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all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is much more than all whole burnt-offerings
and sacrifices. (Mark xii, 32, 33.)

Here is the briefest of summaries of the teaching of the prophets of
Israel of the eighth century ; does the Teacher, whose doctrine is thus
set forth in his presence, repudiate the exposition ? Nay, we are told,
on the contrary, that Jesus saw that he "answered discreetly," and
replied, " Thou art not far from the kingdom of God."

So that I think that even if the creeds, from the so-called " Apos-
tles' " to the so-called " Athanasian," were swept into oblivion ; and
even if the human race should arrive at the conclusion that whether a
bishop washes a cup or leaves it unwashed, is not a matter of the least
consequence, it will get on very well, the causes which have led to
the development of morality in mankind, which have guided or
impelled us all the way from'the savage to the civilized state, will not
cease to operate because a number of ecclesiastical hypotheses turn out
to be baseless. And, even if the absurd notion that morality is more
the child of speculation than of practical necessity and inherited
instinct, had any foundation; if all the world is going to thieve,
murder, and otherwise misconduct itself as soon as it discovers that
certain portions of ancient history are mythical, what is the relevance
of such arguments to any one who holds by the agnostic principle ?

Surely the attempt to cast out Beelzebub by the aid of Beelzebub is
a hopeful procedure as compared to that of preserving morality by the
aid of immorality. For I suppose it is admitted that an agnostic may
be perfectly sincere, may be competent, and may have studied the
question at issue with as much care as his clerical opponents. But, if
the agnostic really believes what he says, the " dreadful consequence "
argufier (consistently I admit with his own principles) virtually asks
him to abstain from telling the truth, or to say what he believes to be
untrue, because of the supposed injurious consequences to morality.
" Beloved brethren, that we may be spotlessly moral, before all things
let us lie," is the sum total of many an exhortation addressed to the
"infidel." Now, as I have already pointed out, we can not oblige our
exhorters. We leave the practical application of the convenient
doctrines of " reserve " and " non-natural interpretation " to those who
invented them.

I trust that I have now made amends for my ambiguity, or want of

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434 BEACON LIGHTS OF SCIENCE.

fullness, in any previous exposition of that which I hold to be the
essence of the agnostic doctrine. Henceforward, I might hope to hear
no more of the assertion that we are necessarily materialists, idealists,
atheists, theists, or any other ists, if experience had led me to think
that the proved falsity of a statement was any guarantee against its
repetition. And those who appreciate the nature of our position will
see, at once, that when ecclesiasticism declares that we ought to
believe this, that, and the other, and are very wicked if we don't, it is
impossible for us to give any answer but this: We have not the
slightest objection to believe anything you like, if you will give us
good grounds for belief; but, if you can not, we must respectfully
refuse, even if that refusal should wreck morality and insure our own
damnation several times over. We are quite content to leave that to
the decision of the future. The course of the past has impressed us
with the firm conviction that no good ever comes of falsehood, and we
feel warranted in refusing even to experiment in that direction.

In the course of the present discussion it has been asserted that the
"Sermon on the Mount" and the "Lord's Prayer" furnish a sum-
mary and condensed view of the essentials of the teaching of Jesus of
Nazareth, set forth by himself. Now this supposed Summa of Naza-
rene theology distinctly affirms the existence of a spiritual world, of a
heaven, and of a hell of fire; it teaches the fatherhood of God and the
malignity of the devil ; it declares the superintending providence of
the former and our need of deliverance from the machinations of the
latter; it affirms the fact of demoniac possession and the power of
casting out devils by the faithful. And, from these premises, the
conclusion is drawn that those agnostics who deny that there is any
evidence of such a character as to .justify certainty, respecting .the
existence and the nature ot the spiritual world, contradict the express
declarations of Jesus. I have replied to this argumentation by show-
ing that there is strong reason to doubt the historical accuracy of the
attribution to Jesus of either the "Sermon on the Mount" or the
"Lord's Prayer"; and, therefore, that the conclusion in question is
not warranted, at any rate on the grounds set forth.

But, whether the Gospels contain trustworthy statements about this
and other alleged historical facts or not, it is quite certain that from
them, taken together with the other books of the New Testament, we
may collect a pretty complete exposition of that theory of the spiritual
world which was held by both Nazarenes and Christians ; and which
was undoubtedly supposed by them to be fully sanctioned by Jesus,
though it is just as clear that they did not imagine it contained
any revelation by him of something heretofore unknown. If the
pneumatological doctrine which pervades the whole New Testament is
nowhere systematically stated, it is everywhere assumed. The writers
of the Gospels and of the Acts take it for granted, as a matter of
common knowledge ; and it is easy to gather from these sources a series
of propositions, which only need arrangement to form a complete
system.

In this system, man is considered to be a duality formed of a
spiritual element, the soul ; and a corporeal * element, the body.
And this duality is repeated in the universe, which consists of a
corporeal world embraced and interpenetrated by a spiriual world.

*It is by no means to be assumed that "spiritual " and " corporeal " are exact equivalents of
1 immaterial " and "material " in the minds of ancient speculators on these topics.

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CHRISTIANITY AND AGNOSTICISM. 435

The former consists of the earth, as its principal and central constitu-
ent, with the subsidiary sun, planets, and stars. Above the earth is
the air, and below it the watery abyss. Whether the heaven, which
is conceived to be above the air, and the hell in, or below, the
subterranean deeps, are to be taken as corporeal or incorporeal is not
clear.

However this may be, the heaven and the air, the earth and the
abyss, are peopled by innumerable beings analogous in nature to the
spiritual element in man, and these spirits are of two kinds, good
and bad. The chief of the good spirits, infinitely superior to all the
others, and their Creator as well as the Creator of the corporeal world
and of the bad spirits, is God. His residence is heaven, where he ia
surrounded by the ordered hosts of good spirits; his angels, o*
messengers, and the executors of his will throughout the universe.

On the other hand, the chief of the bad spirits is Satan the devil
par excellence. He and his company of demons are free to roam
through all parts of the universe, except heaven. These bad spirits
are far superior to man in power and subtlety, and their whole energies
are devoted to bringing physical and moral evils upon him, and
to thwarting, so far as their power goes, the benevolent intentions of
the Supreme Being. In fact, the souls and bodies of men form both
the theatre and the prize of an incessant warfare between the good and
the evil spirits the powers of light and the powers of darkness. By
leading Eve astray, Satan brought sin and death upon mankind. As
the gods of the heathen, the demons are the founders and maintainers
of idolatry ; as the " powers of the air," they afflict mankind with
pestilence and famine ; as " unclean spirits," they cause disease of
mind and body.

The significance of the appearance of Jesus, as the Messiah or
Christ, is the reversal of the satanic work, by putting an end to both
sin and death. He announces that the kingdom of God is at hand,
when the "prince of this world" shall be finally "cast out"
( John xii, 31 ) from the cosmos, as Jesus, daring his earthly career,
cast him out from individuals. Then will Satan and all his deviltry,
along with the wicked whom they have seduced to their destruction,
be hurled into the abyss of unquenchable fire there to endure
continual torture, without a hope of winning pardon from the
merciful God, their Father; or of moving the glorified Messiah to one
more act of pitiful intercession; or even of interrupting, by a
momentary sympathy with their wretchedness, the harmonious
psalmody of their brother angels and . men, eternally lapped in bliss
unspeakable.

The straitest Protestant, who refuses to admit the existence of any
source of divine truth, except the Bible, will not deny that every
point of the pneumatological theory here set forth has ample scriptural
warranty: the Gospels, the Acts, the Epistles, and the Apocalypse
assert the existence of the devil and his demons and hell, as plainly as
they do that of God and his angels and heaven. It is plain that the
Messianic and the satanic conceptions of the writers of these books are
the obverse and the reverse of the same intellectual coinage. If
we turn from Scripture to the traditions of the fathers and the
confessions of the churches, it will appear that in this one particular,
at any rate, time has brought about no important deviation from
primitive belief. From Justin onward, it may often be a fair question

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436 BEACON LIGHTS Ul< SCIENCE.

whether God, or the devil, occupies a larger share of the attention of
the fathers. It is the devil who instigates the Roman authorities to
persecute ; the gods and goddesses of paganism are devils, and idolatry
itself is an invention of Satan ; if a saint falls away from grace , it is by
the seduction of the demon; if a heresy arises, the devil has suggested
it; and some of the fathers * go so far as to challenge the pagans to a
sort of exorcising match, by way of testing the truth of Christianity.
Mediseval Christianity is at one with patristic, on this head. The
masses, the clergy, the theologians, and the philosophers alike, live
and move and have their being in a world full of demons, in which
sorcery and possession are every-day occurrences. Nor did the
Reformation make any difference. Whatever else Luther assailed,
he left the traditional demonology untouched; nor could any one have
entertained a more hearty and uncompromising belief in the devil,
than he and, at a later period, the Calvinistic fanatics of New
England did. Finally, in these last years of the nineteenth century,
the demonological hypotheses of the first century are, explicitly
or implicitly, held and occasionally acted upon, by the immense
majority of Christians of all confessions.

Only here and there has the progress of scientific thought, outside
the ecclesiastical world, so far affected Christians that they and their
teachers fight shy of the demonology of their creed. They are fain to
conceal their real disbelief in one half of Christian doctrine by
judicious silence about it; or by flight to those refuges for the logically
destitute, accommodation or allegory. But the faithful who fly to
allegory in order to escape absurdity resemble nothing so much as the
sheep in the fable who to save their lives jumped into the pit
The allegory pit is too commodious, is ready to swallow up so much
more than one wants to put into it. If the story of the temptation is
an allegory ; if the early recognition of Jesus as the Son of God by the
demon is an allegory ; if the plain declaration of the writer of the first
Epistle of John (iii, 8), "To this end was the Son of God manifested
that he might destroy the works of the devil," is allegorical, then the
Pauline version of the fall may be allegorical, and still more the words
-of consecration of the Eucharist, or the promise of the second coming;
in fact, there is not a dogma of ecclesiastical Christianity the
scriptural basis of which may not be whittled away by a similar
process.

As to accommodation, let any honest man who can read the New
Testament ask himself whether Jesus and his immediate friends and
disciples can be dishonored more grossly than by the supposition that
they said and did that which is attributed to them ; while, in reality,
they disbelieved in Satan and his demons, in possession and in
exorcism ?f

An eminent theologian has justly observed that we have no right to
look at the propositions of the Christian faith with one eye open and
the other shut. ("Tract 85," p. 29.) It really is not permissible
to see with one eye, that Jesus is affirmed to declare the personality
and the fatherhood of God, his loving providence, and his accessibility

* Tertullian (" Apoloe. adv. Gentes," cap. xxiii) thus challenges the Roman authorities : let
them bring a possessed person into the presence of a Christian before their tribunal ; and, if the
demon does not confess himself to be such, on the order of the Christian, let the Christian be
executed out of hand.

tSee the expression of orthodox opinion upon the "accommodation " subterfuge, already cited,

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CHRISTIANITY AND AGNOSTICISM. 437

to prayer, and to shut the other to the no less definite teaching
ascribed to Jesus in regard to the personality and the misantlm r>v of
the devil, his malignant watchfulness, and his subjection to exoivistic
formulae and rites. Jesus is made to say that the devil " wa ; a
murderer from the beginning" (John viii, 44) by the same authority
as that upon which we depend for his asserted declaration that " God
is a spirit" (John iv, 24).

To those who admit the authority of the famous Vincentian dictum
that the doctrine which has been held " always, everywhere, and by all "
is to be received as authoritative, the demonology must possess a
higher sanction than any other Christian dogma, except, perhaps,
those of the resurrection and of the Messiahship of Jesus; for it would
be difficult to name any other points of doctrine on which the
Nazarene does not differ from the Christian, and the different historical
stages and contemporary subdivisions of Christianity from one
another. And, if the demonology is accepted, there can be no reason
for rejecting all those miracles in which demons play a part. The
Gadarene story fits into the general scheme of Christianity, and the
evidence for " Legion " and their doings is just as good as any other in
the New Testament for the doctrine which the story illustrates.

It was with the purpose of bringing this great fact into prominence,
of getting people to open both their eyes when they look at
ecclesiasticism, that I devoted so much space to that miraculous story
which happens to be one of the best types of its class. And I could not
wish for a better j ustification of the course I have adopted than the
fact that my heroically consistent adversary has declared his implicit
belief in the Gadarene story and (by necessary consequence) in
the Christian demonology as a whole. It must be obvious, by this
time, that, if the account of the spiritual world given in the New
Testament, professedly on the authority of Jesus, is true, then
the dernonological half of that account must be just as true as the
other half. And, therefore, those who question the demonology, or
try to explain it away, deny the truth of what Jesus said, and are, in
ecclesiastical terminology, "infidels" just as much as those who deny
the spirituality of God. This is as plain as anything can well be, and
the dilemma for my opponent was either to assert that the Gadarene
pig-bedevilment actually occurred, or to write himself down an
" infidel." As was to be expected, he chose the former alternative ; and
I may express my great satisfaction at finding that there is one spot of
common ground on which both he and I stand. So far as I can judge,
we are agreed to state one of the broad issues between the consequences
of agnostic principles (as I draw them), and the consequences of
ecclesiastical dogmatism (as he accepts it), as follows :

Ecclesiasticism says : The demonology of the Gospels is an essential
part of that account of that spiritual world, the truth of which it
declares to be certified by Jesus.

Agnosticism (me judice) says: There is no good evidence of the
existence of a demonic spiritual world, and much reason for doubting
it.

Hereupon the ecclesiastic may observe: Your donbt means that
you disbelieve Jesus ; therefore you are an " infidel " instead of an
" agnostic." To which the agnostic may reply: No; for two reasons:
first, because your evidence that Jesus said what you say he said is

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438 BEACON LIGHTS OF SCIENCE.

worth very little ; and, secondly, because a man may be an agnostic
in the sense of admitting he has no positive knowledge; and yet con-
sider that he has more or less probable ground for accepting any given
hypothesis about the spiritual world. Just as a man may frankly
declare that he has no means of knowing whether the planets gener-
ally are inhabited or not, and yet may think one of the two possible
hypotheses more likely than the other, so he may admit that he has
no means of knowing anything about the spiritual world, and yet
may think one or other of the current views on the subject, to some
extent, probable.

The second answer is so obviously valid that it needs no discussion.
I draw attention to it simply in justice to those agnostics, who may
attach greater value than I do to any sort of pneumatological specu-
lations, and not because I wish to escape the responsibility of declar-
ing that, whether Jesus sanctioned the demonological part of Chris-
tianity or not, I unhesitatingly reject it. The first answer, on the
other hand, opens up the whole question of the claim of the biblical
and other sources, from which hypotheses concerning the spiritual
world are derived, to be regarded as unimpeachable historical evidence
as to matters of fact.

Now, in respect of the trustworthiness of the Gospel narratives, I
was anxious to get rid of the common assumption that the determina-
tion of the authorship and of the dates of these works is a matter of
fundamental importance. That assumption is based upon the notion
that what contemporary witnesses say must be true, or, at least, has
always a prima facie claim to be so regarded ; so that if the writers of
any r f the Gospels were contemporaries of the events (and still more
if tht 7 were in the position of eye-witnesses) the miracles they narrate
must be historically true, and, consequently, the dernonology which
they involve must be accepted. But the story of the " Translation of
the blessed Martyrs Marcellinus and Petrus," and the other considera-
tions (to which endless additions might have been made from the
fathers and the mediaeval writers) set forth in this review for March
last, yield, in my judgment, satisfactory proof that, where the miracu-
lous is concerned, neither considerable intellectual ability, nor
undoubted honesty, nor knowledge of the world, nor proved faithful-
ness as civil historians, nor profound piety, on the part of eye-wit-
nesses and contemporaries, affords any guarantee of the objective
truth of their statements, when we know that a firm belief in the
miraculous was ingrained in their minds, and was the pre-supposition
of their observations and reasonings.

Therefore, although it be, as I believe, demonstrable that we have
no real knowledge of the authorship, or of the date of composition of
the Gospels, as they have come down to us, and that nothing better
than more or less probable guesses can be arrived at on that subject,
I have not cared to expend any space on the question. It will be
admitted, I suppose, that the authors of the works attributed to Mat-
thew, Mark, Luke, and John, whoever they may be, are personages
whose capacity and judgment in the narration of ordinary events are
not quite so well certified as those of Eginhard ; and we have seen
what the value of Eginhard's evidence is wLen the miraculous is in
question.

I have been careful to explain that the arguments which I have
used in the course of this discussion a*e not new ; that they are his-

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CHRISTIANITY AND AGNOSTICISM. 439

torical, and have nothing to do with what is commonly called science ;
and that they are all, to the best of my belief, to be found in the works
of theologians of repute.

The position which I have taken up, that the evidence in favor of
such miracles as those recorded by Eginhard, and consequently of
mediaeval demonology, is quite as good as that in favor of such mira-
cles as the Gadarene, and consequently of Nazarene demonology, is
none of my discovery. Its strength was, wittingly or unwittingly,
suggested a century and a half ago by a theological scholar of emi-
nence; and it has been, if not exactly occupied, yet so fortified with
bastions and redoubts by a living ecclesiastical Vauban, that, in my
judgment, it has been rendered impregnable. In the early part of the
last century, the ecclesiastical miud in this country was much exer-
cised by the question, not exactly of miracles, the occurrence of which
in biblical times was axiomatic, but by the problem, When did mira-
cles cease ? Anglican divines were quite sure that no miracles had
happened in their day, nor for some time past; they were equally sure
that they happened sixteen or seventeen centuries earlier. And it
was a vital question for them to determine at what point of time,
between this terminus a quo and that terminus ad quern, miracles
came to an end.

The Anglicans and the Romanists agreed in the assumption that
the possession of the gift of miracle-working was prima facie evidence
of the soundness of the faith of the miracle- workers. The supposition
that miraculous powers might be wielded by heretics (though it might
be supported by high authority) led to consequences too frightful to
be entertained by people who were busied in building their dogmatic
house on the sands of early church history. If, as the Romanists
maintained, an unbroken series of genuine miracles adorned the
records of their Church, throughout the whole of its existence, no
Anglican could lightly venture to accuse them of doctrinal corruption.
Hence, the Anglicans, who indulged in such accusations, were bound
to prove the modern, the mediaeval Roman, and the later patristic
miracles false; and to shut off the wonder-working power from the
Church at the exact point of time when Anglican doctrine ceased and
Roman doctrine began. With a little adjustment a squeeze here and
a pull there the Christianity of the first three or four centuries
might be made to fit, or seem to fit, pretty well into the Anglican
scheme. So the miracles, from Justin, say, to Jerome, might be rec-
ognized; while, in later times, the Church having become "corrupt"
that is to say, having pursued one and the same line of development
further than was pleasing to Anglicans its alleged miracles must
needs be shams and impostures.

Under these circumstances, it may be imagined that the establish-
ment of a scientific frontier, between the earlier realm of supposed
fact and the later of asserted delusion, had rs difficuties ; and torrents
of theological special pleading about the subject flowed from clerica'
pens; until that learned and acute Anglican divine, Conyers Middle-
ton, in his "Free Inquiry," tore the sophistical web they had labori-
ously woven to pieces, and demonstrated that the miracles of the
patristic age, early and late, must stand or fall together, inasmuch as
the evidence for the later is just as good as the evidence for the ear-
lier wonders. If the one set are certified by contemporaneous wit-
nesses of high repute, so are the other ; and, in point of probability,

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440 BEACON LIGHTS OP SCIENCE.

there is not a pin to choose between the two. That is the solid and
irrefragable result of Middleton's contribution to the subject. But
the Free Inquirer's freedom had its limits ; and he draws a sharp line
of demarkation between the patristic and the New Testament miracles
on the professed ground that the accounts of the latter, being
inspired, are out of the reach of criticism.

A century later, the question was taken up by another divine, Mid-
dleton's equal in learning and acuteness, and far his superior in subtlety
and dialectic skill ; who, though an Anglican, scorned the name of



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