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-the exegetical evidences and facts, which tend to illustrate it. Since all belief, if it be not blind, must arise from personal knowledge, or at least be subject to it, every religious man is, personally, a theologian. But, since all men are not in circumstances which will admit of their procuring for themselves the knowledge requisite for establishing scientific belief, the unlearned must in this respect rest their belief on the testimony of the learned, just as in mathematics, physics, or history; and their belief, therefore, rests on authority ;-but that of the learned must be based on personal knowledge. An exposition of the truths of Religion, furnished with as much learning as the knowledge and comprehension of the laymen, or rather, of the unlearned, can reach, is called Popular Theology. Since Religion is composed, partly of Belief, founded on either Knowledge or Authority, and partly of feelings and actions consonant with that belief, viz. The feeling of the existence of God, and our dependence on Him, and as a consequence, prayer to Him, and obedience to His known will,—Theology divides itself, like Religion, into THEORETICAL, and PRACTICAL: (“ Dogmatic, and Moral.")
If the Theology be formed by reason, if it be merely a development of the religious ideas in the mind, with their relations to the aspect of the world, then it is called Philosophical Theology, as also Rational, or Natural.
In as far as it is acknowledged that Reason has received the laws by which she gains and comprehends religious ideas, just as Nature has received hers from God, the Creator of the world; and that Reason and Nature, or Creation in its completeness, are an expression of the designs of Providence and an effect of His will,—so far is this Rational, or Natural Theology, a Revelation from God, by which He has spread the knowledge of Himself among His rational creatures.
It is a universal Revelation, for it has reached all men, and a primary Revelation, for it began with the creation of the world.
It has been called Natural, however, because it was believed that the contemplation of Nature awakened it in the human mind. But if the expression relates to its origin, it is just as super-natural as is the origin, preservation, and government of the world. Since God, as Creator of the world, is the source of all that is Real, and True, this universal revelation can contain no errors, save such as have crept in by the fallible decisions of reason, and have been committed by Man in his observation of Nature.
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lation, or that knowledge of religion which God has imparted, in later times, to individual men, as teachers of others. It has been called Immediate revelation, because it has been attri. buted to the direct agency of God upon particular men, without the mediation of the laws of nature. For the same reason it has been called also Supernatural, in contradistinction to Natural, though the latter also, since it has God for its author, may be called supernatural.
This is the most marked distinction between Supernaturalism and Rationalism, both of which, however, admit of many modifications.
There is hence also a REVEALED Theology, which has been sometimes called POSITIVE Theology, because it rests on historical authority, and has been given in distinct and express words and formulas, which are to be sought for either in a Holy Scripture alone, (as in the Evangelical Theology,) or at the same time in orally-transmitted traditions, and written declarations of a succession of inspired priests, (like the RomanCatholic Theology.)
The application of philosophical knowledge of Religion to Positive Theology, is called the Philosophy of Religion. Since every particular revelation, as a single circumstance in the train of events, is an historical fact, which must be believed upon certain grounds, each requires critical examination and proofs : the rather, that many positive Religious, -give themselves out as Revealed.
The proof of a revelation must rest, then, not on the mere fact, that it was, at a certain time, and by certain men, declared to be a positive Religion ;—but on the fact, that God, as the author of the Religion, exercised an immediate influence on these men, for their enlightenment;—in other words—that He inspired them. This proof is founded, next to the declarations of the inspired persons themselves, on miracles, and prophecies. But, since these again are historical facts, which require the same proofs; to the effect, viz. that they were immediate influences from God, and since, on the investigation of them, our judgment of the authenticity and credibility of the Holy Scriptures, and of the competency and disinterestedness of the witnesses adduced, so much depends,-the process of demonstration becomes so complicated, that it has lately been almost given up. The Critique which has recently appeared by Strauss, on the evangelical accounts of the Life of Jesus, has displayed this difficulty still more fully, although the historical fact, that Christ did actually live, teach, and lay the foundation of a religion for the world on his being an extraordinary man,
and inspired from Heaven, is placed beyond all doubt, by the present existence of the Christian Church.
In reference to each subsequent and particular revelation, the following principles are certain ;-First; Since all truths, whether transcendental, (belonging to pure Reason,) or received through the senses,* come from God, and are therefore as firm and immutable as God himself,—the particular revelations can contain nothing which is in opposition to the Universal Revelation, or to religious ideas, and especially, to general truths, whether belonging to Reason or Nature: at all events, nothing of the kind, if it be found in the testimonials of the particular revelation, can be admitted as essential to it. Secondly; Since it would be inconsistent with our ideas of the wisdom and goodness of God, to suppose that He kept back from Mankind truths which they required to know for their salvation, for thousands of years, and then only imparted them to individuals,—the particular revelation can only have for its aim, to awaken, develop, guide, and expand the religious ideas contained in the universal and primary revelation. Thirdly; Since the revelation is given for Man, and for human reason, it can contain nothing which is either incomprehensible by the human mind, contrary to the laws of thought, or inapplicable to human life. Fourthly; Since all truths are closely bound by mutual dependence, and therefore Theology is necessarily dependent on the view of the world of the time being,—the particular revelation cannot go beyond the view of the world, (as in relation to Physics, Astronomy, Anthropology, Geography, &c.) which the human race at that time entertained, but must be contained within the limits of that view, or it could neither be received nor understood. Hence these limits will be perceived, in the relations of the religious ideas to the world, or, in other words, in the religious views of the world, which the revelation takes; and these views therefore will belong, not to the essence of the revelation, but only to the temporary, and gradually disappearing form of the particular revelation.
When these fundamental maxims were applied to the particular revelation contained in the Holy Scriptures, there arose CRITICAL Theology, generally called RATIONALISM, but improperly so, for supernaturalism is not opposed to it; since Critical Theology still acknowledges a particular and immediate revelation, or at least may acknowledge one, and therefore may admit Supernatural agency; while un-critical, or Literal Theology, which considers every thing written in the Scriptures, as
it is written therein, and because it is written therein, to be divine Truth, completely disowns the application of these four principles.
The Christian religion announces itself only as a particular revelation, and Christian Theology is also a Revealed, and (so far as it is based on the Holy Scriptures,) a Positive Theology. The founder of it did not aim at giving forth a system of Belief. The acknowledgment of the one True God, and Jesus as his ambassador, was sufficient for him, according to John xvii. 3. Just as little did any of his apostles give forth a system of belief, or wish to do so. Whoever acknowledged the one true God, and Jesus as His Messiah, or Sent, was baptized and considered a Christian. The nature of the human mind, which is ever struggling to connect all truths, and find a firm foundation for them, necessarily led to the formation of a Christian Theology, and the more so that among the Greeks and Eastern nations there already existed a philosophical theory of Religion, which the converts to Christianity brought with them.
Even so early as in the writings of John, Paul, and the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, the beginning of a Theology may be traced ; not, however, consisting of precepts, but their own personal opinions, their own deductions from particular circumstances. So it remained until the close of the third century. The Fathers, Tertullian, Irenæus, and Origen, distinguish throughout their works, Belief, (under which term they include only that which the Apostolic confession-of-faith contains,) from the Speculations upon that Belief, or, from Theology; and declare this Belief alone to be binding and necessary to all, but Theology to be free and unconstrained, from which any one may select what appears to him most correct. And there it had better have been left. But, when the Emperors became Christian, they too mingled in Theological controversies, decided them, and made their decisions the Standard of Belief.
Hence arose Positive, or Church Theology, which has brought so much evil on the world. This first happened in the year 325, at the first general assembly of the Church at Nicea, where a purely speculative dogma, that of the nature of the Son of God, was decided, and the decision declared the standard of Belief.
But however bewildering this commencement of converting Theology into articles of Belief became for the Church, the assemblies persisted in the once trodden path, and held up their decisions over other theological controversialists, as binding Christian Belief; without perceiving how widely they were diverging from the path of Christ and the primitive Church,
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and what seeds of discord they were sowing for futurity. Thus theological formulas on the connexion of the divine and human natures in Christ; on the Deity of the Holy Ghost; on the Trinity; on Original Sin; on the image of God; on the mode of action of divine grace; and at last on rites, such as Baptism, the Eucharist, Mass, &c.;-were all made articles of Christian Belief. The views entertained of the sources of Christian Belief and theological speculation were also gradually changing.
The apostles and their immediate disciples had only the Old Testament, and the oral instruction of Jesus, which they transmitted. At the close of the third century, the writings of the New Testament, which had meantime become known, were added to the Old; and the oral traditions were still connected with them, though they ought to have been laid aside, as having lost all authority, by the side of the New Testament, and become more and more uncertain, as the Apostles, their fountain head, in the course of time, withdrew. Endeavours were so eagerly made to fill up the vacancies thus caused, that at length the successive inspiration of a continuous line of priesthood was admitted, and thence the decisions of councils, and still later, those of the Popes, were considered as equivalent to revelations.
Here then Theology ceased to be a science, and took the form rather of a positive legislation, which it still retains at the present day; not only in the (Roman) Catholic Church, but even in the evangelical church; (in the latter by their symbolical books.) No science, save that of Religion, has ever fallen under such a misconception. But this is the reason why Christian Theology has never been at rest, but down to the latest times has ever raised the most bitter and eager strife. For, the attempt to change a science into a positive legislation must always inevitably fall to the ground; since it is the nature of a science, like that of Theology, to be constantly growing and advancing by further researches, and, in this particularly, by the progressive development of reason and more elevated views of the world. This was shown in the Middle Ages. However fearful was then the power of the Popes and their theological decisions, upheld as they were by bans and courts of inquisition, they could not prevent the newly-revived Aristotelian Philosophy from completely possessing itself of Theology in the eleventh, and thenceforward to the fourteenth centuries. Certainly this Philosophy was chiefly applied to the elucidation, development, and corroboration of the authorized Dogmas; but it carried on the development of many dogmas so far, and made the contradictions in many of them so apparent, by subtle queries, that it prepared the way not a little for the Reformation. On