The Natural Sources Of Theology -- By: Thomas Hill

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 032:125 (Jan 1875)
Article: The Natural Sources Of Theology
Author: Thomas Hill


The Natural Sources Of Theology

Rev. Thomas Hill

We propose to recapitulate, in the present Article, the sources of religious knowledge which, in our four preceding Articles, we have found trustworthy; and in order that the reader may carry away a positive impression of faith, rather than of controversy, doubt, and denial, we will, for the most part, omit in this recapitulation any allusion to the modern forms of unbelief, which in the previous Articles we have endeavored to show stand on wholly untenable foundations, drawing nearly all their conclusions from premises which attempt to define the infinite. Falsely accusing Christian theology of this logical absurdity, the opponents of faith in the Christian scriptures rush themselves headlong into the error which they condemn; arguing from the infinite, while acknowledging that we can safely argue only to it. We have in the preceding Articles shown this fundamental vice in the logic of unbelief, and will endeavor to avoid either alluding to it, or carelessly falling into it, in the present recapitulation.

The grand fundamental truth, on which all human philosophy and all human science must be built, is that man has the power of perceiving things and their relations; perceiving them either by outward sense, or by inward apprehension.

For this power of perception we may use the term sight; we may say that we see whatever is perceived by the bodily senses, the eye, the ear, touch, smell, taste; we see the external world and its sensible properties by outward sense; and we may say that we see by inward sight that which is part of our own consciousness, or that which is abstract and known only by reflection, or conceived by the imagination.

We come into conscious being possessed of these powers of outward and inward sight. In our first survey of the universe we see the difference between our own self and the rest of the universe; and the first grand division in our classifying the objects of perceptions, is into the me and the not-me; myself and nature. Very early in our conscious life we again divide the not-me into my body and not my body. My body is subservient, in part, directly to my thought and wish; what is not my body is in no case directly obedient. It obeys only on compulsion applied in some manner through my body. A further step is taken very early: we discover the existence of other selfs in the world, each with its appropriate body, obedient to it, by which it obtains, as we do, a power of compelling a partial obedience of matter to its will. We thus learn the existence of our fellow-men, dwellers in organic forms, and partial lords of the material world. We see that the material world is more like the human body than like the soul. Nay...

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