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Very true; he who has a consciousness of this kind of certainty wants a word to express it; but what of those who have no such consciousness? Can you bring conviction to them out of the science of language?
"Faith," he says, a little further on, is that " organ of knowledge by which we apprehend the Infinite." By "faith" is generally understood the knowledge or the thought itself, not a specific "organ " of knowledge. His system of philosophy, we presume, needs such an organ, and therefore he frames this definition. Some of his learned coadjutors at Oxford are teaching at this moment that we cannot apprehend the Infinite. Max Müller would apply philology to their case. He thinks that men have called the Infinite "a negative idea, because infinite is derived from finite by means of the negative particle in!" Mr Mansel will hardly accept this as either a sufficient answer to, or a fair account of, the difficulty he put before the public, when, arguing from the relative nature of human knowledge, he said of the Absolute and the Infinite that they involved a negation of the conditions of human knowledge.
Max Müller says, with perfect truth, that before discussing the supernatural, men ought to have already defined to themselves what they mean by the natural. A better hint could not be given to our controversialists. But the definition must be wrought out by clear thinking; the Professor of Language cannot, as such, give us the requisite definition. The Professor of Language is not ex officio the arbiter of all disputes. What is a miracle? is a question often asked at the present day. The old and familiar answer was, that it was the power of God producing an event other
than such as are produced by the same power, in what is called the course of nature. There has grown up in some quarters an indisposition to make this contrast between the miracle and the course or constancy of nature, and new definitions of the miracle have been lately hazarded. Some have called in Mr Babbage's machine to help them to explain their new account of miracles. That or any other machine might continue, say they, producing one effect for a certain long period of time, and thenstill under its own mechanical laws
it might produce suddenly some quite novel effect. What we call a miracle may be some such quite novel effect produced at long intervals by the operation of the constant laws of nature. In which case, we may add, the worker of the miracle-that is, the prophet who stands before us as such-must have been either himself deceived as to the nature of the wonder that was wrought, or he must be supposed to have had a miraculous knowledge that just at a certain moment the apparently anomalous event would be produced; and he must have taken advantage of this knowledge to represent to the public that such extraordinary event was accomplished by God in answer to his prayer! Whether this is a very enlightened view of the subject, we will not here discuss. We prefer the old definition of a miracle. But such ideas are rife, and Max Müller proposes as a remedy, or method of arbitrament, the study of language!
"Here," he says, "a large field is his office to trace the original meaning open to the student of language. It is of each word, to follow up its history, its changes of form and meaning in the schools of philosophy, or in the marketplace and the senate. He ought to show how frequently different ideas are comprehended under one and the same term, and how frequently the same idea is expressed by different terms. These two tendencies in language, Homonymy and Polyonymy, which favoured, as we
saw, the abundant growth of early mythology, are still asserting their power of fostering the growth of philosophical systems. A history of such terms as to know and to believe, finite and infinite,
real and necessary, would do more than anything else to clear the philosophical atmosphere of our day."
It might do much to make our discussions sharp and distinct, it could do nothing towards finally determining our doubts and difficulties where two different ideas really present themselves to the mind, and we have to choose between them. If the question is, What ought to be the definition of the term miracle? it cannot suffice to give us a history of the old definitions which it is sought to discard. Max Müller very pointedly alludes to an excellent article lately published in the Edinburgh Review' On the Supernatural, ascribed to one of our most eminent statesmen." That article would modify, in some respects, the ideas hitherto attached to the word supernatural. Would he arrest the speculations of the eminent statesman whom he here compliments, by some history of the word? All our philosophical terms, and all
our terms for immaterial existence, Max Müller himself assures us, are modifications of some root originally applied to a sensible object, or to an act appealing to the senses. It has become a philosophical term by the growth of thought, and the professor of the science of language has only to watch that growth; he can have no power, and, we presume, no wish, to arrest it at a certain stage.
There was no necessity for our professor of the science of language to exalt unduly the importance of the study to which he is attached. It has its own great and most legitimate interest. The present volume is full of attractive matter on the great subject of language; and, looking back upon it, we regret that we have allowed ourselves to be carried away from these into discussions of a more abstract nature. But it is too late to retrace our steps. The valuable remarks and curious etymologies with which the volume abounds, will certainly be best studied in the work itself; while perhaps the few precautionary or qualifying observations we have made will not be altogether useless.
THE LIFE OF JESUS.
Ir is a reproach frequently addressed to the Church, that she is more disposed to utter fulminations against the heretics who assail her, than to reply with sound reason and argument to their attacks. People say that the clergy are as ready as ever to denounce, and, when the occasion serves, to persecute, but that they are very slow to do manful battle for their faith, and meet their antagonists with their own opinions. Such a reproach has a specially ! severe meaning in an age so generally tolerant and reasonable, entertaining so large an amount of amiable, devout, and intelligent heretics, and feeling itself so capable of calm discussion upon every subject under the sun.
Toleration has indeed become so universal that we have not only ceased to persecute, but have to a great extent ceased to understand the conditions under which persecution is possible; and people have even been known to assert that the 'Essays and Reviews,' and indeed Dr Colenso himself, instead of being condemned, should have been answered. This idea, however, like most effusions of popular sentiment, contains, along with a little truth, a great deal of injustice. When theology was treated scientifically, and the assailants of Christianity were men who had the grace to wait a response, and to accept in good faith the rôle of Deist, Atheist, or Sceptic, it was practicable enough to prepare replies to all their arguments, and Christian apologists were not wanting; but the matter has entirely changed since those days, in England at least. The utterances of sceptical opinion, which may be considered most dangerous, are at present about as unanswerable as a popular novel. In saying so we do not mean to imply any sneer at the popular qualities which make such a work as M. Rénan's 'Vie de Jésus' attrac
VOL. XCVI.-NO. DLXXXVIII.
tive to the ordinary reader. There is no reason why a book should be less worthy of consideration or thought because it is so written as to be always pleasant to read. The impossibility of serious reply to such a production arises from a perfectly different cause. It is because of its ephemeral and momentary nature that it is next to impossible for the defenders of Christianity to reply specially to such an attack. Unless, indeed, we could secure a previous understanding with the intending assailant, and so have due entry into the lists along with him in all the stately politeness of chivalry, it is difficult to see what the Christian champion can do. What his adversary has prepared and elaborated by the toil of years, by travels and researches which demand leisure, he must either reply to flying, putting not only himself but his argument under the most serious disadvantages-or he must be content to record only his denial and disapproval of it, in face of a generation which, at the height of its admiration, has already half forgotten what its enthusiasm was about. A few months ago the work of which we speak was discussed everywhere. Last summer we found it in its primitive shape, an imposing volume, in the chief bookseller's shop of a little Scotch country town, where French literature seldom penetrates. spring, straying vaguely into Detken's, in Naples, in search of the English traveller's chief solace, the novels of the Tauchnitz series, we found not only that popular body of literature, but even the multitudinous volumes of Dumas and his disciples, lost and buried under a locust flood of little volumes in yellow paper, the cheap edition of the 'Vie de Jésus.' The book had thrust itself into all kinds of editions in the meanwhile, and had ranged freely between and beyond the antipodal
regions of the High Street, Kennaquhair, and the Palazzo Reale. A book of such universal prevalence would seem, at first sight, the work of all others which it was the Church's duty to answer. And it is very possible that at the present moment conscientious "apologists" are labouring hard after the airy footsteps of M. Rénan, and making a solid response at their leisure to his production. But in the mean time the whirligig Time has brought about its revenges. The tide has turned. The "wind of doctrine" has swept over Christendom and disappeared. The shelves that once groaned under his various-sized octavos have now forgotten Rénan. Care and research are necessary today to find a single copy of the book which a little while ago lay as thick as autumn leaves. Under such circumstances, what is the Christian critic to do? So far as it is possible to reply by a rapid magazine article or flying feuilleton, he has a chance of following on the traces of his agile opponent, but there are many people who object to such weapons of religious defence. To meet the highly-polished and cunningly-prepared arrow thus delivered flying, by the heavy artillery which requires both time and space for its evolutions, is manifestly impossible; for the sparkling projectile has flown into oblivion and darkness long before the great guns can be got in order, and the world does but pause to ask what it is all about when the tardy broadside rings into all the echoes. To be sure, it is a very good thing that such assaults upon the common faith should be ephemeral as well as periodical; but it is at the same time rather a hard case for the Christian teacher who has addressed himself to their serious consideration.
Such being the case, the most effectual, and indeed almost the
only way to meet an assault such as we have described, is one which has finally produced the little volume entitled, "The Christ of the Gospels and the Christ of Modern Criticism,' * an admirable though brief exposition at once of M. Rénan's books, and of the historical and philosophical as well as Christian principles which negative its conclusions. Principal Tulloch's Lectures have already fulfilled the primary and immediate purpose for which they were in no respect after date, and, having done so, come as fitly as modestly to the public, not so much in refutation of the brilliant Frenchman's idyll, as in calm remonstrance and protest against the principles at once of historical inquiry and moral criticism, which have produced this last and newest exposition of the ideas of the nineteenth century.
mation or pious horror would be out of place from a chair in which theology has to be treated as a science, and where to prove all things is as necessary as to hold fast that which is true. Nor is it, fortunately, the custom nowadays to impute motives, or set down, as in more primitive times, a religious speculatist as naturally an impious man. Principal Tulloch himself is one of the chief leaders of religious thought in Scotland, and is neither afraid of speculation, nor disposed to confine it within artificial limits. On the contrary, he considers it a necessary instrument in the Church, destined to weed and winnow the superfluous matter which attaches itself to every real substance of truth; and it is, accordingly, without any undue heat or prejudice that he looks at M. Rénan, whose real qualities of scholarship he acknowledges without hesitation, and against whose honesty he makes no suggestion. The faults he alleges against the book are of a more radical quality. radical quality. To call it blas
*'Lectures on M. Rénan's "Vie de Jésus." By John Tulloch, D.D., Principal of the College of St Mary, in the University of St Andrews. Macmillan 1864.
phemous would have been easy. The critic, in the present case, = goes much farther, and calls it unphilosophical. He finds fault with its principles, not only in a religious but in an intellectual point of view. He describes it as at once theoretical and dogmatic, rejecting the Catholic belief with the bland elevation of superior intelligence, yet claiming from its readers a faith in its own assumption, which no Pope has yet been able to extort from the unwilling world. As even popular oblivion cannot make the 'Vie de Jésus' otherwise than interesting to everybody who is disposed to consider the subject it treats as the most important subject of discussion in the world, it may be worth while to sketch briefly the nature of M. Rénan's book. It is a new biography of the Founder of Christianity, treated according to the popular method of modern biography; and the writer is a scholar of acknowledged eminence, learned in all the intricacies of Asiatic literature, and professing to enter with a perfectly candid and unbiassed mind upon the consideration of those singular phenomena which attended the origin of the Christian religion. Such a man, one might say at the first glance, was a very fit historian of an era so momentous; but there are a few drawbacks to set against his qualifications for the office. The first and most important of these is, that though M. Rénan is not at all prejudiced against the great Author of Christianity, but, on the contrary, displays everywhere a great and even patronising partiality towards the wonderful Being whose life he relates, he sets out with an established theory concerning the world and its management, which from the first settles arbitrarily the most important questions involved. In the world, as it appears to M. Rénan, there are no complications except such as can be disposed of scientifically. He
makes up his mind before he begins, that no supernatural power of whatsoever description has any hand in the matter. Like those humble descendants of the mummers of old who still linger about Scotland, the French savant has to send some one before him with a broom to sweep the stage clear for his drama; and it is with an apparent ignorance of any other reasonable theory of existence that he draws up the curtain, and discloses to his audience the clean and tidy platform upon which humanity has to work out its history—a world, to wit, out of which, by a careless. exercise of will, he has cleared everything divine and mysterious, leaving only Man and Law to fight out the oft-repeated battle through innumerable ages. Such a clean sweep at the beginning simplifies matters, though, at the same time, it eliminates the true soul of philosophy from the argument which follows, making it rather a laborious arrangement of facts to fit a theory, than an impartial examination of the actual for the demonstration of the true. Along with this, it is, however, plain that the acute and keen intelligence of the biographer has been struck to a wonderful degree by the character which he has set himself to portray. But for a little affectionate contempt for the extreme simplicity of the Galilean peasant which restores his balance of superiority as a historian, the philosopher would become an enthusiast; and even with that saving clause he lingers over the picture he is making with a kind of half- adoration. To account for the influence exercised by a man of humble station and uncultivated powers, not only over his own generation but over centuries of distant time and worlds of alien people, does indeed require that everything that is most noble and perfect in mind and spirit should at least be allowed to the individual who has occupied so singular a place in the world.