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the event or the emotion which has changed the condition of the soul ; so that, dating from that day, according to his own testimony, he lived constantly in the presence and under the empire of this idea ; just as a Christian lives in the presence, and under the empire, of the faith from which he expects salvation.
Reflective and scientific beliefs can be converted into faith : the difficulties of the transformation are much greater, and the success much more rare, than when natural and spontaneous beliefs are concerned. Nevertheless, the transformation of science into faith can be, and sometimes is, accomplished ; and if more frequently science stops far short of faith, it is not because there exists something opposed and irreconcileable in their nature, but because faith is placed at the boundary of that course, which science is not in a condition wholly, and of itself, to accomplish.
Nevertheless, it is easy, if I mistake not, to observe the fault of these theories which I enumerated at the commencement, and which men and the world so ardently dispute. It is their fundamental error that they have not regarded faith in itself, and as a special state of the human mind, but in the mode of its formation. They have been thus induced to assign for its essential and exclusive characteristic such and such origins, from which it is possible that faith may be derived, not admitting it as legitimate however, or even real, but when it had a certain especial power; and rejecting and denying all faith when derived from a different source, although it should place the soul of man in the same disposition, and produce the same effects. It is true that faith often receives its origin from an emotion, as the mystics contend; but it is also produced by submission to authority, as the Roman Catholic doctors with reason say; and also from reflection, science, and a full and free exercise of the human understanding, although both the one and the other refuse their assent to this. In his liberal wisdom God has offered more than one way for arriving at that happy state when, tranquil at length in the possession of his belief, man dreams of nothing but of enjoying and obeying what he regards as the truth. There is faith in knowledge, since it has truth for its object; and man can reach it by the faculties which he has received for knowing. There is also love in faith ; for man cannot see the fulness of truth without loving it. The sensuous faculties and the emotions of the soul are sufficient to engender faith. In short, in faith there are respect and submission ; for truth commands, at the same time as it charms and enlightens. Faith can be the sincere and pure submission to a power which is regarded as the depository of truth. Thus the variety of the origins of faith, of which human pride would make a principle of exclusion and privilege, is a benefit bestowed by the divine will, which, so to speak, had placed faith within reach of all, in permitting it to take its origin from each of the moral elements which constitute faith-namely, knowledge, submission, and love.
As for those who, rejecting every kind of explanation and origin of faith merely human, will see nothing in it but the direct and actual interposition of God and especial grace, their notion, if apparently more strange, is at bottom more natural; for it touches the problems which do not belong to man to solve. In the external and material world, when a powerful, sudden, and unexpected phenonenon appears, which, at a stroke, changes the face of things, and seems not to attach itself to their ordinary course, nor to explain itself by their anterior state, man instantly refers it to a real and particular act of the will of the Master of the World. The presence of God can alone explain for man that which strikes his imagination and escapes his reason ; and he there assig especial and immediate act of God, where science and experience cannot reach. Thus the thunderbolt, the tempest, earthquakes, vast floods, concussions, and extraordinary revolutions of the globe, have been taken for signs and effects of the direct action of God, up to the time when man has discovered for them a place and an explanation in the general course of facts and their laws. The same want and the same inclination rule man in the ideas he has formed about the interior world, and the phenomena of which he himself is the theatre and the witness. When a great change and moral revolution have been accomplished in his soul; when he perceives himself to be illuminated by a light, and warmed by a fire, hitherto unknown: he has taken no notice of the mysterious progress, the slow and concealed action of ideas, sentiments, and influences, which were probably for a long time preparing him for this state. He cannot attribute it to an act of his own will; and he knows not how, so to speak, to trace back the course of his interior life for the purpose of discovering its origin. He refers it, therefore, to a divine will
, special and actual; grace alone could have produced this revolution in his soul, for he himself did not make it, nor does he know how it was produced. The birth of faith, above all when it proceeds from natural and irreflective beliefs which pass, without the intervention of science, to this new state, often bears this character of a sudden revolution, unforeseen and obscure for him who undergoes it. It is, then, very plain that the idea of the direct interposition of God has been invoked on this occasion. In the sense which people have commonly attributed to this idea, it withdraws itself and retires, here as elsewhere, before a more attentive study, and a more complete knowledge of facts, their connection, and their laws. We are led to acknowledge that this state of the soul, which is called faith, is the development—differently conducted, sometimes sudden and sometimes progressive, but always natural-of certain anterior facts, with which, although essentially distinct, it is attached by an intimate and necessary tie. But supposing this recognised, and faith thus conducted to the place which belongs to it in the general and regular course of moral phenomena, a grand question always remains, the question lying hid at the bottom of grace, and which indirectly this doctrine attempts to solve. In ceasing to see God in the tempest and thunder, narrow and weak minds figure to themselves that they shall no more meet with Him, and that they shall nowhere any more have need of Him. But the First Cause hovers over all second causes, and over all facts and their laws. When all the secrets of the universe shall have unveiled themselves to human science, the universe will yet be a secret to it; and God appears to withdraw Himself from before it but to invite and constrain it to elevate itself more and more towards Himself. In the science of the moral world the same thing happens : when people shall have ceased every moment to invoke grace and grace alone, to explain faith, it will always remain to be learnt what power presides over the life of the soul; how truth reveals itself to man, who is unable either to seize or reject it, according to his own will; from whence comes that fire whose hearth is evidently external to himself; what relations and communications exist between God and man ; what, in short, in the interior life of the human soul, is the share of its own activity and freedom, and what it must attribute to that action which proceeds from without, and to that influence from on high which the pride or the levity of the human mind endeavours not to know. This is the grand problem, the problem that presents itself the moment we touch that point where the things of earth and man are joined to that higher order on which man and the earth so clearly depend. The doctrine of grace is one of the attempts of the human mind to solve it. The solution, at least in my opinion, is beyond the limits assigned to human knowledge.
I have endeavoured to determine with precision what faith is in itself, independently of its object; I have laid down the characteristics of this state of the soul, and the different paths by which man can be conducted to it, whatever may be, so to speak, its materials. By this means we may be able to succeed in ascertaining the true nature of faith, and in bringing it into clearer light, disengaging from every foreign element the moral fact concealed under this name. I hasten to add, nevertheless, that this moral fact is not produced indifferently in all cases; that all human beliefs, whether natural or scientific, are not equally susceptible of passing from the condition of faith ; and that, in the vast field where human thought is exercised, there are objects especially calculated to awaken a conviction of this kind, to become materials for faith.
This is a fact which is attested even by the history of the word, and which I noticed at the beginning ; its common acceptation is also special. At first sight it seems to be exclusively consecrated to religious belief; and, although it lends itself to other uses, and, although, even in our own days, its sphere seems to be enlarged, it is evident that, in a multitude of cases where it is concerned (for example, with geography, botany, technology, &c.), the word faith is out of place ; that is to say, the moral state to which this word corresponds is not produced by such subjects.
As faith has its peculiar interior characteristics, so it has also its exterior necessary conditions; and it is distinguished from other modes of belief of man, not only by its nature, but by its object.
But what are the conditions, and what is the external sphere of faith?
Up to a certain point we can determine, and catch glimpses of them, from the very nature of this state of the soul, and its effects. A belief so complete, so accomplished, that all intellectual labour seems to have reached its termination, and that man, wholly united with the truth of which he thinks himself to be in possession, loses all thought of the path which has conducted him to it: so powerful, that it takes possession of the exterior activity, as well as of the human mind, and makes submission in all things to its empire a passionate necessity, as well as a duty; an intellectual state, which can be the fruit, not only of the exercise of the reason, but also of a powerful emotion, and of a long submission to certain practices, and in the midst of which, when it has been once developed, the three grand human faculties are actively employed, and at the same time satisfied--the sensibility, the intelligence, and the will :-Such a condition of soul, and such a belief, demand in some sort occasions worthy of it, and must be produced by subjects which embrace the entire man, and put into play all his faculties, and answer to all the demands of his moral nature, and have a right, in turn, to his devotedness.
Intellectual beauty, and practical importance, appear then, à priori, to be the characteristics of the ideas proper for becoming the materials of faith. An idea which should present itself as true, but at the same time without arresting by the extent and the gravity of its consequences, would produce certitude; but faith would not spring from it. And so practical rit,- the usefulness of an idea,—would not suffice for begetting faith ; it must also draw attention by the pure beauty of truth. In other
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words, in order that a simple belief, natural or scientific, should become faith, it is necessary that its object should be able to procure the pleasures of activity, as well as of contemplation, that it may awaken within, the double sentiment of its high origin and power; in short, that it should present itself before man's eyes as the mediator between the moral and the ideal world—as the missionary charged with modelling the one on the other, and of uniting them.
Facts fully confirm these inductions drawn from the mere nature of the moral phenomenon I am studying. Whether we regard the history of the human race, or whether we penetrate into the soul of the individual, we see faith throughout applying itself to objects in which the two aforesaid conditions are united. And if sometimes the one or the other of these conditions is wanting; if, on some occasions, the object of faith should appear in itself denuded of ideal beauty or practical importance, we may hold it for certain, that it is not so in the thought of the believer. He will have soon discovered from the truth which is the object of his faith, consequences and applications which for others are obscure and distant, but for him clear and infallible : by-and-bye, his ideas, which appear to have but one aim and one useful merit, will be elevated in his mind to the rank of a disinterested theory, and will possess in his eyes all the dignity and all the charm of truth. It is possible that the believer is deceived, and that he exaggerates the practical worth or intellectual beauty of his idea ; but even his error, agreeing in this with the reason and experience of the whole human race, is but a new proof of the necessity of these two conditions for the production of faith.
We can understand, however, why the name of faith is almost the exclusive privilege of religious beliefs : they are, in fact, those whose object possesses in the highest degree the two characters which excite the development of faith. Many scientific notions are beautiful and fruitful in their application ; political theories may forcibly strike the mind by the purity of their principles and the grandeur of their results ; moral doctrines are yet more surely and generally invested with this twofold power; and either has often awoke faith in the soul of man. Nevertheless, in order to receive a clear and lively impression, sometimes of their intellectual beauty, and sometimes of their practical importance, there is almost always required a certain amount of science, or sagacity, or, at all events, a certain turn of public manners and the social state, which are not the portion of all men, nor of all times. Religious beliefs have no need of any such aids ; they carry with themselves, and in their simple nature, their infallible means for effect. As soon as they penetrate into the heart of man, however