A Series of Ten Lectures
Alleged Deficiencies of Christianity
ALLEGED DEFICIENCIES OF CHRISTIANITY.
- ITS COMPLETENESS AS TO INDIVIDUAL NEEDS.
- REASONS FOR ITS SILENCE.
-ITS SILENCE A PROOF OF ITS DIVINITY.
- ITS TREATMENT OF COURAGE.
- OF PATRIOTISM.
- OF FRIENDSHIP.
- SUMMARY OF THE EVIDENCE FROM TESTIMONY.
IN my Lectures thus far I have given you an outline of the grounds on which the testimony of the evangelists as to the life and character of Jesus is worthy of confidence. I have shown you also that this testimony is greatly confirmed by the contents of the record, especially by the consistency of the marvellous and else incredible portions of the narrative with the facts which no one ventures to call in question. But were these contents defective,-did they, while they profess to transmit the life and words of an all-sufficient and divinely appointed teacher in morals and religion, omit many things which might properly be expected of such a teacher, - did they present, on the magnificent substructure of a miraculous theophany, only a paltry, fragmentary, and unfinished work, - these defects would reflect back doubts upon the testimony, and, if they could not annul its evidential weight, they would at least impair its value; for a religious record which fails to satisfy our needs is not worth our investigation or defence. Accordingly the omissions, the blanks, the lacuna in Christianity and its records, have been strongly urged in abatement of its claims. I propose to present them in the opposite light, and to draw added proof of the genuineness and authenticity of the Gospel record from what it does not contain.
As to the range and quantity of its professed revelations, the Gospels certainly contain less than any other sacred books with which we are acquainted. They do less to satisfy the curiosity of those who would extend their knowledge beyond the normal scope of human research. They are silent on many subjects on which the Koran and the Mormon scriptures enter into minute detail. They do not approach the brink of the depths sounded in the sacred books of India and Persia. They have not satisfied many Christian sects, which have built outside of them cumbrous systems, bodies of divinity, - often fitly so called for their lack of soul. These have, indeed, derived their materials from the Christian Scriptures, but less from Christ's own teachings than from the Pauline epistles, including that to the Hebrews, whether it be Paul's or not. It cannot be denied that the Christianity of Christ, as recorded in the Gospels from his lips and life, is exceedingly simple, - even meagre, if estimated by the number and diversity of its topics. I believe the Christianity of the Pauline epistles to be equally simple. It is merely the application of the plain doctrines and precepts of Christ to the exigencies, questionings, and controversies of converts who had a great deal of Judaism or heathenism still clinging to them; and many of the technical terms, which from these epistles have been imported into the religious phraseology of modern Protestant churches, and have given rise to minute dogmatic subtilties without number, were, as used by, the writer, in no sense Christian terms; that is, they were not occasioned or demanded by Christianity, but had their sole necessity and use in the refutation of now obsolete opinions, through which Christianity had to cut its way in the apostolic age.
But let us look for one moment at the actual fulness of this meagreness, the real wealth of this poverty. I, as an individual man, conscious of a nature containing more than flesh and blood, and of wants that remain when the bodily wants are satisfied, go to Christ and his Gospel, and what do I find there? Ostensibly all that I personally need. Whether it be really so, will be our inquiry in the next two Lectures, which will be devoted to the test of experiment as applied to Christianity. But on the face it offers me what, if genuine, ought fully to satisfy me. As for belief, it presents to my faith a paternal Providence, a full and righteous retribution, an equally full and complete redemption from the penalty of repented sin, an eternal life, a passage through death to endless happiness on conditions which 1 cannot misinterpret. As to my conduct, it tells me just what I ought to be and do toward God and man, how I am to discipline my thoughts, how to pray, how to demean myself in the various relations of life; and there is not a single occasion or exigency on which it does not furnish the principle from which I may, without danger of error, construct the appropriate rule, and determine the course of action which it demands. As for motives, they are supplied by the love and fatherhood of God, by the dying, ever-living love of Christ, and by the powers of the world to come, - motives which, if authentic, are of unsurpassable and inexhaustible force. I cannot say that I need any thing more. With this spiritual apparatus, if genuine, I can live in peace and die in hope.
But there are a thousand inquiries growing out of my nature and position
in this world, and not a few suggested or intensified by my faith in what
Christ has revealed, on which he does not begin to satisfy my curiosity.
I would fain get some rounded and complete view of the divine nature, while
clouds and darkness rest on many of its aspects. I would gladly account
for evil, physical and moral. I should like to know more clearly the precise
relation of Christ to the Eternal Father. I should rejoice to look behind
the veil of death, and to form some conception of the mode of being in
the future life. But in none of these particulars does Jesus or his Gospel
give us the light we crave. Let us draw, if we can, speech from
Such silence would not have characterized a pseudo-revelation, the result whether of imposture or of delusion; yet it is precisely what we should expect to find in a divine revelation. The first of these propositions is almost self-evident. An impostor would, of course, have adapted himself to the prevailing appetency for a knowledge of things beyond and above the sphere of human life. In no other way could disciples have been so easily enlisted or so strongly attached. Add to this advantage the consideration that fraud cannot be detected in a region outside of human experience. No one comes back from the unseen world to confront the celestial topography of the Koran with his own observation. Equally would the imagined revelations from the brain of a fanatic have been ultra-mundane; for religious delusion always has the . realm beyond mortal vision for its field, and, so far as it affects one's views of things seen, it does so wholly by the lurid light cast upon them from things imagined, but invisible. In fine, delusion would have expatiated, and fraud have sought its best hunting-ground, in the very regions of thought where Christianity gives us only faint and vague glimpses, often such as rather stimulate than appease our desire to know. Let us now see why Christianity, if divine, should have remained silent on these themes.
We should have expected a divine revelation to remain silent where fanaticism and imposture will not hold their peace, because restless curiosity is thus reduced to a minimum. All knowledge raises more questions than it answers. The broader the visible horizon, the broader is the. invisible circle that bounds it. Every truth attained abuts upon other truths still unattained. Had the teachings of Christ answered the questions which we most desire to have answered, the answers would have prompted still more numerous and difficult questions. Truth is infinite, and, were its entire realm made ours, " even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written;" while nowhere short of this complete conquest would the mind of man pause and say, " It is enough." Had every inquiry that we could now raise been fully satisfied, the region of the unknown would only seem more vast than it now does, and from longing souls would go forth only the intenser demand for more light.
It may also be maintained that the imperfection of our knowledge where we want to know more is essential to our best spiritual nurture. Faith has a transcendent value, not so much for its contents as for the filial spirit of which it is equally nurse and nursling; and we can imagine a fulness of vision, an accuracy of proved and tested knowledge as to the great truths and facts of the spiritual life, which should come to us as the knowledge of terrestrial facts and of daily events reaches us, but by means of which the soul would forfeit that most wholesome discipline which consists in trusting where it cannot see, in taking on authority what it cannot know, in holding fast the clew for its guidance through cloud and mist and dense darkness. Certainly this trait has been most conspicuous in the greatest souls that we have known, and it has seemed one of the chief elements of their greatness. It has strengthened the fibre of character, and at the same time has given to the inward life a repose and equipoise which cannot come from mere knowledge, but are born of that faith which rests on a wisdom beyond its own. Who shall say that the faith thus nurtured may not be as essential in the future life as now,-that even there our ignorance may not grow faster than our knowledge, - that at every stage of our eternal progress faith may not precede clear vision, in the face of mysteries still un-revealed, of heights and depths of the Infinite Providence not yet scaled or sounded?
Hope, too, needs a certain degree of vagueness, no less than of assurance, to give it full working force. Were its objects too distinctly defined, they might make us impatient of the toil and pain through which they are to be won; while their very dimness urges the aspiring soul ever on toward those serener heights where they may be more fully apprehended. The Mohammedan paradise is described in minute detail, and the result is indifference to life, - a fatalism which has indeed made the Moslem armies desperately brave, but has at the same time checked industrial activity, arrested progress, given despotism its holding ground, and paralyzed all the energies which underlie a healthy social and political condition.
There are some directions in which, no doubt, the silence of Jesus tends to cherish devout thought and reverent imagination. It may be of untold benefit to think where we cannot know, to exercise our discursive powers where our highest conceptions ate entirely inadequate. Fruitless contemplation on the mysteries of the Divine Being may yet feed adoration, and deepen the fountain of loving piety. Though mysticism has brought no new truths to light, it has nourished the purest, loftiest devotion; its subtilties have been cleansing and elevating; its vague terminology has been the chariot of fire on which many an earth-dwelling spirit has been wafted to heaven. The discussions as to the modal union of the Father and the Son, though they have established nought to enlarge the bounds of that knowledge which, Jesus says, resides in the bosom of the Father alone, and though they have often been only a fierce and bitter logomachy, sometimes giving aim and sweep to more material warfare, have yet oftener cherished a loving intimacy with Christ, and have been by none more earnestly pursued than by souls at peace with God and man, and more intent on following Christ than even on knowing him. Above all, we have reason to own the unspeakable blessedness of Christ's silence as to the future life. Other founders of religions, as I have said, have not been thus silent. They have constructed paradise of what they deemed the choicest earthly materials; and their heavenly societies have been such as would compel every pure and devout man to say, " O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united." But here Jesus tells us nothing; nor yet do we have any intimations from his apostles, except that in the glorious epic of the Apocalypse - a poem, though not in numbers - heaven is indicated by heaping together - designedly, as seems to me, without coherence or mutual compatibility - the most magnificent figures which human language can furnish, not to describe it, but to pronounce it undescribable, - to reiterate in the rapt utterance of the seer what St. Paul says in simple prose, " Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." In this absence of definite knowledge, imagination has free range and unrestricted scope. She has the plumb-line and the measuring-rod in her own hands, can lay out her own plot in the garden of the Lord, erect her own mansion within the golden gates,- transferring thither all that she has worthily loved, pursued, desired on earth, yet all the while assured that her highest conceptions are but faint types and dim foreshadowings of the far more exceeding glory, when for fancy there shall be open vision. Thus, undoubtedly, heaven is kept more constantly, glowingly, lovingly before the thought than by any detailed description, were such description possible. What is of still more worth in this silence of revelation, the heaven of our thought grows as we grow, becomes loftier as we rise, richer as we increase in soul-wealth, always in advance of our clear conception, hovering on its outermost verge, yet in so near contact with what is best, purest, noblest in our consciousness and experience, as to give vividness to our hope and a felt reality to its objects. Moreover, the ideal of heaven, which we thus project from our own souls and fill with the best that is in us, in its turn reacts on the soul that gives it shape, attracts us more and more to its own higher sphere, and, as it grows richer and more beautiful, endows with its wealth and clothes with its beauty the whole life and character.
Yet another reason presents itself for the silence of Jesus, where religious teachers in general have been by no means sparing in their utterances. On many subjects on which we would gladly know more, Jesus may have told us little or nothing, because of the poverty of human language and its inadequacy to the interpretation of the mysteries whose solution we crave. The teaching power of words is limited by our own consciousness and experience. On subjects that transcend this limit, language assumes one of two types. It either runs into anthropomorphism, and belittles and degrades divine things to human measure and level; or else, in soaring into the empyrean, it is arrested midway in impenetrable clouds and mists that never part. Of the latter tendency we find no trace in the simple, transparent words of Jesus; and I am equally impressed by the reverent care which he evidently takes to shun the former, of which the examples in the Old Testament are very numerous, - in part, no doubt, on account of the meagreness of the Hebrew vocabulary. Christ's method of teaching by parables, with all its other excellencies, is specially adapted to man's condition with reference to the subjects of religious curiosity. He thus suggests conceptions of the divine nature and providence which transcend the scope of literal language, and therefore of clear and definite thought, yet which may none the less move the affections, inspire the will, and shape the conduct. For instance, the parable of the Prodigal Son gives us views of the divine character, tender, familiar, loving, which we could not put into literal language without irreverence, like that which we sometimes detect in the hymns sung by persons who have more piety than taste, but which we can feel with the profoundest gratitude, and recognize in those upliftings of the soul in fervent praise when we " mean the thanks we cannot speak."
Let us look for a moment at some of these subjects on which Jesus says so little. Let us see if they are not obviously and intrinsically "beyond the range of any teaching of which we are susceptible, so that any definite utterance with regard to them must be of necessity unauthentic and spurious. I will specify but two or three of these subjects, though I might present several other themes of curious inquiry and speculation as belonging to the same category.
The origin and ministry of evil must manifestly be classed under this head. There are analogies that enable us to see how our inevitable ignorance as to this whole subject exists, but not to remove it. Were you to explain to a very young child, in the best words at your command, the entire scope and bearing of those provisions and customs of civilized society by which individuals are constrained to do, forego, resign, and endure unnumbered things, against their own will and private interest, for the general good, and sometimes even to the loss and detriment of the present and of more than one generation for the benefit of remote posterity, you would find your exposition clogged by words and phrases which had never come into the child's vocabulary, and could have no meaning for his ear: the view in space and time would be broader and deeper than his four or five years' life would enable him to take; and the only result would be that, if he were docile and trustful, he would receive an impression that the hard things of which he often heard complaint would somehow and at some time issue in good. Still less can we, with our narrow range of vision and our brief earthly life, take in or be enabled to take in the entire problem of evil, which comprehends the universe and twin eternities, or to trace the vestiges, which undoubtedly exist thick-sown around us, of that all-wise and all-merciful optimism, which subsidizes suffering, wrong, and sin to its own culmination and triumph. Jesus could have revealed all this only to a mind broad and profound as his own, and to such a mind probably not in the tongue of Greek or Jew.
Another subject on which for a like reason, no doubt, Jesus kept silence, is the nature of God. He defines his relativity to man, opens the door of access to his mercy, and manifests to us as much of him as can be incarnated in perfect humanity; but that is all. And must it not of necessity have been all? Have the metaphysical subtilties of the Christian fathers, the schoolmen, or modern theologians, upon the essence of God, ever expressed or conveyed an intelligible idea? Undoubtedly God is immeasurably more than man has seen or imagined; but our conceptions of him are limited by the capacity, the receptivity of our own natures. He may have attributes as little within the range of our possible conceptions as fancy or metaphysics is within the comprehension of a zoophyte. Or, on the other hand, this partition of his being in our thought into separate attributes may have a meaning to us, only because our own inward being at best so lacks coherency and unity. Who knows that in the speech of heaven there are separate names for divine perfections? It may be that what seem to us distinguishable attributes are mutually equivalent and convertible, as are the imponderable forces of the material universe. But we are already beginning to " darken counsel by words without knowledge;" nor can we ever glance a searching thought into that infinite depth of being, without admiring the wisdom of Him who taught us to say merely Our Father, and has inbreathed into our hearts the child-spirit which gives that title its restful and beatific meaning.
In this connection we cannot but recur to the silence of Jesus about the future life. For the reasons already given, I doubt whether he would have told us more, if he could. But could he? What life is; how the body and soul interact; what portion of their joint existence and functions belongs to each; how far finite being is dependent on material conditions, - these are questions which we not only cannot begin to answer, but the very terms of which have no definite meaning for us. How, then, could any language of ours be made the vehicle for instruction as to the philosophy of the life to come, its mode of being, the nature of the passage to it, the relation of our present bodily existence to the resurrection-life? Had Jesus entered upon these questions, so far from throwing upon them for us the light of his own clear understanding, he would only have involved the whole realm of the future in deeper obscurity. We may, then, regard the bald simplicity of his words of eternal life, the entire absence of descriptive detail, and the confirmation of those words, not by reasoning, but by the cardinal and fully attested fact of his own resurrection, as among the strong tokens of his mission as a teacher sent from God.
We have seen, I trust, that, so far as Jesus has failed to satisfy the curiosity of men as to matters beyond their scope and sphere, he has given us only added reason for accepting the testimony in behalf of the records of his life as authentic, and thus for regarding his religion as divine (see Appendix II, Note K).
But omissions on the plane of human duty also have been alleged. It has, I think, never been denied by unbelievers or misbelievers that the morality of the New Testament tends to make men true, pure, kind, generous, modest, humble; but it has been said that it fails to fit men for the daily life of the world, that it cherishes gloom, asceticism, and indifference to the worthy objects of endeavor and emulation, and that it ignores such virtues as courage, patriotism, and loyalty to friends. While, as to the defects which we have already considered, we confess the impeachment, and glory in it, in the particulars just now enumerated we deny the charge of omission or deficiency in the teachings of Jesus.
As regards the alleged tendency of Christianity to asceticism, we repudiate it, and challenge proof. There is not a trace of this tendency in the Gospels, except in John the Baptist, who was not a disciple of Christ, and whom Christ pronounced, in point of spiritual illumination, less than the least of his disciples. Jesus instituted no fast, nor is there the slightest proof that he ever observed any. He was reproached for neglecting the fasts which formed a part, not indeed of the Mosaic religion, - for that has no fast, - but of the Rabbinical refinements upon it. On the other hand, there is not on record a single instance of his declining any of the few festive occasions on which he was an invited guest; and asceticism in the bosom of the Christian Church has found no stumbling-block so difficult to evade or surmount as the story of the marriage at Cana.
Jesus indeed enjoins certain forms of self-denial; but self-denial is not so much a duty as a universal human necessity. There is not a child of five years of age who has not learned this; who does not know that he cannot have all that he wants, but can supply his foremost wants only by denying himself those which he holds as of secondary importance. Now the problem that Christ solves - and he alone solves it - is how so to deny one's self inferior benefits, as to secure the largest measure of superior gifts, by yielding up bodily for spiritual goods, selfish pleasures for the higher and more enduring pleasures of beneficence, temporal happiness for eternal happiness. Where there is no conflict between body and soul, self-indulgence and charity, the life that now is and that which is to come, Jesus enjoins no gratuitous self-denial, no sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice. Whatever of bodily, self-centred, and earthly good can be ours without detriment to the soul or to our fellow-beings, he would have us utilize and enjoy to the full; and he best fulfils the law and most truly breathes the spirit of Christ, who drinks freely and with full draughts at every pure fountain of joy that springs by his life-path, - who, with every power and faculty of body, mind, and soul, takes in the most that he can of this rich and beautiful world, in which there are many things obviously made for no other purpose than that we should enjoy them and thank God for them.
There was, indeed, a great deal of asceticism in the early Church. But it was imported from the dualism of the Oriental philosophy, according to which, as the outward world and the human body were created by the Evil Principle, his reign was to be abjured and defied by the mortification of the flesh and abstinence from the good things of this world.
As regards indifference to the worthy objects of endeavor and emulation, there is not a precept of Jesus that has any bearing in this direction. He encourages and seconds the modest industry and humble enterprise of the apostles. He does not, as our translators have it, pronounce an indiscriminate ban upon the rich; but, with reference to the stress of the times and the impending persecution of the infant Church, he speaks of it as hard for one to enter the kingdom of heaven, or his visible Church, rich, because enforced poverty was then the price at which alone one could become a disciple. There was, indeed, something like community of goods for a little while among the disciples at Jerusalem; but there is not the slightest intimation that this was by the command of Christ, or as a matter of absolute duty. It was merely a temporary arrangement, which, as may be amply proved from St. Paul's epistles, was never extended beyond Jerusalem; and it probably had but a very brief existence there.
As to courage, there is not, indeed, a word of Jesus that can sanction the aggressive courage which is ready to incur hazard for whatever cause, - that which arms the man-slayer, the duellist, the prompt and stern avenger of his own or another's wrongs; that which glories in war, delights in carnage, and loves the garment rolled in blood. This courage has been the greatest of curses to humanity, and, if the world shall ever be thoroughly Christianized, it will be looked back upon with very much the same horror with which we now regard cannibalism. Not that I believe the time will ever come when the brave men who have laid down their lives in defence of their country, of freedom, or of human rights, will be held in diminished honor; but it will be seen that the vast majority of wars have not had a particle of right on either side, and that those in which men have been on one side urged by sacred duty have none the less had their origin in atrocious wrong. But the courage which dares death rather than disloyalty to one's convictions of truth and right has in Christ both its most emphatic command and its most illustrious example. What can be stronger than " Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do "? Or what spectacle of courage has the world seen that can bear a momentary comparison with that of Him who, " travelling in the greatness of his strength," had the cross perpetually in view, went up to Jerusalem to die, and by his own words and deeds, at every stage of his ministry, stimulated the powers of darkness and hastened the fatal hour?
As regards patriotism, there is in the Gospel no justification of that blind and reckless love of country professed in a much-lauded sentiment of one of our naval heroes : " Our country, may she always be right; but, right or wrong, may she always be victorious ! " Yet we find in Jesus a love of country intense and tender. One of the only two occasions on which he is said to have been moved to tears was in view of the impending devastation of his native land, and the levelling of her glory with the dust. Oh, had we abounding among us patriotism like this, - to weep over our national sins, to deprecate the righteous judgment of outraged Heaven upon our time-serving and corruption, our intemperance and our greed of gain, our profligacy and infidelity, - there would be hope that in this our day we might give heed to the things belonging to our peace, before they be hidden from our eyes.
As to friendship, even if we can appeal to no precepts of Jesus with reference to the mutual duties of those bound by the closest intimacy, we can at least cite his example. What more sacred tie can there be than that indicated by his words to the apostles, " I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you "? In that little circle, too, let us not forget that there was still an inmost company of three; and, of these three, one who will hold to the end of time the spiritual primacy of the sacred college as pre-eminently " the disciple whom Jesus loved." Christ's friendship, in each degree of intimacy, was manifested by tokens of fellowship and affection which would have been inappropriate to a union less close and confidential. But the expression of friendship never scanted thoughts or labors of love for the outside world. On the other hand, we may learn from him that love generates love, not only in him who receives, but in him who bestows it. There is no such laboratory of diffusive benevolence and efficient philanthropy as a home whose atmosphere is love; and precisely the same office is performed by intimate friendships; for love grows by spending, - the more is given, the more remains. But while all this is implied in the teachings and manifested in the life of Jesus, there was no need, and there never is need, of special precepts for the cultivation of friendship. It cannot grow to order, or be formed by rule. It springs up of necessity where there are warm hearts, with common proclivities, tastes, and interests, and especially where there are hearts united by the love of God and in the work which he has given them to do. There was in Christ's time no lack of friendship, whether between good men or bad men; nor can there ever be. If Christ had given any rules for friendship, they would probably have been limitations, in the spirit in which Cicero writes, "if all things which friends desire are to be done, such alliances should be deemed conspiracies, not friendships." But these limitations are included in the paramount law of love and service, first of all to God, and to the dearest among kindred and friends, only in, and to, and through him.
I have thus enumerated, I believe, all the deficiencies with which the morality of Christ and his Gospel has been charged, and have shown you that in these its actual deficiency consists in shunning excesses and abuses (see Appendix II, Note L).
I must here close the first division of my proposed plan. My endeavor has been to demonstrate that, as regards the evidence of testimony, Christianity occupies at least as high a position as the truths of science. I have shown you that our four Gospels can be traced by quotations, references, descriptions, and coincidences as far back as the first century of our era; that they have borne from the beginning the names of their now reputed authors, without the vestige of a doubt as to their authorship; that those writers had the means of knowing the truth as to the materials of their record; and that they had no conceivable motive for false testimony in those matters, but every conceivable earthly motive for suppressing what they report as facts. I have shown you that, as St. Paul evidently believed all that the evangelists recorded about Jesus, we get rid of no difficulties by resorting - even would documentary evidence permit this - to the hypothesis of the gradual and slow growth of the Messianic idea, and its full development in a later than the apostolic age. I have adduced Jesus as his own witness, maintaining that his actual existence alone can account for the Gospels. I have given an adequate explanation of the peculiar phenomena of the first three Gospels, and have exhibited the special grounds that we have for maintaining the genuineness of the fourth Gospel. I have attempted to prove that the miraculous element in the history of Christ is in entire harmony with the rest of the narrative, and therefore not to be rejected or doubted, if that narrative as a whole be fully authenticated. I have shown that the actual resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only method of accounting for the record of that event as it stands, for the undoubted belief in it on the part of the primitive disciples, and for the influence of that belief in the early history of the Christian Church. Finally, in the present Lecture I have sought confirmation for this testimony in behalf of the Gospels, from the alleged omissions and defects in the teachings of Jesus.
Now what I would maintain is that the facts recorded in the Gospels
are established on at least as trustworthy testimony as are the facts remote
in time and space to whose testimony scientific men are constantly giving
credence, and on which the science of the present day is based. This last-named
testimony I am by no means disposed to deny, doubt, or undervalue. I rejoice
that it is so rich, so clear, so various in its sources, yet so harmonious
in its utterances. I bless God that he has thus made numberless men who
had no conception of scientific truth tributary to its establishment and
verification, - that the stones of the temple of knowledge have been quarried,
squared, and polished by so many simple, honest men, who knew not what
a great work they were doing. But there is no principle on which their
testimony can be pronounced valid, and that of the early Christian witnesses
untrustworthy. We must accept both, or else reject both, and include science
and Christianity in indiscriminate scepticism or denial. God has joined
the two in the witness for their authenticity; what he hath joined man
may not put asunder.