Speculation And The Bible -- By: James W. McLane

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 018:70 (Apr 1861)
Article: Speculation And The Bible
Author: James W. McLane


Speculation And The Bible

Rev. James W. McLane

There is much bold adventure, at present, in some departments of intellectual effort. A draft is frequently made upon the belief of the Christian, which he cannot honor. A possibility is pushed into the place of certainty. A mere perhaps has given to it all the importance of an undoubted fact. In many of our popular lectures, and in much of the current literature of our day, there is a departure from that which should be regarded as the legitimate domain of the scholar; a divergence from the course of a safe and salutary exercise of human reason; a non-observance of that “temperance over appetite,” which, as Milton intimates, should be regarded by us in the pursuit of knowledge. There are boundaries in the domain of truth which must be recognized; lines, where certainty to us must, in the nature of the case, cease, and where mystery must begin; limits, we may add, within which man has his safety, his intellectual freedom, and his moral elevation. When he goes beyond these, and draws

upon his imagination for his facts, and affects to feel “at home where angels bashful look,” he is no longer free. His reason is in bondage. His mind is warped and fettered by its own action. The attempt to convert what is speculative or visionary into important truth, reacts with injurious influence upon him. The cravings of a man’s intellectual nature, which draw him in this direction, require restraint just as really as those of any other passion or appetite. Hence the great English lexicographer was wont to pray that his mind might be kept free from the disturbing influence of “things vainly curious.”

There is danger, indeed, from the opposite extreme. Men may be affected by a lethargy that is unthinking, as well as by an activity that is unscrupulous. In our search for truth, we have to sail between Scylla and Charybdis; and we may be just as really perilled by not doing as we are by over-doing. The sunken rock may sometimes be even more dangerous than that which rises above the surface. No stirring, wholesome influence, at least, can come from any blind worship of the past; from the action of those who turn their back to the future, and reject all free and manly thought on subjects of legitimate inquiry, and who, through fear of going too fast or too far, are unwilling to move at all. Such men insist upon a blind, implicit faith, and would tie us down in bondage to the past, and have us look upon the fossil remains of man’s wisdom found in the strata of “the dark ages,” as of equal authority with God’s own imperishable truth. But while we have no sympathy with any such senseless homage to fallible human authority, we have still less with ...

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