4 ADAMITES AND PREADAMITES.
logical principles. In Europe the Bible was the source and basis of all belief. Whatever the ecclesiastical authorities had accepted and sanctioned was held to be taught by the Bible. Whatever the ecclesiastical authorities did not understand the Bible to teach was denounced as heresy. The meaning of the Bible was extracted according to the canons of grammar. There are doctors high in authority amongst us at this day, who maintain that grammatical structure and Hebrew usage are sufficient to light the way to the meaning of the darkest passages of revelation. I suppose a knowledge of Hebrew history and usages is admitted to shed its light upon interpretation, because the text is generally occupied with Jewish affairs. But the inspired writers have sometimes plunged into the midst of the profound and mysterious facts of science ; why not, then, summon all our knowledge to the task of evoking the meaning of the text? I maintain, against the narrow and pernicious dogma that the Bible is sufficient everywhere to interpret itself, that, on the contrary, it was ordained to be interpreted under the concentrated light of all the learning which has been created by a God-given intelligence in man. I believe that the Bible was written for all time, and that its meaning is so deep and so rich that the accumulated learning of the latest generation of men will be unable to exhaust it.
Not so the contemporaries of Peyrerius. Even where two or more different meanings of the text were equally grammatical and legitimate, that was held to be the true meaning which accorded best with. current beliefs. An alternative interpretation, when once promulgated, was held to be divine truth, as absolute and authoritative as if no other interpretation were possible. Perhaps the well-established infallibility of the church had an interest in consistency. No matter if it concerned a fact of a purely scientific or secular character, the verdict was held as binding on the conscience as if the church had been in possession of all possible science.
According to the evidence till then available for the formation of opinion, it had been held that Adam was absolutely "the first being that could be called a man ; " and that he was created in the possession of a culture such as we call enlightened. From time immemorial, biblical scholars had understood this to be the