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Hereditary Genius
257
DIVINES.
I AM now about to push. my statistical survey into regions where
precise inquiries seldom penetrate, and are not very generally
welcomed. There is commonly so much vagueness of expression on
the part of religious writers, that I am unable to determine what they
really mean when they speak of topics that directly bear on my
present inquiry. I cannot guess how far their expressions are intended
to be understood metaphorically, or in some other way to be clothed
with a different meaning to what is imposed by the grammatical rules
and plain meaning of language. The expressions to which I refer are
those which assert the fertility of marriages and the establishment of
families to be largely dependent upon godliness.¹ I may even take a
much wider range, and include those other expressions which assert
that material well-being generally is influenced by the same cause.²
I do not propose to occupy myself with criticising the interpretation
of these or similar passages, or by endeavouring to show how they
may be made to accord with fact; it is the business of theologians to
do these things. What I undertake is simply to investigate whether or
no the assertions they contain, according to their prima facie
interpretation, are or are not in accordance with statistical
                                                
1
For example—as to fertility, Ps. cxxviii. 1, 3, 5; cxiii. 8; and as to founding families,
xxiv. n, 12.
2
For example—as to general prosperity, Ps. i. 4; as to longevity, xxxiv. 12—14; and
as to health, xci. 3, 6, 10.
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