Very characteristic is his dealing with the myth of Lot's wife. Though more than once at U

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Very characteristic is his dealing with the myth of Lot's wife. Though more than once at Usdum,--though giving valuable information regarding the sea, shore, and mountains there, he carefully avoids all mention of the salt pillar and of the legend which arose from it. In this he set an example followed by most of the more thoughtful religious travellers since his time. Very significant is it to see the New Testament injunction, "Remember Lot's wife," so utterly forgotten. These later investigators seem never to have heard of it; and this constant forgetfulness shows the change which had taken place in the enlightened thinking of the world. But in the year 1848 came an episode very striking in its character and effect. At that time, the war between the United States and Mexico having closed, Lieutenant Lynch, of the United States Navy, found himself in the port of Vera Cruz, commanding an old hulk, the _Supply_. Looking about for somnething to do, it occurred to him to write to the Secretary of the Navy asking permission to explore the Dead Sea. Under ordinary circumstances the proposal would doubtless have been strangled with red tape; but, fortunately, the Secretary at that time was Mr. John Y. Mason, of Virginia. Mr. Mason was famous for his good nature. Both at Washington and at Paris, where he was afterward minister, this predominant trait has left a multitude of amusing traditions; it was of him that Senator Benton said, "To be supremely happy he must have his paunch full of oysters and his hands full of cards." The Secretary granted permission, but evidently gave the matter not another thought. As a result, came an expedition the most comical and one of the most rich in results to be found in American annals. Never was anything so happy-go-lucky. Lieutenant Lynch started with his hulk, with hardly an instrument save those ordinarily found on shipboard, and with a body of men probably the most unfit for anything like scientific investigation ever sent on such an errand; fortunately, he picked up a young instructor in mathematics, Mr. Anderson, and added to his apparatus two strong iron boats. Arriving, after a tedious voyage, on the coast of Asia Minor, he set to work. He had no adequate preparation in general history, archaeology, or the physical sciences; but he had his American patriotism, energy, pluck, pride, and devotion to duty, and these qualities stood him in good stead. With great labour he got the iron boats across the country. Then the tug of war began. First of all investigators, he forced his way through the whole length of the river Jordan and from end to end of the Dead Sea. There were constant difficulties--geographical, climatic, and personal; but Lynch cut through them all. He was brave or shrewd, as there was need. Anderson proved an admirable helper, and together they made surveys of distances, altitudes, depths, and sundry simple investigations in a geological, mineralogical, and chemical way. Much was poorly done, much was left undone, but the general result was most honourable both to Lynch and Anderson; and Secretary Mason found that his easy-going patronage of the enterprise was the best act of his official life. The results of this expedition on public opinion were most curious. Lynch was no scholar in any sense; he had travelled little, and thought less on the real questions underlying the whole investigation; as to the difference in depth of the two parts of the lake, he jumped--with a sailor's disregard of logic--to the conclusion that it somehow proved the mythical account of the overwhelming of the cities, and he indulged in reflections of a sort probably suggested by his recollections of American Sunday-schools. Especially noteworthy is his treatment of the legend of Lot's wife. He found the pillar of salt. It happened to be at that period a circular column of friable salt rock, about forty feet high; yet, while he accepts every other old myth, he treats the belief that this was once the wife of Lot as "a superstition." One little circumstance added enormously to the influence of this book, for, as a frontispiece, he inserted a picture of the salt column. It was delineated in rather a poetic manner: light streamed upon it, heavy clouds hung above it, and, as a background, were ranged buttresses of salt rock furrowed and channelled out by the winter rains: this salt statue picture was spread far and wide, and in thousands of country pulpits and Sunday-schools it was shown as a tribute of science to Scripture. Nor was this influence confined to American Sunday-school children: Lynch had innocently set a trap into which several European theologians stumbled. One of these was Dr. Lorenz Gratz, Vicar-General of Augsburg, a theological professor. In the second edition of his _Theatre of the Holy Scriptures_, published in 1858, he hails Lynch's discovery of the salt pillar with joy, forgets his allusion to the old theory regarding it as a superstition, and does not stop to learn that this was one of a succession of statues washed out yearly by the rains, but accepts it as the originaL Lot's wife. The French churchmen suffered most. About two years after Lynch, De Saulcy visited the Dead Sea to explore it thoroughly, evidently in the interest of sacred science--and of his own promotion. Of the modest thoroughness of Robinson there is no trace in his writings. He promptly discovered the overwhelmed cities, which no one before or since has ever found, poured contempt on other investigators, and threw over his whole work an air of piety. But, unfortunately, having a Frenchman's dread of ridicule, he attempted to give a rationalistic explanation of what he calls "the enormous needles of salt washed out by the winter rain," and their connection with the Lot's wife myth, and declared his firm belief that she, "being delayed by curiosity or terror, was crushed by a rock which rolled down from the mountain, and when Lot and his children turned about they saw at the place where she had been only the rock of salt which covered her body." But this would not do at all, and an eminent ecclesiastic privately and publicly expostulated with De Saulcy--very naturally declaring that "it was not Lot who wrote the book of Genesis." The result was that another edition of De Saulcy's work was published by a Church Book Society, with the offending passage omitted; but a passage was retained really far more suggestive of heterodoxy, and this was an Arab legend accounting for the origin of certain rocks near the Dead Sea curiously resembling salt formations. This in effect ran as follows: "Abraham, the friend of God, having come here one day with his mule to buy salt, the salt-workers impudently told him that they had no salt to sell, whereupon the patriarch said: `Your words are, true. you have no salt to sell,' and instantly the salt of this whole region was transformed into stone, or rather into a salt which has lost its savour." Nothing could be more sure than this story to throw light into the mental and moral process by which the salt pillar myth was originally created. In the years 1864 and 1865 came an expedition on a much more imposing scale: that of the Duc de Luynes. His knowledge of archaeology and his wealth were freely devoted to working the mine which Lynch had opened, and, taking with him an iron vessel and several _savants_, he devoted himself especially to finding the cities of the Dead Sea, and to giving less vague accounts of them than those of De Saulcy. But he was disappointed, and honest enough to confess his disappointment. So vanished one of the most cherished parts of the legend. But worse remained behind. In the orthodox duke's company was an acute geologist, Monsieur Lartet, who in due time made an elaborate report, which let a flood of light into the whole region. The Abbe Richard had been rejoicing the orthodox heart of France by exhibiting some prehistoric flint implements as the knives which Joshua had made for circumcision. By a truthful statement Monsieur Lartet set all France laughing at the Abbe, and then turned to the geology of the Dead Sea basin. While he conceded that man may have seen some volcanic crisis there, and may have preserved a vivid remembrance of the vapour then rising, his whole argument showed irresistibly that all the phenomena of the region are due to natural causes, and that, so far from a sudden rising of the lake above the valley within historic times, it has been for ages steadily subsiding. Since Balaam was called by Balak to curse his enemies, and "blessed them altogether," there has never been a more unexpected tribute to truth. Even the salt pillar at Usdum, as depicted in Lynch's book, aided to undermine the myth among thinking men; for the background of the picture showed other pillars of salt in process of formation; and the ultimate result of all these expeditions was to spread an atmosphere in which myth and legend became more and more attenuated. To sum up the main points in this work of the nineteenth century: Seetzen, Robinson, and others had found that a human being could traverse the lake without being killed by hellish smoke; that the waters gave forth no odours; that the fruits of the region were not created full of cinders to match the desolation of the Dead Sea, but were growths not uncommon in Asia Minor and elsewhere; in fact, that all the phenomena were due to natural causes. Ritter and others had shown that all noted features of the Dead Sea and the surrounding country were to be found in various other lakes and regions, to which no supernatural cause was ascribed among enlightened men. Lynch, Van de Velde, Osborne, and others had revealed the fact that the "pillar of salt" was frequently formed anew by the rains; and Lartet and other geologists had given a final blow to the myths by making it clear from the markings on the neighbouring rocks that, instead of a sudden upheaval of the sea above the valley of Siddim, there had been a gradual subsidence for ages.[[254]] Even before all this evidence was in, a judicial decision had been pronounced upon the whole question by an authority both Christian and scientific, from whom there could be no appeal. During the second quarter of the century Prof. Carl Ritter, of the University of Berlin, began giving to the world those researches which have placed him at the head of all geographers ancient or modern, and finally he brought together those relating to the geography of the Holy Land, publishing them as part of his great work on the physical geography of the earth. He was a Christian, and nothing could be more reverent than his treatment of the whole subject; but his German honesty did not permit him to conceal the truth, and he simply classed together all the stories of the Dead Sea--old and new--no matter where found, whether in the sacred books of Jews, Christians, or Mohammedans, whether in lives of saints or accounts of travellers, as "myths" and "sagas." From this decision there has never been among intelligent men any appeal. The recent adjustment of orthodox thought to the scientific view of the Dead Sea legends presents some curious features. As typical we may take the travels of two German theologians between 1860 and 1870--John Kranzel, pastor in Munich, and Peter Schegg, lately professor in the university of that city. The archdiocese of Munich-Freising is one of those in which the attempt to suppress modern scientific thought has been most steadily carried on. Its archbishops have constantly shown themselves assiduous in securing cardinals' hats by thwarting science and by stupefying education. The twin towers of the old cathedral of Munich have seemed to throw a killing shadow over intellectual development in that region. Naturally, then, these two clerical travellers from that diocese did not commit themselves to clearing away any of the Dead Sea myths; but it is significant that neither of them follows the example of so many of their clerical predecessors in defending the salt-pillar legend: they steadily avoid it altogether. The more recent history of the salt pillar, since Lynch, deserves mention. It appears that the travellers immediately after him found it shaped by the storms into a spire; that a year or two later it had utterly disappeared; and about the year 1870 Prof. Palmer, on visiting the place, found at some distance from the main salt bed, as he says, "a tall, isolated needle of rock, which does really bear a curious resemblance to an Arab woman with a child upon her shoulders." And, finally, Smith's _Dictionary of the Bible_, the standard work of reference for English-speaking scholars, makes its concession to the old belief regarding Sodom and Gomorrah as slight as possible, and the myth of Lot's wife entirely disappears. IV. THEOLOGICAL EFFORTS AT COMPROMISE.-- TRIUMPH OF THE SCIENTIFIC VIEW. The theological effort to compromise with science now came in more strongly than ever. This effort had been made long before: as we have seen, it had begun to show itself decidedly as soon as the influence of the Baconian philosophy was felt. Le Clerc suggested that the shock caused by the sight of fire from heaven killed Lot's wife instantly and made her body rigid as a statue. Eichhorn suggested that she fell into a stream of melted bitumen. Michaelis suggested that her relatives raised a monument of salt rock to her memory. Friedrichs suggested that she fell into the sea and that the salt stiffened around her clothing, thus making a statue of her. Some claimed that a shower of sulphur came down upon her, and that the word which has been translated "salt" could possibly be translated "sulphur." Others hinted that the salt by its antiseptic qualities preserved her body as a mummy. De Saulcy, as we have seen, thought that a piece of salt rock fell upon her, and very recently Principal Dawson has ventured the explanation that a flood of salt mud coming from a volcano incrusted her. But theologians themselves were the first to show the inadequacy of these explanations. The more rationalistic pointed out the fact that they were contrary to the sacred text: Von Bohlen, an eminent professor at Konigsberg, in his sturdy German honesty, declared that the salt pillar gave rise to the story, and compared the pillar of salt causing this transformation legend to the rock in Greek mythology which gave rise to the transformation legend of Niobe. On the other hand, the more severely orthodox protested against such attempts to explain away the clear statements of Holy Writ. Dom Calmet, while presenting many of these explanations made as early as his time, gives us to understand that nearly all theologians adhered to the idea that Lot's wife was instantly and really changed into salt; and in our own time, as we shall presently see, have come some very vigorous protests. Similar attempts were made to explain the other ancient legends regarding the Dead Sea. One of the most recent of these is that the cities of the plain, having been built with blocks of bituminous rock, were set on fire by lightning, a contemporary earthquake helping on the work. Still another is that accumulations of petroleum and inflammable gas escaped through a fissure, took fire, and so produced the catastrophe.[[257]] The revolt against such efforts to _reconcile_ scientific fact with myth and legend had become very evident about the middle of the nineteenth century. In 1851 and 1852 Van de Velde made his journey. He was a most devout man, but he confessed that the volcanic action at the Dead Sea must have been far earlier than the catastrophe mentioned in our sacred books, and that "the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah had nothing to do with this." A few years later an eminent dignitary of the English Church, Canon Tristram, doctor of divinity and fellow of the Royal Society, who had explored the Holy Land thoroughly, after some generalities about miracles, gave up the whole attempt to make science agree with the myths, and used these words: "It has been frequently assumed that the district of Usdum and its sister cities was the result of some tremendous geological catastrophe.... Now, careful examination by competent geologists, such as Monsieur Lartet and others, has shown that the whole district has assumed its present shape slowly and gradually through a succession of ages, and that its peculiar phenomena are similar to those of other lakes." So sank from view the whole mass of Dead Sea myths and legends, and science gained a victory both for geology and comparative mythology. As a protest against this sort of rationalism appeared in 1876 an edition of Monseigneur Mislin's work on _The Holy Places_. In order to give weight to the book, it was prefaced by letters from Pope Pius IX and sundry high ecclesiastics--and from Alexandre Dumas! His hatred of Protestant missionaries in the East is phenomenal: he calls them "bagmen," ascribes all mischief and infamy to them, and his hatred is only exceeded by his credulity. He cites all the arguments in favour of the salt statue at Usdum as the identical one into which Lot's wife was changed, adds some of his own, and presents her as "a type of doubt and heresy." With the proverbial facility of dogmatists in translating any word of a dead language into anything that suits their purpose, he says that the word in the nineteenth chapter of Genesis which is translated "statue" or "pillar," may be translated "eternal monument"; he is especially severe on poor Monsieur De Saulcy for thinking that Lot's wife was killed by the falling of a piece of salt rock; and he actually boasts that it was he who caused De Saulcy, a member of the French Institute, to suppress the obnoxious passage in a later edition. Between 1870 and 1880 came two killing blows at the older theories, and they were dealt by two American scholars of the highest character. First of these may be mentioned Dr. Philip Schaff, a professor in the Presbyterian Theological Seminary at New York, who published his travels in 1877. In a high degree he united the scientific with the religious spirit, but the trait which made him especially fit for dealing with this subject was his straightforward German honesty. He tells the simple truth regarding the pillar of salt, so far as its physical origin and characteristics are concerned, and leaves his reader to draw the natural inference as to its relation to the myth. With the fate of Dr. Robertson Smith in Scotland and Dr. Woodrow in South Carolina before him--both recently driven from their professorships for truth-telling-- Dr. Schaff deserves honour for telling as much as he does. Similar in effect, and even more bold in statement, were the travels of the Rev. Henry Osborn, published in 1878. In a truly scientific spirit he calls attention to the similarity of the Dead Sea, with the river Jordan, to sundry other lake and river systems; points out the endless variations between writers describing the salt formations at Usdum; accounts rationally for these variations, and quotes from Dr. Anderson's report, saying, "From the soluble nature of the salt and the crumbling looseness of the marl, it may well be imagined that, while some of these needles are in the process of formation, others are being washed away." Thus came out, little by little, the truth regarding the Dead Sea myths, and especially the salt pillar at Usdum; but the final truth remained to be told in the Church, and now one of the purest men and truest divines of this century told it. Arthur Stanley, Dean of Westminster, visiting the country and thoroughly exploring it, allowed that the physical features of the Dead Sea and its shores suggested the myths and legends, and he sums up the whole as follows: "A great mass of legends and exaggerations, partly the cause and partly the result of the old belief that the cities were buried under the Dead Sea, has been gradually removed in recent years." So, too, about the same time, Dr. Conrad Furrer, pastor of the great church of St. Peter at Zurich, gave to the world a book of travels, reverent and thoughtful, and in this honestly acknowledged that the needles of salt at the southern end of the Dead Sea "in primitive times gave rise to the tradition that Lot's wife was transformed into a statue of salt." Thus was the mythical character of this story at last openly confessed by Leading churchmen on both continents. Plain statements like these from such sources left the high theological position more difficult than ever, and now a new compromise was attempted. As the Siberian mother tried to save her best-beloved child from the pursuing wolves by throwing over to them her less favoured children, so an effort was now made in a leading commentary to save the legends of the valley of Siddim and the miraculous destruction of the cities by throwing overboard the legend of Lot's wife.[[260]] An amusing result has followed this development of opinion. As we have already seen, traveller after traveller, Catholic and Protestant, now visits the Dead Sea, and hardly one of them follows the New Testament injunction to "remember Lot's wife." Nearly every one of them seems to think it best to forget her. Of the great mass of pious legends they are shy enough, but that of Lot's wife, as a rule, they seem never to have heard of, and if they do allude to it they simply cover the whole subject with a haze of pious rhetoric.[[260b]] Naturally, under this state of things, there has followed the usual attempt to throw off from Christendom the responsibility of the old belief, and in 1887 came a curious effort of this sort. In that year appeared the Rev. Dr. Cunningham Geikie's valuable work on _The Holy Land and the Bible_. In it he makes the following statement as to the salt formation at Usdum: "Here and there, hardened portions of salt withstanding the water, while all around them melts and wears off, rise up isolated pillars, one of which bears among the Arabs the name of `Lot's wife.'" In the light of the previous history, there is something at once pathetic and comical in this attempt to throw the myth upon the shoulders of the poor Arabs. The myth was not originated by Mohammedans; it appears, as we have seen, first among the Jews, and, I need hardly remind the reader, comes out in the Book of Wisdom and in Josephus, and has been steadily maintained by fathers, martyrs, and doctors of the Church, by at least one pope, and by innumerable bishops, priests, monks, commentators, and travellers, Catholic and Protestant, ever since. In thus throwing the responsibility of the myth upon the Arabs Dr. Geikie appears to show both the "perfervid genius" of his countrymen and their incapacity to recognise a joke. Nor is he more happy in his rationalistic explanations of the whole mass of myths. He supposes a terrific storm, in which the lightning kindled the combustible materials of the cities, aided perhaps by an earthquake; but this shows a disposition to break away from the exact statements of the sacred books which would have been most severely condemned by the universal Church during at least eighteen hundred years of its history. Nor would the explanations of Sir William Dawson have fared any better: it is very doubtful whether either of them could escape unscathed today from a synod of the Free Church of Scotland, or of any of the leading orthodox bodies in the Southern States of the American Union.[[261]] How unsatisfactory all such rationalism must be to a truly theological mind is seen not only in the dealings with Prof. Robertson Smith in Scotland and Prof. Woodrow in South Carolina, but most clearly in a book published in 1886 by Monseigneur Haussmann de Wandelburg. Among other things, the author was Prelate of the Pope's House-hold, a Mitred Abbot, Canon of the Holy Sepulchre, and a Doctor of Theology of the Pontifical University at Rome, and his work is introduced by approving letters from Pope Leo XIII and the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Monseigneur de Wandelburg scorns the idea that the salt column at Usdum is not the statue of Lot's wife; he points out not only the danger of yielding this evidence of miracle to rationalism, but the fact that the divinely. inspired authority of the Book of Wisdom, written, at the latest, two hundred and fifty years before Christ, distinctly refers to it. He summons Josephus as a witness. He dwells on the fact that St. Clement of Rome, Irenaeus, Hegesippus, and St. Cyril, "who as Bishop of Jerusalem must have known better than any other person what existed in Palestine," with St. Jerome, St. Chrysostom, and a multitude of others, attest, as a matter of their own knowledge or of popular notoriety, that the remains of Lot's wife really existed in their time in the form of a column of salt; and he points triumphantly to the fact that Lieutenant Lynch found this very column. In the presence of such a continuous line of witnesses, some of them considered as divinely inspired, and all of them greatly revered--a line extending through thirty-seven hundred years--he condemns most vigorously all those who do not believe that the pillar of salt now at Usdum is identical with the wife of Lot, and stigmatizes them as people who "do not wish to believe the truth of the Word of God." His ignorance of many of the simplest facts bearing upon the legend is very striking, yet he does not hesitate to speak of men who know far more and have thought far more upon the subject as "grossly ignorant." The most curious feature in his ignorance is the fact that he is utterly unaware of the annual changes in the salt statue. He is entirely ignorant of such facts as that the priest Gabriel Giraudet in the sixteenth century found the statue lying down; that the monk Zwinner found it in the seventeenth century standing, and accompanied by a dog also transformed into salt; that Prince Radziwill found no statue at all; that the pious Vincent Briemle in the eighteenth century found the monument renewing itself; that about the middle of the nineteenth century Lynch found it in the shape of a tower or column forty feet high; that within two years afterward De Saulcy found it washed into the form of a spire; that a year later Van de Velde found it utterly washed away; and that a few years later Palmer found it "a statue bearing a striking resemblance to an Arab woman with a child in her arms." So ended the last great demonstration, thus far, on the side of sacred science--the last retreating shot from the theological rear guard. It is but just to say that a very great share in the honour of the victory of science in this field is due to men trained as theologians. It would naturally be so, since few others have devoted themselves to direct labour in it; yet great honour is none the less due to such men as Reland, Mariti, Smith, Robinson, Stanley, Tristram, and Schat. They have rendered even a greater service to religion than to science, for they have made a beginning, at least, of doing away with that enforced belief in myths as history which has become a most serious danger to Christianity. For the worst enemy of Christianity could wish nothing more than that its main Leaders should prove that it can not be adopted save by those who accept, as historical, statements which unbiased men throughout the world know to be mythical. The result of such a demonstration would only be more and more to make thinking people inside the Church dissemblers, and thinking people outside, scoffers. Far better is it to welcome the aid of science, in the conviction that all truth is one, and, in the light of this truth, to allow theology and science to work together in the steady evolution of religion and morality. The revelations made by the sciences which most directly deal with the history of man all converge in the truth that during the earlier stages of this evolution moral and spiritual teachings must be inclosed in myth, legend, and parable. "The Master" felt this when he gave to the poor peasants about him, and so to the world, his simple and beautiful illustrations. In making this truth clear, science will give to religion far more than it will take away, for it will throw new life and light into all sacred literature. CHAPTER XIX. FROM LEVITICUS TO POLITICAL ECONOMY I. ORIGIN AND PROGRESS OF HOSTILITY TO LOANS AT INTEREST. AMONG questions on which the supporters of right reason in political and social science have only conquered theological opposition after centuries of war, is the taking of interest on loans. In hardly any struggle has rigid adherence to the letter of our sacred books been more prolonged and injurious. Certainly, if the criterion of truth, as regards any doctrine, be that of St. Vincent of Lerins--that it has been held in the Church "always, everywhere, and by all"--then on no point may a Christian of these days be more sure than that every savings institution, every loan and trust company, every bank, every loan of capital by an individual, every means by which accumulated capital has been lawfully lent even at the most moderate interest, to make men workers rather than paupers, is based on deadly sin. The early evolution of the belief that taking interest for money is sinful presents a curious working together of metaphysical, theological, and humanitarian ideas. In the main centre of ancient Greek civilization, the loaning of money at interest came to be accepted at an early period as a condition of productive industry, and no legal restriction was imposed. In Rome there was a long process of development: the greed of creditors in early times led to laws against the taking of interest; but, though these lasted long, that strong practical sense which gave Rome the empire of the world substituted finally, for this absolute prohibition, the establishment of rates by law. Yet many of the leading Greek and Roman thinkers opposed this practical settlement of the question, and, foremost of all, Aristotle. In a metaphysical way he declared that money is by nature "barren"; that the birth of money from money is therefore "unnatural"; and hence that the taking of interest is to be censured and hated. Plato, Plutarch, both the Catos, Cicero, Seneca, and various other leaders of ancient thought, arrived at much the same conclusion--sometimes from sympathy with oppressed debtors; sometimes from dislike of usurers; sometimes from simple contempt of trade. From these sources there came into the early Church the germ of a theological theory upon the subject. But far greater was the stream of influence from the Jewish and Christian sacred books. In the Old Testament stood various texts condemning usury--the term usury meaning any taking of interest: the law of Moses, while it allowed usury in dealing with strangers, forbade it in dealing with Jews. In the New Testament, in the Sermon on the Mount, as given by St. Luke, stood the text "Lend, hoping for nothing again." These texts seemed to harmonize with the most beautiful characteristic of primnitive Christianity; its tender care for the poor and oppressed: hence we find, from the earliest period, the whole weight of the Church brought to bear against the taking of interest for money.[[265]] The great fathers of the Eastern Church, and among them St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, and St. Gregory of Nyssa,--the fathers of the Western Church, and among them Tertullian, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, and St. Jerome, joined most earnestly in this condemnation. St. Basil denounces money at interest as a "fecund monster," and says, "The divine law declares expressly, `Thou shalt not lend on usury to thy brother or thy neighbour.'" St. Gregory of Nyssa calls down on him who lends money at interest the vengeance of the Almighty. St. Chrysostom says: "What can be more unreasonable than to sow without land, without rain, without ploughs? All those who give themselves up to this damnable culture shall reap only tares. Let us cut off these monstrous births of gold and silver; let us stop this execrable fecundity." Lactantius called the taking of interest "robbery." St. Ambrose declared it as bad as murder, St. Jerome threw the argument into the form of a dilemma, which was used as a weapon against money-lenders for centuries. Pope Leo the Great solemnly adjudged it a sin worthy of severe punishment.[[266]] This unanimity of the fathers of the Church brought about a crystallization of hostility to interest-bearing loans into numberless decrees of popes and councils and kings and legislatures throughout Christendom during more than fifteen hundred years, and the canon law was shaped in accordance with these. At first these were more especially directed against the clergy, but we soon find them extending to the laity. These prohibitions were enforced by the Council of Arles in 314, and a modern Church apologist insists that every great assembly of the Church, from the Council of Elvira in 306 to that of Vienne in 1311, inclusive, solemnly condemned lending money at interest. The greatest rulers under the sway of the Church--Justinian, in the Empire of the East; Charlemagne, in the Empire of the West; Alfred, in England; St. Louis, in France--yielded fully to this dogma. In the ninth century Alfred went so far as to confiscate the estates of money-lenders, denying them burial in Consecrated ground; and similar decrees were made in other parts of Europe. In the twelfth century the Greek Church seems to have relaxed its strictness somewhat, but the Roman Church grew more severe. St. Anselm proved from the Scriptures that the taking of interest is a breach of the Ten Commandments. Peter Lombard, in his _Sentences_, made the taking of interest purely and simply theft. St. Bernard, reviving religious earnestness in the Church, took the same view. In 1179 the Third Council of the Lateran decreed that impenitent money-lenders should be excluded from the altar, from absolution in the hour of death, and from Christian burial. Pope Urban III reiterated the declaration that the passage in St. Luke forbade the taking of any interest whatever. Pope Alexander III declared that the prohibition in this matter could never be suspended by dispensation. In the thirteenth century Pope Gregory IX dealt an especially severe blow at commerce by his declaration that even to advance on interest the money necessary in maritime trade was damnable usury; and this was fitly followed by Gregory X, who forbade Christian burial to those guilty of this practice; the Council of Lyons meted out the same penalty. This idea was still more firmly fastened upon the world by the two greatest thinkers of the time: first, by St. Thomas Aquinas, who knit it into the mind of the Church by the use of the Scriptures and of Aristotle; and next by Dante, who pictured money-lenders in one of the worst regions of hell. About the beginning of the fourteenth century the "Subtile Doctor" of the Middle Ages, Duns Scotus, gave to the world an exquisite piece of reasoning in evasion of the accepted doctrine; but all to no purpose: the Council of Vienne, presided over by Pope Clement V, declared that if any one "shall pertinaciously presume to affirm that the taking of interest for money is not a sin, we decree him to be a heretic, fit for punishment." This infallible utterance bound the dogma with additional force on the conscience of the universal Church. Nor was this a doctrine enforced by rulers only; the people were no less strenuous. In 1390 the city authorities of London enacted that, "if any person shall lend or put into the hands of any person gold or silver to receive gain thereby, such person shall have the punishment for usurers." And in the same year the Commons prayed the king that the laws of London against usury might have the force of statutes throughout the realm. In the fifteenth century the Council of the Church at Salzburg excluded from communion and burial any who took interest for money, and this was a very general rule throughout Germany. An exception was, indeed, sometimes made: some canonists held that Jews might be allowed to take interest, since they were to be damned in any case, and their monopoly of money-lending might prevent Christians from losing their souls by going into the business. Yet even the Jews were from time to time punished for the crime of usury; and, as regards Christians, punishment was bestowed on the dead as well as the living--the bodies of dead money-lenders being here and there dug up and cast out of consecrated ground. The popular preachers constantly declaimed against all who took interest. The medieval anecdote books for pulpit use are especially full on this point. Jacques de Vitry tells us that demons on one occasion filled a dead money-lender's mouth with red-hot coins; Cesarius of Heisterbach declared that a toad was found thrusting a piece of money into a dead usurer's heart; in another case, a devil was seen pouring molten gold down a dead money-lender's throat.[[268]] This theological hostility to the taking of interest was imbedded firmly in the canon law. Again and again it defined usury to be the taking of anything of value beyond the exact original amount of a loan; and under sanction of the universal Church it denounced this as a crime and declared all persons defending it to be guilty of heresy. What this meant the world knows but too well. The whole evolution of European civilization was greatly hindered by this conscientious policy. Money could only be loaned in most countries at the risk of incurring odium in this world and damnation in the next; hence there was but little capital and few lenders. The rates of interest became at times enormous; as high as forty per cent in England, and ten per cent a month in Italy and Spain. Commerce, manufactures, and general enterprise were dwarfed, while pauperism flourished. Yet worse than these were the moral results. Doing what one holds to be evil is only second in bad consequences to doing what is really evil; hence, all lending and borrowing, even for the most legitimate purposes and at the most reasonable rates, tended to debase both borrower and lender. The prohibition of lending at interest in continental Europe promoted luxury and discouraged economy; the rich, who were not engaged in business, finding no easy way of employing their incomes productively, spent them largely in ostentation and riotous living. One evil effect is felt in all parts of the world to this hour. The Jews, so acute in intellect and strong in will, were virtually drawn or driven out of all other industries or professions by the theory that their race, being accursed, was only fitted for the abhorred profession of money-lending.[[270]] These evils were so manifest, when trade began to revive throughout Europe in the fifteenth century, that most earnest exertions were put forth to induce the Church to change its position. The first important effort of this kind was made by John Gerson. His general learning made him Chancellor of the University of Paris; his sacred learning made him the leading orator at the Council of Constance; his piety led men to attribute to him _The Imitation of Christ_. Shaking off theological shackles, he declared, "Better is it to lend money at reasonable interest, and thus to give aid to the poor, than to see them reduced by poverty to steal, waste their goods, and sell at a low price their personal and real property." But this idea was at once buried beneath citations from the Scriptures, the fathers, councils, popes, and the canon law. Even in the most active countries there seemed to be no hope. In England, under Henry VII, Cardinal Morton, the lord chancellor, addressed Parliament, asking it to take into consideration loans of money at interest. The result was a law which imposed on lenders at interest a fine of a hundred pounds besides the annulment of the loan; and, to show that there was an offence against religion involved, there was added a clause "reserving to the Church, notwithstanding this punishment, the correction of their souls according to the laws of the same." Similar enactments were made by civil authority in various parts of Europe; and just when the trade, commerce, and manufactures of the modern epoch had received an immense impulse from the great series of voyages of discovery by such men as Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Magellan, and the Cabots, this barrier against enterprise was strengthened by a decree from no less enlightened a pontiff than Leo X. The popular feeling warranted such decrees. As late as the end of the Middle Ages we find the people of Piacenza dragging the body of a money-lender out of his grave in consecrated ground and throwing it into the river Po, in order to stop a prolonged rainstorm; and outbreaks of the same spirit were frequent in other countries.[[271]] Another mode of obtaining relief was tried. Subtle theologians devised evasions of various sorts. Two among these inventions of the schoolmen obtained much notoriety. The first was the doctrine of " _damnum emergens_": if a lender suffered loss by the failure of the borrower to return a loan at a date named, compensation might be made. Thus it was that, if the nominal date of payment was made to follow quickly after the real date of the loan, the compensation for the anticipated delay in payment had a very strong resemblance to interest. Equally cogent was the doctrine of "_lucrum cessans_": if a man, in order to lend money, was obliged to diminish his income from productive enterprises, it was claimed that he might receive in return, in addition to his money, an amount exactly equal to this diminution in his income. But such evasions were looked upon with little favour by the great body of theologians, and the name of St. Thomas Aquinas was triumphantly cited against them. Opposition on scriptural grounds to the taking of interest was not confined to the older Church. Protestantism was led by Luther and several of his associates into the same line of thought and practice. Said Luther. "To exchange anything with any one and gain by the exchange is not to do a charity; but to steal. Every usurer is a thief worthy of the gibbet. I call those usurers who lend money at five or six per cent." But it is only just to say that at a later period Luther took a much more moderate view. Melanchthon, defining usury as any interest whatever, condemned it again and again; and the Goldberg _Catechism_ of 1558, for which he wrote a preface and recommendation, declares every person taking interest for money a thief. From generation to generation this doctrine was upheld by the more eminent divines of the Lutheran Church in all parts of Germany. The English reformers showed the same hostility to interest-bearing loans. Under Henry VIII the law of Henry VII against taking interest had been modified for the better; but the revival of religious feeling under Edward VI caused in 1552 the passage of the "Bill of Usury." In this it is said, "Forasmuch as usury is by the word of God utterly prohibited, as a vice most odious and detestable, as in divers places of the Holy Scriptures it is evident to be seen, which thing by no godly teachings and persuasions can sink into the hearts of divers greedy, uncharitable, and covetous persons of this realm, nor yet, by any terrible threatenings of God's wrath and vengeance," etc., it is enacted that whosoever shall thereafter lend money "for any manner of usury, increase, lucre, gain, or interest, to be had, received, or hoped for," shall forfeit principal and interest, and suffer imprisonment and fine at the king's pleasure.[[273]] But, most fortunately, it happened that Calvin, though at times stumbling over the usual texts against the taking of interest for money, turned finally in the right direction. He cut through the metaphysical arguments of Aristotle, and characterized the subtleties devised to evade the Scriptures as "a childish game with God." In place of these subtleties there was developed among Protestants a serviceable fiction--the statement that usury means _illegal or oppressive interest_. Under the action of this fiction, commerce and trade revived rapidly in Protestant countries, though with occasional checks from exact interpreters of Scripture. At the same period in France, the great Protestant jurist Dumoulin brought all his legal learning and skill in casuistry to bear on the same side. A certain ferretlike acuteness and litheness seem to have enabled him to hunt down the opponents of interest-taking through the most tortuous arguments of scholasticism. In England the struggle went on with varying fortune; statesmen on one side, and theologians on the other. We have seen how, under Henry VIII, interest was allowed at a fixed rate, and how, the development of English Protestantism having at first strengthened the old theological view, there was, under Edward VI, a temporarily successful attempt to forbid the taking of interest by law. The Puritans, dwelling on Old Testament texts, continued for a considerable time especially hostile to the taking of any interest. Henry Smith, a noted preacher, thundered from the pulpit of St. Clement Danes in London against "the evasions of Scripture" which permitted men to lend money on interest at all. In answer to the contention that only "biting" usury was oppressive, Wilson, a noted upholder of the strict theological view in political economy, declared: "There is difference in deed between the bite of a dogge and the bite of a flea, and yet, though the flea doth lesse harm, yet the flea doth bite after hir kinde, yea, and draweth blood, too. But what a world this is, that men will make sin to be but a fleabite, when they see God's word directly against them!" The same view found strong upholders among contemporary English Catholics. One of the most eminent of these, Nicholas Sanders, revived very vigorously the use of an old scholastic argument. He insisted that "man can not sell time," that time is not a human possession, but something which is given by God alone: he declared, "Time was not of your gift to your neighbour, but of God's gift to you both." In the Parliament of the period, we find strong assertions of the old idea, with constant reference to Scripture and the fathers. In one debate, Wilson cited from Ezekiel and other prophets and attributed to St. Augustine the doctrine that "to take but a cup of wine is usury and damnable." Fleetwood recalled the law of King Edward the Confessor, which submitted usurers to the ordeal. But arguments of this sort had little influence upon Elizabeth and her statesmen. Threats of damnation in the next world troubled them little if they could have their way in this. They re-established the practice of taking interest under restrictions, and this, in various forms, has remained in England ever since. Most notable in this phase of the evolution of scientific doctrine in political economy at that period is the emergence of a recognised difference between _usury_ and _interest_. Between these two words, which had so long been synonymous, a distinction now appears: the former being construed to indicate _oppressive interest_, and the latter _just rates_ for the use of money. This idea gradually sank into the popular mind of Protestant countries, and the scriptural texts no longer presented any difficulty to the people at large, since there grew up a general belief that the word "usury," as employed in Scripture, had _always_ meant exorbitant interest; and this in spite of the parable of the Talents. Still, that the old Aristotelian quibble had not been entirely forgotten, is clearly seen by various passages in Shakespeare's _Merchant of Venice_. But this line of reasoning seems to have received its quietus from Lord Bacon. He did not, indeed, develop a strong and connected argument on the subject; but he burst the bonds of Aristotle, and based interest for money upon natural laws. How powerful the new current of thought was, is seen from the fact that James I, of all monarchs the most fettered by scholasticism and theology, sanctioned a statute dealing with interest for money as absolutely necessary. Yet, even after this, the old idea asserted itself; for the bishops utterly refused to agree to the law allowing interest until a proviso was inserted that "nothing in this law contained shall be construed or expounded to allow the practice of usury in point of religion or conscience." The old view cropped out from time to time in various public declarations. Famous among these were the _Treatise of Usury_, published in 1612 by Dr. Fenton, who restated the old arguments with much force, and the _Usury Condemned_ of John Blaxton, published in 1634. Blaxton, who also was a clergyman, defined usury as the taking of any interest whatever for money, citing in support of this view six archbishops and bishops and over thirty doctors of divinity in the Anglican Church, some of their utterances being very violent and all of them running their roots down into texts of Scripture. Typical among these is a sermon of Bishop Sands, in which he declares, regarding the taking of interest: "This canker hath corrupted all England; we shall doe God and our country true service by taking away this evill; represse it by law, else the heavy hand of God hangeth over us and will strike us." II. RETREAT OF THE CHURCH, PROTESTANT AND CATHOLIC. But about the middle of the seventeenth century Sir Robert Filmer gave this doctrine the heaviest blow it ever received in England. Taking up Dr. Fenton's treatise, he answered it, and all works like it, in a way which, however unsuitable to this century, was admirably adapted to that. He cites Scripture and chops logic after a masterly manner. Characteristic is this declaration: "St. Paul doth, with one breath, reckon up seventeen sins, and yet usury is none of them; but many preachers can not reckon up seven deadly sins, except they make usury one of them." Filmer followed Fenton not only through his theology, but through his political economy, with such relentless keenness that the old doctrine seems to have been then and there practically worried out of existence, so far as England was concerned. Departures from the strict scriptural doctrines regarding interest soon became frequent in Protestant countries, and they were followed up with especial vigour in Holland. Various theologians in the Dutch Church attempted to assert the scriptural view by excluding bankers from the holy communion; but the commercial vigour of the republic was too strong: Salmasius led on the forces of right reason brilliantly, and by the middle of the seventeenth century the question was settled rightly in that country. This work was aided, indeed, by a far greater man, Hugo Grotius; but here was shown the power of an established dogma. Great as Grotius was--and it may well be held that his book on _War and Peace_ has wrought more benefit to humanity than any other attributed to human authorship--he was, in the matter of interest for money, too much entangled in theological reasoning to do justice to his cause or to himself. He declared the prohibition of it to be scriptural, but resisted the doctrine of Aristotle, and allowed interest on certain natural and practical grounds. In Germany the struggle lasted longer. Of some little significance, perhaps, is the demand of Adam Contzen, in 1629, that lenders at interest should be punished as thieves; but by the end of the seventeenth century Puffendorf and Leibnitz had gained the victory. Protestantism, open as it was to the currents of modern thought, could not long continue under the dominion of ideas unfavourable to economic development, and perhaps the most remarkable proof of this was presented early in the eighteenth century in America, by no less strict a theologian than Cotton Mather. In his _Magnalia_ he argues against the whole theological view with a boldness, acuteness, and good sense which cause us to wonder that this can be the same man who was so infatuated regarding witchcraft. After an argument so conclusive as his, there could have been little left of the old anti-economic doctrine in New England.[[277]] But while the retreat of the Protestant Church from the old doctrine regarding the taking of interest was henceforth easy, in the Catholic Church it was far more difficult. Infallible popes and councils, with saints, fathers, and doctors, had so constantly declared the taking of any interest at all to be contrary to Scripture, that the more exact though less fortunate interpretation of the sacred text relating to interest continued in Catholic countries. When it was attempted in France in the seventeenth century to argue that usury "means oppressive interest," the Theological Faculty of the Sorbonne declared that usury is the taking of any interest at all, no matter how little; and the eighteenth chapter of Ezekiel was cited to clinch this argument. Another attempt to ease the burden of industry and commerce was made by declaring that "usury means interest demanded not as a matter of favour but as a matter of right." This, too, was solemnly condemned by Pope innocent XI. Again an attempt was made to find a way out of the difficulty by declaring that "usury is interest greater than the law allows." This, too, was condemned, and so also was the declaration that "usury is interest on loans not for a fixed time." Still the forces of right reason pressed on, and among them, in the seventeenth century, in France, was Richard Simon. He attempted to gloss over the declarations of Scripture against lending at interest, in an elaborate treatise, but was immediately confronted by Bossuet. Just as Bossuet had mingled Scripture with astronomy and opposed the Copernican theory, so now he mingled Scripture with political economy and denounced the lending of money at interest. He called attention to the fact that the Scriptures, the councils of the Church from the beginning, the popes, the fathers, had all interpreted the prohibition of "usury" to be a prohibition of any lending at interest; and he demonstrated this interpretation to be the true one. Simon was put to confusion and his book condemned. There was but too much reason for Bossuet's interpretation. There stood the fact that the prohibition of one of the most simple and beneficial principles in political and economical science was affirmed, not only by the fathers, but by twenty-eight councils of the Church, six of them general councils, and by seventeen popes, to say nothing of innumerable doctors in theology and canon law. And these prohibitions by the Church had been accepted as of divine origin by all obedient sons of the Church in the government of France. Such rulers as Charles the Bald in the ninth century, and St. Louis in the thirteenth, had riveted this idea into the civil law so firmly that it seemed impossible ever to detach it.[[279]] As might well be expected, Italy was one of the countries in which the theological theory regarding usury--lending at interest--was most generally asserted and assented to. Among the great number of Italian canonists who supported the theory, two deserve especial mention, as affording a contrast to the practical manner in which the commercial Italians met the question. In the sixteenth century, very famous among canonists was the learned Benedictine, Vilagut. In 1589 he published at Venice his great work on usury, supporting with much learning and vigour the most extreme theological consequences of the old doctrine. He defines usury as the taking of anything beyond the original loan, and declares it mortal sin; he advocates the denial to usurers of Christian burial, confession, the sacraments, absolution, and connection with the universities; he declares that priests receiving offerings from usurers should refrain from exercising their ministry until the matter is passed upon by the bishop. About the middle of the seventeenth century another ponderous folio was published in Venice upon the same subject and with the same title, by Onorato Leotardi. So far from showing any signs of yielding, he is even more extreme than Vilagut had been, and quotes with approval the old declaration that lenders of money at interest are not only robbers but murderers. So far as we can learn, no real opposition was made in either century to this theory, as a theory; as to _practice_, it was different. The Italian traders did not answer theological argument; they simply overrode it. In spite of theology, great banks were established, and especially that of Venice at the end of the twelfth century, and those of Barcelona and Genoa at the beginning of the fifteenth. Nowhere was commerce carried on in more complete defiance of this and other theological theories hampering trade than in the very city where these great treatises were published. The sin of usury, like the sin of commerce with the Mohammedans, seems to have been settled for by the Venetian merchants on their deathbeds; and greatly to the advantage of the magnificent churches and ecclesiastical adornments of the city. By the seventeenth century the clearest thinkers in the Roman Church saw that her theology must be readjusted to political economy: so began a series of amazing attempts to reconcile a view permitting usury with the long series of decrees of popes and councils forbidding it. In Spain, the great Jesuit casuist Escobar led the way, and rarely had been seen such exquisite hair-splitting. But his efforts were not received with the gratitude they perhaps deserved. Pascal, revolting at their moral effect, attacked them unsparingly in his _Provincial Letters_, citing especially such passages as the following: "It is usury to receive profit from those to whom one lends, if it be exacted as justly due; but, if it be exacted as a debt of gratitude, it is not usury." This and a multitude of similar passages Pascal covered with the keen ridicule and indignant denunciation of which he was so great a master. But even the genius of Pascal could not stop such efforts. In the eighteenth century they were renewed by a far greater theologian than Escobar--by him who was afterward made a saint and proclaimed a doctor of the Church--Alphonso Liguori. Starting with bitter denunciations of usury, Liguori soon developed a multitude of subtle devices for escaping the guilt of it. Presenting a long and elaborate theory of "mental, usury" he arrives at the conclusion that, if the borrower pay interest of his own free will, the lender may keep it. In answer to the question whether the lender may keep what the borrower paid, not out of gratitude but out of fear--fear that otherwise loans might be refused him in future--Liguori says, "To be usury it must be paid by reason of a contract, or as justly due; payment by reason of such a fear does not cause interest to be paid as an actual price." Again Liguori tells us, "It is not usury to exact something in return for the danger and expense of regaining the principal." The old subterfuges of "_Damnum emergens_" and "_Lucrum cessans_" are made to do full duty. A remarkable quibble is found in the answer to the question whether he sins who furnishes money to a man whom he knows to intend employing it in usury. After citing affirmative opinions from many writers, Liguori says, "Notwithstanding these opinions, the better opinion seems to me to be that the man thus putting out his money is not bound to make restitution, for his action is not injurious to the borrower, but rather favourable to him," and this reasoning the saint develops at great length. In the Latin countries this sort of casuistry eased the relations of the Church with the bankers, and it was full time; for now there came arguments of a different kind. The eighteenth century philosophy had come upon the stage, and the first effective onset of political scientists against the theological opposition in southern Europe was made in Italy--the most noted leaders in the attack being Galiani and Maffei. Here and there feeble efforts were made to meet them, but it was felt more and more by thinking churchmen that entirely different tactics must be adopted. About the same time came an attack in France, and though its results were less immediate at home, they were much more effective abroad. In 1748 appeared Montesquieu's _Spirit of the Laws_. In this famous book were concentrated twenty years of study and thought by a great thinker on the interests of the world about him. In eighteen months it went through twenty-two editions; it was translated into every civilized language; and among the things on which Montesquieu brought his wit and wisdom to bear with especial force was the doctrine of the Church regarding interest on loans. In doing this he was obliged to use a caution in forms which seems strangely at variance with the boldness of his ideas. In view of the strictness of ecclesiastical control in France, he felt it safest to make his whole attack upon those theological and economic follies of Mohammedan countries which were similar to those which the theological spirit had fastened on France.[[282]] By the middle of the eighteenth century the Church authorities at Rome clearly saw the necessity of a concession: the world would endure theological restriction no longer; a way of escape _must_ be found. It was seen, even by the most devoted theologians, that mere denunciations and use of theological arguments or scriptural texts against the scientific idea were futile. To this feeling it was due that, even in the first years of the century, the Jesuit casuists had come to the rescue. With exquisite subtlety some of their acutest intellects devoted themselves to explaining away the utterances on this subject of saints, fathers, doctors, popes, and councils. These explanations were wonderfully ingenious, but many of the older churchmen continued to insist upon the orthodox view, and at last the Pope himself intervened. Fortunately for the world, the seat of St. Peter was then occupied by Benedict XIV, certainly one of the most gifted, morally and intellectually, in the whole line of Roman pontiffs. Tolerant and sympathetic for the oppressed, he saw the necessity of taking up the question, and he grappled with it effectually: he rendered to Catholicism a service like that which Calvin had rendered to Protestantism, by shrewdly cutting a way through the theological barrier. In 1745 he issued his encyclical _Vix pervenit_, which declared that the doctrine of the Church remained consistent with itself; that usury is indeed a sin, and that it consists in _demanding any amount beyond the exact amount lent_, but that there are occasions when on special grounds the lender may obtain such additional sum. What these "occasions" and "special grounds" might be, was left very vague; but this action was sufficient. At the same time no new restrictions upon books advocating the taking of interest for money were imposed, and, in the year following his encyclical, Benedict openly accepted the dedication of one of them--the work of Maffei, and perhaps the most cogent of all. Like the casuistry of Boscovich in using the Copernican theory for "convenience in argument," while acquiescing in its condemnation by the Church authorities, this encyclical of Pope Benedict broke the spell. Turgot, Quesnay, Adam Smith, Hume, Bentham, and their disciples pressed on, and science won for mankind another great victory.[[283]] Yet in this case, as in others, insurrections against the sway of scientific truth appeared among some overzealous religionists. When the Sorbonne, having retreated from its old position, armed itself with new casuistries against those who held to its earlier decisions, sundry provincial doctors in theology protested indignantly, making the old citations from the Scriptures, fathers, saints, doctors, popes, councils, and canonists. Again the Roman court intervened. In 1830 the Inquisition at Rome, with the approval of Pius VIII, though still declining to commit itself on the _doctrine_ involved, decreed that, as to _practice_, confessors should no longer disturb lenders of money at legal interest. But even this did not quiet the more conscientious theologians. The old weapons were again furbished and hurled by the Abbe Laborde, Vicar of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Auch, and by the Abbe Dennavit, Professor of Theology at Lyons. Good Abbe Dennavit declared that he refused absolution to those who took interest and to priests who pretend that the sanction of the civil law is sufficient. But the "wisdom of the serpent" was again brought into requisition, and early in the decade between 1830 and 1840 the Abbate Mastrofini issued a work on usury, which, he declared on its title-page, demonstrated that "moderate usury is not contrary to Holy Scripture, or natural law, or the decisions of the Church." Nothing can be more comical than the suppressions of truth, evasions of facts, jugglery with phrases, and perversions of history, to which the abbate is forced to resort throughout his book in order to prove that the Church has made no mistake. In the face of scores of explicit deliverances and decrees of fathers, doctors, popes, and councils against the taking of any interest whatever for money, he coolly pretended that what they had declared against was _exorbitant_ interest. He made a merit of the action of the Church, and showed that its course had been a blessing to humanity. But his masterpiece is in dealing with the edicts of Clement V and Benedict XIV. As to the first, it will be remembered that Clement, in accord with the Council of Vienne, had declared that "any one who shall pertinaciously presume to affirm that the taking of interest for money is not a sin, we decree him to be a heiretic fit for punishment," and we have seen that Benedict XIV did not at all deviate from the doctrines of his predecessors. Yet Mastrofini is equal to his task, and brings out, as the conclusion of his book, the statement put upon his title-page, that what the Church condemns is only _exorbitant_ interest. This work was sanctioned by various high ecclesiastical dignitaries, and served its purpose; for it covered the retreat of the Church. In 1872 the Holy Office, answering a question solemnly put by the Bishop of Ariano, as solemnly declared that those who take eight per cent interest per annum are "not to be disquieted"; and in 1873 appeared a book published under authority from the Holy See, allowing the faithful to take moderate interest under condition that any future decisions of the Pope should be implicitly obeyed. Social science as applied to political economy had gained a victory final and complete. The Torlonia family at Rome to-day, with its palaces, chapels, intermarriages, affiliations, and papal favour --all won by lending money at interest, and by liberal gifts, from the profits of usury, to the Holy See--is but one out of many growths of its kind on ramparts long since surrendered and deserted.[[285]] The dealings of theology with public economy were by no means confined to the taking of interest for money. It would be interesting to note the restrictions placed upon commerce by the Church prohibition of commercial intercourse with infidels, against which the Republic of Venice fought a good fight; to note how, by a most curious perversion of Scripture in the Greek Church, many of the peasantry of Russia were prevented from raising and eating potatoes; how, in Scotland, at the beginning of this century, the use of fanning mills for winnowing grain was widely denounced as contrary to the text, "The wind bloweth where it listeth," etc., as leaguing with Satan, who is "Prince of the powers of the air," and therefore as sufficient cause for excommunication from the Scotch Church. Instructive it would be also to note how the introduction of railways was declared by an archbishop of the French Church to be an evidence of the divine displeasure against country innkeepers who set meat before their guests on fast days, and who were now punished by seeing travellers carried by their doors; how railways and telegraphs were denounced from a few noted pulpits as heralds of Antichrist; and how in Protestant England the curate of Rotherhithe, at the breaking in of the Thames Tunnel, so destructive to life and property, declared it from his pulpit a just judgment upon the presumptuous aspirations of mortal man. The same tendency is seen in the opposition of conscientious men to the taking of the census in Sweden and the United States, on account of the terms in which the numbering of Israel is spoken of in the Old Testament. Religious scruples on similar grounds have also been avowed against so beneficial a thing as life insurance. Apparently unimportant as these manifestations are, they indicate a widespread tendency; in the application of scriptural declarations to matters of social economy, which has not yet ceased, though it is fast fading away.[[286]] Worthy of especial study, too, would be the evolution of the modern methods of raising and bettering the condition of the poor,--the evolution, especially, of the idea that men are to be helped to help themselves, in opposition to the old theories of indiscriminate giving, which, taking root in some of the most beautiful utterances of our sacred books, grew in the warm atmosphere of medieval devotion into great systems for the pauperizing of the labouring classes. Here, too, scientific modes of thought in social science have given a new and nobler fruitage to the whole growth of Christian benevolence.[[287]] CHAPTER XX. FROM THE DIVINE ORACLES TO THE HIGHER CRITICISM. I. THE OLDER INTERPRETATION. THE great sacred books of the world are the most precious of human possessions. They embody the deepest searchings into the most vital problems of humanity in all its stages: the naive guesses of the world's childhood, the opening conceptions of its youth, the more fully rounded beliefs of its maturity. These books, no matter how unhistorical in parts and at times, are profoundly true. They mirror the evolution of man's loftiest aspirations, hopes, loves, consolations, and enthusiasms; his hates and fears; his views of his origin and destiny; his theories of his rights and duties; and these not merely in their lights but in their shadows. Therefore it is that they contain the germs of truths most necessary in the evolution of humanity, and give to these germs the environment and sustenance which best insure their growth and strength. With wide differences in origin and character, this sacred literature has been developed and has exercised its influence in obedience to certain general laws. First of these in time, if not in importance, is that which governs its origin: in all civilizations we find that the Divine Spirit working in the mind of man shapes his sacred books first of all out of the chaos of myth and legend; and of these books, when life is thus breathed into them, the fittest survive. So broad and dense is this atmosphere of myth and legend enveloping them that it lingers about them after they have been brought forth full-orbed; and, sometimes, from it are even produced secondary mythical and legendary concretions--satellites about these greater orbs of early thought. Of these secondary growths one may be mentioned as showing how rich in myth-making material was the atmosphere which enveloped our own earlier sacred literature. In the third century before Christ there began to be elaborated among the Jewish scholars of Alexandria, then the great centre of human thought, a Greek translation of the main books constituting the Old Testament. Nothing could be more natural at that place and time than such a translation; yet the growth of explanatory myth and legend around it was none the less luxuriant. There was indeed a twofold growth. Among the Jews favourable to the new version a legend rose which justified it. This legend in its first stage was to the effect that the Ptolemy then on the Egyptian throne had, at the request of his chief librarian, sent to Jerusalem for translators; that the Jewish high priest Eleazar had sent to the king a most precious copy of the Scriptures from the temple at Jerusalem, and six most venerable, devout, and learned scholars from each of the twelve tribes of Israel; that the number of translators thus corresponded with the mysterious seventy-two appellations of God; and that the combined efforts of these seventy-two men produced a marvellously perfect translation. But in that atmosphere of myth and marvel the legend continued to grow, and soon we have it blooming forth yet more gorgeously in the statement that King Ptolemy ordered each of the seventy-two to make by himself a full translation of the entire Old Testament, and shut up each translator in a separate cell on the island of Pharos, secluding him there until the work was done; that the work of each was completed in exactly seventy-two days; and that when, at the end of the seventy-two days, the seventy-two translations were compared, each was found exactly like all the others. This showed clearly Jehovah's _approval_. But out of all this myth and legend there was also evolved an account of a very different sort. The Jews who remained faithful to the traditions of their race regarded this Greek version as a profanation, and therefore there grew up the legend that on the completion of the work there was darkness over the whole earth during three days. This showed clearly Jehovah's _disapproval_. These well-known legends, which arose within what--as compared with any previous time--was an exceedingly enlightened period, and which were steadfastly believed by a vast multitude of Jews and Christians for ages, are but single examples among scores which show how inevitably such traditions regarding sacred books are developed in the earlier stages of civilization, when men explain everything by miracle and nothing by law.[[290]] As the second of these laws governing the evolution of sacred literature may be mentioned that which we have constantly seen so effective in the growth of theological ideas--that to which Comte gave the name of the _Law of Wills and Causes_. Obedient to this, man attributes to the Supreme Being a physical, intellectual, and moral structure like his own; hence it is that the votary of each of the great world religions ascribes to its sacred books what he considers absolute perfection: he imagines them to be what he himself would give the world, were he himself infinitely good, wise, and powerful. A very simple analogy might indeed show him that even a literature emanating from an all-wise, beneficent, and powerful author might not seem perfect when judged by a human standard; for he has only to look about him in the world to find that the work which he attributes to an all-wise, all-beneficent, and all-powerful Creator is by no means free from evil and wrong. But this analogy long escapes him, and the exponent of each great religion proves to his own satisfaction, and to the edification of his fellows, that their own sacred literature is absolutely accurate in statement, infinitely profound in meaning, and miraculously perfect in form. From these premises also he arrives at the conclusion that his own sacred literature is unique; that no other sacred book can have emanated from a divine source; and that all others claiming to be sacred are impostures. Still another law governing the evolution of sacred literature in every great world religion is, that when the books which compose it are once selected and grouped they come to be regarded as a final creation from which nothing can be taken away, and of which even error in form, if sanctioned by tradition, may not be changed. The working of this law has recently been seen on a large scale. A few years since, a body of chosen scholars, universally acknowledged to be the most fit for the work, undertook, at the call of English-speaking Christendom, to revise the authorized English version of the Bible. Beautiful as was that old version, there was abundant reason for a revision. The progress of biblical scholarship had revealed multitudes of imperfections and not a few gross errors in the work of the early translators, and these, if uncorrected, were sure to bring the sacred volume into discredit. Nothing could be more reverent than the spirit of the revisers, and the nineteenth century has known few historical events of more significant and touching beauty than the participation in the holy communion by all these scholars--prelates, presbyters, ministers, and laymen of churches most widely differing in belief and observance--kneeling side by side at the little altar in Westminster Abbey. Nor could any work have been more conservative and cautious than theirs; as far as possible they preserved the old matter and form with scrupulous care. Yet their work was no sooner done than it was bitterly attacked and widely condemned; to this day it is largely regarded with dislike. In Great Britain, in America, in Australia, the old version, with its glaring misconceptions, mistranslations, and interpolations, is still read in preference to the new; the great body of English-speaking Christians clearly preferring the accustomed form of words given by the seventeenth-century translators, rather than a nearer approach to the exact teaching of the Holy Ghost. Still another law is, that when once a group of sacred books has been evolved--even though the group really be a great library of most dissimilar works, ranging in matter from the hundredth Psalm to the Song of Songs, and in manner from the sublimity of Isaiah to the offhand story-telling of Jonah--all come to be thought one inseparable mass of interpenetrating parts; every statement in each fitting exactly and miraculously into each statement in every other; and each and every one, and all together, literally true to fact, and at the same time full of hidden meanings. The working of these and other laws governing the evolution of sacred literature is very clearly seen in the great rabbinical schools which flourished at Jerusalem, Tiberias, and elsewhere, after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity, and especially as we approach the time of Christ. These schools developed a subtlety in the study of the Old Testament which seems almost preternatural. The resultant system was mainly a jugglery with words, phrases, and numbers, which finally became a "sacred science," with various recognised departments, in which interpretation was carried on sometimes by attaching a numerical value to letters; sometimes by interchange of letters from differently arranged alphabets; sometimes by the making of new texts out of the initial letters of the old; and with ever-increasing subtlety. Such efforts as these culminated fitly in the rabbinical declaration that each passage in the law has seventy distinct meanings, and that God himself gives three hours every day to their study. After this the Jewish world was prepared for anything, and it does not surprise us to find such discoveries in the domain of ethical culture as the doctrine that, for inflicting the forty stripes save one upon those who broke the law, the lash should be braided of ox-hide and ass-hide; and, as warrant for this construction of the lash, the text, "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib, but Israel doth not know"; and, as the logic connecting text and lash, the statement that Jehovah evidently intended to command that "the men who know not shall be beaten by those animals whose knowledge shames them." By such methods also were revealed such historical treasures as that Og, King of Bashan, escaped the deluge by wading after Noah's ark. There were, indeed, noble exceptions to this kind of teaching. It can not be forgotten that Rabbi Hillel formulated the golden rule, which had before him been given to the extreme Orient by Confucius, and which afterward received a yet more beautiful and positive emphasis from Jesus of Nazareth; but the seven rules of interpretation laid down by Hillel were multiplied and refined by men like Rabbi Ismael and Rabbi Eleazar until they justified every absurd subtlety.[[293]] An eminent scholar has said that while the letter of Scripture became ossified in Palestine, it became volatilized at Alexandria; and the truth of this remark was proved by the Alexandrian Jewish theologians just before the beginning of our era. This, too, was in obedience to a law of development, which is, that when literal interpretation clashes with increasing knowledge or with progress in moral feeling, theologians take refuge in mystic meanings--a law which we see working in all great religions, from the Brahmans finding hidden senses in the Vedas, to Plato and the Stoics finding them in the Greek myths; and from the Sofi reading new meanings into the Koran, to eminent Christian divines of the nineteenth century giving a non-natural sense to some of the plainest statements in the Bible. Nothing is more natural than all this. When naive statements of sacred writers, in accord with the ethics of early ages, make Brahma perform atrocities which would disgrace a pirate; and Jupiter take part in adventures worthy of Don Juan; and Jahveh practise trickery, cruelty, and high-handed injustice which would bring any civilized mortal into the criminal courts, the invention of allegory is the one means of saving the divine authority as soon as men reach higher planes of civilization. The great early master in this evolution of allegory, for the satisfaction of Jews and Christians, was Philo: by him its use came in as never before. The four streams of the garden of Eden thus become the four virtues; Abraham's country and kindred, from which he was commanded to depart, the human body and its members; the five cities of Sodom, the five senses; the Euphrates, correction of manners. By Philo and his compeers even the most insignificant words and phrases, and those especially, were held to conceal the most precious meanings. A perfectly natural and logical result of this view was reached when Philo, saturated as he was with Greek culture and nourished on pious traditions of the utterances at Delphi and Dodona, spoke reverently of the Jewish Scriptures as "_oracles_". Oracles they became: as oracles they appeared in the early history of the Christian Church; and oracles they remained for centuries: eternal life or death, infinite happiness or agony, as well as ordinary justice in this world, being made to depend on shifting interpretations of a long series of dark and doubtful utterances--interpretations frequently given by men who might have been prophets and apostles, but who had become simply oracle-mongers. Pressing these oracles into the service of science, Philo became the forerunner of that long series of theologians who, from Augustine and Cosmas to Mr. Gladstone, have attempted to extract from scriptural myth and legend profound contributions to natural science. Thus he taught that the golden candlesticks in the tabernacle symbolized the planets, the high priest's robe the universe, and the bells upon it the harmony of earth and water--whatever that may mean. So Cosmas taught, a thousand years later, that the table of shewbread in the tabernacle showed forth the form and construction of the world; and Mr. Gladstone hinted, more than a thousand years later still, that Neptune's trident had a mysterious connection with the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.[[294]] These methods, as applied to the Old Testament, had appeared at times in the New; in spite of the resistance of Tertullian and Irenaeus, they were transmitted to the Church; and in the works of the early fathers they bloomed forth luxuriantly. Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria vigorously extended them. Typical of Justin's method is his finding, in a very simple reference by Isaiah to Damascus, Samaria, and Assyria, a clear prophecy of the three wise men of the East who brought gifts to the infant Saviour; and in the bells on the priest's robe a prefiguration of the twelve apostles. Any difficulty arising from the fact that the number of bells is not specified in Scripture, Justin overcame by insisting that David referred to this prefiguration in the nineteenth Psalm: "Their sound is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world." Working in this vein, Clement of Alexandria found in the form, dimensions, and colour of the Jewish tabernacle a whole wealth of interpretation--the altar of incense representing the earth placed at the centre of the universe; the high priest's robe the visible world; the jewels on the priest's robe the zodiac; and Abraham's three days' journey to Mount Moriah the three stages of the soul in its progress toward the knowledge of God. Interpreting the New Testament, he lessened any difficulties involved in the miracle of the barley loaves and fishes by suggesting that what it really means is that Jesus gave mankind a preparatory training for the gospel by means of the law and philosophy; because, as he says, barley, like the law, ripens sooner than wheat, which represents the gospel; and because, just as fishes grow in the waves of the ocean, so philosophy grew in the waves of the Gentile world. Out of reasonings like these, those who followed, especially Cosmas, developed, as we have seen, a complete theological science of geography and astronomy.[[296]] But the instrument in exegesis which was used with most cogent force was the occult significance of certain numbers. The Chaldean and Egyptian researches of our own time have revealed the main source of this line of thought; the speculations of Plato upon it are well known; but among the Jews and in the early Church it grew into something far beyond the wildest imaginings of the priests of Memphis and Babylon. Philo had found for the elucidation of Scripture especially deep meanings in the numbers four, six, and seven; but other interpreters soon surpassed him. At the very outset this occult power was used in ascertaining the canonical books of Scripture. Josephus argued that, since there were twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet, there must be twenty-two sacred books in the Old Testament; other Jewish authorities thought that there should be twenty-four books, on account of the twenty-four watches in the temple. St. Jerome wavered between the argument based upon the twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet and that suggested by the twenty-four elders in the Apocalypse. Hilary of Poitiers argued that there must be twenty-four books, on account of the twenty-four letters in the Greek alphabet. Origen found an argument for the existence of exactly four gospels in the existence of just four elements. Irenaeus insisted that there could be neither more nor fewer than four gospels, since the earth has four quarters, the air four winds, and the cherubim four faces; and he denounced those who declined to accept this reasoning as "vain, ignorant, and audacious."[[297]] But during the first half of the third century came one who exercised a still stronger influence in this direction--a great man who, while rendering precious services, did more than any other to fasten upon the Church a system which has been one of its heaviest burdens for more than sixteen hundred years: this was Origen. Yet his purpose was noble and his work based on profound thought. He had to meet the leading philosophers of the pagan world, to reply to their arguments against the Old Testament, and especially to break the force of their taunts against its imputation of human form, limitations, passions, weaknesses, and even immoralities to the Almighty. Starting with a mistaken translation of a verse in the book of Proverbs, Origen presented as a basis for his main structure the idea of a threefold sense of Scripture: the literal, the moral, and the mystic--corresponding to the Platonic conception of the threefold nature of man. As results of this we have such masterpieces as his proof, from the fifth verse of chapter xxv of Job, that the stars are living beings, and from the well-known passage in the nineteenth chapter of St. Matthew his warrant for self-mutilation. But his great triumphs were in the allegorical method. By its use the Bible was speedily made an oracle indeed, or, rather, a book of riddles. A list of kings in the Old Testament thus becomes an enumeration of sins; the waterpots of stone, "containing two or three firkins apiece," at the marriage of Cana, signify the literal, moral, and spiritual sense of Scripture; the ass upon which the Saviour rode on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem becomes the Old Testament, the foal the New Testament, and the two apostles who went to loose them the moral and mystical senses; blind Bartimeus throwing off his coat while hastening to Jesus, opens a whole treasury of oracular meanings. The genius and power of Origen made a great impression on the strong thinkers who followed him. St. Jerome called him "the greatest master in the Church since the apostles," and Athanasius was hardly less emphatic. The structure thus begun was continued by leading theologians during the centuries following: St. Hilary of Poitiers--"the Athanasius of Gaul"--produced some wonderful results of this method; but St. Jerome, inspired by the example of the man whom he so greatly admnired, went beyond him. A triumph of his exegesis is seen in his statement that the Shunamite damsel who was selected to cherish David in his old age signified heavenly wisdom. The great mind of St. Augustine was drawn largely into this kind of creation, and nothing marks more clearly the vast change which had come over the world than the fact that this greatest of the early Christian thinkers turned from the broader paths opened by Plato and Aristotle into that opened by Clement of Alexandria. In the mystic power of numbers to reveal the sense of Scripture Augustine found especial delight. He tells us that there is deep meaning in sundry scriptural uses of the number forty, and especially as the number of days required for fasting. Forty, he reminds us, is four times ten. Now, four, he says, is the number especially representing time, the day and the year being each divided into four parts; while ten, being made up of three and seven, represents knowledge of the Creator and creature, three referring to the three persons in the triune Creator, and seven referring to the three elements, heart, soul, and mind, taken in connection with the four elements, fire, air, earth, and water, which go to make up the creature. Therefore this number ten, representing knowledge, being multiplied by four, representing time, admonishes us to live during time according to knowledge--that is, to fast for forty days. Referring to such misty methods as these, which lead the reader to ask himself whether he is sleeping or waking, St. Augustine remarks that "ignorance of numbers prevents us from understanding such things in Scripture." But perhaps the most amazing example is to be seen in his notes on the hundred and fifty and three fishes which, according to St. John's Gospel, were caught by St. Peter and the other apostles. Some points in his long development of this subject may be selected to show what the older theological method could be made to do for a great mind. He tells us that the hundred and fifty and three fishes embody a mystery; that the number ten, evidently as the number of the commandments, indicates the law; but, as the law without the spirit only kills, we must add the seven gifts of the spirit, and we thus have the number seventeen, which signifies the old and new dispensations; then, if we add together every several number which seventeen contains from one to seventeen inclusive, the result is a hundred and fifty and three--the number of the fishes. With this sort of reasoning he finds profound meanings in the number of furlongs mentioned in the sixth chapter of St. John. Referring to the fact that the disciples had rowed about "twenty-five or thirty furlongs," he declares that "twenty-five typifies the law, because it is five times five, but the law was imperfect before the gospel came; now perfection is comprised in six, since God in six days perfected the world, hence five is multiplied by six that the law may be perfected by the gospel, and six times five is thirty." But Augustine's exploits in exegesis were not all based on numerals; he is sometimes equally profound in other modes. Thus he tells us that the condemnation of the serpent to eat dust typifies the sin of curiosity, since in eating dust he "penetrates the obscure and shadowy"; and that Noah's ark was "pitched within and without with pitch" to show the safety of the Church from the leaking in of heresy. Still another exploit--one at which the Church might well have stood aghast--was his statement that the drunkenness of Noah prefigured the suffering and death of Christ. It is but just to say that he was not the original author of this interpretation: it had been presented long before by St. Cyprian. But this was far from Augustine's worst. Perhaps no interpretation of Scripture has ever led to more cruel and persistent oppression, torture, and bloodshed than his reading into one of the most beautiful parables of Jesus of Nazareth--into the words "Compel them to come in"--a warrant for religious persecution: of all unintended blasphemies since the world began, possibly the most appalling. Another strong man follows to fasten these methods on the Church: St. Gregory the Great. In his renowned work on the book of Job, the _Magna Moralia_, given to the world at the end of the sixth century, he lays great stress on the deep mystical meanings of the statement that Job had seven sons. He thinks the seven sons typify the twelve apostles, for "the apostles were selected through the sevenfold grace of the Spirit; moreover, twelve is produced from seven--that is, the two parts of seven, four and three, when multiplied together give twelve." He also finds deep significance in the number of the apostles; this number being evidently determined by a multiplication of the number of persons in the Trinity by the number of quarters of the globe. Still, to do him justice, it must be said that in some parts of his exegesis the strong sense which was one of his most striking characteristics crops out in a way very refreshing. Thus, referring to a passage in the first chapter of Job, regarding the oxen which were ploughing and the asses which were feeding beside them, he tells us pithily that these typify two classes of Christians: the oxen, the energetic Christians who do the work of the Church; the asses, the lazy Christians who merely feed.[[300]] Thus began the vast theological structure of oracular interpretation applied to the Bible. As we have seen, the men who prepared the ground for it were the rabbis of Palestine and the Hellenized Jews of Alexandria; and the four great men who laid its foundation courses were Origen, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, and St. Gregory. During the ten centuries following the last of these men this structure continued to rise steadily above the plain meanings of Scripture. The Christian world rejoiced in it, and the few great thinkers who dared bring the truth to bear upon it were rejected. It did indeed seem at one period in the early Church that a better system might be developed. The School of Antioch, especially as represented by Chrysostom, appeared likely to lead in this better way, but the dominant forces were too strong; the passion for myth and marvel prevailed over the love of real knowledge, and the reasonings of Chrysostom and his compeers were neglected.[[301]] In the ninth century came another effort to present the claims of right reason. The first man prominent in this was St. Agobard, Bishop of Lyons, whom an eminent historian has well called the clearest head of his time. With the same insight which penetrated the fallacies and follies of image worship, belief in witchcraft persecution, the ordeal, and the judicial duel, he saw the futility of this vast fabric of interpretation, protested against the idea that the Divine Spirit extended its inspiration to the mere words of Scripture, and asked a question which has resounded through every generation since: "If you once begin such a system, who can measure the absurdity which will follow?" During the same century another opponent of this dominant system appeared: John Scotus Erigena. He contended that "reason and authority come alike from the one source of Divine Wisdom"; that the fathers, great as their authority is, often contradict each other; and that, in last resort, reason must be called in to decide between them. But the evolution of unreason continued: Agobard was unheeded, and Erigena placed under the ban by two councils--his work being condemned by a synod as a "_Commentum Diaboli_." Four centuries later Honorius III ordered it to be burned, as "teeming with the venom of hereditary depravity"; and finally, after eight centuries, Pope Gregory XIII placed it on the Index, where, with so many other works which have done good service to humanity, it remains to this day. Nor did Abelard, who, three centuries after Agobard and Erigena, made an attempt in some respects like theirs, have any better success: his fate at the hands of St. Bernard and the Council of Sens the world knows by heart. Far more consonant with the spirit of the universal Church was the teaching in the twelfth century of the great Hugo of St. Victor, conveyed in these ominous words, "Learn first what is to be believed" (_Disce primo quod credendum est_), meaning thereby that one should first accept doctrines, and then find texts to confirm them. These principles being dominant, the accretions to the enormous fabric of interpretation went steadily on. Typical is the fact that the Venerable Bede contributed to it the doctrine that, in the text mentioning Elkanah and his two wives, Elkanah means Christ and the two wives the Synagogue and the Church. Even such men as Alfred the Great and St. Thomas Aquinas were added to the forces at work in building above the sacred books this prodigious structure of sophistry. Perhaps nothing shows more clearly the tenacity of the old system of interpretation than the sermons of Savonarola. During the last decade of the fifteenth century, just at the close of the medieval period, he was engaged in a life-and-death struggle at Florence. No man ever preached more powerfully the gospel of righteousness; none ever laid more stress on conduct; even Luther was not more zealous for reform or more careless of tradition; and yet we find the great Florentine apostle and martyr absolutely tied fast to the old system of allegorical interpretation. The autograph notes of his sermons, still preserved in his cell at San Marco, show this abundantly. Thus we find him attaching to the creation of grasses and plants on the third day an allegorical connection with the "multitude of the elect" and with the "sound doctrines of the Church," and to the creation of land animals on the sixth day a similar relation to "the Jewish people" and to "Christians given up to things earthly."[[303]] The revival of learning in the fifteenth century seemed likely to undermine this older structure. Then it was that Lorenzo Valla brought to bear on biblical research, for the first time, the spirit of modern criticism. By truly scientific methods he proved the famous "Letter of Christ to Abgarus" a forgery; the "Donation of Constantine," one of the great foundations of the ecclesiastical power in temporal things, a fraud; and the "Apostles' Creed" a creation which post-dated the apostles by several centuries. Of even more permanent influence was his work upon the New Testament, in which he initiated the modern method of comparing manuscripts to find what the sacred text really is. At an earlier or later period he would doubtless have paid for his temerity with his life; fortunately, just at that time the ruling pontiff and his Contemporaries cared much for literature and little for orthodoxy, and from their palaces he could bid defiance to the Inquisition. While Valla thus initiated biblical criticism south of the Alps, a much greater man began a more fruitful work in northern Europe. Erasmus, with his edition of the New Testament, stands at the source of that great stream of modern research and thought which is doing so much to undermine and dissolve away the vast fabric of patristic and scholastic interpretation. Yet his efforts to purify the scriptural text seemed at first to encounter insurmountable difficulties, and one of these may stimulate reflection. He had found, what some others had found before him, that the famous verse in the fifth chapter of the First Epistle General of St. John, regarding the "three witnesses," was an interpolation. Careful research through all the really important early manuscripts showed that it appeared in none of them. Even after the Bible had been corrected, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, by Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, and by Nicholas, cardinal and librarian of the Roman Church, "in accordance with the orthodox faith," the passage was still wanting in the more authoritative Latin manuscripts. There was not the slightest tenable ground for believing in the authenticity of the text; on the contrary, it has been demonstrated that, after a universal silence of the orthodox fathers of the Church, of the ancient versions of the Scriptures, and of all really important manuscripts, the verse first appeared in a Confession of Faith drawn up by an obscure zealot toward the end of the fifth century. In a very mild exercise, then, of critical judgment, Erasmus omitted this text from the first two editions of his Greek Testament as evidently spurious. A storm arose at once. In England, Lee, afterward Archbishop of York; in Spain, Stunica, one of the editors of the Complutensian Polyglot; and in France, Bude, Syndic of the Sorbonne, together with a vast army of monks in England and on the Continent, attacked him ferociously. He was condemned by the University of Paris, and various propositions of his were declared to be heretical and impious. Fortunately, the worst persecutors


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