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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary


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A faculty or power of the mind, whereby it draws just conclusions from the true and clear principles. Many attempts have been made to prove reason inimical to revelation; but nothing can be more evident than that it is of considerable use in knowing, distinguishing, proving, and defending the mysteries of revelation; although it must not be considered as a perfect standard by which all the mysteries of religion must be measured before they are received by faith. "In things, " says Dr. Watts, "which are plainly and expressly asserted in Scripture, and that in a sense which contradicts not other parts of Scripture, or natural light, our reason must submit, and believe the thing, though it cannot find the modus or manner of its being so in the doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation, which are above the reach of our reason in this present state. But we cannot, nor must we, be led to take the words of Scripture in such a sense as expressly and evidently contradicts all sense and reason, as transubstantiation: for the two great lights of God, reason and revelation, never contradict each other, though one be superior to the other. "

Therefore reason has a great deal to do in religion, viz. to find out the rule (of faith, ) to compare the parts of this rule with one another, to explain the one by the other, to give the grammatical and logical sense of the expressions, and to exclude self-contradictory interpretations, as well as interpretations contrary to reason. But it is not to set itself up as a judge of those truths expressed therein, which are asserted by a superior and infallible dictator, God himself; but reason requires and commands even the subjection of all its own powers to a truth thus divinely attested; for it is as possible and as proper that God should propose doctrines to our understanding which it cannot comprehend, as duties to our practice which we cannot see the reason of; for he is equally superior to our understanding and will, and he puts the obedience of both to a trial."

See RELIGION and REVELATION, and books there recommended; also Porteus's Sermons, ser. 5. vol. 1.; Jenyns's Internal Evidence, p. 122; Ryland's Contemplations, vol. 1: p. 83; Theological Miscellany, vol. 2: p. 533; An Essay on the Use and Abuse of Reason in Matters of Religion, by Witsius, and translated by Carter; Dr. Watts's Strength and Weakness of Human Reason.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Reason'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. 1802.

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