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given as carefully and reverently as in any ordinary Church school. It appears that no single school has asked to be secularised, and not a score of children out of some 30,000 have been withdrawn.
Let us consider what must be the effect of this. No doubt Bible teaching on a large scale, unconnected with any religious body, is a new experiment, for which the past history of Christianity gives us no precedent. No doubt it is an experiment which will tell on the future of the Church and other religious denominations, by representing a religion independent of their lines of demarcation No doubt it cannot promise a religious teaching of the same definiteness, vividness, and authority as that of a denominational school. It can at most claim to be, not the best, but only the best possible under our actual circumstances. The choice is virtually between it and a secular system. Still the effect will clearly be that it will reflect the religious faith of the great mass of Englishmen through the free action of school teachers chosen from every section and class. A natural selection’ will bring out whatever is common, and practically eliminate what is peculiar. Now is it not certainly true that in the teaching given from the Bible to school children, the vast mass of English Christians are in great degree at one—that there is, in the true sense of the word, a large substratum which is
undenominational, although it cannot be taken out and exhibited in a separate form, in a kind of nineteenth century creed? If this is true, then there will be a large and solid foundation of religious teaching, which our schools can give, and on which the various denominations may build their superstructure, if they will.
To secularise the Board schools would be at the present moment an absolute oppression upon the people of England, which would drive them into the arms of the denominational schools. To attempt what, we understand, is to be attempted at Birmingham-to devote the school hours and the school teachers to secular instruction, and after school to open the doors to irresponsible teachers of all denominations, seems a happy device for uniting the smallest amount of religious tone and teaching with the largest exhibition of sectarian differences, and for setting in direct opposition the school teachers whose mouths are closed on religion, and the other teachers who are to open theirs on that subject alone. But to adopt the plan, which most of the Boards have taken up-whatever its effect on ecclesiastical interests --- will tend to give as great a power as ever to a broad, simple, and really unsectarian religion. If we thought otherwise, we should hold all other advantages to be dearly bought.
We have thus endeavoured to examine' by the light of experience the actual results of the Act of 1870. That these results are so perfect as to prevent all necessity and all desire of further progress, it would be absurd to contend; that the great good actually effected has been bought at the price of some losses, we frankly confess. But, except in Utopia, men must be content with a balance of results; and against both the party of reaction, and the party of headlong innovation, we assert fearlessly that the Act has proved its necessity, and that it is every day showing more distinctly its very effective power for good. We claim for its author public gratitude; we claim for his work time, scope, and opportunity.
ART, IX.-1. Les Miracles de La Salette et de Lourdes. Par
le Docteur BARBASTE. Paris : 1873. 2. Examen Médical des Miracles de Lourdes. Par le Docteur
D. DIDAY. Paris : 1873. 3. Life of Blessed Margaret Mary: with some dccount of the
Devotion to the Sacred Heart. By the Rev. GEORGE
TICKELL, of the Society of Jesus. London : 1869. 4. The Divine Glory of the Sacred Heart.
By HENRY EDWARD, Archbishop of Westminster. London : 1873. SE EVERAL years ago we brought to the notice of our
readers the religious extravagances, then as yet novelties, which were in course of performance in France at the · Holy - Mountain of La Salette.'* We described the famous appearance of the Blessed Virgin to the two children Maximin and Mélanie; the words of prophetic warning which she was pleased to utter and they were commissioned to communicate; and, moreover, the untoward controversy which the phenomenon had excited among the clergy and pious laity, of Grenoble, and the gradual pressure under which—as usual in such cases---the sceptical element had given way before the credulous. Miracles discarded of course from the beginning by the faithless half of France, and only received with hesitation or ill-concealed reluctance by most of the faithful, rapidly made their way into the popular creed through the influence of partisanship. Practically, we said, in the
Edin. Review, vol. cvi. p. 4.
· Manuals of Devotion before us, and by the authority of * Romish priests and bishops, the worship of our Lady of • Salette is raised to the height of the most elevated offices of
religion. Nor can we doubt that the effect of this depraved ‘propensity for spurious miracles and sham revelations is
deeply injurious to the sanctity of that faith in which all • Christians have a common interest.'
Scarcely had the excitement provoked by the events of La Salette begun to subside, when the supernaturalist party dealt. a new and still heavier blow to their adversaries by what was called the · Miracle of Lourdes.' That wild, striking spot, with its historical old castle, which occupies the outlet, into the plains of Gascony, of a savage gorge leading from the Pyrenees, became the scene of a new apparition of the Virgin. Bernadette Soubirous, a poor girl of fourteen, while picking up dry wood at a spot in the neighbourhood, beheld a beautiful lady, robed in white with a blue
sash. The vision was several times repeated. On one occasion, answering the reiterated questions of the child, the celestial visitor condescended to say to her, “I am the Immaculate Conception. On another, she invited the girl to drink at a fountain. The child, perceiving no fountain, scraped away some earth with her hands. A little water filtered through the orifice. It increased gradually in volume, became perfectly clear, and now yields 100,000 litres in twenty-four hours; supplying to the faithful we know not how many millions of bottles, which are in large demand for the
purpose of effecting supernatural cures. In 1862 the Bishop of Tarbes, “pronouncing judgment on the apparition which has shown itself in the grotto at Lourdes,' declared that “the Immaculate Mary, Mother of God, has really * appeared to Bernadette Soubirous, on the 11th of February, * 1858, and following days, eighteen times in all; that this
apparition assumes all the characteristics of truth; and that • the faithful are authorised (sont fondés) to believe it certain.' In the same mandement the Bishop authorises, in his diocese, the worship * (culte) of Notre Dame de Lourdes; and—last, not least-announcing his intention to erect a sanctuary over the grotto, appeals to the liberality of the priesthood and the faithful in France and abroad. Within a very limited space of time' (so we are informed by M. le Docteur Barbaste, a
We course, aware of the modified meaning of the word * culte' in these cases, and of the difference between Latria and Dulia; but our Protestant tongue is so poor in language fit to express these distinctions, that we must be excused for employing the popular and obvious English expression to avoid circumlocution.
very zealous believer), the devotion of Lourdes has attracted more than 100,000 visitors. On the 6th of October' (the day of the famous pilgrimage so largely advertised in our newspapers), there were counted among these visitors eight • bishops and sixteen deputies.'
Of course the famous new devotion' has not established itself without the usual amount of not very edifying contro
versy between the credulous and incredulous ; chietly repre'sented by priests on one side, doctors on the other, and journalists on both. One incident in the dispute is of rather a comical nature, and is thus reported by Dr. Barbaste. It appears that M. le Docteur Voisin, of the Hospice de la Salpétrière at Paris, had made the following declaration at & medical conference: That the miracle of Lourdes has been affirmed on the credit of a child subject to hallucinations, ' who has since been kept shut up in the Ursuline convent at
Nevers.' A certain M. Artus takes fire at this audacious assertion, and proposes a resort to a test of truth which we have not often seen applied in religious polemics. 'I have 'given,' he says, ' a challenge to the public on the subject of • the events at Lourdes; and have offered to bet a minimum sum of 10,000 francs, deposited by me with M. Turquet, notary at Paris, against anyone who should pretend to • demonstrate the falsehood of any two, only, of the miracles (recounted by M. Henri Laserre, in his book entitled “ Notre 6" Dame de Lourdes.” And I have accepted for judges the
most eminent members of the Institute. No one, according to M. Barbaste, has taken up the glove; and he triumphs accordingly. It is possible the doctors, with professional caution, recognised the proverbial difficulty of winning a wager by proving a negative.
Whatever Dr. Barbaste's tests of the efficacy of physical cures may be, his definition of supernatural manifestations is at all events comprehensive enough. Sensorial hallucination, he tells us, “may exist without any trace of madness. Those
affected by it reason justly on all points, even on that which * affects them, and of which they recognise the falsehood. Hal• lucination is often the privilege of les natures d'élite; it forms
part of the attendance on genius. To see things which do • not exist, to see imaginary beings, is the characteristic of a • deranged understanding. "But to see supernatural beings and
converse with them, does not, in my view, constitute madness. . It would be necessary, first to prove that a supernatural
order of beings does not exist, and (or ?] that no communica* tion is possible between human beings and that order.'
Reasoning which of course establishes, incontrovertibly, that no one can have a right to pronounce anyone else mad for seeing things not seen to himself, however extravagantly absurd such visions may be, inasmuch as no one can possibly disprove their possibility. As Dr. Johnson was reported, in Peter Pindar's clever parody, to have said, in coarser language than we can reproduce, of witches, ‘nought proves their nonexistence.' To all this—and it does in truth constitute the staple of the whole argument in favour of modern supernatural manifestations, from the miracles of La Salette down to table-rapping, which are instilled into our capacity for belief at the present day—the only possible answer is to be silent and leave common sense to achieve its slow victory. •E pur
si muove.' There are those who believe, with Buckle and Lecky, that a violent recrudescence, so to speak, of any particular superstitious belief, and a sudden and striking multiplication of the popular evidence in favour of it, are signs that it is on the eve of extinction. Never were so many notorious witches, in judicial and clerical opinion, as in the middle of the seventeenth century; fifty years later there was not one left. In like manner, thinkers of this rationalistic turn of mind believe that the mania for recent miracles, prophecies, and the pilgrimages and observances consequent thereupon, having now attained its extreme of paroxysm, will melt away suddeniy, not gradually, and leave not a trace behind. We cannot look so far into the future as to form a judgment on such probabilities. All we can say is, that if the excessive multiplication of prodigies does presage their disappearance, then those of the Church of Rome are certainly foredoomed. The devotions' of La Salette and Lourdes are only specimens on a large scale of what is now proceeding and developing in hundreds of less celebrated sanctuaries all over France, and, though in a less conspicuous degree, in Western Germany, Belgium, and wherever priesthood is powerful and controversy at the same time vehement. There is a general sameness about the particulars of these multiplied manifestations which renders it difficult to select any characteristic features. But two things may be pretty equally predicated of all. They abound in prophetic revelations and in miraculous cures; but the revelations never disclose anything which seems to require revelation to attest it; the cures are always confined to the classes of diseases in which deception is easy or natural causes easily adducible, or else they are of so stupendous an order as to defy criticism. We have before us a list of miracles' obtained by the intercession of Notre Dame des Lumières, a