The Appeal To Reason -- By: Joseph Evans Sagebeer

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 057:228 (Oct 1900)
Article: The Appeal To Reason
Author: Joseph Evans Sagebeer


The Appeal To Reason

Rev. Joseph Evans Sagebeer

The mind has no especial faculty for the discovery of the truths of religion or for the solving of the problems of religion. These problems, like all others, make their appeal to the reason. There is no other tribunal to which they can appeal. If it be said that in matters of religion the appeal is to faith, it must be remembered that faith is reason exercising itself upon one class of cases, and that its functions are still performed in accordance with all the laws of reason. A court of chancery is occupied with a special class of cases, but in administering its affairs it violates neither the common law nor the principles of justice. A court of chancery is not established to adjudicate cases for which there is a plain, adequate, and complete remedy in a court of law. But there are cases to which the common law is not applicable. The common law cannot punish a man for a wrong that he has not committed, but a court of equity can enjoin him from committing it, and so prevent the wrong. A court of law and a court of equity exist for the same purpose,—for the administering of justice. When a judge of a law court sits in a court of equity he does not cease to be a minister of justice. Equity is an exchange of justice for that which is another kind of justice, but the foundation of both law and equity is human right and human duty. Faith is an exchange of belief for that which is another kind of belief, but the foundation of all belief is the assent of the reason. In its last analysis the faith that saves is found to be human assent to the testi-

mony of Christ concerning human sin and divine righteousness. A rational conviction of the sin of man and of the righteousness of God is faith of the purest type. Religion is brought into contempt when a man says that he believes in the atonement, but that he has not the least idea what the atonement is.

All true religion appeals to the reason. As long as men had a reasonable knowledge of God they did not consult the oracles. Personal conviction is the true urim and thummim. Abraham and Moses knew God better than the priests did. God is known as any other mind is known. By reason of self-consciousness one knows that his own actions are the offspring of his own mental volitions. When he sees similar actions performing around him, he refers them to a mind like himself; if it is possible to refer them to a human mind no power could hinder him from doing so. When he is conscious of things that cannot be referred to a human mind, but that do bear the marks of mental volition, he refers them to a superhuman mind which the religious consciousness of the world calls God. Science is the systematizing of things; philosophy is the explai...

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