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ence, I have endeavoured to prove. But, for those who profess to believe in the inspiration of the Bible, the matter should require no proof. The mere statement of my texts should be sufficient: "Be ready to give a reason to every man for the hope that is in you;" "Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God;" "Test all things."
THE LIMITATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE.
"Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection 1"—Job xi. 7.
TK the last sermon, I was endeavouring to show -*- that we might, and that we ought, to use our reason in religious matters. I have now to remind you of the fact that, use our reason as we will, there is much which must remain unknown.
Some persons seem to imagine that if they were to think at all, there would be nothing left for faith—that if they tried to understand matters, mystery would be at once annihilated. And indeed the achievements of modern science might
seem, at first sight, to lend some countenance to this most foolish opinion. To a careless student, it may appear as if there were nothing which we had not found out, or were not on the point of finding out. We have analysed the material universe into about five dozen elements and halfa-dozen forces. We have studied the laws of these elements and of these forces till we seem almost as well acquainted with Nature's habits as with our own. We have measured, weighed, and even discovered the composition of sun and moon, of planets and stars. We have examined the human brain until we seem fairly in the way of localising the mental faculties. In a word, we have been making such progress in knowledge that there is almost an excuse for our imagining that we are going to master everything. But a little reflection will show that our knowledge, after all, is but superficial, and that our ignorance is profound. We do not know the ultimate nature either of matter or of force. We have no means of telling whether the component atoms of the physical world are solid substances— according to the general conception of them, or merely centres of energy, according to the theory of Boscovitch. We cannot say whether or no the hardness of matter be more than the result of “a rapid motion in something that is infinitely yielding.” In a word, we do not know whether matter and force are two things or one. We know even less of the nature of life. We are acquainted with some of its conditions, but we have not been able to form a theory as to what it is itself. And less still, if that were possible, do we know of the mystery of our own personality. The materialist, of course, is ready with an explanation. We are, he tells us, a mixture of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen, with a dash of phosphorus and iron. But if that explanation fails to satisfy us, if we incline to the supposition that we are something more, we shall find ourselves face to face with an absolutely insoluble problem. Did you ever ask yourself, “What am I? What is this mysterious being who thinks and feels and remembers and wills, of whose existence I feel so sure, but whom I have never seen, and can never see ?” Did you ever ask that question, and wait for a reply 2 If so, you are waiting yet. Thus, you see, the slightest reflection will suffice to convince us of the limitation of human knowledge. But there is an erroneous theory as to the nature and causes of this limitation which is unfortunately popular at present,—the theory of those very negative philosophers who have chosen to style themselves Positivists. According to them, we can only know what the senses teach, —and the senses will only make us acquainted with that which is material. On this ground they tell us a man can never know that he has a soul or mind; for the soul cannot be felt, and what cannot be felt is for us practically nonexistent. It is easy to show the fallacy involved in this doctrine. What do you mean when you speak of a sensation or feeling? Manifestly the term is a single abstract word for a concrete double fact. It means something felt by some one. The some one is as important a part of the conception as the something; for without the some one to feel, the something would not be felt. In other words, a soul or mind is the necessary condition of feeling. Since, then, feelings could not exist without the mind to feel them, it is absurd to argue that the mind does not exist, because it is not itself a feeling.1 And though we do not, as I have intimated, know what this mind is, it is to be remembered, on the other hand, that we do not know what a feeling is. Pleasure is pleas