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In Malice by Children, In Understanding Be Men

In Malice by Children, In Understanding Be Men

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Published by glennpease

1 Cor. xiv. 20.


1 Cor. xiv. 20.


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Published by: glennpease on Jul 09, 2014
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I MALICE BY CHILDRE, I UDERSTADIG BE MEBY EDWARD HAWKIS, D.D. 1 Cor. xiv. 20. I MALICE BE CHILDRE- I UDERSTADIG BE ME. IF a right use of the Church is of vast import ance in order to a wholesome knowledge of the Scriptures, the proper exercise of our own U DERSTADIG is essential to both. This is a truth so obvious, as scarcely to be controverted except by the mere Fanatic. Even he who maintains the absolute authority of the Church, must at least allow to her members one deliberate act of their own reason ; whilst those who only yield a just deference to her authority will of course be called upon for many. Admit with the Romanist the absolute Infallibility of the existing Church, and no doubt it covers all her declarations of doctrine ; we must accept them all with implicit faith ; but we must still have determined by a prior act of judgment the cor- 222 SERMO VII. rectness of the claim. Or allow only the Infalli bility of the Primitive Church whilst she was one and truly catholic, this will in fact extend only to a few doctrines, and leave the truth of every other to be weighed and examined. But if, with the Church of England, we see no proof of the Infal libility of the Church any where, and consequently disallow in every case, but that of Christ and His Apostles, the claim of absolute authority,
then the province of Reason, however it may require to be regulated and restrained by the nature of the subject, or by our duty to the Divine Author of Revelation, will be co-extensive with the whole range of Christian truth. How is it then that even from Protestant writers, and at this day, we hear so many in vectives against the exercise of Reason in mat ters of Religion ? Faith is invidiously contrasted with Reason, and the cultivation of our moral affections with that of the intellect ; as if the principle of Faith excluded argumentation, and, the heart being right, the judgment must of necessity be sound. Or sacred criticism is dis countenanced ; we must study the Scriptures, it is said, not with a grammar and a dic tionary, but with a Catechism and a Liturgy ; as if Criticism and History were incompatible, and traditional interpretations were not to assist, but to supersede the consideration of the text itself. Or the very examination of the Christian SERMO VII. 223 Evidences is censured, as a profane and irreverent re-opening of questions long ago decided ; as if Christian truth were a person once tried and acquitted, and therefore not to be again sub mitted to trial, instead of being, as it is, a subject ever new, and of the deepest interest to each individual man in each successive genera tion \ But when these and similar sentiments are expressed, as they often are, neither by fanatical enthusiasts, nor by covert assailants of religious truth, but by men of learning, ingenuity, and
sincere piety, shall we greatly err if we ascribe them for the most part either to overstrained conceptions of Church-authority, or to an over whelming dread of the abuse of human Reason ? Of Church-authority, however, its use and limits, I have formerly endeavoured to speak b . At present it may be expedient, before I advert to THE PROPER EMPLOYMET OF OUR REASO UPO MATTERS OF RELIGIO, briefly to notice some of the mischievous or fatal consequences resulting from its ABUSE. I. The abuses alluded to are not, of course, the illogical exercise, but the misuse and rnisap- * See British Critic, o. LI. Articles on the Evidences, and upon Ancient MSS. And see note at the end. " In Sermons IV, V, VI. 2-24 SERMO VII. plication of our intellectual powers; not incorrect reasonings or faulty judgments, but the undue exaltation of the intellect, that is to say, of the human understanding generally, not necessarily of our own in particular , and its undue, because unrestrained, employment upon subjects only in part within its grasp. And let it be carefully observed, that some of these abuses of Reason are by no means confined to men of a sceptical turn of mind verging upon infidelity, but are committed every day by Christians of fervent piety, and of what are often called high religious

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