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ried to an excess,
may be pushed so far as to leave in the sacred records no historical residue whatever. On the other side, there is the excess of a dull and unpainstaking acquiescence, satisfied with accepting in an unquestioning spirit, and as if they were literally facts, all particulars of a wonderful history, because in some sense it is from God. Between these extremes lie infinite degrees of rational and irrational interpretation.
It will be observed, that the ideal method is applicable in two ways; both to giving account of the origin of parts of Scripture, and also in explanation of Scripture. It is thus either critical or exegetical. An example of the critical ideology carried to excess is that of Strauss, which resolves into an ideal the whole of the historical and doctrinal person of Jesus. So, again, much of the allegorizing of Philo and Origen is an exegetical ideology, exaggerated and wild. But it by no means follows, because Strauss has substituted a mere shadow for the Jesus of the evangelists, and has frequently descended to a minute captiousness in details, that there are not traits in the scriptural person of Jesus which are better explained by referring them to an ideal than an historical origin : and, without falling into fanciful exegetics, there are parts of Scripture more usefully interpreted ideologically than in any other manner; as, for instance, the history of the temptation of Jesus by Satan, and accounts of demoniacal possessions. And liberty must be left to all as to the extent in which they apply the principle ; for there is no authority, through the expressed determination of the Church nor of any other kind, which can define the limits within which it may be reasonably exercised.
Thus some may consider the descent of all mankind from Adam and Eve as an undoubted historical fact; others may rather perceive in that relation a form of narrative, into which, in early ages, tradition would easily throw itself spontaneously. Each race naturally, necessarily when races are isolated, supposes itself to be sprung from a single pair, and to be the first, or the only one, of races. Among a particular people, this historical representation became the concrete expression of a great moral truth, of the brotherhood of all human beings, of their community, as in other things, so also in suffering and in frailty, in physical pains, and in moral “ corruption.” And the force, grandeur, and reality of these ideas are not a whit impaired in the abstract, nor indeed the truth of the concrete history as their representation, even though mankind should have been placed upon the earth in many pairs at once, or in distinct centres of creation. For the brotherhood of men really depends, not upon the material fact of their fleshly descent from a single stock, but upon their constitution, as possessed in common, of the same faculties and affections, fitting them for mutual relation and association ; so that the value of the history, if it were a history strictly so called, would lie in its emblematic force and application. And many narratives of marvels and catastrophes in the Old Testament are referred to in the New as emblems, without either denying or asserting their literal truth ; such as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire from heaven, and the Noachian deluge. And especially if we bear in mind the existence of such a school as that which produced Philo, or even the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, we must think it would be wrong to lay down, that, whenever the New Testament writers refer to Old Testament histories, they imply of necessity that the historic truth was the first to them. For their purposes, it was often wholly in the background, and the history valuable only in its spiritual application. The same may take place with ourselves, and history and tradition be employed emblematically, without, on that account, being regarded as untrue. We do not apply the term “ untrue” to parable, fable, or proverb, although their words correspond with ideas, not with material facts : as little should we do so when narratives have been the spontaneous product of true ideas, and are capable of reproducing them.
The ideologian is evidently in possession of a principle which will enable him to stand in charitable relation to persons of very different opinions from his own, and of very different opinions mutually; and, if he has perceived to how great extent the history of the origin itself of Christianity rests ultimately upon probable evidence, his principle will relieve him from many difficulties which might otherwise be very disturbing : for relations which may repose on doubtful grounds as matter of history, and, as history, be incapable of being ascertained or verified, may yet be equally suggestive of true ideas with facts absolutely certain. The spiritual significance is the same of the transfiguration, of opening blind eyes, of causing the tongue of the stammerer to speak plainly, of feeding multitudes with bread in the wilderness, of cleansing leprosy, whatever links may be deficient in the traditional record of particular events. Or let us suppose one to be uncertain whether our Lord were born of the house and lineage of David or of the tribe of Levi, and even to be driven to conclude that the genealogies of him have little historic value : nevertheless, in idea, Jesus is both Son of David and Son of Aaron ; both Prince of Peace and High Priest of our profession; as he is, under another idea, though not literally, “ without father and without mother." And he is none the less Son of David, Priest Aaronical, or Royal Priest Melchizedecan, in idea and spiritually, even if it be unproved whether he were any of them in historic fact. In like manner, it need not trouble us, if, in consistency, we should have to suppose both an ideal origin and to apply an ideal meaning to the birth in the city of David, and to other circumstances of the infancy. So, again, the incarnification of the divine Immanuel remains, although the angelic appearances which herald it in the narratives of the evangelists may be of ideal origin, according to the conceptions of former days. The ideologian may sometimes be thought sceptical, and be sceptical or doubtful as to the historical value of related facts : but the historical value is not always to him the most important, - frequently it is quite secondary; and, consequently, discrepancies in narratives, scientific difficulties, defects in evidence, do not disturb him as they do the literalist.
Moreover, the same principle is capable of application to some of those inferences which have been the source, according to different theologies, of much controversial acrimony and of wide ecclesiastical separations, such as those which have been drawn from the institution of the sacraments. Some, for instance, cannot conceive a presence of Jesus Christ in his institution of the Lord's Supper, unless it be a corporeal one; nor a spiritual influence upon the moral nature of man to be connected with baptism, unless it be be supernatural, quasi-mechanical, effecting a psychical change then and there. But within these concrete conceptions there lie hid the truer ideas of the virtual
presence of the Lord Jesus everywhere that he is preached, remembered, and represented ; and of the continual force of his spirit in his words, and especially in the ordinance which indicates the separation of the Christian from the world.
The same may be said of the concrete conceptions of an hierarchy described by its material form and descent; also of millenarian expectations of a personal reign of the saints with Jesus upon earth, and of the many embodiments in which from age to age has reappeared the vision of a New Jerusalem shining with mundane glory here below. These gross conceptions, as they seem to some, may be necessary to others, as approximations to true ideas. So, looking for redemption in Israel was a looking for a very different redemption, with most of the Jewish people, from that which Jesus really came to operate ; yet it was the only expectation which they could form, and was the shadow to them of a great reality.
Lo, the poor Indian, whose untutored mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind." Even to the Hebrew Psalmist, he comes flying upon the wings of the wind; and only to the higher prophet is he not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in “ the still small voice." Not the same thoughts — very far from the same thoughts — pass through the minds of the more and the less instructed on contemplating the same face of the natural world. In like manner are the thoughts of men various, in form at least, if not in substance, when they read the same Scripture histories and use the same Scripture