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creed; they were confessedly beyond reason, and must be taken on authority; but he required—and, as it seemed to him, he did not find-the same sort of proof, or the unblemished accuracy of statement, in the four Gospels which he had found in Tacitus or Thucydides. With the truth of Scripture vanished the infallibility of the Church, but first the Bible was wrecked upon this induction. If the Bible could have survived, Catholicism might have held him; now, all was of human growth; no divine interposition had ever taken place; development under fixed laws must explain the world historically; Jesus of Nazareth was but the noblest of men; the Gospels were a poem; religion had sunk down to myths and fables; and Renan might have summed up his belief as well as his criticism in those amazing words of Shakespeare, applying them to Oxford, St. Sulpice, and Tübingen in their several points,"They say, miracles are past; and [yet] we have our philosophical persons make modern and familiar things supernatural and causeless. Hence it is that we make trifles of terrors; ensconcing ourselves into seeming knowledge, when we should submit ourselves to an unknown fear."
An unknown fear! Abyssus abyssum invocat; take away Revelation and what serious mind will deem this word too much? But the young critic, confident in his methods and his demonstrations, was of a sanguine temper,-as we now talk, an optimist. Life-and the Christian life, that world of deep experience! he grasped with one hand, laying it on the marble slab of an empirical laboratory, and dissecting it, if a psynot into materialism, yet into chology beneath or behind which there was no God. For had the living Infinite been present there, how could any process, logical or biological, pretend to be exhaustive? The result, not at once discernible, yet assured from the beginning,-since his method was false, we have witnessed in our philosopher's latest writings. "What do you make of sin?" he is asked; nay, he asks himself. And he answers with a laugh,
"Sin? Ma foi, I suppress it, gentlemen!" In language more suitable ro the argument, he has discovered that man cannot fall; there is no height in creation and no depth; it is a plane surface, or a painted sheet, and never had a spiritual meaning. Here is an experiment on this man's part, which for eyes with any power of vision is evidence indeed; a proof by actual touch and trial that the wrong method must needs issue in passing by, as though it never had existed, the heart and essence of the problem. For how shall we fear f guilt is an idle name? yet Primos in orbe deos fecit timor; we cannot deny it; and that fear was a moral fear, shrinking from judgment, or it speedily became so. Get rid of our belief in Revelation, founded upon man's need of forgiveness, and history too wi!! change into an enigma, of which delusion is the necessary key. Thus, at length, the method of the philosopher and the facts of the past have fallen into hopeless contradiction.
Newman, undoubtedly, would have said that nothing better was to be anticipated; and the spectacle of a professing Christian who had no prejudices in favor of God, conscience, immortality, who was indifferent Church and Bible, and assimilated Evangelist to a Greek or Roman historian, would have filled him with horThere is, he would say, a divine method of recognizing divine things. On this vital subject he wrote, and preached, and argued incessantly, knowing that here was the punctum saliens, the very germ and substance of what Christians understand by faith. His whole doctrine is strikingly pressed in a letter which is dated March 8th, 1843. "Religious truth,” he tells his correspondent, "is reached, not by reasoning, but by an inward perception. Any one can reason; only disciplined, educated, formed minds can perceive. Nothing, then, is more important to you than habits of selfcommand. You are overflowing with feeling and impulse; all these must be restrained, ruled, brought under, converted into principles and habits, or
elements of character. Consider that you have this great work to do, to change yourself."
Character is, then, what Newman requires in a seeker after God; and it must be religious character, not the sceptic's cold impartiality. But in Renan at twenty-three, character had ceased to be religious; or, his religion, at any rate, was little more than a sentiment. No experience led him to cultivate these higher qualities in himself as the years went by. Yet surely it is a law of the mind which he would have granted, that between the faculty apprehending and the object apprehended there must be a certain agreement. If so, religion cannot be learned simply as though it were a branch of impersonal science. Nor has it ever made converts by colorless, achromatic reasoning. It is worship and communion, the atmosphere of which is prayer, and its vital principle grace; a power, not an argument in mood and figure. We may go so far as to allege that reasoning is the pencil which draws this outline upon the mind; but the artist is none other than the living spirit, enamoured of that ideal which it has beheld in the man Christ Jesus. So that a mystical and divine operation will be the only adequate cause of belief, and all things else are but means and instruments. This alone is the true account of Christianity as a fact in the world's progress. The letter killeth; and a frozen glance at the story of the Gospel, or even a dilettante beautifying of its pages and turning them into soft, sentimental French, will take their meaning out of them as elfectually as if they were translated into an unknown tongue.
Who can wonder that pilgrims starting from such opposed points as these should be carried on to different conclusions? One is intent upon the human element, busy about evidence which would tell in a court of law, lynx-eyed to seize upon discrepancies in detail, minute, punctilious, microscopic; and thus he is sure that the truth may be ascertained, or not at all. To Oriental narratives, written with child-like good
faith and unsuspecting simplicity, our critic, just because not critic enough to know the deepest principles of his art or science, applies a cast-iron rule which not even Western writers, though literal and exact, have always obeyed. If he takes into account the supernatural, it is only that by means of it he may dash the story in pieces; an inspired volume must be perfect as a dictionary of dates, or a biographical memoir, drawn up with a view to the requirements of Gibbon or Voltaire. The first and last question is not moral, religious, personal; nor has it any concern with conscience, except on the score of veracity. Criticism, though always complicated and often abstrusenay, though little better in the end than a "petty conjectural science,"-need not bow to the jurisdiction of what Aristotle would have called an architectonic, and Newman an illative faculty, the judgment of which, founded upon the whole case for revelation, and dealing with particulars by a cumulative process, should be final and supreme. No, it is by analysis destitute of superior principles, and quite indifferent as to the result, that Renan searches the Scriptures; and they fall into his hands like a heap of fragments, or the dust of a dead body suddenly exposed to light and air. Dry, desiccating science has ground them to powder.
How much more in accordance with the laws of life is Newman's proceeding? He does not look for this perfect and obvious agreement in writers so variously endowed, so little dependent upon one another, whose minds were dazzled with the great illumination, and possessed and overcome by the recent memory, of their unparalleled Master. The tone of prophecy is abrupt; its words are dark sayings; it is a collection of sibylline leaves, not rhetoric unfolding a theme to our leisurely comprehension. And the plainest seeming tale or narrative in the Bible must, from the nature of the case, be prophetic; "Thoughts beyond their thoughts to those high bards were given." We are at Nazareth or Jerusalem, not on the Hill of Mars, or walk
ing with Socrates on the road to the I can imagine M. Renan, had Piræus. If we allow, for argument's fallen in with this characteristic passake, that a more divine spirit than sage, shaking his head doubtfully, but reman's is breathing its accent into these peating to the light-minded French instories, we cannot imagine their first fidel what he had told him before, that aim or motive ever to have been a bare very few men have a right to disbelieve literal accuracy, though accurate they in the Christian religion. Did he, when will surely turn out to be when we he was on the point of leaving St. Sulhave understood them as they were pice, weigh and consider this "implicit meant. For instance, let us take secret, complex argument," so wide in Hume's celebrated piece of reasoning its outlook, reaching from end to end so a priori against miracles, and complete mightily, climbing to such heights of or strengthen it by the contention of Providence, and so unwilling to admit that Littré, which Huxley and Renan have a world-encompassing delusion made their own, namely, that no evi- should "raise human nature to a morál dence equal to the facts alleged ever standard, otherwise unattainable?" has been forthcoming. What will New- discover no traces of this mature wisman say in answer? He has written dom in his correspondence. Writing to on the whole subject as follows:a fellow-student, M. Cognat, who was endeavoring to bring him back out of the wilderness, this is what he says: "I ask you for proof; there is my strong point. But you have not a single proof that will hold good against criticism, whether in psychology or history. Jesus alone abides. But he belongs to me as much as to you. If I wish to be a Platonist, must I adore Plato and put faith in his very words?"
I will accept the general proposition, but I resist its application. priori, of course the acts of men are not so trustworthy as the order of Nature, and the pretence of miracles is in fact more common than the occurrence. But the question is not about miracles in general, or men in general, but definitely,
whether these particular miracles, ascribed to the particular Peter, James, and John, are more likely to have been or not; whether they are unlikely, supposing that there is a Power, external to the world, who can bring them about; supposing they are only means by which He can reveal Himself to those who need a revelation; supposing He is likely to reveal himself; that He has a great end in doing so; that the professed miracles in question are like His natural works, and such as He is likely to work, in case He wrought miracles; that great effects, otherwise unaccountable, in the event followed upon the acts said to be miraculous; that they were from the first accepted as true by large numbers of men against their natural interests; that the reception of them as true has left its mark upon the world, as no other event ever did; that viewed in their effects, they have—that is, the belief of them has-served to raise human nature to a high moral standard, otherwise unattainable: these and the like considerations are parts of a great complex argument, which so far can be put into propositions, but which, even between, and around, and behind these, still is implicit and secret, and cannot by any ingenuity be imprisoned in a formula, and packed into a nutshell.1
The event, if we look forward to aramatic teachings such as "L'Eau de Jouvence" and "L'Abbesse de Jouarre," will furnish a commentary of the most decisive kind on this pretension. Renan gave up the spirit as well as the letter of Christianity; gave it up in all that was held by it to be pure and sacred; nor shrank from the worship of physical and feminine beauty as a law unto itself, exalted above every motive but its own pleasure. Even the accommodating Parisian shrugged his shoutders at what he was tempted to call the "obsession," or monomania, of certain ideas which clouded this declining imagination. The ideal had been her sisters; quished by Imperia and Prospero himself, that loftiest of Shakepearian creations, underwent a change too horrible and desecrating for me to enlarge upon it; the faith was no longer "wrapped in the purple shroud where the dead gods sleep;" it had become merely an artistic background, sombre
1 Essay on Assent, vi. edit., p. 306.
and forbidding, to the festival of Antichrist, hailed by a new Renaissance as king, and priest, and prophet. The "water of youth" is science, which has found out fresh enjoyments and the secret of euthanasia, or of dying when we please. Such are, in Jules Lemaître's admirable account of them, "les fantaisies de négation voluptueuse, la philosophie du suicide délicieux," which have taken the place long ago held by an austere religion in this unhappy man's heart.
Unhappy, I call him, since he did, in his better moments, profess to live by the principles, though he had abandoned the dogmas of a creed acknowledged by him to be, in its ethical pect, the highest accessible to man. As an ideal it was true and worthy of all acceptation, when he was putting off his soutane; but now the ideal is auother, Greek of the Lydian mood, Florentine from the days of Poliziano, or premature Renaissance, as in the legendary and disedifying Papal Court of Avignon. In twenty years, what a length had he travelled from Galilee, as it is painted for us with its radiant skies, and flower-embroidered valleys, and its blue Mediterranean, murmuring under the wind, or whitening to summer tempest, in those pages of the "Vie de Jésus," which charm while they sadden, so sweet is their music, so melancholy their disbelief in the Divine; But these Calioans, Clements, Prosperos, these French abbesses, priests of Nemi, and courtesans of every decadent age, are corruption, sunlight lingering on the marsh where life has a certain stagnant beauty-the loveliness of decay, if you will, or of a suicide which degrades while it intoxicates with some deadly draught. I take refuge in figures from the necessity of plain dealing; but certainly none who have read these philosophic dramas with their eyes open, will give M. Renan credit when he professes to have kept, through all his wanderings, the spirit of the New Testament alive within him.
Thus we are brought round, by actual experience, to the position which he
would not allow-in giving up the faith he has lost Jesus; and we ask whether he was not preparing a rod for his own back when he told his friend Cognat, "Christianity has never hitherto been assailed except in the name of the immoral, and the abject teaching of materialism." A new era was to begin with himself; he would deny, yet remain a Christian under forms less concrete and definite. Pass thirty years, how much of that floating cloud is left? The burning sun has swallowed it up; the Platonism of the Phædrus and the Banquet, which was so mingled of good and ill, must now apologize for a headlong descent into Proserpine's garden,. where on every blossom his first teachers had seen written Tetigisse periisse. Our learning, Eastern and Western, is now but the édition de luxe, in beautiful but perishable colors, of the wisdom which a Paris street boy may know and practise; les frivoles were ever in the right, and Gavroche is the only philosopher.
The argument is almost too severe.. Yet I cannot see my way to making it less conclusive. One could have desired-how vainly!-that Renan, while he went into exile from the faith of Christendom, might have lighted upon the Happy Isles where legend has bestowed the wise men of old; might have stayed his steps with Marcus, and Epictetus, and Seneca-minds ascetic (r self-controlled, and well read in the genuine Platonism which looks beyond visible forms to the god within, the spirit undying. These moods, now and again, he did experience, as when writing of his sister's last days near Byblos; and in a temper so refined and idyllic-but sentiment was always perilous to him-was that Galilean romance drawn out, shimmering with all the light and grace which he had stolen from the lines of snow upon AntiLebanon, and from the purity of those clear waters of Genesareth, sweet and inviting now, as in the days whereof he was recalling a faint but lovely image. Yet the power had long been working within him which, as it uncanonized the Gospel and made Jesus no more di
live by a purified, undogmatic Christianity which, borne out by the evolu tion of the moral sense, in harmony with all knowledge, and free from superstition as from priestcraft, should he manifestly superior to the religion taught in the Churches. Does he suc ceed? His Prospero, the mighty master of ages yet to come, dies in the embrace of the sisters of free love.
vine than Mohammed, was surely tak- without denying that which justified ing from his belief its spiritual it." The problem was to teach and to strength, and melting it down with all manner of discordant aspirations into a dreamy, sensuous feeling, now high, now low, not subject to any fixed rule, clinging like a banner of mist to this Alpine summit or to that one, as the wind drove it; and altogether lawless and capricious. Renan, though striving to be himself alone, could not escape the fate which has ever attended on fugitives from the Christian temple into what they deem a more liberal air. Pagans they have not become, nor men of antique virtue; literally they find themselves "unsphered," at war with old and new. They are lapsed believers, runaways with a cord round their necks, Ishmaelites, whose highest ambition it may well be to live upon the principles of a creed which they 110 longer hold. "I have known what heroic goodness means," said Renan; he had grown up with it in Brittany and at St. Sulpice. Afterwards, among his brilliant friends, for all their wit and eloquence, he could not say that it was to be found. The world, then, had lost its jewel in rejecting Christianity; and what was he, at his best, except prêtre manqué, a spoilt priest, the wreck of a shrine once dedicated to the Supreme, but now the home of unclean revellings?
These are his own confessions, not my indictment of the man. Proposing to follow whither reason led, he ends by writing an apology for Brunissende, the courtesan, “magnificent in sin;" yet as a laggard idealist he will still admire the Sermon on the Mount. What a fabulous, self-devouring creature is this! and how shall we derive from his endless changes of opinion, and ironical agreement with all the world, anything more than pleasure in seeing him turn so nimbly, and delight in a language that has become the vehicle of sensations, not of ideas? But his whole experience is our lesson. He, if any man of his time, could have "distinguished between the letter and the spirit, sepIarated the institution from its ideal aim, and forsaken the conventional
If this, then, be the science of critlcism, untrammelled and constructive, it has failed, since on the one hand it neither clears up history nor makes a step in advance beyond the Gospel; yet on the other it opens a downward path, ́and plucks away the safeguards which a long Christian tradition had established against our relapsing into pagan vices. However, by the simple force of logic, it has also brought out the unseen but living bond which unites the Church with the Bible and dogma with ethics, as a visible system, at once historical and divine. "The world moves forward," says Newman, "in bold and intelligible parties;" it does not rest satisfied with fragmentary conclusions, or theories that are woven from the student's brain; if we talk of a system, we mean nothing so abstract and bookish as the written metaphysics of Descartes, or Kant, or Schopenhauer. Nothing less concrete than a Church, a government, a polity will be equal to the demands of life, and strong enough to withstand the corroding scepticism, which, as we have beheld in a consummate intellect like that of Renan, is the too frequent outcome when individuals are left to themselves. There must be, somewhere, an imperial authority which may expound and protect the Christian tradition.
Where is it, then? That was the question arising naturally upon view of the great assault preparing against dogma which echoed in the ears of Newman, as he looked out on the world in 1841. It must not be imagined that he was turning aside from the vital problems of religion to subordinate and formal discussions. He understood