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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/83

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AGNOSTICISM.
directly after their separation from their Master. The need of such a return to the past arose naturally from the profound impression which had been made upon them by the teaching, and still more by the individuality itself of Jesus, and on which both their hopes for the future and their convictions were founded. . . . It is in these facts, in this continuity of a tradition which could not but go back to the very morrow of the tragic scene of Golgotha that we have a strong guarantee for its authenticity. . . . We have direct historical proof that the thread of tradition was not interrupted. Not only does one of our evangelists furnish this proof in formal terms (Luke i, 2); but in many other places besides we perceive the idea, or the point of view, that all which the apostles know, think, and teach, is at bottom and essentially a reminiscence—a reflection of what they have seen and learned at another time, a reproduction of lessons and impressions received.

Now let it be allowed for argument's sake that the belief and teaching of the apostles are distinct from those of subsequent Christianity, yet it is surely a mere paradox to maintain that they did not assert, as taught by their Master, truths which an agnostic denies. They certainly spoke, as Paul did, of the love of God; they certainly spoke, as Paul did, of Jesus having been raised from the dead by God the Father (Gal. i, 1); they certainly spoke, as Paul did, of Jesus Christ returning to judge the world; they certainly spoke, as Paul did, of "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. xi, 31). That they could have done this without Jesus Christ having taught God's love, or having said that God was his Father, or having declared that he would judge the world, is a supposition which will certainly be regarded by an overwhelming majority of reasonable men as a mere paradox; and I can not conceive, until he says so, that Prof. Huxley would maintain it. But if so, then all Prof. Huxley's argumentation about the Gadarene swine is mere irrelevance to the argument he undertakes to answer. The Gospels might be obliterated as evidence to-morrow, and it would remain indisputable that Jesus Christ taught certain truths respecting God, and man's relation to God, from which an agnostic withholds his assent. If so, he does not believe Jesus Christ's teaching; he is so far an unbeliever, and "unbeliever," Dr. Johnson says, is an equivalent of "infidel."

This consideration will indicate another irrelevance in Prof. Huxley's argument. He asks for a definition of what a Christian is, before he will allow that he can be justly called an infidel. But without being able to give an accurate definition of a crayfish, which perhaps only Prof. Huxley could do, I may be very well able to say that some creatures are not crayfish; and it is not necessary to frame a definition of a Christian in order to say confidently that a person who does not believe the broad and unquestionable elements of Christ's teachings and convictions is not a Christian. "Infidel" or "unbeliever" is of course, as Prof. Huxley