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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/82

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

he says, "As Reuss appears to me to be one of the most learned, acute, and fair-minded of those whose works I have studied, I have made most use of the commentary and dissertations in his splendid French edition of the Bible." What, then, is the opinion of the critic for whom Prof. Huxley has this regard? In the volume of his work which treats of the first three Gospels, Reuss says at page 191-192, "If anywhere the tradition which has preserved to us the reminiscences of the life of Jesus upon earth carries with it certainty and the evidence of its fidelity, it is here"; and again: "In short, it must be acknowledged that the redactor, in thus concentrating the substance of the moral teaching of the Lord, has rendered a real service to the religious study of this portion of the tradition, and the reserves which historical criticism has a right to make with respect to the form will in no way diminish this advantage." It will be observed that Prof. Reuss thinks, as many good critics have thought, that the Sermon on the Mount combines various distinct utterances of our Lord, but he none the less recognizes that it embodies an unquestionable account of the substance of our Lord's teaching.

But it is surely superfluous to argue either this particular point, or the main conclusion which I have founded on it. Can there be any doubt whatever, in the mind of any reasonable man, that Jesus Christ had beliefs respecting God which an agnostic alleges there is no sufficient ground for? We know something at all events of what his disciples taught; we have authentic original documents, unquestioned by any of Prof. Huxley's authorities, as to what St. Paul taught and believed, and of what he taught and believed respecting his Master's teaching; and the central point of this teaching is a direct assertion of knowledge and revelation as against the very agnosticism from which Prof. Huxley manufactured that designation. "As I passed by," said St. Paul at Athens, "I found an altar with this inscription: 'To the unknown God.' Whom therefore ye ignorantly—or in agnosticism—worship. Him I declare unto you." An agnostic withholds his assent from this primary article of the Christian creed; and though Prof. Huxley, in spite of the lack of information he alleges respecting early Christian teaching, knows enough on the subject to have a firm belief "that the Nazarenes, say of the year 40," headed by James, would have stoned any one who propounded the Nicene Creed to them, he will hardly contend that they denied that article, or doubted that Jesus Christ believed it. Let us again listen to the authority to whom Prof. Huxley himself refers. Reuss says at page 4 of the work already quoted:

Historical literature in the primitive church attaches itself in the most immediate manner to the reminiscences collected by the apostles and their friends,