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sway over him. But why an attack of this character, so indirect and little complete? Why should Hume limit himself to the proposition that miracles can never be historically proved, instead of at once affirming the impossibility of miracles themselves? This is what the opponents of the supernatural virtually think; and it is because they commence by regarding miracles as impossible that they apply themselves to destroy the value of the evidences by which they are supported. If the evidence which surrounds the cradle of Christianity, if the fourth, if even the tenth part of it were adduced in support of facts of a nature extraordinary, unexpected, or unheard of, but still not having a character positively supernatural, the proof would be accepted as unexceptionable; the facts for certain. In appearance, it is merely the proof by witnesses of the supernatural that is contested; whereas, in reality, the very possibility of the thing is denied that is sought to be proved. The question ought to be put as it really is, instead of such a solution being offered as is a mere evasion.
The chapter on inspiration will attract most attention in these times, and will probably prove most unsatisfactory to readers who have followed the author thus far with unalloyed pleasure. With most of our highest theological authorities, (of all ages, not excepting Jerome, the great Catholic authority of the Vulgate,) he disowns the hypothesis of complete verbal inspiration as taught by Gaussen and some other "pious and learned men." In his estimation it "gravely compromises revelation" by assuming untenable grounds, and challenging irrelevant arguments against the claims of the Bible. He believes in a "plenary inspiration," but plenary only in respect to the one design of revelation, namely, the communication of religious truth. The sacred writers were divinely and infallibly taught the doctrines they were to teach, but were left to their own peculiarities of style, (good or defective,) to their own knowledge about all collateral or natural subjects to which they may allude for illustration, and therefore philological or scientific assaults on the Bible ought not to affect the authority of its religious teachings.* It is perceptible at a glance what advantage this standpoint affords against scientific cavilers. Geology as against Moses is of no importance to M. Guizot; his only question is, Does Moses teach a true theology? God, according to our author, selected certain men to communicate
*The American edition of the Meditations gives a valuable note, from Prof. Lewis, on Guizot's theory.
FOURTH SERIES, VOL. XVII.-32
to the world certain essential religious truths; he endowed these men with plenary knowledge of these truths, but bade them go and teach them as best they could. They possessed divine truth and divine authority, but also their essential humanity and their individual characteristics, and the latter must necessarily affect their style. Obviously it was impossible for their communication of the truth to be made to the world without forms of style and illustration borrowed from the current thoughts of the world; these being on many scientific questions erroneous, could not, according to M. Guizot, be corrected without a departure from the great mission of the writers, the revelation of religious truth; and the deviation must have been an immense, it may be said, an impracticable one. For example, if Moses, in teaching the divine creation of the world and man's consequent relations to the Creator, had paused to give a correct cosmological and cosmographical theory, he must have shocked and upset all the current ideas on the subject; and he must have done more, he must have given a more or less systematic demonstration of the correct theory, entering into its facts and proofs much more than our early geologists had to do, in order to get a hearing for their new theories; thus his task must have been chiefly the discussion of natural science or philological laws, in order to prepare the world to receive his religious dogmas in a precisely correct garb of verbal style or scientific illustration. What would the Bible have become in such a case? To have made all its astronomical allusions in accordance with true science rather than the popular ideas, it must either have shocked the opinions of the times, and thereby provoked its own rejection, or given the demonstration of the Copernican theory; and in order to give this, it must necessarily first have given a system of mathematics beginning with Euclid and reaching to the Calculus; and not only this, it must have secured the education of the people up to a point where such a recondite record could be intelligible to them.
The Bible then must not, contends M. Guizot, be held amenable to the bar of natural science. The only legitimate question is, Does it teach religious truth, whatever may be the personal characteristics of style or allusion in its various inspired writers? M. Guizot's hypothesis is certainly a very
convenient one; were it exempt from some grave liabilities it would prove very acceptable to biblical critics in these days of agitation on the difficult question of Inspiration. Whatever objections may be alleged against it as a theory, it leaves him clear in the assertion of the infallible revelation of essential religious truth.
Having thus cleared his way through these fundamental preliminaries, our author reaches naturally the questions: What is the religious truth taught by these inspired writers? And does it appear divinely compatible with man's wants and welfare? Here is the gist of the whole matter. And now with two long and luminous "Meditations" the volume concludes, virtually answering these questions. The first, on "God according to the Bible," details the revelations of the character and government of God in five sections, entitled, "God and Abraham," "God and Moses," "God and the Kings," "God and the Prophets," and finally the "Expectation. of the Messiah." The last "Meditation" is on "Jesus Christ according to the Gospel," and comprises seven sections: Christ and his Apostles, his Precepts, his Miracles, Christ and the Jews and Gentiles, Christ and Woman, Christ and Children, Christ Himself. The last three topics are treated with special eloquence. In these Guizot shows that Christ in his teachings, especially as regards the position of woman and the treatment of childhood, laid down the very basis of true social order and human progress, a basis that can never be shaken away from beneath the human race. The reader is surprised by the fertility and relevancy of all these topics, as arguments in the controversy. Accustomed to hear them incessantly discussed as practical ethics, we have almost ceased to appreciate them as "evidences." Under the brilliant pen of M. Guizot they break forth afresh with light, and shed dazzling reflections on all the field of discussion.
As "Meditations" his book avoids the repulsive characteristics of controversial works; its tone has been pronounced not only devout but devotional. With that peculiar perspicacity and flexibility which fits the French language so pre-eminently for conversational style, and yet for the subtlest expression of philosophic thought, he treats the most difficult subjects with a facility that not only renders the book intelligible but
exceedingly entertaining.* It should be a popular work, for though profoundly thoughtful, its style is at once simple and elegant, and its logic is addressed to the common-sense and to the common moral instincts of men. It conducts both the philosopher and the common reader into the very sanctuary of revealed truth, over a path every step of which is felt to be on sure ground, and the collateral critical difficulties of the controversy, though as yet hardly touched, are seen to be but collateral; not obstructions in its direct path, though perceptible along its margin. Hereafter the author, if he lives to complete his plan, will retrace that path, and examine these lateral difficulties at leisure and in security. We shall salute his reappearance with heartiest welcome.
"The religious questions of the day," what will come of them? Few students of Christianity, assailants or advocates, can fail eagerly to ask themselves this question. Are we indeed approaching that revolution, advocated by Coleridge in the "Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit," and predicted by the good and thoughtful Arnold, when the refutation of the infallible authority of the Bible is, according to the language of the latter, to give a shock to the Christian world equal to that which was given to European Christendom by the refutation of the "infallibility" of the Church of Rome? We fear it not. That this destructive work of historical criticisin will go on for some time we doubt not; that the progress of natural science will still be attended with hostility to Christianity we doubt not; but we fear not the result. If Christianity is well founded, these searching investigations of its very foundations will result in its better, we sometimes think, its final vindication; if it is not well founded, none more than Christians (enlightened ones at least) should welcome the demonstration of its unsoundness. It is Christianity, not as a traditional system, but Christianity as a system of truth that we cling to; give us the truth whatsoever it is, whithersoever it leads, is the cry of all sincere Christian souls. And, what is more relevant to be said, it is Christianity itself that has taught us to utter this demand. What could be a stronger moral proof that Christianity is itself the truth? The spirit of the truth can live only in the
* We speak of the original; the translation, though "by authority" of the author, is quite defective.
form of the truth; at least a body of lies can never incarnate the soul of truth.
Several peculiar characteristics are noteworthy in this great modern reinvestigation of Christianity. It practically repudiates the old virulence of skepticism. The sarcastic audacity of Voltaire and his associates of the French infidelity, the malignant irony of Gibbon, the cool but frivolous sophistry of Hume, the vulgar violence of Paine, are no longer deemed befitting the sad and solemn work of killing and burying a religion which has so long been the comfort of desolate men, the hope of so many broken hearts, the guardian of the sanctity of so many virtuous homes, the peaceful relief of so many troubled consciences, the pillow of so many dying heads. The opponents of Christianity may ravage, with revolution and war, the upper Rome, but they dare not enter its Catacombs with unsandaled feet and ribald irreverence; they may break down the stately and corrupt hierarchies, but they cannot carry the desolating ax into the humble Christian household, and strike down the family altar with nothing but the ancestral Bible upon it; they may drive from priestly confessionals broken-hearted penitents, but they dare not bid them rise from their knees before their God and Redeemer, and send them forth to dry their tears and stifle their consciences amid the frivolities and vices of the world from which they have recoiled with smitten souls. No, these sacrilegious things cannot now be done; and these things not being done, Christianity cannot be destroyed; to be afraid to do them is, in a great measure, to concede essential Christianity.
More than this; the old tone of hostility is not only abandoned, but a singular courtesy, almost compliment itself, has taken its place. No man has written finer eulogies on the human character of Christ than Rénan, and he predicts the general and permanent triumph of, at least, the ethical teachings of the wonderful Nazarene. We are not disposed to suspect this concession as the strategy of an enemy; it is the candid though extorted acknowledgment of a self-respectful, scholarly man. The curt and peremptory Strauss dares not to assume the temper of the elder infidelity. The British "reviewers and essayists" and Colenso claim the name and character of Christians. Niebuhr, the chief exponent of the new