Sunday, November 26, 2006

Coleridge on Faith

...The first or most indefinite sense of faith is fidelity: then fidelity under previous contract or particular moral obligation. In this sense faith is fealty to a rightful superior: faith is the duty of a faithful subject to a rightful governor. Then it is allegiance in active service; fidelity to the liege lord under circumstances, and amid the temptations of usurpation, rebellion, and intestine discord. Next we seek for that rightful superior on our duties to whom all our duties to all other superiors, on our faithfulness to whom all our bounden relations to all other objects of fidelity, are founded. We must inquire after that duty in which all others find their several degrees and dignities, and from which they derive their obligative force. We are to find a superior, whose rights, including our duties, are presented to the mind in the very idea of that Supreme Being, whose sovereign prerogatives are predicates implied in the subjects, as the essential properties of a circle are co-assumed in the first assumption of a circle, consequently underived, unconditional, and as rationally unsusceptible, so probably prohibitive, of all further question. In this sense, then, faith is fidelity, fealty, allegiance of the moral nature to God, in opposition to all usurpation, and in resistance to all temptation to the placing any other claim above or equal with our fidelity to God....

...Faith subsists in the SYNTHESIS of the Reason and the individual Will. By virtue of the latter therefore, it must be an energy, and, inasmuch as it relates to the whole moral man, it must be exerted in each and all of his constituents or incidents, faculties and tendencies;--it must be a total, not a partial--a continuous, not a desultory or occasional--energy. And by virtue of the former, that is Reason, Faith must be a Light, a form of knowing, a beholding of truth. In the incomparable words of the Evangelist, therefore, FAITH MUST BE A LIGHT ORIGINATING IN THE LOGOS, OR THE SUBSTANTIAL REASON, WHICH IS CO-ETERNAL AND ONE WITH THE HOLY WILL, AND WHICH LIGHT IS AT THE SAME TIME THE LIFE OF MEN. Now, as LIFE is here the sum or collective of all moral and spiritual acts, in suffering, doing, and being, so is Faith the source and the sum, the energy and the principle of the fidelity of man to God, by the subordination of his human Will, in all provinces of his nature, to his Reason, as the sum of spiritual Truth, representing and manifesting the Will Divine.


From the Essay on Faith. Emphasis is Coleridge's.

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