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which is only an intellectual expression of the Faith itself. And therefore dogma cannot be the essential part of religion ; the essential part is what dogma imperfectly expresses and sometimes distorts.
We notice that Newman just reverses this conclusion. He first points out that because men's arguments may be bad while their implicit reasons are good, - because their professed grounds are no sufficient measure of their real ones,—on this account, the evidence which can be given for a belief usually appears insufficient or inconclusive; indeed the real grounds cannot be stated in an intellectually conclusive form — the belief cannot be completely “proved.” So far he is on the solid ground of fact; no one of us could assign conclusive proofs for his deepest beliefs, religious or other, while yet these beliefs have grown into his mind, become part of himself, and are felt to be practically “certain” or inevitable. But from this Newman goes on to infer that it is a law of our nature to form settled beliefs on inconclusive evidence, to feel a certainty disproportioned to the
evidence which can be explicitly produced to justify it. Thus he says :
Faith is a process of the Reason in which so much of the grounds of inference cannot be exhibited, so much lies in the character of the mind itself, in its general view of things, its estimate of the probable and the improbable, its impressions concerning God's will, and its anticipations derived from its own inbred wishes,—that it [Faith] will ever seem to the world irrational and despicable; till, that is, the event confirms it. ... The Word of Life is offered to a man; and, on its being offered, he has faith in it. Why? On these two grounds, —the word of its human messenger, and the likelihood of the message. And why does he feel the message to be probable ? Because he has a love for it, love being strong though the testimony is weak. He has a keen sense of the intrinsic excellence of the message,-of its desirableness,—of its likeness to what it seems to him Divine Goodness would vouchsafe, did it vouchsafe any, -of the need of a revelation, and its probability. Thus Faith is the reasoning of a religious mind, or of what Scripture calls a right or renewed heart, which acts upon presumptions rather than evidence, which speculates and ventures on the future without being sure of it.1 This last sentence, together with the remark about the event confirming Faith, seems to imply the view that the test of religious truth is that it works : in other words, that life as we know it, or as in our best moments we should wish it to be,
1 Sermon xi.
can be built upon it. But Newman does not develop this line of thought. In any case prior to the application of this test, we must ask ourselves “what is life as we know it, and what is it that as human beings we require that it should be ?”
The view to which we were led is that the “centre of gravity” of religion lies in the experience which the dogmas attempt to interpret. Newman's view is that the centre of gravity lies in the dogmas regarded as absolutely true. He admits that the arguments which can be adduced in favour of these amount at best only to a presumption or probability; but we can rest in them as certainties because of the psychological law above mentioned. Thus the only ground of certainty is the power of the emotions and the will to hold something to be certain : the intellect can only produce various "probabilities” to help belief. This was the kind of Faith which animated the many fanatical sects which arose during the Reformation period in Europe. It is a merely subjective test—i.e., it makes each man for himself the determinant of Truth. As Professor Pfleiderer observes, this merely subjective or personal certainty cannot rest upon itself, but to render it secure requires the support of the greatest possible number of other persons—that is, of external authority. This argument Newman elaborates in the Grammar of Assent, written after he had been many years in the Church of Rome. Many passages in this book are encumbered with needlessly subtle distinctions; but it is one of the ablest inquiries into the nature of Belief which has been written in this century. Its principles are kindred to those of Mr Balfour's Defence of Philosophic Doubt and Foundations of Belief. We shall examine them more fully in the sequel. He accurately assigns some of the psychological laws under which beliefs are formed, but draws a fatally erroneous conclusion from them.
Before turning to the Grammar of Assent, we must look at the Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine : while Newman was completing this book he was thinking himself into the Roman Catholic Church.
It is quite in the modern spirit in its way
of approaching the problem ; it views the history in the light of the idea of Development. Christian doctrine was not given to the world originally in a perfect form. “The principle of development,” he says, “is discernible from the first years of Catholic teaching up to the present day, and gives to that teaching a unity and individuality.” But the conclusion is not at all in the modern spirit. It is—as he expresses it in the Apologia—that this principle [development] “served as a sort of test, which the Anglicans could not exhibit, that modern Rome was in truth ancient Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople”—“an argument in favour of the identity of Roman and primitive Christianity." His position is that either the Roman developments of Christianity are the true ones, or the whole history of doctrine is a history of gradual corruption. He reaches the view that the Roman developments are the true ones because—as we shall see-his argument rests on a mistaken view of what development implies. But we may first see how he meets the other view, that the process is