischer — Harnack hypothesis that it places the
original work under Nero and its revised and Christianized edition under
Dalmatian.” (Sanday, Inspiration, 371, 372, nevertheless dismisses this
hypothesis as raising worse difficulties than it removes. He dates the
Apocalypse between the death of Nero and the destruction of Jerusalem
by Titus.) Martineau, Seat of Authority, 227, presents the moral
objections to the apostolic authorship, and regards the Revelation, from
chapter 4:1 to 22:5, as a purely Jewish document of the date 66-70,.283
supplemented and revised by a Christian, and issued not earlier than 136:
“How strange that we should ever have thought it possible for a personal
attendant upon the ministry of Jesus to write or edit a book mixing up
fierce Messianic conflicts, in which, with the sword, the gory garment, the
blasting flame, the rod of iron, as his emblems, he leads the war march,
and treads the winepress of the wrath of God until the deluge of blood
rises to the horses’ bits, with the speculative Christology of the second
century, without a memory of his life, a feature of his look, a word from
his voice, or a glance back at the hillsides of Galilee, the courts of
Jerusalem, the road to Bethany, on which his image must be forever seen.
The force of this statement, however, is greatly broken if we consider that
the apostle John, in his earlier days, was one of the “Boanerges, which is
Sons of thunder” (

Mark 3:17), but became in his later years the
apostle of love:

1 John 4:7 — “Beloved, let us love one another for
love is of God.” The likeness of the fourth gospel to the epistle, which
latter was undoubtedly the work of John the apostle, indicates the same
authorship for the gospel. Thayer remarks that “the discovery of the
gospel according to Peter sweeps away half a century of discussion. Brief
as is the recovered fragment, it attests indubitably all four of our
canonical books.’’ Riddle, in Popular Com., 1:25 — “If a forger wrote
the fourth gospel, then Beelzebub has been casting out devils for these
eighteen hundred years.” (in the genuineness of the fourth gospel, see
Bleek, Introduction to New Testament, 1:250; Fisher, Essays on
Supernat. Origin of Christianity, 33, also Beginnings of Christianity, 320-
362, and Grounds of Theistic and Christian Belief, 245-309; Sanday,
Authorship of the Fourth Gospel, Gospels in the Second Century and
Criticism of the Fourth Gospel; Ezra Abbott, Genuineness of the Fourth
Gospel, 52, 80-87; Row, Bampton Lectures on Christian Evidences, 249-
287; British Quarterly, Oct. 1872:216; Godet, in Present Day Tracts, 5:
no. 25; Westcott, in Bib. Com, on John’s Gospel, Introduction xxviii —
xxxii; Watkins, Bampton Lectures for 1890; W.L. Ferguson, in
Bibliotheca Sacra, 1896:1-27.
(d) The epistle to the Hebrews appears to have been accepted during the
first century after it was written (so Clement of Rome, Justin Martyr, and
the Peshito Version witness). Then for two centuries, especially in the
Roman and North African churches, and probably because its internal
characteristics were inconsistent with the tradition of a Pauline authorship,
its genuineness was doubted (so Tertullian, Cyprian, Irenæus, Muratorian
Canon). At the end of the fourth century, Jerome examined the evidence
and decided in its favor; Augustine did the same; the third Council of.284
Carthage formally recognized it (397); from that time the Latin churches
united with the East in receiving it, and thus the doubt was finally and
forever removed.
The Epistle to the Hebrews, the style of which is so unlike that of the
Apostle Paul, was possibly written by Apollos, who was an Alexandrian
Jew, “a learned man” and “mighty in the Scriptures’ (

Acts 18:24); but
it may notwithstanding have been written at the suggestion and under the
direction of Paul, and so be essentially Pauline. A. C. Kendrick, in
American Commentary on Hebrews, points out that while the style of
Paul is prevailingly dialectic, and only in rapt moments becomes
rhetorical or poetic, the style of the Epistle to the Hebrews is prevailingly
rhetorical, is free from anacoloutha, and is always dominated by emotion,
he holds that these characteristics point to Apollos as its author. Contrast
also Paul’s method of quoting the Old Testament: “it is written”

Romans 11:8;

1 Corinthians 1:31;

Galatians 3:10) with that of
the Hebrews: “he saith” (8:5, 13), “he hath said” (4:4).
Paul quotes the Old Testament fifty or sixty times, but never in this latter

Hebrews 2:3 — “which having at the first been spoken by the
Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard” — shows that the writer
did not receive the gospel at first hand. Luther and Calvin rightly saw in
this a decisive proof that Paul was not the author, for he always insisted
on the primary and independent character of his gospel. Harnack formerly
thought the epistle written by Barnabas to Christians at Rome, AD 8-96.
More recently however he attributes it to Priscilla, the wife of Aquila, or
to their joint authorship. The majesty of its diction, however, seems
unfavorable to this view. William T.C. Hanna: “The words of the
author… are marshaled grandly, and move with the tread of an army, or
with the swell of a tidal wave”; see Franklin Johnson, Quotations in New
Testament from Old Testament, xii. Plumptre, Introduction to New
Testament, 37, and in Expositor, Vol. I, regards the author of this epistle
as the same with that of the Apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon, the latter
being composed before, the former after the writer’s conversion to
Christianity. Perhaps our safest conclusion is that of Origen: “God only
knows who wrote it.” Harnack however remarks: “The time in which our
ancient Christian literature, the New Testament included, was considered
as a web of delusions and falsifications is past. The oldest literature of the
church is, in its main points, and in most of its details, true and
trustworthy.” See articles on Hebrews in Smith’s and in Hastings’ Bible
(e) As to 2 Peter, Jude, and 2 and 3 John, the epistles most frequently held
to be spurious, we may say that although we have no conclusive external
evidence earlier than AD 160, and in the case of 2 Peter none earlier than
AD 230-250, we may fairly urge in favor of their genuineness not only
their internal characteristics of literary style and moral value, but also the
general acceptance of them all since the third century as the actual
productions of the men or class of men whose names they bear.
Firmilianus (250), Bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, is the first clear
witness to 2 Peter. Origen (230) names it, but in naming it, admits that its
genuineness is questioned. The Council of Laodicea (372) first received it
into the Canon. With this very gradual recognition and acceptance of 2
Peter, compare the loss of the later works of Aristotle for a hundred and
fifty years after his death, and their recognition as genuine so soon as they
were recovered from the cellar of the family of Neleus in Asia; DeWette’s
first publication of certain letters of Luther after the lapse of three
hundred years, yet without occasioning doubt as to their genuineness, or
the concealment of Milton’s Treatise on Christian Doctrine, among the
lumber of the State Paper Office in London, from 1677 to 1823; see Mair,
Christian Evidences, 95. Sir William Hamilton complained that there were
treatises of Cudworth, Berkeley and Collier, still lying unpublished and
even unknown to their editors, biographer’s and fellow metaphysicians,
but yet of the highest interest and importance; see Mansel, Letters,
Lectures and Reviews. 381; Archibald, The Bible Verified, 27. 2 Peter
was probably sent from the East shortly before Peter’s martyrdom;
distance and persecution may have prevented its rapid circulation in other
countries. Sagebeer, The Bible in Court, 114 — “A ledger may have been
lost, or its authenticity for a long time doubted, but when once it is
discovered and proved, it is as trustworthy as any other part of the res
gestú.” See Plumptre, Epistles of Peter. Introduction, 73-81; Alford on 2
Peter, 4: Prolegomena, l57; Westcott, on Canon, in Smith’s Bib.
Dictionary, 1:370, 373; Blunt, Dictionary Doct. and Hist. Theol., art.:
Those who doubt the genuineness of 2 Peter that the epistle speaks of
“your apostles” urge it (3:2), just as Jude 17 speaks of “the apostles,” as
if the writer did not number himself among them. But 2 Peter begins with
“Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,’’ and Jude, “brother
of James” (verse 1) was a brother of our Lord, but not an apostle. Hovey,
Introduction to New Testament, xxxi — “The earliest passage manifestly
based upon 2 Peter appears to be in the so-called Second Epistle of the
Roman Clement, 16:3, which however is now understood to be a Christian.286
homily from the middle of the second century.” Origen (born 186) testifies
that Peter left one epistle, “amid perhaps a second, for that is disputed.”
he also says: “John wrote the Apocalypse, and an epistle of very few
lines; and, it may be, a second and a third; since all do not admit them to
be genuine.” He quotes also from James and from Jude, adding that their
canonicity was doubted.
Harnack regards 1 Peter, 2 Peter, James, and Jude, as written respectively
about 160, 170, 130, and 130, but not by the men to whom they are
ascribed — the ascriptions to these authors being later additions. Hort
remarks: “If I were asked, I should say that the balance of the argument
was against 2 Peter, but the moment I had done so I should begin to think
I might be in the wrong.” Sanday, Oracles of God, 73 note, considers the
arguments in favor of 2 Peter unconvincing, but also the arguments
against. He cannot get beyond a non liquet. He refers to Salmon,
Introduction to New Testament, 529-559, ed. 4, as expressing his own
view. But the later conclusions of Sanday are more radical. In his
Bampton Lectures on Inspiration, 348, 399, he says: 2 Peter “is probably
at least to this extent a counterfeit that it appears under a name, which is
not that of its true author.”
Chase, in Hastings’ Bib. Dictionary, 3:806-817, says that “the first piece
of certain evidence as to 2 Peter is the passage from Origen quoted by
Eusebius, though it hardly admits of doubt that the Epistle was known to
Clement of Alexandria… We find no trace of the epistle in the period
when the tradition of apostolic days was still living… It was not the work
of the apostle but of the second century… put forward without any
sinister motive… the personation of the apostle an obvious literary device
rather than a religious or controversial fraud. The adoption of such a
verdict can cause perplexity only when the Lord’s promise of guidance to
his Church is regarded as a charter of infallibility.” Against this verdict
we would urge the dignity and spiritual value of 2 Peter — internal
evidence which in our judgment causes the balance to incline in favor of
its apostolic authorship.
(f) Upon no other hypothesis than that of their genuineness can the general
acceptance of these four minor epistles since the third century and of all the
other books of the New Testament since the middle of the second century,
be satisfactorily accounted for. If they had been mere collections of floating
legends, they could not have secured wide circulation as sacred books for
which Christians must answer with their blood. If they had been forgeries,
the churches at large could neither have been deceived as to their previous.287
nonexistence, nor have been induced unanimously to pretend that they
were ancient and genuine. Inasmuch, however, as other accounts of their
origin, inconsistent with their genuineness, are now current, we proceed to
examine more at length the most important of these opposing views.
The genuineness of the New Testament as a whole would still be
demonstrable, even if doubt should still attach to one or two of its books.
It does not matter that Plato, or Pericles did not write 2nd Alcibiades by
Shakespeare. The Council of Carthage in 397 gave a place in the Canon
to the Old Testament Apocrypha but the Reformers tore it out. Zwingli
said of the Revelation: “It is not a Biblical book,” and Luther spoke
slightingly of the Epistle of James. The judgment of Christendom at large
is trustworthier than the private impressions of any single Christian
scholar. To hold the books of the New Testament to be written in the
second century by other than those whose names they bear is to hold, not
simply to forgery, but to a conspiracy of forgery. There must have been
several forgers at work and since their writings wonderfully agree, there
must have been collusion among them. Yet these able men have been
forgotten, while the names of far feebler writers of the second century
have been preserved.
G.F. Wright, Scientific Aspects of Christian Evidences, 343 — “In civil
law there are ‘statutes of limitations’ which provide that the general
acknowledgment of a purported fact for a certain period shall be
considered as conclusive evidence of it. If, for example, a man has
remained in undisturbed possession of land for a certain number of years,
it is presumed that he has a valid claim to it, and no one is allowed to
dispute his claim.” Mair, Evidences, 99 — “We probably have not a tenth
part of the evidence upon which the early churches accepted the New
Testament books as the genuine productions of their authors. We have
only their verdict” Wynne, in Literature of the Second Century, 58 —
“Those who gave up the Scriptures were looked on by their fellow
Christians as ‘traditores,’ traitors, who had basely yielded up what they
ought to have treasured as dearer than life. But all their books were not
equally sacred.
Some were essential, and some were nonessential to the faith. Hence arose
the distinction between canonical and non-canonical. The general
consciousness of Christians grew into a distinct registration.” Such
registration is entitled to the highest respect, and lays the burden of proof
upon the objector. See Alexander, Christ and Christianity, introduction;
Hovey, General Introduction to American Commentary on New
D. Rationalistic Theories as to the origin of the gospels. These are attempts
to eliminate the miraculous element from the New Testament records, and
to reconstruct the sacred history upon principles of naturalism.
Against them we urge the general objection that they are unscientific in
their principle and method. To set out in an examination of the New
Testament documents with the assumption that all history is a mere natural
development, and that miracles are therefore impossible, is to make history
a matter, not of testimony, but of a priori speculation. It indeed renders
any history of Christ and his apostles impossible, since the witnesses whose
testimony with regard to miracles is discredited can no longer be
considered worthy of credence in their account of Christ’s life or doctrine.
In Germany, half a century ago, “a man was famous according as he had
lifted up axes upon the thick trees” (

Psalm 74:5, A.V.), just as among
the American Indians he was not counted a man who could not show his
scalps. The critics fortunately scalped each other; see Tyler, Theology of
Greek Poets, 79 — on Homer. Nicoll, The Church’s One Foundation, 15
— “Like the mummers of old, skeptical critics send one before them with
a broom to sweep the stage clear of everything for their drama. If we
assume at the threshold of the gospel study that everything of the nature
of miracle is impossible, then the specific questions are decided before the
criticism begins to operate in earnest.” Matthew Arnold: “Our popular
religion at present conceives the birth, ministry and death of Christ as
altogether steeped in prodigy, brimful of miracle, — and miracles do not
happen.” This presupposition influences the investigations of Kuenen,
and of A. E. Abbott, in his article on the Gospels in the Encyclopedia
Britannica. We give special attention to four of the theories based upon
this assumption.
1st. The Myth-theory of Strauss (1808-1874).
According to this view, the gospels are crystallization into story of
messianic ideas, which had for several generations filled the minds of
imaginative men in Palestine. The myth is a narrative in which such ideas
are unconsciously clothed, and from which the element of intentional and
deliberate deception is absent.
This early view of Strauss, which has become identified with his name,
was exchanged in late years for a more advanced view which extended the
meaning of the word ‘myths’ so as to include all narratives that spring out
of a theological idea, and it admitted the existence of ‘pious frauds’ in the
gospels. Baur, he says, first convinced him that the author of the fourth.289
gospel had “not infrequently composed mere fables, knowing them to be
mere fictions.” The animating spirit of both the old view and the new is
the same. Strauss says: “We know with certainty what Jesus was not and
what he has not done, namely, nothing superhuman and supernatural.”
“No gospel can claim that degree of historic credibility that would be
required in order to make us debase our reason to the point of believing in
miracles.” He calls the resurrection of Christ “ein weltgeschichtlicher
Humbug.” “If the gospels are really historical documents, we cannot
exclude miracle from the life story of Jesus; “see Strauss, Life of Jesus,
17; New Life of Jesus, 1: preface, xii. Vatke, Einleitung in A.T., 210,
211, distinguishes the myth from the saga or legend: The criterion of the
pure myth is that the experience is impossible, while the saga is a tradition
of remote antiquity; the myth has in it the element only of belief, the saga
has in it an element of history. Sabatier, Philos. Religion, 37 — “A myth
is false in appearance only. The divine Spirit can avail himself of the
fictions of poetry as well as of logical reasoning. When the heart was
pure, the veils of fable always allowed the face of truth to shine through
and does not childhood run on into maturity and old age?”
It is very certain that childlike love of truth was not the animating spirit of
Strauss. On the contrary, his spirit was that of remorseless criticism and
of uncompromising hostility to the supernatural. It has been well said that
he gathered up all the previous objections of skeptics to the gospel
narrative and hurled them in one mass, just as if some Sadducee at the
time of Jesus’ trial had put all the taunts and gibes, all the buffetings and
insults, all the shame and spitting, into one blow delivered straight into the
face of the Redeemer. An octogenarian and saintly German lady said
unsuspectingly that “somehow she never could get interested” in Strauss’s
Leben Jesu, which her skeptical son had given her for religious reading.
The work was almost altogether destructive, only the last chapter
suggesting Strauss’s own view of what Jesus was.
If Luther’s dictum is true that “the heart is the best theologian,” Strauss
must be regarded as destitute of the main qualification for his task.
Encyclopedia Britannica, 22 592 — “Strauss’s mind was almost
exclusively analytical and critical, without depth of religious feeling, or
philosophical penetration, or historical sympathy. His work was rarely
constructive and, save when he was dealing with a kindred spirit, he failed
as a historian, biographer, and critic, strikingly illustrating Goethe’s
profoundly true principle that loving sympathy is essential for productive
criticism.” Pfleiderer, Strauss’s Life of Jesus, xix — “Strauss showed
that the church formed the mythical traditions about Jesus out of its faith
in him as the Messiah; but he did not show how the church came by the.290
faith that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah.” See Carpenter, Mental
Physiology, 362; Grote, Plato, 1:249.
We object to the Myth theory of Strauss, that
(a) The time between the death of Christ and the publication of the gospels
was far too short for the growth and consolidation of such mythical
histories. Myths, on the contrary, as the Indian, Greek, Roman and
Scandinavian instances bear witness, are the slow growth of centuries.
(b) The first century was not a century when such formation of myths was
possible. Instead of being a credulous and imaginative age, it was an age of
historical inquiry and of Sadduceeism in matters of religion.
Horace, in Odes 1:34 and 3:6, denounces the neglect and squalor of the
heathen temples, and Juvenal, Satire 2:150, says that “Esse aliquid manes
et subterranea regna Nec pueri credunt.” Arnold of Rugby: “The idea of
men writing mythic histories between the times of Livy and of Tacitus,
and of St. Paul mistaking them for realities!” Pilate’s skeptical inquiry,
“What is truth?” (

John 18:38), better represented the age. “The
mythical age is past when an idea is presented abstractly — apart from
narrative.” The Jewish sect of the Sadducees shows that the rationalistic
spirit was not confined to Greeks or Romans. The question of John the

Matthew 11:3 — “Art thou he that cometh, or look we for
another?” and our Lord’s answered,

Matthew 11:4, 5 — “Go and tell
John the thing which ye hear and see: the blind receive their sight… the
dead are raised up.” show that the Jews expected miracles to be wrought
by the Messiah; yet

John 10:41 — “John indeed did no sign” shows
also no irresistible inclination to invest popular teachers with miraculous
powers; see B.G. Robinson, Christian Evidences, 22; Westcott, Com. on

John 10:41; Rogers, Superhuman Origin of the Bible, 61; Cox,
Miracles, 50.
(c) The gospels cannot be a mythical outgrowth of Jewish ideas and
expectations, because, in their main features, they run directly counter to
these ideas and expectations. The sullen and exclusive nationalism of the
Jews could not have given rise to a gospel for all nations, nor could their
expectations of a temporal monarch have led to the story of a suffering
The Old Testament Apocrypha shows how narrow was the outlook of the
Jews. 2 Esdras 6:55, 56 says the Almighty has made the world “for our
sakes”; other peoples, though they “also come from Adam,” to the Eternal.291
“are nothing, but be like unto spittle.” The whole multitude of them are
only, before him, “like a single foul drop that oozes out of a cask” (C.
Geikie, in S. S. Times). Christ’s kingdom differed from that which the
Jews expected, both in its spirituality and its universality (Bruce,
Apologetics, 8). There was no missionary impulse in the heathen world;
on the other hand, it was blasphemy for an ancient tribesman to make
known his god to an outsider (Nash, Ethics and Revelation, 106). The
Apocryphal gospels show what sort of myths the New Testament age
would have elaborated: Out of a demoniac young woman Satan is said to
depart in the form of a young man (Bernard, in Literature of the Second
Century, 99-136).
(d) The belief and propagation of such myths are inconsistent with what
we know of the sober characters and self-sacrificing lives of the apostles.
(e) The mythical theory cannot account for the acceptance of the gospels
among the Gentiles, who had none of the Jewish ideas and expectations.
(f) It cannot explain Christianity itself, with its belief in Christ’s crucifixion
and resurrection, and the ordinances, which commemorate these facts.
(d) Witness Thomas’s doubting, and Paul’s shipwrecks and scourgings.

1 Peter 1:16 — ouj ganoiv mu>qoiv
ejxakolouqh>santev = “we have not been on the false track of myths
artificially elaborated.” See F. W. Farrar, Witness of History to Christ,
(e) See the two books entitled: If the Gospel Narratives are Mythical, —
What Then? and But How? — if the Gospels are Historic?
(f) As the existence of the American Republic is proof that there was once a
Revolutionary War, so the existence of Christianity is proof of the death of
Christ. The change from the seventh day to the first, in Sabbath observance,
could never have come about in a nation so Sabbatarian. had not the first day
been the celebration of an actual resurrection. Like the Jewish Passover and
our own Independence Day, Baptism and the Lords Supper cannot be
accounted for, except as monuments and remembrances of historical facts at
the beginning of the Christian church. See Muir, on the Lord’s Supper an
abiding Witness to the Death of Christ, in Present Day Tracts, 6: no. 36. On
Strauss and his theory, see Hackett, in Christian Rev., 48; Weiss, Life of
Jesus, 155-163; Christlieb, Mod. Doubt and Christ. Belief, 379-425; Maclear,
in Strivings for the Faith, 1-136; H. B. Smith, In Faith and Philosophy, 442-
468; Bayne, Review of Strauss’s New Life, in Theol. Eclectic, 4:74; Row, in
Lectures on Modern Skepticism, 305-360; Bibliotheca Sacra, Oct. 1871: art,.292
by Prof. W.A. Stevens; Burgess, Antiquity and Unity of Man, 263, 264;
Curtis on Inspiration, 62-67; Alexander, Christ and Christianity, 92-126; A.P.
Peabody, in Smith’s Bible Dictionary, 2:954-958.
2nd. The Tendency theory of Baur (1792-1860).
This maintains that the gospels originated in the middle of the second
century, and were written under assumed names as a means of reconciling
opposing Jewish and Gentile tendencies in the church. “These great
national tendencies find their satisfaction, not in events corresponding to
them, but in the elaboration of conscious fictions.”
Baur dates the fourth gospel at 160-170 AD; Matthew at 130; Luke at
150; Mark at 150-160. Baur never inquires who Christ was. He turns his
attention from the facts to the documents. If the documents be proved
unhistorical, there is no need of examining the facts, for there are no facts
to examine. He indicates the presupposition of his investigations, when he
says: “The principal argument for the later origin of the gospels must
forever remain this, that separately, and still more when taken together,
they give an account of the life of Jesus which involves impossibilities” —
i.e., miracles. He would therefore remove their authorship far enough
from Jesus’ time to permit regarding the miracles as inventions. Baur
holds that in Christ were united the universalistic spirit of the new
religion, and the particularistic form of the Jewish Messianic idea; some
of his disciples laid emphasis on the one, some on the other; hence first
conflict, but finally reconciliation; see statement of the Tubingen theory
and of the way in which Baur was led to it, in Bruce, Apologetics, 360.
E.G. Robinson interprets Baur as follows: “Paul = Protestant; Peter =
sacramentarian; James = ethical; Paul + Peter + James = Christianity.
Protestant preaching should dwell more on the ethical — cases of
conscience — and less on mere doctrine, such as regeneration and
Baur was a stranger to the needs of his own soul, and so to the real
character of the gospel. One of his friends and advisers wrote, after his
death, in terms that were meant to be laudatory: “His was a completely
objective nature. No trace of personal needs or struggles is discernible in
connection with his investigations of Christianity.” The estimate of
posterity is probably expressed in the judgment with regard to the Tubing
en school by Harnack: “The possible picture it sketched was not the real,
and the key with which it attempted to solve all problems did not suffice
for the most simple….The Tubingen views have indeed been compelled to
undergo very large modifications. As regards the development of the.293
church in the second century, it may safely be said that the hypotheses of
the Tubingen School have proved themselves everywhere inadequate, very
erroneous, and are today held by only a very few scholars.” See Baur, Die
kanonischen Evangelien; Canonical Gospels (Eng. transl.), 530;
Supernatural Religion, 1:212-444 and vol. 2: Pfleiderer, Hibbert Lectures
for 1885. For accounts of Baur’s position, see Herzog, Encyclopædie.
art.: Baur; Clarke’s translation of Hase’s Life of Jesus, 34-36; Farrar,
Critical History of Free Thought, 227, 228.
We object to the Tendency theory of Baur, that
(a) The destructive criticism to which it subjects the gospels, if applied to
secular documents, would deprive us of any certain knowledge of the past,
and render all history impossible.
The assumption of artifice is itself unfavorable to a candid examination of
the documents. A perverse acuteness can descry evidences of a hidden
animus in the most simple and ingenuous literary productions. Instance
the philosophical interpretation of “Jack and Jill.”
(b) The antagonistic doctrinal tendencies, which it professes to find in the
several gospels, are more satisfactorily explained as varied but consistent
aspects of the one system of truth held by all the apostles.
Baur exaggerates the doctrinal and official differences between the leading
apostles. Peter was not simply a Judaizing Christian, but was the first
preacher to the Gentiles. and his doctrine appears to have been
subsequently influenced to a considerable extent by Paul’s (see Plumptre
on 1 Pet., 68-60). Paul was not an exclusively Hellenizing Christian, but
invariably addressed the gospel to the Jews before he turned to the
Gentiles. The evangelists give pictures of Jesus from different points of
view. As the Parisian sculptor constructs his bust with the aid of a dozen
photographs of his subject, all taken from different points of view, so
from the four portraits furnished us by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John we
are to construct the solid and symmetrical life of Christ. The deeper
reality, which makes reconciliation of the different views possible, is the
actual historical Christ. Marcus Dods, Expositor’s Greek Testament,
1:675 — “They are not two Christs, but one, which the four Gospels
depict: diverse as the profile and front face, but one another’s complement
rather than contradiction.”
Godet, Introduction to Gospel Collection, 272 — Matthew shows time
greatness of Jesus — his full-length portrait; Mark his indefatigable
activity; Luke his beneficent compassion; John his essential divinity..294
Matthew first wrote Aramæn Logia. This was translated into Greek and
completed by a narrative of the ministry of Jesus for the Greek churches
founded by Paul. This translation was not made by Matthew and did not
make use of Mark (217-224). E.D. Burton: Matthew = fulfillment of past
prophecy; Mark = manifestation of present power. Matthew is argument
from prophecy; Mark is argument from miracle. Matthew, as prophecy,
made most impression on Jewish readers; Mark, as power, was best
adapted to Gentiles. Prof. Burton holds Mark to be based upon oral
tradition alone; Matthew upon his Logia (his real earlier Gospel) and
other fragmentary notes; while Luke has a fuller origin in manuscripts and
in Mark. See Aids to the Study of German Theology, 148-155; F. W.
Farrar, Witness of History to Christ, 61.
(c) It is incredible that productions of such literary power and lofty
religious teaching as the gospels should have sprung up in the middle of the
second century, or that, so springing up, they should have been published
under assumed names and for covert ends.
The general character of the literature of the second century is illustrated
by Ignatius’s fanatical desire for martyrdom, the value ascribed by
Hermas to ascetic rigor, the insipid allegories of Barnabas, Clement of
Rome’s belief in the phúnix, and the absurdities of the Apocryphal
Gospels. The author of the fourth gospel among the writers of the second
century would have been a mountain among molehills. Wynne, Literature
of the Second Century, 60 — “The apostolic and the subapostolic writers
differ from each other as a nugget of pure gold differs from a block of
quartz with vein of the precious metal gleaming through it.” Dorner, Hist.
Doct. Person Christ, 1:1:92 — “Instead of the writers of the second
century marking an advance on the apostolic age, or developing the germ
given them by the apostles, the second century shows great retrogression
— its writers were not able to retain or comprehend all that had been
given them.” Martineau, Seat of Authority, 291 — “Writers not only
barbarous in speech and rude in art, but too often puerile in conception,
passionate in temper, and credulous in belief. The legends of Papias, the
visions of Hermas, the imbecility of Irenæus, the fury of Tertullian, the
rancor and indelicacy of Jerome, the stormy intolerance of Augustine,
cannot fail to startle and repel the student; and, if he turns to the milder
Hippolytus, he is introduced to a brood of thirty heresies which sadly
dissipate his dream of the unity of the church.” We can apply to the
writers of the second century the question of R.G. Ingersoll in the
Shakespeare-Bacon controversy: “Is it possible that Bacon left the best
children of his brain on Shakespeare’s doorstep, and kept only the.295
deformed ones at home? “On the Apocryphal Gospels, see Cowper, in
Strivings for the Faith, 73-108.
(d) The theory requires us to believe in a moral anomaly, namely, that a
faithful disciple of Christ in the second century could be guilty of
fabricating a life of his master, and of claiming authority for it on the
ground that the author had been a companion of Christ or his apostles.
“A genial set of Jesuitical religionists” — with mind and heart enough to
write the gospel according to John, and who at the same time have cold-blooded
sagacity enough to keep out of their writings every trace of the
developments of church authority belonging to the second century. The
newly discovered “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles,” if dating from the
early part of that century, shows that such a combination is impossible.
The critical theories assume that one who knew Christ as a man could not
possibly also regard him as God. Lowrie, Doctrine of St. John, 12 — “If
St. John wrote, it is not possible to say that the genius of St. Paul foisted
upon the church a conception which was strange to the original apostles.”
Fairbairn has well shown that if Christianity had been simply the ethical
teaching of the human Jesus, it would have vanished from the earth like
the sects of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees; if on the other hand it had
been simply the Logos doctrine, the doctrine of a divine Christ, it would
have passed away like the speculations of Plato or Aristotle; because
Christianity unites the idea of the eternal Son of God with that of the
incarnate Son of man, it is fitted to be and it has become an universal
religion; see Fairbairn, Philosophy of the Christian Religion, 4, 15 —
“Without the personal charm of the historical Jesus, the ecumenical creeds
would never have been either formulated or tolerated, and without the
metaphysical conception of Christ the Christian religion would long ago
have ceased to live… It is not Jesus of Nazareth who has so powerfully
entered into history; it is the deified Christ who has been believed, loved
and obeyed as the Savior of the world… The two parts of Christian
doctrine are combined in the one name ‘Jesus Christ.’”
(e) This theory cannot account for the universal acceptance of the gospels
at the end of the second century, among widely separated communities
where reverence for writings of the apostles was a mark of orthodoxy, and
where the Gnostic heresies would have made new documents instantly
liable to suspicion and searching examination.
Abbot, Genuineness of the Fourth Gospel, 52, 80, 88, 89. The Johannine
doctrine of the Logos, if first propounded in the middle of the second
century, would have ensured the instant rejection of that gospel by the.296
Gnostics, who ascribed creation, not to the Logos, but to successive
“Æons.” How did the Gnostics, without “peep or mutter,” come to accept
as genuine what had only in their own time been first sprung upon the
churches? While Basilides (130) and Valentinus (150), the Gnostics, both
quote from the fourth gospel, they do not dispute its genuineness or
suggest that it was of recent origin. Bruce, in his Apologetics, says of
Baur “He believed in the all sufficiency of The Hegelian theory of
development through antagonism. He saw tendency everywhere. Anything
additional, putting more contents into the person and teaching of Jesus
than suits the initial stage of development, must be reckoned spurious. If
we find Jesus in any of the gospels claiming to be a supernatural being,
such texts can with the utmost confidence be set aside as spurious, for
such a thought could not belong to the initial stage of Christianity.” But
such a conception certainly existed in the second century, and it directly
antagonized the speculations of the Gnostics. F.V. Farrar, on

1:2 — “The word úon was used by the later Gnostics to describe he
various emanations by which they tried at once to widen and to bridge
over the gulf between the human and the divine. Over that imaginary
chasm John threw the arch of the Incarnation, when he wrote: ‘The Word
became flesh’

John 1:14).” A document which so contradicted the
Gnostic teachings could not in the second century have been noted by the
Gnostics themselves without dispute as to its genuineness, if it had not
been long recognized in the churches as a work of the apostle John.
(f) The acknowledgment by Baur that the epistles to the Romans, Galatians
and Corinthians were written by Paul in the first century is fatal to his
theory, since these epistles testify not only to miracles at the period at
which they were written, but to the main events of Jesus’ life and to the
miracle of his resurrection, as facts already long acknowledged in the
Christian church.
Baur, Paulus der Apostel, 276 — “There never has been the slightest
suspicion of authenticity cast on these epistles (Galatians 1 and 2,
Corinthians, Romans), and they bear so incontestably the character of
Pauline originality, that there is no conceivable ground for the assertion of
critical doubts in their case.” Baur, in discussing the appearance of Christ
to Paul on the way to Damascus, explains the outward from the inward:
Paul translated in tense and sudden conviction of the truth of the Christian
religion into an outward scene. But this cannot explain the hearing of the
outward sound by Paul’s companions. On the evidential value of the
epistles here mentioned, see Lorimer, in Strivings for the Faith, 109-144;
Howson, in Present Day Tracts, 4: no. 24; Row, Bampton Lectures for.297
1877:289-356. On Baur and his theory in general, see Weiss, Life of
Jesus, 1:157 sq.; Christlieb, Mod. Doubt and Christ. Belief, 504-549;
Hutton, Essays, 1:176-215; Theol. Eclectic, 5:1-42; Auberlen, Div.
Revelation; Bibliotheca Sacra, 19:75; Answers Supernatural Religion, in
Westcott, Mist. New Testament Canon, 4th ed., Introduction; Lightfoot,
in Contemporary Rev., Dec. 1874, and Jan. 1875; Salmon, Introduction
to New Testament, 6-31; A. B. Bruce, in Present Day Tracts, 7: no. 38.
3d. The Romance theory of Renan (1823-1892).
This theory admits a basis of truth in the gospels and holds that they all
belong to the century following Jesus’ death. “According to” Matthew,
Mark, etc., however, means only that Matthew, Mark, etc., wrote these
gospels in substance. Renan claims that the facts of Jesus’ life were so
sublimated by enthusiasm, and so overlaid with pious fraud, that the
gospels in their present form cannot be accepted as genuine — in short, the
gospels are to be regarded as historical romances which have only a
foundation in fact.
The animus of this theory is plainly shown in Renan’s Life of Jesus,
preface to 13th ed. — “If miracles and the inspiration of certain books are
realities, my method is testable. If miracles and the inspiration of books
are beliefs without reality, my method is a good one. But the question of
the supernatural is decided for us with perfect certainty by the single
consideration that there is no room for believing in a thing which the
world offers no experimental trace.” “On the whole,” says Renan, “1
admit as authentic the four canonical gospels. All, in my opinion, date
from the first century, and the authors are, generally speaking, those to
whom they are attributed.” He regards Galatians 1, 2 Corinthians and
Romans as “indisputable and undisputed.” He speaks of them as “being
texts of an absolute authenticity, of complete sincerity, and without
legends” (Les Ap‚tres, xxix; Les …vangiles, xi). Yet he denies to Jesus
“sincerity with himself”; attributes to him “innocent artifice” and the
toleration of pious fraud, as for example in the case of the stories of
Lazarus and of his own resurrection. “To conceive the good is not
sufficient; it must be made to succeed; to accomplish this, less pure paths
must be followed… Not by any fault of his own, his conscience lost
somewhat of its original purity, — his mission overwhelmed him… Did
he regret his too lofty nature, and, victim of his own greatness, mourn that
he had not remained a simple artisan?” So Renan “pictures Christ’s later
life as a misery and a lie, yet he requests us to bow before this sinner and
before his superior, Sakya-Mouni, as demigods” (see Nicoll, The.298
Church’s One Foundation, 62, 63). Of the highly wrought imagination of
Mary Magdalene, he says: “O divine power of love! Sacred moments, in
which the passion of one whose senses were deceived gives us a
resuscitated God!” See Renan, Life of Jesus, 21.
To this Romance-theory of Renan, we object that
(a) It involves an arbitrary and partial treatment of the Christian
documents. The claim that one writer not only borrowed from others, but
also interpolated ad libitum, is contradicted by the essential agreement of
the manuscripts as quoted by the Fathers, and as now extant.
Renan, according to Mair, Christian Evidences, 153, dates Matthew at 84
AD; Mark at 76; Luke at 94; John at 125. These dates mark a
considerable retreat from the advanced positions taken by Baur. Mair, in
his chapter on Recent Reverses in Negative Criticism, attributes this
result to the late discoveries with regard to the Epistle of Barnabas,
Hippolytus’s Refutation of all Heresies, the Clementine Homilies, and
Tatian’s Diatessaron: “According to Baur and his immediate followers,
we have less than one quarter of the New Testament belonging to the first
century. According to Hilgenfeld, the present head of the Baur School, we
have somewhat less than three-quarters belonging to the first century do,
while substantially the same thing may be said with regard to Holzmann.
According to Renan, we have distinctly more than three-quarters of the
New Testament falling within the first century, and therefore within the
apostolic age. This surely indicates a very decided and extraordinary
retreat since the time of Baur’s grand assault, that is, within the last fifty
years.” We may add that the concession of authorship within the apostolic
age renders nugatory Renan’s hypothesis that the New Testament
documents have been so enlarged by pious fraud that they cannot be
accepted as trustworthy accounts of such events as miracles. The oral
tradition itself had attained so fixed a form that the many manuscripts
used by the Fathers were in substantial agreement in respect to these very
events, and oral tradition in the East hands down without serious
alteration much longer narratives than those of our gospels. The Pundita
Ramabai can repeat, after the lapse of twenty years, portions of the Hindu
sacred books exceeding in amount the whole contents of our Old
Testament. Many cultivated men in Athens knew by heart all the Iliad and
the Odyssey of Homer. Memory and reverence alike kept the gospel
narratives free from the corruption, which Renan supposes.
(b) It attributes to Christ and to the apostles an alternate fervor of romantic
enthusiasm and a false pretense of miraculous power which are utterly.299
irreconcilable with the manifest sobriety and holiness of their lives and
teachings. If Jesus did not work miracles, he was an impostor.
On Ernest Renan, His Life and the Life of Jesus, see A.H. Strong, Christ
in Creation, 332363, especially 356 — “Renan attributes the origin of
Christianity to the predominance in Palestine of a constitutional
susceptibility to mystic excitements. Christ is to him the incarnation of
sympathy and tears, a being of tender impulses and passionate ardor,
whose native genius it was to play upon the hearts of men. Truth or
falsehood made little difference to him; anything that would comfort the
poor, or touch the finer feelings of humanity, he availed himself of;
ecstasies, visions, melting moods, these were the secrets of his power.
Religion was a beneficent superstition, a sweet delusion — excellent as a
balm and solace for the ignorant crowd, who never could be philosophers
if they tried. And so the gospel river, as one has said, is traced back to a
fountain of weeping men and women whose brains had oozed out at their
eyes, and the perfection of spirituality is made to be a sort of maudlin
monasticism… How different from the strong and holy love of Christ,
which would save men only by bringing them to the truth, and which
claims men’s imitation only because, without hove for God and for the
soul, a man is without truth. How inexplicable from this view the fact that
a pure Christianity has everywhere quickened the intellect of the nations,
and that every revival of it, as at the Reformation, has been followed by
mighty forward leaps of civilization. Was Paul a man carried away by
mystic dreams and irrational enthusiasms? Let the keen dialectic skill of
his epistles and his profound grasp of the great matters of revelation
answer. Has the Christian church been a company of puling
sentimentalists? Let the heroic deaths for the truth suffered by the
martyr’s witness. Nay, he must have a low idea of his kind, and a yet
lower idea of the God who made them, who can believe that the noblest
spirits of the race have risen to greatness by abnegating will and reason,
and have gained influence over all ages by resigning themselves to semi-idiocy.”
(c) It fails to account for the power and progress of the gospel, as a system
directly opposed to men’s natural tastes and prepossessions — a system
which substitutes truth for romance and law for impulse.
A.H. Strong, Christ in Creation, 353 — “And if the later triumphs of
Christianity are inexplicable upon the theory of Renan, how can we
explain its founding? The sweet swain of Galilee, beloved by women for
his beauty, fascinating the unlettered crowd by his gentle speech and his
poetic ideals, giving comfort to the sorrowing and hope to the poor,.300
credited with supernatural power which at first he thinks it not worth
while to deny and finally gratifies the multitude by pretending to exercise,
roused by opposition to polemics and invective until the delightful young
rabbi becomes a gloomy giant, an intractable fanatic, a fierce
revolutionist, whose denunciation of the powers that be brings him to the
Cross, — what is there in him to account for the moral wonder which we
call Christianity and the beginnings of its empire in the world? Neither
delicious pastorals like those of Jesus’ first period, nor apocalyptic fevers
like those of his second period, according to Renan’s gospel, furnish any
rational explanation of that mighty movement which has swept through
the earth and has revolutionized the faith of mankind.”
Berdoe, Browning, 47 — “If Christ were not God, his life at that stage of
the world’s history could by no possibility have had the vitalizing force
and love compelling power that Renan’s pages everywhere disclose.
Renan has strengthened faith in Christ’s deity while laboring to destroy
Renan, in discussing Christ’s appearance to Paul on the way to
Damascus, explains the inward from the outward, thus precisely reversing
the conclusion of Baur. A sudden storm, a flash of lightning, a sudden
attack of ophthalmic fever, Paul took as an appearance from heaven. But
we reply that so keen an observer and reasoner could not have been thus
deceived. Nothing could have made him the apostle to the Gentiles but a
sight of the glorified Christ and the accompanying revelation of the
holiness of God, his own sin, the sacrifice of the Son of God, its universal
efficacy, the obligation laid upon him to proclaim it to the ends of the
earth. For reviews of Renan, see Hutton, Essays, 261-281, and Contemp.
Thought and Thinkers, 1:227-234; H. B. Smith, Faith and Philosophy,
401-441: Christlieb, Mod. Doubt, 425-447; Pressense, in Theol. Eclectic.
1:199; Uhlhorn, Mod. Representations of Life of Jesus, 1-33; Bibliotheca
Sacra, 22:207; 23:353-529; Present Day Tracts, 3: no. 16, and 4: no. 21;
E.G. Robinson, Christian Evidences 43-48; A.H. Strong, Sermon before
Baptist World Congress, 1905.
4th. The Development theory of Harnack (born 1851).
This holds Christianity to be a historical development from germs, which
were devoid of both dogma and miracle. Jesus was a teacher of ethics, and
the original gospel is most clearly represented by the Sermon on the
Mount. Greek influence, and especially that of the Alexandrian philosophy,
added to this gospel a theological and supernatural element, and so
changed Christianity from a life into a doctrine..301
Harnack dates Matthew at 70-75; Mark at 65-70: Luke at 78-93; the
fourth gospel as 50-110. He regards both the fourth gospel and the book
of Revelation as the works not of John the Apostle, but of John the
Presbyter. He separates the prologue of the fourth gospel from the gospel
itself, and considers the prologue as a preface added after its original
composition in order to enable the Hellenistic reader to understand it.
“The gospel itself,” says Harnack, “contains no Logos idea; it did not
develop out of a Logos idea, such as flourished at Alexandria; it only
connects itself with such an idea. The gospel itself is based upon the
historic Christ; he is the subject of all its statements. This historical trait
can in no way be dissolved by any kind of speculation. The memory of
what was actually historical was still too powerful to admit at this point
any Gnostic influences. The Logos idea of the prologue is the Logos of
Alexandrine Judaism, the Logos of Philo, and it is derived ultimately from
the ‘Son of man’ in the book of Daniel… The fourth gospel, which does
not proceed from the Apostle John and does not so claim, cannot be used
as a historical source in the ordinary sense of that word… The author has
managed with sovereign freedom; has transposed occurrences and has put
them in a light that is foreign to them; has of his own accord composed
the discourses, and has illustrated lofty thoughts by inventing situations
for them. Difficult as it is to recognize, an actual tradition in his work is
not wholly lacking. For the history of Jesus, however, it can hardly
anywhere be taken into account; only little can he taken from it, and that
with caution… On the other hand, it is a source of the first rank for the
answer of the question what living views of the person of Jesus, what light
and what warmth, the gospel has brought into being.” See Harnack’s
article in Zeitschrift fur Theol. u. Kirche, 2:189-231, and his Wesen des
Christenthums 13. Kaftan also, who belongs to the same Ritschlian school
with Harnack, tells us in his Truth of the Christian Religion, 1:97, that as
the result of the Logos speculation the center of gravity, instead of being
placed in the historical Christ who founded the kingdom of God, is placed
in the Christ who as eternal Logos of God was the mediator in the
creation of the world.” This view is elaborated by Hatch in his Hibbert
Lectures for 1888, on the Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the
Christian Church.
We object to the Development theory of Harnack, that
(a) The Sermon on the Mount is not the sum of the gospel, nor its original
form. Mark is the most original of the gospels, yet Mark omits the Sermon
on the Mount, and Mark is preeminently the gospel of the miracle worker..302
(b) All four gospels lay the emphasis, not on Jesus’ life and ethical
teaching, but on his death and resurrection. Matthew implies Christ’s deity
when it asserts his absolute knowledge of the Father (11:27), his universal
judgeship (25:32), his supreme authority (28:18), and his omnipresence
(28:20), while the phrase “Son of man” implies that he is also “Son of

Matthew 11:27 — “All things have been delivered unto me of my
Father: and no one knoweth the Son, save the Father: neither doth any
know the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to
reveal him”; 25:32 — “and before him shall be gathered all the nations:
and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth
the sheep from the goats”:28:18 — “All authority hath been given unto
me in heaven and on earth”; 28:20 — “Lo, I am with you always, even
unto the end of the world.” These sayings of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel
show that the conception of Christ’s greatness was not peculiar to John: “I
am” transcends time; “with you” transcends space. Jesus speaks “sub
specie eternitatis”; his utterance is equivalent to that of

John 8:58 —
“Before Abraham was born, I am,” and to that of

Hebrews 13:8 —
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and to-day, yea and forever.” He is, as
Paul declares in

Ephesians 1:23, one “that filleth all in all,” that is,
who is omnipresent.
A.H. Strong, Philos. and Religion, 206 — The phrase “Son of man”
intimates that Christ was more than man: “Suppose I were to go about
proclaiming myself ‘Son or man.’ Who does not see that it would be mere
impertinence, unless I claimed to be something more. ‘Son of Man? But
what of that? Cannot every human being call himself the same?’” When
one takes the title ‘Son of man’ for his characteristic designation, as Jesus
did, he implies that there is something strange in his being Son of man;
that this is not his original condition and dignity; that it is condescension
on his part to be Son of man. In short, when Christ calls himself Son of
man, it implies that he has come from a higher level of being to inhabit
this low earth of ours. And so, when we are asked “What think ye of the
Christ? Whose son is He?” we must answer, not simply, He is Son of
man, but also, He is Son of God.” On Son of man, see Driver, On Son of
God; see Sanday, both in Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible. Sanday, “The
Son is so called primarily as incarnate. But that which is the essence of
the Incarnation must needs be also larger than the Incarnation. It must
needs have its roots in the eternity of the Godhead.” Gore, Incarnation,
65, 73 — “Christ, the final Judge, of the synoptic, is not dissociable from
the divine, eternal Being, of the fourth gospel.”.303
(c) The preexistence and atonement of Christ cannot be regarded as
accretions upon the original gospel, since these find expression in Paul who
wrote before any of our evangelists, and in his epistles anticipated the
Logos doctrine of John.
(d) We may grant that Greek influence, through the Alexandrian
philosophy, helped the New Testament writers to discern what was already
present in the life and work and teaching of Jesus; but, like the microscope
which discovers but does not create, it added nothing to the substance of
the faith.
Gore, Incarnation, 62 — “The divinity, incarnation, resurrection of Christ
were not an accretion upon the original belief of the apostles and their
first disciples, for these are all recognized as uncontroverted matters of
faith in the four great epistles of Paul, written at a date when the greater
part of those who had seen the risen Christ were still alive.” The
Alexandrian philosophy was not the source of apostolic doctrine, but only
the form in which that doctrine was cast, the light thrown upon it which
brought out its meaning. A.H. Strong, Christ in Creation, 146 — “When
we come to John’s gospel, therefore, we find in it the mere unfolding of
truth that for substance had been in the world for at least sixty years… If
the Platonizing philosophy of Alexandria assisted in this genuine
development of Christian doctrine, then the Alexandrian philosophy was a
providential help to inspiration. The microscope does not invent; it only
discovers. Paul and John did not add to the truth of Christ; their
philosophical equipment was only a microscope which brought into clear
view the truth that was there already.”
Pfleiderer, Philos. Religion, 1:126 — “The metaphysical conception of
the Logos, as immanent in the world and ordering it according to law, was
filled with religious and moral contents. In Jesus the cosmical principle of
nature became a religious principle of salvation” See Kilpatrick’s article
on Philosophy, in Hastings’ Bible Dictionary. Kilpatrick holds that
Harnack ignores the self-consciousness of Jesus; does not fairly interpret
the Acts in its mention of the early worship of Jesus by the church before
Greek philosophy had influenced it; refers to the intellectual peculiarities
of the New Testament writers conceptions which Paul insists are simply
the faith of all Christian people as such; forgets that the Christian idea of
union with God secured through the atoning and reconciling work of a
personal Redeemer utterly transcended Greek thought, and furnished the
solution of the problem after which Greek philosophy was vainly groping..304
(e) Though Mark says nothing of the virgin birth because his story is
limited to what the apostles had witnessed of Jesus’ deeds, Matthew
apparently gives us Joseph’s story and Luke gives Mary’s story — both
stories naturally published only after Jesus’ resurrection.
(f) The larger understanding of doctrine after Jesus’ death was itself
predicted by our Lord (

John 16:12). The Holy Spirit was to bring his
teachings to remembrance, and to guide into all the truth (16:13), and the
apostles were to continue the work of teaching which he had begun

Acts 1:1).

John 16:12, 13 — “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye
cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he
shall guide you into all the truth”;

Acts 1:1 — “The former treatise I
made, O Theophilus, concerning all that Jesus began to do and to teach.”
A.H. Strong, Christ in Creation, 140 — “That the beloved disciple, after
a half century of meditation upon what he had seen and heard of God
manifest in the flesh, should have penetrated more deeply into the meaning
of that wonderful revelation is not only not surprising, — it is precisely
what Jesus himself foretold.
Our Lord had many things to say to his disciples, but then they could not
bear them. He promised that the Holy Spirit should bring to their
remembrance both himself and his words, and should lead them into all
the truth. And this is the whole secret of what are called accretions to
original Christianity. So far as they are contained in Scripture, they are
inspired discoveries and unfoldings, not mere speculations and inventions.
They are not additions, but elucidations, not vain imaginings, but correct
interpretations… When the later theology, then, throws out the
supernatural and dogmatic, as coming not from Jesus but from Paul’s
epistles and from the fourth gospel, our claim is that Paul and John are
only inspired and authoritative interpreters of Jesus, seeing themselves
and making us see the fullness of the Godhead that dwelt in him.”
While Harnack, in our judgment, errs in his view that Paul contributed to
the gospel elements which it did not originally possess, he shows us very
clearly many of the elements in that gospel which he was the first to
recognize. In his Wesen des Christenthums, 111, he tells us that a few
years ago a celebrated Protestant theologian declared that Paul, with his
Rabbinical theology, was the destroyer of the Christian religion. Others
have regarded him as the founder of that religion. But the majority has
seen in him the apostle who best understood his Lord and did the most to.305
continue his work. Paul, as Harnack maintains, first comprehended the
gospel definitely:
(1) as an accomplished redemption and a present salvation — the crucified
and risen Christ as giving access to God and righteousness and peace
(2) as something new, which does away with the religion of the law;
(3) as meant for all, and therefore for Gentiles also, indeed, as superseding
(4) as expressed in terms which are not simply Greek but also human, — Paul
made the gospel comprehensible to the world. Islam, rising in Arabia, is an
Arabian religion still. Buddhism remains an Indian religion. Christianity is at
home in all lands. Paul put new life into the Roman Empire, and inaugurated
the Christian culture of the West. He turned a local into a universal religion.
His influence however, according to Harnack, tended to the undue exaltation
of organization and dogma and Old Testament inspiration — points in which,
in our judgment, Paul took sober middle ground and saved Christian truth for
the world.
2. Genuineness of the Books of the Old Testament
Since nearly one half of the Old Testament is of anonymous authorship and
certain of its books may be attributed to definite historic characters only by
way of convenient classification or of literary personification, we here
mean by genuine honesty of purpose and freedom from anything
counterfeit or intentionally deceptive so far as respects the age or the
authorship of the documents.
We show the genuineness of the Old Testament books:
(a) From the witness of the New Testament, in which all but six books of
the Old Testament are either quoted or alluded to as genuine.
The New Testament shows coincidences of language with the Old
Testament Apocryphal books, but it contains only one direct quotation
from them; while, with the exception of Judges, Ecclesiastes, Canticles,
Esther, Ezra, and Nehemiah, every book in the Hebrew canon is used
either for illustration or proof. The single apocryphal quotation is found in
Jude 14 and is in all probability taken from the book of Enoch. Although
Volkmar puts the date of this book at 132 AD, and although some critics
hold that Jude quoted only the same primitive tradition of which the.306
author of the book of Enoch afterwards made use, the weight of modern
scholarship inclines to the opinion that the book itself was written as early
as 170-70 BC, and that Jude quoted from it; see Hastings’ Bible
Dictionary, Book of Enoch; Sanday, Bampton Lect. on Inspiration, 95,
“If Paul could quote from Gentile poets (

Acts 17:28;

Titus 1:12),
it is hard to understand why Jude could not cite a work which was
certainly in high standing among the faithful”; see Schodde, Book of
Enoch, 41, with the Introduction by Ezra Abbot. While Jude 14 gives us
the only direct and express quotation from an Apocryphal book, Jude 6
and 9 contain allusions to the Book of Enoch and to the Assumption of
Moses; see Charles, Assumption of Moses, 62. In

Hebrews 1:3, we
have words taken from Wisdom 7:26; and

Hebrews 11:34-38 is a
reminiscence of 1 Maccabees.
(b) From the testimony of Jewish authorities, ancient and modern, who
declare the same books to be sacred, and only the same books that are now
comprised in our Old Testament Scriptures.
Josephus enumerates twenty-two of these books “which are justly
accredited” (qei~a — Niese, and Hastings’ Dictionary, 3:607). Our
present Hebrew Bible makes twenty four, by separating Ruth from
Judges, and Lamentations from Jeremiah; See Josephus, Against Apion,
1:8; Smith’s Bible Dictionary, article on the Canon, 1:359, 360. Philo
(born 20 BC) never quotes an Apocryphal book, although he does quote
from nearly all the books of the Old Testament; see Ryle, Philo and Holy
Scripture. George Adam Smith, Modern Criticism amid Preaching, 7 —
“The theory which ascribed the Canon of the Old Testament to a single
decision of the Jewish church in the days of its inspiration is not a theory
supported by facts. The growth of the Old Testament Canon was very
gradual. Virtually it began in 621 BC, with the acceptance by all Judah of
Deuteronomy, and the adoption of the whole Law, or first five books of
the Old Testament under Nehemiah in 445 BC Then came the prophets
before 200 BC, and the Hagiographa from a century to two centuries
later. The strict definition of the last division was not complete by the time
of Christ. Christ seems to testify to the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalm
s; yet neither Christ nor his apostles make any quotation from Ezra,
Nehemiah, Esther, Canticles, or Ecclesiastes, the last of which books were
not yet recognized by all the Jewish schools. But while Christ is the chief
authority for the Old Testament, he was also its first critic. He rejected
some parts of the Law and was indifferent to many others. He enlarged
the sixth and seventh commandments, and reversed the eye for an eye, and
the permission of divorce: touched the leper, and reckoned all foods.307
lawful; broke away from literal observance of the Sabbath day; left no
commands about sacrifice, temple worship, circumcision, but, by
institution of the New Covenant, abrogated these sacraments of the Old.
The apostles appealed to extra-canonical writings.” Gladden, Seven
Puzzling Bible Books, 68-96 — “Doubts were entertained in our Lord’s
day as to the canonically of several parts of the Old Testament, especially
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Esther.”
(c) From the testimony of the Septuagint translation, dating from the first
half of the third century, or from 280 to 180 BC
MSS. of the Septuagint contain, indeed, the Old Testament Apocrypha,
but the writers of the latter do not recognize their own work as on a level
with the canonical Scriptures, which they regard as distinct from all other
books (Ecclesiasticus, prologue, and 48:24; also 24:23-27; 1 Mac. 12:9; 2
Maccabbees 6:23; 1 Esdras1:28; 6:1; Baruch 2:21). So both ancient and
modern Jews. See Bissell, in Lange’s Commentary on the Apocrypha,
Introduction, 44. In the prologue to the apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus,
we read of “the Law and the Prophets and the rest of the books,” which
shows that as early as 130 BC, the probable date of Ecclesiasticus, a
threefold division of the Jewish sacred books was recognized. That the
author, however, did not conceive of these books as constituting a
completed canon seems evident from his assertion in this connection that
his grandfather Jesus also wrote. 1 Mac. 12:9 (80-90 BC) speaks of “the
sacred books which are now in our hands.” Hastings, Bible Dictionary,
3:611 — “The Old Testament was the result of a gradual process which
began with the sanction of the Hexateuch by Ezra and Nehemiah, and
practically closed with the decisions of the Council of Jamnia” — Jamnia
is the ancient Jabneh, 7 miles south by west of Tiberias, where met a
council of rabbins at some time between 90 to 118 AD This Council
decided in favor of Canticles and Ecclesiastes and closed the Old
Testament Canon.
The Greek version of the Pentateuch which forms a part of the Septuagint
is said by Josephus to have been made in the reign and by the order of
Ptolemy Philadelphus, King of Egypt, about 270 or 280 BC “The legend
is that it was made by seventy two persons in seventy two days. It is
supposed, however, by modern critics that this version of the several
books is the work not only of different hands but of separate times. It is
probable that at first only the Pentateuch was translated, and the
remaining books gradually; but the translation is believed to have been
completed by the second century BC” (Century Dictionary, in voce). It
therefore furnishes an important witness to the genuineness of our Old.308
Testament documents. Driver, Introduction to Old Testament Lit., xxxi —
“For the opinion, often met with in modern books, that the Canon of the
Old Testament was closed by Ezra, or in Ezra’s time, there is no
foundation in antiquity whatever… All that can reasonably be treated as
historical in the accounts of Ezra’s literary labors is limited to the Law,”
(d) From indications that soon after the exile, and so early as the times of
Ezra and Nehemiah (500-450 BC), the Pentateuch together with the book
of Joshua was not only in existence but was regarded as authoritative.
2 Mac. 2:13-15 intimates that Nehemiah founded a library, and there is a
tradition that a “Great Synagogue” was gathered in his time to determine
the Canon. But Hastings’ Dictionary, 4:644, asserts that “the Great
Synagogue was originally a meeting, and not an institution. It met once
for all, and all that is told about it, except what we read in Nehemiah, is
pure fable of the later Jews.” In like manner no dependence is to be placed
upon the tradition that Ezra miraculously restored the ancient Scriptures
that had been lost during the exile. Clement of Alexandria says: “Since the
Scriptures perished in the Captivity of Nebuchadnezzar, Esdras (the
Greek form of Ezra) the Levite, the priest, in the time of Artaxerxes, King
of the Persians, having become inspired in the exercise of prophecy,
restored again the whole of the ancient Scriptures.” But the work now
divided into I and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, mentions Darius
Codomannus (Neh.12:22), whose date is 336 BC The utmost the tradition
proves is that about 300 BC the Pentateuch was in some sense attributed
to Moses; see Bacon, Genesis of Genesis, 35; Bibliotheca Sacra,
1863:381, 660, 799; Smith, Bible Dictionary, art., Pentateuch;
Theological Eclectic, 6:215; Bissell, Hist. Origin of the Bible, 398-403.
On the Men of the Great Synagogue, see Wright, Ecclesiastes, 5-12, 475-
(e) From the testimony of the Samaritan Pentateuch, dating from the time
of Ezra and Nehemiah (500-450 BC).
The Samaritans had been brought by the king of Assyria from “Babylon,
and from Cuthah and from Avva, and from Hamath and Sepharvaim”

2 Kings 17:6, 24, 26), to take the place of the people of Israel whom
the king had carried away captive to his own land. The colonists had
brought their heathen gods with them, and the incursions of wild beasts,
which the intermission of tillage occasioned gave rise to the belief that the
God of Israel was against them. One of the captive Jewish priests was
therefore sent to teach them “the law of the god of the land” and he
“taught them how they should fear Jehovah” (

2 Kings 17:27, 28). The.309
result was that they adopted the Jewish ritual, but combined the worship
of Jehovah with that of their graven images (verse 33). When the Jews
returned from Babylon and began to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, the
Samaritans offered their aid, but this aid was indignantly refused (Ezra 4
and Nehemiah 4). Hostility arose between Jews and Samaritans — a
hostility which continued not only to the time of Christ (

John 4:9), but
even to the present day. Since the Samaritan Pentateuch substantially
coincides with the Hebrew Pentateuch, it furnishes us with a definite past
date at which it certainly existed in nearly its present form. It witnesses to
the existence of our Pentateuch in essentially its present form as far back
as the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.
Green, Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch, 44, 45 — “After being
repulsed by the Jews, the Samaritans, to substantiate their claim of being
sprung from ancient Israel, eagerly accepted the Pentateuch which was
brought them by a renegade priest.” W. Robertson Smith, in Encyclopedia
Brit., 21:244 — “The priestly law, which is throughout based on the
practice of the priests of Jerusalem before the captivity, was reduced to
form after the exile, and was first published by Ezra as the law of the
rebuilt temple of Zion. The Samaritans must therefore have derived their
Pentateuch from the Jews after Ezra’s reforms, i.e., after 444 BC Before
that time Samaritanism cannot have existed in a form at all similar to that
which we know; but there must have been a community ready to accept
the Pentateuch.” See Smith’s Bible Dictionary, art., Samaritan
Pentateuch; Hastings, Bible Dictionary, art., Samaria; Stanley Leathes,
Structure of the Old Testament, 1-41.
(f) From the finding of “the book of the law” in the temple, in the
eighteenth year of King Josiah, or in 621 BC

2 Kings 22:8 — “And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the
scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of Jehovah.” 23:2 —
“The book of the covenant” was read before the people by the king and
proclaimed to be the law of the land. Curtis, in Hastings’ Bible
Dictionary, 3:596 — “The earliest written law or book of divine
instruction of whose introduction or enactment an authentic account is
given, was Deuteronomy or its main portion, represented as found in the
temple in the 18th year of King Josiah (BC 621) and proclaimed by the
king as the law of the land. From that time forward Israel had a written
law which the pious believer was commanded to ponder day and night

Joshua 1:8; Psalm I:2); and thus the Torah, as sacred literature,
formally commenced in Israel. This law aimed at a right application of
Mosaic principles.” Ryle, in Hastings’ Bible Dictionary, 1:602 — “The.310
law of Deuteronomy represents an expansion and development of the
ancient code contained in Exodus 20-23, and precedes the final
formulation of the priestly ritual, which only received its ultimate form in
the last period of revising the structure of the Pentateuch.”
Andrew Harper, on Deuteronomy, in Expositor’s Bible: “Deuteronomy
does not claim to have been written by Moses. He is spoken of in the third
person in the introduction and historical framework, while the speeches of
Moses are in the first person. In portions where the author speaks for
himself, the phrase ‘beyond Jordan’ means east of Jordan; in the speeches
of Moses the phrase ‘beyond Jordan’ means west of Jordan; and the only
exception is

Deuteronomy 3:8, which cannot originally have been part
of the speech of Moses. But the style of both parts is the same, and if the
3rd person parts are by a later author, the 1st person parts are by a later
author also. Both differ from other speeches of Moses in the Pentateuch.
Can the author be a contemporary writer who gives Moses’ words, as
John gave the words of Jesus? No, for Deuteronomy covers only the book
of the Covenant, Exodus 20-23. It uses JE but not P, with which JE is
interwoven. But JE appears in Joshua and contributes to it an account of
Joshua’s death. JE speaks of kings in Israel (

Genesis 36:31-39).
Deuteronomy plainly belongs to the early centuries of the Kingdom, or to
the middle of it.”
Bacon, Genesis of Genesis, 43-40 — “The Deuteronomic law was so
short that Shaphan could read it aloud before the king (

2 Kings 22:10)
and the king could read “the whole of it” before the people (23:2);
compare the reading of the Pentateuch for a whole week (

Job 8:2-18).
It was in the form of a covenant; it was distinguished by curses; it was an
expansion and modification, fully within the legitimate province of the
prophet, of a Torah of Moses codified from the traditional form of at least
a century before. Such a Torah existed, was attributed to Moses, and is
now incorporated as ‘the book of the covenant in Exodus 20 to 24. The
year 620 is therefore the terminus a quo of Deuteronomy. The date of the
priestly code is 444 BC” Sanday, Bampton Lectures for 1893, grants
“(1) the presence in the Pentateuch of a considerable element which in its
present shape is held by many to be not earlier than the captivity;
(2) the composition of the book of Deuteronomy, not long, or at least not very
long, before its promulgation by King Josiah in the year 621, which thus
becomes a pivot date in the history of Hebrew literature.”.311
(g) From references in the prophets Hosea (BC 743-737) and Amos (759-
745) to a course of divine teaching and revelation extending far back of
their day.

Hosea 8:12 — “I wrote for him the ten thousand things of my law”;
here is asserted the existence prior to the time of the prophet, not only of a
law, but of a written law. All critics admit the book of Hosea to be a
genuine production of the prophet, dating from the eighth century BC; see
Green, in Presb. Rev., 1886:585-608.

Amos 2:4 — “they have
rejected the law of Jehovah, and have not kept his statutes”; here is proof
that, more than a century before the finding of Deuteronomy in the temple,
Israel was acquainted with God’s law. Fisher, Nature and Method of
Revelation, 26, 27 — “The lofty plane reached by the prophets was not
reached at a single bound… There must have been a taproot extending far
down into the earth.” Kurtz remarks that “the later books of the Old
Testament would be a tree without roots, if the composition of the
Pentateuch were transferred to a later period of Hebrew history.” If we
substitute for the word ‘Pentateuch’ the words ‘Book of the covenant,’ we
may assent to this dictum of Kurtz. There is sufficient evidence that,
before the times of Hosea and Amos, Israel possessed a written law — the
law embraced in Exodus 20-24 — but the Pentateuch as we now have it,
including Leviticus, seems to date no further back than the time of
Jeremiah, 445 BC The Levitical law however was only the codification of
statutes and customs whose origin lay far back in the past and which were
believed to be only the natural expansion of the principles of Mosaic
Leathes, Structure of Old Testament, 54 — “Zeal for the restoration of
the temple after the exile implied that it had long before been the center of
the national polity, that there had been a ritual and a law before the exile.”
Present Day Tracts, 3:52 — Levitical institutions could not have been
first established by David. It is inconceivable that he “could have taken a
whole tribe, and no trace remain of so revolutionary a measure as the
dispossessing them of their property to make them ministers of religion.”
James Robertson, Early History of Israel: “The varied literature of 850-
750 BC implies the existence of reading and writing for some time before.
Amos and Hosea hold, for the period succeeding Moses, the same scheme
of history which modern critics pronounce late and unhistorical. The
eighth century BC was a time of broad historic day, when Israel had a
definite account to give of itself and of its history. The critics appeal to
the prophets, but they reject the prophets when these tell us that other
teachers taught the same truth before them, and when they declare that.312
their nation had been taught a better religion and had declined from it, in
other words, that there had been law long before their day. The kings did
not give law. The priests presupposed it. There must have been a formal
system of law much earlier than the critics admit, and also an earlier
reference in their worship to the great events which made them a separate
people.” And Dillman goes yet further back and declares that the entire
work of Moses presupposes “a preparatory stage of higher religion in
(h) From the repeated assertions of Scripture that Moses himself wrote a
law for his people, confirmed as these are by evidence of literary and
legislative activity in other nations far antedating his time.

Exodus 24:4 — “And Moses wrote all the words of Jehovah”; 34:27
— “And Jehovah said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the
tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel”;

Numbers 33:2 — “And Moses wrote their goings out according to
their journeys by the commandment of Jehovah”;

Deuteronomy 31:9
— “And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons
of Levi, that bare the ark of the covenant of Jehovah, and unto all the
elders of Israel” 22 — “So Moses wrote this song the same day, and
taught it the children of Israel”; 24-26 — “And it came to pass, when
Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until
they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, that bare the ark
of the covenant of Jehovah, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it
by the side of the ark of the covenant of Jehovah your God, that it may be
there for a witness against thee.” The law here mentioned may possibly be
only ‘the book of the covenant (Exodus 20-24), and the speeches of
Moses in Deuteronomy may have been orally handed down. But the fact
that Moses was “instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (

7:22), together with the fact that the art of writing was known in Egypt
for many hundred years before his time, make it more probable that a
larger portion of the Pentateuch was of his own composition.
Kenyon, in Hastings’ Dictionary, art., Writing, dates the Proverbs of
Ptah-hotep, the first recorded literary composition in Egypt, at 3580-3536
BC, and asserts the free use of writing among the Sumerian inhabitants of
Babylonia as early as 4000 BC The statutes of Hammurabi king of
Babylon compare for extent with those of Leviticus, yet they date back to
the time of Abraham, 2200 BC, — indeed Hammurabi is now regarded by
many as the Amraphel of

Genesis 14:1. Yet these statutes antedate
Moses by 700 years. It is interesting to observe that Hammurabi professes
to have received his statutes directly from the Sun god of Sippar, his.313
capital city. See translation by Winckler, in Der alte Orient, 97; Johns,
The Oldest Code of Laws; Kelso, in Princeton Theol. Rev., July,
1905:399-412 — Facts “authenticate the traditional date of the Book of
the Covenant, overthrow the formula Prophets and Law, restore the old
order Law and Prophets, and put into historical perspective the tradition
that Moses was the author of the Sinaitic legislation.”
As the controversy with regard to the genuineness of the Old Testament
books has turned of late upon the claims of the Higher Criticism in general,
and upon the claims of the Pentateuch in particular, we subjoin separate
notes upon these subjects.
The Higher Criticism in general. Higher Criticism does not mean
criticism in any invidious sense, any more than Kant’s Critique of Pure
Reason was an unfavorable or destructive examination. It is merely a
dispassionate investigation of the authorship, date and purpose of
Scripture books, in the light of their composition, style and internal
characteristics. As the Lower Criticism is a text critique, the Higher
Criticism is a structure critique. A bright Frenchman described a literary
critic as one who rips open the doll to get at the sawdust there is in it. This
can be done with a skeptical and hostile spirit, and there can be little
doubt that some of the higher critics of the Old Testament have begun
their studies with prepossessions against the super-natural, which have
vitiated all their conclusions. These presuppositions are often
unconscious, but none the less influential. When Bishop Colenso
examined the Pentateuch and Joshua, he disclaimed any intention of
assailing the miraculous narrative as such; as if he had said: “My dear
little fish, you need not fear me; I do not wish to catch you; I only intend
to drain the pond in which you live.” To many scholars the waters at
present seem very low in the Hexateuch and indeed throughout the whole
Old Testament.
Shakespeare made over and incorporated many old Chronicles of Plutarch
and Holinshed, and many Italian tales and early tragedies of other writers;
but Pericles and Titus Andronicus still pass current under the name of
Shakespeare. We speak even now of “Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar,”
although of its twenty seven editions the last fourteen have been published
since his death, and more of it has been written by other editors than
Gesenius ever wrote himself. We speak of “Webster’s Dictionary,”
though there are in the “Unabridged” thousands of words and definitions
that Webster never saw. Francis Brown: “A modern writer masters older
records and writes a wholly new book. Not so with eastern historians. The
latest comer, as Renan says, ‘absorbs his predecessors without.314
assimilating them, so that the most recent has in its belly the fragments of
the previous works in a raw state.’ The Diatessaron of Tatian is a parallel
to the composite structure of the Old Testament books. One passage
yields the following:

Matthew 21:12a;

John 2:14a;


John 2:14b, 15;

Matthew 21:12c, 13;

John 2:16;

Mark 11:16;

John 2:17-22; all succeeding each other without a
break.” Gore, Lux Mundi, 853 — “There is nothing materially untruthful,
though there is something uncritical, in attributing the whole legislation to
Moses acting under the divine command. It would be only of a piece with
the attribution of the collection of Psalm s to David, and of Proverbs to
The opponents of the Higher Criticism have much to say in reply. Sayce,
Early History of the Hebrews, holds that the early chapters of Genesis
were copied from Babylonian sources, but he insists upon a Mosaic or
pre-Mosaic date for the copying. Hilprecht however declares that the
monotheistic faith of Israel could never have proceeded “from the
Babylonian Mountain of gods — that charnel house full of corruption and
dead men’s bones.” Bissell, Genesis Printed in Colors, Introduction, iv —
“It is improbable that so many documentary histories existed so early, or
if existing that the compiler should have attempted to combine them.
Strange that the earlier should be J and should use the word ‘Jehovah,’
while the later P should use the word ‘Elohim’, when ‘Jehovah’ would
have far better suited the Priests’ Code… xiii — The Babylonian tablets
contain in a continuous narrative the more prominent facts of both the
alleged Elohistic and Jehovistic sections of Genesis, and present them
mainly in the Biblical order. Several hundred years before Moses what the
critics call two were already one. It is absurd to say that the unity was due
to a redactor at the period of the exile, 444 BC He who believes that God
revealed himself to primitive man as one God, will see in the Akkadian
story a polytheistic corruption of the original monotheistic account.” We
must not estimate the antiquity of a pair of boots by the last patch, which
the cobbler has added; nor must we estimate the antiquity of a Scripture
book by the glosses and explanations added by later editors. As the
London Spectator remarks on the Homeric problem: “It is as impossible
that a first-rate poem or work of art should be produced without a great
mastermind which first conceives the whole, as that a fine living bull
should be developed out of beef sausages.” As we shall proceed to show,
however, these utterances overstate the unity of the Pentateuch and ignore
some striking evidences of its gradual growth and composite structure.
The Authorship of the Pentateuch in particular. Recent critics, especially
Kuenen and Robertson Smith, have maintained that the Pentateuch is.315
Mosaic only in the sense of being a gradually growing body of traditional
law, which was codified as late as the time of Ezekiel, and, as the
development of the spirit and teachings of the great lawgiver, was called
by a legal fiction after the name of Moses and was attributed to him. The
actual order of composition is therefore: (1) Book of the Covenant
(Exodus 20-23); (2) Deuteronomy; (3) Leviticus. Among the reasons
assigned for this view are the facts
(a) that Deuteronomy ends with an account of Moses’ death, and therefore
could not have been written by Moses;
(b) that in Leviticus Levites are mere servants to the priests, while in
Deuteronomy the priests are officiating Levites, or, in other words, all the
Levites are priests;
(c) that the books of Judges and of I Samuel, with their record of sacrifices
offered in many places, give no evidence that either Samuel or the nation of
Israel had any knowledge of a law confining worship to a local sanctuary. See
Kuenen, Prophets and Prophecy in Israel; Wellhausen, Geschichte Israels,
Band 1; and art.; Israel, in Encyclopedia Brit., 1:1:398, 399, 415; W.
Robertson Smith, Old Testament in Jewish Church, 306, 386, and Prophets of
Israel; Hastings, Bible Dictionary, arts.; Deuteronomy, Hexateuch, and Canon
of the Old Testament
It has been urged in reply,
(1) that Moses may have written, not autographically, but through a scribe
(perhaps Joshua), and that this scribe may have completed the history in
Deuteronomy with the account of Moses’ death;
(2) that Ezra or subsequent prophets may have subjected the whole
Pentateuch to recension, and may have added explanatory notes;
(3) that documents of previous ages may have been incorporated, in course of
its composition by Moses, or subsequently by his successors;
(4) that the apparent lack of distinction between the different classes of
Levites in Deuteronomy may be explained by the fact that, while Leviticus
was written with exact detail for the priests, Deuteronomy is the record of a
brief general and oral summary of the law, addressed to the people at large
and therefore naturally mentioning the clergy as a whole;
(5) that the silence of the book of Judges as to the Mosaic ritual may be
explained by the design of the book to describe only general history, and by
the probability that at the tabernacle a ritual was observed of which the people.316
in general were ignorant. Sacrifices in other places only accompanied special
divine manifestations, which made the recipient temporarily a priest. Even if it
were proved that the law with regard to a central sanctuary was not observed,
it would not show that the law did not exist, any more than violation of the
second commandment by Solomon proves his ignorance of the decalogue, or
the mediæval neglect of the New Testament by the Roman church proves that
the New Testament did not then exist. We cannot argue that “where there was
transgression, there was no law” (Watts, New Apologetic, 843, and The
Newer Criticism).
In the light of recent research, however, we cannot regard these replies as
satisfactory. Woods, in his article on the Hexateuch, Hastings’
Dictionary, 2:365, presents a moderate statement of the results of the
higher criticism, which commends itself to us as more trustworthy. He
calls it a theory of stratification, and holds that “certain more or less
independent documents, dealing largely with the same series of events
were composed at different periods, or, at any rate, under different
auspices, and were afterwards combined, so that our present Hexateuch,
which means our Pentateuch with the addition of Joshua, contains these
several different literary strata… The main grounds for accepting this
hypothesis of stratification are
(1) that the various literary pieces, with very few exceptions, will be found on
examination to arrange themselves by common characteristics into
comparatively few groups;
(2) that an original consecution of narrative may be frequently traced between
what in their present form are isolated fragments.
“This will be better understood by the following illustration. Let us
suppose a problem of this kind: Given a patchwork quilt, explain the
character of the original pieces out of which the bits of stuff composing
the quilt were cut. First, we notice that, however well the colors may
blend, however nice and complete the whole may look, many of the
adjoining pieces do not agree in material, texture, pattern, color, or the
like. Ergo, they have been made up out of very different pieces of stuff…
But suppose we further discover that many of the bits, though now
separated, are like one another in material, texture, etc., we may
conjecture that these have been cut out of one piece. But we shall prove
this beyond reasonable doubt if we find that several bits when unpicked fit
together, so that the pattern of one is continued in the other: and,
moreover, that if all of like character are sorted out, they form, say, four
groups, each of which was evidently once a single piece of stuff, though.317
parts of each are found missing, because, no doubt, they have not been
required to make the whole. But we make the analogy of the Hexateuch
even closer, if we further suppose that in certain parts of the quilt the bits
belonging to, say, two of these groups are so combined as to form a
subsidiary pattern within the larger pattern of the whole quilt, and had
evidently been sewed together before being connected with other parts of
the quilt; and we may make it even closer still, if we suppose that, besides
the more important bits of stuff, smaller embellishments, borderings, and
the like, had been added so as to improve the general effect of the whole.”
The author of this article goes on to point out three main portions of the
Hexateuch, which essentially differ from each other. There are three
distinct codes: the Covenant code (C =

Exodus 20:22 to 23:33, and
24:3-8), the Deuteronomic code (D), and the Priestly code (P). These
codes have peculiar relations to the narrative portions of the Hexateuch.
In Genesis, for example, “the greater part of the book is divided into
groups of longer or shorter pieces, generally paragraphs or chapters,
distinguished respectively by the almost exclusive use of Elohim or
Jehovah as the name of God.” Let us call these portions J and E. But we
find such close affinities between C and JE, that we may regard them as
substantially one. “We shall find that the larger part of the narratives, as
distinct from the laws, of Exodus and Numbers belong to JE; whereas,
with special exceptions, the legal portions belong to P. in the last chapters
of Deuteronomy and in the whole of Joshua we find elements of JE. In the
latter book we also find elements which connect it with D.
“It should be observed that not only do we find here and there separate
pieces in the Hexateuch, shown by their characters to belong to these
three sources, JE, D, and P, but the pieces will often be found connected
together by an obvious continuity of subject when pieced together, like the
bits of patchwork in the illustration with which we started. For example,
if we read continuously

Genesis 11:27-32; 12:4b, 5; 13:6a, 11b, 12a;
16:1a, 3, 15, 16; 17; 19:29; 21:1a, 2b — 5; 23; 25:7-11a — passages
mainly, on other grounds, attributed to P. we get an almost continuous
and complete, though very concise, account of Abraham’s life.” We may
concede the substantial correctness of the view thus propounded. It simply
shows God’s actual method in making up the record of his revelation. We
may add that any scholar who grants that Moses did not himself write the
account of his own death and burial in the last chapter of Deuteronomy,
or who recognizes two differing accounts of creation in Genesis 1 and 2,
has already begun an analysis of the Pentateuch and has accepted the
essential principles of the higher criticism..318
In addition to the literature already referred to mention may also be made
of Driver’s Introduction to Old Testament, 118-150, and Deuteronomy,
Introduction: W.R. Harper, in Hebraica, Oct. — Dec. 1888, and W.H.
Green’s reply in Hebraica, Jan. — Apl. 1889; also Green, The Unity of
the Book of Genesis, Moses and the Prophets, Hebrew Feasts, and Higher
Criticism of the Pentateuch; with articles by Green in Presb. Rev., Jan.
1882 and Oct. 1886; Howard Osgood, in Essays on Pentateuchal
Criticism, and in Bibliotheca Sacra, Oct. 1888, and July, 1893; Watts,
The Newer Criticism, and New Apologetic, 83; Presb. Rev., arts. by H.P.
Smith, April, 1882, and by F. L. Patton, 1883:341-410; Bibliotheca
Sacra, April, 1882:291-344, and by G. F. Wright, July, 1898:515-525;
Brit. Quar., July, 1881:123; Jan. 1884:135-143; Mead, Supernatural
Revelation, 373-385; Stebbins, A Study in the Pentateuch; Bissell,
Historic Origin of the Bible, 277-342, and The Pentateuch, its Authorship
and Structure; Bartlett, Sources of History in the Pentateuch, 180-216,
and The Veracity of the Hexateuch; Murray, Origin and Growth of the
Psalm s, 58; Payne-Smith, in Present Day Tracts, 3: no. 15; Edersheim,
Prophecy and History; Kurtz, Hist. Old Covenant, 1:46; Perowne, in
Contemp. Rev., Jan. and Feb. 1888; Chambers, Moses and his Recent
Critics; Terry, Moses and the Prophets; Davis, Dictionary of the Bible,
art., Pentateuch; Willis J. Beecher, The Prophets and the Promise; Orr,
Problem of the Old Testament, 326-329.
We shall attempt to prove this only of the writers of the gospels; for if they
are credible witnesses, the credibility of the Old Testament, to which they
bore testimony, follows as a matter of course.
1. They are capable or competent witnesses, — that is, they possessed
actual knowledge with regard to the facts they professed to relate.
(a) They had opportunities of observation and inquiry.
(b) They were men of sobriety and discernment, and could not have been
themselves deceived.
(c) Their circumstances were such as to impress deeply upon their minds
the events of which they were witnesses.
2. They are honest witnesses. This is evident when we consider that:
(a) Their testimony imperiled all their worldly interests..319
(b) The moral elevation of their writings, and their manifest reverence for
truth and constant inculcation of it, show that they were not willful
deceivers, but good men.
(c) There are minor indications of the honesty of these writers in the
circumstantiality of their story, in the absence of any expectation that their
narratives would be questioned, in their freedom from all disposition to
screen themselves or the apostles from censure.
Lessing says that Homer never calls Helen beautiful, but he gives the
reader an impression of her surpassing loveliness by portraying the effect
produced by her presence. So the evangelists do not describe Jesus’
appearance or character, but lead us to conceive the cause that could
produce such effects. Gore, Incarnation, 77 — “Pilate, Caiaphas, Herod,
Judas, are not abused, — they are photographed. The sin of a Judas and a
Peter is told with equal simplicity. Such fairness, wherever you find it,
belongs to a trustworthy witness.”
3. The writings of the evangelists mutually support each other. We argue
their credibility upon the ground of their number and of the consistency of
their testimony. While there is enough of discrepancy to show that there
has been no collusion between them, there are concurrences enough to
make the falsehood of them all infinitely improbable. Four points under this
head deserve mention:
(a) The evangelists are independent witnesses. This is sufficiently shown by
the futility of the attempts to prove that any one of them has abridged or
transcribed another.
(b) The discrepancies between them are none of them irreconcilable with
the truth of the recorded facts, but only present those facts in new lights or
with additional detail.
(c) That these witnesses were friends of Christ does not lessen the value of
their united testimony, since they followed Christ only because they were
convinced that these facts were true.
(d) While one witness to the facts of Christianity might establish its truth,
the combined evidence of four witnesses gives us a warrant for faith in the
facts of the gospel such as we possess for no other facts in ancient history
whatsoever. The same rule, which would refuse belief in the events,
recorded in the gospels “would throw doubt on any event in history.”.320
No man does or can write his own signature twice precisely alike. When
two signatures, therefore, purporting to be written by the same person, are
precisely alike, it is safe to conclude that one of these is a forgery.
Compare the combined testimony of the evangelists with the combined
testimony of our five senses. “Let us assume,” says Dr. C. E. Rider, “that
the chances of deception are as one to ten when we use our eyes alone,
one to twenty when we use our ears alone, and one to forty when we use
our sense of touch alone; what are the chances of mistake when we use all
these senses simultaneously? The true result is obtained by multiplying
these proportions together. This gives one to eight thousand.”
4. The conformity of the gospel testimony with experience. We have
already shown that, granting the fact of sin and the need of an attested
revelation from God, miracles can furnish no presumption against the
testimony of those who record such a revelation, but, as essentially
belonging to such a revelation, miracles may be proved by the same kind
and degree of evidence as is required in proof of any other extraordinary
facts. We may assert, then, that in the New Testament histories there is no
record of facts contrary to experience, but only a record of facts not
witnessed in ordinary experience — of facts, therefore, in which we may
believe, if the evidence in other respects is sufficient.
5. Coincidence of this testimony with collateral facts and circumstances.
Under this head we may refer to
(a) the numberless correspondences between the narratives of the
evangelists and contemporary history;
(b) the failure of every attempt thus far to show that the sacred history is
contradicted by any single fact derived from other trustworthy sources;
(c) the infinite improbability that this minute and complete harmony should
ever have been secured in fictitious narratives.
6. Conclusion from the argument for the credibility of the writers of the
gospels. These writers having been proved to be credible witnesses, their
narratives, including the accounts of the miracles and prophecies of Christ
and his apostles, must be accepted as true. But God would not work
miracles or reveal the future to attest the claims of false teachers. Christ
and his apostles must, therefore, have been what they claimed to be,
teachers sent from God, and their doctrine must be what they claimed it to
be, a revelation from God to men..321
On the whole subject, see Ebrard, Wissensch. Kritik der evang.
Geschichte; Greenleaf, Testimony of the Evangelists, 30, 31; Starkie on
Evidence, 734; Whately, Historic Doubts as to Napoleon Buonaparte;
Haley, Examination of Alleged Discrepancies; Smith’s Voyage and
Shipwreck of St. Paul; Paley, Horæ Paulinæ; Birks, in Strivings for the
Faith, 37-72 — “Discrepancies are like the slight diversities of the
different pictures of the stereoscope.” Renan calls the land of Palestine a
fifth gospel. Weiss contrasts the Apocryphal Gospels, where there is no
historical setting and all is in the air, with the evangelists, where time and
place are always stated.
No modern apologist has stated the argument for the credibility of the
New Testament with greater clearness and force than Paley, —
Evidences, chapters 8 and 10 — “No historical fact is more certain than
that the original propagators of the gospel voluntarily subjected
themselves to lives of fatigue, danger, and suffering, in the prosecution of
their undertaking. The nature of the undertaking, the character of the
persons employed in it, the opposition of their tenets to the fixed
expectations of the country in which they at first advanced them, their
undissembled condemnation of the religion of all other countries, their
total want of power, authority, or force, render it in the highest degree
probable that this must have been the ease.
“The probability is increased by what we know of the fate of the Founder
of the institution, who was put to death for his attempt, and by what we
also know of the cruel treatment of the converts to the institution within
thirty years after its commencement — both which points are attested by
heathen writers, and, being once admitted, leave it very incredible that the
primitive emissaries of the religion who exercised their ministry first
amongst the people who had destroyed their Master, and afterwards
amongst those who persecuted their converts, should themselves escape
with impunity or pursue their purpose in ease and safety.
“This probability, thus sustained by foreign testimony, is advanced, I
think, to historical certainty by the evidence of our own books, by the
accounts of a writer who was the companion of the persons whose
sufferings he relates, by the letters of the persons themselves, by
predictions of persecutions, ascribed to the Founder of the religion, which
predictions would not have been inserted in this history, much less,
studiously dwelt upon, if they had not accorded with the event, and which,
even if falsely ascribed to him, could only have been so ascribed because
the event suggested them; lastly, by incessant exhortations to fortitude and
patience, and by an earnestness, repetition and urgency upon the subject.322
which were unlikely to have appeared, if there had not been, at the time,
some extraordinary call for the exercise of such virtues. It is also made
out, I think, with sufficient evidence, that both the teachers and converts
of the religion, in consequence of their new profession, took up a new
course of life and conduct.
“The next great question is, what they did this for. It was for a miraculous
story of some kind, since for the proof that Jesus of Nazareth ought to be
received as the Messiah, or as a messenger for God, they neither had nor
could have anything but miracles to stand upon… If this be so, the
religion must be true. These men could not be deceivers. By only not
bearing testimony, they might have avoided all these sufferings and lived
quietly. Would men in such circumstances pretend to have seen what they
never saw, assert facts, which they had no knowledge of, go about lying to
teach virtue, and though not only convinced of Christ’s being an impostor,
but having seen the success of his imposture in his crucifixion, yet persist
in carrying it on, and so persist as to bring upon themselves, for nothing,
and with a full knowledge of the consequences, enmity and hatred, danger
and death?”
Those who maintain this, moreover, require us to believe that the
Scripture writers were “villains for no end but to teach honesty, and
martyrs without the least prospect of honor or advantage.” Imposture
must have a motive. The self-devotion of the apostles is the strongest
evidence of their truth, for even Hume declares that “we cannot make use
of a more convincing argument in proof of honesty than to prove that the
actions ascribed to any persons are contrary to the course of nature, and
that no human motives, in such circumstances, could ever induce them to
such conduct.”
1. Scripture teaching in general.
A. The Bible is the work of one mind.
(a) In spite of its variety of authorship and the vast separation of its writers
from one another in point of time, there is a unity of subject, spirit, and aim
throughout the whole.
We here begin a new department of Christian evidences. We have thus far
only adduced external evidence. We now turn our attention to internal
evidence. The relation of external to internal evidence seems to be.323
suggested in Christ’s two questions in

Mark 8:27,29 — “Who do men
say that I am?… who say ye that I am?” The unity in variety displayed in
Scripture is one of the chief internal evidences, This unity is indicated in
our word “Bible,” in the singular number. Yet the original word was
“Biblia,” a plural number. The world has come to see a unity in what
were once scattered fragments: the many “Biblia” have become one
“Bible.” In one sense R.W, Emerson’s contention is true: “The Bible is
not a book, — it is a literature.” But we may also say, and with equal
truth: “The Bible is not simply a collection of books, — it is a book.” The
Bible is made up of sixty six books, by forty writers, of all ranks, —
shepherds, fishermen, priests, warriors, statesmen, kings, — composing
their works at intervals through a period of seventeen centuries. Evidently
no collusion between them is possible. Skepticism tends ever to ascribe to
the Scriptures greater variety of authorship and date, but all this only
increases the wonder of the Bible’s unity. If unity in a half dozen writers
is remarkable, in forty it is astounding. “The many diverse instruments of
this orchestra pay one perfect tune: hence we feel that they are led by one
master and composer.” Yet it takes the same Spirit who inspired the Bible
to teach its unity. The union is not an external or superficial one, but one
that is internal and spiritual.
(b) Not one moral or religious utterance of all these writers has been
contradicted or superseded by the utterances of those who have come
later, but all together constitute a consistent system.
Here we must distinguish between time external form and the moral and
religious substance. Jesus declares in

Matthew 5:21, 22, 27, 28, 33,
34, 38, 39, 43, 44, “Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time…
but I say unto you,” and then he seems at first sight to abrogate certain
original commands. But he also declares in this connection,

5:17,18 — “Think not I am came to destroy the law or the prophets: I
came not to destroy but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and
earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the
law, till all things be accomplished.” Christ’s new commandments only
bring out the inner meaning of the old. He fulfills them not in their literal
form but in their essential spirit, So the New Testament completes the
revelation of the Old Testament and makes the Bible a perfect unity, In
this unity the Bible stands alone. Hindu, Persian and Chinese religious
books contain no consistent system of faith. There is progress in
revelation from the earlier to the later books of the Bible, but this is not
progress through successive steps of falsehood; it is rather progress from
a less to a more clear and full unfolding of the truth. The whole truth lay.324
germinally in the protevangelium uttered to our first parents (

3:15 — the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head).
(c) Each of these writings, whether early or late, has represented moral and
religious ideas greatly in advance of the age in which it has appeared, and
these ideas still lead the world.
All our ideas of progress, with all the forward-looking spirit of modern
Christendom, are due to Scripture. The classic nations had no such ideas
and no such spirit, except as they caught them from the Hebrews. Virgil’s
prophecy, in his fourth Eclogue, of a coming virgin and of the reign of
Saturn and of the return of the golden age, was only the echo of the
Sibylline books and of the hope of a Redeemer with which the Jews had
leavened the whole Roman world; see A.H. Strong, The Great Poets and
their Theology, 94-96.
(d) It is impossible to account for this unity without supposing such a
supernatural suggestion and control that the Bible, while in its various parts
written by human agents, is yet equally the work of a superhuman
We may contrast with the harmony between the different Scripture writers
the contradictions and refutations which follow merely human
philosophies — e.g., the Hegelian idealism and the Spencerian
materialism. Hegel is “a name to swear at, as well as to swear by.” Dr.
Stirling, in his Secret of Hegel, “kept all the secret to himself, if he ever
knew it.” A certain Frenchman once asked Hegel if he could not gather lip
and express his philosophy in one sentence for him, “No,” Hegel replied,
“at least not in French.” If Talleyrand’s maxim be true that whatever is
not intelligible is not French, Hegel’s answer was a correct one. Hegel
said of his disciples: “There is only one man living who understands me,
and he does not.”
Goesehel, Gabler, Daub, Marheinecke, Erdmann, are Hegel’s right wing,
or orthodox representatives and followers in theology; see Sterrett,
Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion. Hegel is followed by Alexander and
Bradley in England, but is opposed by Seth and Schiller. Upton, Hibbert
Lectures, 279-300, gives a valuable estimate of his position and influence:
Hegel is all thought and no will, Prayer has no effect on God, — it is a
purely psychological phenomenon. There is no freewill, and man’s sin as
much as man’s holiness is a manifestation of the Eternal. Evolution is a
fact, but it is only fatalistic evolution. Hegel notwithstanding did great
service by substituting knowledge of reality for the oppressive Kantian.325
relativity, and by banishing the old notion of matter as a mysterious
substance wholly unlike and incompatible with the properties of mind. He
did great service also by showing that the interactions of matter and mind
are explicable only by the presence of the Absolute Whole in every part,
though he erred greatly by carrying that idea of the unity of God and man
beyond its proper limits, and by denying that God has given to the will of
man any power to put itself into antagonism to His Will. Hegel did great
service by showing that we cannot know even the part without knowing
the whole, but he erred in teaching, as T.H. Green did, that the relations
constitute the reality of the thing. He deprives both physical and psychical
existences of that degree of selfhood or independent reality, which is
essential to both science and religion. We want real force, and not the
mere idea of force; real will, and not mere thought.
B. This one mind that made the Bible is the same mind that made the soul,
for the Bible is divinely adapted to the soul.
(a) It shows complete acquaintance with the soul.
The Bible addresses all parts of man’s nature, There are Law and Epistles
for man’s reason; Psalm s and Gospels for his affections; Prophets and
Revelations for his imagination. Hence the popularity of the Scriptures.
Their variety holds men. The Bible has become interwoven into modern
life. Law, literature, art, all show its molding influence.
(b) It judges the soul — contradicting its passions, revealing its guilt, and
humbling its pride.
No product of mere human nature could thus look down upon human
nature and condemn it. The Bible speaks to us from a higher level. The
Samaritan woman’s words apply to the whole compass of divine
revelation; it tells us all things that ever we did (

John 4:29). The
Brahmin declared that Romans 1, with its description of heathen vices,
must have been forged after the missionaries came to India.
(c) It meets the deepest needs of the soul — by solutions of its problems,
disclosures of God’s character, presentations of the way of pardon
consolations and promises for life and death.
Neither Socrates nor Seneca sets forth the nature, origin and consequences
of sin as committed against the holiness of God, nor do they point out the
way of pardon and renewal. The Bible teaches us what nature cannot,
viz.: God’s creatorship, the origin of evil, the method of restoration, the.326
certainty of a future state, and the principle of rewards and punishments
(d) Yet it is silent upon many questions for which writings of merely
human origin seek first to provide solutions.
Compare the account of Christ’s infancy in the gospels with the fables of
the Apocryphal New Testament; compare the scant utterances of
Scripture with regard to the future state with Mohammed’s and
Swedenborg’s revelations of Paradise. See Alexander McLaren’s sermon
on The Silence of Scripture, in his book entitled: Christ in the Heart, 131-
(e) There are infinite depths and inexhaustible reaches of meaning in
Scripture, which difference it from all other books, and which compel us to
believe that its author must be divine.
Sir Walter Scott, on his deathbed: “Bring me the Book!” “What book?”
said Lockhart, his son-in- law. “There is but one book!” said the dying
man. Reville concludes an Essay in the Revue des deux Mondes (1864):
“One day the question was started, in an assembly, what book a man
condemned to lifelong imprisonment, and to whom but one book would be
permitted, had better take into his cell with him. The company consisted
of Catholics, Protestants, philosophers and even materialists, but all
agreed that their choice would fall only on the Bible.
On the whole subject, see Garbett, God’s Word Written, 3-56; Luthardt,
Saving Truths, 210; Rogers, Superhuman Origin of Bible, 155-181; W.
L. Alexander, Connection and Harmony of Old Testament and New
Testament; Stanley Leathes, Structure of the Old Testament; Bernard,
Progress of Doctrine in the New Testament; Rainy, Delivery and
Development of Doctrine; Titcomb, in Strivings for the Faith; Immer,
Hermeneutics, 91; Present Day Tracts, 4: no.23; 5: no. 28; 6 no. 31; Lee
on Inspiration, 26-32.
2. Moral System of the New Testament.
The perfection of this system is generally conceded. All will admit that it
greatly surpasses any other system known among men. Among its
distinguishing characteristics may be mentioned:
(a) Its comprehensiveness, — including all human duties in its code, even
the most generally misunderstood and neglected, while it permits no vice
Buddhism regards family life as sinful. Suicide was commended by many
ancient philosophers. Among the Spartans to steal was praiseworthy, —
only to be caught stealing was criminal. Classic times despised humility.
Thomas Paine said that Christianity cultivated “the spirit of a spaniel,”
and John Stuart Mill asserted that Christ ignored duty to the state. Yet
Peter urges Christians to add to their faith manliness, courage, heroism

2 Peter 1:5 — in your faith supply virtue”), and Paul declares the
state to be God’s ordinance (

Romans 13:1 — “Let every soul be in
subjection to the higher powers: for there is no power but of God; and the
powers that be are ordained of God”). Patriotic defense of a nation’s unity
and freedom has always found its chief incitement and ground in these
injunctions of Scripture. E.G. Robinson: “Christian ethics do not contain
a particle of chaff, — all is pure wheat.”
(b) Its spirituality, — accepting no merely external conformity to right
precepts, but judging all action by the thoughts and motives from which it
The superficiality of heathen morals is well illustrated by the treatment of
the corpse of a priest in Siam: the body is covered with gold leaf, and then
is left to rot and shine. Heathenism divorces religion from ethics. External
and ceremonial observances take the place of purity of heart. The Sermon
on the Mount on the other hand pronounces blessing only upon inward
states of the soul.

Psalm 51:6 — “Behold, thou desirest truth in the
inward parts, and in the hidden part thou wilt make me to know wisdom”;

Micah 6:8 — “what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and
to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
(c) Its simplicity, — inculcating principles rather than imposing rules;
reducing these principles to an organic system; and connecting this system
with religion by summing up all human duty in the one command of love to
God and man.
Christianity presents no extensive code of rules, like that of the Pharisees
or of the Jesuits. Such codes break down of their own weight. The laws of
the State of New York alone constitute a library of themselves, which
only the trained lawyer can master. It is said that Mohammedanism has
recorded sixty five thousand special instances in which the reader is
directed to do right. It is the merit of Jesus’ system that all its requisitions
are reduced to unity.

Mark 12:23-31 — “Hear, O Israel; the Lord our
God, the Lord is one: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy
heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy
strength. The second is this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself..328
There is none other commandment greater than these.” Wendt, Teaching
of Jesus, 2:384-814, calls attention to the inner unity of Jesus’ teaching.
The doctrine that God is a loving Father is applied with unswerving
consistency. Jesus confirmed whatever was true in the Old Testament, and
he set aside the unworthy. He taught not so much about God, as about the
kingdom of God, and about the ideal fellowship between God and men.
Morality was the necessary and natural expression of religion. In Christ
teaching and life were perfectly blended. He was the representative of the
religion, which he taught.
(d) Its practicality, — exemplifying its precepts in the life of Jesus Christ;
and, while it declares man’s depravity and inability in his own strength to
keep the law, furnishing motives to obedience, and the divine aid of the
Holy Spirit to make this obedience possible.
Revelation has two sides: Moral law, and provision for fulfilling the moral
law that has been broken. Heathen systems can incite to temporary
reformations, and they can terrify with fears of retribution. But only
God’s regenerating grace can make the tree good, in such a ‘way that its
fruit will be good also (

Matthew 12:33). There is a difference between
touching the pendulum of the clock and winding it up, — the former may
set it temporarily swinging, but only the latter secures its regular and
permanent motion. The moral system of the New Testament is not simply
law, — it is also grace:

John 1:17 — the law was given through
Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Dr. William
Ashmore’s tract represents a China man in a pit. Confucius looks into the
pit and says: “If you had done as I told you, you would never have gotten
in.” Buddha looks into the pit and says: If you were up here I would show
you what to do.” So both Confucius and Buddha pass on. But Jesus leaps
down into the pit and helps the poor China man out.
At the Parliament of Religions in Chicago there were many ideals of life
propounded, but no religion except Christianity attempted to show that
there ‘was any power given to realize these ideals. When Joseph Cook
challenged the priests of the ancient religions to answer Lady Macbeth’s
question: “How cleanse this red right hand?” the priests were dumb. But
Christianity declares that “the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all
sin” (

1 John 1:7). E.G. Robinson: Christianity differs from all other
religions in being
(1) a historical religion;
(2) in turning abstract law into a person to be loved;
(3) in furnishing a demonstration of God’s love in Christ;.329
(4) in providing atonement for sin and forgiveness for the sinner;
(5) in giving a power to fulfil the law and sanctify the life. Bowne, Philos. of
Theism, 249
— “Christianity, by making the moral law the expression of a holy Will,
brought that law out of its impersonal abstraction, and assured its
ultimate triumph. Moral principles may be what they were before, but
moral practice is forever different. Even the earth itself has another look,
now that it has heaven above it.” Frances Power Cobbe, Life, 92 — “The
achievement of Christianity was not the inculcation of a new, still less of a
systematic, morality; out the introduction of a new spirit into morality; as
Christ himself said, a leaven into the lump.”
We may justly argue that a moral system so pure and perfect, since it
surpasses all human powers of invention and runs counter to men’s natural
tastes and passions, must have had a supernatural, and if a supernatural,
then a divine, origin.
Heathen systems of morality are in general defective, in that they furnish
for man’s moral action no sufficient example, rule, motive, or end. They
cannot do this, for the reason that they practically identify God with
nature, and know of no clear revelation of his holy will. Man is left to the
law of his own being, and since he is not conceived of as wholly
responsible and free, the lower impulses are allowed sway as well as the
higher, and selfishness is not regarded as sin. As heathendom does not
recognize man’s depravity, so it does not recognize his dependence upon
divine grace, and its virtue is self-righteousness. Heathenism is man’s vain
effort to lift himself to God; Christianity is God’s coming down to man to
save him; see Gunsaulus, Transfig. of Christ, 11, 12. Martineau, 1:15,
16, calls attention to the difference between the physiological ethics of
heathendom and the psychological ethics of Christianity. Physiological
ethics begins with nature; and, finding in nature the uniform rule of
necessity and the operation of cause and effect, it comes at last to man
and applies the same rule to him, thus extinguishing all faith in
personality, freedom, responsibility, sin and guilt. Psychological ethics, on
the contrary, wisely begins with what we know best, with man; and
finding in him free will and a moral purpose, it proceeds outward to
nature and interprets nature as the manifestation of the mind and will of
“Psychological ethics are altogether peculiar to Christendom… Other
systems begin outside and regard the soul as a homogeneous part of the
universe, applying to the soul the principle of necessity that prevails.330
outside of it… In the Christian religion, on the other hand, the interest, the
mystery of the world are concentrated in human nature… The sense of sin
— a sentiment that left no trace in Athens — involves a consciousness of
personal alienation from the Supreme Goodness; the aspiration after
holiness directs itself to a union of affection and will with the source of all
Perfection; the agency for transforming men from their old estrangement
to new reconciliation is a Person, in whom the divine and human
historically blend; and the sanctifying Spirit by which they are sustained
at the height of their purer life is a living link of communion between their
minds and the Soul of souls… So Nature, to the Christian consciousness,
sank into the accidental and the neutral.” Measuring ourselves by human
standards, we nourish pride; measuring ourselves by divine standards, we
nourish humility. Heathen nations, identifying God with nature or with
man, are unprogressive. The flat architecture of the Parthenon, with its
lines parallel to the earth, is the type of heathen religion; the aspiring
arches of the Gothic cathedral symbolize Christianity.
Sterrett, Studies in Hegel, 33, says that Hegel characterized the Chinese
religion as that of Measure, or temperate conduct; Brahmanism as that of
Phantasy, or inebriate dream life: Buddhism as that of Self involvement;
that of Egypt as the imbruted religion of Enigma, symbolized by the
Sphynx; that of Greece, as the religion of, Beauty; the Jewish as that of
Sublimity; and Christianity as the Absolute religion, the fully revealed
religion of truth and freedom. In all this Hegel entirely fails to grasp the
elements of Will, Holiness, Love, Life, which characterize Judaism and
Christianity, and distinguish them from all other religions. R.H. Hutton:
“Judaism taught us that Nature must be interpreted by our knowledge of
God, not God by our knowledge of Nature.” Lyman Abbott: “Christianity
is not a new life, but a new power; not a summons to a new life, but an
offer of new life; not a reenactment of the old law, but a power of God
unto salvation; not love to God and man, but Christ’s message that God
loves us, and will help us to the life of love.”
Beyschlag, New Testament Theology, 5, 6 — “Christianity postulates an
opening of the heart of the eternal God to the heart of man coming to meet
him. Heathendom shows us the heart of man blunderingly grasping the
hem of God’s garment, and mistaking Nature, his majestic raiment, for
himself. Only in the Bible does man press beyond God’s external
manifestations to God himself.” See Wuttke, Christian Ethics, 1:37-173;
Porter, in Present Day Tracts, 4: no. 19, pp. 33-64: Blackie, Four Phases
of Morals; Faiths of the World (St. Giles Lectures, second series); J.F.
Clarke, Ten Great Religions, 2:280-317; Garbett, Dogmatic Faith; Farrar,
Witness of History to Christ, 134, and Seekers after God, 181, 182, 320;.331
Curtis on Inspiration, 288. For denial of the all comprehensive character
of Christian Morality, see John Stuart Mill, on Liberty; per contra, see
Review of Mill, in Theol. Eclectic, 6:508-512: Row, in Strivings for the
Faith, pub. by Christian Evidence Society 181-220; also, Bampton
Lectures. 1877:130-176; Fisher, Beginnings of Christianity, 28-38, 174
In contrast with the Christian system of morality the defects of heathen
systems are so marked and fundamental, that they constitute a strong
corroborative evidence of the divine origin of the Scripture revelation. We
therefore append certain facts and references with regard to particular
heathen systems.
1. CONFUCIANISM. Confucius (Kung-fu-tse), BC 551-478,
contemporary with Pythagoras and Buddha. Socrates was born ten years
after Confucius died. Mencius (371-278) was a disciple of Confucius.
Matheson, in Faiths of the World (St. Giles Lectures), 73-108, claims that
Confucianism was “an attempt to substitute a morality for theology.”
Legge, however, in Present Day Tracts, 3: no. 18, shows that this is a
mistake. Confucius simply left religion where he found it. God, or
Heaven, is worshiped in China, but only by the Emperor. Chinese religion
is apparently a survival of the worship of the patriarchal family. The
father of the family was its only head and priest. In China, though the
family widened into the tribe, and the tribe into the nation, the father still
retained his sole authority, and, as the father of his people, the Emperor
alone officially offered sacrifice to God. Between God and the people the
gulf has so widened that the people may be said to have no practical
knowledge of God or communication with him. Dr. W.A.P. Martin:
“Confucianism has degenerated into a pantheistic medley, and renders
worship to an impersonal ‘anima mundi,’ under the leading forms of
visible nature.”
Dr. William Ashmore, private letter: “The common people of China have:
(1) Ancestor worship, and the worship of deified heroes:
(2) Geomancy, or belief in the controlling power of the elements of nature;
but back of these, and antedating them, is
(3) the worship of Heaven and Earth, or Father and Mother, a very ancient
dualism; this belongs to the common people also, though once a year the
Emperor, as a sort of high priest of his people, offers sacrifice on the altar of
Heaven; in this he acts alone. ‘Joss’ is not a Chinese word at all. It is the
corrupted form of the Portuguese word ‘Deos.’ The word ‘pidgin’ is similarly
an attempt to say ‘business’ (big-i-ness or bidgin). ‘Joss-pidgin’ therefore.332
means simply ‘divine service,’ or service offered to Heaven and Earth, or to
spirits of any kind, good or bad. There are many gods, a Queen of Heaven,
King of Hades, God of War, god of literature, gods of the hills, valleys,
streams, a goddess of smallpox, of childbearing, and all the various trades
have their gods. The loftiest expression the Chinese have is ‘Heaven,’ or
‘Supreme Heaven,’ or ‘Azure Heaven.’ This is the surviving indication that in
the most remote times they had knowledge of one supreme, intelligent and
personal Power who ruled over all.” Mr. Yugoro Chiba has shown that the
Chinese classics permit sacrifice by all the people. But it still remains true that
sacrifice to “Supreme Heaven” is practically confined to the Emperor, who
like the Jewish high priest offers for his people once a year.
Confucius did nothing to put morality upon a religious basis. In practice,
the relations between man and man are the only relations considered.
Benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, sincerity, are enjoined,
but not a word is said with regard to man’s relations to God. Love to God
is not only not commanded — it is not thought of as possible. Though
man’s being is theoretically an ordinance of God, man is practically a law
to himself. The first commandment of Confucius is that of filial piety. But
this includes worship of dead ancestors, and is so exaggerated as to bury
from sight the related duties of husband to wife and of parent to child.
Confucius made it the duty of a son to slay his father’s murderer, just as
Moses insisted on a strictly retaliatory penalty for bloodshed; see J. A.
Farrer, Primitive Manners and Customs, 80. He treated invisible and
superior beings with respect, but held them at a distance. He recognized
the “Heaven” of tradition; but, instead of adding to our knowledge of it,
he stifled inquiry. Dr. Legge: “I have been reading Chinese books for
more than forty years, and any general requirement to love God, or the
mention of any one as actually loving him, has yet to come for the first
time under my eye.”
Ezra Abbot asserts that Confucius gave the golden rule in positive as well
as negative form; see Harris, Philos. Basis of Theism, 222. This however
seems to be denied by Dr. Legge, Religions of China, 1-58. Wu Ting
Fang, former Chinese minister to Washington, assents to the statement
that Confucius gave the golden rule only in its negative form, and he says
this difference is the difference between a passive and an aggressive
civilization, which last is therefore dominant. The golden rule, as
Confucius gives it, is: “Do not unto others that which you would not they
should do unto you.” Compare with this, Isocrates: “Be to your parents
what you would have your children be to you… Do not to others the
things which make you angry when others do them to you”; Herodotus:
“What I punish in another man, I will myself, as far as I can, refrain.333
from”; Aristotle: “We should behave toward our friends as we should
wish them to behave toward us”; Tobit, 4:15 — “What thou hatest, do to
no one”; Philo: “What one hates to endure, let him not do”; Seneca bids us
“give as we wish to receive”: Rabbi Hillel: “Whatsoever is hateful to you,
do not to another; this is the whole law, and all the rest is explanation.”
Broadus, in Am. Com. on Matthew, 161 — “The sayings of Confucius,
Isocrates, and the three Jewish teachers, are merely negative; that of
Seneca is confined to giving, and that of Aristotle to the treatment of
friends. Christ lays down a rule for positive action, and that toward all
men.” He teaches that I am bound to do to others all that they could
rightly desire me to do to them. The golden rule therefore requires a
supplement, to show what others can rightly desire, namely, God’s glory
first, and their good as second and incidental thereto. Christianity
furnishes this divine and perfect standard; Confucianism is defective in
that it has no standard higher than human convention. While
Confucianism excludes polytheism, idolatry, and deification of vice, it is a
shallow and tantalizing system, because it does not recognize the
hereditary corruption of human nature, or furnish any remedy for moral
evil except the “doctrines of the sages.” “The heart of man,” it says, “is
naturally perfectly upright and correct.” Sin is simply “a disease, to be
cured by self discipline; a debt, to be canceled by meritorious acts; an
ignorance, to be removed by study and contemplation.” See Bibliotheca
Sacra, 1883:292, 293; N. Englander, 1883:565; Marcus Dods, in
Erasmus and other Essays, 239.
2. THE INDIAN SYSTEMS. Brahmanism, as expressed in the Vedas, dates
back to 1000-1500 BC As Caird (in Faiths of the World, St. Giles
Lectures, lecture 1) has shown, it originated in the contemplation of the
power in nature apart from the moral Personality that works in and
through nature. Indeed we may say that all heathenism is man’s choice of
a non-moral in place of a moral God. Brahmanism is a system of
pantheism, “a false or illegitimate consecration of the finite.” All things
are a manifestation of Brahma. Hence evil is deified as well as good. And
many thousand gods are worshiped as partial representations of the living
principle, which moves through all. “How many gods have the Hindus?”
asked Dr. Duff of his class. Henry Drummond thought there were about
twenty-five. “Twenty five?” responded the indignant professor; “twenty
five millions of millions!” While the early Vedas present a comparatively
pure nature-worship, later Brahmanism becomes a worship of the vicious
and the vile, of the unnatural and the cruel. Juggernaut and the suttee did
not belong to original Hindu religion..334
Bruce, Apologetics, 15 — “Pantheism in theory always means polytheism
in practice.” The early Vedas are hopeful in spirit; later Brahmanism is a
religion of disappointment. Caste is fixed and consecrated as a
manifestation of God. Originally intended to express, in its four divisions
of priest, soldier, agriculturist, slave, the different degree of unworldliness
and divine indwelling, it becomes an iron fetter to prevent all aspiration
and progress. Indian religion sought to exalt receptivity, the unity of
existence, and rest from self-determination and its struggles. Hence it
ascribed to its gods the same character as nature-forces. God was the
common source of good and of evil. Its ethics is an ethics of moral
indifference. Its charity is a charity for sin, and the temperance it desires
is a temperance that will let the intemperate alone. Mozoomdar, for
example, is ready to welcome everything in Christianity but its reproof of
sin and its demand for righteousness. Brahmanism degrades woman, but it
deifies the cow.
Buddhism, beginning with Buddha, 600 BC, “recalls the mind to its
elevation above the finite,” from which Brahmanism had fallen away.
Buddha was in certain respects a reformer. He protested against caste,
and proclaimed that truth and morality are for all. Hence Buddhism,
through its possession of this one grain of truth, appealed to the human
heart, and became, next to Christianity, the greatest missionary religion.
Notice then, first, its universalism. But notice also that this is a false
universalism for it ignores individualism and leads to universal stagnation
and slavery. While Christianity is a religion of history, of will, of
optimism, Buddhism is a religion of illusion. of quietism, of pessimism;
see Nash, Ethics and Revelation, 107-109. In characterizing Buddhism as
a missionary religion, we must notice secondly, its element of altruism.
But this altruism is one, which destroys the self instead of preserving it.
The future Buddha, out of compassion for a famished tiger, permits the
tiger to devour him. “Incarnated as a hare, he jumps into the fire to cook
himself for a meal for a beggar — having previously shaken himself three
times, so that none of the insects in his fur should perish with him”; see
William James, Varieties of Religious Experience, 283. Buddha would
deliver man, not by philosophy, nor by asceticism, but by self-renunciation.
All isolation and personality are sin, the guilt of which rests,
however, not on man, but on existence in general.
While Brahmanism is pantheistic, Buddhism is atheistic in its spirit.
Pfleiderer, Philos. Religion, 1:285 — “The Brahmanic Akosmism, that
had explained the world as mere seeming, led to the Buddhistic Atheism.”
Finiteness and separateness are evil, and the only way to purity and rest is
by ceasing to exist. This is essential pessimism. The highest morality is to.335
endure that which must be, and to escape from reality and from personal
existence as soon as possible. Hence the doctrine of Nirvana. Rhys
Davids, in his Hibbert Lectures, claims that early Buddhism meant by
Nirvana, not annihilation, but the extinction of the self life, and that this
was attainable during man’s present mortal existence. But the term
Nirvana now means, to the great mass of those who use it, the loss of all
personality and consciousness, and absorption into the general life of the
universe. Originally the term denoted only freedom from individual desire,
and those who had entered into Nirvana might again come out of it; see
Ireland, Blot on the Brain, 238. But even in its original form, Nirvana
was sought only from a selfish motive. Self-renunciation and absorption
in the whole was not the enthusiasm of benevolence, — it was the refuge
of despair. It is a religion without god or sacrifice. Instead of communion
with a personal God, Buddhism has in prospect only an extinction of
personality, as reward for untold ages of lonely self-conquest, extending
through many transmigrations. Of Buddha it has been truly said “That all
the all he had for needy man Was nothing, and his best of being was But
not to be.” Wilkinson, Epic of Paul, 296 — “He by his own act dying all
the time, In ceaseless effort utterly to cease, Will willing not to will, desire
desiring To be desire no more, until at last The fugitive go free,
emancipate But by becoming naught.” Of Christ Bruce well says: “What
a contrast this Healer of disease and Preacher of pardon to the worst, to
Buddha, with his religion of despair!”
Buddhism is also fatalistic. It inculcates submission and compassion —
merely negative virtues. But it knows nothing of manly freedom, or of
active love — the positive virtues of Christianity. It leads men to spare
others, but not to help them. Its morality revolves around self, not around
God. It has in it no organizing principle, for it recognizes no God, no
inspiration, no soul, no salvation, no personal immortality. Buddhism
would save men only by inducing them to flee from existence. To the
Hindu, family life involves sin. The perfect man must forsake wife and
children. All gratification of natural appetites and passions is evil.
Salvation is not from sin, but from a desire, and from this men can be
saved only by escaping from life itself. Christianity buries sin, but saves
the man; Buddha would save the man by killing him. Christianity
symbolizes the convert’s entrance upon a new life by raising him from the
baptismal waters; the baptism of Buddhism should be immersion without
emersion. The fundamental idea of Brahmanism, extinction of personality,
remains the same in Buddhism; the only difference being that the result is
secured by active atonement in the former, by passive contemplation in.336
the latter. Virtue, and the knowledge that everything earthly is a vanishing
spark of the original light, delivers man from existence and from misery.
Prof. G.H. Palmer, of Harvard, in The Outlook. June 19, 1897 —
“Buddhism is unlike Christianity in that it abolishes misery by abolishing
desire; denies personality instead of asserting it; has many gods, but no
one God who is living and conscious; makes a shortening of existence
rather than a lengthening of it to be the reward of righteousness.
Buddhism makes no provision for family, church, state, science, or art. It
give us a religion that is little, when we want one that is large.” Dr. E.
Benjamin Andrews: “Schopenhauer and Spencer are merely teachers of
Buddhism. They regard the central source of all as unknowable force,
instead of regarding it as a Spirit, living and holy. This takes away all
impulse to scientific investigation. We need to start from a Person, and
not from a thing.”
For comparison of the sage of India, Sakya Muni, more commonly called
Buddha (properly “the Buddha” = the enlightened; but who, in spite of
Edwin Arnold’s “Light of Asia,” is represented as not pure from carnal
pleasures before he began his work), with Jesus Christ, see Bibliotheca
Sacra, July, 1882:458-498; W.C. Wilkinson, Edwin Arnold, Poetizer and
Paganizer; Kellogg, The Light of Asia and the Light of the World.
Buddhism and Christianity are compared in Presb. Rev., July, 1883:505-
548; Wuttke, Christian Ethics, 1:47-54; Mitchell, in Present Day Tracts
6: no. 33. See also Oldenberg, Buddha; Lilile, Popular Life of Buddha;
Beal, Catena of Buddhist Scriptures, l53 — “Buddhism declares itself
ignorant of any mode of personal existence compatible with the idea of
spiritual perfection, and so far it is ignorant of God”; 157 — “The earliest
idea of Nirvana seems to have included in it no more than the enjoyment
of a state of rest consequent on the extinction of all causes of sorrow.”
The impossibility of satisfying the human heart with a system of atheism
is shown by the fact that the Buddha himself has been apotheosized to
furnish an object of worship. Thus Buddhism has reverted to
Monier Williams: “Mohammed has as much claim to be ‘the Light of
Asia’ as Buddha has. What light from Buddha? Not about the heart’s
depravity, or the origin of sin, or the goodness, justice, holiness,
fatherhood of God, or the remedy for sin, but only the ridding self from
suffering by ridding self from life — a doctrine of merit, of self-trust, of
pessimism, and annihilation of personality.” Christ, himself personal,
loving and holy, shows that God is a person of holiness and love. Robert
Browning: “He that created love, shall not he love?” Only because Jesus.337
is God, have we a gospel for the world. The claim that Buddha is “the
Light of Asia” reminds one of the man who declared the moon to be of
greater value than the sun, because it gives light in the darkness when it is
needed, while the sun gives light in the daytime when it is not needed.
3. THE GREEK SYSTEMS. Pythagoras (584-504) based morality upon
the principle of numbers. “Moral good was identified with unity; evil with
multiplicity; virtue was harmony of the soul and its likeness to God. The
aim of life was to make it represent the beautiful order of the Universe.
The whole practical tendency of Pythagoreanism was ascetic, and
included a strict self control and an earnest culture.” Here already we
seem to see the defect of Greek morality in confounding the good with the
beautiful, and in making morality a mere self-development. Matheson,
Messages of the Old Religions: Greece reveals the intensity of the hour,
the value of the present life, the beauty of the world that now is. Its
religion is the religion of beautiful humanity. It anticipates the new heaven
and the new earth. Rome on the other hand stood for union, incorporation,
and a universal kingdom. But its religion deified only the Emperor, not all
humanity. It was the religion, not of love, but of power, and it identified
the church with the state.
Socrates (469-400) made knowledge to be virtue. Morality consisted in
subordinating irrational desires to rational knowledge. Although here we
rise above a subjectively determined good as the goal of moral effort, we
have no proper sense of sin. Knowledge, and not love, is the motive. If
men know the right, they will do the right. This is a great overvaluing of
knowledge. With Socrates, teaching is a sort of midwifery — not
depositing information in the mind, but drawing out the contents of our
own inner consciousness. Lewis Morris describes it as the life work of
Socrates to “doubt our doubts away.” Socrates holds it right to injure
one’s enemies. He shows proud self praise in his dying address. He warns
against pederasty, yet compromises with it. He does not insist upon the
same purity of family life, which Homer describes in Ulysses and
Penelope. Charles Kingsley, in Alton Locke, remarks that the spirit of the
Greek tragedy was ‘man mastered by circumstance’; that of modern
tragedy is ‘man mastering circumstance.’ But the Greek tragedians, while
showing man thus mastered, do still represent him as inwardly free, as in
the case of Prometheus, and this sense of human freedom and
responsibility appears to some extent in Socrates.
Plato (430-348) held that morality is pleasure in the good, as the truly
beautiful, and that knowledge produces virtue. The good is likeness to
God, — here we have glimpses of an extra-human goal and model. The.338
body, like all matter, being inherently evil, is a hindrance to the soul, —
here we have a glimpse of hereditary depravity. But Plate “reduced moral
evil to the category of natural evil.” He failed to recognize God as creator
and master of matter; failed to recognize man’s depravity as due to his
own apostasy from God; failed to found morality on the divine will rather
than on man’s own consciousness. He knew nothing of a common
humanity, and regarded virtue as only for the few. As there was no
common sin, so there was no common redemption. Plato thought to reach
God by intellect alone, when only conscience and heart could lead to him.
He believed in a freedom of the soul in a preexistent state where a choice
was made between good and evil, but he believed that, after that ante-mundane
decision had been made, the fates determined men’s acts and
lives irreversibly. Reason drives two horses, appetite and emotion, but
their course has been predetermined.
Man acts as reason prompts. All sin is ignorance. There is nothing in this
life but determinism. Martineau, Types, 13, 48, 49, 78, 88 — Plato in
general has no proper notion of responsibility; he reduces moral evil to the
category of natural evil. His Ideas with one exception are not causes.
Cause is mind, and mind is the Good. The Good is the apex and crown of
Ideas. The Good is the highest Idea, and this highest Idea is a Cause.
Plato has a feeble conception of personality, whether in God or in man.
Yet God is a person in whatever sense man is a person, and man’s
personality is reflective self-consciousness. Will in God or man is not so
clear. The Right is dissolved into the Good. Plato advocated infanticide
and the killing off of the old and the helpless.
Aristotle (384-322) leaves out of view even the element of God-likeness
and ante-mundane evil which Plato so dimly recognized, and makes
morality the fruit of mere rational self-consciousness. He grants evil
proclivities, but he refuses to call them immoral. He advocates a certain
freedom of will, and he recognizes inborn tendencies, which war against
this freedom, but how these tendencies originated he cannot say or how
men may be delivered from them. Not all can be moral; the majority must
be restrained by fear. He finds in God no motive, and love to God is not
so much as mentioned as the source of moral action. A proud, composed,
self-centered, and self-contained man is his ideal character. See
Nicomachean Ethics, 7:6, and 10:10; Wuttke, Christian Ethics. i:92 —
I26. Alexander, Theories of Will, 39-54 — Aristotle held that desire and
reason are the springs of action. Yet he did not hold that knowledge of
itself would make men virtuous. He was a determinist. Actions are free
only in the sense of being devoid of external compulsion. He viewed
slavery as both rational and right. Butcher, Aspects of Greek Genius, 76.339
— “While Aristotle attributed to the State a more complete personality
than it really possessed, he did not grasp the depth and meaning of the
personality of the individual.” A.H. Strong, Christ in Creation, 289 —
Aristotle had no conception of the unity of humanity. His doctrine of unity
did not extend beyond the State. “He said that ‘the whole is before the
parts,’ but he meant by ‘the whole’ only the pan-Hellenic world, the
commonwealth of Greeks; he never thought of humanity, and the word
‘mankind’ never fell from his lips. He could not understand the unity of
humanity, because he knew nothing of Christ, its organizing principle.”
On Aristotle’s conception of God, see James Ten Broeke, in flap. Quar.
Rev., Jan. 1892 — God is recognized as personal, yet he is only the Greek
Reason, and not the living, loving, providential Father of the Hebrew
revelation. Aristotle substitutes the logical for the dynamical in his dealing
with the divine causality. God is thought, not power.
Epicurus (342-270) regarded happiness, the subjective feeling of
pleasure, as the highest criterion of truth and good. A prudent calculating
for prolonged pleasure is the highest wisdom. He regards only this life.
Concern for retribution and for a future existence is folly. If there are
gods, they have no concern for men. “Epicurus, on pretense of consulting
for their ease, complimented the gods, and bowed them out of existence.”
Death is the falling apart of material atoms and the eternal cessation of
consciousness. The miseries of this life are due to imperfection in the
fortuitously constructed universe. The more numerous these undeserved
miseries, the greater our right to seek pleasure. Alexander, Theories of the
Will, 55-75 — The Epicureans held that the soul is composed of atoms,
yet that the will is free. The atoms of the soul are excepted from the law
of cause and effect. An atom may decline or deviate in the universal
descent, and this is the Epicurean idea of freedom. This indeterminism
was held by all the Greek skeptics, materialists though they were.
Zeno, the founder of the Stoic philosophy (340-264), regarded virtue as
the only good. Thought is to subdue nature. The free spirit is self-legislating,
self- dependent, self-sufficient. Thinking, not feeling, is the
criterion of the true and the good. Pleasure is the consequence, not the end
of moral action. There is an irreconcilable antagonism of existence. Man
cannot reform the world, but he can make himself perfect. Hence an
unbounded pride in virtue. The sage never repents. There is not the least
recognition of the moral corruption of mankind. There is no objective
divine ideal, or revealed divine will. The Stoic discovers moral law only
within and never suspects his own moral perversion. Hence he shows self-control
and justice, but never humility or love. He needs no compassion or
forgiveness, and he grants none to others. Virtue is not an actively.340
outworking character, but a passive resistance to irrational reality. Man
may retreat into himself. The Stoic is indifferent to pleasure and pain, not
because he believes in a divine government, or in a divine love for
mankind, but as a proud defiance of the irrational world. He has no need
of God or of redemption. As the Epicurean gives himself to enjoyment of
the world, the Stoic gives himself to contempt of the world. In all
afflictions, each can say, “The door is open.” To the Epicurean, the refuge
is intoxication; to the Stoic, the refuge is suicide: If the house smokes, quit
it.” Wuttke, Christian Ethics, 1:62-161, from whom much of this account
of the Greeks systems is condensed, describes Epicureanism and Stoicism
as alike making morality subjective, although Epicureanism regarded
spirit as determined by nature, while Stoicism regarded nature as
determined by spirit.
The Stoics were materialists and pantheists. Though they speak of a
personal God, this is a figure of speech. False opinion is at the root of all
vice. Chrysippus denied what we now call the liberty of indifference,
saying that there could not be an effect without a cause. Man is enslaved
to passion. The Stoics could not explain how a vicious man could become
virtuous. The result is apathy. Men act only according to character, and
this a doctrine of fate. The Stoic indifference or apathy in misfortune is
not a bearing of it at all, but rather a cowardly retreat from it. It is in the
actual suffering of evil that Christianity finds “the soul of good.” The
office of misfortune is disciplinary and purifying; see Seth, Ethical
Principles, 417. “The shadow of the sage’s self, projected on vacancy,
was called God, and, as the sage had long since abandoned interest in
practical life, he expected his Divinity to do the same.”
The Stoic reverenced God just because of his unapproachable majesty.
Christianity sees in God a Father, a Redeemer, a carer for our minute
wants, a deliverer from our sin. It teaches us to see in Christ the humanity
of the divine, affinity with God, God’s supreme interest in his handiwork.
For the least of his creatures Christ died. Kinship with God gives dignity
to man. The individuality that Stoicism lost in the whole, Christianity
makes the end of the creation. The State exists to develop and promote it.
Paul took up and infused new meaning into certain phrases of the Stoic
philosophy about the freedom and royalty of the wise man, just as John
adopted and glorified certain phrases of Alexandrian philosophy about the
Word. Stoicism was lonely and pessimistic. The Stoics said that the best
thing was not to be born; the next best thing was to die. Because Stoicism
had no God of helpfulness and sympathy, its virtue was mere conformity
to nature, majestic egoism and self-complacency. In the Roman Epictetus
(89), Seneca (65), and Marcus Aurelius (121-180), the religious element.341
comes more into the foreground, and virtue appears once more as God-likeness;
but it is possible that the later Stoicism was influenced by
Christianity. On Marcus Aurelius, see New Englander, July, 1881:415-
431; Capes, Stoicism.
4. SYSTEMS OF WESTERN ASIA. Zoroaster (1000 BC?), the founder of
the Parsees, was a duelist, at least so far as to explain the existence of evil
and of good by the original presence in the author of all things of two
opposing principles. Here is evidently a limit put upon the sovereignty and
holiness of God. Man is not perfectly dependent upon him, nor is God’s
will an unconditional law for his creatures. As opposed to the Indian
systems, Zoroaster’s insistence upon the divine personality furnished a far
better basis for a vigorous and manly morality. Virtue was to be won by
hard struggle of free beings against evil. But then, on the other hand, this
evil was conceived as originally due, not to finite beings themselves, but
either to an evil deity who warred against the good, or to an evil principle
in the one deity himself. The burden of guilt is therefore shifted from man
to his maker. Morality becomes subjective and unsettled. Not love to God
or imitation of God, but rather self-love and self-development, furnish the
motive and aim of morality. No fatherhood or love is recognized in the
deity, and other things besides God (e.g., fire) are worshiped. There can
be no depth to the consciousness of sin, and no hope of divine deliverance.
It is the one merit of Parseeism that it recognizes the moral conflict of the
world: its error is that it carries this moral conflict into the very nature of
God. We can apply to Parseeism the words of the Conference of Foreign
Mission Boards to the Buddhists of Japan: “All religions are expressions
of man’s sense of dependence, but only one provides fellowship with God.
All religions speak of a higher truth, but only one speaks of that truth as
found in a loving personal God, our Father. All religions show man’s
helplessness, but only one tells of a divine Savior, who offers to man
forgiveness of sin, and salvation through his death, and who is now a
living person, working in and with all who believe in him, to make them
holy and righteous and pure.” Matheson, Messages of Old Religions, says
that Parseeism recognize an obstructive element in the nature of God
himself. Moral evil is reality; but there is no reconciliation, nor is it shown
that all things work together for good. See Wuttke, Christian Ethics, 1:47-
54; Faiths of the World (St. Giles Lectures), 109-144; Mitchell, in
Present Day Tracts, 8: no. 25; Whitney on the Avesta, in Oriental and
Linguistic Studies.
Mohammed (570-632 AD), the founder of Islam, gives us in the Koran a
system containing four dogmas of fundamental immorality, namely,.342
polygamy, slavery, persecution, and suppression of private judgement.
Mohammedanism is heathenism in monotheistic form. Its good points are
its conscientiousness and its relation to God. It has prospered because it
has preached the unity of God, and because it is a book-religion. But both
these it got from Judaism and Christianity. It has appropriated the Old
Testament saints and even Jesus. But it denies the death of Christ and sees
no need of atonement. The power of sin is not recognized. The idea of sin,
in Moslems, is emptied of all positive content. Sin is simply a falling
short, accounted for by the weakness and shortsightedness of man,
inevitable in the fatalistic universe, or not remembered in wrath by the
indulgent and merciful Father. Forgiveness is indulgence, and the
conception of God is emptied of the quality of justice. Evil belongs only to
the individual, not to the race. Man attains the favor of God by good
works, based on prophetic teaching. Morality is not a fruit of salvation,
but a means. There is no penitence or humility, but only self-righteousness;
and this self-righteousness is consistent with great
sensuality, unlimited divorce, and with absolute despotism in family, civil
and religious affairs. There is no knowledge of the fatherhood of God or
of the brotherhood of man. In all the Koran, there is no such declaration
as that “God so loved the world” (

John 3:16).
The submission of Islam is submission to an arbitrary will, not to a God
of love. There is no basing of morality in love. The highest good is the
sensuous happiness of the individual. God and man are external to one
another. Mohammed is a teacher but not a priest. Mozley, Miracles, 140,
141 — “Mohammed had no faith in human nature. There were two things
which he thought men could do, and would do, for the glory of God —
transact religious forms, and fight, and upon these two points he was
severe; but within the sphere of common practical life, where man’s great
trial lies, his code exhibits the disdainful laxity of a legislator who
accommodates his rule to the recipient, and shows his estimate of the
recipient by the accommodation which he adopts… ‘Human nature is
weak,’ said he.” Lord Houghton: The Koran is all wisdom, all law, all
religion, for all time. Dead men bow before a dead God. “Though the
world rolls on from change to change, and realms of thought expand, The
letter stands without expanse or range, Stiff as a dead man’s hand.”
Wherever Mohammedanism has gone, it has either found a desert or made
one. Fairbairn, in Contemp. Rev., Dec. 1882:866 — “The Koran has
frozen Mohammedan thought; to obey is to abandon progress.” Muir, in
Present Day Tracts, 3: no. 14 — “Mohammedanism reduces men to a
dead level of social depression, despotism, and semi-barbarism. Islam is
the work of man; Christianity of God.” See also Faiths of the World (St..343
Giles Lectures, Second Series), 361-396; J.F. Clarke, Ten Great
Religions, 1:448-488; 280-317; Great Religions of the World, published
by the Harpers; Zwemer, Moslem Doctrine of God.
3. The person and character of Christ.
A. The conception of Christ’s person as presenting deity and humanity
indissolubly united, and the conception of Christ’s character, with its
faultless and all-comprehending excellence, cannot be accounted for upon
any other hypothesis than that they were historical realities.
The stylobate of the Parthenon at Athens rises about three inches in the
middle of the 101 feet of the front, and four inches in the middle of the
228 feet of the flanks. A nearly parallel line is found in the entablature.
The axes of the columns lean inward nearly three inches in their height of
34 feet, thus giving a sort of pyramidal character to the structure. Thus
the architect overcame the apparent sagging of horizontal lines, and at the
same time increased the apparent height of the edifice; see Murray,
Handbook of Greece, 5th ed., 1884, 1:308-309; Ferguson, Handbook of
Architecture, 268-270. The neglect to counteract this optical illusion has
rendered the Madeleine in Paris a stiff and ineffective copy of the
Parthenon. The Galilean peasant who should minutely describe these
peculiarities of the Parthenon would prove, not only that the edifice was a
historical reality but also that he had actually seen it. Bruce, Apologetics,
343 — “In reading the memoirs of the evangelists, you feel as one
sometimes feels in a picture gallery. Your eye alights on the portrait of a
person whom you do not know. You took at it intently for a few moments
and then remark to a companion: ‘That must be like the original — it is so
life-like.’” Theodore Parker: “It would take a Jesus to forge a Jesus.” See
Row, Bampton Lectures, 1877:178-219, and in Present Day Tracts, 4: no.
22; F. W. Farrar, Witness of History to Christ; Barry, Boyle Lecture on
Manifold Witness for Christ.
(a) No source can be assigned from which the evangelists could have
derived such a conception. The Hindu avatars were only temporary unions
of deity with humanity. The Greeks had men half-deified, but no unions of
God and man. The monotheism of the Jews found the person of Christ a
perpetual stumbling block. The Essenes were in principle more opposed to
Christianity than the Rabbinists.
Herbert Spencer, Data of Ethics, 279 — “The coexistence of a perfect
man and an imperfect society is impossible; and could the two coexist, the
resulting conduct would not furnish the ethical standard sought.” We must.344
conclude that the perfect manhood of Christ is a miracle, and the greatest
of miracles. Bruce, Apologetics, 346, 351 — When Jesus asks: ‘Why
callest thou me good?’ he means: ‘Learn first what goodness is, and call
no man good till you are sure that he deserves it.’ Jesus’ goodness was
entirely free from religious scrupulosity; it was distinguished by
humanity; it was full of modesty and lowliness… Buddhism has
flourished 2000 years, though little is known of its founder. Christianity
might have been so perpetuated, but it is not so. I want to be sure that the
ideal has been embodied in an actual life. Otherwise it is only poetry, and
the obligation to conform to it ceases.” For comparison of Christ’s
incarnation with Hindu, Greek, Jewish. and Essene ideas, see Dorner,
Hist. Doct. Person of Christ. Introduction. On the Essenes, see Herzog,
Encyclop., art.: Essener; Pressense. Jesus Christ, Life, Times and Work,
84-87; Lightfoot on Colossians, 349-419; Godet, Lectures in Defense of
the Christian Faith.
(b) No mere human genius, and much less the genius of Jewish fishermen,
could have originated this conception. Bad men invent only such characters
as they sympathize with. But Christ’s character condemns badness. Such a
portrait could not have been drawn without supernatural aid. But such aid
would not have been given to fabrication. The conception can be explained
only by granting that Christ’s person and character were historical realities.
Between Pilate and Titus 30,000 Jews are said to have been crucified
around the walls of Jerusalem. Many of these were young men. What
makes one of them stand out on the pages of history? There are two
answers: The character of Jesus was a perfect character, and, He was God
as well as man. Gore, Incarnation, 63 — “The Christ of the gospels, if he
be not true to history, represents a combined effort of the creative
imagination without parallel in literature. But the literary characteristics
of Palestine in the first century make the hypothesis of such an effort
morally impossible.” The Apocryphal gospels show us what mere
imagination was capable of producing. That the portrait of Christ is not
puerile, inane, hysterical, selfishly assertive, and self-contradictory, can
be due only to the fact that it is the photograph from real life.
For a remarkable exhibition of the argument from the character of Jesus,
see Bushnell, Nature and the Supernatural, 270-332. Bushnell mentions
the originality and vastness of Christ’s plan, yet its simplicity and
practical adaptation; his moral traits of independence, compassion,
meekness, wisdom, zeal, humility, patience; the combination in him of
seemingly opposite qualities. With all his greatness, he was condescending
and simple; he was unworldly, yet not austere; he had strong feelings, yet.345
was self-possessed; he had indignation toward sin, yet compassion toward
the sinner; he showed devotion to his work, yet calmness under
opposition; universal philanthropy, yet susceptibility to private
attachments; the authority of a Savior and Judge, yet the gratitude and the
tenderness of a son; the most elevated devotion, yet a life of activity and
exertion. See chapter on The Moral Miracle, in Bruce, Miraculous
Element of the Gospels, 43-78.
B. The acceptance and belief in the New Testament descriptions of Jesus
Christ cannot be accounted for except upon the ground that the person and
character described had an actual existence.
(a) If these descriptions were false, there were witnesses still living who
had known Christ and who would have contradicted them.
(b) There was no motive to induce acceptance of such false accounts, but
every motive to the contrary.
(c) The success of such falsehoods could be explained only by supernatural
aid, but God would never have thus aided falsehood. This person and
character, therefore, must have been not fictitious but real; and if real, then
Christ’s words are true, and the system of which his person and character
are a part is a revelation from God.
“The counterfeit may for a season deceive the wide earth; but the lie
waxing great comes to labor, and truth has its birth.” Matthew Arnold,
The Better Part: “Was Christ a man like us? Ah, let us see, If we then too
can be such men as he!” When the blatant skeptic declared: “I do not
believe that such a man as Jesus Christ ever lived,” George Warren
merely replied: “I wish I were like him!” Dwight L. Moody was called a
hypocrite, but the stalwart evangelist answered: “Well, suppose I am.
How does that make your case any better? I know some pretty mean
things about myself; but you cannot say anything against my Master.”
Goethe: “Let the culture of the spirit advance forever; let the human spirit
broaden itself as it will; yet it will never go beyond the height and moral
culture of Christianity, as it glitters and shines in the gospels.”
Renan, Life of Jesus: “Jesus founded the absolute religion, excluding
nothing, determining nothing, save its essence… The foundation of the
true religion is indeed his work. After him, there is nothing left but to
develop and fructify.” And a Christian scholar has remarked: “It is an
astonishing proof of the divine guidance vouchsafed to the evangelists that
no man, of their time or since, has been able to touch the picture of Christ.346
without debasing it.” We may find an illustration of this in the words of
Chadwick, Old and New Unitarianism, 207 — “Jesus’ doctrine of
marriage was ascetic, his doctrine of property was communistic, his
doctrine of charity was sentimental, his doctrine of non-resistance was
such as commends itself to Tolstoi, but not to many others of our time.
With the example of Jesus, it is the same as with his teachings. Followed
unreservedly, would it not justify those who say: ‘The hope of the race is
in its extinction’; and bring all our joys and sorrows to a sudden end?” To
this we may answer in the words of Huxley, who declares that Jesus
Christ is “the noblest ideal of humanity which mankind has yet
worshiped.” Gordon, Christ of Today, 179 — “The question is not
whether Christ is good enough to represent the Supreme Being, but
whether the Supreme Being is good enough to have Christ for his
representative. John Stuart Mill looks upon the Christian religion as the
worship of Christ, rather than the worship of God, and in this way he
explains the beneficence of its influence.”
John Stuart Mill, Essays on Religion, 254 — “The most valuable part of
the effect on the character which Christianity has produced, by holding up
in a divine person a standard of excellence and a model for imitation, is
available even to the absolute unbeliever, and can never more be lost to
humanity. For it is Christ rather than God whom Christianity has held up
to believers as the pattern of perfection for humanity. It is the God
incarnate, more than the God of the Jews or of nature, who, being
idealized, has taken so great and salutary hold on the modern mind. And
whatever else may be taken away from us by rational criticism. Christ is
still left: a unique figure, not more unlike all his precursors than all his
followers, even those who had the direct benefit of his personal
preaching… Who among his disciples, or among their proselytes, was
capable of inventing the sayings ascribed to Jesus, or of imagining the life
and character revealed in the Gospels?… About the life and sayings of
Jesus there is a stamp of personal originality combined with profundity of
insight which, if we abandon the idle expectation of finding scientific
precision where something very different was aimed at, must place the
Prophet of Nazareth, even in the estimation of those who have no belief in
his inspiration, in the very first rank of the men of sublime genius of
whom our species can boast. When this preeminent genius is combined
with the qualities of probably the greatest moral reformer and martyr to
that mission who ever existed upon earth, religion cannot be said to have
made a bad choice in pitching on this man as the ideal representative and
guide of humanity: nor even now would it be easy, even for an unbeliever,.347
to find a better translation of the rule of virtue from the abstract into the
concrete than the endeavor so to live that Christ would approve our life.
When to this we add that, to the conception of the rational skeptic, it
remains a possibility that Christ actually was a man charged with a
special, express and unique commission from God to lead mankind to
truth and virtue, we may well conclude that the influences of religion on
the character, which will remain after rational criticism has done its
utmost against the evidences of religion, are well worth preserving, and
that what they lack in direct strength as compared with those of a firmer
belief is more than compensated by the greater truth and rectitude of the
morality they sanction.” See also Ullmann, Sinlessness of Jesus;
Alexander, Christ and Christianity, 129-157; Schaff, Person of Christ;
Young, The Christ in History; George Dana Boardman, The Problem of
4. The testimony of Christ to himself — as being a messenger from God
and as being one with God.
Only one personage in history has claimed to teach absolute truth, to be
one with God, and to attest his divine mission by works such as only God
could perform.
A. This testimony cannot be accounted for upon the hypothesis that Jesus
was an intentional deceiver: for
(a) the perfectly consistent holiness of his life;
(b) the unwavering confidence with which he challenged investigation of
his claims and staked all upon the result;
(c) the vast improbability of a lifelong lie in the avowed interests of truth;
(d) the impossibility that deception should have wrought such blessing to
the world, — all show that Jesus was no conscious impostor.
Fisher, Essays on the Supernat. Origin of Christianity, 515-538 — Christ
knew how vast his claims were, yet he staked all upon them. Though
others doubted, he never doubted himself. Though persecuted unto death,
he never ceased his consistent testimony. Yet he lays claim to humility:

Matthew 11:29 — “I am meek and lowly in heart.” How can we
reconcile with humility his constant self-assertion? We answer that Jesus’
self-assertion was absolutely essential to his mission, for he and the truth.348
were one: he could not assert the truth without asserting himself, and he
could not assert himself without asserting the truth. Since he was the
truth, he needed to say so, for men’s sake and for the truth’s sake, and he
could be meek and lowly in heart in saying so. Humility is not self-depreciation,
but only the judging of ourselves according to God’s perfect
standard. ‘Humility’ is derived from ‘humus’. It is the coming down from
airy and vain self-exploitation to the solid ground, the hardpan, of actual
God requires of us only so much humility as is consistent with truth. The
self-glorification of the egotist is nauseating, because it indicates gross
ignorance or misrepresentation of self. But it is a duty to be self-asserting,
just so far as we represent the truth and righteousness of God. There is a
noble self-assertion, which is perfectly consistent with humility. Job must
stand for his integrity. Paul’s humility was not of the Uriah Heep variety.
When occasion required, he could assert his manhood and his rights, as at
Philippi and at the Castle of Antonia. So the Christian should frankly say
out the truth that is in him. Each Christian has an experience of his own,
and should tell it to others. In testifying to the truth he is only following
the example of “Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed the
good confession” (

1 Timothy 6:13).
B. Nor can Jesus’ testimony to himself be explained upon the hypothesis
that he was self-deceived: for this would argue
(a) a weakness and folly amounting to positive insanity. But his whole
character and life exhibit a calmness, dignity, equipoise, insight, self-mastery,
utterly inconsistent with such a theory. Or it would argue
(b) a self-ignorance and self-exaggeration which could spring only from the
deepest moral perversion. But the absolute purity of his conscience, the
humility of his spirit the self-denying beneficence of his life, show this
hypothesis to be incredible.
Rogers, Superhuman Origin of the Bible, 39 — If he were man, then to
demand that all the world should bow down to him would be worthy of
scorn like that which we feel for some straw-crowned monarch of Bedlam.
Forrest, The Christ of History and of Experience, 22, 76 — Christ never
united with his disciples in prayer. He went up into the mountain to pray
but not to pray with them:

Luke 9:18 — “as he was alone praying, his
disciples were with him.” The consciousness of preexistence is the
indispensable precondition of the total demand, which he makes in the
Synoptics. Adamson, The Mind in Christ, 81,82 — We value the.349
testimony of Christians to their communion with God. Much more should
we value the testimony of Christ. Only one who, first being divine, also
knew that he was divine, could reveal heavenly things with the clearness
and certainty that belong to the utterances of Jesus. In him we have
something very different from the momentary flashes of insight which
leave us in all the greater darkness.
Nash, Ethics and Revelation, 5 — “Self-respect is bottomed upon the
ability to become what one desires to be; and, if the ability steadily falls
short of the task, the springs of self-respect dry up; the motives of happy
and heroic action wither. Science, art, generous civic life, and especially
religion, come to man’s rescue,” — showing him his true greatness and
breadth of being in God. The State is the individual’s larger self.
Humanity, and even the universe, are parts of him. It is the duty of man to
enable all men to be men. It is possible for men not only truthfully but
also rationally to assert themselves, even in earthly affairs. Chatham to
the Duke of Devonshire: “My Lord, I believe I can save this country, and
that no one else can.” Leonardo da Vinci, in his thirtieth year, to the Duke
of Milan: “I can carry through every kind of work in sculpture, in clay,
marble, and bronze; also in painting I can execute everything that can be
demanded, as well as any one whosoever.”
Horace: “Exegi monumentum ære perennius.” Savage, Life beyond
Death, 209 — A famous old minister said once, when a young and
zealous enthusiast tried to get him to talk, and failing, burst out with,
“Have you no religion at all?” “None to speak of,” was the reply. When
Jesus perceived a tendency in his disciples to self-glorification, he urged
silence; but when he saw the tendency to introspection and inertness, he
bade them proclaim what he had done for them (

Matthew 8:4;

Mark 5:19). It is never right for the Christian to proclaim himself; but,
if Christ had not proclaimed himself, the world could never have been
saved. Rush Rhees, Life of Jesus of Nazareth, 235-237 — “In the
teaching of Jesus, two topics have the leading place — the Kingdom of
God, and himself. He sought to be Lord, rather than Teacher only. Yet the
Kingdom is not one of power, national and external, but one of fatherly
love and of mutual brotherhood.”
Did Jesus do anything for effect, or as a mere example? Not so. His
baptism had meaning for him as a consecration of himself to death for the
sins of the world, and his washing of the disciples’ feet was the fit
beginning of the paschal supper and the symbol of his laying aside his
heavenly glory to purify us for the marriage supper of the Lamb. Thomas
• Kempis: “Thou art none the holier because thou art praised, and none.350
the worse because thou art censured. What thou art, that thou art, and it
avails thee naught to be called any better than thou art in the sight of
God.” Jesus’ consciousness of his absolute Sinlessness and of his perfect
communion with God is the strongest of testimonies to his divine nature
and mission. See Theological Eclectic, 4:37; Liddon, Our Lord’s Divinity,
153; J. S. Mill, Essays on Religion, 253; Young, Christ of History;
Divinity of Jesus Christ, by Andover Professors, 37-62.
If Jesus, then, cannot be charged with either mental or moral unsoundness,
his testimony must be true, and he himself must be one with God and the
revealer of God to men.
Neither Confucius nor Buddha claimed to be divine, or the organs of
divine revelation, though both were moral teachers and reformers.
Zoroaster and Pythagoras apparently believed themselves charged with a
divine mission, though their earliest biographers wrote centuries after their
death. Socrates claimed nothing for himself, which was beyond the power
of others. Mohammed believed his extraordinary states of body and soul
to be due to the action of celestial beings; he gave forth the Koran as “a
warning to all creatures,” and sent a summons to the King of Persia and
the Emperor of Constantinople, as well as to other potentates, to accept
the religion of Islam; yet he mourned when he died that he could not have
opportunity to correct the mistakes of the Koran and of his own life. For
Confucius or Buddha, Zoroaster or Pythagoras, Socrates or Mohammed
to claim all power in heaven and earth, would show insanity or moral
perversion. But this is precisely what Jesus claimed. He was either
mentally or morally unsound, or his testimony is true. See Baldensperger.
Selbstbewusstsein Jesu: E. Ballentine Christ his own Witness
1. The rapid progress of the gospel in the first centuries of our era shows
its divine origin.
A. That Paganism should have been in three centuries supplanted by
Christianity, is an acknowledged wonder of history.
The conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity was the most
astonishing revolution of faith and worship ever known. Fifty years after
the death of Christ, there were churches in all the principal cities of the
Roman Empire. Nero (37-68) found (as Tacitus declares) an “ingens
multitudo” of Christians to persecute. Pliny writes to Trajan (52-117) that.351
they “pervaded not merely the cities but the villages and country places,
so that the temples were nearly deserted.” Tertullian (160-230) writes:
“We are but of yesterday, and yet we have filled all your places, your
cities, your islands, your castles, your towns, your council-houses, even
your camps, your tribes, your senate, your forum. We have left you
nothing but your temples.” In the time of the emperor Valerian (253-268),
the Christians constituted half the population of Rome. The conversion of
the emperor Constantine (272-337) brought the whole empire, only 300
years after Jesus’ death, under the acknowledged sway of the gospel. See
McIlvaine and Alexander, Evidences of Christianity.
B. The wonder is the greater when we consider the obstacles to the
progress of Christianity:
(a) The skepticism of the cultivated classes;
(b) the prejudice and hatred of the common people; and
(c) the persecutions set on foot by government.
(a) Missionaries even now find it difficult to get a hearing among the
cultivated classes of the heathen. But the gospel appeared in the most
enlightened age of antiquity — the Augustan age of literature and
historical inquiry. Tacitus called the religion of Christ “exitiabilis
superstitio” — “quos per flagitia invisos vulgus Christianos appellabat.”
Pliny: “Nihil aliud inveni quam superstitionem pravam et immodicam.” If
the gospel had been false, its preachers would not have ventured into the
centers of civilization and refinement; or if they had, they would have
been detected.
(b) Consider the interweaving of heathen religions with all the relations of
life. Christians often had to meet the furious zeal and blind rage of the mob,
— as at Lystra and Ephesus.
(c) Rawlinson, in his Historical Evidences, claims that the Catacombs of
Rome comprised nine hundred miles of streets and seven million graves within
a period of four hundred years — a far greater number than could have died a
natural death — and that vast multitudes of these must have been massacred
for their faith. The Encyclopædia Britannica, however, calls the estimate of
De Marchi, which Rawlinson appears to have taken as authority, a great
exaggeration. Instead of nine hundred miles of streets, Northcote has three
hundred fifty. The number of interments to correspond would be less than
three million. The Catacombs began to be deserted by the time of Jerome. The
times when, they were universally used by Christians could have been hardly.352
more than two hundred years. They did not begin in sandpits. There were
three sorts of tufa: (1) rocky, used for Quarrying and too hard for Christian
purposes; (2) sandy, used for sandpits, too soft to permit construction of
galleries and tombs; (3) granular, that used by Christians. The existence of the
catacombs must have been well known to the heathen. After Pope Damasus
the exaggerated reverence for them began. They were decorated and improved.
Hence many paintings are of later date than 400, and testify to papal polity,
not to that of early Christianity. The bottles contain, not blood, but wine of the
Eucharist celebrated at the funeral.
Fisher, Nature and Method of Revelation, 256-258, calls attention to
Matthew Arnold’s description of the needs of the heathen world, yet his
blindness to the true remedy: “On that hard pagan world disgust And
secret loathing fell: Deep weariness and sated lust Made human life a hell.
In his cool hail, with haggard eyes, The Roman noble lay; He drove
abroad, in furious guise, Along the Appian Way: He made a feast, drank
fierce and fast. And crowned his hair with flowers, — No easier nor no
quicker passed The impracticable hours.” Yet with mingled pride and
sadness, Mr. Arnold fastidiously rejects more heavenly nutriment. Of
Christ he says: “Now he is dead I Far hence he lies, In the lorn Syrian
town, And on his grave, with shining eyes, The Syrian stars look down.”
He sees that the millions “Have such need of joy, And joy whose grounds
are true, And joy that should all hearts employ As when the past was
new!” The want of the world is: “One mighty wave of thought and joy,
Lifting mankind amain.” But the poet sees no ground of hope: “Fools I
that so often here, Happiness mocked our prayer, I think might make us
fear A like event elsewhere, — Make us not fly to dreams, But moderate
desire.” He sings of the time when Christianity was young: “Oh, had I
lived in that great day, How had its glory new Filled earth and heaven,
and caught away My ravished spirit too!” But desolation of spirit does not
bring with it any lowering of self-esteem, much less the humility, which
deplores the presence and power of evil in the soul, and sighs for
deliverance. “They that are whole have no need of a physician, hut they
that are sick” (

Matthew 9:12). Rejecting Christ, Matthew Arnold
embodies In his verse “the sweetness, the gravity, the strength, the beauty,
and the languor of death” (Hutton, Essays, 302).
C. The wonder becomes yet greater when we consider the natural
insufficiency of the means used to secure this progress.
(a) The proclaimers of the gospel were in general unlearned men,
belonging to a despised nation..353
(b) The gospel, which they proclaimed, was a gospel of salvation through
faith in a Jew who had been put to an ignominious death.
(c) This gospel was one which excited natural repugnance, by humbling
men’s pride, striking at the root of their sins, and demanding a life of labor
and self-sacrifice.
(d) The gospel, moreover, was an exclusive one, suffering no rival and
declaring itself to be the universal and only religion.
(a) The early Christians were more unlikely to make converts than modern
Jews are to make proselytes, in vast numbers, in the principal cities of
Europe and America. Celsus called Christianity “a religion of the rabble.”
(b) The cross was the Roman gallows — the punishment of slaves. Cicero
calls it “servitutis extremum summumque supplicium.”
(c) There were many bad religions why should the mild Roman Empire have
persecuted the only good one? The answer is in part: Persecution did not
originate with the official classes; it proceeded really from the people at large.
Tacitus called Christians “haters of the human race.” Men recognized in
Christianity a foe to all their previous motives, ideals, and aims. Altruism
would break up the old society, for every effort that centered in self or in the
present life was stigmatized by the gospel as unworthy.
(d) Heathenism, being without creed or principle, did not care to propagate
itself. “A man must be very weak,” said Celsus, “to imagine that Greeks and
barbarians, in Asia, Europe, and Libya, can ever unite under the same system
of religion.” So the Roman government would allow no religion which did not
participate in the worship of the State. “Keep yourselves from idols,” “We
worship no other God,” was the Christian’s answer. Gibbon, Hist. Decline
and Fall, 1: chap. 15, mentions as secondary causes:
(1) the zeal of the Jews;
(2) the doctrine of immortality;
(3) miraculous powers;
(4) virtues of early Christians;
(5) privilege of participation in church government.
But these causes were only secondary, and would have been insufficient
without an invincible persuasion of the truth of Christianity. For answer to
Gibbon, see Perrone, Prelectiones Theologiæ, 1:133..354
Persecution destroys falsehood by leading its advocates to investigate the
grounds of their belief; but it strengthens and multiplies truth by leading
its advocates to see more clearly the foundations of their faith. There have
been many conscientious persecutors:

John 16:2 — “They shall put
you out of the synagogues: yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth
you shall think that he offereth service unto God.” The Decretal of Pope
Urban II reads: “For we do not count them to be homicides, to whom it
may have happened, through their burning zeal against the
excommunicated, to put any of them to death.” St. Louis, King of France,
urged his officers “not to argue with the infidel, but to subdue unbelievers
by thrusting the sword into them as far as it will go.” Of the use of the
rack in England on a certain occasion, it was said that it was used with all
the tenderness, which the nature of the instrument would allow. This
reminds us of Isaak Walton’s instruction as to the use of the frog: “Put
the hook through his mouth and out at his gills and, in so doing, use him
as though you loved him.”
Robert Browning, in his Easter Day, 275-288, gives us what purports to
be A Martyr’s Epitaph, inscribed upon a wall of the Catacombs, which
furnishes a valuable contrast to the skeptical and pessimistic strain of
Matthew Arnold: “I was born sickly, poor and mean, A slave: no misery
could screen The holders of the pearl of price From Caesar’s envy:
therefore twice I fought with beasts, and three times saw My children
suffer by his law; At length my own release was earned: I was some time
in being burned, But at the close a Hand came through The fire above my
head, and drew My soul to Christ, whom now I see. Sergius, a brother,
writes for me This testimony on the wall — For me, I have forgot it all.”
The progress of a religion so unprepossessing and uncompromising to
outward acceptance and dominion, within the space of three hundred years,
cannot be explained without supposing that divine power attended its
promulgation, and therefore that the gospel is a revelation from God.
Stanley, Life and Letters, 1:527 — “In the Kremlin Cathedral, whenever
the Metropolitan advanced from the altar to give his blessing, there was
always thrown under his feet a carpet embroidered with the eagle of old
Pagan Rome, to indicate that the Christian Church and Empire of
Constantinople had succeeded and triumphed over it.” On this whole
section, see F. W. Farrar, Witness of History to Christ, 91; McIlvaine,
Wisdom of Holy Scripture, 139.
2. The beneficent influence of the Scripture doctrines and precepts,
wherever they have had sway, shows their divine origin. Notice:.355
A. Their influence on civilization in general, securing a recognition of
principles which heathenism ignored, such as Garbett mentions:
(a) the importance of the individual;
(b) the law of mutual love;
(c) the sacredness of human life;
(d) the doctrine of internal holiness;
(e) the sanctity of home;
(f) monogamy, and the religious equality of the sexes;
(g) identification of belief and practice.
The continued corruption of heathen lands shows that this change is not
due to any laws of merely natural progress. The confessions of ancient
writers show that it is not due to philosophy. Its only explanation is that
the gospel is the power of God.
Garbett, Dogmatic Faith, 177-186; F. W. Farrar, Witness of History to
Christ, chap. on Christianity and the Individual; Brace, Gesta Christi,
preface, vi — “Practices and principles implanted, stimulated or
supported by Christianity, such as regard for the personality of the
weakest and poorest; respect for woman; duty of each member of the
fortunate classes to raise up the unfortunate; humanity to the child, the
prisoner, the stranger, the needy, and even to the brute; unceasing
opposition to all forms of cruelty, oppression and slavery; the duty of
personal purity, and the sacredness of marriage; the necessity of
temperance; obligation of a more equitable division of the profits of labor,
and of greater cooperation between employers and employed; the right of
every human being to have the utmost opportunity of developing his
faculties, and of all persons to enjoy equal political and social privileges;
the principle that the in jury of one nation is the injury of all, and the
expediency and duty of unrestricted trade and intercourse between all
countries; and finally, a profound opposition to war, a determination to
limit its evils when existing, and to prevent its arising by means of
international arbitration.”
Max Muller: “The concept of humanity is the gift of Christ.” Guizot,
History of Civilization, 1: Introduction, tells us that in ancient times the
individual existed for the sake of the State; in modern times the State
exists for the sake of the individual. “The individual is a discovery of
Christ.” On the relations between Christianity and Political Economy, see
A.H. Strong, Philosophy and Religion, pages 443-460; on the cause of the
changed view with regard to the relation of the individual to the State, see.356
page 207 — “What has wrought the change? Nothing but the death of the
Son of God. When it was seen that the smallest child and the lowest slave
had a soul of such worth that Christ left his throne and gave up his life to
save it, the world’s estimate of values changed, and modern history
began.” Lucian, the Greek satirist and humorist, 160 AD, said of the
Christians: “Their first legislator [Jesus] has put it into their heads that
they are all brothers.”
It is this spirit of common brotherhood, which has led in most countries to
the abolition of cannibalism, infanticide, widow burning, and slavery.
Prince Bismarck: “For social well-being I ask nothing more than
Christianity without phrases” — which means the religion of the deed
rather than of the creed. Yet it is only faith in the historic revelation of
God in Christ which has made Christian deeds possible. Shaler,
Interpretation of Nature, 232-278 — Aristotle, if he could look over
society today, would think modern man a new species, in his going out in
sympathy to distant peoples. This cannot be the result of natural selection,
for self-sacrifice is not profitable to the individual. Altruistic emotions
owe their existence to God. Worship of God has flowed back upon man’s
emotions and has made them more sympathetic. Self-consciousness and
sympathy, coming into conflict with brute emotions, originate the sense of
sin. Then begins the war of the natural and the spiritual. Love of nature
and absorption in others is the true Nirvana. Not physical science but the
humanities are most needed in education.
H. E. Hersey, Introduction to Browning’s Christmas Eve, 19 — “Sidney
Lanier tells us that the last twenty centuries have spent their best power
upon the development of personality. Literature, education, government,
and religion, have learned to recognize the individual as the unit of force.
Browning goes a step further. He declares that so powerful is a complete
personality that its very touch gives life and courage and potency. He
turns to history for the inspiration of enduring virtue and the stimulus for
sustained effort, and he finds both in Jesus Christ.” J.P. Cooke,
Credentials of Science, 43 — The change from the ancient philosopher to
the modern investigator is the change from self-assertion to self-devotion,
and the great revolution can be traced to the influence of Christianity and
to the spirit of humility exhibited and inculcated by Christ. Lewes, Hist.
Philos., I:408 — Greek morality never embraced any conception of
humanity; no Greek ever attained to the sublimity of such a point of view.
Kidd, Social Evolution, 165, 287 — It is not intellect that has pushed
forward the world of modern times: it is the altruistic feeling that
originated in the cross and sacrifice of Christ. The French Revolution was.357
made possible by the fact that humanitarian ideas had undermined the
upper classes themselves, and effective resistance was impossible.
Socialism would abolish the struggle for existence on the part of
individuals. What security would be left for social progress? Removing all
restrictions upon population ensures progressive deterioration. A non-socialist
community would outstrip a socialist community where all the
main wants of life were secure. The real tendency of society is to bring all
the people into rivalry, not only on a footing of political equality, but on
conditions of equal social opportunities. The State in future will interfere
and control, in order to preserve or secure free competition, rather than to
suspend it. The goal is not socialism or State management, but
competition in which all shall have equal advantages. The evolution of
human society is not primarily intellectual but religious. The winning
races are the religious races. The Greeks had more intellect, but we have
more civilization and progress. The Athenians were as far above us as we
are above the Negro race. Gladstone said that we are intellectually weaker
than the men of the middle ages. When the intellectual development of any
section of the race has for the time being outrun its ethical development,
natural selection has apparently weeded it out, like any other unsuitable
product. Evolution is developing reverence, with its allied qualities,
mental energy, resolution, enterprise, prolonged and concentrated
application, simple-minded and single-minded devotion to duty. Only
religion can overpower selfishness and individualism and ensure social
B. Their influence upon individual character and happiness, wherever they
have been tested in practice. This influence is seen
(a) in the moral transformations they have wrought — as in the case of
Paul the apostle, and of persons m every Christian community;
(b) in the self-denying labors for human welfare to which they have, led —
as in the case of Wilberforce and Judson;
(c) in the hopes they have inspired in times of sorrow and death.
These beneficent fruits cannot have their source in merely natural causes:
apart from the truth and divinity of the Scriptures; for in that case the
contrary beliefs would be accompanied by the same blessings. But since we
find these blessings only in connection with Christian teaching, we may
justly consider this as their cause. This teaching, then, must he true, and the
Scriptures must be a divine revelation. Else God has made a lie to be the
greatest blessing to the race..358
The first Moravian missionaries to the West Indies walked six hundred
miles to take ship, worked their passage, and then sold themselves as
slaves, in order to get the privilege of preaching to the Negroes… The
father of John G. Paton was a stocking weaver. The whole family, with
the exception of the very small children, worked from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.,
with one hour for dinner at noon and a half-hour each for breakfast and
supper. Yet family prayer was regularly held twice a day. In these
breathing spells for daily meals John G. Paton took part of his time to
study the Latin Grammar, that he might prepare himself for missionary
work. When told by an uncle that, if he went to the New Hebrides, the
cannibals would eat him, he replied: “You yourself will soon be dead and
buried, and I had as lief be eaten by cannibals as by worms.” The
Aneityumese raised arrowroot for fifteen years and sold it to pay the
£1200 required for printing the Bible in their own language. Universal
church attendance and Bible study make those South Sea Islands the most
heavenly place on earth on the Sabbath day.
In 1839, twenty thousand Negroes in Jamaica gathered to begin a life of
freedom. Into a coffin were put the handcuffs and shackles of slavery,
relics of the whipping post and the scourge. As the clock struck twelve at
night, a preacher cried with the first stroke: “The monster is dying: “and
so with every stroke until the last, when he cried: “The monster is dead:”
Then all rose from their knees and sang: “Praise God front whom all
blessings flow!”… “What do you do that for? “said the sick China man
whom the medical missionary was tucking up in bed with a care which the
patient had never received since he was a baby. The missionary took the
opportunity to tell him of the love of Christ… The aged Australian
mother, when told that her two daughters, missionaries in China, had both
of them been murdered by a heathen mob, only replied: “This decides me;
I will go to China now myself, and try to teach those poor creatures what
the love of Jesus means.”… Dr. William Ashmore: “Let one missionary
die, and ten come to his funeral.” A shoemaker, teaching neglected boys
and girls while he worked at his cobbler’s bench, gave the impulse to
Thomas Guthrie’s life of faith.
We must judge religions not by their ideals, but by their performances.
Omar Khayyam and Mozoomdar give us beautiful thoughts, but the
former is not Persia, nor is the latter India. “When the microscopic search
of skepticism, which has hunted the heavens and sounded the seas to
disprove the existence of a Creator, has turned its attention to human
society and has found on this planet a place ten miles square where a
decent man can live in decency, comfort, and security, supporting and
educating his children, unspoiled and unpolluted; a place where age is.359
reverenced, infancy protected manhood respected, womanhood honored,
and human life held in due regard — when skeptics can find such a place
ten miles square on this globe, where the gospel of Christ has not gone
and cleared the way and laid the foundations and made decency and
security possible, it will then be in order for the skeptical literati to move
thither and to ventilate their views. But so long as these very men are
dependent upon the very religion they discard for every privilege they
enjoy, they may well hesitate before they rob the Christian of his hope and
humanity of its faith in that Savior who alone has given that hope of
eternal life which makes life tolerable and society possible, and robs death
of its terrors and the grave of its gloom.” On the beneficent influence of
the gospel, see Schmidt, Social Results of Early Christianity; D. J. Hill,
The Social Influence of Christianity..360
Inspiration is that influence of the Spirit of God upon the minds of the
Scripture writers which made their writings the record of a progressive
divine revelation, sufficient, when taken together and interpreted by the
same Spirit who inspired them, to lead every honest inquirer to Christ and
to salvation.
Notice the significance of each part of this definition:
1. Inspiration is an influence of the Spirit of God. It is not a merely
naturalistic phenomenon or psychological vagary, but is rather the effect
of the in working of the personal divine Spirit.
2. Yet inspiration is an influence upon the mind, and not upon the body.
God secures his end by awakening man’s rational powers, and not by an
external or mechanical communication.
3. The writings of inspired men are the record of a revelation. They are
not themselves the revelation.
4. The revelation and the record are both progressive, neither one is
complete at the beginning.
5. The Scripture writings must be taken together. Each part must be
viewed in connection with what precedes and with what follows.
6. The same Holy Spirit who made the original revelations must interpret
to us the record of them, if we are to come to the knowledge of the truth.
7. So used and so interpreted, these writings are sufficient, both in
quantity and in quality, for their religious purpose.
8. That purpose is, not to furnish us with a model history or with the facts
of science, but to lead us to Christ and to salvation.
(a) Inspiration is therefore to be defined, not by its method, but by its
result. It is a general term including all those kinds and degrees of the Holy
Spirit’s influence which were brought to bear upon the minds of the.361
Scripture writers, in order to secure the putting into permanent and written
form of the truth best adapted to man’s moral and religious needs.
(b) Inspiration may often include revelation, or the direct communication
from God of truth to which man could not attain by his unaided powers. It
may include illumination, or the quickening of man’s cognitive powers to
understand truth already revealed. Inspiration, however, does not
necessarily and always include either revelation or illumination. It is simply
the divine influence which secures a transmission of needed truth to the
future, and, according to the nature of the truth to be transmitted, it may be
only an inspiration of superintendence, or it may be also and at the same
time an inspiration of illumination or revelation.
(c) It is not denied, but affirmed, that inspiration may qualify for oral
utterance of truth, or for wise leadership and daring deeds. Men may be
inspired to render external service to God’s kingdom, as in the cases of
Bezalel and Samson; even though this service is rendered unwillingly or
‘unconsciously, as in the cases of Balaam and Cyrus. All human
intelligence, indeed, is due to the in- breathing of that same Spirit who
created man at the beginning. We are now concerned with inspiration,
however, only as it pertains to the authorship of Scripture.

Genesis 2:7 — “And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the
ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a
living soul”;

Exodus 31:2, 3 — “I have called by name Bezalel… and
I have filled him with the Spirit of God… in all manner of workmanship”;

Judges 13:24, 25 — “called his name Samson: and the child grew, and
Jehovah blessed him And the Spirit of Jehovah began to move him”;

Numbers 23:5 — “And Jehovah put a word in Balaam’s mouth, and
said, Return unto Balak, and thus shalt thou speak”;

2 Chronicles
36:22 — “Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Cyrus”;

Isaiah 44:28 —
“that saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd”; 45:5 — “I will gird thee, though
thou best not known me”;

Job 32:8 — “there is a spirit in man, and
the breath of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” These passages
show the true meaning of

2 Timothy 3:16 — “Every scripture inspired
of God.” The word qeo>pnenstov is to be understood as alluding, not to
the flute player’s breathing into his instrument, but to God’s original in
breathing of life. The flute is passive, but man’s soul is active. The flute
gives out only what it receives, but the inspired man under the divine
influence is a conscious and free originator of thought and expression.
Although the inspiration of which we are to treat is simply the inspiration
of the Scripture writings, we can best understand this narrower use of the.362
term by remembering that all real knowledge has in it a divine element,
and that we are possessed of complete consciousness only as we live,
move, and have our being in God. Since Christ, the divine Logos or
Reason, is “the light which lighteth every man”(

John 1:9), a special
influence of “the spirit of Christ which was in them” (

1 Peter 1:11)
rationally accounts for the fact that “men spake from God, being moved
by the Holy Spirit” (

1 Peter 1:21).
It may help our understanding of terms above employed if we adduce
instances of
(1) Inspiration without revelation, as in Luke or Acts,

Luke 1:1-3;
(2) Inspiration including revelation, as in the Apocalypse, Revelations 1:1,
(3) Inspiration without illumination, as in the prophets,

1 Peter 1:11;
(4) Inspiration including illumination, as in the case of Paul,

Corinthians 2:12;
(5) Revelation without inspiration, as in God’s words from Sinai,

Exodus 20:1,22;
(6) Illumination without inspiration, as in modern preachers,

Ephesians 2:20.
Other definitions are those of Park: “Inspiration is such an influence over
the writers of the Bible that all their teachings which have a religious
character are trustworthy”; of Wilkinson: “Inspiration is help front God to
keep the report of divine revelation free from error Help to whom? No
matter to whom, so the result is secured. The final result, viz.: the record
or report of revelation, this must be free from error. Inspiration may affect
one or all of the agents employed”; of Hovey: “Inspiration was an
influence of the Spirit of God on those powers of men which are
concerned in the reception, retention and expression of religious truth —
an influence so pervading and powerful that the teaching of inspired men
was according to the mind of God. Their teaching did not in any instance
embrace all truth in respect to God, or man, or the way of life; but it
comprised just so much of the truth on any particular subject as could be
received in faith by the inspired teacher and made useful to those whom he
addressed. In this sense the teaching of the original documents composing
our Bible may be pronounced free from error”; of G. B. Foster:
“Revelation is the action of God in the soul of his child, resulting in divine
self-expression there. Inspiration is the action of God in the soul of his.363
child, resulting in apprehension and appropriation of the divine
expression. Revelation has logical but not chronological priority”; of
Horton, Inspiration and the Bible, 10-13 — “We mean by Inspiration
exactly those qualities or characteristics which are the marks or notes of
the Bible.
We call our Bible inspired by which we mean that by reading and
studying it we find our way to God, we find his will for us, and we find
how we can conform ourselves to his will.”
Fairbairn, Christ in Modern Theology, 496, while nobly setting forth the
naturalness of revelation, has misconceived the relation of inspiration to
revelation by giving priority to the former: “The idea of a written
revelation may be said to be logically involved in the notion of a living
God. Speech is natural to spirit; and if God is by nature spirit, it will be to
him a matter of nature to reveal himself. But if he speaks to man, it will
be through men; and those who hear best will be most possessed of God.
This possession is termed ‘inspiration.’ God inspires, man reveals:
revelation is the mode or form — word, character, or institution — in
which man embodies what he has received. The terms, though not
equivalent, are co-extensive, the one denoting the process on its inner side,
the other on its outer.” This statement, although approved by Sanday,
Inspiration, 124, 125, seems to us almost precisely to reverse the right
meaning of the words. We prefer the view of Evans, Bib. Scholarship and
Inspiration, 54 — “God has first revealed himself, and then has inspired
men to interpret, record and apply this revelation. In redemption,
inspiration is the formal factor, as revelation is the material factor. The
men are inspired, as Prof. Stowe said. The thoughts are inspired, as Prof.
Briggs said. The words are inspired, as Prof. Hodge said. The warp and
woof of the Bible is pneu~ma: “the words that I have spoken unto you are
spirit” (

John 6:63). Its fringes run off, as was inevitable, into the
secular, the material, and the psychic. Phillips Brooks. Life, 2:351 — “If
the true revelation of God is in Christ, the Bible is not properly a
revelation, but the history of a revelation. This is not only a fact, but a
necessity, for a person cannot be revealed in a book, but must find
revelation, if at all, in a person. The center and core of the Bible must
therefore be the gospels, as the story of Jesus.”
Some, like Priestley, have held that the gospels are authentic but not
inspired. We therefore add to the proof of the genuineness and credibility
of Scripture, the proof of its inspiration. Chadwick, Old and New
Unitarianism, II — “Priestley’s belief in supernatural revelation was
intense. He had an absolute distrust of reason as qualified to furnish an.364
adequate knowledge of religious things, and at the same time a perfect
confidence in reason as qualified to prove that negative and to determine
the contents of the revelation.” We might claim the historical truth of the
gospels, even if we did not call them inspired. Gore, in Lux Mundi, 341
— “Christianity brings with it a doctrine of the inspiration of the Holy
Scriptures, but is not based upon it.” Warfield and Hodge, Inspiration, 8
— “While the inspiration of the Scriptures is true, and being true is
fundamental to the adequate interpretation of Scripture, it nevertheless is
not, in the first instance, a principle fundamental to the truth of the
Christian religion.”
On the Idea of Revelation, see Ladd, in Journ. Christ. Philos., Jan.
1883:156-178; on Inspiration, ibid., Apr. 1883:225-248. See Henderson
on Inspiration (2nd ed.), 58, 205, 249, 303, 810. For other works on the
general subject of Inspiration, see Lee, Bannerman, Jamieson,
Macnaught; Garbett, God’s Word Written; Aids to Faith, essay on
Inspiration. Also, Philippi, Glaubenslehre, 1:205; Westcott, introd. to
Study of the Gospels, 27-65; Bibliotheca Sacra, 1:97; 4:154; 12:217;
15:29, 314; 25:192-198; Dr. Barrows, in Bibliotheca Sacra, 1867:593;
1872:428; Farrar. Science in Theology, 208; Hodge and Warfield, in
Presb. Rev., Apr. 1881:225-261; Manly, The Bible Doctrine of
Inspiration; Watts, inspiration; Mead, Supernatural Revelation, 350;
Whiton, Gloria Patti, 136; Hastings. Bible Dictionary, 1:296-299;
Sanday, Bampton Lectures on Inspiration.
1. Since we have shown that God has made a revelation of himself to man,
we may reasonably presume that he will not trust this revelation wholly to
human tradition and misrepresentation, but will also provide a record of it
essentially trustworthy and sufficient; in other words, that the same Spirit
who originally communicated the truth will preside over its publication, so
far as is needed to accomplish its religious purpose.
Since all natural intelligence, as we have seen, presupposes God’s
indwelling, and since in Scripture the all-prevailing atmosphere, with its
constant pressure and effort to enter every cranny and corner of the world,
is used as an illustration of the impulse of God’s omnipotent Spirit to
vivify and energize every human soul (

Genesis 2:7;

Job 32:8), we
may infer that, but for sin, all men would be morally and spiritually
inspired (

Numbers 11:29) “Would that all Jehovah’s people were
prophets, that Jehovah would put his Spirit upon them!”

Isaiah 59:2.365
— “your iniquities have separated between you and your God”. We have
also seen that God’s method of communicating his truth in matters of
religion is presumably analogous to his method of communicating secular
truth, such as that of astronomy or history. There is an original delivery to
a single nation, and to single persons in that nation, that it may through
them be given to mankind. Sanday, Inspiration, 140 — “There is a
‘purpose of God according to selection’ (

Romans 9:11); there is an
‘election’ or ‘selection of grace’; and the object of that selection was
Israel and those who take their name from Israel’s Messiah. If a tower is
built In ascending tiers, those who stand upon the lower tiers are yet
raised above the ground, and some may be raised higher than others, but
the full and unimpeded view is reserved for those who mount upward to
the top. And that is the place destined for us if we will take it.”
If we follow the analogy of God’s working in other communications of
knowledge, we shall reasonably presume that he will preserve the record
of his revelations in written and accessible documents, handed down from
those to whom these revelations were first communicated, and we may
expect that these documents will be kept sufficiently correct and
trustworthy to accomplish their religious purpose, namely, that of
furnishing to the honest inquirer a guide to Christ and to salvation.
The physician commits his prescriptions to writing; the Clerk of Congress
records its proceedings; the State Department of our government instructs
our foreign ambassadors, not orally, but by dispatches. There is yet
greater need that revelation should be recorded, since it is to be
transmitted to distant ages; it contains long discourses; it embraces
mysterious doctrines. Jesus did not write himself; for he was the subject,
not the mere channel, of revelation. His unconcern about the apostles’
immediately committing to writing what they saw and heard is
inexplicable, if he did not expect that inspiration would assist them.
We come to the discussion of Inspiration with a presumption quite unlike
that of Kuenen and Wellhausen, who write in the interest of almost
avowed naturalism. Kuenen, in the Opening sentences of his Religion of
Israel, does indeed assert the rule of God in the world. But Sanday,
Inspiration, 117, says well that “Kuenen keeps this idea very much in the
background. He expended a whole volume of 593 large octavo pages
(Prophets and Prophecy in Israel, London, 1877) in proving that the
prophets were not moved to speak by God, but that their utterances were
all their own.” The following extract, says Sanday, indicates the position,
which Dr. Kuenen really held: “We do not allow ourselves to be deprived
of God’s presence in history. In the fortunes and development of nations,.366
and not least clearly in those of Israel, we see Him, the holy and all wise
Instructor of his human children. But the old contrasts must be altogether
set aside. So long as we derive a separate pan of Israel’s religious life
directly from God, and allow the supernatural or immediate revelation to
intervene in even one single point, so long also our view of the whole
continues to be incorrect, and we see ourselves here and there necessitated
to do violence to the well authenticated contents of the historical
documents. It is the supposition of a natural development alone which
accounts for all the phenomena” (Kuenen, Prophets and Prophecy in
Israel, 585).
2. Jesus, who has been proved to be not only a credible witness, but a
messenger from God, vouches for the inspiration of the Old Testament, by
quoting it with the formula; “It is written”; by declaring that “one jot or
one tittle” of it “shall in no wise pass away,” and that “the Scripture cannot
be broken.”
Jesus quotes from four out of the five books of Moses, and from the
Psalm s, Isaiah, Malachi, and Zechariah, with the formula, “it is written’:

Matthew 4:4, 6, 7; 11:10;

Mark 14:27

Luke 4:4-12. This
formula among the Jews indicated that the quotation was from a sacred
book and was divinely inspired. Jesus certainly regarded the Old
Testament with as much reverence as the Jews of his day. He declared
that “one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law”

Matthew 5:18). He said that “the scripture cannot be broken”

John 10:35) “the normative and judicial authority of the Scripture
cannot be set aside; notice here [in the singular, hJ grafh>] the idea of the
unity of Scripture” (Meyer). And yet our Lord’s use of Old Testament
Scripture was wholly free from the superstitious literalism, which
prevailed among the Jews of his day. The phrases “word of God”

John 10:35;

Mark 7:13), “wisdom of God” (

Luke 11:49) and
“oracles of God”

Romans 3:2) probably designate the original
revelations of God and not the record of these in Scripture; cf.

Samuel 9:27;

1 Chronicles 17:3;

Isaiah 40:8;

Matthew 13:19;

Luke 3:2;

Acts 8:25. Jesus refuses assent to the Old Testament law
respecting the Sabbath (

Mark 2:27 sq.), external defilement (

7:15), divorce (

Mark 10:2 sq.). He “came not to destroy but to

Matthew 5:17); yet he fulfilled the law by bringing out its
inner spirit in his perfect life, rather than by formal and minute obedience
to its precepts; see Wendt, Teaching of Jesus, 2:5-35.
The apostles quote the Old Testament as the utterance of God

Ephesians 4:8 — diogei qeo>v. Paul’s insistence upon the form of.367
even a single word, as in

Galatians 3:16, and his use of the Old
Testament for purposes of allegory, as in

Galatians 4:21-31, show that
in his view the Old Testament text was sacred. Philo, Josephus and the
Talmud, in their interpretations of the Old Testament, fail continually into
a “narrow and unhappy literalism.” “The New Testament does not indeed
escape Rabbinical methods, but even where these are most prominent they
seem to affect the form far more than the substance. And through the
temporary and local form the writer constantly penetrates to the very heart
of the Old Testament teaching;” see Sanday, Bampton Lectures on
Inspiration, 87; Henderson, Inspiration, 254.
3. Jesus commissioned his apostles as teachers and gave them promises of
a supernatural aid of the Holy Spirit in their teaching, like the promises
made to the Old Testament prophets.

Matthew 28:19, 20 — “Go ye… teaching… and lo, I am with you.”
Compare promises to Moses (

Exodus 3:12), Jeremiah (

1:5-8), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2 and 3). See also

Isaiah 44:3 and

2:28 — “I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed”

Matthew 10:7 — “as ye
go, preach”; 19 — “be not anxious how or what ye shall speak”;

14:26 — “the Holy Spirit… shall teach you all things”; 15:26, 27 — “the
Spirit of truth shall bear witness of me: and ye also bear witness” — the
Spirit shall witness in and through you; 16:13 — “he shall guide you into
all the truth” — (1) limitation — all the truth of Christ, i.e., not of
philosophy or science, but of religion; (2) comprehension — all the truth
within this limited range, i.e., sufficiency of Scripture as rule of faith and
practice (Hovey); 17:8 — “the words which thou gavest me I have given
unto them”;

Acts 1:4 — “he charged them… to wait for the promise
of the Father”;

John 20:22 — “he breathed on them, and saith unto
them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit” Here was both promise and
communication of the personal Holy Spirit. Compare

Matthew 10:19,
20 — “it shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak. For it is not
ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.” See
Henderson, Inspiration, 247, 248.
Jesus’ testimony here is the testimony of God. In

Deuteronomy 18:18,
it is said that God will put his words into the mouth of the great Prophet.

John 12:49, 50, Jesus says: “I spake not from myself, but the
Father that sent me, he hath given me a commandment, what I should say,
and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life
eternal; the things therefore which I speak, even as the Father hath said
unto me, so I speak.”

John 17:7, 8 — “all things whatsoever thou hast
given me are from thee: for the words which thou gavest me I have given.368
unto them.”

John 8:40 — “a man that hath told you the truth, which I
heard from God.”
4. The apostles claim to have received this promised Spirit, and under his influence
to speak with divine authority, putting their writings upon a level with the O.T.
Scriptures. We have not only direct statements that both the matter and the form of
their teaching were supervised by the Holy Spirit, but we have indirect evidence
that this was the case in the tone of authority which pervades their addresses and
Statements —

1 Corinthians 2:10,13 — “unto us God revealed them
through the Spirit… Which things also we speak, not in words which
mans wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth”; 11:23 — “I
received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you”; 12:8, 28 — the
logo>v so>fiav was apparently a gift peculiar to the apostles; 14:37, 38
— “the things which I write unto you… they are the commandment of the

Galatians 1:12 — “neither did I receive it from man, nor was I
taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ’;

Thessalonians 4:2, 8 — ye know what charge we gave you through the
Lord Jesus… Therefore he that rejecteth, rejecteth not man, but God, who
giveth his Holy Spirit unto you.” The following passages put the teaching
of the apostles on the same level with Old Testament Scripture:

Peter 1:11, 12 — “Spirit of Christ which was in them” [Old Testament
prophets]; — [New Testament preachers] “preached the gospel unto you
by the Holy Spirit”;

2 Peter 1:21 — Old Testament prophets “spake
from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit”; 3:2 — “remember the words
which were spoken before by the holy prophets” [Old Testament], “and
the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles” [New
Testament]; 16 — “wrest [Paul’s Epistles], as they do also the other
scriptures, unto their own destruction.” 67.

Exodus 4:14-16; 7:1.
Implications: —

2 Timothy 3:16 — “Every scripture inspired of God
is also profitable — a clear implication of inspiration, though not a direct
statement of it — there is a divinely inspired Scripture. In

Corinthians 5:3-5, Paul, commanding the Corinthian church with regard
to the incestuous person, was arrogant if not inspired. There are more
imperatives in the Epistles than in any other writings of the same extent.
Notice the continual asseveration of authority, as in

Galatians 1:1, 2,
and the declaration that disbelief of the record is sin, as in

1 John
5:10,11. Jude 3 — “the faith which was once for all a[pax delivered unto
the saints.” See Kahnis, Dogmatik, 3:122; Henderson, Inspiration (2nd
ed.), 34, 234; Conant, Genesis, Introduction, xiii, note; Charteris, New
Testament Scriptures: They claim truth, unity, and authority..369
The passages quoted above show that inspired men distinguished
inspiration from their own unaided thinking. These inspired men claim
that their inspiration is the same with that of the prophets. Revelations
22:6 — “the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to
show unto his servants the things which must shortly come to pass’ —
inspiration gave them supernatural knowledge of the future. As inspiration
in the Old Testament was the work of the pre-incarnate Christ, so
inspiration in the New Testament is the work of the ascended and glorified
Christ by his Holy Spirit. On the Relative Authority of the Gospels, see
Gerhardt, In Am. Journ. Theol., Apl. 1899:275-294, who shows that not
the words of Jesus in the gospels are the final revelation, but rather the
teaching of the risen and glorified Christ in the Acts and the Epistles. The
Epistles are the posthumous works of Christ. Pattison, Making of the
Sermon, 23 — “The apostles, believing themselves to be inspired
teachers, often preached without texts; and the fact that their successors
did not follow their example shows that for themselves they made no such
claim. Inspiration ceased, and henceforth authority was found in the use
of the words of the now complete Scriptures.”
5. The apostolic writers of the New Testament, unlike professedly inspired
heathen sages and poets, gave attestation by miracles or prophecy that they
were inspired by God, and there is reason to believe that the productions of
those who were not apostles, such as Mark, Luke, Hebrews, James, and
Jude, were recommended to the churches as inspired, by apostolic sanction
and authority.
The twelve wrought miracles (

Matthew 10:1). Paul’s “signs of an
apostle” (

2 Corinthians 13:12) = miracles. Internal evidence confirms
the tradition that Mark was the “interpreter of Peter,” and that Luke’s
gospel and the Acts had the sanction of Paul. Since the purpose of the
Spirit’s bestowment was to qualify those who were to be the teachers and
founders of the new religion, it is only fair to assume that Christ’s
promise of the Spirit was valid not simply to the twelve but to all who
stood in their places, and to these not simply as speakers, but, since in this
respect they had a still greater need of divine guidance, to them as writers
The epistle to the Hebrews, with the letters of James and Jude, appeared
in the lifetime of some of the twelve, and passed unchallenged; and the
fact that they all, with the possible exception of 2 Peter, were very early
accepted by the churches founded and watched over by the apostles, is
sufficient evidence that the apostles regarded them as inspired
productions. As evidences that the writers regarded their writings as of.370
universal authority, see

1 Corinthians 1:2 — “unto the church of God
which is at Corinth… with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus
Christ in every place,” etc.; 7:17 — “so ordain I in all the churches”;

Colossians 4:16 — “And when this epistle hath been read among you,
cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans”;

1 Peter
3:15, 16 — “our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom
given to him, wrote unto you.” See Bartlett, in Princeton Rev., Jan.
1880:23-57; Bibliotheca Sacra Jan. 1884:204, 205.
Johnson, Systematic Theology, 40 — “Miraculous gifts were bestowed at
Pentecost on many besides apostles. Prophecy was not an uncommon gift
during the apostolic period.” There is no antecedent improbability that
inspiration should extend to others than to the principal leaders of the
church, and since we have express instances of such inspiration in oral