The Religion of Reason
Natural Theology, Reason, Ancient Authorities, Cosmogony, Biblical Authority, Infidelity, Immorality, Class, Experiment, Faith
Defines reason as 'the intellectual faculties of man, engaged in the investigation of religion, without any communication of that "wisdom which cometh from above"'. Determines to 'shew that it has been weighed in the balance and found wanting'. Sets out to examine the 'fancied perfections of those ancient philosophers, who were most celebrated for virtue and wisdom'. Contrasts human reason in the pre-lapsarian state with that after the fall. Observes that, even before the fall reason was still not the sole guide of 'man', who 'lived in familiar intercourse with his Maker, and was favoured with occasional communications of his will', and that now it is far from being 'a competent judge in matters of religion'. Considers it difficult to distinguish natural religion from the 'traditional remains' of revelation. (299) Argues that a belief in the existence of God might be 'discovered by reason', but that 'a satisfactory demonstration is to be found only in the writings of Christians'. Reviews scathingly the various cosmogonies of ancient philosophers, and the infidelity and immorality which accompanied them. Argues that, while some ancient writers adduced arguments in support of the doctrine of the immortality of the soul worthy of attention, the reason for the general belief in the doctrine was the passing down of a 'tradition, or fragment of revelation, preserved amid the general wreck'. Considers that reason may throw 'considerable light on the being of God' and may 'even convey some notion of his attributes', but 'when it undertakes the question between God and man, it finds it to be impracticable'. 'It can awaken the fears of guilt, but it cannot appease them'. (302) Argues that, while a knowledge of the evidences of Christianity confirms the faith of believers and offers them great delight, they are by no means essential. Celebrates those 'good and holy' people in the 'humbler walks of life' who have no 'philosophic arguments', but have 'experimental evidence' of the truth of the Bible by the power of the Holy Spirit (303).
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020
Printed from Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: An Electronic Index, v. 4.0, The Digital Humanities Institute <http://www.sciper.org> [accessed ]