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cism of the squire? And here lay the whole question of the value of his results. After he had inspected the modes of myth-making had he found anything but a more acceptable account of the way in which they may have grown? If he could have singled out some of the alleged supernatural occurrences and could have been able to retain them as true, discriminating between the real and the false in the histories, that would instantly have proved to his consciousness that he had proceeded strictly in view of the testimony. “But possibly Langham is right,” he said, with a groan. “ It has not been after all so much an examination of the value of these records, as it has been the construction of an a priori generalization that might justify the rejection of the entire mass. And I have called that science."

Elsmere, let it be confessed, repeated his inward groaning of humiliation more than once in the days that followed. This ghost was really the hardest to lay of them all. To have doubt arise in his inmost intuitions of the value of the very method by which he had permitted his faith to be upset, was bitter and humiliating.

" I see very clearly,” he wrote to Langham a few days later, " that there is practically no end to this historic mode. If I cannot leap over any details I must perforce give the ground over to each separate miracle until I can show its falsity.” “As it is a question solely whether miracles do happen or have happened, no miracle can be ruled out except on the merits of the case. Even induction must not assume the thing to be proved. Unless there is assumption somewhere a miracle can always creep in.”

And on reading the sentence over Elsmere saw that it was identical with Langham’s assertion that as a matter of fact testimony “has too many holes.” It only remained at last for the tormented soul to confess that the squire's philosophy had conquered in quite a different fashion from anything he had looked for.

Well, then, let it be so," he cried with bitterness of spirit. " Langham is right. Miracles violate experience. They do not occur because they cannot. Let my history stand as the filling in of that proposition.”


Having come to this point Elsmere felt some relief. He had not discarded his history, he had simply placed it in a new relation. To be sure he might not discredit the testimony of the second century at this remote day by a purely inductive process, but he had gone far enough to show—so he believed that the antecedent incredibility of miracle is not overcome by testimony given in an age when a predisposition towards supernaturalism was so widely prevalent. He was in the squire's library when this reflection was finally concluded. He had found a monograph on the Alexandrian collection and was absently studying the title page. He noticed curiously that it was partly a speculation and partly a study upon the probable contents of that vast aggregation of books destroyed by the “immortal wantonness” of Julius Cæsar.

“The entire inductive philosophy was probably devoured in these flames. It is almost certain that Alexandria had anticipated not only Des Cartes and Bacon, but the practical application of the modern scientific method to historical criticism and to natural philosophy."

Elsmere stared at the book as if it had smitten him in the face. And this was the age of which he had been saying that its testimony was childish. Could this possibly be true. He looked at the name of the author on the title page of the little book.

“No mean authority,” he admitted with some alacrity. “ And if he knows his ground, then what of Jerusalem and Antioch? The very habit of collecting such great librariesespecially of writing them off by hand,--did it not tend to accuracy? But "pshaw! It is too late! What avails testimony to the impossible. Nature is under law. God fixed that law, and it is blasphemy to say that He breaks with Himself.”

Indeed, it now seemed to Elsmere that he had passed a point to which he would not-could not return. Henceforth it was to be Langham's position on that subject and not the squire's. He even came to believe that the squire himself had overthrown the testimony in obedience to a mental necessity.

“ It is futile to struggle against the certainty of things. It is doubtful if one would receive the witness of that remote day even to something rationally conceivable. To propose it as a

basis for believing in miracles--well, we are all Langhams truly—we burrow under the bottom and say outright what cannot be isn't, testimony or no testimony.'”

Elsmere had learned to put things simply by preaching to his tenants, and this probably was the plain statement of his issue. To arrive thus abruptly and at such a point did not seem to Elsmere unnatural when he thought it over by himself. He sincerely believed that he had set to himself the task of finding the exact truth, and he saw how very near the reasoning of Mr. Wendover lay in its psychological aspect, to the skepticism of Langham. And after all the result in practice would be precisely the same. To abandon old ground from the prior mental necessity, after all was not far different, from the same abandonment, at the end of however much historical conviction. Indeed, he saw that whatever difference there was lay in the added imperiousness of the intuition. He must renounce his ecclesiastical connections, at the command of a new certainty. He did not as yet see how much more his conclusion involved.

In this state of mind the providences which seemed to be struggling with poor Elsmere's life threw upon him a new acquaintance. A certain Mr. Oxenbode, whom he had known casually at Oxford, by some inevitable circulation of Elsmere's growing reputation, had been set upon an inquiry as to the details of his success, by some necessities of a paper which he was preparing for a daily journal. In order to study up the ase with requisite thoroughness Mr. Oxenbode decided to visite Murewell.

Elsmere faintly remembered him at first, until it occurred to him that Oxenbode had written a book, of which the reviews had spoken highly. It was the dreg of bitterness to Elsmere to reflect that this inquiry into his work should be begun at such a time. Mr. Oxenbode was a curious insinuating creature, and Elsmere liked him. He saw that his visitor possessed a keen sense of mental proportions, and saw readily the strong points of his case. But he was so haunted by the feeling of his own insincerity in permitting Mr. Oxenbode to go on with his investigation under the circumstances that he at last resolved to give him the necessary hint of the possibilities. He

was happily assisted by the circumstances—that is, by Mr. Oxenbode himself, who was a free talker almost to the point of volubility.

They were remarking on the modifying effect of religion upon the administration of criminal law,—how the conversation reached that point Elsmere did not afterward remember. Mr. Oxenbode suggested that witchcraft persecutions, and superstitions of that kind, would hardly bear the light of our modernized thought.

“And Christianity itself," said Elsmere, “will eventually stand upon its pure value as a religion. It will make a way for itself as a great spiritual fact, on its own merits as such. And the sooner the better."

Mr. Oxenbode evidently did not suspect the existence of that which lay seething under all this. They stood on the little bridge, and the brook babbled along under their eyes, idly in the sunshine.

“Not only that,” said Mr. Oxenbode, a little absently, “but this great spiritual fact will sufficiently avouch its own traditions and carry them along. I am with you, Mr. Elsmere, in your sturdy maintenance of historic Christianity. Certainly here is a religion large enough to count for something in support of a history which does not accord with the types of modern experience.”

Elsmere inwardly winced and almost resolved to retreat. He saw that he now occupied a false position. No man more completely than he had committed himself to "the traditions." Plainly he must break off. To follow the life which implied the things he had formerly preached was impossible. Oxenbode's compliment to his fidelity scored him sharply. But he kept his outward serenity and, after thinking a little, he ventured a cautious reply : “ Yet, Christianity requires us to suppose one order of experience for our age, and quite another for the past. What would, perhaps, be the result, if we could apply the Baconian method to the first century?”

- Oh, as for that," answered Mr. Oxenbode, “we can't safely apply it anywhere, alone,—that is, meaning the process of induction. You haven't read my book?"

Elsmere expressed his regrets and added, that this pleasure was still in store.

" It treats just this question. I think, I see clearly that our skepticism of the Christian history mostly has grown out of this modern adoration of mathematics. Oh, mathematics, of course, in their place—but when you get a whole age of pure lexolatry, it rules out miracles—and God, too, if they only knew it."

Elsmere smiled at his new friend's vehemence, but said a little sadly: "Well, the introduction of a little orderly method does play havoc with many of our cherished dreams. No—religion is no dream. No method can disturb that."

“I don't see it-pardon me for interrupting. Religion isn't left unless it has an object. If it has an object there may be a history. If the object be God, then, of course-miracles-redemption—all. Perhaps, I gallop a little fast—but it is all rational to me, Mr. Elsmere—and to you, too, no doubt. Still I find that the clergy have not resisted this craze for classifying. Yes, sir, that is the bottom of it. It is a reliance on endless and illimitable definition. That is the origin of your so-called laws. At the end of it religion is reduced to a solemn fear of the silence, or an adoration of mere ghosts. My friend, Mr. Harrison, did not miss the mark so far when he used his wit on it, and called it the worship of “x nth power.” As a matter of fact, Mr. Spencer has not shown that religion carries anything with it—like your work here in Murewell say—unless it becomes much more than the recognition of "an unknowable energy whence all things proceed.”

Oxenbode stopped abruptly with a little laugh.
“But all this is lost on you, of course,” he said lightly.

“ By no means. I am a skeptic myself in my way,” said Elsmere seriously. “And as to the critical method—we must, to be sure, rely on it. I do not profess to abhor mathematics.”

“Not abhor-of course not, for adding and subtracting figures. But we see easily in our day that the little creatures who are undoing our miracles so off-hand and arrogantly, get their warrant from what we call induction. The particular induction they name “Uniformity of Nature. The causal proposition Argyle took as the title of his book-Reign of Law.Now, law is a fixed order. Your theist says, "To break a fixed

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