Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/664

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Gospels truly report that which an incarnation of the God of Truth communicated to the world, then it surely is absurd to attend to any other evidence touching matters about which he made any clear statement, or the truth of which is distinctly implied by his words. If the exact historical truth of the gospel is an axiom of Christianity, it is as just and right for a Christian to say, Let us "close our ears against suggestions" of scientific critics, as it is for the man of science to refuse to waste his time upon circle-squarers and flat-earth fanatics.

It is commonly reported that the manifesto by which the Canon of St. Paul's proclaims that he nails the colors of the straitest biblical infallibility to the mast of the ship ecclesiastical, was put forth as a counterblast to Lux Mundi; and that the passages which I have more particularly quoted are directed against the essay on The Holy Spirit and Inspiration in that collection of treatises by Anglican divines of high standing, who must assuredly be acquitted of conscious "infidel" proclivities. I fancy that rumor must, for once, be right, for it is impossible to imagine a more direct and diametrical contradiction than that between the passages from the sermon cited above and those which follow:

What is questioned is that our Lord's words foreclose certain critical positions as to the character of Old Testament literature. For example, does his use of Jonah's resurrection as a type of his own, depend in any real degree upon whether it is historical fact or allegory?... Once more, our Lord uses the time before the flood, to illustrate the carelessness of men before his own coming. . . . In referring to the flood he certainly suggests that he is treating it as typical, for he introduces circumstances—"eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage"—which have no counterpart in the original narrative (pp. 358, 359).

While insisting on the flow of inspiration through the whole of the Old Testament, the essayist does not admit its universality. Here, also, the new apologetic demands a partial flood:

But does the inspiration of the recorder guarantee the exact historical truth of what he records? And, in matter of fact, can the record, with due regard to legitimate historical criticism, be pronounced true? Now, to the latter of these two questions (and they are quite distinct questions) we may reply that there is nothing to prevent our believing, as our faith strongly disposes us to believe, that the record from Abraham downward is, in substance, in the strict sense historical (p. 351).

It would appear, therefore, that there is nothing to prevent our believing that the record, from Abraham upward, consists of stories in the strict sense unhistorical, and that the pre-Abrahamic narratives are mere moral and religious "types" and parables.

I confess I soon lose my way when I try to follow those who