The Divine Origin Of The Religion Of The Bible; Or, How A Layman Thought Out His Evidences -- By: James Monroe

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 053:210 (Apr 1896)
Article: The Divine Origin Of The Religion Of The Bible; Or, How A Layman Thought Out His Evidences
Author: James Monroe

The Divine Origin Of The Religion Of The Bible; Or, How A Layman Thought Out His Evidences

James Monroe


When still a student in Oberlin College, I read, for the first time and with enthusiasm, Lord Macaulay’s brilliant and instructive essay upon John Dryden. I was specially impressed with one thought—a thought then new to me and probably much less familiar to readers generally than it now is. I quote several sentences which, though not wholly consecutive, furnish a fairly clear presentation of his theory. In speaking of those who have made notable contributions to the progress of society, the distinguished writer says: —

“Those who have read history with discrimination know the fallacy of those panegyrics and invectives which represent individuals as effecting great moral and intellectual revolutions, subverting established systems and imprinting a new character on their age. The difference between one man and another is by no means so great as the superstitious crowd supposes… . For, in fact, it is the age that forms the man, not the man that forms the age. Great minds do indeed react upon the society which has made them what they are, but

they only pay with interest what they have received… . It was long disputed whether the honor of inventing the method of Fluxions belonged to Newton or to Leibnitz. It is now generally allowed that these great men made the same discovery at the same time. Mathematical science, indeed, had then reached such a point that, if neither of them had ever existed, the principle must inevitably have occurred to some one within a few years… . We are inclined to think that, with respect to every great addition which has been made to the stock of human knowledge, the case has been similar; that, without Copernicus, we should have been Copernicans; that, without Columbus, America would have been discovered; that, without Locke, we should have possessed a just theory of human ideas. Society has indeed its great men and its little men, as the earth has its mountains and its valleys. But the inequalities of intellect, like the inequalities of the surface of our globe, bear so small a proportion to the mass, that, in calculating its great revolutions, they may be safely neglected. The sun illuminates the hills while it is still below the horizon; and truth is discovered by the highest minds a little before it becomes manifest to the multitude. This is the extent of their superiority. They are the first to catch and reflect a light which, without their assistance, must, in a short time, be visible to those who now lie far beneath them.”

So far Lord Macaulay. Putting now his thought into a form which is better suited to my prese...

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