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[210] and that miracles are happening all the time, Norton reiterates that miracles are suspensions of the course of nature, are historical, and are evidence of the divine mission of Christ. George Ripley's answer to Norton's Discourse led to a controversy which belongs to the history of the Transcendental movement.1

Norton's opposition to intuitionalism appears throughout his works. His Views of Calvinism scores the proposition (which had found support even at Andover Seminary) that ‘The truths of Christianity have always been addressed to the intuitive perceptions of the common mind.’ Norton points out the inconsistency between the Calvinist doctrine that the common mind is naturally so depraved as to be unable to perceive religious truth, and the new Andover doctrine, adopted from Transcendentalism, that the common mind has absolute intuitions of religious truth. He thus hits out in opposite directions, against both the orthodox and the Transcendentalists, but on the same ground, namely, his rejection of intuitions. The violence of this rejection, indeed, carried him too far; so that when in the warmth of controversy he rejected all but the historical or external evidences of Christianity, he laid himself open to George Ripley's charge of narrowness.

From the very first, however, for example in his Defence of liberal Christianity (1812), Norton had been consistent in pleading for the historical and linguistic interpretation of the Bible, and the consideration of dogma less as prescribed by authority than as developed by history. His final contributions to scholarship, the Evidences of the genuineness of the Gospels (1837-44), and the Translation of the Gospels and Internal evidences of the genuineness of the Gospels (both published posthumously in 1855), take the same line. Even by ‘internal evidences’ Norton does not mean evidences of spiritual truth. He is concerned not with establishing Christianity but with the genuineness of certain documents; thus his remarks are limited generally to matters of historical and linguistic exegesis and logical probability. Least of all does he consider what might by some be defined as internal evidence, the adaptability of Christianity to the character of man, or the intuition that Christianity is true.

1 See Book II, Chap. VII.

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