« ÎnapoiContinuați »
the radical concepts which form their foundation, and, before all, the concept of the Infinite, could have been developed, taking for granted nothing but sensuous perception on one side, and the world by which we are surrounded on the other.'
The principal objection to this statement is its incompleteness. It does not propose to find out how the roots of the various religions were actually developed, but how they could have been. No conclusion of scientific certainty can possibly come from such a process. Further, Mr. Müller proposes to conduct his investigation without any reference to the nature of man, or to the relations in which he stands to his Creator; while the Creator, under the name of the Infinite,' is admitted to be the aim and end of all religion in man. It is evident, therefore, that, keeping within the bounds of the above description, the results at which
' the students of the science of religion arrive' cannot be conclusive, because some of the most important and fundamental data are omitted from the discussion. We are not surprised, that on this incomplete method he should have arrived at the conclusion that a revelation direct from God, is as impossible as that 'a complete grammar and dictionary should suddenly come down from heaven;' and that, if it had been possible for God to make such a revelation, it would have been useless.
My purpose in this volume is to show the simple contrary of the Professor's conclusion ; and without going beyond his lines of thought, except so far as to supply the omissions above indicated, I hope to prove that a direct Divine revelation is a necessary correlative of humanity.
It will be seen that in the discussion of the several sides of the subject, I have used the Old and New Testament Scriptures. But in doing this, I have not departed from a strictly logical course, as I have simply used them as authentic history, and in no case have attempted to establish a position on their authority as a Divine revelation. To this course I have been compelled by the absence of all other authorities. We have no cosmogony equal in completeness and consistency to the early part of Genesis. There is none other which is capable of acceptance by men of intelligence and learning; but this not only has given correct conceptions to past generations of comparative ignorance, it is also found to be in harmony with the advanced science of the present day. As man must have had a beginning, as there is no other narrative of that beginning which has any claim to be accepted, and as I cannot conceive of man having been left without any information of his origin, I have taken that in Genesis, especially as I find in it nothing incongruous.
The rest of the Old Testament is really the history of the Jewish nation on the side of its relation to its Divine King; and if we accept the history of other ancient nations, with their records of their gods and their worship, how can we reject the more carefully kept records of the Jewish people, which have, at any rate, equal certainty with the chronology and services of the Grecian festivals? If we look upon the songs of Homer as a practical exposition of the religion of Greece, on what authority are we prohibited from using the psalms of David, Asaph, and others as a practical exhibition of the religion of the Jews ? If we accept the oracles of Grecian shrines as responses actually given, why should we be required to give up the Old Testament prophecies, which not only were orally delivered, but recorded and jealously kept from the time of their utterance ?
I have used the Gospels as records of the earthly life of the Redeemer, and have stated the peculiar means of confirmation their narrative has in immediate connection with themselves. The Epistles are the only authentic history of the spiritual life in the primitive Church which we possess, and it is solely as such history that I have referred to them. Thus, all through I have employed the Bible simply as a history, in cases where we have no other record.
Some explanation may be expected of the reasons why the present form of statement has been adopted. I by no means think that the common mode of defending a Divine revelation is inconclusive or obsolete, but it has been so fully employed as to leave little else to be said ; besides, it does not directly meet the mistakes and misrepresentations of those who endeavour to account for all the religious history of man without God. As I have read and thought upon the various modern attacks upon the Scriptures as a Divine revelation, and upon Christianity as a whole, my own convictions of their truth have been established and strengthened by such a line of thought and by such facts as I have hereafter stated. I therefore desired to give to others what is to me an invulnerable wall of defence; also, as I know that the Incarnation of the Son of God is the best authenticated fact in history, so it must of necessity be the central fact of humanity, and all Divine revelation must spring out of and be completed in it. I therefore determined to see how far this à priori conclusion was confirmed by induction.
How far I have succeeded, the reader will judge. The effect of this discussion on my own mind has been simple confirmation. I have had, during the past forty-five years, so many opportunities of witnessing the operation of Christian faith in purifying, strengthening, and comforting men, both barbarian and civilised, under all changes of life, to say nothing of its influence on myself, that to me the spiritual life is as true an objective reality as the sun in the heavens; hence those theories which ignore, deride, or deny that life, have ever appeared as imperfect and one-sided. And the overpowering conviction of its reality as the end and completion of all Divine operation in and with man, has enabled me to see that in many cases those who have nominally opposed the Gospel have mistaken their object,