Newman on Reason and Faith

A series of quotes and extracts from Cardinal Newman's work focussing on reason and faith.

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From the University Sermon Implicit and Explicit Reason (1840), Sermon 13.

Here, then, are two processes, distinct from each other,—the original process of reasoning, and next, the process of investigating our reasonings. All men reason, for to reason is nothing more than to gain truth from former truth, without the intervention of sense; to which brutes are limited; but all men do not reflect upon their own reasonings, much less reflect truly and accurately, so as to do justice to their own meaning; but only in proportion to their abilities and attainments. In other words, all men have a reason, but not all men can give a reason. We may denote, then, these two exercises of mind as reasoning and arguing, or as conscious and unconscious reasoning, or as Implicit Reason and Explicit Reason. And to the latter belong the words, science, method, development, analysis, criticism, proof, system, principles, rules, laws, and others of a like nature.

From Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England (1851) (Lecture 7)

This is what we call an enlightened age: we are to have large views of things; everything is to be put on a philosophical basis; reason is to rule: the world is to begin again; a new and transporting set of views is about to be exhibited to the great human family. Well and good; have them, preach them, enjoy them, but deign to recollect the while, that there have been views in the world before you: that the world has not been going on up to this day without any principles whatever; that the Old Religion was based on principles, and that it is not enough to flourish about your “new lamps,” if you would make us give up our “old” ones. Catholicism, I say, had its First Principles before you were born: you say they are false; very well, prove them to be so: they are false, indeed, if yours are true; but not false merely because yours are yours. While yours are yours it is self-evident, indeed, to you, that ours are false; but it is not the common way of carrying on business in the world, to value English goods by French measures, or to pay a debt in paper which was contracted in gold. Catholicism has its First Principles, overthrow them, if you can; endure them, if you cannot. It is not enough to call them effete because they are old, or antiquated because they are ancient.

From the University Sermon Love the Safeguard of Faith against Superstition (1839), Sermon 12.

Faith ventures and hazards; right Faith ventures and hazards deliberately, seriously, soberly, piously, and humbly, counting the cost and delighting in the sacrifice. As far as, and wherever Love is wanting, so far, and there, Faith runs into excess or is perverted. The grounds of Faith, when animated by the spirit of love and purity, are such as these:—that a Revelation is very needful for man; that it is earnestly to be hoped for from a merciful God; that it is to be expected; nay, that of the two it is more probable that what professes to be a Revelation should be or should contain a Revelation, than that there should be no Revelation at all … that it is likely to bear plain indications of His hand; that it will be for great ends, specified or signified; and moreover, that such and such ends are in their nature great, such and such a message important, such and such means worthy, such and such circumstances congruous. I consider that under the guidance of such anticipations and calculations as these, which Faith—not mere Faith, but Faith working by Love—suggests, the honest mind may, under ordinary circumstances, be led, and practically is led, into an acceptable, enlightened, and saving apprehension of Divine Truth.