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gives a detailed account of all the miracles wrought in France by holy fountains, such as Lourdes and La Salette, and by holy images. . He gives them as represented by the priests and devotees in their own language. This list of contemporary miracles fills a considerable volume. They are authenticated by the highest church authority. No one reading these narratives can fail to see that fairies are believed in just as much as ever by the French peasantry; though they are baptised fairies. The queen of the fairies is the Virgin Mary. Precisely in the style of the old fairy tales, she appears to some poor little child wandering in the woods, and loads her with favours. But she is not to be trifled with, this potent fairy. Thus, in one instance a mother has a very ill child; the physicians
l confess they cannot save it. The mother takes her child to the fountain of Lourdes, sprinkles on it a little of that water which gushed up where the Virgin appeared, and lo ! the child is in perfect health. But mark the sequel. When the mother took her child home, she again trusted to the physicians, and again the child sank to the point of death. So she had to hurry off once more to the fountain, and the child was again well. The Virgin Mary is so jealous of medical science, that she must have caused her first benefit to cease, and the child to sink a second time, knowing that the mother would again call in a doctor, and again all skill would fail but that of her fountain ; and all in order that her triumph over science might be doubly marked !
There are hundreds of stories like this, and the swarms of pilgrims who visit such places show how genuine is the faith and
satisfaction they yield to the Catholic peasantry. The time was when Scotland was the great place for such healing fountains, yet it would be hard now to find any Scotchman who has the least interest in them. No Protestant desires any such fountains or fables. Once they were cherished as dearly in this country as in France. The Catholics pity the poor Protestants, who are without such supernatural aid and comfort when they are suffering. The Protestant laughs at it as all childish nonsense. Read them in the Bible—read how Naaman the leper was healed in a holy stream, or the miraculous cures wrought by the pool of Bethesda, where an angel appeared--and there it is divine revelation; so at least the Protestant says, but reveals that it has become to him a fairy tale, so often as he ridicules the Bethesdas of France. And these things have passed away, not merely because they were disproved, or rested on insufficient evidence, but because, under increasing knowledge, they ceased to be lovely or loveable; they paled before the grandeurs revealed by Kepler, Linnaeus, Newton. As the Scandinavian gods diminished into pixies and goblins, so shrank the Christian apparitions that followed them. They were no longer beautiful to eyes which had caught sight of things higher and holier.
Just as little satisfaction can a mind find in Protestant fairies and fairy tales when it has out-grown belief in their reality. They must pass away just as Catholic fables have passed, and it will then be seen that there was no genuine comfort in them, such as the truth of nature can give. They who fancy there is more warmth, support,
joy in the old superstitions, and would be glad to believe them, are they who have not yet given their faith where their intellects have pointed. They stand between the old temple and the new, shivering in the cold, without the joy of either. But Truth is as jealous as our fabulous Lady of Lourdes, and will by no means bestow her favours. on those who trust themselves still to the dogmatic doctors. We must give a living and whole heart to our faith whatever it may be, if we would get from it a warm heart in return. I do not say that all ought to become scientific in a technical sense ; but I do say that all should study to know more of nature. Every child should be brought up to know that there is a wonderland all around it. Each should know that every leaf has a story to tell, and every insect, and that a secret is written on every pebble. Every family should try to have a microscope to unlock the door which opens to rarer treasures than any “Sesame” of fäble. The heart and mind cannot be fed on dust; but only by that living thought under whose breath the dust floats up into golden galaxies.
There is one respect in which the believers in the fairytale religion may be our models; childish as may be their beliefs, they are alive. They will not rest upon a mere historic religion wrapped in fossil language, they will have their saints, virgin, spirits, angels all around them, and as many miracles as antiquity. Again the divine command comes to our age—“Seek not the living among the dead.” I respect all that fermentation going on in our own time and nation, which indicates a striving for a divine life here and now, even though it may show itself in the spiritualistic or the ritualistic real presence or other credulities. What that spirit craves is destined to be satisfied by deeper study of nature, which shall show every atom mystical,-instinct with law, life, purpose ; by profounder insight into the heart of man, revealing in it all marvels, all the past and present alive and at work in it, there calmly throned all vanished gods and angels,—there towering Iran, Sinai, and Olympus; there Eden, and the Bethlehem stars that lead with holy light to new Edens, illumining the universe with love and immortal hope.