In a very mild exercise, then, of critical judgment, Erasmus omitted this text from the fi

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

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 could not reach him; otherwise they might have treated him as they treated his disciple, Berquin, whom in 1529 they burned at Paris. The fate of this spurious text throws light into the workings of human nature in its relations to sacred literature. Although Luther omitted it from his translation of the New Testament, and kept it out of every copy published during his lifetime, and although at a later period the most eminent Christian scholars showed that it had no right to a place in the Bible, it was, after Luther's death, replaced in the German translation, and has been incorporated into all important editions of it, save one, since the beginning of the seventeenth century. So essential was it found in maintaining the dominant theology that, despite the fact that Sir Isaac Newton, Richard Porson, the nineteenth-century revisers, and all other eminent authorities have rejected it, the Anglican Church still retains it in its Lectionary, and the Scotch Church continues to use it in the Westminster Catechism, as a main support of the doctrine of the Trinity. Nor were other new truths presented by Erasmus better received. His statement that "some of the epistles ascribed to St. Paul are certainly not his," which is to-day universally acknowledged as a truism, also aroused a storm. For generations, then, his work seemed vain. On the coming in of the Reformation the great structure of belief in the literal and historical correctness of every statement in the Scriptures, in the profound allegorical meanings of the simplest texts, and even in the divine origin of the vowel punctuation, towered more loftily and grew more rapidly than ever before. The Reformers, having cast off the authority of the Pope and of the universal Church, fell back all the more upon the infallibility of the sacred books. The attitude of Luther toward this great subject was characteristic. As a rule, he adhered tenaciously to the literal interpretation of the Scriptures; his argument against Copernicus is a fair example of his reasoning in this respect; but, with the strong good sense which characterized him, he from time to time broke away from the received belief. Thus, he took the liberty of understanding certain passages in the Old Testament in a different sense from that given them by the New Testament, and declared St. Paul's allegorical use of the story of Sarah and Hagar "too unsound to stand the test." He also emphatically denied that the Epistle to the Hebrews was written by St. Paul, and he did this in the exercise of a critical judgment upon internal evidence. His utterance as to the Epistle of St. James became famous. He announced to the Church: "I do not esteem this an apostolic, epistle; I will not have it in my Bible among the canonical books," and he summed up his opinion in his well-known allusion to it as "an epistle of straw." Emboldened by him, the gentle spirit of Melanchthon, while usually taking the Bible very literally, at times revolted; but this was not due to any want of loyalty to the old method of interpretation: whenever the wildest and most absurd system of exegesis seemed necessary to support any part of the reformed doctrine, Luther and Melanchthon unflinchingly developed it. Both of them held firmly to the old dictum of Hugo of St. Victor, which, as we have seen, was virtually that one must first accept the doctrine, and then find scriptural warrant for it. Very striking examples of this were afforded in the interpretation by Luther and Melanchthon of certain alleged marvels of their time, and one out of several of these may be taken as typical of their methods. In 1523 Luther and Melanchthon jointly published a work under the title _Der Papstesel_--interpreting the significance of a strange, ass-like monster which, according to a popular story, had been found floating in the Tiber some time before. This book was illustrated by startling pictures, and both text and pictures were devoted to proving that this monster was "a sign from God," indicating the doom of the papacy. This treatise by the two great founders of German Protestantism pointed out that the ass's head signified the Pope himself; "for," said they, "as well as an ass's head is suited to a human body, so well is the Pope suited to be head over the Church." This argument was clinched by a reference to Exodus. The right hand of the monster, said to be like an elephant's foot, they made to signify the spiritual rule of the Pope, since "with it he tramples upon all the weak": this they proved from the book of Daniel and the Second Epistle to Timothy. The monster's left hand, which was like the hand of a man, they declared to mean the Pope's secular rule, and they found passages to support this view in Daniel and St. Luke. The right foot, which was like the foot of an ox, they declared to typify the servants of the spiritual power; and proved this by a citation from St. Matthew. The left foot, like a griffin's claw, they made to typify the servants of the temporal power of the Pope, and the highly developed breasts and various other members, cardinals, bishops, priests, and monks, "whose life is eating, drinking, and unchastity": to prove this they cited passages from Second Timothy and Philippians. The alleged fish-scales on the arms, legs, and neck of the monster they made to typify secular princes and lords; "since," as they said, "in St. Matthew and Job the sea typifies the world, and fishes men." The old man's head at the base of the monster's spine they interpreted to mean "the abolition and end of the papacy," and proved this from Hebrews and Daniel. The dragon which opens his mouth in the rear and vomits fire, "refers to the terrible, virulent bulls and books which the Pope and his minions are now vomiting forth into the world." The two great Reformers then went on to insist that, since this monster was found at Rome, it could refer to no person but the Pope; "for," they said, "God always sends his signs in the places where their meaning applies." Finally, they assured the world that the monster in general clearly signified that the papacy was then near its end. To this development of interpretation Luther and Melanchthon especially devoted themselves; the latter by revising this exposition of the prodigy, and the former by making additions to a new edition. Such was the success of this kind of interpretation that Luther, hearing that a monstrous calf had been found at Freiburg, published a treatise upon it--showing, by citations from the books of Exodus, Kings, the Psalms, Isaiah, Daniel, and the Gospel of St. John, that this new monster was the especial work of the devil, but full of meaning in regard to the questions at issue between the Reformers and the older Church. The other main branch of the Reformed Church appeared for a time to establish a better system. Calvin's strong logic seemed at one period likely to tear his adherents away from the older method; but the evolution of scholasticism continued, and the influence of the German reformers prevailed. At every theological centre came an amazing development of interpretation. Eminent Lutheran divines in the seventeenth century, like Gerhard, Calovius, Coccerus, and multitudes of others, wrote scores of quartos to further this system, and the other branch of the Protestant Church emulated their example. The pregnant dictum of St. Augustine--"Greater is the authority of Scripture than all human capacity"--was steadily insisted upon, and, toward the close of the seventeenth century, Voetius, the renowned professor at Utrecht, declared, "Not a word is contained in the Holy Scriptures which is not in the strictest sense inspired, the very punctuation not excepted"; and this declaration was echoed back from multitudes of pulpits, theological chairs, synods, and councils. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to find what the "authority of Scripture" really was. To the greater number of Protestant ecclesiastics it meant the authority of any meaning in the text which they had the wit to invent and the power to enforce. To increase this vast confusion, came, in the older branch of the Church, the idea of the divine inspiration of the Latin translation of the Bible ascribed to St. Jerome--the Vulgate. It was insisted by leading Catholic authorities that this was as completely a product of divine inspiration as was the Hebrew original. Strong men arose to insist even that, where the Hebrew and the Latin differed, the Hebrew should be altered to fit Jerome's mistranslation, as the latter, having been made under the new dispensation, must be better than that made under the old. Even so great a man as Cardinal Bellarmine exerted himself in vain against this new tide of unreason.[[308]] Nor was a fanatical adhesion to the mere letter of the sacred text confined to western Europe. About the middle of the seventeenth century, in the reign of Alexis, father of Peter the Great, Nikon, Patriarch of the Russian Greek Church, attempted to correct the Slavonic Scriptures and service-books. They were full of interpolations due to ignorance, carelessness, or zeal, and in order to remedy this state of the texts Nikon procured a number of the best Greek and Slavonic manuscripts, set the leading and most devout scholars he could find at work upon them, and caused Russian Church councils in 1655 and 1666 to promulgate the books thus corrected. But the same feelings which have wrought so strongly against our nineteenth-century revision of the Bible acted even more forcibly against that revision in the seventeenth century. Straightway great masses of the people, led by monks and parish priests, rose in revolt. The fact that the revisers had written in the New Testament the name of Jesus correctly, instead of following the old wrong orthography, aroused the wildest fanaticism. The monks of the great convent of Solovetsk, when the new books were sent them, cried in terror: "Woe, woe! what have you done with the Son of God?" They then shut their gates, defying patriarch, council, and Czar, until, after a struggle lasting seven years, their monastery was besieged and taken by an imperial army. Hence arose the great sect of the "Old Believers," lasting to this day, and fanatically devoted to the corrupt readings of the old text.[310] Strange to say, on the development of Scripture interpretation, largely in accordance with the old methods, wrought, about the beginning of the eighteenth century, Sir Isaac Newton. It is hard to believe that from the mind which produced the _Principia_, and which broke through the many time-honoured beliefs regarding the dates and formation of scriptural books, could have come his discussions regarding the prophecies; still, at various points even in this work, his power appears. From internal evidence he not only discarded the text of the Three Witnesses, but he decided that the Pentateuch must have been made up from several books; that Genesis was not written until the reign of Saul; that the books of Kings and Chronicles were probably collected by Ezra; and, in a curious anticipation of modern criticism, that the book of Psalms and the prophecies of Isaiah and Daniel were each written by various authors at various dates. But the old belief in prophecy as prediction was too strong for him, and we find him applying his great powers to the relation of the details given by the prophets and in the Apocalypse to the history of mankind since unrolled, and tracing from every statement in prophetic literature its exact fulfilment even in the most minute particulars. By the beginning of the eighteenth century the structure of scriptural interpretation had become enormous. It seemed destined to hide forever the real character of our sacred literature and to obscure the great light which Christianity had brought into the world. The Church, Eastern and Western, Catholic and Protestant, was content to sit in its shadow, and the great divines of all branches of the Church reared every sort of fantastic buttress to strengthen or adorn it. It seemed to be founded for eternity; and yet, at this very time when it appeared the strongest, a current of thought was rapidly dissolving away its foundations, and preparing that wreck and ruin of the whole fabric which is now, at the close of the nineteenth century, going on so rapidly. The account of the movement thus begun is next to be given.[311] II. BEGINNINGS OF SCIENTIFIC INTERPRETATION. At the base of the vast structure of the older scriptural interpretation were certain ideas regarding the first five books of the Old Testament. It was taken for granted that they had been dictated by the Almighty to Moses about fifteen hundred years before our era; that some parts of them, indeed, had been written by the corporeal finger of Jehovah, and that all parts gave not merely his thoughts but his exact phraseology. It was also held, virtually by the universal Church, that while every narrative or statement in these books is a precise statement of historical or scientific fact, yet that the entire text contains vast hidden meanings. Such was the rule: the exceptions made by a few interpreters here and there only confirmed it. Even the indifference of St. Jerome to the doctrine of Mosaic authorship did not prevent its ripening into a dogma. The book of Genesis was universally held to be an account, not only divinely comprehensive but miraculously exact, of the creation and of the beginnings of life on the earth; an account to which all discoveries in every branch of science must, under pains and penalties, be made to conform. In English-speaking lands this has lasted until our own time: the most eminent of recent English biologists has told us how in every path of natural science he has, at some stage in his career, come across a barrier labelled "No thoroughfare Moses." A favourite subject of theological eloquence was the perfection of the Pentateuch, and especially of Genesis, not only as a record of the past, but as a revelation of the future. The culmination of this view in the Protestant Church was the _Pansophia Mosaica of Pfeiffer_, a Lutheran general superintendent, or bishop, in northern Germany, near the beginning of the seventeenth century. He declared that the text of Genesis "must be received strictly"; that "it contains all knowledge, human and divine"; that "twenty-eight articles of the Augsburg Confession are to be found in it"; that "it is an arsenal of arguments against all sects and sorts of atheists, pagans, Jews, Turks, Tartars, papists, Calvinists, Socinians, and Baptists"; "the source of all sciences and arts, including law, medicine, philosophy, and rhetoric"; "the source and essence of all histories and of all professions, trades, and works"; "an exhibition of all virtues and vices"; "the origin of all consolation." This utterance resounded through Germany from pulpit to pulpit, growing in strength and volume, until a century later it was echoed back by Huet, the eminent bishop and commentator of France. He cited a hundred authors, sacred and profane, to prove that Moses wrote the Pentateuch; and not only this, but that from the Jewish lawgiver came the heathen theology--that Moses was, in fact, nearly the whole pagan pantheon rolled into one, and really the being worshipped under such names as Bacchus, Adonis, and Apollo.[[312]] About the middle of the twelfth century came, so far as the world now knows, the first gainsayer of this general theory. Then it was that Aben Ezra, the greatest biblical scholar of the Middle Ages, ventured very discreetly to call attention to certain points in the Pentateuch incompatible with the belief that the whole of it had been written by Moses and handed down in its original form. His opinion was based upon the well-known texts which have turned all really eminent biblical scholars in the nineteenth century from the old view by showing the Mosaic authorship of the five books in their present form to be clearly disproved by the books themselves; and, among these texts, accounts of Moses' own death and burial, as well as statements based on names, events, and conditions which only came into being ages after the time of Moses. But Aben Ezra had evidently no aspirations for martyrdom; he fathered the idea upon a rabbi of a previous generation, and, having veiled his statement in an enigma, added the caution, "Let him who understands hold his tongue."[[313]] For about four centuries the learned world followed the prudent rabbi's advice, and then two noted scholars, one of them a Protestant, the other a Catholic, revived his idea. The first of these, Carlstadt, insisted that the authorship of the Pentateuch was unknown and unknowable; the other, Andreas Maes, expressed his opinion in terms which would not now offend the most orthodox, that the Pentateuch had been edited by Ezra, and had received in the process sundry divinely inspired words and phrases to clear the meaning. Both these innovators were dealt with promptly: Carlstadt was, for this and other troublesome ideas, suppressed with the applause of the Protestant Church; and the book of Maes was placed by the older Church on the _Index_. But as we now look back over the Revival of Learning, the Age of Discovery, and the Reformation, we can see clearly that powerful as the older Church then was, and powerful as the Reformed Church was to be, there was at work something far more mighty than either or than both; and this was a great law of nature--the law of evolution through differentiation. Obedient to this law there now began to arise, both within the Church and without it, a new body of scholars--not so much theologians as searchers for truth by scientific methods. Some, like Cusa, were ecclesiastics; some, like Valla, Erasmus, and the Scaligers, were not such in any real sense; but whether in holy orders, really, nominally, or not at all, they were, first of all, literary and scientific investigators. During the sixteenth century a strong impulse was given to more thorough research by several very remarkable triumphs of the critical method as developed by this new class of men, and two of these ought here to receive attention on account of their influence upon the whole after course of human thought. For many centuries the Decretals bearing the great name of Isidore had been cherished as among the most valued muniments of the Church. They contained what claimed to be a mass of canons, letters of popes, decrees of councils, and the like, from the days of the apostles down to the eighth century--all supporting at important points the doctrine, the discipline, the ceremonial, and various high claims of the Church and its hierarchy. But in the fifteenth century that sturdy German thinker, Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa, insisted on examining these documents and on applying to them the same thorough research and patient thought which led him, even before Copernicus, to detect the error of the Ptolemaic astronomy. As a result, he avowed his scepticism regarding this pious literature; other close thinkers followed him in investigating it, and it was soon found a tissue of absurd anachronisms, with endless clashing and confusion of events and persons. For a time heroic attempts were made by Church authorities to cover up these facts. Scholars revealing them were frowned upon, even persecuted, and their works placed upon the _Index_; scholars explaining them away--the "apologists" or "reconcilers" of that day--were rewarded with Church preferment, one of them securing for a very feeble treatise a cardinal's hat. But all in vain; these writings were at length acknowledged by all scholars of note, Catholic and Protestant, to be mainly a mass of devoutly cunning forgeries. While the eyes of scholars were thus opened as never before to the skill of early Church zealots in forging documents useful to ecclesiasticism, another discovery revealed their equal skill in forging documents useful to theology. For more than a thousand years great stress had been laid by theologians upon the writings ascribed to Dionysius the Areopagite, the Athenian convert of St. Paul. Claiming to come from one so near the great apostle, they were prized as a most precious supplement to Holy Writ. A belief was developed that when St. Paul had returned to earth, after having been "caught up to the third heaven," he had revealed to Dionysius the things he had seen. Hence it was that the varied pictures given in these writings of the heavenly hierarchy and the angelic ministers of the Almighty took strong hold upon the imagination of the universal Church: their theological statements sank deeply into the hearts and minds of the Mystics of the twelfth century and the Platonists of the fifteenth; and the ten epistles they contained, addressed to St. John, to Titus, to Polycarp, and others of the earliest period, were considered treasures of sacred history. An Emperor of the East had sent these writings to an Emperor of the West as the most precious of imperial gifts. Scotus Erigena had translated them; St. Thomas Aquinas had expounded them; Dante had glorified them; Albert the Great had claimed that they were virtually given by St. Paul and inspired by the Holy Ghost. Their authenticity was taken for granted by fathers, doctors, popes, councils, and the universal Church. But now, in the glow of the Renascence, all this treasure was found to be but dross. Investigators in the old Church and in the new joined in proving that the great mass of it was spurious. To say nothing of other evidences, it failed to stand the simplest of all tests, for these writings constantly presupposed institutions and referred to events of much later date than the time of Dionysius; they were at length acknowledged by all authorities worthy of the name, Catholic as well as Protestant, to be simply--like the Isidorian Decretals--pious frauds. Thus arose an atmosphere of criticism very different from the atmosphere of literary docility and acquiescence of the "Ages of Faith"; thus it came that great scholars in all parts of Europe began to realize, as never before, the part which theological skill and ecclesiastical zeal had taken in the development of spurious sacred literature; thus was stimulated a new energy in research into all ancient documents, no matter what their claims. To strengthen this feeling and to intensify the stimulating qualities of this new atmosphere came, as we have seen, the researches and revelations of Valla regarding the forged _Letter of Christ to Abgarus_, the fraudulent _Donation of Constantine_, and the late date of the Apostles' Creed; and, to give this feeling direction toward the Hebrew and Christian sacred books, came the example of Erasmus.[[316]] Naturally, then, in this new atmosphere the bolder scholars of Europe soon began to push mnore vigorously the researches begun centuries before by Aben Ezra, and the next efforts of these men were seen about the middle of the seventeenth century, when Hobbes, in his _Leviathan_, and La Pevrere, in his _Preadamites_, took them up and developed them still further. The result came speedily. Hobbes, for this and other sins, was put under the ban, even by the political party which sorely needed him, and was regarded generally as an outcast; while La Peyrere, for this and other heresies, was thrown into prison by the Grand Vicar of Mechlin, and kept there until he fullv retracted: his book was refuted by seven theologians within a year after its appearance, and within a generation thirty-six elaborate answers to it had appeared: the Parliament of Paris ordered it to be burned by the hangman. In 1670 came an utterance vastly more important, by a man far greater than any of these--the _Tractatus Thrologico-Politicus_ of Spinoza. Reverently but firmly he went much more deeply into the subject. Suggesting new arguments and recasting the old, he summed up all with judicial fairness, and showed that Moses could not have been the author of the Pentateuch in the form then existing; that there had been glosses and revisions; that the biblical books had grown up as a literature; that, though great truths are to be found in them, and they are to be regarded as a divine revelation, the old claims of inerrancy for them can not be maintained; that in studying them men had been misled by mistaking human conceptions for divine meanings; that, while prophets have been inspired, the prophetic faculty has not been the dowry of the Jewish people alone; that to look for exact knowledge of natural and spiritual phenomena in the sacred books is an utter mistake; and that the narratives of the Old and New Testaments, while they surpass those of profane history, differ among themselves not only in literary merit, but in the value of the doctrines they inculcate. As to the authorship of the Pentateuch, he arrived at the conclusion that it was written long after Moses, but that Moses may have written some books from which it was compiled--as, for example, those which are mentioned in the Scriptures, the _Book of the Wars of God_, the _Book of the Covenant_, and the like--and that the many repetitions and contradictions in the various books show a lack of careful editing as well as a variety of original sources. Spinoza then went on to throw light into some other books of the Old and New Testaments, and added two general statements which have proved exceedingly serviceable, for they contain the germs of all modern broad churchmanship; and the first of them gave the formula which was destined in our own time to save to the Anglican Church a large number of her noblest sons: this was, that "sacred Scripture _contains_ the Word of God, and in so far as it contains it is incorruptible"; the second was, that "error in speculative doctrine is not impious." Though published in various editions, the book seemed to produce little effect upon the world at that time; but its result to Spinoza himself was none the less serious. Though so deeply religious that Novalis spoke of him as "a God-intoxicated man," and Schleiermacher called him a "saint," he had been, for the earlier expression of some of the opinions it contained, abhorred as a heretic both by Jews and Christians: from the synagogue he was cut off by a public curse, and by the Church he was now regarded as in some sort a forerunner of Antichrist. For all this, he showed no resentment, but devoted himself quietly to his studies, and to the simple manual labour by which he supported himself; declined all proffered honours, among them a professorship at Heidelberg; found pleasure only in the society of a few friends as gentle and affectionate as himself; and died contentedly, without seeing any widespread effect of his doctrine other than the prevailing abhorrence of himself. Perhaps in all the seventeenth century there was no man whom Jesus of Nazareth would have more deeply loved, and no life which he would have more warmly approved; yet down to a very recent period this hatred for Spinoza has continued. When, about 188o, it was proposed to erect a monument to him at Amsterdam, discourses were given in churches and synagogues prophesying the wrath of Heaven upon the city for such a profanation; and when the monument was finished, the police were obliged to exert themselves to prevent injury to the statue and to the eminent scholars who unveiled it. But the ideas of Spinoza at last secured recognition. They had sunk deeply into the hearts and minds of various leaders of thought, and, most important of all, into the heart and mind of Lessing; he brought them to bear in his treatise on the _Education of the World_, as well as in his drama, _Nathan the Wise_, and both these works have spoken with power to every generation since. In France, also, came the same healthful evolution of thought. For generations scholars had known that multitudes of errors had crept into the sacred text. Robert Stephens had found over two thousand variations in the oldest manuscripts of the Old Testament, and in 1633 Jean Morin, a priest of the Oratory, pointed out clearly many of the most glaring of these. Seventeen years later, in spite of the most earnest Protestant efforts to suppress his work, Cappellus gave forth his _Critica Sacra_, demonstrating not only that the vowel pointing of Scripture was not divinely inspired, but that the Hebrew text itself, from which the modern translations were made, is full of errors due to the carelessness, ignorance, and doctrinal zeal of early scribes, and that there had clearly been no miraculous preservation of the "original autographs" of the sacred books. While orthodox France was under the uneasiness and alarm thus caused, appeared a _Critical History of the Old Testament_ by Richard Simon, a priest of the Oratory. He was a thoroughly religious man and an acute scholar, whose whole purpose was to develop truths which he believed healthful to the Church and to mankind. But he denied that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch, and exhibited the internal evidence, now so well known, that the books were composed much later by various persons, and edited later still. He also showed that other parts of the Old Testament had been compiled from older sources, and attacked the time-honoured theory that Hebrew was the primitive language of mankind. The whole character of his book was such that in these days it would pass, on the whole, as conservative and orthodox; it had been approved by the censor in 1678, and printed, when the table of contents and a page of the preface were shown to Bossuet. The great bishop and theologian was instantly aroused; he pronounced the work "a mass of impieties and a bulwark of irreligion"; his biographer tells us that, although it was Holy Thursday, the bishop, in spite of the solemnity of the day, hastened at once to the Chancellor Le Tellier, and secured an order to stop the publication of the book and to burn the whole edition of it. Fortunately, a few copies were rescued, and a few years later the work found a new publisher in Holland; yet not until there had been attached to it, evidently by some Protestant divine of authority, an essay warning the reader against its dangerous doctrines. Two years later a translation was published in England. This first work of Simon was followed by others, in which he sought, in the interest of scriptural truth, to throw a new and purer light upon our sacred literature; but Bossuet proved implacable. Although unable to suppress all of Simon's works, he was able to drive him from the Oratory, and to bring him into disrepute among the very men who ought to have been proud of him as Frenchmen and thankful to him as Christians. But other scholars of eminence were now working in this field, and chief among them Le Clerc. Virtually driven out of Geneva, he took refuge at Amsterdam, and there published a series of works upon the Hebrew language, the interpretation of Scripture, and the like. In these he combated the prevalent idea that Hebrew was the primitive tongue, expressed the opinion that in the plural form of the word used in Genesis for God, "Elohim," there is a trace of Chaldean polytheism, and, in his discussion on the serpent who tempted Eve, curiously anticipated modern geological and zoological ideas by quietly confessing his inability to see how depriving the serpent of feet and compelling him to go on his belly could be punishment--since all this was natural to the animal. He also ventured quasi-scientific explanations of the confusion of tongues at Babel, the destruction of Sodom, the conversion of Lot's wife into a pillar of salt, and the dividing of the Red Sea. As to the Pentateuch in general, he completely rejected the idea that it was written by Moses. But his most permanent gift to the thinking world was his answer to those who insisted upon the reference by Christ and his apostles to Moses as the author of the Pentateuch. The answer became a formula which has proved effective from his day to ours: "Our Lord and his apostles did not come into this world to teach criticism to the Jews, and hence spoke according to the common opinion." Against all these scholars came a theological storm, but it raged most pitilessly against Le Clerc. Such renowned theologians as Carpzov in Germany, Witsius in Holland, and Huet in France berated him unmercifully and overwhelmed him with assertions which still fill us with wonder. That of Huet, attributing the origin of pagan as well as Christian theology to Moses, we have already seen; but Carpzov showed that Protestantism could not be outdone by Catholicism when he declared, in the face of all modern knowledge, that not only the matter but the exact form and words of the Bible had been divinely transmitted to the modern world free from all error. At this Le Clerc stood aghast, and finally stammered out a sort of half recantation.[[321]] During the eighteenth century constant additions were made to the enormous structure of orthodox scriptural interpretation, some of them gaining the applause of the Christian world then, though nearly all are utterly discredited now. But in 1753 appeared two contributions of permanent influence, though differing vastly in value. In the comparative estimate of these two works the world has seen a remarkable reversal of public opinion. The first of these was Bishop Lowth's _Prelections upon the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews_. In this was well brought out that characteristic of Hebrew poetry to which it owes so much of its peculiar charm--its parallelism. The second of these books was Astruc's _Conjectures on the Original Memoirs which Moses used in composing the Book of Genesis_. In this was for the first time clearly revealed the fact that, amid various fragments of old writings, at least two main narratives enter into the composition of Genesis; that in the first of these is generally used as an appellation of the Almighty the word "Elohim," and in the second the word "Yahveh" (Jehovah); that each narrative has characteristics of its own, in thought and expression, which distinguish it from the other; that, by separating these, two clear and distinct narratives may be obtained, each consistent with itself, and that thus, and thus alone, can be explained the repetitions, discrepancies, and contradictions in Genesis which so long baffled the ingenuity of commentators, especially the two accounts of the creation, so utterly inconsistent with each other. Interesting as was Lowth's book, this work by Astruc was, as the thinking world now acknowledges, infinitely more important; it was, indeed, the most valuable single contribution ever made to biblical study. But such was not the judgment of the world _then_. While Lowth's book was covered with honour and its author promoted from the bishopric of St. David's to that of London, and even offered the primacy, Astruc and his book were covered with reproach. Though, as an orthodox Catholic, he had mainly desired to reassert the authorship of Moses against the argument of Spinoza, he received no thanks on that account. Theologians of all creeds sneered at him as a doctor of medicine who had blundered beyond his province; his fellow-Catholics in France bitterly denounced him as a heretic; and in Germany the great Protestant theologian, Michaelis, who had edited and exalted Lowth's work, poured contempt over Astruc as an ignoramus. The case of Astruc is one of the many which show the wonderful power of the older theological reasoning to close the strongest minds against the clearest truths. The fact which he discovered is now as definitely established as any in the whole range of literature or science. It has become as clear as the day, and yet for two thousand years the minds of professional theologians, Jewish and Christian, were unable to detect it. Not until this eminent physician applied to the subject a mind trained in making scientific distinctions was it given to the world. It was, of course, not possible even for so eminent a scholar as Michaelis to pooh-pooh down a discovery so pregnant; and, curiously enough, it was one of Michaelis's own scholars, Eichhorn, who did the main work in bringing the new truth to bear upon the world. He, with others, developed out of it the theory that Genesis, and indeed the Pentateuch, is made up entirely of fragments of old writings, mainly disjointed. But they did far more than this: they impressed upon the thinking part of Christendom the fact that the Bible is not a _book_, but a _literature_; that the style is not supernatural and unique, but simply the Oriental style of the lands and times in which its various parts were written; and that these must be studied in the light of the modes of thought and statement and the literary habits generally of Oriental peoples. From Eichhorn's time the process which, by historical, philological, and textual research, brings out the truth regarding this literature has been known as "the higher criticism." He was a deeply religious man, and the mainspring of his efforts was the desire to bring back to the Church the educated classes, who had been repelled by the stiff Lutheran orthodoxy; but this only increased hostility to him. Opposition met him in Germany at every turn; and in England, Lloyd, Regius Professor of Hebrew at Cambridge, who sought patronage for a translation of Eichhorn's work, was met generally with contempt and frequently with insult. Throughout Catholic Germany it was even worse. In 1774 Isenbiehl, a priest at Mayence who had distinguished himself as a Greek and Hebrew scholar, happened to question the usual interpretation of the passage in Isaiah which refers to the virgin-born Immanuel, and showed then--what every competent critic knows now--that it had reference to events looked for in older Jewish history. The censorship and faculty of theology attacked him at once and brought him before the elector. Luckily, this potentate was one of the old easy-going prince-bishops, and contented himself with telling the priest that, though his contention was perhaps true, he "must remain in the old paths, and avoid everything likely to make trouble." But at the elector's death, soon afterward, the theologians renewed the attack, threw Isenbiehl out of his professorship and degraded him. One insult deserves mention for its ingenuity. It was declared that he--the successful and brilliant professor--showed by the obnoxious interpretation that he had not yet rightly learned the Scriptures; he was therefore sent back to the benches of the theological school, and made to take his seat among the ingenuous youth who were conning the rudiments of theology. At this he made a new statement, so carefully guarded that it disarmed many of his enemies, and his high scholarship soon won for him a new professorship of Greek--the condition being that he should cease writing upon Scripture. But a crafty bookseller having republished his former book, and having protected himself by keeping the place and date of publication secret, a new storm fell upon the author; he was again removed from his professorship and thrown into prison; his book was forbidden, and all copies of it in that part of Germany were confiscated. In 1778, having escaped from prison, he sought refuge with another of the minor rulers who in blissful unconsciousness were doing their worst while awaiting the French Revolution, but was at once delivered up to the Mayence authorities and again thrown into prison. The Pope, Pius VI, now intervened with a brief on Isenbiehl's book, declaring it "horrible, false, perverse, destructive, tainted with heresy," and excommunicating all who should read it. At this, Isenbiehl, declaring that he had written it in the hope of doing a service to the Church, recanted, and vegetated in obscurity until his death in 1818. But, despite theological faculties, prince-bishops, and even popes, the new current of thought increased in strength and volume, and into it at the end of the eighteenth century came important contributions from two sources widely separated and most dissimilar. The first of these, which gave a stimulus not yet exhausted, was the work of Herder. By a remarkable intuition he had anticipated some of those ideas of an evolutionary process in nature and in literature which first gained full recognition nearly three quarters of a century after him; but his greatest service in the field of biblical study was his work, at once profound and brilliant, _The Spirit of Hebrew Poetry_. In this field he eclipsed Bishop Lowth. Among other things of importance, he showed that the Psalms were by different authors and of different periods--the bloom of a great poetic literature. Until his time no one had so clearly done justice to their sublimity and beauty; but most striking of all was his discussion of Solomon's Song. For over twenty centuries it had been customary to attribute to it mystical meanings. If here and there some man saw the truth, he was careful, like Aben Ezra, to speak with bated breath. The penalty for any more honest interpretation was seen, among Protestants, when Calvin and Beza persecuted Castellio, covered him with obloquy, and finally drove him to starvation and death, for throwing light upon the real character of the Song of Songs; and among Catholics it was seen when Philip II allowed the pious and gifted Luis de Leon, for a similar offence, to be thrown into a dungeon of the Inquisition and kept there for five years, until his health was utterly shattered and his spirit so broken that he consented to publish a new commentary on the song, "as theological and obscure as the most orthodox could desire." Here, too, we have an example of the efficiency of the older biblical theology in fettering the stronger minds and in stupefying the weaker. Just as the book of Genesis had to wait over two thousand years for a physician to reveal the simplest fact regarding its structure, so the Song of Songs had to wait even longer for a poet to reveal not only its beauty but its character. Commentators innumerable had interpreted it; St. Bernard had preached over eighty sermons on its first two chapters; Palestrina had set its most erotic parts to sacred music; Jews and Gentiles, Catholics and Protestants, from Origen to Aben Ezra and from Luther to Bossuet, had uncovered its deep meanings and had demonstrated it to be anything and everything save that which it really is. Among scores of these strange imaginations it was declared to represent the love of Jehovah for Israel; the love of Christ for the Church; the praises of the Blessed Virgin; the union of the soul with the body; sacred history from the Exodus to the Messiah; Church history from the Crucifixion to the Reformation; and some of the more acute Protestant divines found in it references even to the religious wars in Germany and to the Peace of Passau. In these days it seems hard to imagine how really competent reasoners could thus argue without laughing in each other's faces, after the manner of Cicero's augurs. Herder showed Solomon's Song to be what the whole thinking world now knows it to be--simply an Oriental love-poem. But his frankness brought him into trouble: he was bitterly assailed. Neither his noble character nor his genius availed him. Obliged to flee from one pastorate to another, he at last found a happy refuge at Weimar in the society of Goethe, Wieland, and Jean Paul, and thence he exercised a powerful influence in removing noxious and parasitic growths from religious thought. It would hardly be possible to imagine a man more different from Herder than was the other of the two who most influenced biblical interpretation at the end of the eighteenth century. This was Alexander Geddes--a Roman Catholic priest and a Scotchman. Having at an early period attracted much attention by his scholarship, and having received the very rare distinction, for a Catholic, of a doctorate from the University of Aberdeen, he began publishing in 1792 a new translation of the Old Testament, and followed this in 1800 with a volume of critical remarks. In these he supported mainly three views: first, that the Pentateuch in its present form could not have been written by Moses; secondly, that it was the work of various hands; and, thirdly, that it could not have been written before the time of David. Although there was a fringe of doubtful theories about them, these main conclusions, supported as they were by deep research and cogent reasoning, are now recognised as of great value. But such was not the orthodox opinion then. Though a man of sincere piety, who throughout his entire life remained firm in the faith of his fathers, he and his work were at once condemnned: he was suspended by the Catholic authorities as a misbeliever, denounced by Protestants as an infidel, and taunted by both as "a would-be corrector of the Holy Ghost." Of course, by this taunt was meant nothing more than that he dissented from sundry ideas inherited from less enlightened times by the men who just then happened to wield ecclesiastical power. But not all the opposition to him could check the evolution of his thought. A line of great men followed in these paths opened by Astruc and Eichhorn, and broadened by Herder and Geddes. Of these was De Wette, whose various works, especially his _Introduction to the Old Testament_, gave a new impulse early in the nineteenth century to fruitful thought throughout Christendom. In these writings, while showing how largely myths and legends had entered into the Hebrew sacred books, he threw especial light into the books Deuteronomy and Chronicles. The former he showed to be, in the main, a late priestly summary of law, and the latter a very late priestly recast of early history. He had, indeed, to pay a penalty for thus aiding the world in its march toward more truth, for he was driven out of Germany, and obliged to take refuge in a Swiss professorship; while Theodore Parker, who published an English translation of his work, was, for this and similar sins, virtually rejected by what claimed to be the most liberal of all Christian bodies in the United States. But contributions to the new thought continued from quarters whence least was expected. Gesenius, by his Hebrew Grammar, and Ewald, by his historical studies, greatly advanced it. To them and to all like them during the middle years of the nineteenth century was sturdily opposed the colossus of orthodoxy--Hengstenberg. In him was combined the haughtiness of a Prussian drill-sergeant, the zeal of a Spanish inquisitor, and the flippant brutality of a French orthodox journalist. Behind him stood the gifted but erratic Frederick William IV--a man admirably fitted for a professorship of aesthetics, but whom an inscrutable fate had made King of Prussia. Both these rulers in the German Israel arrayed all possible opposition against the great scholars labouring in the new paths; but this opposition was vain: the succession of acute and honest scholars contiuued: Vatke, Bleek, Reuss, Graf, Kayser, Hupfeld, Delitzsch, Kuenen, and others wrought on in Germany and Holland, steadily developing the new truth. Especially to be mentioned among these is Hupfeld, who published in 1853 his treatise on _The Sources of Genesis_. Accepting the _Conjectures_ which Astruc had published just a hundred years before, he established what has ever since been recognised by the leading biblical commentators as the true basis of work upon the Pentateuch--the fact that _three_ true documents are combined in Genesis, each with its own characteristics. He, too, had to pay a price for letting more light upon the world. A determined attempt was made to punish him. Though deeply religious in his nature and aspirations, he was denounced in 1865 to the Prussian Government as guilty of irreverence; but, to the credit of his noble and true colleagues who trod in the more orthodox paths--men like Tholuck and Julius Muller--the theological faculty of the University of Halle protested against this persecuting effort, and it was brought to naught. The demonstrations of Hupfeld gave new life to biblical scholarship in all lands. More and more clear became the evidence that throughout the Pentateuch, and indeed in other parts of our sacred books, there had been a fusion of various ideas, a confounding of various epochs, and a compilation of various documents. Thus was opened a new field of thought and work: in sifting out this literature; in rearranging it; and in bringing it into proper connection with the history of the Jewish race and of humanity. Astruc and Hupfeld having thus found a key to the true character of the "Mosaic" Scriptures, a second key was found which opened the way to the secret of order in all this chaos. For many generations one thing had especially puzzled commentators and given rise to masses of futile "reconciliation": this was the patent fact that such men as Samuel, David, Elijah, Isaiah, and indeed the whole Jewish people down to the Exile, showed in all their utterances and actions that they were utterly ignorant of that vast system of ceremonial law which, according to the accounts attributed to Moses and other parts of our sacred books, was in full force during their time and during nearly a thousand years before the Exile. It was held "always, everywhere, and by all," that in the Old Testament the chronological order of revelation was: first, the law; secondly, the Psalms; thirdly, the prophets. This belief continued unchallenged during more than two thousand years, and until after the middle of the nineteenth century. Yet, as far back as 1835, Vatke at Berlin had, in his _Religion of the Old Testament_, expressed his conviction that this belief was unfounded. Reasoning that Jewish thought must have been subject to the laws of development which govern other systems, he arrived at the conclusion that the legislation ascribed to Moses, and especially the elaborate paraphernalia and composite ceremonies of the ritual, could not have come into being at a period so rude as that depicted in the "Mosaic" accounts. Although Vatke wrapped this statement in a mist of Hegelian metaphysics, a sufficient number of watchmen on the walls of the Prussian Zion saw its meaning, and an alarm was given. The chroniclers tell us that "fear of failing in the examinations, through knowing too much, kept students away from Vatke's lectures." Naturally, while Hengstenberg and Frederick William IV were commanding the forces of orthodoxy, Vatke thought it wise to be silent. Still, the new idea was in the air; indeed, it had been divined about a year earlier, on the other side of the Rhine, by a scholar well known as acute and thoughtful--Reuss, of Strasburg. Unfortunately, he too was overawed, and he refrained from publishing his thought during more than forty years. But his ideas were caught by some of his most gifted scholars; and, of these, Graf and Kayser developed them and had the courage to publish them. At the same period this new master key was found and applied by a greater man than any of these--by Kuenen, of Holland; and thus it was that three eminent scholars, working in different parts of Europe and on different lines, in spite of all obstacles, joined in enforcing upon the thinking world the conviction that the complete Levitical law had been established not at the beginning, but at the end, of the Jewish nation--mainly, indeed, after the Jewish nation as an independent political body had ceased to exist; that this code had not been revealed in the childhood of Israel, but that it had come into being in a perfectly natural way during Israel's final decay--during the period when heroes and prophets had been succeeded by priests. Thus was the historical and psychological evolution of Jewish institutions brought into harmony with the natural development of human thought; elaborate ceremonial institutions being shown to have come after the ruder beginnings of religious development instead of before them. Thus came a new impulse to research, and the fruitage was abundant; the older theological interpretation, with its insoluble puzzles, yielded on all sides. The lead in the new epoch thus opened was taken by Kuenen. Starting with strong prepossessions in favour of the older thought, and even with violent utterances against some of the supporters of the new view, he was borne on by his love of truth, until his great work, _The Religion of Israel_, published in 1869, attracted the attention of thinking scholars throughout the world by its arguments in favour of the upward movement. From him now came a third master key to the mystery; for he showed that the true opening point for research into the history and literature of Israel is to be found in the utterances of the great prophets of the eighth century before our era. Starting from these, he opened new paths into the periods preceding and following them. Recognising the fact that the religion of Israel was, like other great world religions, a development of higher ideas out of lower, he led men to bring deeper thinking and wider research into the great problem. With ample learning and irresistible logic he proved that Old Testament history is largely mingled with myth and legend; that not only were the laws attributed to Moses in the main a far later development, but that much of their historical setting was an afterthought; also that Old Testament prophecy was never supernaturally predictive, and least of all predictive of events recorded in the New Testament. Thus it was that his genius gave to the thinking world a new point of view, and a masterly exhibition of the true method of study. Justly has one of the most eminent divines of the contemporary Anglican Church indorsed the statement of another eminent scholar, that "Kuenen stood upon his watch-tower, as it were the conscience of Old Testament science"; that his work is characterized "not merely by fine scholarship, critical insight, historical sense, and a religious nature, but also by an incorruptible conscientiousness, and a majestic devotion to the quest of truth." Thus was established the science of biblical criticism. And now the question was, whether the Church of northern Germany would accept this great gift--the fruit of centuries of devoted toil and self-sacrifice--and take the lead of Christendom in and by it. The great curse of Theology and Ecclesiasticism has always been their tendency to sacrifice large interests to small--Charity to Creed, Unity to Uniformity, Fact to Tradition, Ethics to Dogma. And now there were symptoms throughout the governing bodies of the Reformed churches indicating a determination to sacrifice leadership in this new thought to ease in orthodoxy. Every revelation of new knowledge encountered outcry, opposition, and repression; and, what was worse, the ill-judged declarations of some unwise workers in the critical field were seized upon and used to discredit all fruitful research. Fortunately, a man now appeared who both met all this opposition successfully, and put aside all the half truths or specious untruths urged by minor critics whose zeal outran their discretion. This was a great constructive scholar--not a destroyer, but a builder--Wellhausen. Reverently, but honestly and courageously, with clearness, fulness, and convicting force, he summed up the conquests of scientific criticism as bearing on Hebrew history and literature. These conquests had reduced the vast structures which theologians had during ages been erecting over the sacred text to shapeless ruin and rubbish: this rubbish he removed, and brought out from beneath it the reality. He showed Jewish history as an evolution obedient to laws at work in all ages, and Jewish literature as a growth out of individual, tribal, and national life. Thus was our sacred history and literature given a beauty and high use which had long been foreign to them. Thereby was a vast service rendered immediately to Germany, and eventually to all mankind; and this service was greatest of all in the domain of religion.[[332]] III. THE CONTINUED GROWTH OF SCIENTIFIC INTERPRETATION. The science of biblical criticism was, as we have seen, first developed mainly in Germany and Holland. Many considerations there, as elsewhere, combined to deter men from opening new paths to truth: not even in those countries were these the paths to preferment; but there, at least, the sturdy Teutonic love of truth for truth's sake, strengthened by the Kantian ethics, found no such obstacles as in other parts of Europe. Fair investigation of biblical subjects had not there been extirpated, as in Italy and Spain; nor had it been forced into channels which led nowhither, as in France and southern Germany; nor were men who might otherwise have pursued it dazzled and drawn away from it by the multitude of splendid prizes for plausibility, for sophistry, or for silence displayed before the ecclesiastical vision in England. In the frugal homes of North German and Dutch professors and pastors high thinking on these great subjects went steadily on, and the "liberty of teaching," which is the glory of the northern Continental universities, while it did not secure honest thinkers against vexations, did at least protect them against the persecutions which in other countries would have thwarted their studies and starved their families.[[333]] In England the admission of the new current of thought was apparently impossible. The traditional system of biblical interpretation seemed established on British soil forever. It was knit into the whole fabric of thought and observance; it was protected by the most justly esteemed hierarchy the world has ever seen; it was intrenched behind the bishops' palaces, the cathedral stalls, the professors' chairs, the country parsonages--all these, as a rule, the seats of high endeavour and beautiful culture. The older thought held a controlling voice in the senate of the nation; it was dear to the hearts of all classes; it was superbly endowed; every strong thinker seemed to hold a brief, or to be in receipt of a retaining fee for it. As to preferment in the Church, there was a cynical aphorism current, "He may hold anything who will hold his tongue."[[334]] Yet, while there was inevitably much alloy of worldly wisdom in the opposition to the new thought, no just thinker can deny far higher motives to many, perhaps to most, of the ecclesiastics who were resolute against it. The evangelical movement incarnate in the Wesleys had not spent its strength; the movement begun by Pusey, Newman, Keble, and their compeers was in full force. The aesthetic reaction, represented on the Continent by Chateaubriand, Manzoni, and Victor Hugo, and in England by Walter Scott, Pugin, Ruskin, and above all by Wordsworth, came in to give strength to this barrier. Under the magic of the men who led in this reaction, cathedrals and churches, which in the previous century had been regarded by men of culture as mere barbaric masses of stone and mortar, to be masked without by classic colonnades and within by rococo work in stucco and _papier mache_, became even more beloved than in the thirteenth century. Even men who were repelled by theological disputations were fascinated and made devoted reactionists by the newly revealed beauties of medieval architecture and ritual.[[334b]] The centre and fortress of this vast system, and of the reaction against the philosophy of the eighteenth century, was the University of Oxford. Orthodoxy was its vaunt, and a special exponent of its spirit and object of its admiration was its member of Parliament, Mr, William Ewart Gladstone, who, having begun his political career by a laboured plea for the union of church and state, ended it by giving that union what is likely to be a death-blow. The mob at the circus of Constantinople in the days of the Byzantine emperors was hardly more wildly orthodox than the mob of students at this foremost seat of learning of the Anglo-Saxon race during the middle decades of the nineteenth century. The Moslem students of El Azhar are hardly more intolerant now than these English students were then. A curious proof of this had been displayed just before the end of that period. The minister of the United States at the court of St. James was then Edward Everett. He was undoubtedly the most accomplished scholar and one of the foremost statesmen that America had produced; his eloquence in early life had made him perhaps the most admired of American preachers; his classical learning had at a later period made him Professor of Greek at Harvard; he had successfully edited the leading American review, and had taken a high place in American literature; he had been ten years a member of Congress; he had been again and again elected Governor of Massachusetts; and in all these posts he had shown amply those qualities which afterward made him President of Harvard, Secretary of State of the United States, and a United States Senator. His character and attainments were of the highest, and, as he was then occupying the foremost place in the diplomatic service of his country, he was invited to receive an appropriate honorary degree at Oxford. But, on his presentation for it in the Sheldonian Theatre, there came a revelation to the people he represented, and indeed to all Christendom: a riot having been carefully prepared beforehand by sundry zealots, he was most grossly and ingeniously insulted by the mob of undergraduates and bachelors of art in the galleries and masters of arts on the floor; and the reason for this was that, though by no means radical in his religious opinions, he was thought to have been in his early life, and to be possibly at that time, below what was then the Oxford fashion in belief, or rather feeling, regarding the mystery of the Trinity. At the centre of biblical teaching at Oxford sat Pusey, Regius Professor of Hebrew, a scholar who had himself remained for a time at a German university, and who early in life had imbibed just enough of the German spirit to expose him to suspicion and even to attack. One charge against him at that time shows curiously what was then expected of a man perfectly sound in the older Anglican theology. He had ventured to defend holy writ with the argument that there were fishes actually existing which could have swallowed the prophet Jonah. The argument proved unfortunate. He was attacked on the scriptural ground that the fish which swallowed Jonah was created for that express purpose. He, like others, fell back under the charm of the old system: his ideas gave force to the reaction: in the quiet of his study, which, especially after the death of his son, became a hermitage, he relapsed into patristic and medieval conceptions of Christianity, enforcing them from the pulpit and in his published works. He now virtually accepted the famous dictum of Hugo of St. Victor--that one is first to find what is to be believed, and then to search the Scriptures for proofs of it. His devotion to the main features of the older interpretation was seen at its strongest in his utterances regarding the book of Daniel. Just as Cardinal Bellarmine had insisted that the doctrine of the incarnation depends upon the retention of the Ptolemaic astronomy; just as Danzius had insisted that the very continuance of religion depends on the divine origin of the Hebrew punctuation; just as Peter Martyr had made everything sacred depend on the literal acceptance of Genesis; just as Bishop Warburton had insisted that Christianity absolutely depends upon a right interpretation of the prophecies regarding Antichrist; just as John Wesley had insisted that the truth of the Bible depends on the reality of witchcraft; just as, at a later period, Bishop Wilberforce insisted that the doctrine of the Incarnation depends on the "Mosaic" statements regarding the origin of man; and just as Canon Liddon insisted that Christianity itself depends on a literal belief in Noah's flood, in the transformation of Lot's wife, and in the sojourn of Jonah in the whale: so did Pusey then virtually insist that Christianity must stand or fall with the early date of the book of Daniel. Happily, though the Ptolemaic astronomy, and witchcraft, and the Genesis creation myths, and the Adam, Noah, Lot, and Jonah legends, and the divine origin of the Hebrew punctuation, and the prophecies regarding Antichrist, and the early date of the book of Daniel have now been relegated to the limbo of ontworn beliefs, Christianity has but come forth the stronger. Nothing seemed less likely than that such a vast intrenched camp as that of which Oxford was the centre could be carried by an effort proceeding from a few isolated German and Dutch scholars. Yet it was the unexpected which occurred; and it is instructive to note that, even at the period when the champions of the older thought were to all appearance impregnably intrenched in England, a way had been opened into their citadel, and that the most effective agents in preparing it were really the very men in the universities and cathedral chapters who had most distinguished themselves by uncompromising and intolerant orthodoxy. A rapid survey of the history of general literary criticism at that epoch will reveal this fact fully. During the last decade of the seventeenth century there had taken place the famous controversy over the _Letters of Phalaris_, in which, against Charles Boyle and his supporters at Oxford, was pitted Richard Bentley at Cambridge, who insisted that the letters were spurious. In the series of battles royal which followed, although Boyle, aided by Atterbury, afterward so noted for his mingled ecclesiastical and political intrigues, had gained a temporary triumph by wit and humour, Bentley's final attack had proved irresistible. Drawing from the stores of his wonderfully wide and minute knowledge, he showed that the letters could not have been written in the time of Phalaris--proving this by an exhibition of their style, which could not then have been in use, of their reference to events which had not then taken place, and of a mass of considerations which no one but a scholar almost miraculously gifted could have marshalled so fully. The controversy had attracted attention not only in England but throughout Europe. With Bentley's reply it had ended. In spite of public applause at Atterbury's wit, scholars throughout the world acknowledged Bentley's victory: he was recognised as the foremost classical scholar of his time; the mastership of Trinity, which he accepted, and the Bristol bishopric, which he rejected, were his formal reward. Although, in his new position as head of the greatest college in England, he went to extreme lengths on the orthodox side in biblical theology, consenting even to support the doctrine that the Hebrew punctuation was divinely inspired, this was as nothing compared with the influence of the system of criticism which he introduced into English studies of classical literature in preparing the way for the application of a similar system to _all_ literature, whether called sacred or profane. Up to that period there had really been no adequate criticism of ancient literature. Whatever name had been attached to any ancient writing was usually accepted as the name of the author: what texts should be imputed to an author was settled generally on authority. But with Bentley began a new epoch. His acute intellect and exquisite touch revealed clearly to English scholars the new science of criticism, and familiarized the minds of thinking men with the idea that the texts of ancient literature must be submitted to this science. Henceforward a new spirit reigned among the best classical scholars, prophetic of more and more light in the greater field of sacred literature. Scholars, of whom Porson was chief, followed out this method, and though at times, as in Porson's own case, they were warned off, with much loss and damage, from the application of it to the sacred text, they kept alive the better tradition. A hundred years after Bentley's main efforts appeared in Germany another epoch-making book--Wolf's _Introduction to Homer_. In this was broached the theory that the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_ are not the works of a single great poet, but are made up of ballad literature wrought into unity by more or less skilful editing. In spite of various changes and phases of opinion on this subject since Wolf's day, he dealt a killing blow at the idea that classical works are necessarily to be taken at what may be termed their face value. More and more clearly it was seen that the ideas of early copyists, and even of early possessors of masterpieces in ancient literature, were entirely different from those to which the modern world is accustomed. It was seen that manipulations and interpolations in the text by copyists and possessors had long been considered not merely venial sins, but matters of right, and that even the issuing of whole books under assumed names had been practised freely. In 1811 a light akin to that thrown by Bentley and Wolf upon ancient literature was thrown by Niebuhr upon ancient history. In his _History of Rome_ the application of scientific principles to the examination of historical sources was for the first time exhibited largely and brilliantly. Up to that period the time-honoured utterances of ancient authorities had been, as a rule, accepted as final: no breaking away, even from the most absurd of them, was looked upon with favour, and any one presuming to go behind them was regarded as troublesome and even as dangerous. Through this sacred conventionalism Niebuhr broke fearlessly, and, though at times overcritical, he struck from the early history of Rome a vast mass of accretions, and gave to the world a residue infinitely more valuable than the original amalgam of myth, legend, and chronicle. His methods were especially brought to bear on students' history by one of the truest men and noblest scholars that the English race has produced--Arnold of Rugby--and, in spite of the inevitable heavy conservatism, were allowed to do their work in the field of ancient history as well as in that of ancient classical literature. The place of myth in history thus became more and more understood, and historical foundations, at least so far as _secular_ history was concerned, were henceforth dealt with in a scientific spirit. The extension of this new treatment to _all_ ancient literature and history was now simply a matter of time. Such an extension had already begun; for in 1829 had appeared Milman's _History of the Jews_. In this work came a further evolution of the truths and methods suggested by Bentley, Wolf, and Niebuhr, and their application to sacred history was made strikingly evident. Milman, though a clergyman, treated the history of the chosen people in the light of modern knowledge of Oriental and especially of Semitic peoples. He exhibited sundry great biblical personages of the wandering days of Israel as sheiks or emirs or Bedouin chieftains; and the tribes of Israel as obedient then to the same general laws, customs, and ideas governing wandering tribes in the same region now. He dealt with conflicting sources somewhat in the spirit of Bentley, and with the mythical, legendary, and miraculous somewhat in the spirit of Niebuhr. This treatment of the history of the Jews, simply as the development of an Oriental tribe, raised great opposition. Such champions of orthodoxy as Bishop Mant and Dr. Faussett straightway took the field, and with such effect that the _Family Library_, a very valuable series in which Milman's history appeared, was put under the ban, and its further publication stopped. For years Milman, though a man of exquisite literary and lofty historical gifts, as well as of most honourable character, was debarred from preferment and outstripped by ecclesiastics vastly inferior to him in everything save worldly wisdom; for years he was passed in the race for honours by divines who were content either to hold briefs for all the contemporary unreason which happened to be popular, or to keep their mouths shut altogether. This opposition to him extended to his works. For many years they were sneered at, decried, and kept from the public as far as possible. Fortunately, the progress of events lifted him, before the closing years of his life, above all this opposition. As Dean of St. Paul's he really outranked the contemporary archbishops: he lived to see his main ideas accepted, and his _History of Latin Christianity_ received as certainly one of the most valuable, and no less certainly the most attractive, of all Church histories ever written. The two great English histories of Greece--that by Thirlwall, which was finished, and that by Grote, which was begun, in the middle years of the nineteenth century--came in to strengthen this new development. By application of the critical method to historical sources, by pointing out more and more fully the inevitable part played by myth and legend in early chronicles, by displaying more and more clearly the ease with which interpolations of texts, falsifications of statements, and attributions to pretended authors were made, they paved the way still further toward a just and fruitful study of sacred literature.[[341]] Down to the middle of the nineteenth century the traditionally orthodox side of English scholarship, while it had not been able to maintain any effective quarantine against Continental criticism of classical literature, had been able to keep up barriers fairly strong against Continental discussions of sacred literature. But in the second half of the nineteenth century these barriers were broken at many points, and, the stream of German thought being united with the current of devotion to truth in England, there appeared early in 1860 a modest volume entitled _Essays and Reviews_. This work discussed sundry of the older theological positions which had been rendered untenable by modern research, and brought to bear upon them the views of the newer school of biblical interpretation. The authors were, as a rule, scholars in the prime of life, holding influential positions in the universities and public schools. They were seven--the first being Dr. Temple, a successor of Arnold at Rugby; and the others, the Rev. Dr. Rowland Williams, Prof. Baden Powell, the Rev. H. B. Wilson, Mr. C. W. Goodwin, the Rev. Mark Pattison, and the Rev. Prof. Jowett--the only one of the seven not in holy orders being Goodwin. All the articles were important, though the first, by Temple, on _The Education of the world_, and the last, by Jowett, on _The Interpretation of Scripture_, being the most moderate, served most effectually as entering wedges into the old tradition. At first no great attention was paid to the book, the only notice being the usual attempts in sundry clerical newspapers to pooh-pooh it. But in October, 1860, appeared in the _Westminster Review_ an article exulting in the work as an evidence that the new critical method had at last penetrated the Church of England. The opportunity for defending the Church was at once seized by no less a personage than Bishop Wilberforce, of Oxford, the same who a few months before had secured a fame more lasting than enviable by his attacks on Darwin and the evolutionary theory. His first onslaught was made in a charge to his clergy. This he followed up with an article in the _Quarterly Review_, very explosive in its rhetoric, much like that which he had devoted in the same periodical to Darwin. The bishop declared that the work tended "toward infidelity, if not to atheism"; that the writers had been "guilty of criminal levity"; that, with the exception of the essay by Dr. Temple, their writings were "full of sophistries and scepticisms." He was especially bitter against Prof. Jowett's dictum, "Interpret the Scripture like any other book"; he insisted that Mr. Goodwin's treatment of the Mosaic account of the origin of man "sweeps away the whole basis of inspiration and leaves no place for the Incarnation"; and through the article were scattered such rhetorical adornments as the words "infidel," "atheistic," "false," and "wanton." It at once attracted wide attention, but its most immediate effect was to make the fortune of _Essays and Reviews_, which was straightway demanded on every hand, went through edition after edition, and became a power in the land. At this a panic began, and with the usual results of panic--much folly and some cruelty. Addresses from clergy and laity, many of them frantic with rage and fear, poured in upon the bishops, begging them to save Christianity and the Church: a storm of abuse arose: the seven essayists were stigmatized as "the seven extinguishers of the seven lamps of the Apocalypse," "the seven champions _not_ of Christendom." As a result of all this pressure, Sumner, Archbishop of Canterbury, one of the last of the old, kindly, bewigged pluralists of the Georgian period, headed a declaration, which was signed by the Archbishop of York and a long list of bishops, expressing pain at the appearance of the book, but doubts as to the possibility of any effective dealing with it. This letter only made matters worse. The orthodox decried it as timid, and the liberals denounced it as irregular. The same influences were exerted in the sister island, and the Protestant archbishops in Ireland issued a joint letter warning the faithful against the "disingenuousness" of the book. Everything seemed to increase the ferment. A meeting of clergy and laity having been held at Oxford in the matter of electing a Professor of Sanscrit, the older orthodox party, having made every effort to defeat the eminent scholar Max Miller, and all in vain, found relief after their defeat in new denunciations of _Essays and Reviews_. Of the two prelates who might have been expected to breast the storm, Tait, Bishop of London, afterward Archbishop of Canterbury, bent to it for a period, though he soon recovered himself and did good service; the other, Thirlwall, Bishop of St. David's, bided his time, and, when the proper moment came, struck most effective blows for truth and justice. Tait, large-minded and shrewd, one of the most statesmanlike of prelates, at first endeavoured to detach Temple and Jowett from their associates; but, though Temple was broken down with a load of care, and especially by the fact that he had upon his shoulders the school at Rugby, whose patrons had become alarmed at his connection with the book, he showed a most refreshing courage and manliness. A passage from his letters to the Bishop of London runs as follows: "With regard to my own conduct I can only say that nothing on earth will induce me to do what you propose. I do not judge for others, but in me it would be base and untrue." On another occasion Dr. Temple, when pressed in the interest of the institution of learning under his care to detach himself from his associates in writing the book, declared to a meeting of the masters of the school that, if any statements were made to the effect that he disapproved of the other writers in the volume, he should probably find it his duty to contradict them. Another of these letters to the Bishop of London contains sundry passages of great force. One is as follows: "Many years ago you urged us from the university pulpit to undertake the critical study of the Bible. You said that it was a dangerous study, but indispensable. You described its difficulties, and those who listened must have felt a confidence (as I assuredly did, for I was there) that if they took your advice and entered on the task, you, at any rate, would never join in treating them unjustly if their study had brought with it the difficulties you described. Such a study, so full of difficulties, imperatively demands freedom for its condition. To tell a man to study, and yet bid him, under heavy penalties, come to the same conclusions with those who have not studied, is to mock him. If the conclusions are prescribed, the study is precluded." And again, what, as coming from a man who has since held two of the most important bishoprics in the English Church, is of great importance: "What can be a grosser superstition than the theory of literal inspiration? But because that has a regular footing it is to be treated as a good man's mistake, while the courage to speak the truth about the first chapter of Genesis is a wanton piece of wickedness." The storm howled on. In the Convocation of Canterbury it was especially violent. In the Lower House Archdeacon Denison insisted on the greatest severity, as he said, "for the sake of the young who are tainted, and corrupted, and thrust almost to hell by the action of this book." At another time the same eminent churchman declared: "Of all books in any language which I ever laid my hands on, this is incomparably the worst; it contains all the poison which is to be found in Tom Paine's _Age of Reason_, while it has the additional disadvantage of having been written by clergymen." Hysterical as all this was, the Upper House was little more self-contained. Both Tait and Thirlwall, trying to make some headway against the swelling tide, were for a time beaten back by Wilberforce, who insisted on the duty of the Church to clear itself publicly from complicity with men who, as he said, "gave up God's Word, Creation, redemption, and the work of the Holy Ghost." The matter was brought to a curious issue by two prosecutions--one against the Rev. Dr. Williams by the Bishop of Salisbury, the other against the Rev. Mr. Wilson by one of his clerical brethren. The first result was that both these authors were sentenced to suspension from their offices for a year. At this the two condemned clergymen appealed to the Queen in Council. Upon the judicial committee to try the case in last resort sat the lord chancellor, the two archbishops, and the Bishop of London; and one occurrence now brought into especial relief the power of the older theological reasoning and ecclesiastical zeal to close the minds of the best of men to the simplest principles of right and justice. Among the men of his time most deservedly honoured for lofty character, thorough scholarship, and keen perception of right and justice was Dr. Pusey. No one doubted then, and no one doubts now, that he would have gone to the stake sooner than knowingly countenance wrong or injustice; and yet we find him at this time writing a series of long and earnest letters to the Bishop of London, who, as a judge, was hearing this case, which involved the livelihood and even the good name of the men on trial, pointing out to the bishop the evil consequences which must follow should the authors of _Essays and Reviews_ be acquitted, and virtually beseeching the judges, on grounds of expediency, to convict them. Happily, Bishop Tait was too just a man to be thrown off his bearings by appeals such as this. The decision of the court, as finally rendered by the lord chancellor, virtually declared it to be no part of the duty of the tribunal to pronounce any opinion upon the book; that the court only had to do with certain extracts which had been presented. Among these was one adduced in support of a charge against Mr. Wilson--that he denied the doctrine of eternal punishment. On this the court decided that it did "not find in the formularies of the English Church any such distinct declaration upon the subject as to require it to punish the expression of a hope by a clergyman that even the ultimate pardon of the wicked who are condemned in the day of judgment may be consistent with the will of Almighty God." While the archbishops dissented from this judgment, Bishop Tait united in it with the lord chancellor and the lay judges. And now the panic broke out more severely than ever. Confusion became worse confounded. The earnest-minded insisted that the tribunal had virtually approved _Essays and Reviews_; the cynical remarked that it had "dismissed hell with costs." An alliance was made at once between the more zealous High and Low Church men, and Oxford became its headquarters: Dr. Pusey and Archdeacon Denison were among the leaders, and an impassioned declaration was posted to every clergyman in England and Ireland, with a letter begging him, "for the love of God," to sign it. Thus it was that in a very short time eleven thousand signatures were obtained. Besides this, deputations claiming to represent one hundred and thirty-seven thousand laymen waited on the archbishops to thank them for dissenting from the judgment. The Convocation of Canterbury also plunged into the fray, Bishop Wilberforce being the champion of the older orthodoxy, and Bishop Tait of the new. Caustic was the speech made by Bishop Thirlwall, in which he declared that he considered the eleven thousand names, headed by that of Pusey, attached to the Oxford declaration "in the light of a row of figures preceded by a decimal point, so that, however far the series may be advanced, it never can rise to the value of a single unit." In spite of all that could be done, the act of condemnation was carried in Convocation. The last main echo of this whole struggle against the newer mode of interpretation was heard when the chancellor, referring to the matter in the House of Lords, characterized the ecclesiastical act as "simply a series of well-lubricated terms--a sentence so oily and saponaceous that no one can grasp it; like an eel, it slips through your fingers, and is simply nothing." The word "saponaceous" necessarily elicited a bitter retort from Bishop Wilberforce; but perhaps the most valuable judgment on the whole matter was rendered by Bishop Tait, who declared, "These things have so effectually frightened the clergy that I think there is scarcely a bishop on the bench, unless it be the Bishop of St. David's [Thirlwall], that is not useless for the purpose of preventing the widespread alienation of intelligent men." During the whole controversy, and for some time afterward, the press was burdened with replies, ponderous and pithy, lurid and vapid, vitriolic and unctuous, but in the main bearing the inevitable characteristics of pleas for inherited opinions stimulated by ample endowments. The authors of the book seemed for a time likely to be swept out of the Church. One of the least daring but most eminent, finding himself apparently forsaken, seemed, though a man of very tough fibre, about to die of a broken heart; but sturdy English sense at last prevailed. The storm passed, and afterward came the still, small voice. Really sound thinkers throughout England, especially those who held no briefs for conventional orthodoxy, recognised the service rendered by the book. It was found that, after all, there existed even among churchmen a great mass of public opinion in favour of giving a full hearing to the reverent expression of honest thought, and inclined to distrust any cause which subjected fair play to zeal. The authors of the work not only remained in the Church of England, but some of them have since represented the broader views, though not always with their early courage, in the highest and most influential positions in the Anglican Church.[[348]] IV. THE CLOSING STRUGGLE. The storm aroused by _Essays and Reviews_ had not yet subsided when a far more serious tempest burst upon the English theological world. In 1862 appeared a work entitled _The Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua Critically Examined_ its author being Colenso, Anglican Bishop of Natal, in South Africa. He had formerly been highly esteemed as fellow and tutor at Cambridge, master at Harrow, author of various valuable text-books in mathematics; and as long as he exercised his powers within the limits of popular orthodoxy he was evidently in the way to the highest positions in the Church: but he chose another path. His treatment of his subject was reverent, but he had gradually come to those conclusions, then so daring, now so widespread among Christian scholars, that the Pentateuch, with much valuable historical matter, Contains much that is unhistorical; that a large portion of it was the work of a comparatively late period in Jewish history; that many passages in Deuteronomy could only have been written after the Jews settled in Canaan; that the Mosaic law was not in force before the captivity; that the books of Chronicles were clearly written as an afterthought, to enforce the views of the priestly caste; and that in all the books there is much that is mythical and legendary. Very justly has a great German scholar recently adduced this work of a churchman relegated to the most petty of bishoprics in one of the most remote corners of the world, as a proof "that the problems of biblical criticism can no longer be suppressed; that they are in the air of our time, so that theology could not escape them even if it took the wings of the morning and dwelt in the uttermost parts of the sea." The bishop's statements, which now seem so moderate, then aroused horror. Especial wrath was caused by some of his arithmetical arguments, and among them those which showed that an army of six hundred thousand men could not have been mobilized in a single night; that three millions of people, with their flocks and herds, could neither have obtained food on so small and arid a desert as that over which they were said to have wandered during forty years, nor water from a single well; and that the butchery of two hundred thousand Midianites by twelve thousand israelites, "exceeding infinitely in atrocity the tragedy at Cawnpore, had happily only been carried out on paper." There was nothing of the scoffer in him. While preserving his own independence, he had kept in touch with the most earnest thought both among European scholars and in the little flock intrusted to his care. He evidently remembered what had resulted from the attempt to hold the working classes in the towns of France, Germany, and Italy to outworn beliefs; he had found even the Zulus, whom he thought to convert, suspicious of the legendary features of the Old Testament, and with his clear practical mind he realized the danger which threatened the English Church and Christianity--the danger of tying its religion and morality to interpretations and conceptions of Scripture more and more widely seen and felt to be contrary to facts. He saw the especial peril of sham explanations, of covering up facts which must soon be known, and which, when revealed, must inevitably bring the plain people of England to regard their teachers, even the most deserving, as "solemnly constituted impostors"--ecclesiastics whose tenure depends on assertions which they know to be untrue. Therefore it was that, when his catechumens questioned him regarding some of the Old Testament legends, the bishop determined to tell the truth. He says: "My heart answered in the words of the prophet, `Shall a man speak lies in the name of the Lord?' I determined not to do so." But none of these considerations availed in his behalf at first. The outcry against the work was deafening: churchmen and dissenters rushed forward to attack it. Archdeacon Denison, chairman of the committee of Convocation appointed to examine it, uttered a noisy anathema. Convocation solemnly condemned it; and a zealous colonial bishop, relying upon a nominal supremacy, deposed and excommunicated its author, declaring him "given over to Satan." On both sides of the Atlantic the press groaned with "answers," some of these being especially injurious to the cause they were intended to serve, and none more so than sundry efforts by the bishops themselves. One of the points upon which they attacked him was his assertion that the reference in Leviticus to the hare chewing its cud contains an error. Upon this Prof. Hitzig, of Leipsic, one of the best Hebrew scholars of his time, remarked: "Your bishops are making themselves the laughing-stock of Europe. Every Hebraist knows that the animal mentioned in Leviticus is really the hare;... every zoologist knows that it does not chew the cud."[[351]] On Colenso's return to Natal, where many of the clergy and laity who felt grateful for his years of devotion to them received him with signs of affection, an attempt was made to ruin these clergymen by depriving them of their little stipends, and to terrify the simple-minded laity by threatening them with the same "greater excommunication" which had been inflicted upon their bishop. To make the meaning of this more evident, the vicar-general of the Bishop of Cape Town met Colenso at the door of his own cathedral, and solemnly bade him "depart from the house of God as one who has been handed over to the Evil One." The sentence of excommunication was read before the assembled faithful, and they were enjoined to treat their bishop as "a heathen man and a publican." But these and a long series of other persecutions created a reaction in his favour. There remained to Colenso one bulwark which his enemies found stronger than they had imagined--the British courts of justice. The greatest efforts were now made to gain the day before these courts, to humiliate Colenso, and to reduce to beggary the clergy who remained faithful to him; and it is worthy of note that one of the leaders in preparing the legal plea of the com mittee against him was Mr. Gladstone. But this bulwark proved impregnable: both the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and the Rolls Court decided in Colenso's favour. Not only were his enemies thus forbidden to deprive him of his salary, but their excommunication of him was made null and void; it became, indeed, a subject of ridicule, and even a man so nurtured in religious sentiment as John Keble confessed and lamented that the English people no longer believed in excommunication. The bitterness of the defeated found vent in the utterances of the colonial metropolitan who had excommunicated Colenso--Bishop Gray, "the Lion of Cape Town"--who denounced the judgment as "awful and profane," and the Privy Council as "a masterpiece of Satan" and "the great dragon of the English Church." Even Wilberforce, careful as he was to avoid attacking anything established, alluded with deep regret to "the devotion of the English people to the law in matters of this sort." Their failure in the courts only seemed to increase the violence of the attacking party. The Anglican communion, both in England and America, was stirred to its depths against the heretic, and various dissenting bodies strove to show equal zeal. Great pains were taken to root out his reputation: it was declared that he had merely stolen the ideas of rationalists on the Continent by wholesale, and peddled them out in England at retail; the fact being that, while he used all the sources of information at his command, and was large-minded enough to put himself into relations with the best biblical scholarship of the Continent, he was singularly independent in his judgment, and that his investigations were of lasting value in modifying Continental thought. Kuenen, the most distinguished of all his contemporaries in this field, modified, as he himself declared, one of his own leading theories after reading Colenso's argument; and other Continental scholars scarcely less eminent acknowledged their great indebtedness to the English scholar for original suggestions.[[352]] But the zeal of the bishop's enemies did not end with calumny. He was socially ostracized--more completely even than Lyell had been after the publication of his _Principles of Geology_ thirty years before. Even old friends left him, among them Frederick Denison Maurice, who, when himself under the ban of heresy, had been defended by Colenso. Nor was Maurice the only heretic who turned against him; Matthew Arnold attacked him, and set up, as a true ideal of the work needed to improve the English Church and people, of all books in the world, Spinoza's _Tractatus_. A large part of the English populace was led to regard him as an "infidel," a "traitor," an "apostate," and even as "an unclean being"; servants left his house in horror; "Tray, Blanche, and Sweetheart were let loose upon him"; and one of the favourite amusements of the period among men of petty wit and no convictions was the devising of light ribaldry against him.[[353]] In the midst of all this controversy stood three men, each of whom has connected his name with it permanently. First of these was Samuel Wilberforce, at that time Bishop of Oxford. The gifted son of William Wilberforce, who had been honoured throughout the world for his efforts in the suppression of the slave trade, he had been rapidly advanced in the English Church, and was at this time a prelate of wide influence. He was eloquent and diplomatic, witty and amiable, always sure to be with his fellow-churchmen and polite society against uncomfortable changes. Whether the struggle was against the slave power in the United States, or the squirearchy in Great Britain, or the evolution theory of Darwin, or the new views promulgated by the _Essayists and Reviewers_, he was always the suave spokesman of those who opposed every innovator and "besought him to depart out of their coasts." Mingling in curious proportions a truly religious feeling with care for his own advancement, his remarkable power in the pulpit gave him great strength to carry out his purposes, and his charming facility in being all things to all men, as well as his skill in evading the consequences of his many mistakes, gained him the sobriquet of "Soapy Sam." If such brethren of his in the episcopate as Thirlwall and Selwyn and Tait might claim to be in the apostolic succession, Wilberforce was no less surely in the succession from the most gifted and eminently respectable Sadducees who held high preferment under Pontius Pilate. By a curious coincidence he had only a few years before preached the sermon when Colenso was consecrated in Westminster Abbey, and


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank