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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/350

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

is recorded in St. Matthew. He notices, for instance, the combined similarity and difference between St. Matthew's Sermon on the Mount and St. Luke's so-called "Sermon on the Plain" and then he adds:

I thought that all fairly attentive and intelligent students of the Gospels, to say nothing of theologians of reputation, knew these things. But how can any one who does know them have the conscience to ask whether there is "any reasonable doubt" that the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Jesus of Nazareth?

It is a pity that Prof. Huxley seems as incapable of accuracy in his quotations of an opponent's words as in his references to the authorities to whom he appeals. I did not ask "whether there is any reasonable doubt that the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Jesus of Nazareth," and I expressly observed, in the article to which Prof. Huxley is replying, that "Prof. Reuss thinks, as many good critics have thought, that the Sermon on the Mount combines various distinct utterances of our Lord." What I did ask, in words which Prof. Huxley quotes, and therefore had before his eyes, was "whether there is any reasonable doubt that the Lord's Prayer and the Sermon on the Mount afford a true account of our Lord's essential belief and cardinal teaching." That is an absolutely distinct question from the one which Prof. Huxley dissects, and a confusion of the two is peculiarly inexcusable in a person who holds that purely human view of the Gospel narratives which he represents. If a long report of a speech appears in the "Times" and a shortened report appears in the "Standard," every one knows that we are none the less made acquainted—perhaps made still better acquainted—with the essential purport and cardinal meaning of the speaker. On the supposition, similarly, that St. Matthew and St. Luke are simply giving two distinct accounts of the same address, with such omissions and variations of order as suited the purposes of their respective narratives, we are in at least as good a position for knowing what was the main burden of the address as if we had only one account, and perhaps in a better position, as we see what were the points which both reporters deemed essential. As Prof. Huxley himself observes, we have reports of speeches in ancient historians which are certainly not in the very words of the speakers; yet no one doubts that we know the main purport of the speeches of Pericles which Thucydides records.

This attempt, therefore, to answer my appeal to the substance of the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is a palpable evasion, and it is aggravated by the manner in which Prof. Huxley quotes a high German authority in support of his contention. I am much obliged to him for appealing to Holtzmann; for, though Holtzmann's own conclusions respecting the books of the New