IN THIS CONTROVERSIAL excerpt, Orestes Brownson insists that assent to the Gospel is required by both divine law and the natural law. This is because it is not unreasonable to believe in the Gospel, but is reasonable. From a purely human faith standpoint, then, there is an obligation to believe in God, and, for those who have heard the Gospel, a duty to believe in Jesus Christ and his Church, which duty, to be fulfilled, ultimately relies upon a gift of God, that is, grace. For the act of faith, though reasonable, is ultimately a supernatural act, beyond our natural capacity and intelligibility, and the act therefore requires accompanying supernatural grace.
"We also admit, and contend, that 'faith is the gift of God,' not merely because it is belief in truth which God has graciously revealed . . . but because no man can believe, even now that the truth is revealed, without the aid of divine grace, that is to say, without grace supernaturally bestowed. Faith is a virtue which has merit; but no virtue is possible without the aid of divine grace has merit; that is, merit in relation to eternal life. The grace of faith is absolutely essential to the eliciting of the act of faith.
But this considers faith in as much as it is divine faith, a gift of God, and lying wholly in the supernatural order, not as simply human faith, in which it depends on extrinsic evidence or testimony, and the obligation of a man under the simple law of nature to believe,--the only sense in which, in this discussion, we consider it. Unbelief, in those to whom the Gospel has been preached, is a sin not only against the revealed law, but also against the natural law, which it could not be, if the Gospel did not come accompanied with sufficient evidence to warrant belief in every reasonable man."
[From Brownson's Works, "The Church Against No-Church" (H. F. Brownson: Detroit, 1900), Vol. 3, p. 369.]