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Phases of Faith by Francis William Newman

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that is advanced on this side: prophecy is urged, and his resurrection
is asserted, and the inference is drawn that "Jesus is the Christ."
Out of this flowed the farther inferences that he was Supreme
Judge,--and moreover, was Paschal Lamb, and Sacrifice, and High
Priest, and Mediator; and since every one of these characters demanded
a belief in his moral perfections, that doctrine also necessarily
followed, and was received before our present gospels existed. My
friend therefore cannot abash me by the _argumentum ad verecundiam_;
(which to me seems highly out of place in this connexion;) for the
opinion, which is, as to this single point, held by him in common with
the first Christians, was held by them on transcendental reasons which
he totally discards; and all after generations have been confirmed
in the doctrine by Authority, _i.e._ by the weight of texts or church
decisions: both of which he also discards. If I could receive
the doctrine, merely because I dared not to differ from the whole
Christian world, I might aid to swell odium against rejectors, but I
should not strengthen the cause at the bar of reason. I feel therefore
that my friend must not claim Catholicity as on his side. Trinitarians
and Arians are alike useless to his argument: nay, nor can he claim
more than a small fraction of Unitarians; for as many of the them
believe that Jesus is to be the Judge of living and dead (as the late
Dr. Lant Carpenter did) must as _necessarily_ believe his immaculate
perfection as if they were Trinitarians.

The New Testament does not distinctly explain on what grounds this
doctrine was believed; but we may observe that in 1 Peter i. 19 and 2
Cor. v. 21, it is coupled with the Atonement, and in 1 Peter ii. 21,
Romans xv. 3, it seems to be inferred from prophecy. But let us turn
to the original Eleven, who were eye and ear witnesses of Jesus, and
consider on what grounds they can have believed (if we assume that
they did all believe) the absolute moral perfection of Jesus. It is
too ridiculous to imagine then studying the writings of Matthew in
order to obtain conviction,--if any of that school, whom alone I now
address, could admit that written documents were thought of before
the Church outstept the limits of Judea. If the Eleven believed
the doctrine for some transcendental reason,--as by a Supernatural
Revelation, or on account of Prophecy, and to complete the Messiah's
character,--then their attestation is useless to my friend's argument:
will it then gain anything, if we suppose that they _believed_ Jesus
to be perfect, because they _saw_ him to be perfect? To me this would
seem no attestation worth having, but rather a piece of impertinent
ignorance. If I attest that a person whom I have known was an
eminently good man, I command a certain amount of respect to my
opinion, and I do him honour. If I celebrate his good deeds and report
his wise words, I extend his honour still farther. But if I proceed
to assure people, _on the evidence of my personal observation of him_,
that he was immaculate and absolutely perfect, was the pure Moral
Image of God, that he deserves to be made the Exclusive Model of
imitation, and is the standard by which every other man's morality
is to be corrected,--I make myself ridiculous; my panegyrics lose all
weight, and I produce far less conviction than when I praised within
human limitations. I do not know how my friend will look on this
point, (for his judgment on the whole question perplexes me, and the
views which I call _sober_ he names _prosaic_,) but I cannot resist
the conviction that universal common-sense would have rejected the
teaching of the Eleven with contempt, if they had presented, as the
basis of the gospel their _personal testimony_ to the godlike and
unapproachable moral absolutism of Jesus. But even if such a basis
was possible to the Eleven, it was impossible to Paul and Silvanus and
Timothy and Barnabas and Apollos, and the other successful preachers
to the Gentiles. High moral goodness, within human limitations, was
undoubtedly announced as a fact of the life of Jesus; but upon this
followed the supernatural claims, and the argument of prophecy;
_without_ which my friend desires to build up his view,--I have thus
developed why I think he has no right to claim Catholicity for his
judgment. I have risked to be tedious, because I find that when I
speak concisely, I am enormously misapprehended. I close this topic
by observing, that, the great animosity with which my very mild
intimations against the popular view have been met from numerous
quarters, show me that Christians do not allow this subject to be
calmly debated, end have not come to their own conclusion as the
result of a calm debate. And this is amply corroborated by my own
consciousness of the past I never dared, nor could have dared, to
criticize coolly and simply the pretensions of Jesus to be an absolute
model of morality, until I had been delivered from the weight of
authority and miracle, oppressing my critical powers.

III. I have been asserting, that he who believes Jesus to be mere man,
ought at once to believe his moral excellence finite and comparable
to that of other men; and, that our judgment to this effect cannot be
reasonably overborne by the "universal consent" of Christendom.--Thus
far we are dealing _a priori_, which here fully satisfies me: in such
an argument I need no _a posteriori_ evidence to arrive at my own
conclusion. Nevertheless, I am met by taunts and clamour, which are
not meant to be indecent, but which to my feeling are such. My critics
point triumphantly to the four gospels, and demand that I will make a
personal attack on a character which they revere, even when they know
that I cannot do so without giving great offence. Now if any one were
to call my old schoolmaster, or my old parish priest, a perfect and
universal Model, and were to claim that I would entitle him Lord, and
think of him as the only true revelation of God; should I not be
at liberty to say, without disrespect, that "I most emphatically
deprecate such extravagant claims for him"? Would this justify an
outcry, that I will publicly avow _what_ I judge to be his defects of
character, and will _prove_ to all his admirers that he was a sinner
like other men? Such a demand would be thought, I believe, highly
unbecoming and extremely unreasonable. May not my modesty, or my
regard for his memory, or my unwillingness to pain his family,
be accepted as sufficient reasons for silence? or would any one
scoffingly attribute my reluctance to attack him, to my conscious
inability to make good my case against his being "God manifest in
the flesh"? Now what, if one of his admirers had written panegyrical
memorials of him; and his character, therein described, was so
faultless, that a stranger to him was not able to descry any moral
defeat whatever in it? Is such a stranger bound to believe him to be
the Divine Standard of morals, unless he can put his finger on certain
passages of the book which imply weaknesses and faults? And is it
insulting a man, to refuse to worship him? I utterly protest against
every such pretence. As I have an infinitely stronger conviction
that Shakespeare was not in _intellect_ Divinely and Unapproachably
perfect, than that I can certainly point out in him some definite
intellectual defect; as, moreover, I am vastly more sure that Socrates
was _morally_ imperfect, than that I am able to censure him rightly;
so also, a disputant who concedes to me that Jesus is a mere man, has
no right to claim that I will point out some moral flaw in him, or
else acknowledge him to be a Unique Unparalleled Divine Soul. It is
true, I do see defects, and very serious ones, in the character of
Jesus, as drawn by his disciples; but I cannot admit that my right to
disown the pretensions made for him turns on my ability to define his
frailties. As long as (in common with my friend) I regard Jesus as
a man, so long I hold with _dogmatic_ and _intense conviction_ the
inference that he was morally imperfect, and ought not to be held
up as unapproachable in goodness; but I have, in comparison, only _a
modest_ belief that I am able to show his points of weakness.

While therefore in obedience to this call, which has risen from many
quarters, I think it right not to refuse the odious task pressed upon
me,--I yet protest that my conclusion does not depend upon it. I might
censure Socrates unjustly, or at least without convincing my readers,
if I attempted that task; but my failure would not throw a feather's
weight into the argument that Socrates was a Divine Unique and
universal Model. If I write note what is painful to readers, I beg
them to remember that I write with much reluctance, and that it is
their own fault if they read.

In approaching this subject, the first difficulty is, to know how
much of the four gospels to accept as _fact_. If we could believe the
whole, it would be easier to argue; but my friend Martineau (with me)
rejects belief of many parts: for instance, he has but a very feeble
conviction that Jesus ever spoke the discourses attributed to him in
John's gospel. If therefore I were to found upon these some imputation
of moral weakness, he would reply, that we are agreed in setting these
aside, as untrustworthy. Yet he perseveres in asserting that it is
beyond all reasonable question _what_ Jesus _was_; as though proven
inaccuracies in all the narratives did not make the results uncertain.
He says that even the poor and uneducated are fully impressed with
"the majesty and sanctity" of Christ's mind; as if _this_ were what I
am fundamentally denying; and not, only so far as would transcend the
known limits of human nature: surely "majesty and sanctity" are not
inconsistent with many weaknesses. But our judgment concerning a
man's motives, his temper, and his full conquest over self, vanity and
impulsive passion, depends on the accurate knowledge of a vast variety
of minor points; even the curl of the lip, or the discord of eye and
mouth, may change our moral judgment of a man; while, alike to my
friend and me it is certain that much of what is stated is untrue.
Much moreover of what he holds to be untrue does not seem so to any
but to the highly educated. In spite therefore of his able reply, I
abide in my opinion that he is unreasonably endeavouring to erect what
is essentially a piece of doubtful biography and difficult literary
criticism into first-rate religious importance.

I shall however try to pick up a few details which seem, as much
as any, to deserve credit, concerning the pretensions, doctrine and
conduct of Jesus.

_First_, I believe that he habitually spoke of himself by the title
"_Son of Man_"--a fact which pervades all the accounts, and was likely
to rivet itself on his hearers. Nobody but he himself ever calls him
Son of Man.

_Secondly_ I believe that in assuming this title he tacitly alluded
to the viith chapter of Daniel, and claimed for himself the throne of
judgment over all mankind.--I know no reason to doubt that he actually
delivered (in substance) the discourse in Matth. xxv. "When the Son
of Man shall come in his glory,... before him shall be gathered all
nations,... and he shall separate them, &c. &c.": and I believe that
by _the Son of Man_ and _the King_ he meant himself. Compare Luke xii.
40, ix. 56.

_Thirdly_, I believe that he habitually assumed the authoritative
dogmatic tone of one who was a universal Teacher in moral and
spiritual matters, and enunciated as a primary duty of men to learn
submissively of his wisdom and acknowledge his supremacy. This element
in his character, _the preaching of himself_ is enormously expanded in
the fourth gospel, but it distinctly exists in Matthew. Thus in Matth.
xxiii 8: "Be not ye called Rabbi [_teacher_], for one is your Teacher,
even Christ; and all ye are brethren"... Matth. x. 32: "Whosoever
shall confess ME before men, him will I confess before my Father which
is in heaven... He that loveth father or mother more than ME is not
_worthy of_ ME, &c."... Matth. xi. 27: "All things are delivered unto
ME of my Father; and _no man knoweth the Son but the Father_; neither
knoweth any man the Father, save the Son; and he to whomsoever _the
Son will reveal him._ Come unto ME, all ye that labour,... and _I_
will give you rest. Take MY yoke upon you, &c."

My friend, I find, rejects Jesus as an authoritative teacher,
distinctly denies that the acceptance of Jesus in this character is
any condition of salvation and of the divine favour, and treats of
my "demand of an oracular Christ," as inconsistent with my own
principles. But this is mere misconception of what I have said. I find
_Jesus himself_ to set up oracular claims. I find an assumption
of pre-eminence and unapproachable moral wisdom to pervade every
discourse from end to end of the gospels. If I may not believe that
Jesus assumed an oracular manner, I do not know what moral peculiarity
in him I am permitted to believe. I do not _demand_ (as my friend
seems to think) that _he shall be_ oracular, but in common with all
Christendom, I open my eyes and see that _he is_; and until I had read
my friend's review of my book, I never understood (I suppose through
my own prepossessions) that he holds Jesus _not_ to have assumed the
oracular style.

If I cut out from the four gospels this peculiarity, I must cut out,
not only the claim of Messiahship, which my friend admits to have
been made, but nearly every moral discourse and every controversy: and
_why_? except in order to make good a predetermined belief that Jesus
was morally perfect. What reason can be given me for not believing
that Jesus declared: "If any one deny ME before men, _him will I deny_
before my Father and his angels?" or any of the other texts which
couple the favour of God with a submission to such pretensions of
Jesus? I can find no reason whatever for doubting that he preached
HIMSELF to his disciples, though in the three first gospels he is
rather timid of doing this to the Pharisees and to the nation at
large. I find him uniformly to claim, sometimes in tone, sometimes in
distinct words, that we will sit at his feet as little children and
learn of him. I find him ready to answer off-hand, all difficult
questions, critical and lawyer-like, as well as moral. True, it is no
tenet of mine that intellectual and literary attainment is essential
in an individual person to high spiritual eminence. True, in another
book I have elaborately maintained the contrary. Yet in that book I
have described men's spiritual progress as often arrested at a certain
stage by a want of intellectual development; which surely would
indicate that I believed even intellectual blunders and an infinitely
perfect exhaustive morality to be incompatible. But our question here
(or at least _my_ question) is not, whether Jesus might misinterpret
prophecy, and yet be morally perfect; but whether, _after assuming
to be an oracular teacher_, he can teach some fanatical precepts, and
advance dogmatically weak and foolish arguments, without impairing our
sense of his absolute moral perfection.

I do not think it useless here to repeat (though not for my friend)
concise reasons which I gave in my first edition against admitting
dictatorial claims for Jesus. _First_, it is an unplausible opinion
that God would deviate from his ordinary course, in order to give us
anything so undesirable as an authoritative Oracle would be;--which
would paralyze our moral powers, exactly as an infallible church does,
in the very proportion in which we succeeded in eliciting responses
from it. It is not needful here to repeat what has been said to that
effect in p. 138. _Secondly_, there is no imaginable criterion, by
which we can establish that the wisdom of a teacher _is_ absolute and
illimitable. All that we can possibly discover, is the relative
fact, that another is _wiser than we_: and even this is liable to
be overturned on special points, as soon as differences of judgment
arise. _Thirdly_, while it is by no means clear what are the new
truths, for which we are to lean upon the decisions of Jesus, it
is certain that we have no genuine and trustworthy account of his
teaching. If God had intended us to receive the authoritative _dicta_
of Jesus, he would have furnished us with an unblemished record
of those dicta. To allow that we have not this, and that we must
disentangle for ourselves (by a most difficult and uncertain process)
the "true" sayings of Jesus, is surely self-refuting. _Fourthly_, if
I _must_ sit in judgment on the claims of Jesus to be the true Messiah
and Son of God, how can I concentrate all my free thought into that
one act, and thenceforth abandon free thought? This appears a moral
suicide, whether Messiah or the Pope is the object whom we _first_
criticize, in order to instal him over us, and _then_, for ever after,
refuse to criticize. In short, _we cannot build up a system of Oracles
on a basis of Free Criticism_. If we are to submit our judgment to the
dictation of some other,--whether a church or an individual,--we must
be first subjected to that other by some event from without, as by
birth; and not by a process of that very judgment which is henceforth
to be sacrificed. But from this I proceed to consider more in detail,
some points in the teaching and conduct of Jesus, which do not appear
to me consistent with absolute perfection.

The argument of Jesus concerning the tribute to Caesar is so dramatic,
as to strike the imagination and rest on the memory; and I know no
reason for doubting that it has been correctly reported. The book of
Deuteronomy (xvii. 15) distinctly forbids Israel to set over himself
as king any who is not a native Israelite; which appeared to be a
religious condemnation of submission to Caesar. Accordingly, since
Jesus assumed the tone of unlimited wisdom, some of Herod's party
asked him, whether it was lawful to pay tribute to Caesar. Jesus
replied: "Why tempt ye me, hypocrites? Show me the tribute money."
When one of the coins was handed to him, he asked: "Whose image and
superscription is this?" When they replied: "Caesar's," he gave his
authoritative decision: "Render _therefore_ to Caesar _the things that
are Caesar's_."

In this reply not only the poor and uneducated, but many likewise of
the rich and educated, recognize "majesty and sanctity:" yet I find it
hard to think that my strong-minded friend will defend the justness,
wisdom and honesty of it. To imagine that because a coin bears Caesar's
head, _therefore_ it is Caesar's property, and that he may demand to
have as many of such coins as he chooses paid over to him, is puerile,
and notoriously false. The circulation of foreign coin of every kind
was as common in the Mediterranean then as now; and everybody knew
that the coin was the property of the _holder_, not of him whose
head it bore. Thus the reply of Jesus, which pretended to be a moral
decision, was unsound and absurd: yet it is uttered in a tone of
dictatorial wisdom, and ushered in by a grave rebuke, "Why tempt ye
me, hypocrites?" He is generally understood to mean, "Why do you try
to implicate me in a political charge?" and it is supposed that
he prudently _evaded_ the question. I have indeed heard this
interpretation from high Trinitarians; which indicates to me how
dead is their moral sense in everything which concerns the conduct of
Jesus. No reason appears why he should not have replied, that Moses
forbade Israel _voluntarily_ to place himself under a foreign
king, but did not inculcate fanatical and useless rebellion against
overwhelming power. But such a reply, which would have satisfied a
more commonplace mind, has in it nothing brilliant and striking. I
cannot but think that Jesus shows a vain conceit in the cleverness
of his answer: I do not think it so likely to have been a conscious
evasion. But neither does his rebuke of the questioners at all commend
itself to me. How can any man assume to be an authoritative teacher,
and then claim that men shall not put his wisdom to the proof? Was it
not their _duty_ to do so? And when, in result, the trial has proved
the defect of his wisdom, did they not perform a useful public
service? In truth, I cannot see the Model Man in his rebuke.--Let
not my friend say that the error was merely intellectual: blundering
self-sufficiency is a moral weakness.

I might go into detail concerning other discourses, where error and
arrogance appear to me combined. But, not to be tedious,--in general
I must complain that Jesus purposely adopted an enigmatical and
pretentious style of teaching, unintelligible to his hearers,
and needing explanation in private. That this was his systematic
procedure, I believe, because, in spite of the great contrast of the
fourth gospel to the others, it has this peculiarity in common
with them. Christian divines are used to tell us that this mode was
_peculiarly instructive_ to the vulgar of Judaea; and they insist on
the great wisdom displayed in his choice of the lucid parabolical
style. But in Matth. xiii. 10-15, Jesus is made confidentially to avow
precisely the opposite reason, viz. that he desires the vulgar _not_
to understand him, but only the select few to whom he gives private
explanations. I confess I believe the Evangelist rather than the
modern Divine. I cannot conceive how so strange a notion could ever
have possessed the companions of Jesus, if it had not been true. If
really this parabolical method had been peculiarly intelligible,
what could make them imagine the contrary? Unless they found it very
obscure themselves, whence came the idea that it was obscure to the
multitude? As a fact, it _is_ very obscure, to this day. There is much
that I most imperfectly understand, owing to unexplained metaphor:
as: "Agree with thine adversary quickly, &c. &c.:" "Whoso calls his
brother[2] a fool, is in danger of hell fire:" "Every one must be
salted with fire, and every sacrifice salted with salt. Have salt
in yourselves, and be at peace with one another." Now every man of
original and singular genius has his own forms of thought; in so far
as they are natural, we must not complain, if to us they are obscure.
But the moment _affectation_ comes in, they no longer are reconcilable
with the perfect character: they indicate vanity, and incipient
sacerdotalism. The distinct notice that Jesus avoided to expound his
parables to the multitude, and made this a boon to the privileged
few; and that without a parable he spake not to the multitude; and
the pious explanation, that this was a fulfilment of Prophecy, "I will
open my mouth in parables, I will utter dark sayings on the harp,"
persuade me that the impression of the disciples was a deep reality.
And it is in entire keeping with the general narrative, which shows in
him so much of mystical assumption. Strip the parables of the imagery,
and you find that sometimes one thought has been dished up four
or five times, and generally, that an idea is dressed into sacred
grandeur. This mystical method made a little wisdom go a great way
with the multitude; and to such a mode of economizing resources the
instinct of the uneducated man betakes itself, when he is claiming to
act a part for which he is imperfectly prepared.

It is common with orthodox Christians to take for granted, that
unbelief of Jesus was a sin, and belief a merit, at a time when no
rational grounds of belief were as yet public. Certainly, whoever asks
questions with a view to _prove_ Jesus, is spoken of vituperatingly
in the gospels; and it does appear to me that the prevalent Christian
belief is a true echo of Jesus's own feeling. He disliked being put
to the proof. Instead of rejoicing in it, as a true and upright man
ought,--instead of blaming those who accept his pretensions on too
slight grounds,--instead of encouraging full inquiry and giving frank
explanations, he resents doubt, shuns everything that will test him,
is very obscure as to his own pretensions, (so as to need probing
and positive questions, whether he _does_ or _does not_ profess to
be Messiah,) and yet is delighted at all easy belief. When asked for
miracles, he sighs and groans at the unreasonableness of it; yet
does not honestly and plainly renounce pretension to miracle, as Mr.
Martineau would, but leaves room for credit to himself for as many
miracles as the credulous are willing to impute to him. It is possible
that here the narrative is unjust to his memory. So far from being
the picture of perfection, it sometimes seems to me the picture of a
conscious and wilful impostor. His general character is too high for
_this_; and I therefore make deductions from the account. Still, I do
not see how the present narrative could have grown up, if he had
been really simple and straight-forward, and not perverted by his
essentially false position. Enigma and mist seem to be his element;
and when I find his high satisfaction at all personal recognition and
bowing before his individuality, I almost doubt whether, if one wished
to draw the character of a vain and vacillating pretender, it would be
possible to draw anything more to the purpose than this. His general
rule (before a certain date) is, to be cautious in public, but bold
in private to the favoured few. I cannot think that such a character,
appearing now, would seem to my friend a perfect model of a man.

No precept bears on its face clearer marks of coming from the genuine
Jesus, than that of _selling all and following him_. This was his
original call to his disciples. It was enunciated authoritatively
on various occasions. It is incorporated with precepts of perpetual
obligation, in such a way, that we cannot without the greatest
violence pretend that he did not intend it as a precept[3] to
_all_ his disciples. In Luke xii. 22-40, he addresses the disciples
collectively against Avarice; and a part of the discourse is: "Fear
not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you
the kingdom. _Sell that ye have, and give alms_: provide yourselves
bags that wax not old; a treasure in the heavens that faileth not,
&c.... Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning," &c.
To say that he was not intending to teach a universal morality,[4]
is to admit that his precepts are a trap; for they then mix up and
confound mere contingent duties with universal sacred obligations,
enunciating all in the same breath, and with the same solemnity. I
cannot think that Jesus intended any separation. In fact, when a
rich young man asked of him what he should do, that he might inherit
eternal life, and pleaded that he had kept the ten commandments, but
felt that to be insufficient, Jesus said unto him: "_If thou wilt be
perfect_, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou
shalt have treasure in heaven:" so that the duty was not contingent
upon the peculiarity of a man possessing apostolic gifts, but was with
Jesus the normal path for all who desired perfection. When the young
man went away sorrowing, Jesus moralized on it, saying: "How hardly
shall a rich man enter into the kingdom of heaven:" which again
shows, that an abrupt renunciation of wealth was to be the general and
ordinary method of entering the kingdom. Hereupon, when the disciples
asked: "Lo! we _have_ forsaken all, and followed thee: what
shall we have _therefore_?" Jesus, instead of rebuking their
self-righteousness, promised them as a reward, that they should sit
upon twelve[5] thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. A precept
thus systematically enforced, is illustrated by the practice, not only
of the twelve, but apparently of the seventy, and what is stronger
still, by the practice of the five thousand disciples after the
celebrated days of the first Pentecost. There was no longer a Jesus
on earth to itinerate with, yet the disciples in the fervour of first
love obeyed his precept: the rich sold their possessions, and laid the
price at the apostles' feet.

The mischiefs inherent in such a precept rapidly showed themselves,
and good sense corrected the error. But this very fact proves most
emphatically that the precept was pre-apostolic, and came from the
genuine Jesus; otherwise it could never have found its way into
the gospels. It is undeniable, that the first disciples, by whose
tradition alone we have any record of what Jesus taught, understood
him to deliver this precept to _all_ who desired to enter into the
kingdom of heaven,--all who desired to be perfect: why then are we to
refuse belief, and remould the precepts of Jesus till they please our
own morality? This is not the way to learn historical fact.

That to inculcate religious beggary as the _only_ form and mode of
spiritual perfection, is fanatical and mischievous, even the church
of Rome will admit. Protestants universally reject it as a deplorable
absurdity;--not merely wealthy bishops, squires and merchants, but
the poorest curate also. A man could not preach such doctrine in a
Protestant pulpit without incurring deep reprobation and contempt;
but when preached by Jesus, it is extolled as divine wisdom,--and

Now I cannot look on this as a pure intellectual error, consistent
with moral perfection. A deep mistake as to the nature of such
perfection seems to me inherent in the precept itself; a mistake which
indicates a moral unsoundness. The conduct of Jesus to the rich young
man appears to me a melancholy exhibition of perverse doctrine, under
an ostentation of superior wisdom. The young man asked for bread and
Jesus gave him a stone. Justly he went away sorrowful, at receiving a
reply which his conscience rejected as false and foolish. But this is
not all Jesus was necessarily on trial, when any one, however sincere,
came to ask questions so deeply probing the quality of his wisdom
as this: "How may I be perfect?" and to be on trial was always
disagreeable to him. He first gave the reply, "Keep the commandments;"
and if the young man had been satisfied, and had gone away, it appears
that Jesus would have been glad to be rid of him: for his tone is
magisterial, decisive and final. This, I confess, suggests to me, that
the aim of Jesus was not so much to _enlighten_ the young man, as to
stop his mouth, and keep up his own ostentation of omniscience. Had
he desired to enlighten him, surely no mere dry dogmatic command was
needed, but an intelligent guidance of a willing and trusting soul.
I do not pretend to certain knowledge in these matters. Even when we
hear the tones of voice and watch the features, we often mistake.
We have no such means here of checking the narrative. But the best
general result which I can draw from the imperfect materials, is what
I have said.

After the merit of "selling all and following Jesus," a second merit,
not small, was, to receive those whom he sent. In Matt. x., we read
that he sends out his twelve disciples, (also seventy in Luke,) men at
that time in a very low state of religions development,--men who did
not themselves know what the Kingdom of Heaven meant,--to deliver in
every village and town a mere formula of words: "Repent ye: for the
Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." They were ordered to go without money,
scrip or cloak, but to live on religious alms; and it is added,--that
if any house or city does not receive them, _it shall be more
tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment_ than for it.
He adds, v. 40: "He that receiveth _you_, receiveth _me_, and he that
receiveth _me_, receiveth HIM that sent me."--I quite admit, that in
all probability it was (on the whole) the more pious part of Israel
which was likely to receive these ignorant missionaries; but inasmuch
as they had no claims whatever, intrinsic or extrinsic, to reverence,
it appears to me a very extravagant and fanatical sentiment thus
emphatically to couple the favour or wrath of God with their reception
or rejection.

A third, yet greater merit in the eyes of Jesus, was, to acknowledge
him as the Messiah predicted by the prophets, which he was not,
according to my friend. According to Matthew (xvi. 13), Jesus put
leading questions to the disciples in order to elicit a confession of
his Messiahship, and emphatically blessed Simon for making the avowal
which he desired; but instantly forbade them to tell the great secret
to any one. Unless this is to be discarded as fiction, Jesus,
although to his disciples in secret he confidently assumed Messianic
pretensions, had a just inward misgiving, which accounts both for his
elation at Simon's avowal, and for his prohibition to publish it.

In admitting that Jesus was not the Messiah of the prophets, my friend
says, that if Jesus were _less_ than Messiah, we can reverence him
no longer; but that he was _more_ than Messiah. This is to me
unintelligible. The Messiah whom he claimed to be, was not only the
son of David, celebrated in the prophets, but emphatically the Son of
Man of Daniel vii., who shall come in the clouds of heaven, to take
dominion, glory and kingdom, that all people, nations and languages
shall serve him,--an everlasting kingdom which shall not pass away.
How Jesus himself interprets his supremacy, as Son of Man, in Matt.
x., xi., xxiii., xxv., and elsewhere, I have already observed. To
claim such a character, seems to me like plunging from a pinnacle
of the temple. If miraculous power holds him up and makes good his
daring, he is more than man; but if otherwise, to have failed will
break all his bones. I can no longer give the same human reverence
as before to one who has been seduced into vanity so egregious; and
I feel assured _a priori_ that such presumption _must have_ entangled
him into evasions and insincerities, which _naturally_ end in
crookedness of conscience and real imposture, however noble a man's
commencement, and however unshrinking his sacrifices of goods and ease
and life.

The time arrived at last, when Jesus felt that he must publicly assert
Messiahship; and this was certain to bring things to an issue. I
suppose him to have hoped that he was Messiah, until hope and the
encouragement given him by Peter and others grew into a persuasion
strong enough to act upon, but not always strong enough to still
misgivings. I say, I suppose this; but I build nothing on my
supposition. I however see, that when he had resolved to claim
Messiahship publicly, one of two results was inevitable, _if_ that
claim was ill-founded:--viz., either he must have become an impostor,
in order to screen his weakness; or, he must have retracted his
pretensions amid much humiliation, and have retired into privacy to
learn sober wisdom. From these alternatives _there was escape only by
death_, and upon death Jesus purposely rushed.

All Christendom has always believed that the death of Jesus was
_voluntarily_ incurred; and unless no man ever became a wilful martyr,
I cannot conceive why we are to doubt the fact concerning Jesus. When
he resolved to go up to Jerusalem, he was warned by his disciples
of the danger; but so far was he from being blind to it, that
he distinctly announced to them that he knew he should suffer in
Jerusalem the shameful death of a malefactor. On his arrival in the
suburbs, his first act was, ostentatiously to ride into the city on an
ass's colt in the midst of the acclamations of the multitude, in order
to exhibit himself as having a just right to the throne of David. Thus
he gave a handle to imputations of intended treason.--He next entered
the temple courts, where doves and lambs were sold for sacrifice,
and--(I must say it to my friend's amusement, and in defiance of his
kind but keen ridicule,) committed a breach of the peace by flogging
with a whip those who trafficked in the area. By such conduct he
undoubtedly made himself liable to legal punishment, and probably
might have been publicly scourged for it, had the rulers chosen to
moderate their vengeance. But he "meant to be prosecuted for treason,
not for felony," to use the words of a modern offender. He therefore
commenced the most exasperating attacks on all the powerful,
calling them hypocrites and whited sepulchres and vipers' brood; and
denouncing upon them the "condemnation of hell." He was successful. He
had both enraged the rulers up to the point of thirsting for his life,
and given colour to the charge of political rebellion. He resolved
to die; and he died. Had his enemies contemptuously let him live, he
would have been forced to act the part of Jewish Messiah, or renounce

If any one holds Jesus to be not amenable to the laws of human
morality, I am not now reasoning with such a one. But if any one
claims for him a human perfection, then I say that his conduct on this
occasion was neither laudable nor justifiable; far otherwise. There
are cases in which life may be thrown away for a great cause; as when
a leader in battle rushes upon certain death, in order to animate
his own men; but the case before us has no similarity to that. If
our accounts are not wholly false, Jesus knowingly and purposely
exasperated the rulers into a great crime,--the crime of taking his
life from personal resentment. His inflammatory addresses to the
multitude have been defended as follows:

"The prophetic Spirit is sometimes oblivious of the rules of the
drawing-room; and inspired Conscience, like the inspiring God, seeing
a hypocrite, will take the liberty to say so, and act accordingly. Are
the superficial amenities, the soothing fictions, the smotherings of
the burning heart,... really paramount in this world, and never to
give way? and when a soul of _power, unable to refrain_, rubs off,
though it be with rasping words, all the varnish from rottenness and
lies, is he to be tried in our courts of compliment for a misdemeanor?
Is there never a higher duty than that of either pitying or converting
guilty men,--the duty of publicly exposing them? of awakening the
popular conscience, and sweeping away the conventional timidities,
for a severe return to truth and reality? No rule of morals can be
recognized as just, which prohibits conformity of human speech to
fact; and insists on terms of civility being kept with all manner of

I certainly have not appealed to any conventional morality of
drawing-room compliment, but to the highest and purest principles
which I know; and I lament to find my judgment so extremely in
opposition. To me it seems that _inability to refrain_ shows weakness,
not _power_, of soul, and that nothing is easier than to give vent to
violent invective against bad rulers. The last sentence quoted, seems
to say, that the speaking of Truth is never to be condemned: but I
cannot agree to this. When Truth will only exasperate, and cannot do
good, silence is imperative. A man who reproaches an armed tyrant in
words too plain, does but excite him to murder; and the shocking thing
is, that this seems to have been the express object of Jesus. No good
result could be reasonably expected. Publicly to call men in authority
by names of intense insult, the writer of the above distinctly sees
will never convert them; but he thinks it was adapted to awaken the
popular conscience. Alas! it needs no divine prophet to inflame a
multitude against the avarice, hypocrisy, and oppression of rulers,
nor any deep inspiration of conscience in the multitude to be wide
awake on that point themselves A Publius Clodius or a Cleon will do
that work as efficiently as a Jesus; nor does it appear that the poor
are made better by hearing invectives against the rich and powerful.
If Jesus had been aiming, in a good cause, to excite rebellion, the
mode of address which he assumed seems highly appropriate; and in such
a calamitous necessity, to risk exciting murderous enmity would be the
act of a hero: but as the account stands, it seems to me the deed of
a fanatic. And it is to me manifest that he overdid his attack, and
failed to commend it to the conscience of his hearers. For up to
this point the multitude was in his favour. He was notoriously so
acceptable to the many, as to alarm the rulers; indeed the belief
of his popularity had shielded him from prosecution. But after this
fierce address he has no more popular support. At his public trial the
vast majority judge him to deserve punishment, and prefer to ask free
forgiveness for Barabbas, a bandit who was in prison for murder. We
moderns, nursed in an arbitrary belief concerning these events, drink
in with our first milk the assumption that Jesus alone was guiltless,
and all the other actors in this sad affair inexcusably guilty. Let no
one imagine that I defend for a moment the cruel punishment which raw
resentment inflicted on him. But though the rulers felt the rage of
Vengeance, the people, who had suffered no personal wrong, were moved
only by ill-measured Indignation. The multitude love to hear the
powerful exposed and reproached up to a certain limit; but if reproach
go clearly beyond all that they feel to be deserved, a violent
sentiment reacts on the head of the reviler: and though popular
indignation (even when free from the element of selfishness) ill fixes
the due _measure_ of Punishment, I have a strong belief that it is
righteous, when it pronounces the verdict Guilty.

Does my friend deny that the death of Jesus was wilfully incurred? The
"orthodox" not merely admit, but maintain it. Their creed justifies it
by the doctrine, that his death was a "sacrifice" so pleasing to
God, as to expiate the sins of the world. This honestly meets the
objections to self-destruction; for how better could life be used,
than by laying it down for such a prize? But besides all other
difficulties in the very idea of atonement, the orthodox creed
startles us by the incredible conception, that a voluntary sacrifice
of life should be unacceptable to God, unless offered by ferocious and
impious hands. If Jesus had "authority from the Father to lay down his
life," was he unable to stab himself in the desert, or on the sacred
altar of the Temple, without involving guilt to any human being?
Did He, who is at once "High Priest" and Victim, when "offering
up himself" and "presenting his own blood unto God," need any
justification for using the sacrificial knife? The orthodox view more
clearly and unshrinkingly avows, that Jesus deliberately goaded the
wicked rulers into the deeper wickedness of murdering him; but on my
friend's view, that Jesus was _no_ sacrifice, but only a Model man,
his death is an unrelieved calamity. Nothing but a long and complete
life could possibly test the fact of his perfection; and the longer he
lived, the better for the world.

In entire consistency with his previous determination to die, Jesus,
when arraigned, refused to rebut accusation, and behaved as one
pleading Guilty. He was accused of saying that if they destroyed the
temple, he would rebuild it in three days; but how this was to the
purpose, the evangelists who name it do not make clear. The fourth
however (without intending so to do) explains it; and I therefore am
disposed to believe his statement, though I put no faith in his long
discourses. It appears (John ii. 18-20) that Jesus after scourging the
people out of the temple-court, was asked for a sign to justify his
assuming so very unusual authority: on which he replied: "Destroy
this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Such a reply was
regarded as a manifest evasion; since he was sure that they would
not pull the temple down in order to try whether he could raise it up
miraculously. Now if Jesus really meant what the fourth gospel says he
meant;--if he "spoke of _the temple of his body_;"--how was any one
to guess that? It cannot be denied, that such a reply, _prima facie_,
suggested, that he was a wilful impostor: was it not then his obvious
duty, when this accusation was brought against him, to explain that
his words had been mystical and had been misunderstood? The form of
the imputation in Mark xiv. 58, would make it possible to imagine,--if
the _three days_ were left out, and if his words were _not_ said in
reply to the demand of a sign,--that Jesus had merely avowed that
though the outward Jewish temple were to be destroyed, he would erect
a church of worshippers as a spiritual temple. If so, "John" has
grossly misrepresented him, and then obtruded a very far-fetched
explanation. But whatever was the meaning of Jesus, if it was honest,
I think he was bound to explain it; and not leave a suspicion of
imposture to rankle in men's minds.[6] Finally, if the whole were
fiction, and he never uttered such words, then it was his duty to deny
them, and not remain dumb like a sheep before its shearers.

After he had confirmed by his silence the belief that he had used
a dishonest evasion indicative of consciousness that he was no real
Messiah, he suddenly burst out with a full reply to the High Priest's
question; and avowed that he _was_ the Messiah, the Son of God; and
that they should hereafter see him sitting on the right-hand of power,
and coming in the clouds of heaven,--of course to enter into judgment
on them all. I am the less surprized that this precipitated his
condemnation, since he himself seems to have designed precisely that
result. The exasperation which he had succeeded in kindling led to his
cruel death; and when men's minds had cooled, natural horror possessed
them for such a retribution on such a man. His _words_ had been met
with _deeds_: the provocation he had given was unfelt to those beyond
the limits of Jerusalem; and to the Jews who assembled from distant
parts at the feast of Pentecost he was nothing but the image of a
sainted martyr.

I have given more than enough indications of points in which the
conduct of Jesus does not seem to me to have been that of a perfect
man: how any one can think him a Universal Model, is to me still less
intelligible. I might say much more on this subject. But I will merely
add, that when my friend gives the weight of his noble testimony to
the Perfection of Jesus, I think it is due to himself and to us that
he should make clear what he means by this word "Jesus." He ought
to publish--(I say it in deep seriousness, not sarcastically)--an
expurgated gospel; for in truth I do not know how much of what I have
now adduced from the gospel as _fact_, he will admit to be fact. I
neglect, he tells me, "a higher moral criticism," which, if I rightly
understand, would explode, as evidently unworthy of Jesus, many of the
representations pervading the gospels: as, that Jesus claimed to be
an oracular teacher, and attached spiritual life or death to belief
or disbelief in this claim. My friend says, it is beyond all serious
question _what_ Jesus _was_: but his disbelief of the narrative seems
to be so much wider than mine, as to leave me more uncertain than
ever about it. If he will strike out of the gospels all that he
disbelieves, and so enable me to understand _what_ is the Jesus whom
he reveres, I have so deep a sense of his moral and critical powers,
that I am fully prepared to expect that he may remove many of my
prejudices and relieve my objections: but I cannot honestly say that
I see the least probability of his altering my conviction, that in
_consistency_ of goodness Jesus fell far below vast numbers of his
unhonoured disciples.

[Footnote 1: I have by accident just taken up the "British
Quarterly," and alighted upon the following sentence concerning Madame
Roland:--"_To say that she was without fault, would be to say that she
was not human_." This so entirely expresses and concludes all that I
have to say, that I feel surprise at my needing at all to write such a
chapter as the present.]

[Footnote 2: I am acquainted with the interpretation, that the
word More is not here Greek, _i.e., fool_, but is Hebrew, and means
_rebel_, which is stronger than Raca, _silly fellow_. This gives
partial, but only partial relief.]

[Footnote 3: Indeed we have in Luke vi. 20-24, a version of the
Beatitudes so much in harmony with this lower doctrine, as to make
it an open question, whether the version in Matth. v. is not
an improvement upon Jesus, introduced by the purer sense of the
collective church. In Luke, he does not bless the poor _in spirit_,
and those who hunger _after righteousness_, but absolutely the "poor"
and the "hungry," and all who honour _Him_; and in contrast, curses
_the rich_ and those who are full.]

[Footnote 4: At the close, is the parable about the absent master of
a house; and Peter asks, "Lord? (Sir?) speakest thou this parable
unto _us_, or also unto _all_?" Who would not have hoped an ingenuous
reply, "To you only," or, "To everybody"? Instead of which, so
inveterate is his tendency to muffle up the simplest things in
mystery, he replies, "Who then is that faithful and wise steward,"
&c., &c., and entirely evades reply to the very natural question.]

[Footnote 5: This implied that Judas, as one of the twelve, had earned
the heavenly throne by the price of earthly goods.]

[Footnote 6: If the account in John is not wholly false, I think the
reply in every case discreditable. If literal, it all but indicates
wilful imposture. If mystical, it is disingenuously evasive; and it
tended, not to instruct, but to irritate, and to move suspicion
and contempt. Is this the course for a religious teacher?--to speak
darkly, so as to mislead and prejudice; and this, when he represents
it as a matter of spiritual life and death to accept his teaching and
his supremacy?]



If any Christian reader has been patient enough to follow me thus far,
I now claim that he will judge my argument and me, as before the
bar of God, and not by the conventional standards of the Christian

Morality and Truth are principles in human nature both older and more
widespread than Christianity or the Bible: and neither Jesus nor James
nor John nor Paul could have addressed or did address men in any
other tone, than that of claiming to be themselves judged by some
pre-existing standard of moral truth, and by the inward powers of the
hearer. Does the reader deny this? or, admitting it, does he think it
impious to accept their challenge? Does he say that we are to love and
embrace Christianity, without trying to ascertain whether it be true
or false? If he say, Yes,--such a man has no love or care for Truth,
and is but by accident a Christian. He would have remained a faithful
heathen, had he been born in heathenism, though Moses, Elijah and
Christ preached a higher truth to him. Such a man is condemned by his
own confession, and I here address him no longer.

But if Faith is a spiritual and personal thing, if Belief given at
random to mere high pretensions is an immorality, if Truth is not
to be quite trampled down, nor Conscience to be wholly palsied in
us,--then what, I ask, was I to do, when I saw that the genealogy in
the first chapter of Matthew is an erroneous copy of that in the Old
Testament? and that the writer has not only copied wrong, but also
counted wrong, so, as to mistake eighteen for fourteen? Can any man,
who glories in the name of Christian, lay his hand on his heart, and
say, it was my duty to blind my eyes to the fact, and think of it no
further? Many, alas, I know, would have whispered this to me; but if
any one were to proclaim it, the universal conscience of mankind would
call him impudent.

If however this first step was right, was a second step wrong? When I
further discerned that the two genealogies in Matthew and Luke were
at variance, utterly irreconcilable,--and both moreover nugatory,
because they are genealogies of Joseph, who is denied to be the father
of Jesus,--on what ground of righteousness, which I could approve to
God and my conscience, could I shut my eyes to this second fact?

When forced, against all my prepossessions, to admit that the two
first chapters of Matthew and the two first chapters of Luke are
mutually destructive,[1] would it have been faithfulness to the God of
Truth, or a self-willed love of my own prejudices, if I had said, "I
will not inquire further, for fear it should unsettle my faith?" The
reader's conscience will witness to me, that, on the contrary, I was
bound to say, what I did say: "I _must_ inquire further in order that
I may plant the foundations of my faith more deeply on the rock of

Having discovered, that not all that is within the canon of the
Scripture is infallibly correct, and that the human understanding is
competent to arraign and convict at least some kinds of error therein
contained;--where was I to stop? and if I am guilty, where did my
guilt begin? The further I inquired, the more errors crowded upon me,
in History, in Chronology, in Geography, in Physiology, in Geology.[2]
Did it _then_ at last become a duty to close my eyes to the painful
light? and if I had done so, ought I to have flattered myself that
I was one of those, who being of the truth, come to the lights that
their deeds may be reproved?

Moreover, when I had clearly perceived, that since all evidence for
Christianity must involve _moral_ considerations, to undervalue
the moral faculties of mankind is to make Christian evidence an
impossibility and to propagate universal scepticism;--was I then so to
distrust the common conscience, as to believe that the Spirit of God
pronounced Jael blessed, for perfidiously murdering her husband's
trusting friend? Does any Protestant reader feel disgust and horror,
at the sophistical defences set up for the massacre of St. Bartholomew
and other atrocities of the wicked Church of Rome? Let him stop his
mouth, and hide his face, if he dares to justify the foul crime of

Or when I was thus forced to admit, that the Old Testament praised
immorality, as well as enunciated error; and found nevertheless in
the writers of the New Testament no indication that they were aware
of either; but that, on the contrary, "the Scripture" (as the book was
vaguely called) is habitually identified with the infallible "word
of God;"--was it wrong in me to suspect that the writers of the New
Testament were themselves open to mistake?

When I farther found, that Luke not only claims no infallibility and
no inspiration, but distinctly assigns human sources as his means of
knowledge;--when the same Luke had already been discovered to be
in irreconcilable variance with Matthew concerning the infancy of
Jesus;--was I sinful in feeling that I had no longer any guarantee
against _other_ possible error in these writers? or ought I to have
persisted in obtruding on the two evangelists on infallibility of
which Luke shows himself unconscious, which Matthew nowhere claims,
and which I had demonstrative proof that they did not both possess? A
thorough-going Bibliolater will have to impeach me as a sinner on this

After Luke and Matthew stood before me as human writers, liable to and
convicted of human error, was there any reason why I should look on
Mark as more sacred? And having perceived all three to participate in
the common superstition, derived from Babylon and the East, traceable
in history to its human source, existing still in Turkey and
Abyssinia,--the superstition which mistakes mania, epilepsy, and other
forms of disease, for possession by devils;--should I have shown love
of truth, or obstinacy in error, had I refused to judge freely of
these three writers, as of any others who tell similar marvels? or
was it my duty to resolve, at any rate and against evidence, to acquit
them of the charge of superstition and misrepresentation?

I will not trouble the reader with any further queries. If he has
justified me in his conscience thus far, he will justify my proceeding
to abandon myself to the results of inquiry. He will feel, that the
Will cannot, may not, dare not dictate, whereto the inquiries of the
Understanding shall lead; and that to allege that it _ought_, is
to plant the root of Insincerity, Falsehood, Bigotry, Cruelty, and
universal Rottenness of Soul.

The vice of Bigotry has been so indiscriminately imputed to the
religious, that they seem apt to forget that it is a real sin;--a sin
which in Christendom has been and is of all sins most fruitful, most
poisonous: nay, grief of griefs! it infects many of the purest and
most lovely hearts, which want strength of understanding, or are
entangled by a sham theology, with its false facts and fraudulent
canons. But upon all who mourn for the miseries which Bigotry has
perpetrated from the day when Christians first learned to curse; upon
all who groan over the persecutions and wars stirred up by Romanism;
upon all who blush at the overbearing conduct of Protestants in their
successive moments of brief authority,--a sacred duty rests in this
nineteenth century of protesting against Bigotry, not from a love of
ease, but from a spirit of earnest justice.

Like the first Christians, they must become _confessors_ of the Truth;
not obtrusively, boastfully, dogmatically, or harshly; but, "speaking
the truth in love," not be ashamed to avow, if they do not believe all
that others profess, and that they abhor the unrighteous principle of
judging men by an authoritative creed. The evil of Bigotry which has
been most observed, is its untameable injustice, which converted the
law of love into licensed murder or gratuitous hatred. But I believe
a worse evil still has been, the intense reaction of the human mind
against Religion for Bigotry's sake. To the millions of Europe,
bigotry has been a confutation of all pious feeling. So unlovely has
religion been made by it,

Horribili super aspectu mortalibus instans,

that now, as 2000 years ago, men are lapsing into Atheism or
Pantheism; and a totally new "dispensation" is wanted to retrieve the
lost reputation of Piety.

Two opposite errors are committed by those who discern that the
pretensions of the national religious systems are overstrained and
unjustifiable. One class of persons inveighs warmly, bitterly, rudely
against the bigotry of Christians; and know not how deep and holy
affections and principles, in spite of narrowness, are cherished in
the bosom of the Christian society. Hence their invective is harsh and
unsympathizing; and appears so essentially unjust and so ignorant,
as to exasperate and increase the very bigotry which it attacks. An
opposite class know well, and value highly, the moral influences of
Christianity, and from an intense dread of harming or losing these,
do not dare plainly and publicly to avow their own convictions. Great
numbers of English laymen are entirely assured, that the Old Testament
abounds with error, and that the New is not always unimpeachable:
yet they only whisper this; and in the hearing of a clergyman, who is
bound by Articles and whom it is indecent to refute, keep a respectful
silence. As for ministers of religion, these, being called perpetually
into a practical application of the received doctrine of their church,
are of all men least able to inquire into any fundamental errors in
that doctrine. Eminent persons among them will nevertheless aim after
and attain a purer truth than that which they find established:
but such a case must always be rare and exceptive. Only by disusing
ministerial service can any one give fair play to doubts concerning
the wisdom and truth of that which he is solemnly ministering: hence
that friend of Arnold's was wise in this world, who advised him
to take a curacy in order to settle his doubts concerning the
Trinity.--Nowhere from any body of priests, clergy, or ministers, as
an Order, is religious progress to be anticipated, until intellectual
creeds are destroyed. A greater responsibility therefore is laid upon
laymen, to be faithful and bold in avowing their convictions.

Yet it is not from the practical ministers of religion, that the great
opposition to religious reform proceeds. The "secular clergy" (as the
Romanists oddly call them) were seldom so bigoted as the "regulars."
So with us, those who minister to men in their moral trials have
for the most part a deeper moral spirit, and are less apt to place
religion in systems of propositions. The _robur legionum_ of bigotry,
I believe, is found,--first, in non-parochial clergy, and next in the
anonymous writers for religious journals and "conservative" newspapers;
who too generally[3] adopt a style of which they would be ashamed,
if the names of the writers were attached; who often seem desirous to
make it clear that it is their trade to carp, insult, or slander;
who assume a tone of omniscience, at the very moment when they show
narrowness of heart and judgment. To such writing those who desire
to promote earnest Thought and tranquil Progress ought anxiously to
testify their deep repugnance. A large part of this slander and insult
is prompted by a base pandering to the (real or imagined) taste of the
public, and will abate when it visibly ceases to be gainful.

* * * * *

The law of God's moral universe, as known to us, is that of Progress.
We trace it from old barbarism to the methodized Egyptian idolatry;
to the more flexible Polytheism of Syria and Greece; the poetical
Pantheism of philosophers, and the moral monotheism of a few sages.
So in Palestine and in the Bible itself we see, first of all, the
image-worship of Jacob's family, then the incipient elevation of
Jehovah above all other Gods by Moses, the practical establishment
of the worship of Jehovah alone by Samuel, the rise of spiritual
sentiment under David and the Psalmists, the more magnificent views
of Hezekiah's prophets, finally in the Babylonish captivity the new
tenderness assumed by that second Isaiah and the later Psalmists. But
ceremonialism more and more encrusted the restored nation; and Jesus
was needed to spur and stab the conscience of his contemporaries,
and recal them to more spiritual perceptions; to proclaim a coming
"kingdom of heaven," in which should be gathered all the children of
God that were scattered abroad; where the law of love should reign,
and no one should dictate to another. Alas! that this great movement
had its admixture of human imperfection. After this, Steven the
protomartyr, and Paul once him persecutor, had to expose the emptiness
of all external santifications, and free the world from the law of
Moses. _Up_ to this point all Christians approve of progress; but _at_
this point they want to arrest it.

The arguments of those who resist Progress are always the same,
whether it be Pagans against Hebrews, Jews against Christians,
Romanists against Protestants, or modern Christians against the
advocates of a higher spiritualism. Each established system
assures its votaries, that now at length they have attained a final
perfection: that their foundations are irremovable: progress _up_ to
that position was a duty, _beyond_ it is a sin. Each displaces its
predecessor by superior goodness, but then each fights against his
successor by odium, contempt, exclusions and (when possible) by
violences. Each advances mankind one step, and forbids them to take a
second. Yet if it be admitted that in the earlier movement the party
of progress was always right, confidence that the case is now reversed
is not easy to justify.

Every persecuting church has numbered among its members thousands
of pious people, so grateful for its services, or so attached to its
truth, as to think those impious who desire something purer and more
perfect. Herein we may discern, that every nation and class is
liable to the peculiar illusion of overesteeming the sanctity of its
ancestral creed. It is as much our duty to beware of this illusion, as
of any other. All know how easily our patriotism may degenerate into
an unjust repugnance to foreigners, and that the more intense it is,
the greater the need of antagonistic principles. So also, the real
excellencies of our religion may only so much the more rivet us in
a wrong aversion to those who do not acknowledge its authority or

It is probable that Jesus desired a state of things in which all who
worship God spiritually should have an acknowledged and conscious
union. It is clear that Paul longed above all things to overthrow
the "wall of partition" which separated two families of sincere
worshippers. Yet we now see stronger and higher walls of partition
than ever, between the children of the same God,--with a new law of
the letter, more entangling to the conscience, and more depressing to
the mental energies, than any outward service of the Levitical law.
The cause of all this is to be found in _the claim of Messiahship for
Jesus._ This gave a premium to crooked logic, in order to prove that
the prophecies meant what they did not mean and could not mean. This
perverted men's notions of right and wrong, by imparting factitious
value to a literary and historical proposition, "Jesus is the
Messiah," as though that were or could be religion. This gave merit
to credulity, and led pious men to extol it as a brave and noble deed,
when any one overpowered the scruples of good sense, and scolded them
down as the wisdom of this world, which is hostile to God. This put
the Christian church into an essentially false position, by excluding
from it in the first century all the men of most powerful and
cultivated understanding among the Greeks and Romans. This taught
Christians to boast of the hostility of the wise and prudent, and
in every controversy ensured that the party which had the merit of
mortifying reason most signally should be victorious. Hence, the
downward career of the Church into base superstition was determined
and inevitable from her very birth; nor was any improvement possible,
until a reconciliation should be effected between Christianity and the
cultivated reason which it had slighted and insulted.

Such reconciliation commenced, I believe, from the tenth century, when
the Latin moralists began to be studied as a part of a theological
course. It was continued with still greater results when Greek
literature became accessible to churchmen. Afterwards, the physics
of Galileo and of Newton began not only to undermine numerous
superstitions, but to give to men a confidence in the reality of
abstract truth, and in our power to attain it in other domains than
that of geometrical demonstration. This, together with the philosophy
of Locke, was taken up into Christian thought, and Political
Toleration was the first fruit. Beyond that point, English religion
has hardly gone. For in spite of all that has since been done in
Germany for the true and accurate _exposition_ of the Bible, and for
the scientific establishment of the history of its component books,
we still remain deplorably ignorant here of these subjects. In
consequence, English Christians do not know that they are unjust and
utterly unreasonable, in expecting thoughtful men to abide by the
creed of their ancestors. Nor, indeed, is there any more stereotyped
and approved calumny, than the declaration so often emphatically
enunciated from the pulpit, that _unbelief in the Christian miracles
is the fruit of a wicked heart and of a soul enslaved to sin_. Thus
do estimable and well-meaning men, deceived and deceiving one another,
utter base slander in open church, where it is indecorous to reply
to them,--and think that they are bravely delivering a religions

No difficulty is encountered, so long as the _inward_ and the
_outward_ rule of religion agree,--by whatever names men call
them,--the Spirit and the Word--or Reason and the Church,--or
Conscience and Authority. None need settle which of the two rules is
the greater, so long as the results coincide: in fact, there is no
controversy, no struggle, and also probably no progress. A child
cannot guess whether father or mother has the higher authority,
until discordant commands are given; but then commences the painful
necessity of disobeying one in order to obey the other. So, also, the
great and fundamental controversies of religion arise, only when a
discrepancy is detected between the inward and the outward rule: and
then, there are only two possible solutions. If the Spirit within us
and the Bible (or Church) without us are at variance, _we must either
follow the inward and disregard the outward law; else we must renounce
the inward law and obey the outward_. The Romanist bids us to obey
the Church and crush our inward judgment: the Spiritualist, on the
contrary, follows his inward law, and, when necessary, defies Church,
Bible, or any other authority. The orthodox Protestant is better
and truer than the Romanist, because the Protestant is not like the
latter, consistent in error, but often goes right: still he _is_
inconsistent as to this point. Against the Spiritualist he uses
Romanist principles, telling him that he ought to submit his "proud
reason" and accept the "Word of God" as infallible, even though it
appear to him to contain errors. But against the Romanist the same
disputant avows Spiritualist principles, declaring that since "the
Church" appears to him to be erroneous, he dares not to accept it as
infallible. What with the Romanist he before called "proud reason,"
he now designates as Conscience, Understanding, and perhaps the Holy
Spirit. He refused to allow the right of the Spiritualist to urge,
that _the Bible_ contains contradictions and immoralities, and
therefore cannot be received; but he claims a full right to urge
that _the Church_ has justified contradictions and immoralities, and
therefore is not to be submitted to. The perception that this
position is inconsistent, and, to him who discerns the inconsistency,
dishonest, is every year driving Protestants to Rome. And _in
principle_ there are only two possible religions: the Personal and the
Corporate; the Spiritual and the External. I do not mean to say that
in Romanism there is nothing but what is Corporate and External; for
that is impossible to human nature: but that this is what the theory
of their argument demands; and their doctrine of Implicit[4] (or
Virtual) Faith entirely supersedes intellectual perception as well as
intellectual conviction. The theory of each church is the force which
determines to what centre the whole shall gravitate. However men may
talk of spirituality, yet let them once enact that the freedom of
individuals shall be absorbed in a corporate conscience, and you
find that the narrowest heart and meanest intellect sets the rule of
conduct for the whole body.

It has been often observed how the controversies of the Trinity and
Incarnation depended on the niceties of the Greek tongue. I do not
know whether it has ever been inquired, what confusion of thought
was shed over Gentile Christianity, from its very origin, by the
imperfection of the New Testament Greek. The single Greek[5] word
[Greek: pistis] needs probably three translations into our far more
accurate tongue,--viz., Belief, Trust, Faith; but especially Belief
and Faith have important contrasts. Belief is purely intellectual;
Faith is properly spiritual. Hence the endless controversy about
Justification by [Greek: pistis], which has so vexed Christians; hence
the slander cast on _unbelievers_ or _misbelievers_ (when they can
no longer be burned or exiled), as though they were _faithless_ and

But nothing of this ought to be allowed to blind us to the truly
spiritual and holy developments of historical Christianity,--much
less, make us revert to the old Paganism or Pantheism which it
supplanted.--The great doctrine on which all practical religion
depends,--the doctrine which nursed the infancy and youth of human
nature,--is, "the sympathy of God with the perfection of individual
man." Among Pagans this was so marred by the imperfect characters
ascribed to the Gods, and the dishonourable fables told concerning
them, that the philosophers who undertook to prune religion too
generally cut away the root, by alleging[6] that God was mere
Intellect and wholly destitute of Affections. But happily among the
Hebrews the purity of God's character was vindicated; and with the
growth of conscience in the highest minds of the nation the ideal
image of God shone brighter and brighter. The doctrine of his Sympathy
was never lost, and from the Jews it passed into the Christian church.
This doctrine, applied to that part of man which is divine, is the
wellspring of Repentance and Humility, of Thankfulness, Love, and Joy.
It reproves and it comforts; it stimulates and animates. This it is
which led the Psalmist to cry, "Whom have I in heaven but Thee? there
is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee." This has satisfied
prophets, apostles, and martyrs with God as their Portion. This has
been passed from heart to heart for full three thousand years, and has
produced bands of countless saints. Let us not cut off our sympathies
from those, who have learnt to sympathize with God; nor be blind
to that spiritual good which they have; even if it be, more or less
sensibly, tinged with intellectual error. In fact, none but God knows,
how many Christian hearts are really pure from bigotry. I cannot
refuse to add my testimony, such as it is, to the effect, that _the
majority is always truehearted_. As one tyrant, with a small band of
unscrupulous tools, manages to use the energies of a whole nation of
kind and well-meaning people for cruel purposes, so the bigoted few,
who work out an evil theory with consistency, often succeed in using
the masses of simpleminded Christians as their tools for oppression.
Let us not think more harshly than is necessary of the anathematizing
churches. Those who curse us with their lips, often love us in their
hearts. A very deep fountain of tenderness can mingle with their
bigotry itself: and with tens of thousands, the evil belief is a dead
form, the spiritual love is a living reality. Whether Christians
like it or not, we must needs look to Historians, to Linguists, to
Physiologists, to Philosophers, and generally, to men of cultivated
understanding, to gain help in all those subjects which are
preposterously called _Theology_: but for devotional aids, for pious
meditations, for inspiring hymns, for purifying and glowing thoughts,
we have still to wait upon that succession of kindling souls, among
whom may be named with special honour David and Isaiah, Jesus and
Paul, Augustine, A Kempis, Fenelon, Leighton, Baxter, Doddridge,
Watts, the two Wesleys, and Channing.

Religion was created by the inward instincts of the soul: it had
afterwards to be pruned and chastened by the sceptical understanding.
For its perfection, the co-operation of these two parts of man is
essential. While religious persons dread critical and searching
thought, and critics despise instinctive religion, each side remains
imperfect and curtailed.

It is a complaint often made by religious historians, that no church
can sustain its spirituality unimpaired through two generations, and
that in the third a total irreligion is apt to supervene. Sometimes
indeed the transitions are abrupt, from an age of piety to an age of
dissoluteness. The liability to such lamentable revulsions is plainly
due to some insufficiency in the religion to meet all the wants of
human nature. To scold at that nature is puerile, and implies an
ignorance of the task which religion undertakes. To lay the fault
on the sovereign will of God, who has "withheld his grace" from the
grandchildren of the pious, might be called blasphemy, if we were
disposed to speak harshly. The fault lies undoubtedly in the fact,
that Practical Devoutness and Free Thought stand apart in unnatural
schism. But surely the age is ripe for something better;--for
a religion which stall combine the tenderness, humility, and
disinterestedness, that are the glory of the purest Christianity,
with that activity of intellect, untiring pursuit of truth, and strict
adherence to impartial principle, which the schools of modern science
embody. When a spiritual church has its senses exercised to discern
good and evil, judges of right and wrong by an inward power, proves
all things and holds fast that which is good, fears no truth, but
rejoices in being corrected, intellectually as well as morally,--it
will not be liable to be "carried to and fro" by shifting winds of
doctrine. It will indeed have movement, namely, a steady _onward_ one,
as the schools of science have had, since they left off to dogmatize,
and approached God's world as learners; but it will lay aside disputes
of words, eternal vacillations, mutual illwill and dread of new light,
and will be able without hypocrisy to proclaim "peace on earth and
goodwill towards men," even towards those who reject its beliefs and
sentiments concerning "God and his glory."


The author of the "Eclipse of Faith," in his Defence (p. 168),
referring to my reply in p. 101 above, says:--"In this very paragraph
Mr. Newman shows that I have _not_ misrepresented him, nor is it
true that I overlooked his novel hypothesis. He says that 'Gibbon is
exhibiting and developing the deep-seated causes of the _spread_ of
Christianity before Constantine,'--which Mr. Newman says had _not_
spread. On the contrary; he assumes that the Christians were 'a small
fraction,' and thus _does_ dismiss in two sentences, I might have said
three words, what Gibbon had strained every nerve in his celebrated
chapter to account for."

Observe his phrase, "On the contrary." It is impossible to say more
plainly, that Gibbon represents the spread of Christianity before
Constantine to have been very great, and then laboured in vain to
account for that spread; and that I, _arbitrarily setting aside
Gibbon's fact as to the magnitude of the "spread_," cut the knot which
he could not untie.

But the fact, as between Gibbon and me, is flatly the reverse.
I advance nothing novel as to the numbers of the Christians, no
hypothesis of my own, no assumption. I have merely adopted Gibbon's
own historical estimate, that (judging, as he does judge, by the
examples of Rome and Antioch), the Christians before the rise of
Constantine were but a small fraction of the population. Indeed, he
says, not above _one-twentieth_ part; on which I laid no stress.

It may be that Gibbon is here in error. I shall willingly withdraw any
historical argument, if shown that I have unawares rested on a false
basis. In balancing counter statements and reasons from diverse
sources, different minds come to different statistical conclusions.
Dean Milman ("Hist. of Christianity," vol. ii. p. 341) when
deliberately weighing opposite opinions, says cautiously, that "Gibbon
is perhaps inclined to underrate" the number of the Christians. He
adds: "M. Beugnot agrees much with Gibbon, and I should conceive, with
regard to the West, is clearly right."

I beg the reader to observe, that I have _not_ represented the
numerical strength of the Christians in Constantine's army to be
great. Why my opponent should ridicule my use of the phrase _Christian
regiments_, I am too dull to understand. ("Who would not think,"
says he, "that it was one of Constantine's _aide-de-camps_ that was
speaking?") It may be that I am wrong in using the plural noun, and
that there was only _one_ such regiment,--that which carried the
Labarum, or standard of the cross (Gibbon, ch. 20), to which so much
efficacy was attributed in the war against Licinius. I have no time at
present, nor any need for further inquiries on such matters. It is
to the devotion and organization of the Christians, not to their
proportionate numbers, that I attributed weight. If (as Milman says)
Gibbon and Beugnot are "clearly right" as regards _the West_--_i.e._,
as regards all that vast district which became the area of modern
European Christendom, I see nothing in my argument which requires

But why did Christianity, while opposed by the ruling powers, spread
"_in the East?_" In the very chapter from which I have quoted, Dean
Milman justifies me in saying, that to this question I may simply
reply, "I do not know," without impairing my present argument. (I
myself find no difficulty in it whatever; but I protest against the
assumption, that I am bound to believe a religion preternatural,
unless I con account for its origin and diffusion to the satisfaction
of its adherents.) Dean Milman, vol. ii. pp. 322-340, gives a full
account of the Manichaean religion, and its rapid and great spread in
spate of violent persecution. MANI, the founder, represented himself
as "a man invested with a divine mission." His doctrines are described
by Milman as wild and mystical metaphysics, combining elements of
thought from Magianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Buddhism. "His
worship was simple, without altar, temple, images, or any imposing
ceremonial. Pure and simple prayer was their only form of adoration."
They talked much of "Christ" as a heavenly principle, but "did not
believe in his birth or death. Prayers and Hymns addressed to the
source of light, exhortations to subdue the dark and sensuous element
within, and the study of the marvellous book of Mani, constituted
their devotion. Their manners were austere and ascetic; they
tolerated, but only tolerated, marriage, and that only among the
inferior orders. The theatre, the banquet, and even the bath, they
severely proscribed. Their diet was of fruits and herbs; they shrank
with abhorrence from animal food." Mani met with fierce hostility from
West and East alike; and at last was entrapped by the Persian king
Baharam, and "was flayed alive. His skin, stuffed with straw, was
placed over the gate of the city of Shahpoor."

Such a death was as cruel and as ignominious as that of crucifixion;
yet his doctrines "expired not with their author. In the East and in
the West they spread with the utmost rapidity.... The extent of
its success may be calculated by the implacable hostility of other
religions to the doctrines of Mani; _the causes of that success are
more difficult to conjecture_."

Every reason, which, as far as I know, has ever been given, why it
should be hard for early Christianity to spread, avail equally as
reasons against the spread of Manichaeism. The state of the East, which
admitted the latter without miracle, admitted the former also.
It nevertheless is pertinent to add, that the recent history of
Mormonism, compared with that of Christianity and of Manichaeism,
may suggest that the martyr-death of the founder of a religion is a
positive aid to its after-success.

[Footnote 1: See Strauss on the Infancy of Jesus.]

[Footnote 2: My "Eclectic" reviewer (who is among the least orthodox
and the least uncandid) hence deduces, that I have confounded the two
questions, "Does the Bible contain errors in human science?" and, "Is
its purely spiritual teaching true?" It is quite wonderful to me, how
educated men can so totally overlook what I have so plainly and so
often written. This very passage might show the contrary, if he had
but quoted the whole paragraph, instead of the middle sentence only.
See also pp. 67, 74, 75, 86, 87, 125.]

[Footnote 3: Any orthodox periodical which dares to write charitably,
is at once subjected to fierce attack us _un_orthodox.]

[Footnote 4: _Explicit_ Faith in a doctrine, means, that we understand
what the propositions are, and accept them. But if through blunder we
accept a wrong set of propositions, so as to believe a false doctrine,
we nevertheless have _Implicit_ (or Virtual) Faith in the true one, if
only we say from the heart: "Whatever the Church believes, I believe."
Thus a person, who, through blundering, believes in Sabellianism or
Arianism, which the Church has condemned, is regarded to have _virtual
faith_ in Trinitarianism, and all the "merit" of that faith, because
of his good will to submit to the Church; which is the really saving

[Footnote 5: [Greek: Dikaiosune] (righteousness), [Greek: Diatheke]
(covenant, testament), [Greek: Charis] (grace), are all terms pregnant
with fallacy.]

[Footnote 6: Horace and Cicero speak the mind of their educated
contemporaries in saying that "we ought to pray to God _only_ for
external blessings, but trust to our own efforts for a pure and
tranquil soul,"--a singular reversing of spiritual religion]



This small treatise was reviewed, unfavourably of course, in most of
the religious periodicals, and among them in the "Prospective Review,"
by my friend James Martineau. I had been about the same time attacked
in a book called the "Eclipse of Faith," written (chiefly against my
treatise on the Soul) in the form of a Platonic Dialogue; in which a
sceptic, a certain Harrington, is made to indulge in a great deal
of loose and bantering argumentation, with the view of ridiculing my
religion, and doing so by ways of which some specimen will be given.

I made an indignant protest in a new edition of this book, and added
also various matter in reply to Mr. Martineau, which will still
be found here. He in consequence in a second article[1] of the
"Prospective" reviewed me afresh; but, in the opening, he first
pronounced his sentence in words of deep disapproval against the
"Eclipse of Faith."

"The method of the work," says he, "its plan of appealing from what
seems shocking in the Bible to something more shocking in the world,
simply doubles every difficulty without relieving any; and tends to
enthrone a devil everywhere, and leave a God nowhere.... The whole
force of the writer's thought,--his power of exposition, of argument,
of sarcasm, is thrown, in spite of himself, into the irreligious
scale.... If the work be really written[2] in good faith, and be not
rather a covert attack on all religion, it curiously shows how the
temple of the author's worship stands on the same foundation with the
_officina_ of Atheism, and in such close vicinity that the passer-by
cannot tell from which of the two the voices stray into the street."

The author of the "Eclipse," buoyed up by a large sale of his work
to a credulous public, put forth a "Defence," in which he naturally
declined to submit to the judgment of this reviewer. But my readers
will remark, that Mr. Martineau, writing against me, and seeking to
rebut my replies to him--(nay, I fear I must say my _attack_ on him;
for I have confessed, almost with compunction, that it was I who first
stirred the controversy)--was very favourably situated for maintaining
a calmly judicial impartiality. He thought us both wrong, and he
administered to us each the medicine which seemed to him needed.
He passed his strictures on what he judged to be my errors, and he
rebuked my assailant for profane recklessness.

I had complained, not of this merely, but of monstrous indefensible
garbling and misrepresentation, pervading the whole work. The dialogue
is so managed, as often to suggest what is false concerning me, yet
without asserting it; so as to enable him to disown the slander, while
producing its full effect against me. Of the directly false statements
and garblings I gave several striking exhibitions. His reply to all
this in the first edition of his "Defence" was reviewed in a _third_
article of the "Prospective Review," Its ability and reach of thought
are attested by the fact that it has been mistaken for the writing of
Mr. Martineau; but (as clearly as reviews ever speak on such subjects)
it is intimated in the opening that this new article is from a new
hand, "at the risk of revealing _division of persons and opinions_
within the limits of the mystic critical _We_." Who is the author, I
do not know; nor can I make a likely guess at any one who was in more
than distant intercourse with me.

This third reviewer did not bestow one page, as Mr. Martineau had
done, on the "Eclipse;" did not summarily pronounce a broad sentence
without details, but dedicated thirty-four pages to the examination
and proof. He opens with noticing the parallel which the author of
the "Eclipse" has instituted between his use of ridicule and that
of Pascal; and replies that he signally violates Pascal's two rules,
_first_, to speak with truth against one's opponents and not with
calumny; _secondly_, not to wound them needlessly. "Neglect of the
first rule (says he) has given to these books [the "Eclipse" and its
"Defence"] their apparent controversial success; disregard of the
second their literary point." He adds, "We shall show that their
author misstates and misrepresents doctrines; garbles quotations,
interpolating words which give the passage he cites reference to
subjects quite foreign from those to which in the original they apply,
while retaining the inverted commas, which are the proper sign of
faithful transcription; that similarly, he allows himself the licence
of omission of the very words on which the controversy hangs, while
in appearance citing _verbatim_;... and that he habitually employs
a sophistry too artful (we fear) to be undesigned. May he not himself
have been deceived, some indulgent render perhaps asks, by the
fallacies which have been so successful with others? It would be as
reasonable to suppose that the grapes which deluded the birds must
have deluded Zeuxis who painted them."

So grave an accusation against my assailant's truthfulness, coming not
from me, but from a third party, and that, evidently a man who knew
well what he was saying and why,--could not be passed over unnoticed,
although that religious world, which reads one side only, continued
to buy the "Eclipse" and its "Defence" greedily, and not one in a
thousand of them was likely to see the "Prospective Review," In
the second edition of the "Defence" the writer undertakes to defend
himself against my advocate, in on Appendix of 19 closely printed
pages, the "Defence" itself being 218. The "Eclipse," in its 9th
edition of small print, is 393 pages. And how does he set about his
reply? By trying to identify the third writer with the second (who was
notoriously Mr. Martineau), and to impute to him ill temper, chagrin,
irritation, and wounded self-love, as the explanation of this third
article: He says (p. 221):--

"The third writer--if, as I have said, he be not the second--sets out
on a new voyage of discovery ... and still humbly following in the
wake of Mr. Newman's great critical discoveries,[3] repeats
that gentleman's charges of falsifying passages, garbling and
misrepresentation. In doing so, he employs language, and _manifests a
temper_, which I should have thought that respect for himself, if not
for his opponent, would have induced him to suppress. It is enough to
say, that he quite rivals Mr. Newman in sagacity, and if possible, has
more successfully denuded himself of charity.... If he be the same as
the second writer, I am afraid that the little Section XV." [_i.e._
the reply to Mr. Martineau in 1st edition of the "Defence"] "must have
offended the _amour propre_ more deeply than it ought to have done,
considering the wanton and outrageous assault to which it was a very
lenient reply, and that the critic affords another illustration of the
old maxim, that there are none so implacable as those who have done a

"As the spectacle of the reeling Helot taught the Spartans sobriety,
so his _bitterness_ shall teach me moderation. I know enough of human
nature to understand that it is very possible for an _angry_ man--and
_chagrin and irritation are too legibly written on every page of this
article_--to be betrayed into gross injustice."

The reader will see from this the difficulty of _my_ position in this
controversy. Mr. Martineau, while defending himself, deprecated
the profanity of my other opponent, and the atheistic nature of
his arguments. He spoke as a bystander, and with the advantage of a
judicial position, and it is called "wanton and outrageous." A second
writer goes into detail, and exposes some of the garbling arts which
have been used against me; it is imputed[4] to ill temper, and is
insinuated to be from a spirit of personal revenge. How much less can
_I_ defend myself, and that, against untruthfulness, without incurring
such imputation! My opponent speaks to a public who will not read my
replies. He picks out what he pleases of my words, and takes care to
divest them of their justification. I have (as was to be expected) met
with much treatment from the religious press which I know cannot be
justified; but all is slight, compared to that of which I complain
from this writer. I will presently give a few detailed instances to
illustrate this. While my charge against my assailant is essentially
moral, and I cannot make any parade of charity, he can speak
patronizingly of me now and then, and makes his main attacks on my
_logic_ and _metaphysics_. He says, that in writing his first book,
he knew no characteristics of me, except that I was "a gentleman,
a scholar, and _a very indifferent metaphysician_" At the risk of
encountering yet more of banter and insult, I shall here quote what
the third "Prospective Reviewer" says on this topic. (Vol. x. p.

"Our readers will be able to judge how well qualified the author is
to sneer at Mr. Newman's metaphysics, which are far more accurate
than his own, or to ridicule his logic. The tone of contempt which he
habitually assumes preposterously reverses the relative intellectual
_status_, so far as sound systematic thought is concerned, of the two

I do not quote this as testimony to myself but as testimony that
others, as well as I, feel the _contemptuous tone_ assumed by my
adversary in precisely that subject on which modesty is called for. On
metaphysics there is hitherto an unreconciled diversity among men who
have spent their lives in the study; and a large part of the endless
religious disputes turns on this very fact. However, the being told,
in a multitude of ingenious forms, that I am a wretched logician, is
not likely to raffle my tranquillity. What does necessarily wound me,
is his misrepresenting my thoughts to the thoughtful, whose respect
I honour; and poisoning the atmosphere between me and a thousand
religious hearts. That these do not despise me, however much contempt
he may vent, I know only too well through their cruel fears of me.

I have just now learned incidentally, that in the last number (a
supplementary number) of the "Prospective Review," there was a short
reply to the second edition of Mr. Rogers's "Defence," in which the
Editors officially _deny_ that the third writer against Mr. Rogers
is the same as the second; which, I gather from their statement, the
"British Quarterly" had taken on itself to _affirm_.

I proceed to show what liberties my critic takes with my arguments,
and what he justifies.

I. In the closing chapter of my third edition of the "Phases," I had
complained of his bad faith in regard to my arguments concerning the
Authoritative imposition of moral truth from without. I showed that,
after telling his reader that I offered no proof of my assertions,
he dislocated my sentences, altered their order, omitted an adverb
of inference, and isolated three sentences out of a paragraph of
forty-six lines: that his omission of the inferential adverb showed
his deliberate intention to destroy the reader's clue to the fact,
that I had given proof where he suppresses it and says that I have
given none; that the sentences quoted as 1,2,3, by him, with me have
the order 3, 2,1; while what he places first, is with me an immediate
and necessary deduction from what has preceded. Now how does he reply?
He does not deny my facts; but he justifies his process. I must set
his words before the reader. _(Defence, 2nd ed., p. 85.)

"The strangest thing is to see the way in which, after parading this
supposed 'artful dodge,'[5] which, I assure you, gentle reader, was
all a perfect novelty to my consciousness,--Mr. Newman goes on to
say, that the author of the 'Eclipse' has altered the order of his
sentences to suit a purpose. He says: 'The sentences quoted as 1, 2,
3, by him, with me have the order 3, 2, 1.' I answer, that Harrington
was simply anxious to set forth at the head of his argument, in the
clearest and briefest form, the _conclusions_[6] he believed Mr.
Newman to hold, and which he was going to confute. He had no idea of
any relation of subordination or dependence in the above sophisms, as
I have just proved them to be, whether arranged as 3, 2, 1, or 1,
2, 3, or 2, 3, 1, or in any other order in which the possible
permutations of three things, taken 3 and 3 together, can exhibit
them; _ex nihilo, nil fit_; and three nonentities can yield just as
little. Jangle as many changes as you will on these three cracked
bells, no logical harmony can ever issue out of them."

Thus, because he does not see the validity of my argument, he is to
pretend that I have offered none: he is not to allow his readers to
judge for themselves as to the validity, but they have to take his
word that I am a very "queer" sort of logician, ready "for any feats
of logical legerdemain."

I have now to ask, what is garbling, if the above is not? He admits
the facts, but justifies them as having been convenient from his point
of view; and then finds my charity to be "very grotesque," when I do
not know how, without hypocrisy, to avoid calling a spade a spade.

I shall here reprint the pith of my argument, somewhat shortened:--

"No heaven-sent Bible can guarantee the veracity of God to a man who
doubts that veracity. Unless we have independent means of knowing that
God is truthful and good, his word (if we be over so certain that it
is really his word) has no authority to us: _hence_ no book revelation
can, without sapping its own pedestal, deny the validity of our _a
priori_ conviction that God has the virtues of goodness and veracity,
and requires like virtues in us. _And in fact_, all Christian apostles
and missionaries, like the Hebrew prophets, have always confuted
Paganism by direct attacks on its immoral and unspiritual doctrines,
and have appealed to the consciences of heathens, as competent to
decide in the controversy. Christianity itself has _thus_ practically
confessed what is theoretically clear, that an authoritative external
revelation of moral and spiritual truth is essentially impossible to
man. What God reveals to us, he reveals within, through the medium of
our moral and spiritual senses. External teaching may be a training of
those senses, but affords no foundation for certitude."

This passage deserved the enmity of my critic. He quoted bits of
it, very sparingly, never setting before his readers my continuous
thought, but giving his own free versions and deductions. His fullest
quotation stood thus, given only in an after-chapter:--"What God
reveals to us, he reveals _within_, through the medium of our moral
and spiritual senses." "Christianity itself has practically confessed
what is theoretically clear, _(you must take Mr. Newman's word for
both,)_[7] that an authoritative external revelation of moral and
spiritual truth is essentially impossible to man." "No book-revelation
can, without sapping its own pedestal, &c. &c."

These three sentences are what Mr. Rogers calls the three cracked
bells, and thinks by raising a laugh, to hide his fraud I have
carefully looked through the whole of his dialogue concerning Book
Revelation in his 9th edition of the "Eclipse" (pp. 63-83 of close
print). He still excludes from it every part of my argument,
only stating in the opening (p. 63) as my conclusions, that a
book-revelation is impossible, and that God reveals himself from
within, not from without In his _Defence_ (which circulates far less
than the "Eclipse," to judge by the number of editions) he displays
his bravery by at length printing my argument; but in the "Eclipse" he
continues to suppress it, at least as far as I can discover by turning
to the places where it ought to be found.

In p. 77 (9th ed.) of the "Eclipse." he _implies_, without absolutely
asserting, that I hold the Bible to be an impertinence. He repeats
this in p. 85 of the "Defence." Such is his mode. I wrote: "_Without_
a priori _belief_, the Bible is an impertinence," but I say, man
_has_ this _a priori_ belief, on which account the Bible is _not_
an impertinence. My last sentence in the very passage before us,
expressly asserts the value of (good) external teaching. This my
critic laboriously disguises.

He carefully avoids allowing his readers to see that I am contending
fundamentally for that which the ablest Christian divines have
conceded and maintained; that which the common sense of every
missionary knows, and every one who is not profoundly ignorant of the
Bible and of history ought to know. Mr. Rogers is quite aware, that
no apostle ever carried a Bible in his hand and said to the heathen,
"Believe that there is a good and just God, _because_ it is written
in this book;" but they appealed to the hearts and consciences of
the hearers as competent witnesses. He does not even give his reader
enough of my paragraph to make intelligible what I _meant_ by saying
"Christianity has practically confessed;" and yet insists that I am
both unreasonable and uncharitable in my complaints of him.

I here reprint the summary of my belief concerning our knowledge of
morality as fundamental, and not to be tampered with under pretence of
religion. "If an angel from heaven bade me to lie, and to steal, and
to commit adultery, and to murder, and to scoff at good men, and usurp
dominion over my equals, and do unto others everything that I wish
_not_ to have done to me; I ought to reply, BE THOU ANATHEMA! This, I
believe, was Paul's doctrine; this is mine."

It may be worth while to add how in the "Defence" Mr. Rogers pounces
on my phrase "_a priori_ view of the Divine character," as an excuse
for burying his readers in metaphysics, in which he thinks he has a
natural right to dogmatize against and over me. He must certainly be
aware of the current logical (not metaphysical) use of the phrase _a
priori_: as when we say, that Le Verrier and Adams demonstrated _a
priori_ that a planet _must_ exist exterior to Uranus, before any
astronomer communicated information that it _does_ exist. Or again:
the French Commissioners proved by actual measurement that the earth
is an oblate spheroid, of which Newton had convinced himself _a

_I_ always avoid a needless argument of metaphysics. Writing to the
general public I cannot presume that they are good judges of anything
but a practical and moral argument. The _a priori_ views of God, of
which I here speak, involve no subtle questions; they are simply those
views which are attained _independently of the alleged authoritative
information_, and, of course, are founded upon considerations
_earlier_ than it.

But it would take too much of space and time, and be far too tedious
to my readers, if I were to go in detail through Mr. Rogers's
objections and misrepresentations. I have the sad task of attacking
_his good faith_, to which I further proceed.

II. In the preface to my second edition of the "Hebrew Monarchy,"
I found reason to explain briefly in what sense I use the word
inspiration. I said, I found it to be current in three senses;
"first, as an extraordinary influence peculiar to a few persons, as
to prophets and apostles; secondly, _as an ordinary influence of the
Divine Spirit on the hearts of men, which quickens and strengthens
their moral and spiritual powers_, and is accessible to them all (in
a certain stage of development) _in some proportion to their own
faithfulness._ The third view teaches that genius and inspiration are
two names for one thing.... _Christians for the most part hold the two
first conceptions_, though they generally call the second _spiritual
influence_, not inspiration; the third, seems to be common in the
Old Testament. It so happens that the _second is the only inspiration
which I hold._" [I here super-add the italics] On this passage Mr.
Rogers commented as follows ("Defence" p. 156):--

"The latest utterance of Mr. Newman on the subject [of inspiration]
that I have read, occurs in his preface to the second edition of
his "Hebrew Monarchy," where he tells us, that he believes it is an
influence accessible to all men, _in a certain stage of development_!
[Italics.] Surely it will be time to consider his theory of
inspiration, when he has told us a little more about it. To my mind,
if the very genius of mystery had framed the definition, it could not
have uttered anything more indefinite."

Upon this passage the "Prospective" reviewer said his say as follows
(vol x. p. 217):--

"The writer will very considerately defer criticism on Mr. Newman's
indefinite definition, worthy of the genius of mystery, till its
author has told us a little more about it. Will anyone believe that he
himself deliberately omits the substance of the definition, and gives
in its stead a parenthetical qualification, which might be left out of
the original, without injury either to the grammatical structure,
or to the general meaning of the sentence in which it occurs?" He
proceeds to state what I did say, and adds: "Mr. Newman, in the very
page in which this statement occurs, expressly identifies his doctrine
with the ordinary Christian belief of Divine influence. His words are
exactly coincident in sense with those employed by the author of the
"Eclipse," where he acknowledges the reality of 'the ordinary, though
mysterious action, by which God aids those who sincerely seek him in
every good word and work.' The moral faithfulness of which Mr. Newman
speaks, is the equivalent of the sincere search of God in good word
and work, which his opponent talks of."

I must quote the _entire_ reply given to this in the "Defence," second
edition, p. 224:--

"And now for a few examples of my opponent's criticisms. 1. I said
in the "Defence" that I did not understand Mr. Newman's notions of
inspiration, and that, as to his very latest utterance--namely, that
it was an influence _accessible to all men in a certain stage of
development_ [italics], it was utterly unintelligible to me. 'Will any
one believe (says my critic) that he deliberately omits the
substance of the definition, and gives in its stead a parenthetical
qualification, which might be left out of the original without injury
either to the grammatical structure or to the general meaning of
the sentence in which it occurs? Was anything ever more amusing? A
parenthetical clause which might be left out of the original without
injury to the grammatical structure or to the general meaning! _Might_
be left out? Ay, to be sure it might, and not only 'without injury,'
but with benefit; just as the dead fly which makes the ointment of the
apothecary to stink might be left out of _that_ without injury. But
it was _not_ left out; and it is precisely because it was there, and
diffused so remarkable an odour over the whole, that I characterized
the definition as I did--and most justly. Accessible to all men in
a certain stage of development! When and how _accessible_? What
_species_ of development, I beseech you, is meant? And what is the
_stage_ of it? The very thing, which, as I say, and as everybody of
common sense must see, renders the definition utterly vague, is the
very clause in question."

Such is his _entire_ notice of the topic. From any other writer I
should indeed have been amazed at such treatment. I had made the
very inoffensive profession of agreeing with the current doctrine of
Christians concerning spiritual influence. As I was not starting any
new theory, but accepting what is notorious, nothing more than an
indication was needed. I gave, what I should not call definition, but
description of it. My critic conceals that I have avowed agreement
with Christians; refers to it as a theory of my own; complains that
it is obscure; pretends to quote my definition, and leaves out all
the cardinal words of it, which I have above printed in italics. My
defender, in the "Prospective Review," exposes these mal-practices;
points out that my opponent is omitting the main words, while
complaining of deficiency; that I profess to agree with Christians in
general; and _that I evidently agree with my critic in particular_.
The critic undertakes to reply to this, and the reader has before him
the whole defence. The man who, as it were, puts his hand on his
heart to avow that he anxiously sets before his readers, if not what
I _mean_, yet certainly what I have _expressed_,--still persists in
hiding from them the facts of the case; avoids to quote from the
reviewer so much as to let out that I profess to agree[8] with what
is prevalent among Christians and have no peculiar theory;--still
withholds the cardinal points of what he calls my definition; while
he tries to lull his reader into inattention by affecting to be
highly amused, and by bantering and bullying in his usual style, while
perverting the plainest words in the world.

I have no religious press to take my part. I am isolated, as my
assailant justly remarks. For a wonder, a stray review here and
there has run to my aid, while there is a legion on the other
side--newspapers, magazines, and reviews. Now if any orthodox man, any
friend of my assailant, by some chance reads these pages, I beg him to
compare my quotations, thus fully given, with the originals; and if he
find anything false in them, then let him placard me as a LIAR in the
whole of the religious press. But if he finds that I am right,
then let him learn in what sort of man he is trusting--what sort of
champion of _truth_ this religious press has cheered on.

III. I had complained that Mr. Rogers falsely represented me to make
a fanatical "divorce" between the intellectual and the spiritual, from
which he concluded that I ought to be indifferent as to the worship of
Jehovah or of the image which fell down from Jupiter. He has pretended
that my religion, according to me, has received nothing by traditional
and historical agencies; that it owes nothing to men who went before
me; that I believe I have (in my single unassisted bosom) "a spiritual
faculty so bright as to anticipate all essential[9] spiritual
verities;" that had it not been for traditional religion, "we should
everywhere have heard the invariable utterance of spiritual religion
in the one dialect of the heart,"--that "this divinely implanted
faculty of spiritual discernment anticipates all external truth,"
&c. &c. I then adduced passages to show that his statement was
emphatically and utterly contrary to fact. In his "Defence," he thus
replies, p. 75:--

"I say with an unfaltering conscience, that no controvertist ever more
honestly and sincerely sought to give his opponent's views, than I
did Mr. Newman's, after the most diligent study of his rather obscure
books; and that whether I have succeeded or not in giving what he
_thought_, I have certainly given what he _expressed_. It is quite
true that I supposed Mr. Newman intended to "divorce" faith and
intellect; and what else on earth could I suppose, in common even
with those who were most leniently disposed towards him, from such
_How then can the state of the soul be tested by the conclusion to
which the intellect is led?_ I was _compelled_, I say, to take these
passages as everybody else took them, to _mean_ what they obviously

Here he so isolates three assertions of mine from their context, as
to suggest for each of them a false meaning, and make it difficult for
the reader who has not my book at hand to discover the delusion.
The first is taken from a discussion of the arguments concerning the
soul's immortality ("Soul," p. 223, 2nd edition), on which I wrote
thus, p. 219:--that to judge of the accuracy of a metaphysical
argument concerning mind and matter, requires not a pure conscience
and a loving soul, but a clear and calm head; that if the doctrine of
immortality be of high religious importance, we cannot believe it to
rest on such a basis, that those in whom the religious faculties are
most developed may be more liable to err concerning it than those
who have no religious faculty in action at all. On the contrary,
concerning truths which are really spiritual it is an obvious
axiom,[10] that "he who is spiritual judgeth all things, and he
himself is judged of no man." After this I proceeded to allude to the
history of the doctrine among the Hebrews, and quoted some texts of
the Psalms, the _argument_ of which, I urged, is utterly inappreciable
to the pure logician, "because it is spiritually discerned." I
continued as follows:--

"This is as it should be. Can a mathematician understand physiology,
or a physiologist questions of law? A true love of God in the soul
itself, an insight into Him depending on that love, and a hope rising
out of that insight, are prerequisite for contemplating this spiritual
doctrine, which is a spontaneous impression of the gazing soul,
powerful (perhaps) in proportion to its faith; whereas all the grounds
of belief proposed to the mere understanding have nothing to do with
faith at all."

I am expounding the doctrine of the great Paul of Tarsus, who indeed
applies it to this very topic,--the future bliss which God has
prepared for them that love him. Does Mr. Rogers attack Paul as making
a fanatical divorce between faith and intellect, and say that he is
_compelled_ so to understand him, when he avows that "the natural man
understandeth not the things of God; for they are foolishness unto
him." "When the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by
the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." Here is
a pretended champion of Evangelical truth seeking to explode as
absurdities the sentiments and judgments which have ever been at the
heart of Christianity, its pride and its glory!

But I justify my argument as free from fanaticism--and free from
obscurity when the whole sentence is read--to a Jew or Mohammedan,
quite as much as to a Christian.

My opponent innocently asks, _how much_ I desire him to quote of me?
But is innocence the right word, when he has quoted but two lines and
a half, out of a sentence of seven and a half, and has not even given
the clause complete? By omitting, in his usual way, the connecting
particle _whereas_, he hides from the reader that he has given but
half my thought; and this is done, after my complaint of this very
proceeding. A reader who sees the whole sentence, discerns at once
that I oppose "the _mere_ understanding," to the whole soul; in short,
that by the man who has _mere_ understanding, I mean him whom Paul
calls "the natural man." Such a man may have metaphysical talents and
acquirements, he may be a physiologist or a great lawyer; nay, I
will add, (to shock my opponent's tender nerves), _even if he be an
Atheist_, he may be highly amiable and deserving of respect and love;
but if he has no spiritual development, he cannot have insight into
spiritual truth. Hence such arguments for immortality as _can_ be
appreciated by him, and _cannot_ be appreciated by religious men as
such, "have nothing to do with faith at all"

The two other passages are found thus, in p. 245 of the "Soul," 2nd
edition. After naming local history, criticism of texts, history of
philosophy, logic, physiology, demonology, and other important but
very difficult studies, I ask:--

"Is it not extravagant to call inquiries of this sort _spiritual_ or
to expect any spiritual[11] results from them? When the spiritual
man (as such) cannot judge, the question is removed into a totally
different court from that of the soul, the court of the critical
understanding.... How then can the state of the soul be tested by
the conclusion to which the intellect is led? What means the
anathematizing of those who remain unconvinced? And how can it be
imagined that the Lord of the soul cares more about a historical
than about a geological, metaphysical, or mathematical argument? The
processes of thought have nothing to quicken the conscience or affect
the soul."

From my defender in the "Prospective Review" I learn that in the first
edition of the "Defence" the word _thought_ in the last sentence above
was placed in italics. He not only protested against this and other
italics as misleading, but clearly explained my sense, which, as I
think, needs no other interpreter than the context. In the new edition
the italics are removed, but the unjust isolation of the sentences
remains. "_The_ processes of thought," of which I spoke, are not
"_all_ processes," but the processes _involved in the abstruse
inquiries to which I had referred_. To say that _no_ processes of
thought quicken the conscience, or affect the soul, would be a gross
absurdity. This, or nothing else, is what he imputes to me; and even
after the protest made by the "Prospective" reviewer, my assailant not
only continues to hide that I speak of _certain_ processes of thought,
not _all_ processes, but even has the hardihood to say that he takes
the passages as _everybody else_ does, and that he is _compelled_ so
to do.

In my own original reply I appealed to places where I had fully
expressed my estimate of intellectual progress, and its ultimate
beneficial action. All that I gain by this, is new garblings and
taunts for inconsistency. "Mr. Newman," says be, "is the last man
in the world to whom I would deny the benefit of having contradicted
himself." But I must confine myself to the garbling. "Defence," p.

"Mr. Newman affirms that my representations of his views on this
subject are the most direct and intense reverse of all that he has
most elaborately and carefully written!" He still says, "_what_
God reveals, he reveals within and not without," and "he _did_ say
(though, it seems, he says no longer), that 'of God we know everything
from within, nothing from without;' yet he says I have grossly
misrepresented him."

This pretended quotation is itself garbled. I wrote, ("Phases," 1st
edition, p. 152)--"Of _our moral and spiritual_ God we know nothing
without, everything within." By omitting the adjectives, the critic
produces a statement opposed to my judgment and to my writings;
and then goes on to say. "Well, if Mr. Newman will engage to prove
contradictions,... I think it is no wonder that his readers do not
understand him."

I believe it is a received judgment, which I will not positively
assert to be true, but I do not think I have anywhere denied, that
God is discerned by us in the universe as a designer, creator, and
mechanical ruler, through a mere study of the world and its animals
and all their adaptations, _even without_ an absolute necessity of
meditating consciously on the intelligence of man and turning the
eyes within. Thus a creative God may be said to be discerned "from
without." But in my conviction, that God is not _so_ discerned to be
_moral_ or _spiritual_ or to be _our_ God; but by moral intellect and
moral experience acting "inwardly." If Mr. Rogers chooses to deny the
justness of my view, let him deny it; but by omitting the emphatic
adjectives he has falsified my sentence, and then has founded upon it
a charge of inconsistency. In a previous passage (p. 79) he gave this
quotation in full, in order to reproach me for silently withdrawing it
in my second edition of the "Phases." He says:--

"The two sentences in small capitals are not found in the new edition
of the 'Phases.' _They are struck out_. It is no doubt the right of an
author to erase in a new edition any expressions he pleases; but
when he is about to charge another with having grossly garbled and
stealthily misrepresented him, it is as well to let the world know
_what_ he has erased and _why_. He says that my representation of his
sentiments is the most direct and intense reverse of all that he
has most elaborately and carefully written. It certainly is not the
intense reverse of all that he has most elaborately and carefully
_scratched out_."

I exhibit here the writer's own italics.

By this attack on my good faith, and by pretending that my withdrawal
of the passage is of serious importance, he distracts the reader's
attention from the argument there in hand (p. 79), which is, _not_
what are my sentiments and judgements, but whether he had a right
to dissolve and distort my chain of reasoning (see I. above) while
affecting to quote me, and pretending that I gave nothing but
assertion. As regards my "elaborately and carefully _scratching out_,"
this was done; 1. Because the passage seemed to me superfluous; 2.
Because I had pressed the topic elsewhere; 3. Because I was going to
enlarge on it in my reply to him, p. 199 of my second edition.[12]
When the real place comes where my critic is to deal with the
substance of the passage (p. 94 of "Defence"), the reader has seen how
he mutilates it.

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