The Mythical Element in the New Testament

by Frederic Henry Hedge

"Φιλοσοφωτερον και σπουδαιοτερον ποιησις ἱστοριας εστιν."
Aristotle.

When Dr. Strauss, thirty-five years ago, in his "Life of Jesus," advanced and applied to the narrative of the New Testament a theory of interpretation, in principle the same with that which a Christian Father of the third century had employed in his treatment of the Old, the theological world was profoundly shocked by what seemed to be the last impiety of criticism. A hundred champions rushed with drawn pen to the rescue of the old interpretation of the text. The truth of Christianity was supposed to be assailed; the belief in Christianity as divine revelation was felt to be imperilled by a theory which substituted mythical figment for historic fact. That no such harm was intended, or was likely to ensue from his labors, the author himself assures us in the preface to that extraordinary work. "The inner kernel of Christian faith," he declares, "is entirely independent of all such criticism. Christ's supernatural birth, his miracles, his resurrection and ascension, remain eternal truths, however their reality as facts of history may be called in question."

In this declaration I find a fitting text for the following discourse.

How far does the cause of Christianity depend on the facts, or alleged facts, of the Gospel narrative? Or, to state the question in other words, Is the truth of Christianity identical and conterminous with the literal truth of its record?

It is obvious at the start that a certain amount of historic truth must be assumed as implied in the very existence of any religion which dates from a personal founder whose thought it professes to embody, and whose name it bears. Christianity purports to be founded on the ministry of a Jewish teacher, entitled by his followers "the Christ." We have the testimony of a nearly contemporary Latin historian to the fact that an individual so named was the leader of a numerous body of religionists, and was put to death by command of Pontius Pilate, in the reign of Tiberius. But, without this confirmation, the very existence of the Christian Church compels us to accept as historic facts, the ministry of Jesus, the strong impression of his word and character, his purity of manners and moral greatness, his life of beneficent action, his martyr death, and his manifestation to his disciples after death, however that manifestation be conceived, whether as subjective experience or as objective reality. So much, beyond all reasonable question, must stand as history, vouched by documentary evidence, and by the existence, in the first century, of a church universally diffused, which affirmed these facts as the ground of its being, and in the strength of them overcame the world.

But, observe, it is Christianity that assures the truth of these facts, and not the facts that prove Christianity. To base the truth of Christianity on the credibility, in every particular, of the Gospel record; to measure the claims of the religion by the strict historic verity of all the narrative of the New Testament, is to prejudice the Christian cause in the judgment of competent critics. It is to challenge the cavil and counter-demonstration of unbelief.

Christianity assures the truth of certain facts; but by no means of all the facts affirmed by the writers of the New Testament. Faith in Christianity as divine dispensation does not imply, and must not be held to the belief, as veritable history, of all that is recorded in the Gospel. Not the historic sense, but the spiritual import; not the facts, but the ideas of the Gospel, are the genuine topics of faith.

Christianity, like every other religion, has its mythology,—a mythology so intertwined with the veritable facts of its early history, so braided and welded with its first beginnings, that history and myth are not always distinguishable the one from the other. Every historic religion, that has won for itself a conspicuous place in the world's history, has evolved from a core of fact a nimbus of legendary matter which criticism cannot always separate, and which the popular faith does not seek to separate, from the solid parts of the system. And in one view the legends or myths which gather around the initial stage of any religion are as true as the vouched and substantial facts of its record: they are a product of the same spirit working, in the one case, in the acts and experiences; in the other, in the visions, the ideas, the literary activity of the faithful. It is one and the same motive that inspires both the writer and the doer.

When I speak of historic religions, I mean such as trace their origin to some historic personage, and bear the impress of his idea, in contradistinction to those which have sprung from unknown sources, the wild growths of nature-worship as found in ancient Egypt, in the Indian and Scandinavian peninsulas, and in Greece.

No distinction in religion is so fundamental as that between the wild religions and those which have sprung from the word of a human sower going forth to sow; the religions of sense and those of reflection, the "natural" and the "revealed." The prime characteristic of the former is polytheism; that of the latter, monotheism. Mosaism, Mohammedism, Buddhism,—so far as it knows any God,—even Parsism, is monotheistic in as much as its dualism is resolvable into the final triumph and supremacy of the good. No founder of a religion ever taught a plurality of gods.

Another characteristic of the wild religions is their transitoriness. The Egyptian, the Greco-Roman, the Scandinavian, perished long ago. Bramanism, the last survivor of the ancient polytheisms, is fast melting beneath the advancing heats of Islam and the Brahmo Somaj. The "revealed" religions on the contrary are permanent. No religion of historic origin, so far as I know, has ever died out. Judaism, the eldest of them, still flourishes: never since the destruction of Jerusalem has it flourished with a greener leaf than now. Mohammedism is pushing its conquests faster than Christianity in the East, Parsism is still strong in Bengal, Buddhism in one or another form calls a third part of the population of the globe its own.

All religions have their mythologies, but with this distinction: polytheism is mythical in principle as well as form, in soul as well as body, and mythical throughout. Its whole being is myth. Whatever of scientific or historic truth may be hidden in any of its legends, such as the labors of Herakles, the fire-theft of Prometheus, or the rape of Europa, is matter of pure conjecture. In the "revealed" religions, on the contrary, the mythical is incidental, not principial, and always subordinate to doctrine or fact. Always the truth shines through the myth, explains it, justifies it.

Before proceeding any farther, I desire to explain what I mean by myth in this connection. I shall not attempt a philosophic definition, but content myself with this general determination. I call any story a myth which for good reasons is not to be taken historically, and yet is not a wilful fabrication with intent to deceive, but the natural growth of wonder and tradition, or a product of the Spirit uttering itself in a narrative form. The myth may be the result of exaggeration, the expansion of a veritable fact which gathers increments and a posse comitatus of additions as it travels from mouth to ear and ear to mouth in the carriage of verbal report; or it may be the reflection of a fact in the mind of a writer, who reproduces it in his writing with the color and proportions it has taken in his conception; or it may be the poetic embodiment of a mental experience; or it may be what Strauss calls "the deposit of an idea," and another critic "an idea shaped into fact." I think we have examples of all these mythical formations in the New Testament; and I hold that the credit of the Gospel in things essential is nowise impaired, nor the claim of Christianity as divine revelation compromised, by a frank admission of this admixture of fancy with fact in its record. On the contrary, I deem it important, in view of the vulgar radicalism which confounds the Christian dispensation and its record, soul and body, in one judgment, to separate the literary question from the spiritual, and to free the cause of faith from the burden of the letter.

It has been assumed that the proof of divine revelation rests on precisely those portions of the record which are most offensive to unbelief. On this assumption the Christian apologists of a former generation grounded their plea. Prove that we have the testimony of eye-witnesses to the miracles recorded in the Gospels, and Christianity is shown to be a divine revelation. In the absence of such proof (the inference is) Christianity can no longer claim to be, in the words of Paul, "the power of God unto salvation." This is substantially Paley's argument. Planting himself on the premise that revelation is impossible without miracles, in which it is implied that miracles prove revelation, he labors to establish two propositions: 1. "That there is satisfactory evidence that many professing to be original witnesses of the Christian miracles passed their lives in dangers, labors, and sufferings, voluntarily undergone in attestation of the accounts which they delivered, and solely in consequence of their belief in those accounts; and that they also submitted from the same motives to new rules of conduct." 2. "That there is not satisfactory evidence that persons pretending to be original witnesses of any other similar miracles have acted in the same manner in attestation of the accounts which they delivered, and solely in consequence of their belief in the truth of those accounts." The argument is stated with the characteristic clearness of the author, and as well supported perhaps as Anglican church-erudition in those days would allow; but the case is not made out, and, if it were, the argument fails to satisfy the sceptical mind of to-day. To say nothing of its gross misconception of the nature of revelation, which it makes external instead of internal, a stunning of the senses instead of mental illumination, an appeal to prodigy and not its own sufficient witness,—waiving this objection, the argument fails when confronted with the fact that, in spite of the evidence which scholars and critics the most learned and acute of all time have arrayed in support of the genuineness of the Gospels, the number is nowise diminished, but rather increases, of intelligent minds that find themselves unable, on the faith of any book, however ancient, to receive as authentic a tale of wonders which contradict their experience of the limits of human ability and their faith in the continuity of nature. For myself, I beg to say, in passing, I am not of this number. I do not feel the force of the objection against miracles drawn from this alleged constancy of nature, which it seems to me reduces the course of human events to a dead mechanical sequence, makes no allowance for any reserved power in nature or any incalculable forces of the Spirit, and virtually rules God, the present inworking God, out of the universe. I can believe in any miracle which does not actually and demonstrably contravene and nullify ascertained laws, however phenomenally foreign to nature's ordinary course. But the possibility of miracles is one thing, the possibility of proving them another. With such views as these objectors entertain of the constancy of nature, I confess that no testimony, not even the written affidavit of a dozen witnesses taken on the spot, supposing that we had it, would suffice to convince me of the truth of marvels occurring two thousand years ago, of the kind recounted in the Gospels. My Christian prepossessions might incline me to believe in them: the weight of evidence would not. No wise defender of the Christian cause, at the present day, will rest his plea on the issue to which Paley committed its claims. After all that Biblical critics and antiquarian research have raked from the dust of antiquity in proof of the genuineness and authenticity of the books of the New Testament, credibility still labors with the fact that the age in which these books were received and put in circulation was one in which the science of criticism as developed by the moderns—the science which scrutinizes statements, balances evidence for and against, and sifts the true from the false—did not exist; an age when a boundless credulity disposed men to believe in wonders as readily as in ordinary events, requiring no stronger proof in the case of the former than sufficed to establish the latter,—viz., hearsay and vulgar report; an age when literary honesty was a virtue almost unknown, and when, consequently, literary forgeries were as common as genuine productions, and transcribers of sacred books did not scruple to alter the text in the interest of personal views and doctrinal prepossessions. The newly discovered Sinaitic Code, the earliest known manuscript of the New Testament, dates from the fourth century. Tischendorf the discoverer, a very orthodox critic, speaks without reserve of the license in the treatment of the text apparent in this manuscript,—a license, he says, especially characteristic of the first three centuries.

These considerations, though they do not discredit the essential facts of the Gospel history,—facts assured to us, as I have said, by the very existence of the Christian Church,—might seem to excuse the hesitation of the sceptic in accepting, on the faith of the record, incidental marvels of a kind very difficult of proof at best. I recall in this connection the remarkable saying of an English divine of the seventeenth century. "So great, in the early ages," says Bishop Fell, "was the license of fiction, and so prone the facility of believing, that the credibility of history has been gravely embarrassed thereby; and not only the secular world, but the Church of God, has reason to complain of its mythical periods."

It is not in the interest of criticism, much less of a wilful iconoclasm, from which my whole nature revolts, but of Christian faith, that I advocate the supposition of a mythical element in the New Testament. I am well aware that in this advocacy I shall lack the consent of many good people who identify the cause of religion with its accidents, and fancy that the sanctuary is in danger when a blind is raised to let in new light. I respect the piety that clings to idols which Truth has outgrown, as Paul at Athens respected the religion which worshipped ignorantly the unknown God. But Truth once seen will draw piety after it, and new sanctities will replace the old. No Protestant in these days feels himself bound to accept as history the ecclesiastical legends of the post-apostolic age. Some of them are quite as significant as some of those embodied in the canon; but no Protestant scruples to reject as spurious the story of the caldron of boiling oil into which St. John was thrown by order of the Emperor Domitian, and from which he escaped unharmed, or that of the lioness which licked the feet of Thecla in the circus at Antioch, or Peter's encounter with Christ in the suburbs of Rome. If we talk of evidence, I do not see but the miracles said to be performed by the relics of martyrs at Milan, attested by St. Augustine, and those of St. Cuthbert of Durham, attested by the venerable Bede, are as well substantiated as the opening of the prison doors and the liberation of the Apostles by an angel, attested by Luke. The Church of Rome makes no such distinction between the first and the following centuries: she indorses the miracles of all alike. But modern Protestantism draws a line of sharp separation between the apostolic and the post-apostolic ages. On the farther side the portents are all genuine historic facts: on the hither side they are all figments. While John the Evangelist, the last of the twelve, yet breathed, a miracle was still possible: his breath departed, it became an impossibility for evermore. And yet when Conyers Middleton first ran this line between the ages, and published his refutation of the claim of continued miraculous power in the Church, religious sensibility experienced a shock as great as that inflicted in our day by Strauss, and resented with equal indignation the affront to Christian faith. The author of the "Free Inquiry" published in 1748 was assailed by opponents, who "insinuate" he tells us "fears and jealousies of I know not what consequences dangerous to Christianity, ruinous to the faith of history, and introductive of universal scepticism." The larger work had been preceded by an "Introductory Discourse" put forth as a feeler of the public pulse; for "I began," he says, "to think it a duty which candor and prudence prescribed, not to alarm the public at once with an argument so strange and so little understood, nor to hazard an experiment so big with consequences till I had at first given out some sketch or general plan of what I was projecting." The experiment which required such careful preparation was to ascertain how far the English public in the middle of the eighteenth century would bear to have it said that the miracles affirmed by Augustine and Chrysostom and Jerome, as occurring in their day, were not as worthy of credit as any of the wonders recorded in the New Testament. Up to that time, English Protestants as well as Romanists had given equal credence to both, and esteemed the former as essential to Christian faith as the latter. Men like Waterland and Dodwell and Archbishop Tillotson held that miracles continued in the Church until the close of the third century, and were even occasionally witnessed in the fourth. Whiston, the consistent Arian, maintained their continuance up to the establishment of the Athanasian doctrine in 381, and "that as soon as the Church became Athanasian, antichristian, and popish, they ceased immediately; and the Devil lent it his own cheating and fatal powers instead."

To me, I confess, the position of the Church of Rome in this matter seems less indefensible than that of Middleton and modern Protestantism. Either deny the possibility of miracles altogether to finite powers, or admit their possibility in the second century, and the third century, as well as the first, and in all centuries whenever a worthy occasion demands such agency. I can see no reason for separating, as Middleton does, the age of the Apostles from all succeeding. Had he drawn the line between the miracles of Christ and those ascribed to his followers, the principle of division would have been more intelligible, and more admissible on the ground of ecclesiastical orthodoxy.


But the question here is not of the possibility or probability of miracles, as such, in one age rather than another. It is a question simply of Biblical interpretation,—whether the literal sense of the record is in every case the true sense, whether history or fiction is the key to certain Scriptures. Those who insist on the verbal inspiration of the New Testament will be apt to likewise insist on the literal historic sense of every part of every narrative. And yet that mode of interpretation is by no means a necessary consequence or logical outcome of that theory. Origen believed in the verbal inspiration of the Old Testament, but Origen did not accept in their literal sense the Hebrew theophanies: he allegorized whatever seemed to him to degrade the idea of God. The Spirit can utter itself in fiction as well as fact, and in communicating with Oriental minds was quite as likely to do so. And surely, for those who reject the notion of verbal inspiration, the way is open, in perfect consistency with Christian faith, for such interpretation as reason may approve or the credit of the record be thought to require. The credit of the record will sometimes require an allegorical interpretation instead of a literal one.

It is a childish limitation which in reading stories can feel no interest in any thing but fact; and a childish misconception which supposes that where the form is narrative, historic fact must needs be the substance. Recount to a little child a fable of Pilpay or Æsop, and his questions betray his inability to apprehend it otherwise than as literal fact. He has no doubt of the truth of the story; "what did the lion say then?" he asks; and "what did the fox do next?" The maturer mind has also no doubt of the truth of the story, but sees that its truth is the moral it embodies. Of many of the Gospel stories the moral contained in them is the real truth. In the height of our late civil war there appeared in a popular journal a story entitled "A Man without a Country," related with such artistic verisimilitude, such minuteness of detail, such grave official references, that many who read it not once suspected the clever invention, and felt themselves somewhat aggrieved when apprised that fiction, not fact, had conveyed the moral intended by the genial author. But those who saw from the first through the veil of fiction the needful truth and the patriotic intent were not less edified than if they had believed the characters real, and every incident vouched by contemporary record. The story of William Tell was once universally received as authentic history: it was written in the hearts of the people of Uri, and so religiously were all its incidents cherished, that when a book appeared discrediting the sacred tradition it was publicly burned by the hangman at Altorf. For five centuries the chapel on the shore of the Lake of the Four Cantons has commemorated a hero whose very existence is now questioned, of whom contemporary annals know nothing, of whose tyrant Gessler the well-kept records of the Canton exhibit no trace, whose apple placed as a mark for the father's arrow on the head of his child is proved to have done a foregone service in an elder Danish tale. The story resolves itself into an idea. That idea is all that concerns us; and that idea survives, inexpugnable to criticism, a truth for evermore. In the world of ideas there is still a William Tell who defied the tyrant at Altorf, and slew him at Küsnacht, and whose image will live while the mountains stand that gave it birth.

And so all that is memorable out of the past, all that tradition has preserved, the veritable facts of history as well as the myths of legendary lore, pass finally into ideas. Only as ideas they survive, only as ideas have they any abiding value. The anecdote recorded of Aristides—his writing his own name at the request of an ignorant citizen on the shell that should condemn him—embodies a noble idea which has floated down to us from the head-waters of Grecian history. Do we care to know the evidence on which it rests? If by critical investigation the fact were made doubtful, would that doubt at all impair the truth of the idea? The story of Damon and Pythias, reported by Valerius Maximus, for aught that we know, may be a myth: suppose it could be proved to be so, the truth that is in it would be none the less precious. We do not receive it on the faith of the historian, but on the faith of its own intrinsic beauty. There is scarcely a fact in the annals of mankind so vouched and ascertained as to be beyond the reach of historic doubt, if any delver in ancient documents, or curious sceptic, shall see fit to call it in question. But, however the fact may be questioned, the idea remains. We have lived to see apologies for Judas Iscariot, and the literary rehabilitation of Henry VIII. But Judas is none the less, in popular tradition, the typical traitor, the impersonation of devilish malice; and Henry VIII. is no less the remorseless tyrant whose will was his God. When Napoleon I. pronounced all history a fable agreed on, he reasoned better perhaps than he knew. The agreement is the thing essential; but that agreement is never complete, is never final. Every original writer of history finds something to qualify, and often something to reverse, in the judgment of his predecessors. How can it be otherwise, when even eye-witnesses disagree in their observation and report of the same transaction; when even in a matter so recent as the siege of Paris, or the conflagration of Chicago, the verification of facts is embarrassed by contradictory accounts? The best that history yields to philosophic thought is not facts, but ideas. These are all that remain at last when the tale is told,—all, at least, that the mind can appropriate, all that profits in historical studies, the intellectual harvest of the past. A fact means nothing until thought has transmuted it into itself: its value is simply the idea it subtends. Homer's heroes are as true in this sense as those of Plutarch. Ajax and Hector are as real to me as Cimon or Lysander; Don Quixote's battle with the windmills which Cervantes imagined is as real as the battle of Lepanto in which Cervantes fought; and Shakespeare's Hamlet is incomparably more real than the Prince of Denmark whom Saxo Grammaticus chronicles.

I do not underrate the importance of facts on their own historic plane. The historian, as annalist, is bound by the rules of his craft with conscientious investigation to ascertain, substantiate, and establish, if he can, the precise facts of the period he explores. I only contend that historic truth is not the only truth; that a fact,—if I may use that term in this connection for want of a better,—that a fact which is not historically true may yet be true on a higher plane than that of history, true to reason, to moral and religious sentiment and human need. The story of Christ's temptation is none the less true, but a great deal more so, when the narrative which embodies the interior psychological fact is conceived as myth, than when it is interpreted as veritable history. The truth that concerns us is that the Son of Man "was tempted in all points as we are," not that he was taken by the Devil and set on a pinnacle of the Temple, and thence spirited away "into an exceeding high mountain."

We have now attained a point of view from which to estimate on the one hand the real import of what I have ventured to call the myths of the New Testament, and on the other hand to overrule the petulant radicalism which, not distinguishing truth of idea from truth of fact, contemns these legends, and perhaps contemns the Gospel, on their account. I have wished to show how unessential it is to the right enjoyment or profitable use of those portions of the record that we receive them as fact; to show that, if we seize and appropriate the idea, those narratives are quite as edifying from a mythical as from an historical point of view; in other words, that the Holy Spirit may and does instruct by fiction as well as fact. If I am asked to draw the line which separates fact from fiction, or to fix the criterion by which to discriminate the one from the other, I answer that I do not pretend to decide this point for myself, much less should I presume to attempt to settle it for others. I am not disposed to dogmatize on the subject. It is a matter in which each must judge for himself. I will only say that for myself I do not place the line of demarcation between miracle and the unmiraculous, for the reason that it seems to me, as I said before, unphilosophical to make our every-day experience of the limits of human power and the capabilities of nature an absolute standard by which to measure the possible scope of the one or the other.

I content myself with a single illustration of what I regard as a mythical formation. My example is the story known as "The Annunciation." Luke alone, of all the evangelists, records the tale. The angel Gabriel is sent to a virgin named Mary, and surprises her with the tidings, "Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end." This beautiful legend, the most beautiful, I think, of all the legends connected with the birth of Christ, the favorite theme of Christian art, so lovingly handled by Fra Angelico, by Correggio, Raphael, Titian, Andrea del Sarto, and a host of others, is best understood as a Jewish-Christian conception, taking an historic form and "shaped into a fact." The legend represents the humility and faith of a pious maiden communing with the heavenly Presence, drawing to herself divine revelations of grace and promise, and thus sanctioning the hope so dear to every Jewish maiden,—that of becoming the mother of the Messiah. The sudden inspiration of that hope is the angel of the Annunciation.

A word more. How far is our idea of Christ affected by a mode of interpretation which supposes a mingling of mythical with historic elements in the Gospel record? That idea is based on the representations of the evangelists. Will not our confidence in those representations be impaired by this view of their contents? I see no cause to apprehend a result so distressing to Christian faith. The mythical interpretation of certain portions of the Gospel has no appreciable bearing on the character of Christ. The impartial reader of the record must see that the evangelists did not invent that character; they did not make the Jesus of their story; on the contrary, it was he that made them. It is a true saying that only a Christ could invent a Christ. The Christ of history is a true reflection of the image which Jesus of Nazareth imprinted on the mind of his contemporaries. In that image the spiritual greatness, the moral perfection, are not more conspicuous than the well-defined individuality which permeates the story, and which no genius could invent.

If the Christ of the Church, of Christian faith, is, as some will have it, an ideal being, it was Jesus of Nazareth who made the ideal. The ideal in him is simply the result of that disengagement from the earthly vestiture which death and distance work in all who live in history. By the very necessity of its function, history idealizes. The historic figure and the individual represented by it, though inseparably one in substance, are not so identical in outline that the one exactly covers the other, no more and no less. The individual is the bodily presence as it dwells in space; the historic figure is the image of himself which the individual stamps on his time, and, so far as his record reaches, on all succeeding time,—his import to human kind. That image is a veritable portrait, but not in the sense of a fac-simile. A material portrait, a portrait painted with hands, if the painter understands his art, is not a fac-simile: it presents the chronic idea or characteristic mode, not the temporary accidents, "the fallings off, the vanishings," of the person portrayed. In the hero-galleries of Tradition, as in the visions of the Apocalypse, they are seen with white robes, and palms in their hands, and unwrinkled brows of grace, who in life were begrimed with the dust and furrowed with the cares of their time. St. Paul is there without his thorn in the flesh, Luther without his impatience, Washington without his fiery choler, Lincoln without his coarseness, Dante and Milton without their scorn. History strips off the indignities of earth when she dresses her heroes for immortality. And the transfigurations she gives us are nearer the truth than the limitations of ordinary life. The man is more truly himself in the epic strain of public action, with spirit braced and harness on, than in the subsidence and undress of the closet. It is not the gossiping anecdotes, the spoils of the ungirt private life, so dear to antiquaries and literary scavengers, but the things which history hastens to record, that show the man. We must take the life at full-tide; we must view it in its freest determination, in its supreme moment, to know the deepest that is in him. And the deepest that is in him is the true man. That is his idea, his mission to the world, his historic significance. It is this that concerns us in all the great actors of history,—the historic person, not the individual. And the more the historic person absorbs the individual, the higher we rise in the scale of being until we reach the idea of God, from which all individuality is excluded, and only the Person remains, filling space and time with the ceaseless procession of his being.

We misread the Gospel and reverse the true and divine order, if we suppose the ideal Christ to be an essence distilled from the historical. On the contrary, the ideal Christ is the root and ground of the historical; and without the antecedent idea inspiring, commanding, the history would never have been.

It has not been my intention in any thing I have said to make light of the record. The record to me is a literary relic of inestimable value, aboriginal memorial of the dearest and divinest appearance in human form that ever beamed on earthly scenes. I sympathize with every attempt to clear up and verify its minutest details, with the labors of all critics and archæologists devoted to this end. I rejoice in all topographical adjustments and illustrations; in all that local researches, following in the steps of "those blessed feet," have gleaned from the soil of Palestine. But all this is important only as it draws its inspiration from and leads my aspiration to the ideal Christ, "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." Dissociated from this idea, the acres of Palestine are as barren as any which the ebbing of a nation's life has left desolate.