Chapter III



{theological Introduction not only divides and arranges the parts of theological science, but ako defines its general nature, and assigns it a place in the sum-total or encyclopaedia of knowledge. The important point of definition belongs here, and also the connection of theology with other sciences. This brings us to consider the Nature and Definition of Theological Science.

Theology is a science that is concerned with both the Infinite and the Finite, with both God and the Universe. The material, therefore, which it includes is vaster than that of any other science. It is also the most necessary of all the sciences. "Divinity," says Coleridge (Table-Talk, March 14, 1833), "is essentially the first of the professions, because it is necessary for all men at all times; law and physics are only necessary for some men at some times."

Theology must not be identified with ethics. This is greatly to narrow it. Ethics, strictly, is the science of morals or duties, and is very limited compared with theology. It includes: 1. Duties toward God. 2. Duties toward man. Ethics is concerned only with the moral law in both tables. It does not properly include the gospel or redemption. Ethics is wholly legal. It is true that ethics is affected by Christian theology; so that Christian ethics differs greatly from pagan ethics. It is more comprehensive, because pagan ethics is confined to duties between man and man, while Christian ethics embraces duties toward God. Christian ethics differs also from pagan in respect to the motive presented. In pagan ethics, the motive is legal and founded in fear; in Christian ethics, the motive is evangelical and founded in love. St. Paul indicates the motive in Christian ethics, in Rom. 12:1: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God." Also in 2 Cor. 7:1: "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit." The motive for the discharge of Christian duty is the love of God in Christ towards the forgiven sinner. There is no such motive as this in pagan ethics.

Yet theology contains immensely more than belongs even to Christian ethics, because it includes the doctrines of the trinity, the incarnation, the apostasy, and redemption, together with those of eschatology. None of these divisions belong properly to ethics. Some of the systems of Christian ethics, like that of Rothe for example, are unscientific because they confuse and confound departments of science, erase the lines between law and gospel, morality and religion, and under the title of ethics discuss all the mysteries of revelation.

Theology (Seov \0y0?) is the science of God. The Supreme Being is the object and theme of theological investigation. The term as we have before remarked has a wide and a restricted signification. In the wide and common meaning in which we now employ it, theology includes not only the trinitarian nature and existence of God, but also the relations of man and the universe to him. It is thus inclusive of religion; and some define theology to be the science of religion. This definition has had considerable currency. It is defective however because it mentions God, the proper object of the science, only by implication and inference. But a technical definition ought to specify directly, not indirectly, the principal subject-matter.

Religio, according to Cicero, is derived from relego, and signifies a careful reflection or meditation of the mind. "Qui autem omnia quae ad cultum deorum pertinerent diligenter retractarent, et tanquam relegerent, sunt dicti religiosi, ex relegendo; ut elegantes ex eligendo, a diligendo diligentes, ex intelligendo intelligentes." De natura deorum, II. 28. According to this etymology, religion means reverence and worship. These result from reflection upon God and divine things. But Lactantius disputes this etymology, and derives religio from religo. "Hoc vinculo obstricti deo et religati sumus: unde ipsa religio nomen recepit, non ut Cicero interpretatus est, a relegendo." Institutiones, IV. 28. According to this etymology, religion denotes duty, or the obligation of the creature towards the Creator. Man is bound or tied back to God. In this sense, Shakespeare speaks of "religion to the gods." Timon, IV. i. Lactantius asserts, further, that mere meditation would not distinguish religion from superstition; the true God from false gods. Hence the notion of obligation afforded by religo is necessary. Augustine takes the same view with Lactantius. City of God, X. iii.

But whichever etymology be adopted, only the relations of man to God, not God himself, are indicated by the word "religion." To derive the definition of theology from this term, is to define a science from one of its parts or phases, rather than from its subject-matter or principal object of investigation. Religion, strictly, would discuss only the relations of man to the deity; but theology treats first of the deity himself, and then inferentially of the relations of the creature to him.

Augustine (City of God, VHT. i.) defines theology to be "rational discussion respecting the deity;" de divinitate rationem sive sermonem. Turrettin (I. v. 1) defines the object of any science to be "that which is principally treated of, and to which all the conclusions refer," and affirms that the object of theology is God and divine things. He argues that this is so from the names of the science, SeoXoyia and Seocre/3eia, and from the fact that the Scriptures, wr ich are the fountain-head of the science, treat principally of God. The Westminster catechism (Q. 5) also favors this definition of theology, in its statement that the " Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man." Here, the nature and attributes of God are regarded as the primary matter, and man's relations and duty to him the secondary. Aquinas also adopts this definition. "Omnia pertractantur in sacra doctrina sub ratione dei, vel quia sunt ipse deus, vel quia habent ordinem ad deum ut ad principium,et finem. TJnde sequitur quod deus vere sit subjectum hujus scientiae." Summa, I. i. 7.

It has been objected by John of Damascus (De orthodoxa fide, III. xxiv.) that theology is not properly speaking the science of God, because it is impossible to say what God is. Aquinas (Summa, I. i. 7) replies to this objection, that " if the qualities and relations of an object are the subject matter of any science, it is proper to call it the science of this object." And it is certain that there could be no science of anything, if it is asserted that there must first be a perfect comprehension. There is no science of matter any more than of God, if by science be meant a knowledge that excludes all mystery. The ultimate elements in chemistry are as much beyond complete apprehension as the divine attributes.

Science iajprqfound and self-consistent knowledge. Depth and logical coherence are the two characteristics of scientific in distinction from popular apprehension. If statements result from a superficial view, they are not scientific; and if they clash with one another, they are not science. The distinction between popular and scientific knowledge is founded upon this. The common mind oftentimes adopts errors and contradictions which the edncated mind detects and rejects. Sometimes science itself is superficial, and unworthy of the name. Astronomy previous to Copernicus was founded upon a superficial view of the heavens; merely upon what every man's eyes saw when he looked abroad upon the surface of the earth, or above upon the surface of the sky. Space had no depth. It was only a plane surface. The result was a self-contradictory astronomy. New motions in the heavens were continually appearing that conflicted with the old, and when they were described upon the map of the heavens, it was, in Milton's phrase, "with cycle and epicycle scribbled o'er." Astronomical science was science falsely so called. But the mathematical studies combined with the more careful observations of Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton, penetrated the abysses of space, introduced depth into astronomy, threw out these contradictions, and now the scientific astronomy is truly such.

Sometimes theories in physics pass for science for a generation or two, but are subsequently found to be superficial and self-contradictory. Examples of these are the theory of vortices invented by Des Cartes; the theory of spontaneous generation advocated by Lamarck; and the theory of pseudo-evolution which just now has taken the place of the rejected doctrine of spontaneous generation, and is popular with the materialistic school of physicists. These theories are denominated scientific by their authors; but true scientific progress finally demonstrates their falsity.

The skeptical estimate of theology is unscientific, because it is founded upon a superficial knowledge of the sources and objects of the science. A few examples will show this. One of the most acute of modern skeptics was David Hume. His argument against miracles is the most ingenious of any that has been constructed, and is the arsenal from which modern infidelity obtains its keenest weapons. It was Hume's subtlety that awoke Kant's dogmatic slumbers, according to Kant's own statement. But Hume had no knowledge of Christianity that deserves the epithet scientific. He was not versed in the Hebrew and Greek scriptures. According to Johnson (Boswell's Life, anno 1766), "Hume owned to a clergyman in the bishopric of Durham that he had never read the New Testament with attention." No one would respect a critical estimate of Brahminism by one who had never carefully examined the Vedas, and the body of Hindoo literature growing out of them. Nor was Hume skilled in doctrinal theology. He was unacquainted with the careful analysis and close reasoning of the Nicene trinitarianism, of the Chalcedon christology, of the schoolmen, and of the Protestant divines. The whole immense body of patristic, mediaeval, and modern divinity was comparatively a terra incognita to him. His knowledge of the Christian religion did not go beyond what was floating in the atmosphere. He lived in a Christian country, among a theological people, and knew something of Christianity by absorption. But he never studied the documents and mastered the doctrines of the Christian religion as Augustine, Aquinas, and Calvin studied and mastered them; as Cudworth studied pagan theology, and Schleiermacher studied Plato; as Schlegel and Coleridge studied Shakespeare. The language of Bentley, the first classical scholar of his century, to Collins, is applicable to Hume in substance. Collins had remarked that the Bible "is the most miscellaneous book in the world, and treats of the greatest variety of things: creation, deluge, chronology and laws, ecclesiastical institutions, nature, miracles, building, husbandry, sailing, physics, pharmacy, mathematics, metaphysics, and morals," and draws the inference from this fact that " free thinking" is necessary; "for to understand the matter of this book, and to be master of the whole, a man must be able to think justly in every science and art." ""Very true!" says Bentley, in reply, "and yet all he has here said of his sciences is requisite, were the English Bible supposed to be the very original. Add, therefore, to all the requisites here enumerated a sufficient skill in the Hebrew and Greek languages. Now pass your verdict on the man from his own evidence and confession. 'To understand the Bible,' says he, 'requires all sciences;' and two languages besides, say L But it is plain from his book that he has condemned the whole Bible for a forgery and imposition. Did he do this without understanding the matter of it? This is too scandalous for him to own. We must take it then that he professes himself accomplished in all sciences and arts, according to his own rule. But where has he, or any of his sect, shown any tolerable skill in science 1 What dark passages of Scripture have they cleared? Or of any book whatever? Nay, to remit him to his ' sciences' and 'arts,' what have they done in the languages, the shell and surface of Scripture? A great master of the whole Bible, indeed, that can scarce step three lines in the easiest classic authors cited by himself without a notorious blunder."1 Hume was not more learned than Collins in Christian theology, and these remarks of Bentley hold true of him in all essential points.

Another illustration of the superficial knowledge of the skeptic in the province of Christian theology is seen in Gibbon. Few writers have been more conscientious in their scholarship than the historian of the Decline and Fall. He had read with great thoroughness all the Greek and Latin pagan writers who treat of the period with which he was concerned. His quotations from the Byzantine historians are never second-hand. But when he derives historical material from the Christian fathers, he is not so conscientious. He obtains much of his information in this instance from Tillemont: a very trustworthy authority, it is true, but still a secondary source. Gibbon's study of the Greek of Athanasius, and the Latin of Augustine, was not so thorough as his reading of Zosimus and Marcellinus. And the reason lay in his contempt for the former, as ecclesiastical writers. A church father; though subtle like Athanasius, and pro

1 Bentley: On Free Thinking, VIII. See Bp. Newton's exposure of the mistakes of Bolingbroke. Prophecies, Dissertation L

found like Augustine; though among the finest intellects of the race, and so reckoned in literary history; was, in his view, a superstitious man, and therefore his writings did not deserve continuous and complete perusal, but might be examined cursorily, and through the eyes of others.1

These remarks apply with equal force to the skepticism of this generation; for there are no names in it superior to those of Hume and Gibbon, whether regard be had to learning or mental power. Such products as the survey of Modern Civilization by Buckle, and of the Intellectual Development of Europe by Draper, aro specimens of superficial information and thinking concerning theological and metaphysical science. Almost exclusive attention is devoted to the material and physical aspects of civilization, the moral and religious elements in modern culture are overlooked, and the great problems of philosophy and theology are either unnoticed or else denied to be problems at all. The judgment passed upon either doctrinal or practical Christianity from this point of view, is neither profound nor self-consistent.'

As an an example of the ignorance of a literary man in scientific theology, consider the following from Froude (Short Studies, 3d Series, 115). "To represent man as an automaton sinning by the necessity of his nature, and yet as guilty of his sins; to represent God as having ordained all things, yet as angry with the actions of the puppets whom he has created as they are; is to insist on the acceptance of contradictory propositions from which reason recoils, and to make Christianity itself incredible by a travesty of Christian truth." Froude believes this to be a true account of Protestant theology as formulated by Luther

1 A writer in the Quarterly Review for Oct . 1838 shows that Gibbon's account of Gnosticism is superficial, and sometimes positively erroneous. The knowledge of Gnosticism mnat be derived from the Christian fathers.

■ 8ee a searching criticism of Draper, by Smith: Faith and Philosophy, 337357.

and Calvin. But it is pure misrepresentation; not intentional, but the misrepresentation of ignorance. A writer versed in the history of opinions would not have attributed such views to Calvin, and the creeds of the Reformation. An erudite skeptic like Baur, for example, does not so describe systematic Augustinianism and Calvinism.

And when we pass to the infidelity of the masses, the truth of our assertion is still more evident. In no quarter is there so little scientific knowledge of the most powerful and beneficent religion on earth, as in the popular infidelity represented not by the treatise, but by the magazine and newspaper. The unbeliever of this grade may be moderately versed, perhaps, in some sections of natural science, and in the lighter parts of literature, but he is unacquainted with the loftier products in secular letters, and wholly ignorant of the systematic literature of the Christian Church.

The skeptical estimate of Christian theology, consequently, is an unscientific one. A profound and accurate judgment must come from experts. As the scientific comprehension of law is expected from jurists and not from laymen, so that of theology must be sought among philosophers and divines, and not among physicists and litterateurs whose studies are devoted to very different branches of knowledge from ethics and theology, and who make guerilla incursions into this field merely for the purpose of attack. Every branch of knowledge has its recondite and abstract side, and hence, as in the case of law and medicine, the popular and superficial judgment must be corrected by the professional and scientific. "No one," says Winckelmann (History of Art, I. i.), " can form a correct judgment of Greek art, or of Greek literature, without having read repeatedly everything in the latter, and without having seen and examined if possible all the remains of the former." Such thoroughness is eminently requisite in order to a just estimate of theological science, because it extends over all spheres of being, and includes the deepest problems and mysteries of existence.

Theology, then, as the science of God, aims to obtain a knowledge of him that is free from contradictions, and is as profound as is possible, considering the nature of the subject and the limitations of the human mind. If therefore it makes a statement of an abtruse doctrine like the trinity, it continues true to science. It does not affirm and deny one and the same thing. It asserts that God is one in respect to essence, and is three in respect to personal distinctions. These two propositions do not clash, because the idea of essence is different from that of person. Could it be proved that essence and person are identical conceptions, trinitarianism would be shown to be self-contradictory and therefore unscientific. Again, the theological statements respecting the decree of God and the liberty of man are scientific, so far as self-consistence constitutes science. The theologian does not affirm that one and the same future event is necessitated for God and free for man, or free for God and necessitated for man. But he affirms, that one and the same future event may be certain for God and uncertain for man; and that for both God and man it may be a free event, like the decision of the human will, or for both God and man a necessitated event, like the fall of a stone to the ground. Such is the creed statement. "Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly, yet by the same providence he ordereth them to fall out according to the nature of second causes; either necessarily, or freely and contingently." Westminster Confession, V. ii. That is to say; when the second cause is a free cause, such as the human will, then the future act, which is free for both God and man, is uncertain for man and certain for God; and when the second cause is a necessary cause, such as the force of gravity, then the future event, which is necessitated for both God and man, is certain for God and uncertain for man. Whether I shall exert a particular volition to-morrow is uncertain to me, but not to God. But if exerted, it is for both God and me alike a free act. Whether a particular stone shall fall to-morrow is uncertain to me, but not to God. But if it fall, it is for both God and me alike a necessitated event. There is no clashing or contradiction in these statements, and they contain the essential truth respecting divine sovereignty and human liberty.

When theology is denominated the science of God, it is not meant that God is completely comprehended. There may be science without omniscience. Otherwise, science would be impossible for any but the Infinite Intelligence. Yet the tendency of science is to explain exhaustively and completely. The longer a science is pursued, the more is known of the subject. The aim and endeavor is to reach a final aud perfect comprehension. In theology, which embraces the infinite as well as the finite, the goal can never be reached, either in this world or the next; but more and more will be known, and the progress of the science will be onward forever and forever-more. "The nature of a thing," says Aristotle (Politics, I. ii.), "is judged by its tendency." The tendency and aim of science towards a complete view evinces that it is profound in its nature. The superficial view is not rested in. Consider, for illustration, the anthropomorphic and materializing conception of God. This is unscientific. The descriptions of the deity borrowed from some resemblance to visible things, are taken literally by the anthropomorphist. But the theologian goes behind them to the real truth. "Thus, when the scriptures speak of God, and ascribe hands, eyes, and feet, to him, it is not designed that we should believe that he has any of these members according to the literal signification; but the meaning is, that he has & power to execute all those acts, to the effecting of which these parts in us are instrumental: that is, he can converse with men as well as if he had a tongue or a mouth; he can discern all that we do or say as perfectly as if he had eyes and ears; he can reach us as well as if he had hands and feet; he has as true and substantial a being as if he had a body; and he is as truly present everywhere as if that body were infinitely extended." King: On Foreknowledge, 468.

1. In defining the nature of theology, we remark in the first place, that it is absolute science, in contradistinction to relative knowledge. Theological doctrine is not true merely or only for the human intellect, but for all rational intelligence. The cognition, it is true, does not extend to the uttermost limits of the object, but so far as it does extend, and so far as the formulated statement is categorical and positive, it is conformed to the real nature and truth of the object. Man's conception of matter may be very different from that of the angel; but man's conception of the divine holiness is the same in kind with that of the angel, and of God himself, though different in degree. The word "holy" conveyed the same idea to St. Paul that it would to the seraphim; and it conveys the same idea to us that it did to him. It is erroneous to assert that what man calls righteousness in God might be unrighteousness for the angels; and that what the angels call wickedness in Satan might be moral excellence for man. The ideas of right and wrong are the same in kind in all rational intelligence. Two diverse and contradictory conceptions of sin and holiness are impossible. There may be diverse and contradictory judgments as to whether a particular action is sinful or holy, but not as to whether sin is wrong and holiness is right. All rational beings have common principles of intelligence respecting moral truth, and this species of truth, if known at all, must be known absolutely. Relative knowledge is sufficient in the sphere of time and matter, but not of morals and eternity. There is too much at stake in the latter sphere. Whether man's knowledge of matter is accurate or not is of little consequence, taking the whole of his endless existence into account; but if his knowledge of God and morals is erroneous, his immortality is ruined.1 The cognition, consequently, in such an important province as that of ethics and religion, must be absolute, not relative. "A relative notion of a thing," says Iieid (Essay II. xviii.), "is, strictly speaking, no notion of the thing at all, but only of some relation which it bears to something else."

There is no science so rightly entitled to be denominated absolute, and metaphysically certain as theology. It is the assertion of materialistic schools in every age, that the science of matter and physical nature alone is certain, and that the science of mind and of God is not science in the strict sense. But the fact is exactly the contrary; and this because of the nature of the objects in each province. "That knowledge," says Milton (Reason of Church Government, II.), "that rests in the contemplation of natural causes and dimensions, must needs be a lower wisdom as the object is low." It is clear that no science can be any more a priori and necessary than its subject-matter. If an edifice rests upon the solid groupd, it must be stationary; if it rests upon the waves, it must fluctuate. An a priori science like geometry retracts no positions, and is immutable, because its data are mental axioms and the logical conclusions from them. An a posteriori science like geology is continually altering its positions, because it derives its data from the notices of the senses, and new notices show that old deductions were errors. Whether, therefore, the science of physical nature and matter is as necessary and im

1 "Is a man," says Plutarch (On Superstition), "of opinion that indivisibles were the first origin of things? It is indeed a mistaken view, but makes no nicer, no shooting searching pain. But is a man of opinion that wealth is his chief good? This error contains in it a canker; it preys upon a man's spirits, it suffers him not to sleep, it makes him horn-mad." Similarly Frank (Christian Certainty, 105) remarks, "that it is of slight importance for the person of the observer, whether this physical object which I see before me is in truth as I see it, or other than I see it . But the whole constancy and strength and worth of the personality depends upon the qnestion whether this moral good which I experience as real, has an actual existence or not; the personality cannot free itself therefrom, without the innermost basis and supreme aim of its life being lost."

mutable as the science of God and the human mind, will depend upon whether physical nature and matter are as necessary and immutable, in their substance and properties, as God and the rational soul of man. Let us compare the two.

If there be anything fixed and uniform in the material world, it is the laws and forces that prevail there. These are sometimes denominated the necessary laws of matter. But when examined, the necessity of material laws is found to be only relative. They are necessary under the present arrangement, and in the existing system. Had the constitution of the material universe been different, they would have been different. There is no contradiction in the supposition, that there might be a different system of nature from the present one; that matter might have some different properties from what it now has, and that material laws might be other tnan they are. There is no escaping this, unless we adopt the position that matter is eternal. In this case, the properties and laws of matter have absolute, not relative necessity. But if we adopt the position of the theist, and concede that matter with its properties and laws was created ex nihilo by omnipotent power, then we can conceive, without self-contradiction, that the Creator could have constituted the material world upon a law of attraction operating inversely as the cube of the distance, as easily as he has made it upon the existing law operating inversely as the square. If he could not, then he is conditioned. There is something in the nature of matter, such as was supposed in the ancient V\tj, which compels him to establish and form the material universe in the manner he has. There is an insuperable limit set by nature and matter to the divine power, so that God is powerless in any other direction than the one actually taken. He is merely a Gnostic demiurge, not a Biblical creator.

The same is true of vegetable and animal types and forms. Granting that they are creations ex nihilo, there is nothing to forbid the supposition that they might have been made upon a plan very different from the one actually employed by the Creator. It is absurd to suppose that the Omnipotent has exhausted his power in the existing universe, or that the Omniscient can have only one scheme within his ken.

These views of the sovereignty of God over the properties and laws of matter, and of his free power to constitute the system of nature differently from what he has, are adopted by the leading minds in physical science. Kewton, at the close of his Optics, remarks, that " the motions of the planets are marked by certain small irregularities which appear to come from the mutual action of the planets and comets, and which will probably become greater and greater, in the course of time, until at last the system will again require its author to put it in order." Leibnitz (Theodicee, Partie II. 345) thus speaks concerning the laws of motion: "The laws of motion which are operative in nature, and are verified by experience and observation, are not absolutely demonstrable like a geometrical proposition. They do not spring from a principle of necessity, but from a principle of perfection and order; they are an effect of the will (choix) and wisdom of God. Hence these laws are a wonderful proof of the existence of an intelligent and free being, in opposition to the system of absolute and unreasoning (brut) necessity taught by Strato and Spinoza."1

Similarly, Whewell (Astronomy and General Physics, I. iii.) remarks that "the force of gravity, so far as we can judge, might have been different from what it now is. It depends upon the mass of the earth; and this mass is one of the elements of the solar system which is not determined by any cosmical necessity of which we are aware. We cannot see anything which would have prevented either the

1 Strato, B.O. 289, maintained that "there is inherent in nature an eternal and necessary principle of motion, or force, without intelligence, which is the only cause of the production or dissolution of bodies."

size or the density of the earth from being different, to a very great extent, from what they are. We can very easily conceive the solar system so adjusted that the year should be longer or shorter than it actually is. If the earth were removed toward the solar centre by about one-eighth of its distance, the year would be shortened by about a month." After sayingthat the vegetable world has been adjusted to the year as it now is, Whewell adds, that the length of either the solar or the vegetable year " might have been different from what it is, according to any grounds of necessity which we can perceive." Only, if one were altered, the other would be adjusted accordingly.1

Statements to the same effect are made by a writer in the London Quarterly Review for July, 1876. "The law of the inverse square is but the mathematical expression of a property which has been imposed on matter from the creation. It is no inherent quality, so far as we know. It is quite conceivable that the central law might have been different from what it is. There is no reason why the mathematical law should be what it is, except the will of the Being who imposed the law. Any other proportion would equally well be expressed mathematically, and its results calculated. As an instance of what would occur if any other proportion than the inverse square were substituted as the attractive force of gravity, suppose at distances 1, 2, 3, the attractive force had varied as 1, 2, 3, instead of the squares of these numbers. Under such a law any number of planets might revolve in the most regular and orderly manner. But under this law, the weight of bodies at the earth's surface would cease to exist; nothing would fall or weigh downwards. The greater action of the distant sun and planets would exactly neutralize the attractive force of the earth. A ball thrown from the hand, however gently, would immediately become a satellite of the earth, and

1 See, especially, Whewell'e recapitulation, I. xviii

would for the future accompany its course, revolving about it for the space of one year. All terrestrial things would obey the general law of the system, but would acknowledge no particular relation to the earth." Again, to take an illustration from optics. If the undulatory theory of light be adopted, there does not appear to be any eternal and absolute necessity that exactly 458 million millions of vibrations, in a second, of the supposed ether, should produce the sensation of violet color for the human eye, and 727 million millions should produce the Eensation of crimson. The Will that created the eye, and established these numbers and proportions, could have created a different eye, and established different proportions.

If these positions of Newton, Leibnitz, and Whewell are correct, it follows that absoluteness cannot characterize physical science, because the subject-matter of cognition within this province is not itself a priori and necessary. Knowledge, speaking generally, is the cognition of entity. Nonentity cannot be the subject-matter of human investigation. A substance, or real being of some kind, is requisite for this. It is evident, therefore, that the absoluteness and certainty of a science will depend npon that of its subjectmatter. If the subject-matter of a science has no necessity and absoluteness, the science will have none. Knowledge, then, that has physical and material substance and its properties for its basis must be marked by contingency and relativity. For since matter and its laws might have been different, or might not have been at all, the knowledge of them is the knowledge of the contingent, the conditioned, and the mutable. When the subject-matter has a priori necessity, cognition acquires absolute certainty from it. This is the case with geometry. The data here are the intuitions of the mind, and the necessary conclusions from' them. Geometry does not deal with matter and its phenomena, but with ideal points, lines, and surfaces. It is absolutely necessary that the radii of a circle should be equal, but not that there should be a circular body like the sun. The laws of matter are not derived intuitively from the mind, like geometrical axioms, and then attributed to matter, but they are derived from matter, aud then impressed upon the mind. Physical laws, as formulated, are deduced from the outer world, and have only relative necessity and certainty, because the outer world has only such. Axioms, on the contrary, are derived from the mind itself, and have a kind of certainty that cannot attach to a generalization drawn from the observation of material phenomena.

Ethics and pure mathematics have this in common, that they deal with ideas, not with substances. Right and wrong, like a mathematical point and line, are not objective beings. Physics, on the contrary, deals with physical substances. The former, consequently, are more certain sciences than the latter; because there is no dispute about the nature of an intuitive idea, but there is about the nature of a physical substance. There cannot be two different views of a triangle, or of right and wrong; but there can be of a piece of protoplasm, or a bit of granite.

When we pass from the world of matter to that of mind and of morals, we find more than a relative necessity in the object of cognition. Unextended, incorporeal, spiritual substance is the entity in this case. The Divine mind and the human are the subject-matter of theological and metaphysical science. But mind is reason, and reason is marked by necessary and immutable properties. It differs from matter in this respect. Matter, conceivably, may be of an indefinite variety; but we can conceive of only one species of reason. When God creates a rational being, he makes him after his own image; but when he creates a physical substance, he does not create it after his own image, but as he pleases. This makes reason to be one and invariable in its essential properties, while matter is variable. We cannot conceive of God's creating two diverse kinds of rational mind, but we can conceive of his creating many kinds of matter. All finite reason mnst resemble the infinite reason in kind. When God creates a rational spirit, he must, from the nature of the case, make it after his own likeness, and after no other pattern. But when he creates physical substance, he is not thus restricted. God is immaterial, a pure spirit, without body parts or passions; therefore when he creates physical substance, he creates something that has no resemblance whatever to himself. Matter, consequently, has nothing a priori, or intrinsically necessary, in its properties. Even gravity, says Whewell (General Phjrsics, II. x.), "is a property which we have no right to call necessary to matter, but have every reason to suppose is universal."' Not being made after any original and eternal pattern drawn from the Divine essence, it may be made as God pleases, in an indefinite number of modes. But when finite mind and reason are created, they are made after the Divine image, and therefore can be of only one species and quality.

Accordingly, the laws of mind have more of necessity in them than the laws of material nature have. The laws of thought, as enunciated in logic, are more immutable than physical laws. Logic is a priori in its regulative principles. Mathematics is necessary and absolute in its axioms and conclusions. "We cannot conceive of a different species of logic or mathematics; but we can conceive of a different astronomy, chemistry, and geology—a different physics generally. The movements of the planets might, conceivably, have been different; but the movement of the human intellect in logical and mathematical processes could not have been otherwise.

This is true ako of moral law, as well as of mental. When we pass from the world of physics to the world of ethics, and examine the laws that rule and regulate in this realm, we find more than a relative necessity. Take the decalogue as summed up by our Lord: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself." This is for the rational universe what the law of gravitation is for the physical. And it is necessary and absolute for all intelligences. We cannot conceive that it might have been different from what it is; that the command might have run thus: "Thou shalt hate the Lord thy God and thy neighbor." Neither can we conceive of such a modification of it, as to allow an equal degree of love toward the Creator and the creature. The golden rule, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them," is absolutely necessary. Neither the contrary, nor any modification of it, is conceivable. No other rule for the conduct of finite rational beings could have been laid down by the Supreme Reason.

Testing, then, the entity or substance which is the object of cognition in physics and metaphysics, respectively, by the properties and laws belonging to each, it is clear that absolute scientific certainty is to be claimed for the latter, not for the former.

1. There are three reasons, in particular, why physical science is relative knowledge. In the first place, it is to a great extent empirical or experimental. It is founded upon the observations of the five senses. But the senses never teach any a priori or absolute truth. They show what may be, and what actually is, but not what must be. They disclose what occurs under certain actual circumstances, but not under all conceivable circumstances. By the senses, we know as a present fact that the sun rises in the east once in every twenty-four hours; but the senses do not teach that this could not possibly be otherwise, and that the sun must of necessity rise in the east from eternity to eternity. Says Hume (Inquiry V.): " The contrary of every matter of fact is still possible, because it can never imply a contradiction, and is conceived by the mind with equal facility and distinctness, as if ever so conformable to reality. That the sun will rise to-morrow, is no less intelligible a proposition, and implies no more contradiction, than the affirmative that it will rise. Similarly, Leibnitz (Nouveaux Essais, Avantpropos) remarks: '' Though the senses are necessary in order to the knowledge of actual facts, yet they are not sufficient in order to knowledge of all kinds; since the senses give only present examples and instances, and teach only particular and individual truths. No matter how great the number of examples may be that establish a particular truth, they are insufficient to demonstrate the universal necessity of this truth; because it does not follow that since a tlling has uniformly occurred up to this moment, it will continue to occur forever. The Greeks and Romans noticed that in twenty-four hours, day uniformly turned into night, and night into day. But they would have erred, had they concluded that this fact is necessary and universal; since it is not a fact in Nova Zembla. And it would be a yet more mistaken judgment, to conclude that this alternation of day and night is absolutely necessary at least within the temperate zone; because it is possible for both the earth and the sun to cease to exist."

2. Secondly, the judgments of the senses are relative and variable, from the nature of the sensuous organs themselves. Tested mathematically and absolutely, no two persons see the same-sized object. The tree is taller for one man than for another. The shade of red is deeper for one eye than for another; and not red at all for the color-blind. Pascal, perhaps the most metaphysical of mathematicians, speaking of the effect of magnifying glasses, asks: "After all, who is to take upon himself to affirm that these glasses have really altered the natural dimensions of the objects in question, but that, on the contrary, they may not have had the effect of restoring them to their original proportions, which our eyes had altered and contracted, in the same way that is done by the action of diminishing glasses." The Geometrical Spirit. The following experiment, from a treatise on heat, illustrates the relativity of sensuous perceptions. Plunge the right hand into a vessel of tepid water, and the left hand into one of iced water. Then put both into water of ordinary temperature. The latter will now seem to be cold, if we decide according to the sensation experienced by the right hand; but warm, if we judge by the left. Hence, says the author, it appears that there is no difference between heat and cold when we abstract our sensations, and consider only the body that impresses us.

Thus it is evident that the sensuous data which enter so largely into natural and physical science are wholly subjective. They depend upon the structure and condition of the organ. Size and figure are all in the eye. Sound is in the ear. If human eyes and ears had been made upon one plan, Lillipnt would have been the actual world. If they had been made upon another, Brobdingnag would have been. "Sensation," says Cudworth, " is not science or intellection, because the soul by sense does not perceive the things themselves, or the absolute natures of them, but only her own passions from them. Were sensation knowledge and understanding, then he that sees light and colors, and feels heat and cold, would understand light and colors, heat and cold; and the like of all sensible things." 1

"All that the optic nerve reports to us," says Hehnholtz, "it reports under the form of a sensation of light, whether it be the beaming of the sun, or a blow on the eye, or an electric current in the eye. The acoustic nerve, again, transforms everything into phenomena of sound; the nerve of the skin transforms all things into sensations of temperature or touch. The same electric current, whose existence the optic nerve reports as a flash of light, which the nerve of taste reports as an acid, awakens in the nerve of the skin the feeling of burning. The same sunbeam, which we call light when it falls upon the eye, we call heat when it strikes the skin." This shows the relativity of sensuous perception. A material object appears to us only in accordance with the

1 Epicurus, on the contrary, carried the doctrine that the senses are the only measure of truth so far as to affirm, that the sun is no larger than it appears. Des Cartes: Preface to Principles of Philosophy.

sensuous organ which transmits the impression, and not as an immutable object independent of the organ of sensation. But it is altogether different in the instance of a spiritual object like God, or the soul. God makes only one and the same impression of holiness, or wisdom, or omnipotence, if any is made at all; and the very same qualities are attributed to him by all intelligence that is not abnormal and vitiated. The list of the Divine attributes is one and invariable. The same is true of the human soul as an object of knowledge, and of its qualities. The human spirit has only one conceivable set of properties, and these are the same for all who are self-conscious and make an accurate report of self-consciousness.

3. Thirdly, the inferences from sensible phenomena, in physical science, are relative and uncertain, because all the phenomena have not been seen. The material universe is too vast for all of it to come under the notice of men's senses. Though perhaps improbable, yet it is possible that some established and accepted generalizations, in the existing physics, may be overthrown by future observations and new phenomena. The following facts illustrate the uncertainty of which we are speaking. Water in cooling contracts down to forty degrees of Fahrenheit; then if it continues to cool it begins to expand, and at thirty-two degrees freezes, which is very great expansion. Nature here reverses herself, and contradicts herself. The first part of her process would yield the generalization, that cold contracts substances; the second, that cold expands substances. He who should have observed only the phenomena above forty degrees, would have deduced the general law, that water invariably contracts in cooling; and were he of a certain school of physicists, he would add to this, that it necessarily contracts. If upon this planet there were no natural or artificial temperature below forty degrees, the law that cold uniformly contracts substances would be regarded as well established and indisputable as the law of gravitation.

It is for this reason, that theories in physics are s0 uncertain and changing. Geology furnishes abundant examples. Dr. Arnold (Life by Stanley, I. 142), speaking of the discussions of the British Association in 1839, says that "Murchison convinced Greenough and De La Beche that they must recolor their geological maps; for what were called the Greywackes of North Devon, he maintains to be equivalent to the coal formation; and the limestones on which they rest are equivalent to the Old Bed Sandstone which now is to be sandstone no more, but is to bo called the Devonian system." Agassiz, in his eulogy upon Humboldt, remarks that "Humboldt's work upon the position of the rocks in the two hemispheres tells the history of that formation as it could be told in 1823, and is of course full of anachronisms." But what absolute certainty is there that the statements of any geologist in 1880, respecting the rocks of the globe, may not likewise be full of anachronisms? There would be more approach to scientific certainty in these empirical departments of knowledge which depend upon tentative experiments, and repeated observations, if all the facts could be observed, or even a majority of them. But the conclusions of the physicist are drawn from only a small, oftentimes infinitesimal portion of the phenomena. Only the testimony of an eye-witness, an actual observer with instruments, is regarded as of the first rate. But how little of such testimony enters into geological theories generally. What observer was on the ground when the coal-beds were forming? We may grant that inferences that are plausible, and even probable, may be drawn from what is seen in a coal-mine to-day, as to what was being done in that spot ten million years ago, but absolute certainty is impossible. A convulsion by earthquake, a fusion by fire, a deposit by flood; in other words, some sudden catastrophe of nature; might so dislocate strata, and melt up materials, and overlay with sediment, as entirely to alter a previous plan upon which nature had been working for a million of years. But the observer of the present day sees only the shattered debris, scoriae, mud or gravel, of the earth-quake, the fire, and the deluge, and knows nothing at all of that preexistent plan which lay behind them, and which was entirely obliterated by them. Yet he assumes that he is beholding the very first and original plan of all, and upon the strength of what he sees at this moment lays down a theory respecting the very creation and beginning of the globe.

For these reasons, a theory in physics cannot have the completeness and certainty of a theory in ethics. There is no eternal and immutable physics, as there is an eternal and immutable morality. The principles that should govern the action of all moral agents throughout the universe are necessary; but the principles that rule the material world are contingent. In this reference, the remark of Coleridge is correct. "The use of a theory in physical sciences is, to help the investigator to a complete view of all the hitherto discovered facts relating to the science in question. It is a collected view, Secopta, of all he knows, in one survey. Of course, so long as any pertinent facts remain unknown, no physical theory can be exactly true, because every new fact must necessarily, to a greater or less degree, displace the relation of all the others. The only necessarily true theories are those of geometry; because in geometry all the premises are necessarily true and unalterable. But to suppose that in our present exceedingly imperfect acquaintance with the facts, any theory in chemistry or geology is necessarily correct, is absurd." Table Talk, June 29th, 1833. Compare Herschel: Discourse, § 183.

The skeptical attitude, then, which Hume asserted to be the proper one towards religion, is far more appropriate in reference to physical science, founded as it is upon the observations of the senses and deductions from them. "The whole subject of religion," he remarks, "is a riddle and an inexplicable mystery; doubt, uncertainty, and suspension of judgment are the sole result of our closest examination." The way and manner in which the material universe arose from nonentity, and in which it is upheld from millennium to millennium, " is a riddle and an inexplicable mystery" to physical science. The deep and learned minds in this province acknowledge this. To the question, "How did man originate? Quatrefages (Human Species, I. xi.) answers: a I do not know." It is impossible to explain either the origin or the perpetuity of things by physical science. Neither self-motion nor perpetual motion belongs to matter. But the former is requisite in order to the origin, and the latter in order to the perpetuity of anything in nature. Kespecting the mode in which the material universe came into existence, the question of God to Job (38 : 4, 16-21) is conclusive: "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth? Have the gates of death been opened to thee? Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? Where is the way where light dwelleth? And as for darkness, where is the place thereof? Knowest thou it because thou wast then born? or because the number of thy days is great?" Compared with the sum-total of phenomena in universal space and time, only a little is known of matter and its laws, and if the exclusive claim to an absolute cognition is set up for physical science, then it is proper to subject it to a skeptical criticism, and compel it to bring forth its proofs. Especially is this proper, when the theory is novel, and contradicts the historical physics. "I am a skeptic in physics," said one to an enthusiastic "scientist" who was endeavoring to convince him that life is an evolution from the lifeless. Extremes produce extremes; and if the fanciful biology of Haeekel shall succeed in driving out the sober biology of Agassiz, there will be more of scientific than there is of religious skepticism.

But skepticism in the bad sense of the term is an error both in science and religion. If anything in the great domain of material nature has been demonstrated by valid reasoning, the human mind will accept it as truth. There is much of this in the higher departments of physical science, such for example as astronomy. Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton have conclusively established truths and facts within this province. Astronomy contains much of certain knowledge, because it contains much that is mathematical. "The apparent motions of the sun, moon and stars," says Whewell, " have been more completely reduced to their causes and laws, than any other class of phenomena." And it should be observed, that in this instance more has been accomplished by mental and metaphysical processes, than by sensuous and physical. Mathematical calculation has enabled the astronomer to solve astronomical problems which the senses, even aided by instruments, could not have solved. Le Verrier discovered Neptune by the calculus, not by the naked or the armed eye. Fresnel, by mathematical calculation, established certain facts respecting refraction which contradicted the results of previous experiment; and certain other facts that had escaped experiment and observation. An eminent geometer demonstrated by mathematical optics, that the centre of the shadow made by a small circular plate of metal in a beam of light coming through an aperture is in fact no shadow, but an illumination precisely as bright as if the metal plate were away. This is utterly contrary to what appears to the eye of the observer. Herschel: Discourse, §§ 23, 24. But as we descend to lower departments in natural science, like geology for example, we find nothing of this mathematical certainty, and much doubtful theorizing built upon sensible experiments and observations. Astronomy, moreover, is a comparatively certain science, not only because it employs the calculus, but because it confines itself to existing facts and phenomena. Its aim is to ascertain the present structure and motions of the solar system. Geology is uncertain, because it proposes to describe a past state of things. It attempts to tell what existed millions of years ago, and even Low the worlds were originally made; which involves agencies and phenomena that occurred in "the dark backward and abysm of time," and which may have been totally different from what the present phenomena and agencies would imply as interpreted by the theorist.

Still another reason for the greater certainty of astronomical science is found in the fact of its greater simplicity. It is confined to its own problems, and does not attempt those of other sciences. Says Ilerschel (Discourse, § 183), "it can hardly be pressed forcibly enough on the attention of the student of nature, that there is scarcely any natural phenomenon which can be fully and completely explained without a union of several, perhaps all, of the sciences. The great phenomena of astronomy, indeed, may be considered exceptions; but this is merely because their scale is so vast that one only of the most widely extended forces of nature takes the lead, and all those agents whose sphere of action is limited to narrower bounds, and which determine the production of phenomena nearer at hand, are thrown into the background, and become merged and lost in comparative insignificance. But in the more intimate phenomena which surround us, it is far otherwise. Into what a complication of different branches of science are we led by the consideration of such a phenomenon as rain, for instance, or flame, or a thousand others which are constantly going on before our eyes." By reason of this simplicity and comparative freedom from complication with other sciences, astronomy enables the investigator to be more certain in his conclusions than does chemistry or geology. It does not, like these latter, burden him with a multitude of particulars, or tempt him to solve the difficulties arising from fanciful hypotheses and conjectures.

It is worthy of notice that astronomy generally speaking has been believing, while geology has often been skeptical. The Keplers and iSTewtons were reverent minds, and the main current of astronomical science has corroborated both natural and revealed religion. It is also noticeable that none of the great discoveries in physics, like the laws of planetary motion, and the law of gravitation, have been made by materialists and atheists. Skeptical sections in the history of physics are" barren sections, so far as original discovery is concerned. Tlns is conceded by Lange, in his History of Materialism (I. i. 4). The inventive and powerful intellects who discover laws, and make a positive addition to the knowledge of material nature, express their faith and worship in the language of Kepler: "Father of the universe, what moved thee to raise a little feeble creature of earth so high as to make him a king, and almost a God, in thinking thy thoughts after thee? I thank thee, Lord and Creator of all, that thou hast filled me with rapture over the works of thy hand, and hast enabled me to disclose to men the glory of thy creation, so far as a finite mind can comprehend thy infinity." The skeptical naturalists, on the other hand, belong to the second and third class of investigators, and have made few original contributions to science. The identification of matter and mind by the materialist blinds the human intelligence, s0 that its generalizations are false. The materialist may be an accurate observer of phenomena, but his conclusions from them are erroneous. The theories of spontaneous generation and the origin of species by natural selection are examples. Their authors were minute examiners of nature with both the naked and the armed eye, but little more. The report of what they saw is trustworthy; but what they inferred is not. This inferiority is explained by Whewell's distinction between inductive and deductive habits of mind. Astronomy and General Physics, III. vi. Investigators of the first rank, by induction discover hitherto unknown laws, and then those of the second rate by deduction draw conclusions, and construct schemes from them. The Newton or the Kepler, when the law of gravitation or of planetary motion bursts upon his view with " the rapturous evptjKa" is impressed with the idea of God as the author of it. But the investigator of a secondary grade, who merely uses the discovery and applies it, is sometimes a disbeliever in a personal creator, a preconceived purpose, and a final end, because he regards the law itself as the eternal first cause.1 He converts the law which has been discovered by his predecessors in science into a God; as the African savages worshipped the plough which produced such wonderful effects in comparison with their rude mattock. The inventor of the plough never would have thought of deifying it.

It appears then, after this examination of the materials and subject-matter of physical and theological science respectively, that in point of absolute validity and certainty the superiority is with the latter. Tested rigorously, the sphere of natural science is a region of only relative knowledge and certainty. There is nothing absolutely and eternally necessary in the laws and phenomena of matter. There is no absolute knowledge within this domain, because there is no absolute object to be known. Kant was correct in his celebrated but sometimes misapprehended position, that all cognition within the province of the natural and sensuous— within the region which falls to the understanding, in his nomenclature—is unaxiomatic and conditional, and that only within the domain of the moral and spiritual is there an absolutely certain intuition. What the practical reason perceives to be true, is true for all intelligence. The metaphysical ideas of God and the soul, of free will and immortality, of right and wrong, are absolute; and all science that is founded upon them is of the same nature. But physical sensations and perceptions are individual, subjec

1 " Him the Maker, we behold not; calm
He veils himself in everlasting laws,
Which and not Him, the skeptio seeing, exclaims,

'Wherefore a God 1 The world itself is God.'" Schiller : Don Carlos.

tive, and relative. Even the conceptions of space and time are only forms of the finite understanding, under which these sensations are massed and unified. The finite mind when cognizing sensible phenomena must cognize them as successive in time, and located in space, and its cognition of them is consequently gradual and incomplete. But the Infinite Mind is untrammelled by this gradual and sequacious mode of apprehension in time and space, and beholds all phenomena in the simultaneous and complete intuition of omniscience. Successive sensuous cognition is relative knowledge. It is true for man's senses, but not for the Divine reason. Material and sensible things, which are the subject-matter of physical science, are in continual flux and change. And even in regard to the invisible principles or forces beneath them; even in regard to the laws of nature themselves; we have seen that we cannot ascribe to them such a necessary and immutable quality as we must to spiritual and metaphysical realities. For they are creations from nonentity, and are only one of the many various manners in which the Divine Mind can express itself in a material universe. But the mental and moral universe has no such conceivable variety. Reason is one and simple; matter is manifold and complex. The whole domain of physical nature is only a means to an end. It was created to be subservient to mind. It cannot, therefore, like the domain of the moral and spiritual, which is an end in and of itself, have absolute and immutable characteristics, and therefore cannot be the object of an absolutely certain knowledge.1 "Moral certainty," says Frank (Christian Certainty, 104), "in distinction from natural certainty, is characterized by a firmness which in the latter case has its equal at most only as regards mathematical and logical certainty. A man may doubt the reality of the objects which he sees with bodily eyes and hears with physical ears, and. still he does

1 Shedd : Literary Essays, p. 301-305. On the inferiority of natural science to moral, see Plato: Phaedo, 96-100.

not on that account donbt the reality of the moral world, , of which he is conscious. That is the abiding truth of the Kantian philosophy, which in the moral domain sets limits to the skepticism regarding objective realities; the truth also of Fichte's doctrine of the moral order of the world, the validity of which is not affected by the idealism in other respects."

2. A second characteristic of theology is, that it is positive science in contradistinction to negative knowledge. This ground is taken by theologians, in the affirmation that faith is intelligent, and not the blind and ignorant credulity of superstition. There is some real and true knowledge of the object of faith, although the object is still a mystery in many respects. Some of its properties and relations are known, but not all of them. For example, man knows that God is spirit, and not matter. This is a positive and absolutely true knowledge. Man also knows that spiritual substance is intelligent, and immortal, that is, incapable of dissolution by material causes. This also is a positive and absolutely true knowledge. But how the intelligence of God is eternal and omniscient, comprehending all things simultaneously and without succession, and how his omnipresence is the presence of the whole deity at every point of space, and a multitude of other similar particulars—of these, he is ignorant. Man knows God "in part" with a true and valid knowledge; but being also ignorant " in part," and by far the greater part, God is a mystery for him. But it would be absurd to say that because man knows only in part, therefore he does not know at all; that because he does not know everything, he knows nothing. Faith, therefore, though relating to the mysteries of God and the universe, is yet an intelligent act. It is denominated, in Eph. 3 : 18, 19, a "comprehension" of the "breadth and length, and depth and height" of revealed truth; a "knowledge" of "the love of Christ which passeth knowledge." Faith is defined, in Heb. 12 :1, as the " evidence" of unseen things. The word eXey^o? in this passage denotes a mental conviction; and a conviction is both intelligent and positive. Christian faith is a rational and confident conviction of the mind.

Accordingly, Calvin (Institutes, III. ii. 14,15) defines faith to be " a solid constancy of persuasion, and a certain and steady knowledge;" and adds, that "the knowledge of faith consists more in certainty than in comprehension. When we call it knowledge, we intend not such a comprehension as men commonly have of those things which fall under the notice of their senses. The mind which attains to faith does not perfectly comprehend what it perceives, but, being persuaded of that which it cannot comprehend, it understands (intelligit) more by the certainty of this persuasion, than it would comprehend (perspiciret) of any human object by the exercise of its natural capacity." In this last statement, Calvin implies that a believer knows more certainly concerning some of the qualities of God, than he does concerning any of the properties of matter; that religious cognition is closer to absolute truth than sensuous cognition is. It is more certain that God is holy and omnipotent, than that light is the undulation of an ether, and not a separate substance by itself. With this, the eminent schoolman llales agrees. "If we compare," he says, " the way in which the relation of faith, or conviction, to knowledge, is determined in theology, with the way in which it is in the other sciences, we shall find that the order is a reverse one. In the other sciences, conviction is brought about by the activity of reason, or mediated by thought, and scientific knowledge precedes conviction; while the reverse holds true of religious matters. It is not till we have appropriated them by faith, that we can attain to a knowledge of them conformable to reason. These things can be understood only by those who are of a pure heart; and we get this purity by keeping God's commandments." llales "distinguishes," says Neander (IV. 427), " a certainty of speculation, and a certainty of experience; a certainty grounded in the intellectual agency, and another grounded in the feelings. Of the latter kind is the certainty of faith; and with reference to this kind of certainty, theology is superior to the other sciences."

The term " positive " signifies that something is laid down (positum) respecting an object or idea. An affirmation is made that it is thus and so; and not a mere denial that it is thus and so. To say that water is not fire, conveys no information as to what water really is. But to say that water is a fluid resulting from the union of oxygen and hydrogen gas, imparts some real knowledge of the nature of water, though it does not explain all the mystery .connected with it. This is a positive statement springing out of a positive yet not exhaustive cognition. Water really is a fluid, and really consists of two gases. Taking Aquinas's definition of science, as the knowledge of the qualities and relations of an object, it is evident that there may be positive without perfect comprehension. An object has, we will say, fifty qualities or properties. I know twenty of them, and do not know the remaining thirty. My knowledge is valid and positive, so far. It is not merely negative and invalid in respect to the twenty known qualities. Again an object, we will assume, has twenty relations to other objects. I know ten of them. My knowledge to this extent is positive. I have so much true information upon the subject. To illustrate from the science of optics. The properties of transmission, reflection, and refraction of light were known before those of double refraction and polarization. Suppose that the latter were not known at all, at the present time. It would not follow that the knowledge of light, so far as the properties of transmission, reflection, and refraction are concerned, is merely negative, and not real and true cognition. The knowledge conforms, so far, to the real nature of light. Again, the final cause, or use, of these latter properties of light, is still unknown. They are not needed in order that the eye may see the outer world of forms and colors. "So far as has yet been discovered," says Whewell (Astronomy and General Physics, I. xvi.), "these latter properties and laws exert no agency whatever, and have no purpose in the general economy of nature." But the fact that the final cause and use of these properties and laws of diffraction and polarization is still unknown, does not prove that the existing knowledge which the physicist has of light is a mere negation.

A negation may bo employed after an affirmation has been made, in order to define an object or idea more carefully. Negative statements are of little value prior to affirmative. After affirming of God what is excellent in the creation, we may then remove from the affirmation any defect by the negative method: as when it is said, that reason in God is the same in kind with reason in man, but not in degree. After saying that God is immanent in the universe, we may say negatively, in order to guard against a pantheistic interpretation of the term immanent, that God is not identical with the universe. And after saying that God is distinct from the world, we may add that he is not separate from it, in order to avoid a deistical interpretation of the term distinct.

The denial that theology is positive science, and that knowledge in morals and theology is positive cognition, is a skeptical position. Ilobbes took this ground, and was combated by Cndworth. Intellectual System, Ch. V. i. The theologian Buddaens, in his Theses de atheismo et superstitione, opposed Hobbes, "because he denied a positive conception of the Infinite and allowed only a negative one." The theologian Huet, after having defended Christianity in the vigor of his life in his Demonstratio Evangelica, at the age of ninety wrote his treatise De la Faiblesse de l'Esprit Humain, to prove that before we affirm anything of an object we must perfectly comprehend it; and that therefore we have less right to affirm anything respecting the Supreme Being, because we have a less perfect knowledge of him than of any other subject. This view has been run out to its logical result in the recent agnosticism, which contends that we know nothing concerning God, and therefore can affirm nothing concerning him.

Theology has been denied to be a positive science by some of its friends, as well as by its foes. The views of Hamilton and Mansel convert theology into a science of negations. In asserting that man has no positive cognition of the Infinite Being, and especially in contending that the human mind cannot logically think of the Infinite Being either as a person or a cause, because these conceptions are said to be contradictory to infinity, these philosophers, without intending it, lay the foundation for the same skepticism that Hobbes and Iluet maintained. And their speculations have undoubtedly strengthened the hands of the present generation of agnostics. If all that can be said by the theologian respecting God is, that he is not this or that, then the mind has in fact no object before it, and no cognition whatever. It may not affirm anything whatever respecting such a Being. It cannot assert either that he is holy or unholy; mighty or weak; wise or foolish. The deity becomes the Unknown and the Unknowable: a position that cuts up religion by the root, and introduces atheism in theory and practice.

Mansel would save the mind from skepticism, by the remark that the contradiction which he finds between the conception of the Infinite and that of personality and causation is only relative. It is a contradiction for the human but not for the Divine mind. Hence man can believe in the existence of an Infinite Being who is also personal and a cause, though it is self-contradictory to human intelligence. "It is true," he says (Religions Thought, p. 106), "that we cannot reconcile these two representations with each other; as our conception of personality involves attributes apparently contradictory to the notion of Infinity. But it does not follow that this contradiction exists anywhere but in our own minds; it does not follow that it implies any impossibility in the absolute nature of God." But this reasoning implies that a man can believe what appears to him to be self-contradictory. This is impossible. It also implies that a contradiction for the human mind may be rational and logical for the Divine mind. This makes reason in man to differ in kind from reason in God; so that what is logical and mathematical for one would be illogical and unmathematical for the other. If this be so, man was not created in the image of God.1

Let us test this theory of negative knowledge by some particulars. Theology defines God to be a spirit. The idea which the human mind has of "spirit" is not exhausted, when it is said that spirit is not matter, or substance occupying space. This would not distinguish it from a mathematical point; or from a thought; or from a volition. We have over and above this negative definition a positive notion, which we proceed to enunciate by specifying certain definite properties of spirit, such as intelligence and self-determination; and certain qualities, such as benevolence, justice, and veracity. These properties and qualities are as positively conceived as are the properties of matter; hardness, color, shape, and the like. That our knowledge of spirit is not all expressed in the statement that spirit is not matter, is also proved by the fact, that if it should be asserted that spirit is something semi-material we should deny it. This evinces that we have a notion in our minds of the real nature of spirit which throws out an imperfect and inadequate definition like this.

Consider, again, the eternity of God. Of this, it is contended we have only a negative apprehension. All that the human intellect can know, it is said, is that eternity is not time. But that our idea of eternity is not exhausted by this

1 On Hamilton's and Mansel's views, see Smith: Faith and Philosophy, 297330; Porter: HumanIntelleot, 681-697; Hodge: Theology, L 846-365; Mflller: Science of Language, 2d Series, 596-600.

negation is proved by the fact that we are not content to stop with it, but go beyond it, and endeavor to convey some further notion of eternity, by specifying positive characteristics. We define it as duration; as duration without beginning or end; and as duration without succession. We thus differentiate eternity from time; which is conceived of as duration beginning and ending, as a series of sequences, and as measured by the successive motions of the heavenly bodies. Again we define eternity as stationary; time as flowing. These are figures it is true, but they are employed to illustrate a positive idea in the mind. If we were content with a negative definition; with merely saying that eternity is not time; we should not make use of any metaphors at all, because we should not attempt any further enunciation of our idea of eternity. On the theory of a negative knowledge, time might be as well defined by saying that it is not eternity, as eternity would be by saying that it is not time; and matter would be as well defined by saying that it is not mind, as mind would be by saying that it is not matter. But man's knowledge of either of these contraries, though imperfect in the sense of not exhaustive, is yet more than these negations express.

The doctrine of a merely negative knowledge of spiritual objects and ideas originates in a tendency to materialism. The theorist is prone to regard nothing as positive and real in human conceptions that cannot be imaged to the senses. Hansel defines a conception to be a "representative image;" and an image implies sensuous imagination. According to this view, positive knowledge is sensuous knowledge. But this is an error. Consider the common definition of God, as "an essence absolutely perfect, infinitely good, wise, powerful, necessarily existent, and the cause of all other beings." There is not a word in this definition that is unintelligible, or that does not convey a positive notion, and yet there is no sensible idea, no idea that can be imaged to the senses, answering to any one of these words. "We have," says Cudworth (System, I. v.), "intelligible notions, or ideas, which have no phantasms [sensible images] belonging to them. Of which, whosoever doubts may easily be satisfied and convinced, by reading a sentence or two that he understands in any book almost that shall come to his hand; and reflexively examining himself whether he have a phantasm, or sensible idea, belonging to every word, or no. For whoever is ingenuous will quickly be forced to confess that he meets with many words which, though they have a meaning or intelligible notion, yet have no phantasm [image] belonging to them. And we have known some who were confidently engaged in the other opinion, being put to read the beginning of Tully's Offices, presently nonplussed and confounded in the first word quanquam: they being neither able to deny that there was a meaning belonging to it, nor yet to affirm that they had any phantasm thereof, save only of the sound or letters." Cudworth then gives the definition of God which we have just cited, in further proof of his position, and then adds that "it is nothing but want of meditation, together with a fond and sottish dotage upon corporeal sense, which hath so far imposed upon some, as to make them believe that they have not the least cognition of anything not subject to corporeal sense; or that there is nothing in human understanding or conception which was not first in bodily sense: a doctrine highly favorable to atheism. But since it is certain, on the contrary, that we have many thoughts not subject to sense, it is manifest that what falls not under external sense is not therefore inconceivable and nothing. Which whosoever asserts, must needs affirm life and cogitation itself, knowledge or understanding, reason and memory, volition and appetite, things of the greatest moment and reality, to be nothing but mere words without any signification."

It is indeed true that these positive definitions of eternity, of spirit, and kindred ideas, do not exhaust the subjects and leave them free from mystery. In the recent controversy respecting the knowledge of the Infinite and the Unconditioned, which was stimulated into life by the views of Hamilton, there was not sufficient care taken upon either side to distinguish a positive from a perfect and complete conception. It seemed to be taken for granted by both parties, that man's knowledge of the Finite is superior to his knowledge of the Infinite, in respect to exhaustiveness and absoluteness. But man's cognitiou of matter and sensible phenomena has limits and imperfection, as well as his cognition of God and the soul. "If anyone," says Jacobi (Fliegende Blatter), "will tell me what sense is, I will tell him what spirit is. "We talk more easily about sense than about spirit, because there are at least five senses and only one spirit." The blade of grass which the naturalist picks up in his fingers and subjects to the microscope and chemical analysis, contains an ultimate mystery which he can no more clear away than he can the mystery of the Divine eternity or trinity. For the constitution of the smallest atom involves such baffling questions as, What is matter? and, How does it originate? Everything, be it finite or infinite, matter or miud, runs out into mystery. Speaking of law in material nature, Hooker (Polity, I. iii.), remarks that it "hath in it more than men have as yet attained to know, or perhaps ever shall attain; seeing the travail of wading herein is given of God to the sons of men, that perceiving how much the least thing in the world hath in it more than the wisest are able to reach unto, they may by this means learn humility." The natural philosopher Boyle entitles one of his essays thus: "Of man's great ignorance of the uses of natural things: or, that there is no one thing in nature whereof the uses to human life are yet thoroughly understood." Much advance has been made in the knowledge of physical nature since Boyle's day, but the title to his essay is still suited to all physical treatises. "What in fact," says Frederick Schlegel (Philosophy of Life, Lect. IV.), "is all our knowledge of nature considered as a whole, and in its inmost essence, but a mere speculative conjecture, and guess upon guess? What is it but an endless series of tentative experiments, by which we are continually hoping to succeed in unveiling the secret of life, to seize the wonderful Proteus and to hold him fast in the chains of ecience?"

There is as much reason for asserting that man's conception of matter is merely negative because there is an unsolved mystery in it, as there is for asserting the same respecting spirit and the supernatural. Perfect definitions are as difficult in one case as in the other. It is no easier to define time than to define eternity. "I know what time is," said Augustine, "when you do not ask me." That is to say, he had an intuitive notion of time that is trustworthy and valid, but not clear of all obscurity, and which he found it difficult to enunciate. The same is true of the definition of space. Is it a real object? Or only a form of thought, a scheme under which the understanding masses and unifies phenomena? If by a positive conception be meant a cognition that is in accordance with the real nature of the object so far as the cognition extends; if the term "positive" be understood to refer to the quality not the quantity of the knowledge; then man's knowledge of the Infinite, or of spirit, is no more a negation than his knowledge of the Finite, or of matter. But it is the quality not the quantity of an idea, or a cognition, that determines its validity and trustworthiness; that is, its conformity to the real nature of the object. Man's knowledge of God is like his knowledge of the ocean. He does not perfectly comprehend the ocean, but this does not render what knowledge he has of the ocean a merely negative knowledge. "When we affirm," says Cud worth (System, Book I. Ch. v.), "that God is incomprehensible, our meaning is only this, that our imperfect minds cannot have such a conception of his nature as doth perfectly master, conquer, and subdue that vast object under it; or at least is so fully adequate and commensurate to the same, as that it doth every way match and equalize it. Now, it doth not at all follow from hence, because God is thus incomprehensible to our finite and narrow understandings, he is utterly inconceivable [unthinkable] by them, so that they cannot frame any idea at all of him, and he may therefore be concluded to be a nonentity. For it is certain that we cannot fully comprehend ourselves, and that we cannot have such an adequate and comprehensive knowledge of the essence of any substantial thing, as that we can perfectly master and conquer it. Though we cannot fully comprehend the deity, nor exhaust the infiniteness of his perfection, yet we may have an idea or conception of a Being absolutely perfect; as we may approach near a mountain, and touoh it with our hands, though we cannot encompass it all round, and enclasp it in our arms. Whatsoever is in its own nature absolutely inconceivable is nothing; but not whatsoever is not fully comprehensible by our imperfect understanding."

But while the deity is in one sense the most mysterious of all objects of knowledge, in another sense he is the most luminous. No idea so impresses universal man as the idea of God. Neither space nor time, neither matter nor mind, neither life nor death, not sun, moon or stars, so influence the immediate consciousness of man in every clime, and in all his generations, as does that "Presence" which, in Wordsworth's phrase, "is not to be put by." This idea of ideas overhangs human existence like the firmament, and though clouds and darkness obscure it in many zones, while in others it is crystalline and clear, all human beings must live beneath it, and cannot possibly get from under its allembracing arch. The very denial of the Divine Existence evinces by its eagerness and effort, the firmness with which the idea of God is intrenched in man's constitution. A chimaera or a nonentity would never evoke such a passionate antagonism as is expressed in the,reasonings of atheism. Were there no God, absolute indifference towards the notion would be the mood of all mankind, and no arguments either for or against it would be constructed.

In this reference, the striking remark of Cud worth (System, I. v.) applies. "It is indeed true, that the deity is more incomprehensible to us than anything else whatever; which proceeds from the fulness of his being and perfection, and from the transcendency of his brightness; but for this very same reason may it be said also, in some sense, that he is more knowable and conceivable than anything else. As the sun, though by reason of its excessive splendor it dazzle our weak sight, yet is notwithstanding far more visible, also, than any of the nebulosae stellae, the small misty stars. Where there is more of light there is more of visibility; so . where there is more of entity, reality, and perfection, there is more of conceptibility and cognoscibility; such an object filling up the mind more, and acting more strongly upon it. Nevertheless, because our weak and imperfect minds are lost in the vast immensity and redundancy of the deity, and overcome with its transcendent light and dazzling brightness, therefore hath it to us an appearance of darkness and incomprehensibility."