Philip Mauro (1859-1952)
As far as twentieth century Christian figures are concerned, Philip Mauro stands out as one of the most captivating. After coming to a saving knowledge of the Lord in 1903, at the age of forty five, Mauro, a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States and one of the foremost patent lawyers of his day, began his "Testimony" of what was to him the most important event in his life.
His repeated successes in courts of law, coupled with his legal briefs, could not but gain recognition, for they were "models of accuracy, conciseness, and literary finish." As such, they were "frequently used by judges in the text of their decisions." Perhaps one of the most important occasions where his legal work was requisitioned was in connection with the famous Tennessee-Scopes trial in 1925. The brief or argument which Bryan used, and thereby won the case, was prepared by Philip Mauro.
His early twentieth century was a period of great expansion for many errors, such as Dispensationalism and Anglo Israelism. Rising to the forefront of Christianity's great struggle against these foes, he applied the preparation God had given him, and scored great victories for sound doctrine. As a result of his body of work, the following generations have been able to pick up weapons at the spot where he fell and continue the struggle for Truth, as it is to this day.
The very fact that a materialistic, scientific lawyer of such high reputation as Mr. Mauro had become such an earnest Christian and such an able advocate of Christianity, both by his pen and public addresses, caused him to be sought for increasingly as a speaker at Bible conferences and in Christian circles generally.
Perhaps one of the most important occasions where his legal help was requisitioned was in connection with the famous Tennessee-Scopes trial in 1925.
True, William Jennings Bryan, the "silver-tongued" orator, thrice Democratic nominee for President of the United States, devout Christian and popular Bible teacher, was retained by the State of Tennessee to defend its law prohibiting the teaching of evolution in its public schools. The brief or argument which Bryan used, however, and thereby won the case, was prepared by Philip Mauro. This was a great victory inasmuch as the defense attorney was none other than Clarence Darrow, the brilliant and successful criminal lawyer.
And if others did not forget Mauro's legal ability, neither did he forget his former business and legal associates. These he had faithfully and personally witnessed to after his conversion and fervently prayed that they, as he had been, might be brought out of darkness into light. One of the most famous of these was Thomas A. Edison.
As successful patent counsel for the Columbia Phonograph Company, Philip Mauro had repeated encounters with this wizard, who was regarded as "one of the company's most formidable antagonists," in the extensive litigation involving patents. Despite the fact that Mr. Mauro was Edison's legal opponent and invariably his victor, Edison evidently retained his respect for him personally as well as for his intellect, for when in 1926 Mr. Mauro wrote Edison, "giving him a personal testimony as to the peace of mind and conscience that had come to him through trusting in Jesus Christ, the result was an invitation to visit Mr. Edison at his laboratory in Orange, New Jersey." When the two met on October 29, 1926, they had not seen each other for about twenty years.
The story of their interview is best told be Mr. Mauro himself as printed in The Last Hour, edited and published by himself. "Mr. Edison is now in his eightieth year; but his mind is evidently as keen as ever. All his life his attitude regarding things not seen- God, the human soul, life hereafter, etc.- has been severely skeptical. But now, in the sunset of his days, he has undertaken the investigation of those great matters, with a desire to know the truth, but with insistence upon PROOF. 'I want FACTS,' was the way he expressed the attitude of his mind. Owing to Mr. Edison's deafness, it was difficult for the editor to speak to him. But it was better so; and the promise was given that he would read attentively a short letter on the matter discussed." This Mr. Mauro wrote "the day following the interview."
"Dear Mr. Edison,
"It was a real pleasure to see you and hear your voice again. Moreover, the matters touched upon in our conversation of yesterday gave me much to think about.
"You want facts. So do I. A reasonable man's belief should rest upon nothing less substantial than well-attested facts. So here is a fact for you:
"God (whom you reverently call "the Supreme Intelligence") loves you and wants your love in return. My visit to you and this letter are evidence of it, though, of course, not sufficient to prove to your satisfaction either that God is, or that He cares for Thomas Edison. But wait.
"Another fact: God is Light.
"How do I know? I know only in the way that light can be known- by experience. For the nature of light is such that it admits of being known only in the way of experimental knowledge. I am saying this to the man who has had more to do with the development of artificial light than any other who ever lived in this dark world, and who probably knows more about light, in a practical way, than any other. How then could the existence and the nature of light be demonstrated to one who had been shut up all his life in a dark cell? It could be done only in some way such as by opening a window; and then the light would enter, and prove itself.
"This I say, because you are seeking a solution of the mystery of life and the soul by the way of analogies form nature. Very good. Much truth can be got in that way; as Butler, in his famous Analogy has abundantly shown. I hope you will continue your investigation, and in your customary thorough-going fashion; for it is the most important you ever undertook. And in this connection I call you attention to a clear and pertinent analogy; the point of which is that the proof you demand can be had only by experiment. For myself, I know that God is Light, and that He sheds light in the heart that is opened to Him, because I put the matter to the test of experience twenty-three years ago, and have enjoyed the consciousness of spiritual light ever since. Moreover, my experience is that of millions of others.
"Let me remind you that light will not force its way into a place that is tightly closed; but that, if only a tiny chink be opened, in it comes, proving itself.
"Likewise Christ, who is 'the true Light,' does not force Himself into the chambers of the soul against the human will. For the nature of the matter is such that, like the smell of a violet, the color of a sunset, or the taste of honey, it can only be known by experiment. The 'Good Book' that you asked me not to quote, says, 'Come and see,' 'Taste and see.' Is not that strictly scientific?
"You have been truly doing God's work in helping to enlighten the darkness of nature. But there is a spiritual darkness too. So follow the analogy, and it will lead you straight to the truth, and to the solution of the whole mystery of human existence.
"With sincere affection and respect,
(Signed) Philip Mauro."