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In studying the Bible, what is the Function of Faith, and what
that of Reason? THE Bible is a book of books. Some were written many centuries before the others. The writers wrote under different circumstances. Some of the records are more fragmentary than others. Some are more poetical or legendary than others. To view the collection as a unit, a theocratic ukase, a fetich or idol, is to look with the eyes half shut. Even assuming that there are three aspects of human existence,– the life practical, the life intellectual, and the life religious or mystical,- and that each has its own requirements in point of understanding, still our obligation to revere must be at one with our necessity to analyze. With mysteries, with whatever surpasses reason, ratiocination meddles in vain. But as to absurdities, as to whatever contradicts reason, it is our duty to guard and exercise the function of a faculty quite as heaven-bequeathed as imagination, emotion, or intuition. Hereon concur certain pretty generally accepted aphorisms of some fifty most eminent thinkers. Incidentally, in many of them, “wisdom” will be found to be distinguished from “ knowledge.” First of all, Jesus and Paul:
And where, then, is the final judge of truth
Why, of yourselves, judge ye not what is right?"
Prove all things, and hold fast to what is good!”
Sure he that made us with such large discourse, looking before and after, gave us not that capability and godlike reason to rust in us unused.
Reason is the only faculty we have wherewith to judge concerning anything, even Revelation itself. Its duty in relation to the Scriptures is to judge not whether they contain things different from what we should have expected from a wise, just, and good Being, but whether they contain things plainly contradictory to wisdom, justice, and goodness, as elsewhere taught us of God.-Bishop Joseph Butler.
If reason justly contradicts an article, it is not of the household of faith.— Jeremy Taylor.
He that takes away reason to make way for Revelation puts out the light of both, and does much the same as if he would persuade a man to put out his eyes, the better to receive the remote light of an invisible star by telescope. . Every sect, as far as reason will help them, gladly use it: when it fails them, they cry out, It is a matter of faith and above reason.
- John Locke It may be said, almost without qualification, that true wisdom consists in the ready and accurate perception of analogies. Without the former quality, knowledge of the past is uninstructive; without the latter, it is deceptive.- Archbishop Richard Whately.
Faith affirms many things respecting which the senses are silent, but nothing that they deny.- Charles Pascal.
In religion, which is the science of life in its relations Godward, we want facts first, and imagination, with all its treasures of worship, idealism, sentiment, and mysticism, afterwards.- Vicar Thomas W. Fowle (Reconciliation of Religion and Science, p. 153).
Faith evermore looks upward, and descries objects that are remote; but reason can discover things only near,— sees nothing that's above. - Francis Quarles.
Reason cannot show itself more reasonable than to cease reasoning on things that are above reason.- Sir Philip Sidney.
The only right contrast to set up between faith and reason is not that faith grasps what is too hard for reason, but that reason does not, like faith, attend to what is at once so great and so simple. The difficulty about faith is to attend to what is very simple and very important, but liable to be pushed by more showy or tempting matters out of sight. The marvel about faith is that what is so simple should be so all-sufficing, so necessary, and so often neglected. And faith is neither the submission of the reason, nor is it the acceptance simply absolutely upon testimony of what reason cannot reach. Faith is the being able to cleave to a power of goodness appealing to our higher and real self, not to our lower or apparent self.Dr. Matthew Arnold.
Reason is but analyzed faith.-Schumann.
When my reason is afloat, my faith cannot long remain in suspense, and I believe in God as firmly as in any other truth whatever; in short, a thousand motives draw me to the consolatory side, and add the weight of hope to the equilibrium of reason.—.
- Jean J. Rousseau. Accurate and just reasoning is the only catholic remedy fitted for all persons and all dispositions, and is alone able to ubvert that abstruse philosophy and metaphysical jargon, which being mixed up with popular superstition renders it in a manner impenetrable to careless reasoners and gives it the air of science and wisdom.David Hume.
In religious concerns, reason without faith tends to casuistry. Not in jurisprudence alone applies the ancient maxim: [Apices juris non sunt jura] Subtleties of law are not law.* — Judge John McLean.
Extremely reverential and extremely analytical tendencies of mind both have their dangers.- L. Maria Child.
Conscience is not law; no, God and reason made the law, and have placed conscience within you to determine.- Laurence Sterne.
Christian faith is a grand cathedral with divinely pictured windows. Standing without, you see no glory nor can possibly imagine any; standing within, every ray of light reveals a harmony of unspeakable splendors.- Nathaniel Hawthorne.
The common lights of reason and conscience and love are of more worth and dignity than the rare endowments which give celebrity to a few.- Dr. William E. Channing.
Love reasons without reason.- - Shakspere.
The heart has reasons that reason does not understand.- Bishop Jacques B. Bossuet.
A loving heart is the truest wisdom.- Charles Dickens.
The heart o'erwhelms, with whisper clear,
The cavil, “Who awoke to see?
The wail of lone Gethsemane.
* See post, chap. xxxiv., Tyndall's reply to Mozley, as to two distinct courts of appeal, etc.
Reason is, so to speak, the police of the kingdom of art, seeking only to preserve order. In life itself, a cold arithmetician who adds up our follies. Sometimes, alas! only the accountant in bankruptcy of a broken heart.- Heinrich Heine.
Man is a reasoning rather than a reasonable being.-- Sir William Hamilton.
It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of anything he was never reasoned into.... Reason is a very light rider and easily shook off.- Dean Jonathan Swift.
Virtue is an angel; but she is a blind one, and must ask of Knowledge to show her the pathway that leads to her goal. Mere knowledge, on the other hand, like a Swiss mercenary, is ready to combat either in the ranks of sin or under the banners of righteousness,- ready to forge cannon-balls or to print New Testaments, to navigate a corsair's vessel or a missionary ship.- Horace Mann.
A few strong instincts and a few plain rules
William Wordsworth. Revelation may be conceived of as a divine education of the race.- Gotthold E. Lessing.
The wildest theories of the human reason were reduced to practice by a community so humble that no statesman condescended to notice it
, and a legislation without precedent was produced off-hand by the instincts of the people.- George Bancroft.
Almost all the great truths relating to society were not the result of scholarly meditation," hiving up wisdom with each curious year,” but have been first heard in the solemn protests of martyred patriotism and the loud cries of crushed and starving labor. ... New England learned more of the principles of toleration from a lyceum committee doubting the dicta of editors and bishops when they forbade it to put Theodore Parker on its platform; more from a debate whether the anti-slavery cause should be so far countenanced as to invite one of its advocates to lecture; from Sumner and Emerson, George William Curtis and Edwin P. Whipple refusing to speak unless a negro could buy his way into their halls as freely as any other, - New England has learned more from these lessons than she has or could have done from all the treatises on free printing from Milton and Roger Williams, through Locke down to Stuart Mill. — Wendell Phillips (The Scholar in a Republic, p. 12).
The tree of knowledge is not that of life.— (Geo. G. Byron ?)
Knowledge dwells in heads replete with thoughts of other men; wisdom, in minds attentive to their own.- William Cowper.
To be wiser than other men is to be honester than they; and strength of mind is only courage to see and speak the truth.– William Hazlitt.
He that will not reason is a bigot; he that cannot reason is a fool; and he that dares not reason is a slave.—Sir William Drummond.
Where men have several faiths to find the true,
We only can the aid of reason use;
Sir William Davenant.
Knowledge comes, but Wisdom lingers.-Alfred Tennyson. Reason lies between the spur and the bridle.- George Herbert.
Truly a thinking man is the worst enemy the Prince of Darkness can have. - Thomas Carlyle. The mind is the atmosphere of the soul.- Francis Joubert.
Seize wisdom ere 'tis torment to be wise;
Dr. Edward Young.
We cannot live on probabilities. The faith in which we can live bravely and die in peace must be a certainty, so far as it professes to be a faith at all, or it is nothing.–Anthony Froude.
Intuition, instinct, experiment, syllogism,- vast quadrants of research! Gigantic reflectors of a light not their own! At the focal point of the four, religious science, strictly so called, lights its immortal torch.- Joseph Cook.
Syllogism is of necessary use, even to the lovers of truth, to show them the fallacies that are often concealed in florid, witty, or involved discourses.- John Locke.
Reason the root, fair Faith is but the flower;
Dr. Edward Young.
* An echo of the Saxon proverb: “No fool is a perfect fool until he has learned Latin."
Selden was the profoundest scholar of his day; died 1654.