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Lord, doubted of our Lord's resurrection, though his reason for so doing is not given, it plainly lay in the astonishing, unaccountable nature of such an event. A like desire of judging for oneself is discernible in the original fall of man. Eve did not believe the tempter, any more than God's word, till she perceived that "the fruit was good for food."
So, again, when men who profess Christianity ask how prayer can really influence the course of God's Providence, or how everlasting punishment, as such, consists with God's infinite mercy, they rationalize.
The same spirit shows itself in the restlessness of others to decide how the sun was stopped at Joshua's word, how the manna was provided, and the like, forgetting what our Saviour suggests to the Sadducees-" the power of God."
Conduct such as this, on so momentous a matter, is, generally speaking, traceable to one obvious cause-the Rationalist makes himself his own centre, not his Maker; he does not go to God, but he implies that God must come to him. And this, it is to be feared, is the spirit in which multitudes of us act at the present day. Instead of looking out of ourselves, and trying to catch glimpses of God's workings, from any quarter,-throwing ourselves forward upon Him and waiting on Him,—we sit at home, bringing everything to ourselves, enthroning ourselves in our own views, and refusing to believe anything that does not force itself upon us as true. Our private judgment is made everything to us,―is contemplated, recognized, and consulted, as the arbiter of all questions, and as independent of everything external to us. Nothing is considered to have an existence except so far forth as our own minds discern it. The notion of half views and partial knowledge, of guesses, surmises, hopes and fears, of truths
faintly apprehended and not understood, of isolated facts in the great scheme of Providence, in a word, the idea of mystery is discarded.
Hence, a distinction is drawn between what is called Objective and Subjective Truth, and Religion is said to consist in the reception of the latter. By Objective Truth is meant the Religious System considered as existing in itself, external to this or that particular mind. By Subjective is meant that which each mind receives in particular, and considers to be such. To believe in Objective Truth is to throw ourselves forward upon that which we have but partially mastered or made subjective; to embrace, maintain, and use general propositions which are larger than our own capacity, of which we cannot see the bottom, which we cannot follow out into their multiform details ; to come before and bow before the import of such propositions, as if we were contemplating what is real and independent of human judgment. Such a belief, implicit, and symbolized as it is in the use of creeds, seems to the Rationalist superstitious and unmeaning, and he consequently confines faith to the province of Subjective Truth, or to the reception of doctrine, as, and so far as, it is met andapprehended by the mind, which will be differently, as he considers, in different persons, in the shape of orthodoxy in one, heterodoxy in another. That is, he professes to believe in that which he opines, and he avoids the obvious extravagance of such an avowal by maintaining that the moral trial involved in Faith does not lie in the submission of the reason to external realities partially disclosed, but in what he calls that candid pursuit of truth which ensures the eventual adoption of that opinion on the subject, which is best for us individually, which is most natural, according to the constitution of our minds, and therefore divinely intended for us. I repeat, he owns that faith, viewed with
reference to its objects, is never more than an opinion, and is pleasing to God, not as an active principle, apprehending definite doctrines, but as a result and fruit, and therefore an evidence of past diligence, independent enquiry, dispassionateness, and the like. Rationalism takes the words of Scripture as signs of ideas: Faith, of things or realities. ("Essays Crit. and Hist.," vol. I., p. 31.)
THE GOD OF MONOTHEISM AND THE GOD OF RATIONALISM.
WITH us Catholics, as with the first race of Protestants, as with Mahometans, and all Theists, the word God contains a theology in itself. According to the teaching of Monotheism God is an Individual, Self-dependent, Allperfect, Unchangeable Being; intelligent, living, personal, and present; Almighty, all-seeing, all-remembering; between whom and His creatures there is an infinite gulf; who has no origin, who is all-sufficient for Himself; who created and upholds the universe; who will judge every one of us, sooner or later, according to that law of right and wrong which He has written on our hearts. He is One who is sovereign over, operative amidst, independent of the appointments which He has made. One in whose hands are all things, who has a purpose in every event, and a standard for every deed, and thus has relations of His own towards the subject-matter of each particular science which the book of knowledge unfolds; who has with an adorable, never-ceasing energy, implicated Himself in all the history of creation, the constitution of nature, the course of the world, the origin of society, the
fortunes of nations, the action of the human mind; and who thereby necessarily becomes the subject-matter of a science far wider and more noble than any of those which are included in the circle of secular education.
This is the doctrine which belief in a God implies in the mind of a Catholic: if it means anything it means all this, and cannot keep from meaning all this, and a great deal more; and even though there were nothing in the religious tenets of the last three centuries to disparage dogmatic truth, still, even then, I should have difficulty in believing that a doctrine so mysterious, so peremptory, approved itself as a matter of course to educated men of this day, who gave their minds attentively to consider it. Rather, in a state of society such as ours, in which authority, prescription, tradition, habit, moral instinct, and the divine influences, go for nothing; in which patience of thought, and depth and consistency of view, are scorned as subtle and scholastic; in which freè discussion and fallible judgment are prized as the birthright of each individual, I must be excused if I exercise towards this age, as regards its belief in this doctrine, some portion of that scepticism which it exercises itself towards every received but unscrutinized assertion whatever. I cannot take it for granted, I must have it brought home to me by tangible evidence, that the spirit of the age means by the Supreme Being what Catholics mean. Nay, it would be a relief to my mind to gain some ground of assurance that the parties influenced by that spirit had, I will not say a true apprehension of God, but even so much as the idea of what a true apprehension is.
Nothing is easier than to use the word, and mean nothing by it. The heathens used to say, "God wills," when they meant "Fate;" "God provides," when they meant Chance;" "God acts," when they meant "Instinct" or
"Sense;" and "God is everywhere," when they meant "the Soul of Nature." The Almighty is something infinitely different from a principle, or a centre of action, or a quality, or a generalization of phenomena. If, then, by the word, you do but mean a Being who keeps the world in order, who acts in it, but only in the way of general Providence, who acts towards us but only through what are called laws of Nature, who is more certain not to act at all than to act independent of those laws, who is known and approached indeed, but only through the medium of those laws; such a God it is not difficult for any one to conceive, not difficult for any one to endure. If, I say, as you would revolutionize society, so you would revolutionize heaven, if you have changed the divine sovereignty into a sort of constitutional monarchy, in which the Throne has honour and ceremonial enough, but cannot issue the most ordinary command except through legal forms and precedents, and with the counter-signature of a minister, then belief in a God is no more than an acknowledgment of existing, sensible powers and phenomena, which none but an idiot can deny. If the Supreme Being is powerful or skilful, just so far forth as the telescope shows power, and the microscope shows skill, if His moral law is to be ascertained simply by the physical processes of the animal frame, or His will gathered from the immediate issues of human affairs, if His Essence is just as high and deep and broad and long as the universe, and no more; if this be the fact, then will I confess that there is no specific science about God, that Theology is but a' name, and a protest in its behalf an hypocrisy. Then is He but coincident with the laws of the universe; then is He but a function, or correlative, or subjective reflection and mental impression, of each phenomenon of the material or moral world, as it flits before us. Then, pious as it is to think of Him, while the