The Divine Origin Of The Religion Of The Bible; Or, How A Layman Thought Out His Evidences1 -- By: James Monroe
BSac 53:211 (July 1896) p. 429
The Divine Origin Of The Religion Of The Bible; Or, How A Layman Thought Out His Evidences1
I NOW come to my third general proposition, which is that it is a law of the productions of the human intellect that they are at length outgrown by the thinking portion of mankind, and are superseded by something better. Such productions often contain much truth; but the deficiency in them which after a time makes it necessary to lay them aside is either that they do not contain enough truth, lacking especially perhaps the truth which is wanted, or that they do not present truth in a symmetrical way, nor in its proper relations; or that they contain too much error with the truth, not discriminating between them, or that their views of truth are limited, partial, one-sided, the writers insisting that one facet, which they have discovered, is all there is of a great gem. The human intellect has been more successful in giving to the world single truths or facts, than in trying to arrange these in systems. It is safe to say that every system produced by the human mind whose object is conviction and enlightenment—whether such system be scientific, ethical, or religious—must, in time, fail to meet the wants of men, and be superseded. I say every system whose object is conviction and enlightenment, because some emi-
BSac 53:211 (July 1896) p. 430
nent men are of the opinion that productions in the fine arts follow a different law, and it is not necessary for me, in this place, to lay claim to any disputed territory outside of the proper field of our inquiries. No system originating in the human intellect, as distinguished from the imagination, can be such as to secure the full approval of succeeding ages. This proposition is a legitimate inference from one already established. If it be admitted that every effort of the human intellect is a natural result of its own age, and that the human intellect, both in the individual and in the race, is progressive, it follows that what is a source of improvement in one age will be inadequate to meet the wants of another. The most original man is finite, and no finite being can supply the wants of an endlessly progressing soul—still less the wants of an endlessly progressing race. Nobody but God can give us a system, especially a religious system, which the human mind can never outgrow. This statement might be illustrated by many facts.
We have already seen that one of the greatest minds which the world has produced is Lord Bacon. Too much credit cannot well be given him for calling back the attention of mankind to the Christian law that no philosophy is of any worth which does not take as its end the general we...
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