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be contained, explicitly or implicitly, in Holy Writ; for otherwise, even though it should be a true and valuable principle, its belief cannot be necessary for salvation. It must be affirmed by the undivided Church, for no inferior body can claim the right to pronounce decisively and finally upon such solemn questions. It must be thus far agreeable to right reason, that it does not absolutely contradict, even if it transcend, that faculty; or that, at any rate, if it appears prima facie unreasonable, it is so far supported by the analogy of nature and the practice of men, as evidently to rest upon some rational basis, although at present but dimly visible. "To assert that God is one, and that God is three, in precisely the same sense and manner, would be a contradiction of reason; but such is not, we need scarcely observe, the Church's doctrine of the Holy Trinity. On the other hand, if the acceptance of the humiliation and suffering of an innocent Being, as an atonement for the sins of the guilty, seem at first sight incompatible with our notions of what is reasonable and just, yet such acceptance has been shown by Bishop Butler to be consistent with the analogy of nature, and it accords with the all but universal practice of offering sacrifice, and with the principles implied in the stories, whether legendary or historical, of the self-devotion of a Codrus and a Decius. And lastly, a dogma must be an article of saving faith. Enunciations of belief which fall short of this may be curious, interesting, and far from unimportant; may be abstractedly very reasonable, and not inharmonious with the revelations of God's Word; still they are not dogmas, but merely pious opinions, and consequently in nowise binding upon the conscience of a Christian man. Thus, for example, it is a pious opinion that the number of the redeemed in heaven will equal the number of the angels who fell. A great theologian, Archbishop Anselm, disputes this position, and maintains that it is more probable that the redeemed will exceed the number of those lost ones which kept not their first estate.' But he does not argue the point in the same spirit in which he would combat heresy.
• Bear in mind the condition on which I commenced a reply to your question; namely, that if I said anything which no greater authority confirms, that point (although I should seem to prove it by reason) should not be received with any certainty, further than that I in the meantime think so, until God in some way reveal to me better. For I am sure that if I say anything which clearly contradicts Holy Scripture, it is false, nor do I wish consciously to hold it; but if upon those subjects on which different opinions may be held without danger, as is that of which we now treat (for if we know not whether more men are to be saved than there were angels lost, or otherwise, and we approve one view rather than the other, I think that there is no danger to the soul); if, I say, on subjects of this
i Cf. Thomson's Bampton Lectures. Lect. II. and notes.
kind we so expound the divine sayings, that they seem to favour opposite opinions, and no ground can be discovered whence men may determine what should unhesitatingly be held, I do not imagine that we ought to be blamed.'?
A very different tone would le observable, if the writer had been discussing the one baptism for the remission of sins,' or the fall of man in Adam, or the resurrection of the body.
Our remarks have in some degree anticipated the question which has often been mooted, whether the heathen can properly be said to have possessed any religious dogmas. Inasmuch as they lacked a written revelation from the Most High, and had not among them any community to which was pledged the undying presence of the Holy Spirit, even the truths which they possessed failed, so to speak, in vital power, and became vague, obscure, and shifting in their character. Still they would not have sunk so low as they had fallen before the coming of Christ, had they at all acted up to the light that they really enjoyed. The eternal power and Godhead of the one Creator, as they had doubtless been traditionary truths, so too ought they (an Apostle assures us) to have been clearly seen and understood by His works.? Even among them we seem to trace adumbrations of holy dogmas, as the triads of the Pythagoreans and Platonists.
Aristotle represented his highest wisdom as dwelling on the thought of the self-existing substance, and accordingly called it Theology. The only one of the four great empires which was free from the guilt of having persecuted God's people, that of Persia, appears to have been the one which had retained the most systematic form of doctrine; and it is surely a solemn lesson to see how S. Paul, in the chapter just referred to, connects the corruption of the truth of God by the heathen with the fearful moral corruption which followed. If that kingdom of Satan was to be in any degree supplanted, even on earth, by a race who should exhibit a vast improvement when viewed in the mass, and in numberless individual instances what had previously appeared superhuman virtues, there was needed for a supernatural morality the support of a supernatural doctrine. The one sect, among those who profess and call themselves Christians, which has done the most to destroy the supernatural element of Christian doctrine, and would fain reduce it to a condition but little superior to pure theism, namely, that of Socinus, is, consistently enough, the most devoid of warmth and enthusiasm,the most alien from all that is poetic and romantic, from all that is tender or awe-inspiring in religion.
1 'Sed memento quo pacto incoepi tuæ respondere quæstioni : ut videlicet, si quid dixero quod major non confirmet auctoritas, quamvis illud ratione probare videar, non alia certitudine accipiatur; nisi quia interim mihi ita videtur, donec mihi Deus melius aliquo modo revelet. Certus enim sum, si quid dico quod sacræ Scripturæ absque dubio contradicat, quid falsum est : nec illud tenere volo, si cognovero. Sed si in illis rebus, de quibus diversa sentiri possint sine periculo, sicut est illud unde nunc agimus : si enim nescimus utrum plures homines eligendi sint, quàm sint Angeli perditi ; an non : et alterum horum æstimamus magis, quàm alterum ; nullum puto esse animæ periculum : si, inquam, in hujusmodi rebus sic exponimus divina dicta, ut diversis sententiis favere videantur; nec alicubi invenitur ubi quid indubitanter tenendum sit determinent, non arbitror reprehendi debere.'-Cur Deus Homo, lib. i. cap. 18.
2 Rom. i 20.
3"Ωστε τρεις αν ειεν φιλοσοφίαι θεωρητικαί, μαθηματική, φυσική, θεολογική. Ού γαρ άδηλον, ότι, είπου το θείον υπάρχει, εν τη τοιαύτη φύσει υπάρχει. και την Thu.wtátnu oci nepl TÒ TILÓTATOV 7évos elvai. — Aristot. Metaphys. lib. v. (vi.)
The necessity, therefore, for dogma depends upon this principle, that the living faith within man's heart must, if it is to be of any worth, rest upon something without, which is clear, definite, and true. The subjective feeling must find a correspondent objective reality. We know but of two ways of escape from this position. The objector must assert, either that sincere faith is satisfied with what is dim and vague; or else that the inward principle of faith is in itself of so much value, that it matters very little upon what object it may fasten itself. Now, that some degree of dimness must exist concerning the objects of the unseen world is, of course, a necessity during our present state of existence. Many of the terms supplied to Theology by Holy Scripture are such as we can but very partially and faintly understand : such are, for example, the words 'only-begotten,' with reference to the Eternal Son; or “ proceeding from,' as applied to the Holy Spirit. But what the Church maintains is, that her dogmatism is correct, her teaching true, 80 far as it goes, although waiting for a fuller and clearer manifestation, "until the day break, and the shadows filee away.'. This is surely neither an unintelligible nor an irrational claim; we see it constantly exemplified in our experience of every-day life. A child entering a room, finds a parent or teacher using a telescope. He asks for an explanation, and is allowed to look through it. Fresh inquiry ensues, and he is told that it is a brass tube furnished with glasses; and that these glasses are not all alike, though they may seem so; that some are called convex and some concave, but that he must wait till he is a little older to understand these names. Such knowledge is elementary and incomplete enough, but it is true in its degree ; and if our hypothetical infant meets a playmate who believes the tube to be made of gold, and the glasses to differ from each other in nothing but size, he is justified, with his superior information, in declaring such opinions to be false. And we are all but children here, and enjoined to cultivate a child-like spirit. But even the young look for positiveness in
what is taught them : in all Christian communions, catechisms containing short dogmatic statements are considered fitting spiritual food for their awakening minds. And so far from an ardent faith being content, as it grows up, with less of definiteness, the exact contrary has often been asserted, and, we believe, with perfect truth. So needful is a certain amount of system to the human mind, that faulty and untenable ones are adopted, often half-unconsciously, rather than that the mind should be left wholly bare of principles. And as for the theory that subjective faith is all in all, it can only be regarded as a specious form of infidelity. Fascinating to some minds it may be, for it has a strong tendency towards self-glorification, in that it makes an inward sentiment of inan's heart to be a creative principle of good. But when we look around the world, and see everywhere that man is a worshipping creature, and that further he will endeavour to assimilate himself, so far as is possible, to the Being whom he worships, it is idle to assert that it is of slight consequence whether his faith be reposed upon a Baal, or a Moloch requiring human sacrifices, or a God of mere benevolence, or one who meddles not with the affairs of men, and bas not in any way revealed himself to his creatures, or one who sympathises with them, and is himself material, and a partaker of their passions, or finally, One who is pure spirit
, all-holy, omniscient, omnipotent, perfectly just and yet all-merciful—in a word, the Christian's God.
The close connexion between sound faith and a good life will, we trust, receive further illustration in the course of our remarks. But, even if we were unable to discern any relationship between the two, it would still be our bounden duty to cherish and openly avow our belief in the dogmas of the Catholic faith. It is at least one way of confessing Christ before men.
With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.' Moreover, it is hard to understand how, without the aid of creeds and evidences, the great body of Christians can hope to answer every man,' and 'give a reason of the hope that is in them; or how their pastors can hold fast the faithful word according to doctrine, the form of sound words, such as Apostles delivered to their spiritual children,'* or exhort and convince the gainsayers.' The talent committed to her the Church cannot bury in the earth. Almighty God has en• trusted to the keeping of His Church a body of clear, definite, positive doctrine, which all Christians are required to believe,
2 Coloss. iv. 6.; 1 Pet. iii. 15. 3 'Αντεχόμενον του κατά την διδαχήν πιστού λόγου. Τit. 1. 9. * 2 Tim. i. 13; a text of great importance in its bearing upon our present subject.
i Rom. x. 10.
and without belief in which they cannot be saved; which body • of doctrine, or “ form of sound words," was given prior to
the Scriptures, for the Scriptures are full of allusion to it; is distinct from the Scriptures, but collateral to it; contains nothing which cannot be proved from Scripture, and is by • Scripture always and universally to be confirmed, yet is not
deduced from Scripture by men, nor dependent upon Scripture ' for the separate historical attestation to its apostolical origin; ' in one word, “that good thing committed to the Church, ' and always to be held fast, without which even the Scriptures ' may be perverted, and all objective forms of Gospel truth
be blotted out—the doctrine contained in the creeds. And as the humble and reverent study of Dogmatic Theology is intended to subserve the great cause of God's glory and man's highest welfare, so too we, in our ignorance, know not what other divine plans the publication of the truths thus attained may incidentally promote. Hints and glimpses of further designs beyond the immediate ones are revealed to us; for the incarnate Lord was seen not only of men, but likewise of angels;' and the truths of His revelation are things which the angels desire to look into;' and while His saints proclaim among the heathen His unsearchable riches, they are teaching not mankind alone, but causing too that now unto the princi
palities and powers in heavenly places should be made known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God.'?
In that fair form of divine wisdom, the dogmas have not inaptly been likened to the bones of the animal frame. Special study may be requisite to enable men to see any beauty in a skeleton,—the anatomist alone can discern how fearfully and wonderfully it is made; but it needs no science to perceive the imperfections of a pulpy, boneless creature, like the jelly-fish; and such, instead of a highly organized and nobly constituted structure, would soon become that theology which should attempt to discard all system and all dogma. On the other hand, this comparison suggests what is equally true, that the framework alone does not constitute the man. There was need of flesh and blood, nerves and muscles, heart and brain, before his Maker breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.' Dogmas, apart from the spiritual life of individuals, are but as the dry bones of the prophet's vision. It is to no purpose that the Church proclaims the tidings of a Saviour, if her children, sunk in careless apathy, have lost the sense of their personal need of Him. In vain are means of grace
1 Rev. W. Sewell. Sermon on Purification, A.D. 1848. ? 1 Tim. iii. 16; 1 Pet. i. 12; Ephes. iii. 10.