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But there is another class of evidence relied upon by Christians, wherewith they seek to build up an impassable barrier between their sacred books and the dangerous uncanonical Scriptures, namely, the intrinsic difference between them, the dignity of the one, and the puerility of the other. Of the uncanonical Gospels Dr. Ellicott writes: "Their real demerits, their mendacities, their absurdities, their coarseness, the barbarities of their style, and the inconsequence of their narratives, have never been excused or condoned" ("Cambridge Essays," for 1856, p. 153, as quoted in introduction of "The Apocryphal Gospels," by B.H. Cowper, p. x. Ed. 1867). "We know before we read them that they are weak, silly, and profitless that they are despicable monuments even of religious fiction" (Ibid, p. xlvii). How far are such harsh expressions consonant with fact? It is true that many of the tales related are absurd, but are they more absurd than the tales related in the canonical Gospels? One story, repeated with variations, runs as follows: "This child Jesus, being five years old, was playing at the crossing of a stream, and he collected the running waters into pools, and immediately made them pure, and by his word alone he commanded them. And having made some soft clay, he fashioned out of it twelve sparrows; and it was the Sabbath when he did these things. And there were also many other children playing with him. And a certain Jew, seeing what Jesus did, playing on the Sabbath, went immediately and said to Joseph, his father, Behold, thy child is at the water-course, and hath taken clay and formed twelve birds, and hath profaned the Sabbath. And Joseph came to the place, and when he saw him, he cried unto him, saying, Why art thou doing these things on the Sabbath, which it is not lawful to do? And Jesus clapped his hands, and cried unto the sparrows, and said to them, Go away; and the sparrows flew up and departed, making a noise. And the Jews who saw it were astonished, and went and told their leaders what they had seen Jesus do" ("Gospel of Thomas: Apocryphal Gospels," B.H. Cowper, pp. 130, 131). Making the water pure by a word is no more absurd than turning water into wine (John ii. 1-11); or than sending an angel to trouble it, and thereby making it health-giving (John v. 2-4); or than casting a tree into bitter waters, and making them sweet (Ex. xv. 25). The fashioning of twelve sparrows out of soft clay is not stranger than making a woman out of a man's rib (Gen. ii. 21); neither is it more, or nearly so, curious as making clay with spittle, and plastering it on a blind man's eyes in order to make him see (John ix. 6); nay, arguing