Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/482

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Anglican doctor, John Henry Newman, is compendiously stated by himself in the following passage:

If the miracles of church history can not he defended by the arguments of Leslie, Lyttleton, Paley, or Douglas, how many of the Scripture miracles satisfy their conditions? (p, cvii).

And, although the answer is not given in so many words, little doubt is left on the mind of the reader that in the mind of the writer it is: None. In fact, this conclusion is one which can not be resisted, if the argument in favor of the Scripture miracles is based upon that which laymen, whether lawyers, or men of science, or historians, or ordinary men of affairs, call evidence. But there is something really impressive in the magnificent contempt with which, at times. Dr. Newman sweeps aside alike those who offer and those who demand such evidence.

Some infidel authors advise us to accept no miracles which-would not have a verdict in their favor in a court of justice; that is, they employ against Scripture a weapon which Protestants would confine to attacks upon the Church, as if moral and religious questions required legal proofs, and evidence were the test of truth[1] (p. cvii).

"As if evidence were the test of truth"!—although the truth in question is the occurrence or non-occurrence of certain phenomena at a certain time and in a certain place. This sudden revelation of the great gulf fixed between the ecclesiastical and the scientific mind is enough to take away the breath of any one unfamiliar with the clerical organon. As if, one may retort, the assumption that miracles may, or have, served a moral or a religious end in any way alters the fact that they profess to be historical events, things that actually happened; and, as such, must needs be exactly those subjects about which evidence is appropriate and legal proofs (which are such merely because they afford adequate evidence) may be justly demanded. The Gadarene miracle either happened, or it did not. Whether the Gadarene "question" is moral or religious, or not, has nothing to do with the fact that it is a purely historical question whether the demons said what they are declared to have said, and the devil-possessed pigs did or did not rush over the cliffs of the Lake of Gennesareth on a certain day of a certain year, after a. d. 26 and before a. d. 30; for, vague and uncertain as New Testament chronology is, I suppose it may be assumed that the event in question, if it happened at all, took place during the procuratorship of Pilate.

    compile a primer of "infidelity," I think I should save myself trouble by making a selection from these works, and from the "Essay on Development" by the same author.

  1. Yet, when it suits his purpose, as in the introduction to the "Essay on Development," Dr. Newman can demand strict evidence in religious questions as sharply as any "infidel author"; and he can even profess to yield to its force ("Essays on Miracles," 1870, note, p. 391).