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reference to the communion of the soul with Christ, in the eucharist, paved the way for the profane absurdity of transubstantiation, which was indirectly taught long before it was openly avowed in the ninth century. Episcopacy culminated in the popedom.
The lesson is obvious. It is contained in the old saying, principiis obsta. If God has made known truth, it is ours to believe. If he has revealed himself as our Father and Redeemer, it is ours to honor and love. If he has promised to teach and bless, it is ours to trust. If he has prescribed worship, it is ours to serve. If he has given us precepts, it is ours to obey. The belief, the honor, the love, the trust, the service, and the obedience, constitute religion. We must take it as it is. If we add, or alter, or omit, we corrupt. Even when specific injunction is wanting, and we are left to our own choice, our decision must be influenced by the spiritual and the holy, and we must be careful not to infringe on “the analogy of faith.” affect the fanciful, the showy, or the austere, we may do irreparable injury to the good cause. The church is safe only as she recognizes the sole authority of her heavenly King, as expressed and declared in his statute-book; and there is no other statute-book than the Word of the Lord. Decrees of councils, acts of parliament, imperial proclamations, are mere “wind and confusion." “The Bible, the Bible only, is the religion" of the church of Christ.
All this is confirmed by the records of history. Decay of piety has always followed the increase of will-worship, and the effect has reproduced the cause. Christianity had been shorn of its strength during the first half of the third century. In the Decian persecutions there was a partial recovery of power, which was lost again on the restoration of peace, and the progress of declension was so marked and rapid, that Eusebius the ecclesiastical historian dwells on it with melancholy prolixity.' The Diocletian persecution offered the means of a terrible cleansing, and in some parts of the empire it was for a time effectual. But the human element regained influence, and genuine godliness was long in the descending scale, sinking deeper and deeper till it was almost out of sight. With here and there a bright exception, the leading men, all through the middle-age period, were the slaves of tyranny and superstition, and helped forward the bondage, plunging the masses into lower depths. Tradition and earthly authority had supplanted the Word of God. The true church had retired into the wilderness.
She was there,—not dead,—not asleep,—but hidden. And in that state she remained for centuries, “persecuted, but not forsaken,
1 Hist. Eccles. Lib. viii. c. 1.
cast down, but not destroyed.” She came into the light at the time of the Reformation, and shines still with growing brightness, illuminating country after country. But why the enemy was permitted to "come in like a flood,"—why the downward tendency was suffered to take effect so soon, and to work so mischievously,—why, instead of constant advance and victory, the church has had to struggle with checks and hindrances, and fiercest opposition, so that, in this nineteenth century, the professors of Christianity constitute a minority of the world's population, and only a small portion of them "worship God in the spirit,” or are contented with the doctrine and ritual of of the New Testament, will not be fully understood till the present dispensation has come to its close, and “the mystery of God shall be finished.”
We are told that “it is the glory of God to conceal a thing." Prov. xxv. 2. The concealment on his part requires confidence on ours ; and with confidence, submission and cheerful service. Let us study the Master's will, and render hearty obedience, patiently waiting the disclosures of the next state of being. “ Blessed is that servant whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing," and "blessed are all they that wait for him."
J. M. CRAMP. WOLFVILLE, Nova Scotia.
THE RELATIONS OF SKEPTICISM AND
transcended the proper limits of investigation, or if it never hid a most dogmatic assertion under the pretence of a question, there could be no great harm in skepticism. Within certain limits, inquiry is proper, because it is the necessary means by which the materials of knowledge are gathered; but if we step beyond these inquiry becomes improper, because the crude materials should have been wrought into knowledge. Intellectual life is not the neveradvancing round of the tread-mill. There is a time when inquiry is proper, because necessary; if man would know her secrets he must interrogate nature. There is also a time when inquiry is improper, because certain truths may safely be assumed as fixed and determined, and questioning should have ceased in conviction. Perpetual inquiry is an assertion of perpetual uncertainty. Phenomena, facts, are proper subjects of investigation, and in regard to these skepticism is allowable. Laws, principles, demand conviction, and only the facts upon which they are based are open to investigation. It is worth while to investigate phenomena only because of their assumed relation to law. Facts are the means by which we reach ends—that is principles—but when the end is reached, the fact or phenomenon has lost its value; we now deal with the sum total and not with the individual units. We investigate phenomena, not that we may know
the phenomena any better, but that we may discover the law that determines them. We study facts, not simply that we may know facts, but that we may elucidate the principles upon which they depend. Aggregated facts or correlated phenomena do not compose the body of science. We find the polar points of the intellectual sphere in phenomena and law, or fact and principle. A phenomenon appeals to sense and demands inquiry; a law appeals to reason and demands conviction.
If a phenomenon exist, some sense will reveal it to us. To gain this knowledge is the legitimate function of the physical system. But sense never goes beyond the discovery of phenomena; it never reaches law. Gravity had acted in accordance with the same unchanging law, for ages before Newton looked through the fact to the principle. The sense of every man had perceived the phenomenon, but the senses never discovered the law, because that discovery is reserved to reason alone. On the other hand, it is not the province of reason to discover phenomena. It can tell us what ought to be, according to an assumed hypothesis, but, unaided, it can never tell us what is.
Skepticism, as we understand it, claims that the human mind can never reach conviction ; that facts can never become anything more than facts; and consequently it denies the existence of everything but phenomena. Accordingly, the contingent and phenominal can never pass into unquestioned law or established principle, but the sphere of human knowledge must forever be limited by the range of the senses. Belief is to be conceded only to what is capable of demonstration that is, to exact measurement-and the claim that any truth above the definite handling of reason can reach conviction, is baseless and futile, if not absurd. No man can doubt what has been adequately proven. The question is: Must man believe what has not been and cannot be definitely proven ? Skepticism answers this question in the negative; faith answers it in the affirmative. Skepticism asserts that facts compose the knowable; faith adds principles.
The issue between skepticism and scholarship is, ultimately, a metaphysical disagreement; and the very existence of the question, as a question, proves the inadequacy of the so-called positive philosophy, or philosophy of fact, to meet the demands of scientific investigation. If the Organon of Aristotle was at one extreme, the Novom Organon of Bacon is equally at the other. Either adopted as the exclusive method, leads to errors opposite, but equally pernicious. We must not ignore facts, but we may not ignore principles. A principle is a
fact which has lost the essential characteristic of a fact by becoming universal. A law is that in a phenomenon which is unchangeable. By becoming universal and unchangeable, the fact or phenomenon passes beyond the reach of the senses. A principle, therefore, cannot be definitely proven; it can only be stated. We cannot prove the law of gravity; we can only enunciate it anew, as experiment after experiment reveals the same result. If, then, we are to believe only in what can be proven, we will believe only in facts, and limit the possible by experience; and making sense the measure of the knowable, we deny to human reason the possibility of recognizing the infinite or unconditioned. Is this result approved by scholarship?
The question is, simply stated, Is anything not phenomenal and contingent within the reach of man? Faith affirms, holding that
, which is phenomenal and contingent to be related only to the senses which cannot recognize a permanent impression. The flagman waves his flag, not that the surveyor may see it when in motion, but that he may still see it when at rest. So the changeable phenomena of nature present themselves to our senses, not that we may see the variable phenomena, but that we may elucidate the invariable law. Faith holds that the reason can recognize that which is necessary, and therefore infinite, in one direction at least. Skepticism takes the negative, holding that man can never reach certainty, because he can only be sure of the shifting phenomena which affects his senses. We can see the flag only when it is in motion; when it comes to rest it is no longer discoverable. Phenomena thus including all possible knowledge within their ever-changing limits, man can never reach conviction, but must forever be restricted to wavering uncertainty and ceaseless questioning
The skeptical method, of course, reduces all mental phenomena to the level of the physical. Thought is simply a force generated by the interaction of certain substances, and is as material as magnetism. Consciousness being thus robbed of its one great treasure, the distinction between man and animal ceases to be one of nature; and, stripped of the divine prerogatives of reason and conscience, man stands side by side with the brute, if indeed he must not look up to him with filial respect. Faith affirms that man is more than animal; that he is not wholly under the dominion of the senses; that, because endowed with reason he can recognize the permanent, the unconditioned, the infinite,thus coming into intelligent relationship with his Creator.
Scholarship recognizes the fact that any truth becomes infinite,