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sional beggars, for whose incapacity to walk and straighten themselves
there is no guarantee but their own ? Who is to make sure that the
exorcist of the demon Wiggo was not just such another priest as
Hunus; and is it not at least possible, when Eginhard's servants
dreamed night after night in such a curiously coincident fashion, that
a careful inquirer might have found they were very anxious to please
their master?

Quite apart from deliberate and conscious fraud (which is a rarer
thing than is often supposed), people whose mythopoeic faculty is once
stirred are capable of saying the thing that is not, and of acting as
they should not, to an extent which is hardly imaginable by persons
who are not so easily affected by the contagion of blind faith. There
is no falsity so gross that honest men, and, still more, virtuous women,
anxious to promote a good cause, will not lend themselves to it without
any clear consciousness of the moral bearings of what they are doing.

The cases of miraculously effected cures of which Eginhard is ocular
witness appear to belong to classes of disease in which malingering is
possible or hysteria presumable. Without modern means of diagnosis,
the names given to them are quite worthless. One " miracle ", how-
ever, in which the patient was cured by the mere sight of the church
in which the relics of the blessed martyrs lay, is an unmistakable case
of dislocation of the lower jaw in a woman; and it is obvious that, as
not un frequently happens in such accidents to weakly subjects, the jaw
slipped suddenly back into place, perhaps in consequence of a jolt, ap
the woman rode toward the church. (Cap. v, 53).*



* Eginhard speaks with lofty contr-mpt ot tne " vana ac siam-stUtoga prcuumptto " of the poor

- J -,te her sufferings with "heron and frivolous in
mulierctun " might hare returned the epithet "



woman's companions in tryiner to alleviate her sufferings with "herbs and frivolous incant*-
tiong." Vain enough, no doubt, but the " m'



atitioua" with interest.

92



'AND AGNOSTICISM. 427

There is also a good deal said about a very questionable blind man
one Albricus (Alberich ?) who, having been cured, not of his blind-
ness, but of another disease under which he labored, took up his
quarters at Seligenstadt, and came out as a prophet, inspired by the
arch-angel Gabriel. Eginhard intimates that his prophecies were
fulfilled ; but, as he does not state exactly what they were or how they
were accomplished, the statement must be accepted with much caution.
It is obvious that he was not the man to hes.tate to " ease" a prophecy
until it fitted, if the credit of the shrine of his favorite saints could be
increased by such a procedure. There is no impeachment of his honor
in the supposition. The logic of the matter is quite simple, if some-
what sophistical. The holiness of the church of the martyrs guaran-
tees the reality of the appearance of the archangel Gabriel there, and
what the archangel says must be true. Therefore, if anything seems
to be wrong, that must be the mistake of the transmitter; and, in
justice to the archangel, it must be suppressed or set right. This
sort of" reconciliation " is not unknown in quite modern times, and
among people who would be very much shocked to be compared with
a " benighted papist" of the ninth century.

The readers of this review are, I imagine, very largely composed of
people who would be shocked to be regarded as anything but enlight-
ened Protestants. It is not unlikely that those of them who have
accompanied me thus far may be disposed to say: " Well, this is all
very amusing as a story; but what is the practical interest of it?
We are not likely to believe in miracles worked by the spoliaof SS.
Marcellinus and Petrus, or by those of any other saints in the Roman
calendar."

The practical interest is this: If you do not believe in these miracles,
recounted by a witness whose character and competency are firmly
established, whose sincerity can not be doubted, and who appeals to
his sovereign and other contemporaries as witnesses of the truth of
what he says, in a document of which a MS. copy exists, probably dating
within a centurv of the author's death, why do you profess to believe
in stories of a like character which are found in documents, of the
dates and of the authorship of which nothing is certainly determined,
and no known copies of which come within two or three centuries
of the events they record ? If it be true that the four Gospels and the
Acts were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, all that we know
of these persons comes to nothing in comparison with our knowledge
of Eginhard; and not only is there no proof that the traditional
authors of these works wrote them, but very strong reasons to the
contrary may be alleged. If, therefore, you refuse to believe that
Wiggo" was cast out of the possessed girl on Eginhard's authority,
with what justice can you profess to believe that the legion of devils
were cast out of the man among the tombs of the Gadarenes ? And
if, on the other hand, you accept Eginhard's evidence, why do you
laugh at the supposed efficacy of relics and the saint- worship of the
modern Romanists? It can not be pretended, in the face of all evi-
dence, that the Jews of the year 30, or thereabout, were less imbued
with the belief in the supernatural than were the Franks of the year
A. D. 800. The same influences were at work in each case, and it is
only reasonable to suppose that the results were the same. If the
evidence of Eginhard is insufficient to lead reasonable men to believe

93



428 BE A CON LIGHTS OF SCIENCE.

in the miracles he relates, a fortiori, the evidence afforded by the
Gospels and the Act? must be so.*

But it may be said that no serious critic denies the genuineness of
the four great Pauline Epistles Galatians, First and Second Corin-
thians, and Romans and that, in three out of these four, Paul lays
claim to the power of working miracles. Must we suppose, there-
fore, that the Apostle to the Gentiles has stated that which is false?
But to how much does this so-called claim amount ? It may mean
much or little. Paul nowhere tells us what he did in this direction,
and, in his sore need to justify his assumption of apostleship against
the sneers of his enemies, it is hardly likely that, if he had any very
striking cases to bring forward, he would have neglected evidence so
well calculated to put them to shame.

And, without the slightest impeachment of Paul's veracity, we must
further remember that his strongly marked mental characteristics,
displayed in unmistakable fashion in these Epistles, are anything but
those which would justify us in regarding him as a critical witness
respecting matters of fact, or as a trustworthy interpreter of their sig-
nificance. When a man testifies to a miracle, he not only states a
fact, but he adds an interpretation of the fact. We may admit his
evidence as to the former, and yet think his opinion as to the latter
worthless. If Eginhard's calm and objective narrative of the histori-
cal events of his time is no guarantee for the soundness of his judg-
ment where the supernatural is concerned, the fervid rhetoric of the
Apostle of the Gentiles, his absolute confidence in the " inner light,"
and the extraordinary conceptions of the nature and requirements of
logical proof which he betrays in page after page of his Epistles,
afford still less security.

There is a comparitive modern man who shared to the full Paul's
trust in the "inner light," and who, though widely different from the
fiery evangelist of Tarsus in various obvious particulars, yet, if I am not
mistaken, shares his deepest characteristics. I speak of George Fox,
who separated himself from the current Protestantism of England in
the seventeenth century as Paul separated himself from the Judaism
of the first century, at the bidding of the "inner light" who went
through persecutions as serious as those which Paul enumerates, who
was beaten, stoned, cast out for dead, imprisoned nine times, some-
times for long periods, in perils on land and perils at sea. George
Fox was an even more widely traveled missionary, and his success in
founding congregations, and his energy in visiting them, not merely
in Great Britain and Ireland and the West India Islands, but on the
continent of Europe and that of North America, was no less remarka-
ble. A few years after Fox began to preach there were reckoned to
be a thousand Friends in prison in the various jails of England ; at
his death, less than fifty years after the foundation of the sect, there
were seventy thousand of them in the United Kingdom. The cheer-
fulness with which these people women as well as men underwent
martyrdom in this country and in the New England States is one of
the most remarkable facts in the history of religion.

* Of course, there is nothing new in this argument ; but it does not grow weaker by age. And
the case of Eginbard is far more instructive than that of Augustine, because the former has so
very frankly, though incidentally, revealed to ua not 0017 his own mental and moral habito, but
tbove of the people about him.



CHRISTIANITY AND AGNOSTICISM. 429

No one who reads the voluminous autobiography of " Honest
George" can doubt the man's utter truthfulness; and though, in his
multitudinous letters, he but rarely rises far above the incoherent
commonplaces of a street preacher, there can be no question of his
power as a speaker, nor any doubt as to the dignity and attractiveness
of his personality, or of his possession of a large amount of practical
good sense and governing faculty.

But that George Fox had full faith in his own powers as a miracle-
worker, the following passage of his autobiography (to which others
might be added) demonstrates :

Now after I was set at liberty from Nottingham gaol (where I had been kept prisoner a
pretty long time) I traveled as before, iu the work of the Lord. And coming to Mansfield
Woodhouse, there was a distracted woman under a doctor's hand, with her hair let loose all
about her ears ; and he was about to let her blood, she being first bound, and many people being
about her, holding her by violence ; but he could get no blood from her. And I desired
them to unbind her and let her alone ; for they could not touch the spirit in her by which
she was tormented. So they did unbind her, and I was moved to speak to her, and in the name
of the Lord to bid her be quiet and still. And she was so. And the Lord's power settled her
mind and she mended ; and afterwards received the truth and continued in it to her death.
And the Lord's name was honoured ; to whom the glory of all his works belongs. Many great
and wonderful things were wrought by the heavenly power in those days. For the Lord made
bare his omnipotent arm and manifested his power to the astonishment of many ; by the heal-
ing virtue whereof many have been delivered from great infirmities and the devils were made
subject through his name : of which particular instances might be given beyond what this
unbelieving age is able to receive or bear.*

It needs no long stndy of Fox's writings, however, to arrive at the
conviction that the distinction between subjective and objective veri-
ties had not the same place in his mind as it has in that of ordinary
mortals. When an ordinary person would say " I thought so and so,"
or "I made up my mind to do so and so," George Fox says " it was
opened to me," or " at the command of God I did so and so." " Then
at the command of God on the ninth day of the seventh month 1643
[Fox being just nineteen] I left my relations and brake off all famil-
iarity or friendship with young or old." "About the beginning of the
year 1647 I was moved of the Lord to go into Darbyshire." Fox hears
voices and he sees visions, some of which he brings before the reader
with apocalyptic power in simple and strong English, alike untutored
and undefiled, of which, like John Bunyan, his contemporary, he was
a master.

" And one morning, as I was sitting by the fire, a great cloud came
over me, and a temptation beset me; and I sate still. And it was
said, All things come by Nature. And the elements and stars came
over me ; so that I was in a manner quite clouded with it. ... And,
as I sate still under it, and let it alone, a living hope arose in me, and
a true voice arose iu me which said, There is a living God who made
all things, and immediately the cloud and the temptation vanished
away, and life rose over it all, and my heart was glad and I praised
the Living God " (p. 13).

If George Fox could speak as he proves in this and some other pas-
sages he could write, his astounding influence on the contemporaries
of Milton and of Cromwell is no mystery. But this modern repro-
duction of the ancient prophet, with his "Thus saith the Lord,"
" This is the work of the Lord," steeped in supernatuialismand glory-
ing in blind faith, is the mental antipodes of the philosopher, founded
in naturalism and a fanatic for evidence.to whom these affirmations
inevitably suggest the previous question: "How do you know that
the Lord saith it?" "How do you know that the Lord doeth it?"

* " A Journal or Historical Account of the Life, Travels, Sufferings, and Christian Experience!,
of George Fox," ed. i, 1694, pp. 27, 88.

95



43 o BEACON LIGHTS OF SCIENCE.

and who is compelled to demand that rational ground for belief with-
out which, to the man of science, assent is merely an immoral pre-
tense.

And it is this rational ground of belief which the writers of the
Gospels, no less than Paul, and Eginhard, and Fox, so little dream of
offering that they would regard the demand for it as a kind of bias*
phemy.



IX.

AGNOSTICISM AND CHRISTIANITY.

BY PBOF. THOMAS H. HUXLEY.

Nemo ergo ex me scire quaerat, quod me nescire scio, nisi forte at ntscire discat.*
gTTJB.Zte Civ. Uei, xii, 7.

CONTROVERSY, like most things in this world, has a good and a
bad side. On the good side, it may be said that it stimulates the wits,
tends to clear the mind, and often helps those engaged in it to get a
better grasp of their subject than they had before ; while, mankind
being essentially fighting animals, a contest leads the public to inter-
est themselves in questions to which, otherwise, they would give but
a languid attention. On the bad side, controversy is rarely found to
sweeten the temper, and generally tends to degenerate into an
exchange of more or less effective sarcasms. Moreover, if it is long
continued, the original and really important issues are apt to become
obscured by disputes on the collateral and relatively insignificant
questions which have cropped up in the course of the discussion. No
doubt both of these aspects of controversy have manifested themselvei
in the course of the debate which has been in progress, for some
months, in these pages. So far as I may have illustrated the second,
I express repentance and desire absolution ; and I shall endeavor to
make amends for any foregone lapses by an endeavor to exhibit only
the better phase in these concluding remarks.

The present discussion has arisen out of the use, which has become
general in the last few years, of the terms " agnostic " and " agnosti-
cism."

The people who call themselves "agnostics" have been charged
with doing so because they have not the courage to declare themselves
" infidels. It has been insinuated that they have adopted a new
name in order to escape the unpleasantness which attaches to their
proper denomination. To this wholly erroneous imputation I have
replied by showing that the term "agnostic" did, as a matter of fact,
arise in a manner which negatives it; and my statement has not been,
and can not be, refuted. Moreover, speaking for myself, and without
impugning the right of any other person to use the term in another
sense, I further say that agnosticism is not properly described as a
"negative" creed, nor indeed as a creed of any kind, except in so far
as it expresses absolute faith in the validity of a principle which is as
much ethical as intellectual. This principle may be stated in varioug

* Let no one therefore seek to know from me what I know I do not know, except in order to
learu not to know.

96



CHRISTIANITY AND AGNOSTICISM. 431

ways, but they all amount to this: that it is wrong for a man to say
that he is certain of the objective truth of any proposition unless he
can produce evidence which logically justifies that certainty. This is
what agnosticism asserts ; and, in my opinion, it is all that is essential
to agnosticism. That which agnostics deny and repudiate as immoral
is the contrary doctrine, that there are propositions which men ought
to believe, without logically satisfactory evidence; and that reproba-
tion ought to attach to the profession of disbelief in such inadequately
supported propositions. The justification of the agnostic principle
lies in the success which follows upon its application, whether in the
field of natural or in that of civil history; and in the fact that, so far
as these topics are concerned, no sane man thinks of denying its
validity.

Still speaking for myself, I add that, though agnosticism is not, and
can not be, a creed, except in so far as its general principle is con-
cerned; yet that the application of that principle results in the denial
of, or the suspension of judgment concerning, a number of propositions
respecting which our contemporary ecclesiastical "gnostics" profess
entire certainty. And in so far as these ecclesiastical persons can be
justified in the old-established custom (which many nowadays think
more honored in the breach than the observance) of using opprobrious
names to those who differ from them, I fully admit their right to call
me and those who think with me "infidels"; all I have ventured to
urge is that they must not expect us to speak of ourselves by that
title.

The extent of the region of the uncertain, the number of the prob-
lems the investigation of which ends in a verdict of not proven, will
vary according to the knowledge and the intellectual habits of the
individual agnostic. I do not very much care to speak of anything as
unknowable. What I am sure about is that there are many topics
about which I know nothing, and which, so far as I can see, are out
of reach of my faculties. But whether these things are knowable by
any one else is exactly one of those matters which is beyond my
knowledge, though I may have a tolerably strong opinion as to the
probabilities of the case. Relatively to myself, I am quite sure that
the region of uncertainty the nebulous country in which words play
the part of realities is far more extensive than I could wish. Mate-
rialism and idealism; theism and atheism; the doctrine of the soul
and its mortality or immortality appear in the history of philosophy
lik^ the shades of Scandinavian heroes, eternally slaying one another
and eternally coming to life again in a metaphysical "Nifelheim." It
is getting on for twenty-five centuries, at least, since mankind began
seriously to give their minds to these topics. Generation after gener-
ation, philosophy has been doomed to roll the stone up hill; and, just
as all the world swore it was at the top, down it has rolled to the
bottom again. All this is written in innumerable books ; and he who
will toil through them will discover that the stone is just where it was
when the work began. Hume saw this; Kant saw it; since their
time, more and more eyes have been cleansed of the films which pre-
vented them from seeing it; until now the weight and number of
those who refuse to be the prey of verbal mystification has begun to
tell in practical life.

It was inevitable that a conflict should arise between agnosticism
and theology; or rather I ought to say between agnosticism and

97



432 BEACON LIGHTS OF SCIENCE.

ecclesiasticism. For theology, the science, is one thing ; and ecclesi-
asticism, the championship of a foregone conclusion * as to the truth
of a particular form of theology, is another. With scientific theology,
agnosticism has no quarrel. On the contrary, the agnostic, knowing
too well the influence of prejudice and idiosyncrasy, even on those
who desire most earnestly to be impartial, can wish for nothing more
urgently than that the scientific theologian should not only be at per-
fect liberty to thrash out the matter in his own fashion, but that he
should, if he can, find flaws in the agnostic position, and, even if
demonstration is not to be had, that he should put, in their full force,
the grounds of the conclusions he thinks probable. The scientific
theologian admits the agnostic principle, however widely his results
may differ from those reached by the majority of agnostics.

But, as between agnosticism and ecclesiasticism, or, as our neigh-
bors across the Channel call it, clericalism, there can be neither peace
nor truce. The cleric asserts that it is morally wrong not to believe
certain propositions, whatever the results of a strict scientific investi-
gation of the evidence of these propositions. He tells us that
"religious error is, in itself, of an immoral nature." f He declares
that he has prejudged certain conclusions, and looks upon those who
show cause for arrest of judgment as emissaries of Satan. It neces-
sarily follows that, for him, the attainment of faith, not the ascertain-
ment of truth, is the highest aim of mental life. And, on careful
analysis of the nature of this faith, it will too often be found to be not
the mystic process of unity with the divine, understood by the
religious enthusiast but that which the candid simplicity of a Sunday
scholar once defined it to be. " Faith," said this unconscious plagia-
rist of Tertullian, " is the power of saying you believe things which
are incredible."

Now I, and many other agnostics, believe that faith, in this sense,
is an abomination ; and though we do not indulge in the luxury of
self-righteousness so far as to call those who are not of our way of
thinking hard names, we do feel that the disagreement between our-
selves and those who hold this doctrine is even more moral than intel-
lectual. It is desirable there should be an end of any mistakes on
this topic. If our clerical opponents were clearly aware of the real
state of the case, there would be an end of the curious delusion, which
often appears between the lines of their writings, that those whom
they are so fond of calling " infidels " are people who not only ought
to be, but in their hearts are, ashamed of themselves. It would be
discourteous to do more than hint the antipodal opposition of this
pleasant dream of theirs to facts.

The clerics and their lay allies commonly tell us that, if we refuse
to admit that there is good ground for expressing definite convictions
about certain topics, the bonds of human society will dissolve and
mankind lapse into savagery. There are several answers to this asser-
tion. One is, that the bonds of human society were formed without
the aid of their theology, and in the opinion of not a few competent
judges have been weakened rather than strengthened by a good deal
of it. Greek science, Greek art, the ethics of old Israel, the sociai
organization of old Kome, contrived to come into being without the

* " Let as maintain, before we nave proved. This seeming paradox is the secret of happiness."
CDr. Newman, "Tract 85," p. 88.)

t Dr. Newman, "Essay on Development," p. SOT.

98



CHRISTIANITY AND AGNOSTICISM. 433

help of any one who believed in a single distinctive article of the
simplest of the Christian creeds. The science, the art, the jurispru-
dence, the chief political and social theories of the modern world have
grown out of those of Greece and Eome not by favor of, but in the
teeth of, the fundamental teachings of early Christianity, to which
science, art, and any serious occupation with the things of this world
were alike despicable.

Again, all that is best in the ethics of the modern world, in so far
as it has not grown out of Greek thought or barbarian manhood, is
the direct development of the ethics of old Israel. There is no code
of legislation, ancient or modern, at once so just and so merciful, so
tender to the weak and poor, as the Jewish law; and if the Gospels
are to be trusted, Jesus of Nazareth himself declared that he taught
nothing but that which lay implicitly, or explicitly, in the religious
and ethical system of his people.

And the scribe said unto him, Of a truth, Teacher, thou hast well said that he is one ; and there
is none other but he : and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with



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