Newman Smyth tells us that feeling comes first; the idea is secondary. Intuitive ideas arc not denied, but they are declared to be direct reflections, in thought, of the feelings. They are the mind?s immediate perception of what it feels to exist. Direct knowledge of God by intuition is considered to be idealistic, reaching God by inference is regarded as rationalistic, in its tendency. See Smyth, The Religious Feeling; reviewed by Harris, in New Englander, Jan., 1878: reply by Smyth, in New Englander, May, 1878.
We grant that, even in the ease of unregenerate men, great peril, great joy, great sin often turn the rational intuition of God into a presentative intuition. The presentative intuition, however, cannot be affirmed to be common to all men. It does not furnish the foundation or explanation of a universal capacity for religion. Without the rational intuition, the presentative would not be possible, since it is only the rational that enables man to receive and to interpret the presentative. The very trust that we put in feeling presupposes an intuitive belief in a true and good God. Tennyson said in 1869: ?Yes, it is true that there are moments when the flesh is nothing to me; when I know and feel the flesh to be the vision; God and the spiritual is the real; it belongs to me more than the hand and the foot. You may tell me that my hand and my foot are only imaginary symbols of my existence, ? I could believe you; but you never, never can convince me that the I is not an eternal Reality, and that the spiritual is not the real and true part of me.?
3. Not from reasoning, ? because
(a) The actual rise of this knowledge in the great majority of minds is not the result of any conscious process of reasoning. On the other hand, upon occurrence of the proper conditions, it flashes upon the soul with the quickness and force of an immediate revelation.
(b) The strength of men?s faith in God?s existence is not proportioned to the strength of the reasoning faculty. On the other hand, men of greatest logical power are often inveterate skeptics, while men of unwavering faith are found among those who cannot even understand the arguments for God?s existence.
(c) There is more in this knowledge than reasoning could ever have furnished. Men do not limit their belief in God to the just conclusions of argument. The arguments for the divine existence, valuable as they are for purposes to be shown hereafter, are not sufficient by themselves to warrant our conviction that there exists an infinite and absolute Being. It will
<- Previous Table of Contents Next ->
Was this article helpful?