Page:Literature and Dogma (1883).djvu/227

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191
OUR 'MASSES' AND THE BIBLE

way of Jesus, but that this way does bring you to it ! And, therefore, as we found we could say to the masses: 'Attempt to do without Israel's God that makes for righteousness, and you will find out your mistake!' so we find we can now proceed farther, and say: 'Attempt to reach righteousness by any way except that of Jesus, and you will find out your mistake!' This is a thing that can prove itself, if it is so; and it will prove itself, because it is so.

Thus, we have the authority of both Old and New Testament placed on just the same solid basis as the authority of the injunction to take food and rest: namely, that experience proves we cannot do without them. And we have neglect of the Bible punished just as putting one's hand into the fire is punished: namely, by finding we are the worse for it. Only, to attend to this experience about the Bible, needs more steadiness than to attend to the momentary impressions of hunger, fatigue, and pain; therefore it is called faith, and counted a virtue. But the appeal is to experience in this case just as much as in the other; only to experience of a far deeper and greater kind.

5.

So there is no doubt that we get a much firmer, nay an impregnable, ground for the Bible, and for recommending it to the world, if we put the construction on it which we propose. The only question is: Is this the right construction to put on it? is it the construction which properly belongs to the Bible? And here, again, our appeal is to the same test which we have employed throughout, the only possible test for man to employ,—the test of reason and experience. Given the Bible-documents, what, it is inquired, is the right construction to put upon them? Is it the construction we propose? or is it the construction of the theologians, according to which the dogmas of the Trinity, the Incarnation, the