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The Office of Reason in Religious Inquiries.

The Office of Reason in Religious Inquiries.

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Published by glennpease

Acts xviii. 4.

" And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and per-
suaded the Jews and the Greeks."

Acts xviii. 4.

" And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and per-
suaded the Jews and the Greeks."

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Published by: glennpease on Aug 30, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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THE OFFICE OF REASO I RELIGIOUS IQUIRIES.REV. G. S. DREW, B.A.Acts xviii. 4." And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and per-suaded the Jews and the Greeks."This short account of St. Paul's public ministra-tions at Corinth, suggests much useful inquiry andmeditation. And in order that we may success-fully and profitably follow out its suggestion, wemust first ascertain the precise meaning of thestatement, that the Apostle reasoned with hishearers ; and then, what is implied in the assertion,that, as a consequence of this reasoning, he suc-ceeded in persuading many from among them, bothJews and Greeks. The word which, in our text, istranslated, " he reasoned," may signify simply theact of delivering a public oration or discourse. Itgenerally, however, implies also, that a process of demonstration and an interchange of argument iscarried on with respect to the subject to which thediscourse relates ; and, with two exceptions only.74 THE OFFICE OF REASOthin meaning bas, in our translation of the Bible,been assigned to tbe word wherever it occurs inThe Acts of the Apostles. It is certain, moreover,that mere declamation would have been almost, if notaltogether, useless in a Grecian city; and that, unlesssome clear and sound reasoning had been broughtbefore their minds, St. Paul could hardly have pre-vailed on any Greeks to accept the Gospel, even if his earnest exhortations had succeeded with the
Jews. We feel, therefore, justified in concluding,that St. Paul, throughout his public discourses inthe synagogue at Corinth, addressed himself to thereason as well as to the feelings of his hearers;that there were arguments as well as assertionsin the sermons he delivered, and that their per-suasive efficacy may be attributed not only to thepathos and the power of his earnest exhortations,but also to the conclusive force of the reasoningho employed. And, with respect to the persua-sion he wrought in many of the Jews and Greekswho attended on his ministry, the nature of thecase makes it quite certain, that such persuasionwas much more than an indolent assent as thoughto abstract or unimportant truths. The assumptionof Christianity at Corinth, whether by a Jew or bya Greek, was no light and trivial act, but an actwhich affected every circumstance of the convert'slife, and on which he would never think of ventur-ing except at the bidding of a deep and strongconviction. The habits of his outward life must.I RELIGIOUS IQUIRIES. 75in consequence, have been completely changed ; hisfamilj connexions loosened, if not entirely dis-solved ; his temporal condition and prospects seri-ously injured ; surely, then, a man in those daysmust have believed Christianity with his heart aswell as with his intellect, and have been sustained,too, in such belief by the aid of a higher powerthan his own, before he would have ventured onan open confession of the truth.We may receive our text, therefore, as assert-ing, first, that St. Paul appealed to reason in thediscourses which he preached at Corinth, that headdressed himself to the judgment as well as to
the feelings of those who listened to his message,that he endeavoured to convince the intellect asan eflScient means whereby he might convert theheart ; and, secondly, that by so appealing to thereason, the Apostle was successful in producing inmany minds a real and practical conviction of thetruth of our religion, as well as of the necessity of living in accordance with such conviction, of aban-doning whatever Christianity forbids, and of prac-tising whatever it enjoins. These are the asser-tions of the text. The subjects which they unfoldfor our consideration are, first, the part whichreason should fulfil in our religious inquiries ;and, secondly, the certainty that if this part berightly fulfilled, the result will appear in a zealousand practical adherence to religious truth. Andwe hope to make such observations on these76 THE OFFICE OF REASOsubjects as will be useful in introducing an appealto your bounty, in aid of the great work contem-plated by the society, on whose behalf the Queenhas issued the letter which has just been read '.There is, undoubtedly, a part which reason shouldfulfil in our reception and entertainment of thetruths of Christianity. This part has been misun-derstood or disregarded, however, by large numbersof professed adherents to our faith. Some of thesehave brought reason forward in a position and cha-racter which it is incompetent to maintain. Theyhave followed its guidance on a path into which itnever should have entered ; a path in which it isemphatically a blind guide ; and so, as blind fol-lowers of this blind guide, its adherents on thispath have too often fallen into an abyss, the abyssof doubt and unbelief. We shall hereafter state

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