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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/355

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CHRISTIANITY AND AGNOSTICISM.

as St. Mark's. As St. John says at the end of his Gospel, "There are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written." So St. John, like St. Mark, had to make his selection, and selection involves omission.

But, after all, I venture to ask whether anything can be more preposterous than this supposition that because a certain tradition is the oldest authority, therefore every other authority is discredited? Boswell writes a life of Johnson; therefore every record of Johnson's acts or words which is not in Boswell is to be suspected. Carlyle writes a life of Sterling first, and Archdeacon Hare writes one afterward; therefore nothing in the archdeacon's life is to be trusted which was not also in Carlyle's. What seems to me so astonishing about Prof. Huxley's articles is not the wildness of their conclusions, but the rottenness of their ratiocination. To take another instance:

Luke either knew the collection of loosely connected and aphoristic utterances which appear under the name of the "Sermon on the Mount" in "Matthew," or he did not. If he did not, he must have been ignorant of the existence of such a document as our canonical "Matthew," a fact which does not make for the genuineness or the authority of that book. If he did, he has shown that he does not care for its authority on a matter of fact of no small importance; and that does not permit us to conceive that he believed the first Gospel to be the work of an authority to whom he ought to defer, let alone that of an apostolic eye-witness.

I pass by the description of the Sermon on the Mount as a "collection of loosely connected utterances," though it is a kind of begging of a very important question. But supposing St. Luke to have been ignorant of the existence of St. Matthew's Gospel, how does this reflect on the genuineness of that book unless we know, as no one does, that St. Matthew's Gospel was written before St. Luke's, and sufficiently long before it to have become known to him? Or, if he did know it, where is the disrespect to its authority in his having given for his own purposes an abridgment of that which St. Matthew gave more fully? Prof. Huxley might almost seem dominated by the mechanical theory of inspiration which he denounces in his antagonists. He writes as if there were something absolutely sacred, neither to be altered nor added to, in the mere words of some old authority of which he conceives himself to be in possession. Dr. Abbott, with admirable labor, has had printed for him, in clear type, the words or bits of words which are common to the first three Gospels, and he seems immediately to adopt the anathema of the book of Revelation, and to proclaim to every man, evangelists and apostles included, "if any man shall add unto these things, . . . and if any man shall take away from the words" of this "common tradition" of Dr.