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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/81

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AGNOSTICISM.

not. But if Prof. Huxley were to maintain that the pursuit of glory was the true motive of the soldier, and that it was an illusion to suppose that simple devotion to duty could be the supreme guide of military life, I should certainly charge him with contradicting the duke's teaching and disregarding his authority and example. A hundred stories like that of "Up, Guards, and at 'em!" might be doubted, or positively disproved, and it would still remain a fact beyond all reasonable doubt that the Duke of Wellington was essentially characterized by the sternest and most devoted sense of duty, and that he had inculcated duty as the very watchword of a soldier; and even Prof. Huxley would not suggest that Lord Tennyson's ode, which has embodied this characteristic in immortal verse, was an unfounded poetical romance.

The main question at issue, in a word, is one which Prof. Huxley has chosen to leave entirely on one side—whether, namely, allowing for the utmost uncertainty on other points of the criticism to which he appeals, 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. If they do—then I am not now contending that they involve the whole of the Christian creed; I am not arguing, as Prof. Huxley would represent, that he ought for that reason alone to be a Christian—I simply represent that, as an agnostic, he must regard those beliefs and that teaching as mistaken—the result of an illusion, to say the least. I am not going, therefore, to follow Prof. Huxley's example, and go down a steep place with the Gadarene swine into a sea of uncertainties and possibilities, and stake the whole case of Christian belief as against agnosticism upon one of the most difficult and mysterious narratives in the New Testament. I will state my position on that question presently. But I am first and chiefly concerned to point out that Prof. Huxley has skillfully evaded the very point and edge of the argument he had to meet. Let him raise what difficulties he pleases, with the help of his favorite critics, about the Gadarene swine, or even about all the stories of demoniacs. He will find that his critics—and even critics more rationalistic than they—fail him when it comes to the Lord's Prayer and the Sermon on the Mount, and, I will add, the story of the Passion. He will find, or rather he must have found, that the very critics he relies upon recognize that in the Sermon on the Mount and the Lord's Prayer, allowing for variations in form and order, the substance of our Lord's essential teaching is preserved. On a point which, until Prof. Huxley shows cause to the contrary, can hardly want argument, the judgment of the most recent of his witnesses may suffice—Prof. Reuss, of Strasburg. In Prof. Huxley's article on the "Evolution of Theology" in the number of this review for March, 1886,