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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/368

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348
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

that simply because the "Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah" by that learned scholar and able writer. Dr. Edersheim, whose recent loss is so much to be deplored, does not "translate" all the Gospel narratives into natural occurrences, therefore it is essentially bad history. The story has been the same throughout. The whole German critical school, from the venerable Karl Hase—and, much as I differ from his conclusions, I can not mention without a tribute of respect and gratitude the name of that great scholar, the veteran of all these controversies, whose "Leben Jesu," published several years before Strauss was heard of, is still, perhaps, the most valuable book of reference on the subject—all, from that eminent man downward, have, by their own repeated confession, started from the assumption that the miraculous is impossible, and that the Gospels must, by some device or other, be so interpreted as to explain it away. "Affection" there is and ought to be in orthodox writers for venerable, profound, and consoling beliefs; but they start from no such invincible prejudice, and they are pledged by their principles to accept whatever interpretation may be really most consonant with the facts.

I have only one word to say, finally, in reply to Prof. Huxley. I am very glad to hear that he has always advocated the reading of the Bible and the diffusion of its study among the people; but I must say that he goes to work in a very strange way in order to promote this result. If he could succeed in persuading people that the Gospels are untrustworthy collections of legends, made by unknown authors, that St. Paul's epistles were the writings of "a strange man," who had no sound capacity for judging of evidence, or, with Mrs. Ward's friends, that the Pentateuch is a late forgery of Jewish scribes, I do not think the people at large would be likely to follow his well-meant exhortations. But I venture to remind him that the English Church has anticipated his anxiety in this matter. Three hundred years ago, by one of the greatest strokes of real government ever exhibited, the public reading of the whole Bible was imposed upon Englishmen; and by the public reading of the lessons on Sunday alone, the chief portions of the Bible, from first to last, have become stamped upon the minds of English-speaking people in a degree in which, as the Germans themselves acknowledge,[1] they are far behind us. He has too much reason for his lament over the melancholy spectacle presented by the intestine quarrels of churchmen over matters of mere ceremonial. But when he argues from this that the clergy of our day "can have but little sympathy with the old evangelical doctrine of the 'open Bible,'" he might have remembered that our own generation of English divines has, by the

  1. See the preface to Riehm's "Handwörterbuch."