Author Topic: Devine, Rev. Arthur. (1897). "The Object and Motive of Faith".  (Read 60 times)

Joe Cupertino

Devine, Rev. Arthur. (1897). "The Object and Motive of Faith".
« on: December 08, 2017, 12:11:19 AM »
The Creed Explained; or An Exposition of Catholic Doctrine
Rev. Arthur Devine (1897)




1.—The primary object of faith.—2. The formal object of faith, or the motive of faith.—3. The material object of faith.—4. The Decree of the Vatican Council as to the object of faith.—5. The Summary of the truths that are the object of divine-Catholic faith.—6. Propositions and conclusions deduced from revealed truths.—7. The rule by which we may know whether such conclusions belong to the object of faith or not.

Pastors of souls are obliged to teach the people not only what they are to believe, but also the why or reason of their belief. We have, therefore, to explain the object of our faith and its motive, that is, the reason why we give our assent to the truths of faith.

1. The primary object of faith is God Himself, considered as the Deity. Faith primarily intends or regards the knowledge of the true God as He is in Himself, and all the other truths of revelation are ordained to the more perfect knowledge of God. Hence, as St. Paul says. "Aottdentem ad Deum opertet credere quia est": "He that cometh to God must believe that He is." (Heb. xi. 6.)

2. The formal object of faith, or that which we may call the motive of faith, is the veracity of God, arising from His infinite knowledge and wisdom. It is the authority of God which consists in His infinite wisdom, through which He cannot be deceived; and in His infinite veracity and truth, through which He cannot deceive us. Hence the answer in the Catechism to the question, "Why must you believe whatever God has revealed?" "I must believe whatever God has revealed because God is the very truth, and can neither deceive nor be deceived."

There is, therefore, no other answer to be given by a Catholic for his belief in general, or the belief in any particular dogma, than the reason—because God has said it or revealed it. If a Catholic is asked, Why do you believe in the Catholic Church? Why do you believe in the Incarnation of Christ ? or, Why do you believe in the Blessed Eucharist, or in the Papal Infallibility? the answer to all such questions is one and the same: I believe on the authority of God, and because God has said or told me these things by revelation or inspiration. He has revealed or inspired them to His Church, and hence I believe them because He is the very truth, and can neither deceive nor be deceived.

3. The material object of faith is all and every truth revealed or inspired by God. That anything be believed by faith, two conditions are required: (a) That it be revealed or inspired by God; (6) That it be certainly known to be revealed or inspired.

That about which something is believed may be called the subject of faith in an objective sense. Thus the Church is the subject about which we believe unity, infallibility, &c. The primary subject of all faith in this sense is God Himself.

4. The Vatican Council declares, "Fide divina et Catholica ea omnia credenda sunt, quae in verbo Dei Scripto vel traditQ continentur, et ab Ecclesia, sive solemni judicio, sive ordinario et universali magisterio, tanquam divinitus revelata proponunt ir" (Const. de fide. Cap. iii.)"By divine and Catholic Faith are to be believed all those things which are contained in the Word of God, written or handed down by tradition, and proposed by the Church as divinely revealed, either by her solemn judgments, or by her ordinary and universal teaching."

It may be asked, What are the truths that we must receive as revealed by God, and as proposed by the Church, and that we have to believe by divine- Catholic faith?

5. These truths may be classed under the following heads: -

(a) All those truths that are so clearly contained in Sacred Scripture that no one can doubt or mistake their meaning, viz., the Nativity of Christ, His death and resurrection, &c.

(b) The truths that are obscurely contained in the Sacred Scriptures, but declared by the Church to be therein contained, such as the definition or declaration of the true sense of any text of Scripture.

(c) Those truths that are expressly defined by. the Church to be of faith, or whose contradictories are condemned as heretical, viz., That there are Seven Sacraments of the New Law; That we cannot merit beatitude or perform salutary works without the aid of God's grace.

(d) The truths that are handed down to us by divine tradition, and which the Church has always held and declared, or manifested by her doctrine and practice, such as her doctrine regarding Guardian Angels, Infant Baptism, the Canonical Books of Scripture, &c.

All the truths contained under these heads are revealed or inspired by God, and declared or denned by the Church; and, therefore, to be believed by divine-Catholic faith. It is not necessary to have an explicit definition of the Church for every text of Scripture, and for those portions of the Sacred Scriptures whose sense can be clearly known to any one who reads them; neither is there need of an explicit definition in regard to those truths which are known to all as handed down by divine tradition. When a doubt has arisen with regard to any proposition, as to whether it is contained in Scripture or tradition, the Church, through the divine assistance, defines the truth of its revelation, or condemns it if it is opposed to revelation. This she has done whenever she has judged it necessary for the preservation of the deposit of faith committed to her by her Divine Founder. She has defined what we have to believe as divinely revealed, and condemned errors opposed to revealed doctrine whenever this was necessary for the preservation of faith and morals.

6. How are we to regard propositions that are deduced from revealed premises, and that are, therefore, necessarily connected with our faith and its preservation? For example :—

(a) Propositions or Conclusions drawn from two revealed premises by evident reasoning, viz.: All the Apostles received the Holy Spirit; but St. John was an Apostle, therefore St. John received the Holy Spirit.

(b) Propositions or Conclusions deduced from one premise revealed, and the other only evident to reason, viz.: A baptized child is sanctified; but this child is baptized, therefore this child is sanctified. Or again: A consecrated host is to be adored; but this host is consecrated, therefore this host is to be adored. Or again: Whatever is defined by an Ecumenical Council is to be believed; but the Council of Trent was an Ecumenical Council, therefore its definitions are to be believed.

Are these conclusions to be considered as coming under the object of faith? And again, what are we to hold in connection with the object of faith, with regard to singular propositions contained in revealed universal propositions, or propositions virtually contained in revealed truths?

A conclusion as such is not an object of faith, but merely the result of human reasoning. And a proposition, to be of faith, must be immediately revealed by God, and received on His authority. Propositions or conclusions such as are here given, may be said to be more certain than the conclusions arrived at by mere natural science, because they are founded on and deduced from revealed dogmas; and they have, therefore, a certain amount of divine authority, as they are so closely connected with revealed truths.

7. A rule is laid down for deciding whether a conclusion of this kind belongs to faith or not, namely: If the conclusion be formally and immediately contained in the premises, or in tlie premise which is of faith as a part is contained in the whole or a singular in a universal, and if the deduction be only a further explanation of the premises, and does not introduce any new idea into the definition, such a proposition or conclusion would be the object of faith, and is to be believed as such. If it be not formally, but only virtually contained in the premises as an effect in a cause, the conclusion is not to be believed by divine faith because it is not the object of faith, but a deduction of reason. It is, however, often said to belong to faith indirectly, in as much as by denying a conclusion of this kind the revealed premises from which it is deduced are indirectly denied.

Other propositions, which are not clearly and immediately revealed by God, or which are not deduced by reason from divine truths, but are taught by the Fathers and Theologians as certain and true, are said to be received on ecclesiastical faith. They are not the objects of divine faith, and they are received by something more than mere human faith, and may be said, therefore, to be believed by a certain ecclesiastical faith. This faith is sometimes called divine (though in reality it is not divine), because its act may proceed from the divine virtue which is in us, and the dispositions which it creates in the soul.

As to these few questions which I have here introduced, we have no definition of the Church, and I only state the received teaching of Theologians on such points for the purpose of meeting captious objections, after the manner of Dr. Littledale's "Plain Eeasons," that may, from time to time, be urged against the Catholic faith and doctrine. For this purpose, it is necessary to explain even critical questions from a Catholic point of view that the enemies of the Church may not be credited with inventing objections that she has long ago considered and rejected, and thereby do harm to the faithful and others.*

*Private revelations do not appertain to the Catholic faith, and no one need believe them except the person who is certain of having received them
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