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It is interesting to observe how far back most of the supposed conflicts actually lie. There is no warfare now; and, while our fathers one or two generations ago felt that they must fly to the defense of religion against the attacks of science, no man wastes his strength doing that to-day. That period has passed. The trouble is that some good people do not know it, and are just fond enough of a bit of a tussle to keep up the fighting in the mountain-passes while out in the plain the main armies have laid down their arms and are busy tilling the soil.

characters on these studs set him musing for a time; they

The period of conflict is past, partly because we are learning to distinguish between the Bible as it really is and certain long-established ideas about the Bible which came from other sources and have become attached to it until it seemed to sustain them. The proper doctrine of evolution is entirely compatible with the Bible. The great Dr. Hodge declared that the consistent Darwinian must be an atheist. For that matter, Shelley defended himself by saying that, of course, "the consistent Newtonian must necessarily be an atheist." But fifty years have made great changes in the doctrine of evolution, and the old scare has been over for some time. Newton is honored in the church quite as much as in the university, and Darwin is not a name to frighten anybody. Understanding evolution better and knowing the Bible better, the two do not jangle out of tune so badly but that harmony is promised.

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The doctrine of the antiquity of the world is entirely compatible with the Bible, though it is not compatible with the dates which Archbishop Ussher, in the time of King James, put at the head of the columns. That is so with other scientific theories. Any one who has read much of history has attended the obsequies of so many theories in the realm of science that he ought to know that he is wasting his strength in trying to bring about a constant reconciliation between scientific and religious theories. It is his part to keep an open mind in assurance of the unity of truth, an assurance that there is no fact which can possibly come to light and no true theory of facts which can possibly be formed which does not serve the interest of the truth, which the Bible also presents. The Bible does not concern itself with all departments of knowledge. So far as mistakes have been made on the side of those who believe it, they have issued from forgetting that fact more than from any other one cause.

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On the other hand, it has sometimes occurred that believers in the Bible have been quite too eager to accommodate themselves to purely passing phases of objection to it. The matter mentioned a moment ago, the excision of the supernatural, is a case in point. The easy and glib way in which some have sought to get around difficulties, by talking in large terms about the progressiveness of the revelation, as though the progress were from error to truth, instead of from half light to full light, is another illustration. The nimble way in which we have turned what is given as history into fiction, and allowed imagination to roam through the Bible, is another illustration. One of our later writers tells the story of Jonah, and says it sounds like fiction; why not call it fiction? Another tells the story of the exodus from Egypt, and says it sounds like fiction; why not call it fiction? Well, certainly the objection is not to the presence of fiction in the Bible. It is there, openly, confessedly, unashamed. Fiction can be used with great profit in teaching religious truth. But fiction may not masquerade in the guise of history, if men are to be led by it or mastered by it. If the way to be rid of difficulties in a narrative is to turn it into pious fiction, there are other instances where it might be used for relief in emergencies. The story of the crucifixion of Christ can be told so that it sounds like fiction; why not call it fiction? Certainly the story of the conversion of Paul can be made to sound like fiction; why not call it fiction? And there is hardly any bit of narrative that can be made to sound so like fiction as the landing of the Pilgrims; why not call that fiction? It is the easy way out; the difficulties are all gone like Alice's cat, and there is left only the broad smile of some moral lesson to be learned from the fiction. It is not, however, the courageous nor the perfectly square way out. Violence has to be done to the plain narrative; historical statement has to be made only a mask. And the only reason for it is that there are difficulties not yet cleared. As for the characters involved, Charles Reade, the novelist, calling himself "a veteran writer of fiction," declares that the explanation of these characters, Jonah being one of them, by invention is incredible and absurd: "Such a man [as himself] knows the artifices and the elements of art. Here the artifices are absent, and the elements surpassed." It is not uncommon for one who has found this easy way out of difficulties to declare with a wave of his hand, that everybody now knows that this or that book in the Bible is fiction, when, as a matter of fact, that is not at all an admitted opinion. The Bible will never gain its place and retain its authority while those who believe in it are spineless and topple over at the first touch of some one's objection. It could not be a great Book; it could not serve the purposes of a race if it presented no problems of understanding and of belief, and all short and easy methods of getting rid of those problems are certain to leave important elements of them out of sight.

All this means that the changes of these times rather present additional reason for a renewed hold on the Bible. It presents what the times peculiarly need. Instead of making the influence of the Bible impossible, these changes make the need for the Bible the greater and give it greater opportunity.

Add three notable points at which these times feel and still need the influence of the Bible. First, they have and still need its literary influence. So far as its ideas and forces and words are interwoven in the great literature of the past, it is essential still to the understanding of that literature. It remains true that English literature, certainly of the past and also of the present, cannot be understood without knowledge of the Bible. The Yale professor of literature, quoted so often, says: "It would be worth while to read the Bible carefully and repeatedly, if only as a key to modern culture, for to those who are unfamiliar with its teachings and its diction all that is best in English literature of the present century is as a sealed book."

From time to time there occur painful reminders of the fact that men supposed to know literature do not understand it because they are not familiar with the Bible. Some years ago a college president tested a class of thirty-four men with a score of extracts from Tennyson, each of which contained a Scriptural allusion, none of them obscure. The replies were suggestive and quite appalling. Tennyson wrote, in the "Supposed Confessions":

"My sin was a thorn among the thorns that girt Thy brow."

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