Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

observation of the uniformities of the world: that there will be some ultimate faculty in man capable of deciding with certainty upon the questions with which it deals: that different elements in these complex facts through which a revelation is given may be isolated and dealt with separately, but no partial investigation of the facts, so far as they fall within the domain of the inferior sciences can determine their theological value.

We

i. Such conclusions are justified by reflection and experience. For while we feel no less surely that GOD is than that we are and that the world is, and are conscious of an affinity to Him, we cannot come to a knowledge of Him from the interrogation of ourselves or of nature. cannot deduce from an examination of our own constitution what He must be. This would be impossible in any case for an imperfect and finite creature; and if the creature be also fallen and sinful the impossibility is intensified. We must then look without ourselves for the knowledge of GOD. But here again we cannot command at our pleasure adequate sources of information. Experiment is capable only of rare application to the complicated phenomena of life and it can have no place in regard to the will of an Infinite Being. If then we are to know GOD, He must

III.]

to man from GOD.

79

in His own way make Himself known to us, and we on our part must be able to recognise and to give a personal welcome to the revelation.

It does not appear to be necessary to discuss the question whether GOD can reveal Himself to man, or rather whether man continuing to be what he is can receive a revelation of GOD. The possibility of a revelation is included in the idea which we have of GOD; and finds a characteristic expression in the belief that man was made "in the image of GOD." This original idea belongs, as we have assumed, to the fulness of the individual life; and it is realised more and more fully through life. It does not obtain its mature form at once either for the individual or for the race. It follows therefore that if a revelation be given to man it must also come to him through life. It will be addressed, that is, to the whole man and not to a part of man, as (for example) to the intellect or to the affections. It will, in other words, be presented in facts and not in words only. Man will learn to know more and more of GOD-and this is the teaching of history and experience—not by purely intellectual processes, but by intercourse with Him, by listening to His voice and interpreting the signs which He gives of His presence and His will.

These facts of revelation then, these 'signs' (onμeîa) in the language of the New Testament, are the fundamental facts of Theology. Either in themselves or from the circumstances of their occurrence they are such as to suggest the immediate presence or action of GOD, of a personal power producing results not explicable by what we observe in the ordinary course of nature. They are not properly proofs of a teaching from which they are dissociated, but the teaching itself in a limited form which appeals to men through human experience. They have a spiritual power, and, so far, they are 'spiritually discerned' while the intellect prepares the way for this discernment. They indicate in all cases something of the connexion between the seen and the unseen. Theology, even in its simplest form, claims to set forth this connexion; and Christian Theology, to take the completest example, of which every other Theology is in some measure a preparation or a reflex, offers to us this connexion definitely established for ever in a historical manifestation of GOD--in the Incarnation and Passion and Resurrection of the Lord-which as it extends to the whole of life opens also an inexhaustible fountain of wisdom as our knowledge of life becomes deeper and wider.

III.]

through life.

81

Thus the historical facts through which the Christian Revelation is given, are the spiritual facts of Christian Theology, which are added to what we know or can know of GOD from other sources. The events which are proclaimed as human contain also an emphatic declaration of something transcendental, of an atonement, a restored union of man and of humanity and of the world with GOD in Christ.

On one side these signs-the special manifestations of the action of GOD and consequently of His character and purposes-are facts. So far they fall within the domain of history, and are subject to the ordinary laws of historical investigation. But they are But they are more than facts which belong to the visible order. As facts which belong to the visible order they can be investigated by the ordinary methods of criticism, but something will still remain to be apprehended by a spiritual faculty. They have a historic side inasmuch as they are events in human life, but no simply historic process can lay open their inner significance. They are capable again of a logical interpretation, but no system of deductive exposition can supersede the vital apprehension of the facts themselves. The facts which are the foundation of Theology are suggested by but

W. G. L.

6

are not identical with the external phenomena through which we are made acquainted with them. They are, as is obvious in the case of the Resurrection, an interpretation of the phenomena. The outward facts become facts in this higher sense, truths without ceasing to be facts.

ii. How then can we be assured that these facts are facts not only in their historical but also in their spiritual aspect? The law of testimony will carry us to a conclusion as to the outward phenomenon. How can we be sure of its divine import? I do not hesitate to reply that we are by nature made capable of judging on this point also.

Nor is the assumption of the existence of such a power of recognition, of apprehension, of interpretation of the divine, at variance with what we have noticed hitherto. So far from this being so, the assumption corresponds with what we have actually seen in the case of induction and testimony, which serve as the foundations of physical and historical certainty. It is in no way more surprising that I should say when a moral principle is presented to me, I acknowledge this as of absolute obligation, or when a unique occurrence is related to me, I acknowledge this as a

« PoprzedniaDalej »