Monday, July 26, 2004

Just because

An argument has been often put forward by unbelievers, I think by Paine, to this effect, that "a revelation, which is to be received as true, ought to be written on the sun." This appeals to the common-sense of the many with great force, and implies the assumption of a principle which Butler, indeed, would not grant, and would consider unphilosophical, and yet I think something may be said in its favour. Whether abstractedly defensible or not, Catholic populations would not be averse, mutatis mutandis, to admitting it. Till these last centuries, the Visible Church was, at least to her children, the light of the world, as conspicuous as the sun in the heavens; and the Creed was written on her forehead, and proclaimed through her voice, by a teaching as precise as it was emphatical; in accordance with the text, "Who is she that looketh forth at the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?" It was not, strictly speaking, a miracle, doubtless; but in its effect, nay, in its circumstances, it was little less. Of course I would not allow that the Church fails in this manifestation of the truth now, any more than in former times, though the clouds have come over the sun; for what she has lost in her appeal to the imagination, she has gained in philosophical cogency, by the evidence of her persistent vitality. So far is clear, that if Paine's aphorism has a primâ facie force against Christianity, it owes this advantage to the miserable deeds of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O. An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent


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