Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/782

This page has been validated.

the other side not quote any of the various sayings of Jesus, recorded in the Gospels, which directly bear on the question—sometimes, apparently, in opposite directions?

So, if I am asked to call myself an "infidel," I reply, To what doctrine do you ask me to be faithful? Is it that contained in the Nicene and the Athanasian Creeds? My firm belief is that the Nazarenes, say of the year 40, headed by James, would have stopped their ears and thought worthy of stoning the audacious man who propounded it to them. Is it contained in the so-called Apostles' Creed? I am pretty sure that even that would have created a recalcitrant commotion at Pella in the year 70, among the Nazarenes of Jerusalem, who had fled from the soldiers of Titus. And yet if the unadulterated tradition of the teachings of "the Nazarene" were to be found anywhere, it surely should have been amid those not very aged disciples who may have heard them as they were delivered.

Therefore, however sorry I may be to be unable to demonstrate that, if necessary, I should not be afraid to call myself an "infidel," I can not do it, even to gratify the Bishop of Peterborough and Dr. Wace. And I would appeal to the bishop, whose native sense of humor is not the least marked of his many excellent gifts and virtues, whether asking a man to call himself an "infidel" is not rather a droll request. "Infidel" is a term of reproach, which Christians and Mohammedans, in their modesty, agree to apply to those who differ from them. If he had only thought of it. Dr. Wace might have used the term "miscreant," which, with the same etymological signification, has the advantage of being still more "unpleasant" to the persons to whom it is applied. But, in the name of all that is Hibernian, I ask the Bishop of Peterborough why should a man be expected to call himself a "miscreant" or an "infidel"? That St. Patrick "had two birthdays because he was a twin" is a reasonable and intelligible utterance beside that of the man who should declare himself to be an infidel on the ground of denying his own belief. It may be logically, if not ethically, defensible that a Christian should call a Mohammedan an infidel, and vice versa; but, on Dr. Wace's principles, both ought to call themselves infidels, because each applies that term to the other.

Now I am afraid that all the Mohammedan world would agree in reciprocating that appellation to Dr. Wace himself. I once visited the Hazar Mosque, the great university of Mohammedanism, in Cairo, in ignorance of the fact that I was unprovided with proper authority. A swarm of angry undergraduates, as I suppose I ought to call them, came buzzing about me and my guide; and, if I had known Arabic, I suspect that "dog of an infidel" would have been by no means the most "unpleasant" of the