Page:Literature and Dogma (1883).djvu/142

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Reverence for all, who in those first dubious days of Christianity, chose the better part, and resolutely cast in their lot with 'the despised and rejected of men'! Gratitude to all, who, while the tradition was yet fresh, helped by their writings to preserve and set clear the precious record of the words and life of Jesus! And honour, eternal honour, to the great and profound qualities of soul and mind which some of these writers display! But the writers are admirable for what they are, not for what, by the nature of things, they could not be. It was superiority enough in them to attach themselves firmly to Jesus; to feel to the bottom of their hearts that power of his words, which alone held permanently,—held, when the miracles, in which the multitude believed as well as the disciples, failed to hold. The good faith of the Bible-writers is above all question, it speaks for itself; and the very same criticism, which shows us the defects of their exegesis and of their demonstrations from miracles, establishes their good faith. But this could not, and did not, prevent them from arguing in the methods by which everyone around them argued, and from expecting miracles where everybody else expected them.

In one respect alone have the miracles recorded by them a more real ground than the mass of miracles of which we have the relation. Medical science has never gauged,—never, perhaps, enough set itself to gauge, the intimate connexion between moral fault and disease. To what extent, or in how many cases, what is called illness is due to moral springs having been used amiss,—whether by being over-used or by not being used sufficiently,—we hardly at all know, and we far too little inquire. Certainly it is due to this very much more than we commonly think; and the more it is due to this, the more do moral thera-