Page:Literature and Dogma (1883).djvu/230

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LITERATURE AND DOGMA.

in the poetry of Homer, underlying the apparent sense, but brought to light by the commentators; perhaps, even, they might have traditionary information of the drift of the Homeric poetry which we have not;—who knows? But, once for all, as our literary experience widens, this notion of a secret sense in Homer proves to be a mere dream. So, too, is the notion of a secret sense in the Bible, and of the Fathers' disengagement of it.

Demonstration in these matters is impossible. It is a maintainable thesis that the allegorising of the Fathers is right, and that this is the true sense of the Bible. It is a maintainable thesis that the theological dogmas of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Atonement, underlie the whole Bible. It is a maintainable thesis, also, that Jesus was himself immersed in the Aberglaube of his nation and time, and that his disciples have reported him with absolute fidelity; in this case we should have, in our estimate of Jesus, to make deductions for his Aberglaube, and to admire him for the insight he displayed in spite of it. This thesis, we repeat, or that thesis, or another thesis, is maintainable, as to the construction to be put on such a document as the Bible. Absolute demonstration is impossible, and the only question is: Does experience, as it widens and deepens, make for this or that thesis, or make against it? And the great thing against any such thesis as either of the two we have just mentioned is, that the more we know of the history of the human spirit and its deliverances, the more we have reason to think such a thesis improbable, and it loses its hold on our assent more. On the other hand, the great thing, as we believe, in favour of such a construction as we put upon the Bible is, that experience, as it increases, constantly confirms it; and that, though it cannot command assent, it will be found to win assent more and more.