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is only those who have in some measure experienced them, who can be said, in the highest sense, to believe at all. He who La? never had a doubt, who believes what he believes for reasons which he thinks as irrefragable (if that be possible) as those of a mathematical demonstration, ought not to be said so much to believe as to know; his belief is to him knowledge, and his mind stands in the same relation to it, however erroneous and absurd that belief may be. It is rather he who believes—not indeed without the exercise of his reason, but without the full satisfaction of his reason—with a knowledge and appreciation of formidable objections—it is this man who may most truly be said intelligently to believe.' (Pages 213-217.)
The same thought is thus expressed in a short poem by Bp. Hinds:—
'And tha Apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.'—Luke xvii. 5.
'What! gazing on your Saviour's face,
'Yet so it is; belief springs still
'Did never thorus thy path beset?
'Wise men assuredly consider it as a most important element in the education of their own children, not indeed that they should be taught to believe what they are told without any reason (and if they have been properly trained, a just confidence in the assurances of their superiors in knowledge will on many subjects be reason sufficient), yet, upon evidence far less than demonstration; indeed, upon evidence far less than they will be able to appreciate, when the lapse of a few brief years has transformed them from children into men. We certainly expect that they will believe many things as facts, which as yet they cannot fidly comprehend—nay, which they tell us are, in appearance, paradoxical; and to rest satisfied with the assurance, thiit it is vain to attempt to explain the evidence until they get older and wiser. We are accustomed even to augur the worst results as to the future course and conduct of a youth who has not learned to exercise thus much of practical faith, and who flippantly, on the score of his not being able to comprehend them, rejects truths of which he yet has greater evidence, though not direct evidence, of their being truths, than he has of the contrary. Now, 'if we have had earthly fathers, and have given them reverence,' after this fashiou, and, when we have become men, have applauded our submission as appropriate to our condition of dependence, 'shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of Spirits, and live?' If, then, the present be a scene of moral education and discipline, it seems fit in itself that the evidence of the truths we believe should be checkered with difficulties and liable to objections; should be not strong enough to force assent, nor so obscure as to elude sincere investigation.
'God, according to the memorable aphorism of Pascal already cited, has afforded sufficient light to those whose object is to see, and left sufficient obscurity to perplex those who have no such wish. All that seems necessary or reasonable to expect is, that as we are certainly not called upon to believe anything without reason, nor without a preponderance of reason, so the evidence shall be such as our faculties are capable of dealing with; and that the objections shall be only such as equally baffle us upon any other hypothesis, or are insoluble only because they transcend altogether the limits of the human understanding: which last circumstance can be no valid reason, apart from other grounds, either for accepting or rejecting a given dogma.
'Now, we contend, that it is in this equitable way that God has dealt with us as moral agents, in relation to all the great truths which lie at the basis of religion and morals; and, wo may add, in relation to the divine origin of Christianity. The evidence is all of such a nature as we are accustomed every day to deal with and to act upon; while the objections are either such as reappear in every other theory, or turn on difficulties absolutely beyond the limits of the human faculties.' (Pages 217-218.)
'It is much the same with the evidences of Christianity. Whether a certain amount and complexity of testimony are likely to be false; whether it is likely that not one, but a number of men, would endure ignominy, persecution, and the last extremities of torture, in support of an unprofitable lie ; whether such an original fiction as Christianity—if it be a fiction—is likely to have been the production of Galilean peasants; whether anything so sublime was to be expected from fools, or anything so holy from knaves; whether illiterate fraud was likely to be equal to such a wonderful fabrication; whether infinite artifice may be expected from ignorance, or a perfectly natural and successful assumption of truth, from imposture:—these, and a multitude of the like questions, are precisely of the same natun, however they may be decided, with those with which the historian and the advocate, judges and courts of law, are every day required to deal. On the other hand, whether miracles have ever been, or are ever likely to be, admitted in the administration of the universe, is a question on which it would demand a far more comprehensive knowledge of that administration than we can possibly possess, to justify an a priori decision. That they are possible, is all that is required; and that, no consistent theist can deny. Other difficulties of Christianity, as Bishop Butler has so clearly shown, baffle us on every other hypothesis; they meet us as much in the 'constitution of nature,' as in the pages of revelation; and cannot consistently be pleaded against Christianity without being equally fatal to theism.
'There are two things, we will venture to say, at which the philosophers of some future age will stand equally astonished: the one is, that any man should have been called upon to believe any mystery, whether of philosophy or religion, without a preponderance of evidence of a nature which he can grasp, or on the mere ipse dixit of a fallible creature like himself; the other, that where there is such evidence, man should reject a mystery merely because it is one.
'This last, perhaps, will be regarded as the more astonishing of the two. That Man—who lives in a dwelling of clay, and looks out upon the illimitable universe through such tiny windows—who stands, as Pascal sublimely says, between 'two infinitudes'—who is absolutely surrounded by mysteries, which he overlooks only because he is so familiar with them,—should doubt a proposition (otherwise well sustained) from its intrinsic difficulty, does not seem very reasonable. But when we further reflect that that very mind which erects itself into a standard of all things, is, of all things, the most ignorant of that which it ought to know best—itself, and finds there the most inscrutable of all mysteries,—when we reflect that when asked to declare what itself is, it is obliged to confess that it knows nothing about the matter—nothing either of its own essence or its mode of operation,—that it is sometimes inclined to think itself material, and sometimes immaterial—that it cannot quite come to a conclusion whether the body really exists, or is a phantom, or in what way (if the body really exists) the intimate union between the two is maintained,—when we see it perplexed beyond expression, even to conceive how these phenomena can be reconciled —proclaiming it to be an almost equal contradiction to suppose that matter can think, or the soul be material, or a connexion maintained between two totally different substances, and yet admitting that one of these must be true, though it cannot satisfactorily determine which,—when we reflect on all this, surely we cannot but feel that the spectacle of so ignorant a Being refusing to believe a proposition, merely because it is above its comprehension, is, of all paradoxes, the most paradoxical, and of all absurdities, the most ludicrous.' (Pages 219, 220).
'There is nothing makes a man suspect much, more than to know little; and, therefore, men should remedy suspicion by procuring to know more.'
This is equally true of the suspicions that have reference to things as of persons. I extract a passage bearing upon this point, from the Cautions for the Times:—
'Multitudes are haunted by the spectres, as it were, of vague surmises and indefinite suspicions, which continue thus to haunt them, just because they are vague and indefinite,—because the mind has never ventured to look them boldly in the face, and put them into a shape in which reason can examine them.
'Now, would it not be an act of great charity towards such persons to persuade them to cast away their unreasonable timidity, and scrutinize such objections, instead of trying to banish them by force? For though, no doubt, some difficulties and objections will always remain that cannot be directly cleared up or answered, yet the vastly greatest number of seeming objections and difficulties can be satisfactorily removed by careful examination and increased knowledge; and the experience of this will lead us to be confident that, if we could proportionately enlarge our faculties aud acquirements (which is what we may hope for in a better world), the rest would vanish also. And, in the meanwhile, it is of great importance to know exactly what they are, lest our fancies should unduly magnify their number and weight; and also in order to make us see that they are as nothing in comparison of the still greater difficulties on the opposite side,— namely, the objections which we should have to encounter, if we rejected Christianity.
'Well, but,' it is said, 'though that course may be the best for well-read and skilful Divines, it is better not to notice objections generally, for fear of alarming and unsettling the minds of plain unlearned people, who had probably never heard of anything of the kind. Let them continue to read their Bible without being disturbed by any doubts or suspicions that might make them uneasy.'
'Now, if in some sea-chart for the use of mariners, the various rocks and shoals which a vessel has to pass in a certain voyage were to be wholly omitted, and no notice taken of them, no doubt many persons might happen to make the voyage safely, and with a comfortable feeling of security, from not knowing at all of the existence of any such dangers. But suppose some one did strike on one of these rocks, from not knowing—though the makers of the chart did—of its existence, and consequently perished in a shipwreck which he might have been taught to avoid,—on whose head would his blood lie?
'And again, if several voyagers came to suspect, from vague rumours, that rocks and shoals (perhaps more formidable than the real ones) did lie in their course, without any correct knowledge where they lay, or how to keep clear of them, then, so far from enjoying freedom from apprehension, they would be exposed to increased alarm—and much of it needless alarm,—without being, after all, preserved from danger.
'And so it is in the present case. Vague hints that learned men have objected to such and such things, and have questioned