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YTARTING from the facts of human nature and the
laws they reveal to us, as spread out before us in history, can we attain to the existence of God, to Immortality, and to the fundamental doctrine of Christianity, the Incarnation ?
Hitherto Christianity has leaned, or has been represented as leaning, on authority,—on the authority of an infallible text, or of an inerrable Church. The inadequacy of either support has been repeatedly demonstrated, and as the props have been withdrawn, the faith of many has fallen with a crash. The religious history of the Church exhibits three phases. The first when dogma appealed to men and met with a ready response, the second when dogma was forced on man by an authoritative society, and the third when dogma was insisted on, upon the authority of an infallible text. Men revolted against the Church, opposing the text against it, men revolt now against the text, and on what does dogma stand ?
To this question I offer an answer in this volume. Unless Theology can be based on facts anterior to text or society, to facts in our own nature, ever new, but also ever old, it can never be placed in an unassailable position. For if Christianity be true, it must be true to human nature and to human thought. It must supply that to which both turn, but which they cannot unassisted attain.
“ Revelation," says a reviewer of my first volume, in the Edinburgh Courant, “ could never itself be made available or useful to man unless man were able to test its claims and recognise its adaptability to complete and satisfy the highest aspirations and the deepest longings of our nature. We start from a sense of insufficiency, a feeling that at present we are not what we should be; that our nature desires, and is therefore capable of, fuller development and a higher career. And to every individual man the ultimate test of the Revelation which speaks in him, though external, is just whether or not it will meet this imperfection, whether or not it will supply a positive to the negative in himself, whether it will or will not complement all his deficiencies. Revelation does, or claims to do, this, and Christianity especially does so, by revealing the Infinite as united to the Finite, as one with it in nature, and, therefore, that the home of the Finite only is in the Infinite. The Incarnation brings home this great lesson to human life and human history; and as it only is the Infinite which can meet and prove the sufficient complement of the Finite, so it is by the latter recognizing its essential unity with the former, that all its wants and longings are satisfied, and that the Revelation is seen to be fully adequate, and inexhaustible in its contents.”