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Phases of Faith by Francis William Newman

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infinite Being. Thus the fretfulness of a child is an infinite evil!
I was aghast that I could have believed it. Now that it was no longer
laid upon me as a duty to uphold the infinitude of God's retaliation
on sin, I saw that it was an immorality to teach that sin was measured
by anything else than the heart and will of the agent. That a finite
being should deserve infinite punishment, now was manifestly as
incredible as that he should deserve infinite reward,--which I had
never dreamed.--Again, I saw that the current orthodoxy made Satan
eternal conqueror over Christ. In vain does the Son of God come from
heaven and take human flesh and die on the cross. In spite of him, the
devil carries off to hell the vast majority of mankind, in whom, not
misery only, but _Sin_ is triumphant for ever and ever. Thus Christ
not only does not succeed in destroying the works of the devil, but
even aggravates them.--Again: what sort of _gospel_ or glad tidings
had I been holding? Without this revelation no future state at all (I
presumed) could be known. How much better no futurity for any, than
that a few should be eternally in bliss, and the great majority[2]
kept alive for eternal sin as well as eternal misery! My gospel then
was bad tidings, nay, the worst of tidings! In a farther progress of
thought, I asked, would it not have been better that the whole race of
man had never come into existence? Clearly! And thus God was made
out to be unwise in creating them. No _use_ in the punishment was
imaginable, without setting up Fear, instead of Love, as the ruling
principle in the blessed. And what was the moral tendency of the
doctrine? I had never borne to dwell upon it: but I before long
suspected that it promoted malignity and selfishness, and was the real
clue to the cruelties perpetrated under the name of religion. For he
who does dwell on it, must comfort himself under the prospect of his
brethren's eternal misery, by the selfish expectation of personal
blessedness. When I asked whether I had been guilty of this
selfishness, I remembered that I had often mourned, how small a part
in my practical religion the future had ever borne. My heaven and my
hell had been in the present, where my God was near me to smile or to
frown. It had seemed to me a great weakness in my faith, that I never
had any vivid imaginations or strong desires of heavenly glory: yet
now I was glad to observe, that it had at least saved me from getting
so much harm from the wrong side of the doctrine of a future life.

Before I had worked out the objections so fully as here stated, I
freely disclosed my thoughts to the friend last named, and to his
wife, towards whom he encouraged me to exercise the fullest frankness.
I confess, I said nothing about the Unitarian book; for something told
me that I had violated Evangelical decorum in opening it, and that I
could not calculate how it would affect my friend. Certainly no Romish
hierarchy can so successfully exclude heretical books, as social
enactment excludes those of Unitarians from our orthodox circles.
The bookseller dares not to exhibit their books on his counter: all
presume them to be pestilential: no one knows their contents or dares
to inform himself. But to return. My friend's wife entered warmly into
my new views; I have now no doubt that this exceedingly distressed
him, and at length perverted his moral judgment: he himself examined
the texts of the Old Testament, and attempted no answer to them.
After I had left his neighbourhood, I wrote to him three affectionate
letters, and at last got a reply--of vehement accusation. It can now
concern no one to know, how many and deep wounds he planted in me. I
forgave; but all was too instructive to forget.

For some years I rested in the belief that the epithet "_secular_
punishment" either solely denoted punishment in a future age, or else
only of long duration. This evades the horrible idea of eternal and
triumphant Sin, and of infinite retaliation for finite offences.
But still, I found my new creed uneasy, now that I had established
a practice (if not a right) of considering the moral propriety
of punishment. I could not so pare away the vehement words of the
Scripture, as really to enable me to say that I thought transgressors
_deserved_ the fiery infliction. This had been easy, while I measured
their guilt by God's greatness; but when that idea was renounced, how
was I to think that a good-humoured voluptuary deserved to be raised
from the dead in order to be tormented in fire for 100 years? and what
shorter time could be called secular? Or if he was to be destroyed
instantaneously, and "secular" meant only "in a future age," was he
worth the effort of a divine miracle to bring him to life and again
annihilate him? I was not willing to refuse belief to the Scripture on
such grounds; yet I felt disquietude, that my moral sentiment and the
Scripture were no longer in full harmony.

* * * * *

In this period I first discerned the extreme difficulty that there
must essentially be, in applying to the Christian Evidences a
principle, which, many years before, I had abstractedly received as
sound, though it had been a dead letter with me in practice. The Bible
(it seemed) contained two sorts of truth. Concerning one sort, man is
bound to judge: the other sort is necessarily beyond his ken, and
is received only by information from without. The first part of the
statement cannot be denied. It would be monstrous to say that we know
nothing of geography, history, or morals, except by learning them from
the Bible. Geography, history, and other worldly sciences, lie beyond
question. As to morals, I had been exceedingly inconsistent and
wavering in my theory and in its application; but it now glared upon
me, that if man had no independent power of judging, it would have
been venial to think Barabbas more virtuous than Jesus. The hearers of
Christ or Paul could not draw their knowledge of right and wrong from
the New Testament. They had (or needed to have) an inherent power of
discerning that his conduct was holy and his doctrine good. To talk
about the infirmity or depravity of the human conscience is here quite
irrelevant. The conscience of Christ's hearers may have been dim
or twisted, but it was their best guide and only guide, as to the
question, whether to regard him as a holy prophet: so likewise, as
to ourselves, it is evident that we have no guide at all whether
to accept or reject the Bible, if we distrust that inward power of
judging, (whether called common sense, conscience, or the Spirit of
God,)--which is independent of our belief in the Bible. To disparage
the internally vouchsafed power of discerning truth without the Bible
or other authoritative system, is, to endeavour to set up a universal
moral scepticism. He who may not criticize cannot approve.--Well! Let
it be admitted that we discern moral truth by a something within us,
and that then, admiring the truth so glorious in the Scriptures, we
are further led to receive them as the word of God, and therefore to
believe them absolutely in respect to the matters which are beyond our

But two difficulties could no longer be dissembled: 1. How are we
to draw the line of separation? For instance, would the doctrines
of Reprobation and of lasting Fiery Torture with no benefit to the
sufferers, belong to the moral part, which we freely criticize; or to
the extra-moral part, as to which we passively believe? 2. What is to
be done, if in the parts which indisputably lie open to criticism we
meet with apparent error?--The second question soon became a practical
one with me: but for the reader's convenience I defer it until my
Fourth Period, to which it more naturally belongs: for in this Third
Period I was principally exercised with controversies that do not
vitally touch the _authority_ of the Scripture. Of these the most
important were matters contested between Unitarians and Calvinists.

When I had found how exactly the Nicene Creed summed up all that I
myself gathered from John and Paul concerning the divine nature
of Christ, I naturally referred to this creed, as expressing my
convictions, when any unpleasant inquiry arose. I had recently gained
the acquaintance of the late excellent Dr. Olinthus Gregory, a man of
unimpeached orthodoxy; who met me by the frank avowal, that the
Nicene Creed was "a great mistake." He said, that the Arian and the
Athanasian difference was not very vital; and that the Scriptural
truth lay _beyond_ the Nicene doctrine, which fell short on the
same side as Arianism had done. On the contrary, I had learned of an
intermediate tenet, called Semi-Arianism, which appeared to me more
scriptural than the views of either Athanasius or Arius. Let me
bespeak my reader's patience for a little. Arius was judged by
Athanasius (I was informed) to be erroneous in two points; 1. in
teaching that the Son of God was a creature; _i.e._ that "begotten"
and "made" were two words for the same idea: 2. in teaching, that he
had an origin of existence in time; so that there was a distant period
at which he was not. Of these two Arian tenets, the Nicene Creed
condemned _the former_ only; namely, in the words, "begotten, not
made; being of one substance with the Father." But on _the latter_
question the Creed is silent. Those who accepted the Creed, and hereby
condemned the great error of Arius that the Son was of different
substance from the Father, but nevertheless agreed with Arius in
thinking that the Son had a beginning of existence, were called
Semi-Arians; and were received into communion by Athanasius, in spite
of this disagreement. To me it seemed to be a most unworthy shuffling
with words, to say that the Son _was begotten, but was never
begotten_. The very form of our past participle is invented to
indicate an event in past time. If the Athanasians alleged that the
phrase does not allude to "a coming forth" completed at a definite
time, but indicates a process at no time begun and at no time
complete, their doctrine could not be expressed by our past-perfect
tense _begotten_. When they compared the derivation of the Son of God
from, the Father to the rays of light which ever flow from the natural
sun, and argued that if that sun had been eternal, its emanations
would be co-eternal, they showed that their true doctrine required the
formula--"always being begotten, and as instantly perishing, in order
to be rebegotten perpetually." They showed a real disbelief in our
English statement "begotten, not made." I overruled the objection,
that in the Greek it was not a participle, but a verbal adjective; for
it was manifest to me, that a religion which could not be proclaimed
in English could not be true; and the very idea of a Creed announcing
that Christ was "_not begotten, yet begettive_," roused in me an
unspeakable loathing. Yet surely this would have been Athanasius's
most legitimate form of denying Semi-Arianism. In short, the
Scriptural phrase, _Son of God_, conveyed to us either a literal fact,
or a metaphor. If literal, the Semi-Arians were clearly right, in
saying that sonship implied a beginning of existence. If it was a
metaphor, the Athanasians forfeited all right to press the literal
sense in proof that the Son must be "of the same substance" as the
Father.--Seeing that the Athanasians, in zeal to magnify the Son, had
so confounded their good sense, I was certainly startled to find a
man of Dr. Olinthus Gregory's moral wisdom treat the Nicenists as in
obvious error for not having magnified Christ _enough_. On so many
other sides, however, I met with the new and short creed, "Jesus is
Jehovah," that I began to discern Sabellianism to be the prevalent

A little later, I fell in with a book of an American Professor, Moses
Stuart of Andover, on the subject of the Trinity. Professor Stuart is
a very learned man, and thinks for himself. It was a great novelty to
me, to find him not only deny the orthodoxy of all the Fathers, (which
was little more than Dr. Olinthus Gregory had done,) but avow that
_from the change in speculative philosophy_ it was simply impossible
for any modern to hold the views prevalent in the third and fourth
centuries. Nothing (said he) WAS clearer, than that with us the
essential point in Deity is, to be unoriginated, underived; hence with
us, _a derived God_ is a self-contradiction, and the very sound of the
phrase profane. On the other hand, it is certain that the doctrine of
Athanasius, equally as of Arius, was, that the Father is the underived
or self-existent God, but the Son is the derived subordinate God.
This (argued Stuart) turned upon their belief in the doctrine of
Emanations; but as _we_ hold no such philosophical doctrine, the
religious theory founded on it is necessarily inadmissible. Professor
Stuart then develops his own creed, which appeared to me simple and
undeniable Sabellianism.

That Stuart correctly represented the Fathers was clear enough to
me; but I nevertheless thought that in this respect the Fathers had
honestly made out the doctrine of the Scripture; and I did not at
all approve of setting up a battery of modern speculative philosophy
against Scriptural doctrine. "How are we to know that the doctrine of
Emanations is false? (asked I.) If it is legitimately elicited from
Scripture, it is true."--I refused to yield up my creed at this
summons. Nevertheless, he left a wound upon me: for I now could not
help seeing, that we moderns use the word _God_ in a more limited
sense than any ancient nations did. Hebrews and Greeks alike said
_Gods_, to mean any superhuman beings; hence _derived God_ did not
sound to them absurd; but I could not deny that in good English it is
absurd. This was a very disagreeable discovery: for now, if any one
were to ask me whether I believed in the divinity of Christ, I saw it
would be dishonest to say simply, _Yes_; for the interrogator means to
ask, whether I hold Christ to be the eternal and underived Source of
life; yet if I said _No_, he would care nothing for my professing to
hold the Nicene Creed.

Might not then, after all, Sabellianism be the truth? No: I discerned
too plainly what Gibbon states, that the Sabellian, if consistent, is
only a concealed Ebionite, or us we now say, a Unitarian, Socinian. As
we cannot admit that the Father was slain on the cross, or prayed to
himself in the garden, he who will not allow the Father and the Son to
be separate persons, but only two names for one person, _must divide
the Son of God and Jesus into two persons_, and so fall back on the
very heresy of Socinus which he is struggling to escape.

On the whole, I saw, that however people might call themselves
Trinitarians, yet if, like Stuart and all the Evangelicals in Church
and Dissent, they turn into a dead letter the _generation_ of the Son
of God, and _the procession_ of the Spirit, nothing is possible but
Sabellianism or Tritheism: or, indeed, Ditheism, if the Spirit's
separate personality is not held. The modern creed is alternately
the one or the other, as occasion requires. Sabellians would find
themselves out to be mere Unitarians, if they always remained
Sabellians: but in fact, they are half their lives Ditheists. They do
not _aim_ at consistency; would an upholder of the pseudo-Athanasian
creed desire it? Why, that creed teaches, that the height of orthodoxy
is to contradict oneself and protest that one does not. Now, however,
rose on me the question: Why do I not take the Irish clergyman at his
word, and attack him and others as idolaters and worshippers of three
Gods? It was unseemly and absurd in him to try to force me into
what he must have judged uncharitableness; but it was not the less
incumbent on me to find a reply.

I remembered that in past years I had expressly disowned, as obviously
unscriptural and absurd, prayers to the Holy Spirit, on the ground
that the Spirit is evidently _God in the hearts of the faithful_, and
nothing else: and it did not appear to me that any but a few extreme
and rather fanatical persons could be charged with making the Spirit
a third God or object of distinct worship. On the other hand, I could
not deny that the Son and the Father were thus distinguished to the
mind. So indeed John expressly avowed--"truly our fellowship is with
the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." I myself also had prayed
sometimes to God and sometimes to Christ, alternately and confusedly.
Now, indeed, I was better taught! now I was more logical and
consistent! I had found a triumphant answer to the charge of Ditheism,
in that I believed the Son to be derived from the Father, and not to
be the Unoriginated--No doubt! yet, after all, could I seriously think
that morally and spiritually I was either better or worse for this
discovery? I could not pretend that I was.

This showed me, that if a man of partially unsound and visionary mind
made the angel Gabriel a _fourth person_ in the Godhead, it might
cause no difference whatever in the actings of his spirit The great
question would be, whether he ascribed the same moral perfection
to Gabriel as to the Father. If so, to worship him would be no
degradation to the soul; even if absolute omnipotence were not
attributed, nay, nor a past eternal existence. It thus became clear
to me, that Polytheism _as such_ is not a moral and spiritual, but at
most only an intellectual, error; and that its practical evil consists
in worshipping beings whom we represent to our imaginations as morally
imperfect. Conversely, one who imputes to God sentiments and conduct
which in man he would call capricious or cruel, such a one, even if
he be as monotheistic as a Mussulman, admits into his soul the whole
virus of Idolatry.

Why then did I at all cling to the doctrine of Christ's superior
nature, and not admit it among things indifferent? In obedience to the
Scripture, I did actually affirm, that, as for as creed is concerned,
a man should be admissible into the Church on the bare confession that
_Jesus was the Christ_. Still, I regarded a belief in his superhuman
origin as of first-rate importance, for many reasons, and among
others, owing to its connexion with the doctrine of the Atonement; on
which there is much to be said.

* * * * *

The doctrine which I used to read as a boy, taught that a vast sum of
punishment was due to God for the sins of men. This vast sum was made
up of all the woes due through eternity to the whole human race, or,
as some said, to the elect. Christ on the cross bore this punishment
himself and thereby took it away: thus God is enabled to forgive
without violating justice.--But I early encountered unanswerable
difficulty on this theory, as to the question, whether Christ had
borne the punishment of _all_ or of _some_ only. If of all, is it not
unjust to inflict any of it on any? If of the elect only, what gospel
have you to preach? for then you cannot tell sinners that God has
provided a Saviour for them; for you do not know whether those whom
you address are elect. Finding no way out of this, I abandoned the
fundamental idea of _compensation in quantity_, as untenable; and
rested in the vaguer notion, that God signally showed his abhorrence
of sin, by laying tremendous misery on the Saviour who was to bear
away sin.

I have already narrated, how at Oxford I was embarrassed as to the
forensic propriety of transferring punishment at all. This however
I received as matter of authority, and rested much on the wonderful
exhibition made of the evil of sin, when _such_ a being could be
subjected to preternatural suffering as a vicarious sinbearer. To
this view, a high sense of the personal dignity of Jesus was quite
essential; and therefore I had always felt a great repugnance for Mr.
Belsham, Dr. Priestley, and the Unitarians of that school, though I
had not read a line of their writings.

A more intimate familiarity with St. Paul and an anxious harmonizing
of my very words to the Scripture, led me on into a deviation from the
popular creed, of the full importance of which I was not for some
time aware. I perceived that it is not the _agonies_ of mind or body
endured by Christ, which in the Scriptures are said to take away sin,
but his "death," his "laying down his life," or sometimes even
his _resurrection_. I gradually became convinced, that when his
"suffering," or more especially his "blood," is emphatically spoken
of, nothing is meant but his _violent death_. In the Epistle to the
Hebrews, where the analogy of Sacrifice is so pressed, we see that the
pains which Jesus bore were in order that he might "learn obedience,"
but our redemption is effected by his dying as a voluntary victim: in
which, death by bloodshed, not pain, is the cardinal point. So too
the Paschal lamb (to which, though not properly a sacrifice, the dying
Christ is compared by Paul) was not roasted alive, or otherwise put to
slow torment, but was simply killed. I therefore saw that the doctrine
of "vicarious agonies" was fundamentally unscriptural.

This being fully discerned, I at last became bold to criticize the
popular tenet. What should we think of a judge, who, when a boy had
deserved a stripe which would to him have been a sharp punishment,
laid the very same blow on a strong man, to whom it was a slight
infliction? Clearly this would evade, not satisfy justice. To carry
out the principle, the blow might be laid as well on a giant, an
elephant, or on an inanimate thing. So, to lay our punishment on the
infinite strength of Christ, who (they say) bore in six hours what it
would have taken thousands of millions of men all eternity to bear,
would be a similar evasion.--I farther asked, if we were to fall in
with Pagans, who tortured their victims to death as an atonement, what
idea of God should we think them to form? and what should we reply,
if they said, it gave them a wholesome view of his hatred of sin? A
second time I shuddered at the notions which I had once imbibed as a
part of religion, and then got comfort from the inference, how much
better men of this century are than their creed. Their creed was the
product of ages of cruelty and credulity; and it sufficiently bears
that stamp.

Thus I rested in the Scriptural doctrine, that the _death_ of Christ
is our atonement. To say the same of the death of Paul, was obviously
unscriptural: it was, then, essential to believe the physical nature
of Christ to be different from that of Paul. If otherwise, death was
due to Jesus as the lot of nature: how could such death have anything
to do with our salvation? On this ground the Unitarian doctrine was
utterly untenable: I could see nothing between my own view and a total
renunciation of the _authority of the doctrines_ promulgated by Paul
and John.

Nevertheless, my own view seemed mere and more unmeaning the more
closely it was interrogated. When I ascribed death to Christ, what
did death mean? and what or whom did I suppose to die? Was it man
that died, or God? If man only, how was that wonderful, or how did it
concern us? Besides;--persons die, not natures: a _nature_ is only a
collection of properties: if Christ was one person, all Christ
died. Did, then, God die, and man remain alive! For God to become
non-existent is an unimaginable absurdity. But is this death a mere
change of state, a renunciation of earthly life? Still it remains
unclear how the parting with mere human life could be to one who
possesses divine life either an atonement or a humiliation. Was it not
rather an escape from humiliation, saving only the mode of death?
So severe was this difficulty, that at length I unawares dropt from
Semi-Arianism into pure Arianism, by _so_ distinguishing the Son from
the Father, as to admit the idea that the Son of God had actually
been non-existent in the interval between death and resurrection:
nevertheless, I more and more felt, that _to be able to define my
own notions on such questions had exceedingly little to do with my
spiritual state_. For me it was important and essential to know that
God hated sin, and that God had forgiven my sin: but to know one
particular manifestation of his hatred of sin, or the machinery
by which He had enabled himself to forgive, was of very secondary
importance. When He proclaims to me in his word, that He is forgiving
to all the penitent, it is not for me to reply, that "I cannot believe
that, until I hear how He manages to reconcile such conduct with his
other attributes." Yet, I remembered, this was Bishop Beveridge's
sufficient refutation of Mohammedism, which teaches no atonement.

* * * * *

At the same time great progress had been made in my mind towards the
overthrow of the correlative dogma of the Fall of man and his total
corruption. Probably for years I had been unawares anti-Calvinistic
on this topic. Even at Oxford, I had held that human depravity is
a _fact_, which it is absurd to argue against; a fact, attested by
Thucydides, Polybius, Horace, and Tacitus, almost as strongly as by
St. Paul. Yet in admitting man's total corruption, I interpreted this
of _spiritual_, not of _moral_, perversion: for that there were kindly
and amiable qualities even in the unregenerate, was quite as clear a
fact as any other. Hence in result I did _not_ attribute to man any
great essential depravity, in the popular and moral sense of the word;
and the doctrine amounted only to this, that "_spiritually_, man
is paralyzed, until the grace of God comes freely upon him." How to
reconcile this with the condemnation, and punishment of man for being
unspiritual, I knew not. I saw, and did not dissemble, the difficulty;
but received it as a mystery hereafter to be cleared up.

But it gradually broke upon me, that when Paul said nothing stronger
than heathen moralists had said about human wickedness, it was absurd
to quote his words, any more than theirs, in proof of a _Fall_,--that
is, of a permanent degeneracy induced by the first sin of the first
man: and when I studied the 5th chapter of the Romans, I found it was
_death_, not _corruption_, which Adam was said to have entailed. In
short, I could scarcely find the modern doctrine of the "Fall" any
where in the Bible. I then remembered that Calvin, in his Institutes,
complains that all the Fathers are heterodox on this point; the Greek
Fathers being grievously overweening in their estimate of human power;
while of the Latin Fathers even Augustine is not always up to Calvin's
mark of orthodoxy. This confirmed my rising conviction that the tenet
is of rather recent origin. I afterwards heard, that both it and the
doctrine of compensatory misery were first systematized by Archbishop
Anselm, in the reign of our William Rufus: but I never took the pains
to verify this.

For meanwhile I had been forcibly impressed with the following
thought. Suppose a youth to have been carefully brought up at home,
and every temptation kept out of his way: suppose him to have been in
appearance virtuous, amiable, religious: suppose, farther, that at the
age of twenty-one he goes out into the world, and falls into sin by
the first temptation:--how will a Calvinistic teacher moralize over
such a youth? Will he not say: "Behold a proof of the essential
depravity of human nature! See the affinity of man for sin! How fair
and deceptive was this young man's virtue, while he was sheltered from
temptation; but oh! how rotten has it proved itself!"--Undoubtedly,
the Calvinist would and must so moralize. But it struck me, that if I
substituted the name of _Adam_ for the youth, the argument proved
the primitive corruption of Adam's nature. Adam fell by the first
temptation: what greater proof of a fallen nature have _I_ ever given?
or what is it possible for any one to give?--I thus discerned that
there was _a priori_ impossibility of fixing on myself the imputation
of _degeneracy_, without fixing the same on Adam. In short, Adam
undeniably proved his primitive nature to be frail; so do we all: but
as _he_ was nevertheless not primitively corrupt, why should we call
ourselves so? Frailty, then, is not corruption, and does not prove

"Original sin" (says one of the 39 Articles) "standeth not in the
following of Adam, _as the Pelagians do vainly talk_," &c. Alas, then!
was I become a Pelagian? certainly I could no longer see that Adam's
first sin affected me more than his second or third, or so much as the
sins of my immediate parents. A father who, for instance, indulges
in furious passions and exciting liquors, may (I suppose) transmit
violent passions to his son. In this sense I could not wholly reject
the possibility of transmitted corruption; but it had nothing to do
with the theological doctrine of the "Federal Headship" of Adam. Not
that I could wholly give up this last doctrine; for I still read it in
the 5th chapter of Romans. But it was clear to me, that whatever that
meant, I could not combine it with the idea of degeneracy, nor could
I find a proof of it in the _fact_ of prevalent wickedness. Thus I
received a shadowy doctrine on mere Scriptural _authority_; it had no
longer any root in my understanding or heart.

Moreover, it was manifest to me that the Calvinistic view is based in
a vain attempt to acquit God of having created a "sinful" being, while
the broad Scriptural fact is, that he did create a being as truly
"liable to sin" as any of us. If that needs no exculpation, how more
does _our_ state need it? Does it not suffice to say, that "every
creature, because he is a creature and not God, must necessarily
be frail?" But Calvin intensely aggravates whatever there is of
difficulty: for he supposes God to have created the most precious
thing on earth in _unstable equilibrium_, so as to tipple over
irrecoverably at the first infinitesimal touch, and with it wreck for
ever the spiritual hopes of all Adam's posterity. Surely all nature
proclaims, that if God planted any spiritual nature at all in man, it
was in _stable equilibrium_, able to right itself when deranged.

Lastly, I saw that the Calvinistic doctrine of human degeneracy
teaches, that God disowns my nature (the only nature I ever had) as
not his work, but the devil's work. He hereby tells me that he is
_not_ my Creator, and he disclaims his right over me, as a father
who disowns a child. To teach this is to teach that I owe him no
obedience, no worship, no trust: to sever the cords that bind the
creature to the Creator, and to make all religion gratuitous and vain.

Thus Calvinism was found by me not only not to be Evangelical, but
not to be logical, in spite of its high logical pretensions, and to
be irreconcilable with any intelligent theory of religion. Of "gloomy
Calvinism" I had often heard people speak with an emphasis,
that annoyed me as highly unjust; for mine had not been a gloomy
religion:--far, very far from it. On the side of eternal punishment,
its theory, no doubt, had been gloomy enough; but human nature has a
notable art of not realizing all the articles of a creed; moreover,
_this_ doctrine is equally held by Arminians. But I was conscious,
that in dropping Calvinism I had lost nothing _Evangelical_: on
the contrary, the gospel which I retained was as spiritual and
deep-hearted as before, only more merciful.

* * * * *

Before this Third Period of my creed was completed, I made my first
acquaintance with a Unitarian. This gentleman showed much sweetness
of mind, largeness of charity, and a timid devoutness which I had not
expected in such a quarter. His mixture of credulity and incredulity
seemed to me capricious, and wholly incoherent. First, as to his
incredulity, or rather, boldness of thought. Eternal punishment was a
notion, which nothing could make him believe, and for which it would
be useless to quote Scripture to him; for the doctrine (he said)
darkened the moral character of God, and produced malignity in man.
That Christ had any higher nature than we all have, was a tenet
essentially inadmissible; first, because it destroyed all moral
benefit from his example and sympathy, and next, because no one has
yet succeeded in even stating the doctrine of the Incarnation without
contradicting himself. If Christ was but one person, one mind, then
that one mind could not be simultaneously finite and infinite, nor
therefore simultaneously God and man. But when I came to hear more
from this same gentleman, I found him to avow that no Trinitarian
could have a higher conception than he of the present power and glory
of Christ. He believed that the man Jesus is at the head of the whole
moral creation of God; that all power in heaven and earth is given to
him: that he will be Judge of all men, and is himself raised above all
judgment. This was to me unimaginable from his point of view. Could
he really think Jesus to be a mere man, and yet believe him to be
sinless? On what did that belief rest? Two texts were quoted in
proof, 1 Pet. ii. 21, and Heb. iv. 15. Of these, the former did not
necessarily mean anything more than that Jesus was unjustly put to
death; and the latter belonged to an Epistle, which my new friend had
already rejected as unapostolic and not of first-rate authority, when
speaking of the Atonement. Indeed, that the Epistle to the Hebrews
is not from the hand of Paul, had very long seemed to me an obvious
certainty,--as long as I had had any delicate feeling of Greek style.

That a human child, born with the nature of other children, and having
to learn wisdom and win virtue through the same process, should grow
up sinless, appeared to me an event so paradoxical, as to need the
most amply decisive proof. Yet what kind of proof was possible?
Neither Apollos, (if he was the author of the Epistle to the Hebrew,)
nor yet Peter, had any power of _attesting_ the sinlessness of Jesus,
as a fact known to themselves personally: they could only learn it by
some preternatural communication, to which, nevertheless, the passages
before us implied no pretension whatever. To me it appeared an
axiom,[3] that if Jesus was in physical origin a mere man, he was,
like myself, a sinful man, and therefore certainly not my Judge,
certainly not an omniscient reader of all hearts; nor on any account
to be bowed down to as Lord. To exercise hope, faith, trust in
him, seemed then an impiety. I did not mean to impute impiety to
Unitarians; still I distinctly believed that English Unitarianism
could never afford me a half hour's resting-place.

Nevertheless, from contact with this excellent person I learned how
much tenderness of spirit a Unitarian may have; and it pleasantly
enlarged my charity, although I continued to feel much repugnance
for his doctrine, and was anxious and constrained in the presence of
Unitarians. From the same collision with him, I gained a fresh insight
into a part of my own mind. I had always regarded the Gospels (at
least the three first) to be to the Epistles nearly as Law to Gospel;
that is, the three gospels dealt chiefly in _precept_, the epistles
in _motives_ which act on the affections. This did not appear to me
dishonourable to the teaching of Christ; for I supposed it to be a
pre-determined development. But I now discovered that there was a
deeper distaste in me for the details of the human life of Christ,
than I was previously conscious of--a distaste which I found out, by
a reaction from the minute interest felt in such details by my new
friend. For several years more, I did not fully understand how and why
this was; viz. that _my religion had always been Pauline_. Christ was
to me the ideal of glorified human nature: but I needed some dimness
in the portrait to give play to my imagination: if drawn too sharply
historical, it sank into something not superhuman, and caused a
revulsion of feeling. As all paintings of the miraculous used to
displease and even disgust me from a boy by the unbelief which they
inspired; so if any one dwelt on the special proofs of tenderness and
love exhibited in certain words or actions of Jesus, it was apt to
call out in me a sense, that from day to day equal kindness might
often be met. The imbecility of preachers, who would dwell on such
words as "Weep not," as if nobody else ever uttered such,--had always
annoyed me. I felt it impossible to obtain a worthy idea of Christ
from studying any of the details reported concerning him. If I
dwelt too much on these, I got a finite object; but I yearned for an
infinite one: hence my preference for John's mysterious Jesus. Thus my
Christ was not the figure accurately painted in the narrative, but one
kindled in my imagination by the allusions and (as it were) poetry of
the New Testament. I did not wish for vivid historical realisation:
relics I could never have valued: pilgrimages to Jerusalem had always
excited in me more of scorn than of sympathy;--and I make no doubt
such was fundamentally Paul's[4] feeling. On the contrary, it began
to appear to me (and I believe not unjustly) that the Unitarian mind
revelled peculiarly in "Christ after the flesh," whom Paul resolved
not to know. Possibly in this circumstance will be found to lie the
strong and the weak points of the Unitarian religious character, as
contrasted with that of the Evangelical, far more truly than in the
doctrine of the Atonement. I can testify that the Atonement may be
dropt out of Pauline religion without affecting its quality; so may
Christ be spiritualized into God, and identified with the Father: but
I suspect that a Pauline faith could not, without much violence and
convulsion, be changed into devout admiration of a clearly drawn
historical character; as though any full and unsurpassable embodiment
of God's moral perfections could be exhibited with ink and pen.

A reviewer, who has since made his name known, has pointed to the
preceding remarks, as indicative of my deficiency in _imagination_ and
my tendency to _romance_. My dear friend is undoubtedly right in the
former point; I am destitute of (creative) poetical imagination: and
as to the latter point, his insight into character is so great, that
I readily believe him to know me better than I know myself,
Nevertheless, I think he has mistaken the nature of the preceding
argument. I am, on the contrary, almost disposed to say, that those
have a tendency to romance who can look at a picture with men flying
into the air, or on an angel with a brass trumpet, and dead men rising
out of their graves with good stout muscles, and _not_ feel that the
picture suggests unbelief. Nor do I confess to romance in my desire
of something _more_ than historical and daily human nature in the
character of Jesus; for all Christendom, between the dates A.D. 100
to A.D. 1850, with the exception of small eccentric coteries, has held
Jesus to be essentially superhuman. Paul and John so taught concerning
him. To believe their doctrine (I agree with my friend) is, in some
sense, a weakness of understanding; but it is a weakness to which
minds of every class have been for ages liable.

* * * * *

Such had been the progress of my mind, towards the end of what I will
call my Third Period. In it the authority of the Scriptures as to
some details (which at length became highly important) had begun to be
questioned; of which I shall proceed to speak: but hitherto this
was quite secondary to the momentous revolution which lay Calvinism
prostrate in my mind, which opened my heart to Unitarians, and, I may
say, to unbelievers; which enlarged all my sympathies, and soon set me
to practise free moral thought, at least as a necessity, if not as
a duty. Yet I held fast an unabated reverence for the moral and
spiritual teaching of the New Testament, and had not the most remote
conception that anything could ever shatter my belief in its great
miracles. In fact, during this period, I many times yearned to proceed
to India, whither my friend Groves had transferred his labours and his
hopes; but I was thwarted by several causes, and was again and again
damped by the fear of bigotry from new quarters. Otherwise, I thought
I could succeed in merging as needless many controversies. In all
the workings of any mind about Tri-unity, Incarnation, Atonement, the
Fall, Resurrection, Immortality, Eternal Punishment, how little had
any of these to do with the inward exercises of my soul towards God!
He was still the same, immutably glorious: not one feature of his
countenance had altered to my gaze, or could alter. This surely was
the God whom Christ came to reveal, and bring us into fellowship with:
this is that, about which Christians ought to have no controversy, but
which they should unitedly, concordantly, themselves enjoy and exhibit
to the heathen. But oh, Christendom! what dost thou believe and teach?
The heathen cry out to thee,--Physician, heal thyself.

[Footnote 1: I afterwards learned that some of those gentlemen
esteemed boldness of thought "a lust of the mind," and as such, an
immorality. This enables them to persuade themselves that they do not
reject a "heretic" for a matter of _opinion_, but for that which they
have a right to call "_immoral_". What immorality was imputed to me, I
was not distinctly informed.]

[Footnote 2: I really thought it needless to quote proof that but
_few_ will be saved, Matth. vii. 14. I know there is a class of
Christians who believe in Universal salvation, and there are others
who disbelieve eternal torment. They must not be angry with me for
refuting the doctrine of other Christians, which they hold to be

[Footnote 3: In this (second) edition, I have added an entire chapter
expressly on the subject.]

[Footnote 4: The same may probably be said of all the apostles, and
their whole generation. If they had looked on the life of Jesus with
the same tender and human affection as modern Unitarians and pious
Romanists do, the church would have swarmed with _holy coats_ and
other relics in the very first age. The mother of Jesus and her
little establishment would at once have swelled into importance. This
certainly was not the case; which may make it doubtful whether the
other apostles dwelt at all more on the _human personality_, of Jesus
than Paul did. Strikingly different as James is from Paul, he is in
this respect perfectly agreed with him.]



It has been stated that I had already begun to discern that it was
impossible with perfect honesty to defend every tittle contained in
the Bible. Most of the points which give moral offence in the book of
Genesis I had been used to explain away by the doctrine of Progress;
yet every now and then it became hard to deny that God is represented
as giving an actual _sanction_ to that which we now call sinful.
Indeed, up and down the Scriptures very numerous texts are scattered,
which are notorious difficulties with commentators. These I had
habitually _overruled_ one by one: but again of late, since I had been
forced to act and talk less and think more, they began to encompass
me. But I was for a while too full of other inquiries to follow up
coherently any of my doubts or perceptions, until my mind became at
length nailed down to the definite study of one well-known passage.

This passage may be judged of extremely secondary importance in
itself, yet by its remoteness from all properly spiritual and profound
questions, it seemed to afford to me the safest of arguments. The
_genealogy_ with which the gospel of Matthew opens, I had long known
to be a stumbling-block to divines, and I had never been satisfied
with their explanations. On reading it afresh, after long
intermission, and comparing it for myself with the Old Testament, I
was struck with observing that the corruption of the two names Ahaziah
and Uzziah into the same sound (Oziah) has been the cause of
merging four generations into one; as the similarity of Jehoiakim to
Jehoiachin also led to blending them both in the name Jeconiah. In
consequence, there ought to be 18 generations where Matthew has given
as only 14: yet we cannot call this on error of a transcriber; for it
is distinctly remarked, that the genealogy consists of 14 three times
repeated. Thus there were but 14 names inserted by Matthew: yet it
ought to have been 18: and he was under manifest mistake. This surely
belongs to a class of knowledge, of which man has cognizance: it would
not be piety, but grovelling superstition, to avow before God that I
distrust my powers of counting, and, in obedience to the written word,
I believe that 18 is 14 and 14 is 18. Thus it is impossible to deny,
that there is cognizable error in the first chapter of Matthew.
Consequently, that gospel is not all dictated by the Spirit of God,
and (unless we can get rid of the first chapter as no part of the
Bible) the doctrine of the verbal infallibility of the whole Bible, or
indeed of the New Testament, is demonstrably false.

After I had turned the matter over often, and had become accustomed
to the thought, this single instance at length had great force to give
boldness to my mind within a very narrow range. I asked whether,
if the chapter were now proved to be spurious, that would save the
infallibility of the Bible. The reply was: not of the Bible as it is;
but only of the Bible when cleared of that _and of all other_ spurious
additions. If by independent methods, such as an examination of
manuscripts, the spuriousness of the chapter could now be shown, _this
would verify the faculty of criticism_ which has already objected to
its contents: thus it would justly urge us to apply similar criticism
to other passages.

I farther remembered, and now brought together under a single point of
view, other undeniable mistakes. The genealogy of the nominal father
of Jesus in Luke is inconsistent with that in Matthew, in spite of the
flagrant dishonesty with which divines seek to deny this; and neither
evangelist gives the genealogy of Mary, which alone is wanted.--In
Acts vii. 16, the land which _Jacob_ bought of the children of
Hamor,[1] is confounded with that which _Abraham_ bought of Ephron the
Hittite. In Acts v. 36, 37, Gamaliel is made to say that Theudas was
earlier in time than Judas of Galilee. Yet in fact, Judas of Galilee
preceded Theudas; and the revolt of Theudas had not yet taken place
when Gamaliel spoke, so the error is not Gamaliel's, but Luke's. Of
both the insurgents we have a dear and unimpeached historical account
in Josephus.--The slaughter of the infants by Herod, if true, must, I
thought, needs have been recorded by the same historian,--So again, in
regard to the allusion made by Jesus to Zacharias, son of Barachias,
as _last of the martyrs_, it was difficult for me to shake off the
suspicion, that a gross error had been committed, and that the person
intended is the "Zacharias son of Baruchus," who, as we know from
Josephus, was martyred _within the courts of the temple_ during the
siege of Jerusalem by Titus, about 40 years after the crucifixion. The
well-known prophet Zechariah was indeed son of Berechiah; but he was
not last of the martyrs,[2] if indeed he was martyred at all. On the
whole, the persuasion stuck to me, that words had been put into
the mouth of Jesus, which he could not possibly have used.--The
impossibility of settling the names of the twelve apostles struck me
as a notable fact.--I farther remembered the numerous difficulties of
harmonizing the four gospels; how, when a boy at school, I had tried
to incorporate all four into one history, and the dismay with which
I had found the insoluble character of the problem,--the endless
discrepancies and perpetual uncertainties. These now began to seem to
me inherent in the materials, and not to be ascribable to our want of

I had also discerned in the opening of Genesis things which could
not be literally received. The geography of the rivers in Paradise is
inexplicable, though it assumes the tone of explanation. The curse
on the serpent, who is to go on his belly--(how else did he go
before?)--and eat dust, is a capricious punishment on a race of
brutes, one of whom the Devil chose to use as his instrument. That
the painfulness of childbirth is caused, not by Eve's sin, but by
artificial habits and a weakened nervous system, seems to be proved
by the twofold fact, that savage women and wild animals suffer but
little, and tame cattle often suffer as much as human females.--About
this time also, I had perceived (what I afterwards learned the Germans
to have more fully investigated) that the two different accounts of
the Creation are distinguished by the appellations given to the divine
Creator. I did not see how to resist the inference that the book
is made up of heterogeneous documents, and was not put forth by the
direct dictation of the Spirit to Moses.

A new stimulus was after this given to my mind by two short
conversations with the late excellent Dr. Arnold at Rugby. I had
become aware of the difficulties encountered by physiologists in
believing the whole human race to have proceeded in about 6000 years
from a single Adam and Eve; and that the longevity (not
miraculous, but ordinary) attributed to the patriarchs was another
stumbling-block. The geological difficulties of the Mosaic cosmogony
were also at that time exciting attention. It was a novelty to me,
that Arnold treated these questions as matters of indifference to
religion; and did not hesitate to say, that the account of Noah's
deluge was evidently mythical, and the history of Joseph "a beautiful
poem." I was staggered at this. If all were not descended from Adam,
what became of St. Paul's parallel between the first and second Adam,
and the doctrine of Headship and Atonement founded on it? If the world
was not made in six days, how could we defend the Fourth Commandment
as true, though said to have been written in stone by the very finger
of God? If Noah's deluge was a legend, we should at least have to
admit that Peter did not know this: what too would be said of Christ's
allusion to it? I was unable to admit Dr. Arnold's views; but to see a
vigorous mind, deeply imbued with Christian devoutness, so convinced,
both reassured me that I need not fear moral mischiefs from free
inquiry, and indeed laid that inquiry upon me as a duty.

Here, however, was a new point started. Does the question of the
derivation of the human race from two parents belong to things
cognizable by the human intellect, or to things about which we must
learn submissively? Plainly to the former. It would be monstrous to
deny that such inquiries legitimately belong to physiology, or to
proscribe a free study of this science. If so, there was an _a
priori_ possibility, that what is in the strictest sense called
"religious doctrine" might come into direct collision, not merely with
my ill-trained conscience, but with legitimate science; and that this
would call on me to ask: "Which of the two certainties is stronger?
that the religious parts of the Scripture are infallible, or that the
science is trustworthy?" and I then first saw, that while science had
(within however limited a range of thought) demonstration or severe
verifications, it was impossible to pretend to anything so cogent in
favour of the infallibility of any or some part of the Scriptures;
a doctrine which I was accustomed to believe, and felt to be a
legitimate presumption; yet one of which it grew harder and harder
to assign any proof, the more closely I analyzed it. Nevertheless, I
still held it fast, and resolved not to let it go until I was forced.

A fresh strain fell on the Scriptural infallibility, in contemplating
the origin of Death. Geologists assured us, that death went on in
the animal creation many ages before the existence of man. The rocks
formed of the shells of animals testify that death is a phenomenon
thousands of thousand years old: to refer the death of animals to
the sin of Adam and Eve is evidently impossible. Yet, if not, the
analogies of the human to the brute form make it scarcely credible
that man's body can ever have been intended for immortality. Nay, when
we consider the conditions of birth and growth to which it is subject,
the wear and tear essential to life, the new generations intended to
succeed and supplant the old,--so soon as the question is proposed as
one of physiology, the reply is inevitable that death is no accident
introduced by the perverse will of our first parents, nor any way
connected with man's sinfulness; but is purely a result of the
conditions of animal life. On the contrary, St. Paul rests most
important conclusions on the fact, that one man Adam by personal sin
brought death upon all his posterity. If this was a fundamental error,
religious doctrine also is shaken.

In various attempts at compromise,--such as conceding the Scriptural
fallibility in human science, but maintaining its spiritual
perfection,--I always found the division impracticable. At last it
pressed on me, that if I admitted morals to rest on an independent
basis, it was dishonest to shut my eyes to any apparent collisions of
morality with the Scriptures. A very notorious and decisive instance
is that of Jael.--Sisera, when beaten in battle, fled to the tent of
his friend Heber, and was there warmly welcomed by Jael, Heber's wife.
After she had refreshed him with food, and lulled him to sleep, she
killed him by driving a nail into his temples; and for this deed,
(which now-a-days would be called a perfidious murder,) the prophetess
Deborah, in an inspired psalm, pronounces Jael to be "blessed above
women," and glorifies her act by an elaborate description of its
atrocity. As soon as I felt that I was bound to pass a moral judgment
on this, I saw that as regards the Old Testament the battle was
already lost. Many other things, indeed, instantly rose in full power
upon me, especially the command to Abraham to slay his son. Paul and
James agree in extolling Abraham as the pattern of faith; James and
the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews specify the sacrifice of
Isaac as a firstrate fruit of faith: yet if the voice of morality is
allowed to be heard, Abraham was (in heart and intention) not less
guilty than those who sacrificed their children to Molech.

Thus at length it appeared, that I must choose between two courses. I
must EITHER blind my moral sentiment, my powers of criticism, and
my scientific knowledge, (such as they were,) in order to accept the
Scripture entire; OR I must encounter the problem, however arduous,
of adjusting the relative claims of human knowledge and divine
revelation. As to the former method, to name it was to condemn it; for
it would put every system of Paganism on a par with Christianity. If
one system of religion may claim that we blind our hearts and eyes in
its favour, so may another; and there is precisely the same reason
for becoming a Hindoo in religion as a Christian. We cannot be both;
therefore the principle is _demonstrably_ absurd. It is also, of
course, morally horrible, and opposed to countless passages of the
Scriptures themselves. Nor can the argument be evaded by talking of
external evidences; for these also are confessedly moral evidences, to
be judged of by our moral faculties. Nay, according to all Christian
advocates, they are God's test of our moral temper. To allege,
therefore, that our moral faculties are not to judge, is to annihilate
the evidences for Christianity.--Thus, finally, I was lodged in three
inevitable conclusions:

1. The moral and intellectual powers of man must be acknowledged as
having a right and duty to criticize the contents of the Scripture:

2. When so exerted, they condemn portions of the Scripture as
erroneous and immoral:

3. The assumed infallibility of the _entire_ Scripture is a proved
falsity, not merely as to physiology, and other scientific matters,
but also as to morals: and it remains for farther inquiry how to
discriminate the trustworthy from the untrustworthy within the limits
of the Bible itself.

* * * * *

When distinctly conscious, after long efforts to evade it, that
this was and must henceforth be my position, I ruminated on the many
auguries which had been made concerning me by frightened friends. "You
will become a Socinian," had been said of me even at Oxford: "You will
become an infidel," had since been added. My present results, I was
aware, would seem a sadly triumphant confirmation to the clearsighted
instinct of orthodoxy. But the animus of such prophecies had always
made me indignant, and I could not admit that there was any merit in
such clearsightedness. What! (used I to say,) will you shrink from
truth, lest it lead to error? If following truth must bring us to
Socinianism, let us by all means become Socinians, or anything else.
Surely we do not love our doctrines more than the truth, but because
they are the truth. Are we not exhorted to "prove all things, and hold
fast that which is good?"--But to my discomfort, I generally found
that this (to me so convincing) argument for feeling no alarm, only
caused more and more alarm, and gloomier omens concerning me. On
considering all this in leisurely retrospect, I began painfully to
doubt, whether after all there is much love of truth even among those
who have an undeniable strength of religious feeling. I questioned
with myself, whether love of truth is not a virtue demanding a robust
mental cultivation; whether mathematical or other abstract studies may
not be practically needed for it. But no: for how then could it exist
in some feminine natures? how in rude and unphilosophical times? On
the whole, I rather concluded, that there is in nearly all English
education a positive repressing of a young person's truthfulness; for
I could distinctly see, that in my own case there was always need of
defying authority and public opinion,--not to speak of more serious
sacrifices,--if I was to follow truth. All society seemed so to
hate novelties of thought, as to prefer the chances of error in the
old.--Of course! why, how could it be otherwise, while Test Articles
were maintained?

Yet surely if God is truth, none sincerely aspire to him, who dread to
lose their present opinions in exchange for others truer.--I had not
then read a sentence of Coleridge, which is to this effect: "If any
one begins by loving Christianity more than the truth, he will proceed
to love his Church more than Christianity, and will end by loving his
own opinions better than either." A dim conception of this was in my
mind; and I saw that the genuine love of God was essentially connected
with loving truth as truth, and not truth as our own accustomed
thought, truth as our old prejudice; and that the real saint can never
be afraid to let God teach him one lesson more, or unteach him one
more error. Then I rejoiced to feel how right and sound had been our
principle, that no creed can possibly be used as the touchstone
of spirituality: for man morally excels man, as far as creeds are
concerned, not by assenting to true propositions, but by loving them
because they are discerned to be true, and by possessing a faculty
of discernment sharpened by the love of truth. Such are God's true
apostles, differing enormously in attainment and elevation, but all
born to ascend. For these to quarrel between themselves because they
do not agree in opinions, is monstrous. _Sentiment_, surely, not
_opinion_, is the bond of the Spirit; and as the love of God, so the
love of truth is a high and sacred sentiment, in comparison to which
our creeds are mean.

Well, I had been misjudged; I had been absurdly measured by other
men's creed: but might I not have similarly misjudged others, since
I had from early youth been under similar influences? How many of
my seniors at Oxford I had virtually despised because they were not
evangelical! Had I had opportunity of testing their spirituality?
or had I the faculty of so doing? Had I not really condemned them as
unspiritual, barely because of their creed? On trying to reproduce the
past to my imagination, I could not condemn myself quite as sweepingly
as I wished; but my heart smote me on account of one. I had a brother,
with whose name all England was resounding for praise or blame: from
his sympathies, through pure hatred of Popery, I had long since turned
away. What was this but to judge him by his creed? True, his whole
theory was nothing but Romanism transferred to England: but what
then? I had studied with the deepest interest Mrs. Schimmelpenninck's
account of the Portroyalists, and though I was aware that she exhibits
only the bright side of her subject, yet the absolute excellencies of
her nuns and priests showed that Romanism _as such_ was not fatal to
spirituality. They were persecuted: this did them good perhaps, or
certainly exhibited their brightness. So too my brother surely was
struggling after truth, fighting for freedom to his own heart and
mind, against church articles and stagnancy of thought. For this he
deserved both sympathy and love: but I, alas! had not known and seen
his excellence. But now God had taught me more largeness by bitter
sorrow working the peaceable fruit of righteousness; at last then
I might admire my brother. I therefore wrote to him a letter of
contrition. Some change, either in his mind or in his view of my
position, had taken place; and I was happy to find him once more able,
not only to feel fraternally, as he had always done, but to act
also fraternally. Nevertheless, to this day it is to me a painfully
unsolved mystery, how a mind can claim its freedom in order to
establish bondage.

For the _peculiarities_ of Romanism I feel nothing, and I can pretend
nothing, but contempt, hatred, disgust, or horror. But this system of
falsehood, fraud, unscrupulous and unrelenting ambition, will never
be destroyed, while Protestants keep up their insane anathemas against
opinion. These are the outworks of the Romish citadel: until they are
razed to the ground, the citadel will defy attack. If we are to blind
our eyes, in order to accept an article of King Edward VI., or an
argument of St. Paul's, why not blind them so far as to accept the
Council of Trent? If we are to pronounce that a man "without
doubt shall perish everlastingly," unless he believes the
self-contradictions of the pseudo-Athanasian Creed, why should
we shrink from a similar anathema on those who reject the
self-contradictions of Transsubstantiation? If one man is cast out
of God's favour for eliciting error while earnestly searching after
truth, and another remains in favour by passively receiving the word
of a Church, of a Priest, or of an Apostle, then to search for truth
is dangerous; apathy is safer; then the soul does not come directly
into contact with God and learn of him, but has to learn from, and
unconvincedly submit to, some external authority. This is the germ of
Romanism: its legitimate development makes us Pagans outright.

* * * * *

But in what position was I now, towards the apostles? Could I
admit their inspiration, when I no longer thought them infallible?
Undoubtedly. What could be clearer on every hypothesis, than that they
were inspired on and after the day of Pentecost, and _yet_ remained
ignorant and liable to mistake about the relation of the Gentiles to
the Jews? The moderns have introduced into the idea of inspiration
that of infallibility, to which either _omniscience_ or _dictation_
is essential. That there was no dictation, (said I,) is proved by
the variety of style in the Scriptural writers; that they were not
omniscient, is manifest. In truth, if human minds had not been left
to them, how could they have argued persuasively? was not the superior
success of their preaching to that of Christ, perhaps due to their
sharing in the prejudices of their contemporaries? An orator is most
persuasive, when he is lifted above his hearers on those points
only on which he is to reform their notions. The apostles were not
omniscient: granted: but it cannot hence be inferred that they did not
know the message given them by God. Their knowledge however perfect,
must yet in a human mind have coexisted with ignorance; and nothing
(argued I) but a perpetual miracle could prevent ignorance from now
and then exhibiting itself in some error. But hence to infer that
they are not inspired, and are not messengers from God, is quite
gratuitous. Who indeed imagines that John or Paul understood astronomy
so well as Sir William Herschel? Those who believe that the apostles
might err in human science, need not the less revere their moral and
spiritual wisdom.

At the same time it became a matter of duty to me, if possible,
to discriminate the authoritative from the unauthoritative in the
Scripture, or at any rate avoid to accept and propagate as true
that which is false, even if it be false only as science and not as
religion. I unawares,--more perhaps from old habit than from distinct
conviction,--started from the assumption that my fixed point of
knowledge was to be found in the sensible or scientific, not in the
moral. I still retained from my old Calvinistic doctrine a way of
proceeding, as if purely moral judgment were my weak side, at least
in criticizing the Scripture: so that I preferred never to appeal
to direct moral and spiritual considerations, except in the most
glaringly necessary cases. Thus, while I could not accept the
panegyric on Jael, and on Abraham's intended sacrifice of his son,
I did not venture unceremoniously to censure the extirpation of
the Canaanites by Joshua: of which I barely said to myself, that it
"certainly needed very strong proof" of the divine command to justify
it. I still went so far in timidity as to hesitate to reject on
internal evidence the account of heroes or giants begotten by
angels, who, enticed by the love of women, left heaven for earth. The
narrative in Gen. vi. had long appeared to me undoubtedly to bear this
sense; and to have been so understood by Jude and Peter (2 Pet. ii.),
as, I believe, it also was by the Jews and early Fathers. I did at
length set it aside as incredible; not however from moral repugnance
to it, (for I feared to trust the soundness of my instinct,) but
because I had slid into a new rule of interpretation,--that _I must
not obtrude miracles on the Scripture narrative_. The writers tell
their story without showing any consciousness that it involves
physiological difficulties. To invent a miracle in order to defend
this, began to seem to me unwarrantable.

It had become notorious to the public, that Geologists rejected the
idea of a universal deluge as physically impossible. Whence could
the water come, to cover the highest mountains? Two replies were
attempted: 1. The flood of Noah is not described as universal: 2. The
flood was indeed universal, but the water was added and removed
by miracle.--Neither reply however seemed to me valid. First, the
language respecting the universality of the flood is as strong as any
that could be written: moreover it is stated that the tops of the
high hills _were all covered_, and after the water subsides, the ark
settles on the mountains of Armenia. Now in Armenia, of necessity
numerous peaks would be seen, unless the water covered them, and
especially Ararat. But a flood that covered Ararat would overspread
all the continents, and leave only a few summits above. If then
the account in Genesis is to be received, the flood was universal.
Secondly: the narrator represents the surplus water to have come from
the clouds and perhaps from the sea, and again to drain back into the
sea. Of a miraculous _creation and destruction_ of water, he evidently
does not dream.

Other impossibilities came forward: the insufficient dimensions of
the ark to take in all the creatures; the unsuitability of the
same climate to arctic and tropical animals for a full year; the
impossibility of feeding them and avoiding pestilence; and especially,
the total disagreement of the modern facts of the dispersion of
animals, with the idea that they spread anew from Armenia as their
centre. We have no right to call in a series of miracles to solve
difficulties, of which the writer was unconscious. The ark itself was
expressly devised to economize miracle, by making a fresh creation of
animals needless.

Different in kind was the objection which I felt to the story, which
is told twice concerning Abraham and once concerning Isaac, of passing
off a wife as a sister. Allowing that such a thing was barely not
impossible, the improbability was so intense, as to demand the
strictest and most cogent proof: yet when we asked, Who testifies it?
no proof appeared that it was Moses; or, supposing it to be he, what
his sources of knowledge were. And this led to the far wider remark,
that nowhere in the book of Genesis is there a line to indicate who is
the writer, or a sentence to imply that the writer believes himself to
write by special information from God. Indeed, it is well known that
were are numerous small phrases which denote a later hand than that
of Moses. The kings of Israel are once alluded to historically, Gen.
xxxvi. 31.

Why then was anything improbable to be believed on the writer's word?
as, for instance, the story of Babel and the confusion of tongues? One
reply only seemed possible; namely, that we believe the Old Testament
in obedience to the authority of the New: and this threw me again
to consider the references to the Old Testament in the Christian

* * * * *

But here, the difficulties soon became manifestly more and more
formidable. In opening Matthew, we meet with quotations from the Old
Testament applied in the most startling way. First is the prophecy
about the child Immanuel; which in Isaiah no unbiassed interpreter
would have dreamed could apply to Jesus. Next; the words of Hosea,
"Out of Egypt have I called my son," which do but record the history
of Israel, are imagined by Matthew to be prophetic of the return of
Jesus from Egypt. This instance moved me much; because I thought, that
if the text were "spiritualized," so as to make Israel mean _Jesus_,
Egypt also ought to be spiritualized and mean _the world_, not retain
its geographical sense, which seemed to be carnal and absurd in such a
connection: for Egypt is no more to Messiah than Syria or Greece.--One
of the most decisive testimonies to the Old Testament which the New
contains, is in John x., 35, where I hardly knew how to allow myself
to characterize the reasoning. The case stands thus. The 82nd Psalm
rebukes _unjust_ governors; and at length says to them: "I have said,
Ye are gods, and all of you are children of the most high: but ye
shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes." In other
words:--"though we are apt _to think_ of rulers _as if_ they were
superhuman, yet they shall meet the lot of common men." Well: how is
this applied in John?--Jesus has been accused of blasphemy, for saying
that "He and his Father are one;" and in reply, he quotes the verse,
"I have said, Ye are gods," as his sufficient justification for
calling himself Son of God; for "the Scripture cannot be broken." I
dreaded to precipitate myself into shocking unbelief, if I followed
out the thoughts that this suggested; and (I know not how) for a long
time yet put it off.

The quotations from the Old Testament in St. Paul had always been a
mystery to me. The more I now examined them, the clearer it appeared
that they were based on untenable Rabbinical principles. Nor are those
in the Acts and in the Gospels any better. If we take free leave to
canvass them, it may appear that not one quotation in ten is sensible
and appropriate. And shall we then accept the decision of the New
Testament writers as final, concerning the value and credibility of
the Old Testament, when it is so manifest that they most imperfectly
understood that book?

In fact the appeal to them proved too much. For Jude quotes the book
of Enoch as an inspired prophecy, and yet, since Archbishop Laurence
has translated it from the Ethiopian, we know that book to be a fable
undeserving of regard, and undoubtedly not written by "Enoch, the
seventh from Adam." Besides, it does not appear that any peculiar
divine revelation taught them that the Old Testament is perfect
truth. In point of fact, they only reproduce the ideas on that subject
current in their age. So far as Paul deviates from the common Jewish
view, it is in the direction of disparaging the Law as essentially
imperfect. May it not seem that his remaining attachment to it was
still exaggerated by old sentiment and patriotism?

I farther found that not only do the Evangelists give us no hint that
they thought themselves divinely inspired, or that they had any other
than human sources of knowledge, but Luke most explicitly shows the
contrary. He opens by stating to Theophilus, that since many persons
have committed to writing the things handed down from eye-witnesses,
it seemed good to him also to do the same, since he had "accurately
attended to every thing from its sources ([Greek: anothen])." He could
not possibly have written thus, if he had been conscious of superhuman
aids. How absurd then of us, to pretend that we know more than Luke
knew of his own inspiration!

In truth, the arguments of theologians to prove the inspiration
(i.e. infallibility) of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, are sometimes almost
ludicrous. My lamented friend, John Sterling, has thus summed up
Dr. Henderson's arguments about Mark. "Mark was probably inspired,
_because he was an acquaintance of Peter_; and because Dr. Henderson
would be reviled by other Dissenters, if he doubted it."

* * * * *

About this time, the great phenomenon of these gospels,--the casting
out of devils,--pressed forcibly on my attention. I now dared to
look full into the facts, and saw that the disorders described were
perfectly similar to epilepsy, mania, catalepsy, and other known
maladies. Nay, the deaf, the dumb, the hunchbacked, are spoken of as
devil-ridden. I farther knew that such diseases are still ascribed to
evil genii in Mussulman countries: even a vicious horse is believed by
the Arabs to be _majnun_, possessed by a Jin or Genie. Devils also
are cast out in Abyssinia to this day. Having fallen in with Farmer's
treatise on the Demoniacs, I carefully studied it; and found it
to prove unanswerably, that a belief in demoniacal possession is a
superstition not more respectable than that of witchcraft. But Farmer
did not at all convince me, that the three Evangelists do not share
the vulgar error. Indeed, the instant we believe that the imagined
possessions were only various forms of disease, we are forced to draw
conclusions of the utmost moment, most damaging to the credit of the

Clearly, they are then convicted of misstating facts, under the
influence of superstitious credulity. They represent demoniacs as
having a supernatural acquaintance with Jesus, which, it now becomes
manifest, they cannot have had. The devils cast out of two demoniacs
(or one) are said to have entered into a herd of swine. This must have
been a credulous fiction. Indeed, the casting out of devils is so very
prominent a part of the miraculous agency ascribed to Jesus, as at
first sight to impair our faith in his miracles altogether.

I however took refuge in the consideration, that when Jesus wrought
one great miracle, popular credulity would inevitably magnify it into
ten; hence the discovery of foolish exaggerations is no disproof of a
real miraculous agency: nay, perhaps the contrary. Are they not a sort
of false halo round a disc of glory,--a halo so congenial to human
nature, that the absence of it might be even wielded as an objection?
Moreover, John tells of no demoniacs: does not this show his freedom
from popular excitement? Observe the great miracles narrated by
John,--the blind man,--and Lazarus--how different in kind from those
on demoniacs! how incapable of having been mistaken! how convincing!
His statements cannot be explained away: their whole tone, moreover,
is peculiar. On the contrary, the three first gospels contain much
that (after we see the writers to be credulous) must be judged

The two first chapters of Matthew abound in dreams. Dreams? Was indeed
the "immaculate conception" merely told to Joseph in a _dream_? a
dream which not he only was to believe, but we also, when reported
to us by a person wholly unknown, who wrote 70 or 80 years after the
fact, and gives us no clue to his sources of information! Shall I
reply that he received his information by miracle? But why more than
Luke? and Luke evidently was conscious only of human information.
Besides, inspiration has not saved Matthew from error about demons;
and why then about Joseph's dream and its highly important contents?

In former days, I had never dared to let my thoughts dwell
inquisitively on the _star_, which the wise men saw in the East, and
which accompanied them, and pointed out the house where the young
child was. I now thought of it, only to see that it was a legend
fit for credulous ages; and that it must be rejected in common with
Herod's massacre of the children,--an atrocity unknown to Josephus.
How difficult it was to reconcile the flight into Egypt with the
narrative of Luke, I had known from early days: I now saw that it was
waste time to try to reconcile them.

But perhaps I might say:--"That the writers should make errors about
the _infancy_ of Jesus was natural; they were distant from the time:
but that will not justly impair the credit of events, to which they
may possibly have been contemporaries or even eye-witnesses."--How
then would this apply to the Temptation, at which certainly none of
them were present? Is it accident, that the same three, who abound
in the demoniacs, tell also the scene of the Devil and Jesuit on a
pinnacle of the temple; while the same John who omits the demoniacs,
omits also this singular story? It being granted that the writers are
elsewhere mistaken, to criticize the tale was to reject it.

In near connexion with this followed the discovery, that many other
miracles of the Bible are wholly deficient in that moral dignity,
which is supposed to place so great a chasm between them and
ecclesiastical writings. Why should I look with more respect on
the napkins taken from Paul's body (Acts xix. 12), than on
pocket-handkerchiefs dipped in the blood of martyrs? How could I
believe, on this same writer's hearsay, that "the Spirit of the Lord
caught away Philip" (viii. 39), transporting him through the air; as
oriental genii are supposed to do? Or what moral dignity was there in
the curse on the barren fig-tree,--about which, moreover, we are so
perplexingly told, that it was _not_ the time for figs? What was to be
said of a cure, wrought by touching the hem of Jesus' garment, which
drew physical _virtue_ from him without his will? And how could I
distinguish the genius of the miracle of tribute-money in the fish's
mouth, from those of the apocryphal gospels? What was I to say
of useless miracles, like that of Peter and Jesus walking on the
water,--or that of many saints coming out of the graves to show
themselves, or of a poetical sympathy of the elements, such as the
earthquake and rending of the temple-veil when Jesus died? Altogether,
I began to feel that Christian advocates commit the flagrant sophism
of treating every objection as an isolated "cavil," and overrule each
as obviously insufficient, with the same confidence as if it were the
only one. Yet, in fact, the objections collectively are very
powerful, and cannot be set aside by supercilious airs and by calling
unbelievers "superficial," any more than by harsh denunciations.

Pursuing the same thought to the Old Testament, I discerned there also
no small sprinkling of grotesque or unmoral miracles. A dead man is
raised to life, when his body by accident touches the bones of Elisha:
as though Elisha had been a Romish saint, and his bones a sacred
relic. Uzzah, when the ark is in danger of falling, puts out his hand
to save it, and is struck dead for his impiety! Was this the judgment
of the Father of mercies and God of all comfort? What was I to make
of God's anger with Abimelech (Gen. xx.), whose sole offence was, the
having believed Abraham's lie? for which a miraculous barrenness was
sent on all the females of Abimelech's tribe, and was bought off
only by splendid presents to the favoured deceiver.--Or was it at
all credible that the lying and fraudulent Jacob should have been so
specially loved by God, more than the rude animal Esau?--Or could I
any longer overlook the gross imagination of antiquity, which made
Abraham and Jehovah dine on the same carnal food, like Tantalus with
the gods;--which fed Elijah by ravens, and set angels to bake cakes
for him? Such is a specimen of the flood of difficulties which poured
in, through the great breach which the demoniacs had made in the
credit of Biblical marvels.

While I was in this stage of progress, I had a second time the
advantage of meeting Dr. Arnold, and had satisfaction in finding that
he rested the main strength of Christianity on the gospel of John. The
great similarity of the other three seemed to him enough to mark that
they flowed from sources very similar, and that the first gospel had
no pretensions to be regarded as the actual writing of Matthew. This
indeed had been for some time clear to me, though I now cared little
about the author's name, when he was proved to be credulous.--Arnold
regarded John's gospel as abounding with smaller touches which marked
the eye-witness, and, altogether, to be the vivid and simple picture
of a divine reality, undeformed by credulous legend. In this view I
was gratified to repose, in spite of a few partial misgivings, and
returned to investigations concerning the Old Testament.

For some time back I had paid special attention to the book of
Genesis; and I had got aid in the analysis of it from a German volume.
That it was based on _at least_ two different documents, technically
called the Elohistic and Jehovistic, soon became clear to me: and
an orthodox friend who acknowledged the fact, regarded it as a high
recommendation of the book, that it was conscientiously made out of
pre-existing materials, and was not a fancy that came from the brain
of Moses. My good friend's argument was not a happy one: no written
record could exist of things and times which preceded the invention
of writing. After analysing this book with great minuteness, I now
proceeded to Exodus and Numbers; and was soon assured, that these had
not, any more than Genesis, come forth from one primitive witness
of the facts. In all these books is found the striking phenomenon of
_duplicate_ or even _triplicate narratives_. The creation of man
is three times told. The account of the Flood is made up out of two
discrepant originals, marked by the names Elohim and Jehovah; of which
one makes Noah take into the ark _seven_ pairs of clean, and _single_
(or double?) pairs of unclean, beasts; while the other gives him
two and two of all kinds, without distinguishing the clean. The two
documents may indeed in this narrative be almost re-discovered by
mechanical separation. The triple statement of Abraham and Isaac
passing off a wife for a sister was next in interest; and here
also the two which concern Abraham are contrasted as Jehovistic
and Elohistic. A similar double account is given of the origin of
circumcision, of the names Isaac, Israel, Bethel, Beersheba. Still
more was I struck by the positive declaration in Exodus (vi. 3)
that _God was_ NOT _known to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by the name
Jehovah_; while the book of Genesis abounds with the contrary fact.
This alone convinced me beyond all dispute, that these books did not
come from one and the same hand, but are conglomerates formed out of
older materials, unartistically and mechanically joined.

Indeed a fuller examination showed in Exodus and Numbers a twofold
miracle of the quails, of which the latter is so told as to indicate
entire unacquaintance with the former. There is a double description
of the manna, a needless second appointment of Elders of the
congregation: water is twice brought out of the rock by the rod of
Moses, whose faith is perfect the first time and fails the second
time. The name of Meribah is twice bestowed. There is a double promise
of a guardian angel, a double consecration of Aaron and his sons:
indeed, I seemed to find a double or even threefold[4] copy of the
Decalogue. Comprising Deuteronomy within my view, I met two utterly
incompatible accounts of Aaron's death; for Deuteronomy makes him
die _before_ reaching Meribah Kadesh, where, according to Numbers, he
sinned and incurred the penalty of death (Num. xx. 24, Deut x. 6: cf
Num. xxxiii. 31, 38).

That there was error on a great scale in all this, was undeniable;
and I began to see at least one _source_ of the error. The celebrated
miracle of "the sun standing still" has long been felt as too violent
a derangement of the whole globe to be used by the most High as a
means of discomfiting an army: and I had acquiesced in the idea that
the miracle was _ocular_ only. But in reading the passage, (Josh. x.
12-14,) I for the first time observed that the narrative rests on the
authority of a poetical book which bears the name of Jasher.[5] He who
composed--"Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the
valley of Ajalon!"--like other poets, called on the Sun and Moon to
stand and look on Joshua's deeds; but he could not anticipate that
his words would be hardened into fact by a prosaic interpreter, and
appealed to in proof of a stupendous miracle. The commentator
could not tell what _the Moon_ had to do with it; yet he has quoted
honestly.--This presently led me to observe other marks that the
narrative has been made up, at least in part, out of old poetry.
Of these the most important are in Exodus xv. and Num. xxi., in the
latter of which three different poetical fragments are quoted, and
one of them is expressly said to be from "the book of the wars of
Jehovah," apparently a poem descriptive of the conquest of Canaan by
the Israelites. As for Exodus xv. it appeared to me (in that stage,
and after so abundant proof of error,) almost certain that Moses' song
is the primitive authority, out of which the prose narrative of the
passage of the Red Sea has been worked up. Especially since, after the
song, the writer adds: v. 19. "For the horse of Pharaoh went in with
his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought
again the waters of the sea upon them: but the children of Israel went
on dry land in the midst of the sea." This comment scarcely could
have been added, if the detailed account of ch. xiv. had been written
previously. The song of Moses _implies no miracle at all_: it is
merely high poetry. A later prosaic age took the hyperbolic phrases
of v. 8 literally, and so generated the comment of v. 19, and a still
later time expanded this into the elaborate 14th chapter.

Other proofs crowded upon me, that cannot here be enlarged upon.
Granting then (for argument) that the four first books of the
Pentateuch are a compilation, made long after the event, I tried for a
while to support the very arbitrary opinion, that Deuteronomy (all but
its last chapter) which seemed to be a more homogeneous composition,
was alone and really the production of Moses. This however needed some
definite proof: for if tradition was not sufficient to guarantee the
whole Pentateuch, it could not guarantee to me Deuteronomy alone. I
proceeded to investigate the external history of the Pentateuch, and
in so doing, came to the story, how the book of the Law was _found_
in the reign of the young king Josiah, nearly at the end of the Jewish
monarchy. As I considered the narrative, my eyes were opened. If
the book had previously been the received sacred law, it could not
possibly have been so lost, that its contents were unknown, and the
fact of its loss forgotten: it was therefore evidently _then first
compiled_, or at least then first produced and made authoritative to
the nation.[6] And with this the general course of the history best
agrees, and all the phenomena of the books themselves.

Many of the Scriptural facts were old to me: to the importance of
the history of Josiah I had perhaps even become dim-sighted by
familiarity. Why had I not long ago seen that my conclusions ought to
have been different from those of prevalent orthodoxy?--I found that
I had been cajoled by the primitive assumptions, which though not
clearly _stated_, are unceremoniously _used_. Dean Graves, for
instance, always takes for granted, that, _until the contrary shall be
demonstrated_, it is to be firmly believed that the Pentateuch is
from the pen of Moses. He proceeds to set aside, _one by one_, as not
demonstrative, the indications that it is of later origin: and when
other means fail, he says that the particular verses remarked on
were added by a later hand! I considered that if we were debating
the antiquity of an Irish book, and in one page of it were found an
allusion to the Parliamentary Union with England, we should at once
regard the whole book, _until the contrary should be proved_, as the
work of this century; and not endure the reasoner, who, in order
to uphold a theory that it is five centuries old, pronounced that
sentence "evidently to be from a later hand." Yet in this arbitrary
way Dean Graves and all his coadjutors set aside, one by one, the
texts which point at the date of the Pentateuch. I was possessed with
indignation. Oh sham science! Oh false-named Theology!

O mihi tam longae maneat pars ultima vitae,
Spiritus et, quantum sat erit tua dicere facta!

Yet I waited some eight years longer, lest I should on so grave
a subject write anything premature. Especially I felt that it was
necessary to learn more of what the erudition of Germany had done
on these subjects. Michaelis on the New Testament had fallen into my
hands several years before, and I had found the greatest advantage
from his learning and candour. About this time I also had begun to
get more or less aid from four or five living German divines; but
none produced any strong impression on me but De Wette. The two
grand lessons which I learned from him, were, the greater recency
of Deuteronomy, and the very untrustworthy character of the book of
Chronicles; with which discovery, the true origin of the Pentateuch
becomes still clearer.[7] After this, I heard of Hengstenberg as the
most learned writer on the opposite side, and furnished myself with
his work in defence of the antiquity of the Pentateuch: but it only
showed me how hopeless a cause he had undertaken.

* * * * *

In this period I came to a totally new view of many parts of the
Bible; and not to be tedious, it will suffice here to sum up the

The first books which I looked at as doubtful, were the Apocalypse and
the Epistle to the Hebrews. From the Greek style I felt assured that
the former was not by John,[8] nor the latter by Paul. In Michaelis
I first learnt the interesting fact of Luther having vehemently
repudiated the Apocalypse, so that he not only declared its
spuriousness in the Preface of his Bible, but solemnly charged his
successors not to print his translation of the Apocalypse without
annexing this avowal:--a charge which they presently disobeyed. Such
is the habitual unfairness of ecclesiastical corporations. I was
afterwards confirmed by Neander in the belief that the Apocalypse is
a false prophecy. The only chapter of it which is interpreted,--the
17th,--appears to be a political speculation suggested by the civil
war of Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian; and erroneously opines that
the eighth emperor of Rome is to be the last, and is to be one of the
preceding emperors restored,--probably Nero, who was believed to have
escaped to the kings of the East.--As for the Epistle to the Hebrews,
(which I was disposed to believe Luther had well guessed to be the
production of Apollos,) I now saw quite a different genius in it from
that of Paul, as more artificial and savouring of rhetorical culture.
As to this, the learned Germans are probably unanimous.

Next to these, the Song of Solomon fell away. I had been accustomed to
receive this as a sacred representation of the loves of Christ and the
Church: but after I was experimentally acquainted with the playful and
extravagant genius of man's love for woman, I saw the Song of Solomon
with new eyes, and became entirely convinced that it consists of
fragments of love-songs, some of them rather voluptuous.

After this, it followed that the so-called _Canon_ of the Jews could
not guarantee to us the value of the writings. Consequently, such
books as Ruth and Esther, (the latter indeed not containing
one religious sentiment,) stood forth at once in their natural
insignificance. Ecclesiastes also seemed to me a meagre and shallow
production. Chronicles I now learned to be not credulous only, but
unfair, perhaps so far as to be actually dishonest. Not one of the
historical books of the Old Testament could approve itself to me as
of any high antiquity or of any spiritual authority; and in the New
Testament I found the first three books and the Acts to contain many
doubtful and some untrue accounts, and many incredible miracles.

Many persons, after reading thus much concerning me, will be apt to
say: "Of course then you gave up Christianity?"--Far from it. I gave
up all that was clearly untenable, and clung the firmer to all that
still appeared sound. I had found out that the Bible was not to be
my religion, nor its perfection any tenet of mine: but what then! Did
Paul go about preaching the Bible? nay, but he preached Christ. The
New Testament did not as yet exist: to the Jews he necessarily argued
from the Old Testament; but that "faith in the book" was no part of
Paul's gospel, is manifest from his giving no list of sacred books
to his Gentile converts. Twice indeed in his epistles to Timothy, he
recommends the Scriptures of the Old Testament; but even in the more
striking passage, (on which such exaggerated stress has been laid,)
the spirit of his remark is essentially apologetic. "Despise not,
oh Timothy," (is virtually his exhortation) "the Scriptures that you
learned as a child. Although now you have the Spirit to teach you,
yet that does not make the older writers useless: for "_every divinely
inspired writing is also profitable for instruction &c._" In Paul's
religion, respect for the Scriptures was a means, not an end. The
Bible was made for man, not man for the Bible.

Thus the question with me was: "May I still receive Christ as a
Saviour from sin, a Teacher and Lord sent from heaven, and can I find
an adequate account of what he came to do or teach?" And my reply was,
Yes. The gospel of John alone gave an adequate account of him: the
other three, though often erroneous, had clear marks of simplicity,
and in so far confirmed the general belief in the supernatural
character and works of Jesus. Then the conversion of Paul was a
powerful argument. I had Peter's testimony to the resurrection, and to
the transfiguration. Many of the prophecies were eminently remarkable,
and seemed unaccountable except as miraculous. The origin of Judaism
and spread of Christianity appeared to be beyond common experience,
and were perhaps fairly to be called supernatural. Broad views such as
these did not seem to be affected by the special conclusions at which
I had arrived concerning the books of the Bible. I conceived myself
to be resting under an Indian Figtree, which is supported by certain
grand stems, but also lets down to the earth many small branches,
which seem to the eye to prop the tree, but in fact are supported
by it. If they were cut away, the tree would not be less strong.
So neither was the tree of Christianity weakened by the loss of its
apparent props. I might still enjoy its shade, and eat of its fruits,
and bless the hand that planted it.

In the course of this period I likewise learnt how inadequate
allowance I had once made for the repulsion produced by my own
dogmatic tendency on the sympathies of the unevangelical. I now
often met persons of Evangelical opinion, but could seldom have any
interchange of religious sentiment with them, because every word they
uttered warned me that I could escape controversy only while I kept
them at a distance: moreover, if any little difference of opinion led
us into amicable argument, they uniformly reasoned by quoting texts.
This was now inadmissible with me, but I could only have done mischief
by going farther than a dry disclaimer; after which indeed I saw I was
generally looked on as "an infidel." No doubt the parties who so came
into collision with me, approached me often with an earnest desire
and hope to find some spiritual good in me, but withdrew disappointed,
finding me either cold and defensive, or (perhaps they thought) warm
and disputatious. Thus, as long as artificial tests of spirituality
are allowed to exist, their erroneousness is not easily exposed by
the mere wear and tear of life. When the collision of opinion is
very strong, two good men may meet, and only be confirmed in their
prejudices against one another: for in order that one may elicit
the spiritual sympathies of the other, a certain liberality is
prerequisite. Without this, each prepares to shield himself from
attack, or even holds out weapons of offence. Thus "articles of
Communion" are essentially articles of Disunion.--On the other hand,
if all tests of opinion in a church were heartily and truly done away,
then the principles of spiritual affinity and repulsion would
act quite undisturbed. Surely therefore this was the only right
method?--Nevertheless, I saw the necessity of _one_ test, "Jesus
is the Son of God," and felt unpleasantly that one article tends
infallibly to draw another after it. But I had too much, just then to
think of in other quarters, to care much about Church Systems.

[Footnote 1: See Gen. xxxiii. 19, and xlix. 29-32, xxiii.]

[Footnote 2: Some say, that Zechariah, son of Jehoiada, named in the
Chronicles, is meant; that he is _confounded_ with the prophet, the
son of Berechiah, and was _supposed_ to be the last of the martyrs,
because the Chronicles are placed last in the Hebrew Bible. This is a
plausible view; but it saves the Scripture only by imputing error to

[Footnote 3: My Eclectic Reviewer says (p. 276): "Thus because the
evangelists held an erroneous _medical_ theory, Mr. Newman suffered
a breach to be made in the credit of the Bible." No; but as the next
sentence states, "because they are convicted of _misstating facts_,"
under the influence of this erroneous medical theory. Even this
reviewer--candid for an orthodox critic, and not over-orthodox
either--cannot help garbling me.]

[Footnote 4: I have explained this in my "Hebrew Monarchy."]

[Footnote 5: This poet celebrated also the deeds of David (2 Sam. i.
18) according to our translation: if so, he was many centuries later
than Joshua; however, the sense of the Hebrew is little obscure.]

[Footnote 6: I have fully discussed this in my "Hebrew Monarchy."]

[Footnote 7: The English reader may consult Theodore Parker's
translation of De Wette's Introduction to the Canon of Scripture. I
have also amply exhibited the vanity of the _Chronicles_ in my "Hebrew
Monarchy." De Wette has a separate treatise on the Chronicles,]

[Footnote 8: If the date of the Apocalypse is twenty years earlier
than that of the fourth Gospel, I now feel no such difficulty in their
being the composition of the same writer.]



I reckon my fifth period to begin from the time when I had totally
abandoned the claim of "the Canon" of Scripture, however curtailed,
to be received as the object of faith, as free from error, or as
something raised above moral criticism; and looked out for some deeper
foundation for my creed than any sacred Letter. But an entirely new
inquiry had begun to engage me at intervals, viz., _the essential
logic of these investigations._ Ought we in any case to receive moral
truth in obedience to an apparent miracle of sense? or conversely,
ought we ever to believe in sensible miracles because of their
recommending some moral truth? I perceived that the endless jangling
which goes on in detailed controversy, is inevitable, while the
disputants are unawares at variance with one another, or themselves
wavering, as to these pervading principles of evidence.--I regard my
fifth period to come to an end with the decision of this question.
Nevertheless, many other important lines of inquiry were going forward

I found in the Bible itself,--and even in the very same book, as
in the Gospel of John,--great uncertainty and inconsistency on this
question. In one place, Jesus reproves[1] the demand of a miracle, and
blesses those who believe without[2] miracles; in another, he requires
that they will submit to his doctrine because[3] of his miracles.
Now, this is intelligible, if blind external obedience is the end of
religion, and not Truth and inward Righteousness. An ambitious and
unscrupulous _Church_, that desires, by fair means or foul, to make
men bow down to her, may say, "Only believe; and all is right. The end
being gained,--Obedience to us,--we do not care about your reasons."
But _God_ cannot speak thus to man; and to a divine teacher we should
peculiarly look for aid in getting clear views of the grounds of
faith; because it is by a knowledge of these that we shall both be
rooted on the true basis, and saved from the danger of false beliefs.

It, therefore, peculiarly vexed me to find so total a deficiency of
clear and sound instruction in the New Testament, and eminently in the
gospel of John, on so vital a question. The more I considered it,
the more it appeared, as if Jesus were solely anxious to have people
believe in Him, without caring on what grounds they believed, although
that is obviously the main point. When to this was added the threat of
"damnation" on those who did not believe, the case became far worse:
for I felt that if such a threat were allowed to operate, I might
become a Mohammedan or a Roman Catholic. Could I in any case
rationally assign this as a ground for believing in Christ,--"because
I am frightened by his threats"--?

Farther thought showed me that a question of _logic_, such as I here
had before me, was peculiarly one on which the propagator of a new
religion could not be allowed to dictate; for if so, every false
system could establish itself. Let Hindooism dictate our logic,--let
us submit to its tests of a divine revelation, and its mode
of applying them,--and we may, perhaps, at once find ourselves
necessitated to "become little children" in a Brahminical school.
Might not then this very thing account for the Bible not enlightening
us on the topic? namely, since Logic, like Mathematics, belongs to the
common intellect,--Possibly so: but still, it cannot reconcile us
to _vacillations_ and _contradictions_ in the Bible on so critical a

Gradually I saw that deeper and deeper difficulties lay at bottom. If
Logic _cannot_ be matter of authoritative revelation, so long as the
nature of the human mind is what it is,--if it appears, as a fact,
that in the writings and speeches of the New Testament the logic is
far from lucid,--if we are to compare Logic with Mathematics and other
sciences, which grew up with civilization and long time,--we cannot
doubt that the apostles imbibed the logic, like the astronomy, of
their own day, with all its defects. Indeed, the same is otherwise
plain. Paul's reasonings are those of a Gamaliel, and often are
indefensible by our logical notions. John, also (as I had been
recently learning,) has a wonderful similarity to Philo. This being
the case, it becomes of deep interest to us to know,--if we are to
accept results _at second hand_ from Paul and John,--_what was the
sort of evidence which convinced them?_ The moment this question is
put, we see the essential defect to which we are exposed, in not being
able to cross-examine them. Paul says that "Christ appeared to
him:" elsewhere, that he has "received of the Lord" certain facts,
concerning the Holy Supper: and that his Gospel was "given to him by
revelation." If any modern made such statements to us, and on this
ground demanded our credence, it would be allowable, and indeed
obligatory, to ask many questions of him. What does he _mean_ by
saying that he has had a "revelation?" Did he see a sight, or hear a
sound? or was it an inward impression? and how does he distinguish
it as divine?[4] Until these questions are fully answered, we have
no materials at all before us for deciding to accept his results:
to believe him, merely because he is earnest and persuaded, would be
judged to indicate the weakness of inexperience. How then can it be
pretended that we have, or can possibly get, the means of assuring
ourselves that the apostles held correct principles of evidence and
applied them justly, when we are not able to interrogate them?

Farther, it appears that _our_ experience of delusion forces us to
enact a very severe test of supernatural revelation. No doubt, we can
conceive that which is equivalent to a _new sense_ opening to us; but
then it must have verifications connecting it with the other senses.
Thus, a particularly vivid sort of dream recurring with special marks,
and communicating at once heavenly and earthly knowledge, of which the
latter was otherwise verified, would probably be admitted as a valid
sort of evidence: but so intense would be the interest and duty to
have all unravelled and probed to the bottom, that we should think it
impossible to verify the new sense too anxiously, and we should demand
the fullest particulars of the divine transaction. On the contrary,
it is undeniable that all such severity of research is rebuked in the
Scriptures as unbelief. The deeply interesting _process_ of receiving
supernatural revelation.--a revelation, _not_ of moral principles,
but of outward facts and events, supposed to be communicated in a mode
wholly peculiar and unknown to common men,--this process, which ought
to be laid open and analyzed under the fullest light, _if we are to
believe the results at second hand_, is always and avowedly shrouded
in impenetrable darkness. There surely is something here, which
denotes that it is dangerous to resign ourselves to the conclusions of
the apostles, when their logical notions are so different from ours.

I farther inquired, what sort of miracle I could conceive, that would
alter my opinion on a moral question. Hosea was divinely ordered to go
and unite himself to an impure woman: could I possibly think that God
ordered _me_ to do so, if I heard a voice in the air commanding
it? Should I not rather disbelieve my hearing, than disown my moral
perceptions? If not, where am I to stop? I may practise all sorts of
heathenism. A man who, in obedience to a voice in the air, kills his
innocent wife or child, will either be called mad, and shut up for
safety, or will be hanged as a desperate fanatic: do I dare to condemn
this modern judgment of him? Would any conceivable miracle justify my
slaying my wife? God forbid! It _must_ be morally right, to believe
moral rather than sensible perceptions. No outward impressions on the
eye or ear can be so valid an assurance to me of God's will, as my
inward judgment. How amazing, then, that a Paul or a James could look
on Abraham's intention to slay his son, as indicating a praiseworthy
faith!--And yet not amazing: It does but show, that apostles in former
days, like ourselves, scrutinized antiquity with different eyes from
modern events. If Paul had been ordered by a supernatural voice to
slay Peter, he would have attributed the voice to the devil, "the
prince of the power of the air," and would have despised it. He
praises the faith of Abraham, but he certainly would never have
imitated his conduct. Just so, the modern divines who laud Joseph's
piety towards Mary, would be very differently affected, if events and
persons were transported to the present day.

But to return. Let it be granted that no sensible miracle could
authorize me so to violate my moral perceptions as to slay (that is,
to murder) my innocent wife. May it, nevertheless, authorize me to
invade a neighbour country, slaughter the people and possess their
cities, although, without such a miracle, the deed would be deeply
criminal? It is impossible to say that here, more than in the former
case, miracles[5] can turn aside the common laws of morality. Neither,
therefore, could they justify Joshua's war of extermination on the
Canaanites, nor that of Samuel on the Amalekites; nor the murder of
misbelievers by Elijah and by Josiah. If we are shocked at the idea
of God releasing Mohammed from the vulgar law of marriage, we must
as little endure relaxation in the great laws of justice and mercy.
Farther, if only a _small_ immorality is concerned, shall we then say
that a miracle may justify it? Could it authorise me to plait a whip
of small cords, and flog a preferment-hunter out of the pulpit? or
would it justify me in publicly calling the Queen and her ministers
"a brood of vipers, who cannot escape the damnation of hell"[6] Such
questions go very deep into the heart of the Christian claims.

I had been accustomed to overbear objections of this sort by replying,
that to allow of their being heard would amount to refusing leave
to God to give commands to his creatures. For, it seems, if he _did_
command, we, instead of obeying, should discuss whether the command
was right and reasonable; and if we thought it otherwise, should
conclude that God never gave it. The extirpation of the Canaanites
is compared by divines to the execution of a criminal; and it is
insisted, that if the voice of society may justify the executioner,
much more may the voice of God--But I now saw the analogy to be
insufficient and unsound. Insufficient, because no executioner
is justified in slaying those whom his conscience tells him to be
innocent; and it is a barbarous morality alone, which pretends that
he may make himself a passive tool of slaughter. But next, the analogy
_assumes_, (what none of my very dictatorial and insolent critics make
even the faintest effort to prove to be a fact,) that God, like man,
speaks from without: that what we call Reason and Conscience is _not_
his mode of commanding and revealing his will, but that words
to strike the ear, or symbols displayed before the senses, are
emphatically and exclusively "Revelation." Besides all this, the
command of slaughter to the Jews is not directed against the seven
nations of Canaan only, as modern theologians often erroneously
assert: it is a _universal_ permission, of avaricious massacre and
subjugation of "the cities which are very far off from thee, which are
_not_ of the cities of these nations," Deut, xx. 15.

The thoughts which here fill but a few pages, occupied me a long while
in working out; because I consciously, with caution more than
with timidity, declined to follow them rapidly. They came as dark
suspicions or as flashing possibilities; and were again laid aside for
reconsideration, lest I should be carried into antagonism to my old
creed. For it is clear that great error arises in religion, by the
undue ardour of converts, who become bitter against the faith which
they have left, and outrun in zeal their new associates. So also
successive centuries oscillate too far on the right and on the left
of truth. But so happy was my position, that I needed not to hurry: no
practical duty forced me to rapid decision, and a suspense of judgment
was not an unwholesome exercise. Meanwhile, I sometimes thought
Christianity to be to me, like the great river Ganges to a Hindoo. Of
its value he has daily experience: he has piously believed that its
sources are in heaven, but of late the report has come to him, that
it only flows from very high mountains of this earth. What is he to
believe? He knows not exactly: he cares not much: in any case the
river is the gift of God to him: its positive benefits cannot be
affected by a theory concerning its source.

Such a comparison undoubtedly implies that he who uses it discerns for
himself a moral excellence in Christianity, and _submits to it only
so far as this discernment commands_. I had practically reached
this point, long before I concluded my theoretical inquiries as to
Christianity itself: but in the course of this fifth period numerous
other overpowering considerations crowded upon me which I must proceed
to state in outline.

* * * * *

All pious Christians feel, and all the New Testament proclaims, that
Faith is a moral act and a test of the moral and spiritual that is
within us; so that he who is without faith, (faithless, unfaithful,
"infidel,") is morally wanting and is cut off from God. To assent to
a religious proposition _solely_ in obedience to an outward miracle,
would be Belief; but would not be Faith, any more than is scientific
conviction. Bishop Butler and all his followers can insist with much
force on this topic, when it suits them, and can quote most aptly
from the New Testament to the same effect. They deduce, that a really
overpowering miraculous proof would have destroyed the moral character
of Faith: yet they do not see that the argument supersedes the
authoritative force of outward miracles entirely. It had always
appeared to me very strange in these divines, to insist on the
stupendous character and convincing power of the Christian miracles,
and then, in reply to the objection that they were _not_ quite
convincing, to say that the defect was purposely left "to try people's
Faith." Faith in what? Not surely in the confessedly ill-proved
miracle, but in the truth as discernible by the heart _without aid of

I conceived of two men, Nathaniel and Demas, encountering a pretender
to miracles, a Simon Magus of the scriptures. Nathaniel is guileless,
sweet-hearted and of strong moral sense, but in worldly matters rather
a simpleton. Demas is a sharp man, who gets on well in the world,
quick of eye and shrewd of wit, hard-headed and not to be imposed upon
by his fellows; but destitute of any high religious aspirations or
deep moral insight. The juggleries of Simon are readily discerned by
Demas, but thoroughly deceive poor Nathaniel: what then is the latter
to do? To say that we are to receive true miracles and reject false
ones, avails not, unless the mind is presumed to be capable of
discriminating the one from the other. The wonders of Simon are as
divine as the wonders of Jesus to a man, who, like Nathaniel, can
account for neither by natural causes. If we enact the rule, that men
are to "submit their understandings" to apparent prodigies, and
that "revelation" is a thing of the outward senses, we alight on the
unendurable absurdity, that Demas has faculties better fitted than
those of Nathaniel for discriminating religious truth and error, and
that Nathaniel, in obedience to eye and ear, which he knows to be very
deceivable organs, is to abandon his moral perceptions.

Nor is the case altered, if instead of Simon in person, a huge thing
called a Church is presented as a claimant of authority to Nathaniel.
Suppose him to be a poor Spaniard, surrounded by false miracles, false
erudition, and all the apparatus of reigning and unopposed Romanism.
He cannot cope with the priests in cleverness,--detect their
juggleries,--refute their historical falsehoods, disentangle their web
of sophistry: but if he is truehearted, he may say: "You bid me not
to keep faith with heretics: you defend murder, exile, imprisonment,
fines, on men who will not submit their consciences to your authority:
this I see to be wicked, though you ever so much pretend that God has
taught it you." So, also, if he be accosted by learned clergymen,
who undertake to prove that Jesus wrought stupendous miracles, or
by learned Moolahs who allege the same of Mohammed or of Menu, he is
quite unable to deal with them on the grounds of physiology, physics,
or history.--In short, nothing can be plainer, than that _the moral
and spiritual sense is the only religious faculty of the poor man_;
and that as Christianity in its origin was preached to the poor, so
it was to the inward senses that its first preachers appealed, as
the supreme arbiters in the whole religious question. Is it not then
absurd to say that in the act of conversion the convert is to trust
his moral perception, and is ever afterwards to distrust it?

An incident had some years before come to my knowledge, which now
seemed instructive. An educated, highly acute and thoughtful person,
of very mature age, had become a convert to the Irving miracles, from
an inability to distinguish them from those of the Pauline epistles;
or to discern anything of falsity which would justify his rejecting
them. But after several years he totally renounced them as a miserable
delusion, _because_ he found that a system of false doctrine was
growing up and was propped by them. Here was a clear case of a man
with all the advantages of modern education and science, who yet found
the direct judgment of a professed miracle, that was acted before his
senses, too arduous for him! He was led astray while he trusted his
power to judge of miracle: he was brought right by trusting to his
moral perceptions.

When we farther consider, that a knowledge of Natural Philosophy and
Physiology not only does not belong to the poor, but comes later in
time to mankind than a knowledge of morals;--that a Miracle can only
be judged of by Philosophy,--that it is not easy even for philosophers
to define what is a "miracle"--that to discern "a deviation from the
course of nature," implies a previous certain knowledge of what _the
course of nature_ is,--and that illiterate and early ages certainly
have not this knowledge, and often have hardly even the idea,--it
becomes quite a monstrosity to imagine that sensible and external
miracles constitute the necessary process and guarantee of divine

Besides, if an angel appeared to my senses, and wrought miracles, how
would that assure me of his moral qualities? Such miracles might prove
his power and his knowledge, but whether malignant or benign, would
remain doubtful, until by purely moral evidence, which no miracles
could give, the doubt should be solved.[7] This is the old difficulty
about diabolical wonders. The moderns cut the knot, by denying that
any but God can possibly work real miracles. But to establish their
principle, they make their definition and verification of a miracle
so strict, as would have amazed the apostles; and after all, the
difficulty recurs, that miraculous phenomena will never prove the
goodness and veracity of God, if we do not know these qualities in Him
without miracle. There is then a deeper and an earlier revelation of
God, which sensible miracles can never give.

We cannot distinctly learn what was Paul's full idea of a divine
revelation; but I can feel no doubt that he conceived it to be, in
great measure, an _inward_ thing. Dreams and visions were not excluded
from influence, and nacre or less affected his moral judgment; but
he did not, consciously and on principle, beat down his conscience in
submission to outward impressions. To do so, is indeed to destroy
the moral character of Faith, and lay the axe to the root, not of
Christian doctrine only, but of every possible spiritual system.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, new breaches were made in those citadels of my creed which
had not yet surrendered.

One branch of the Christian Evidences concerns itself with the
_history_ and _historical effects_ of the faith, and among Protestants
the efficacy of the Bible to enlighten and convert has been very much
pressed. The disputant, however, is apt to play "fast and loose." He
adduces the theory of Christianity when the history is unfavourable,
and appeals to the history if the theory is impugned. In this way,
just so much is picked out of the mass of facts as suits his argument,
and the rest is quietly put aside.

I. In the theory of my early creed, (which was that of the New
Testament, however convenient it may be for my critics to deride it as
fanatical and _not_ Christian,) cultivation of mind and erudition
were classed with worldly things, which might be used where they
pre-existed, (as riches and power may subserve higher ends,) but which
were quite extraneous and unessential to the spiritual kingdom of
Christ. A knowledge of the Bible was assumed to need only an honest
heart and God's Spirit, while science, history, and philosophy were
regarded as doubtful and dangerous auxiliaries. But soon after the
first reflux of my mind took place towards the Common Understanding,
as a guide of life legitimately co-ordinate with Scripture, I was
impressed with the consideration that _Free Learning_ had acted on
a great scale for the improvement of spiritual religion. I had been
accustomed to believe that _the Bible_[8] brought about the Protestant
Reformation; and until my twenty-ninth year probably it had not
occurred to me to question this. But I was first struck with the
thought, that the Bible did not prevent the absurd iniquities of the
Nicene and Post Nicene controversy, and that the Church, with the
Bible in her hands, sank down into the gulf of Popery. How then was
the Bible a sufficient explanation of her recovering out of Popery?

Even a superficial survey of the history shows, that the first
improvement of spiritual doctrine in the tenth and eleventh centuries,
came from a study of the moral works of Cicero and Boethius;--a fact
notorious in the common historians. The Latin moralists effected, what
(strange to think!) the New Testament alone could not do.

In the fifteenth century, when Constantinople was taken by the Turks,
learned Greeks were driven out to Italy and to other parts of the
West, and the Roman Catholic world began to read the old Greek

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