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or love them. Good natures may pity them, bad natures hate them,
conscientious natures feel it a duty to stamp them out ; but we can never
really feel towards them as brothers and sisters, who have gone ' ' a ken-
ning wrang, " and been drawn a little too far by the attraction of the op-
posite polarity to that under the influence of which we ourselves live and
have our being. Thus, in politics, the cosmos of an ordered society can
only be maintained, as in the orbit of a planet, by a due balance between
the centripetal and centrifugal forces. If we were all Conservatives,
society would condense into a sluggish and inert mass ; if all Radicals, it
would be apt to fly off into space. Evolution will surely bring about in
their appropriate time the results which are fittest to survive. Why
quarrel, then, and entertain hard and bitter thoughts, because our own
individual atom is acting in one direction, while that of our neighbor is
acting in another ? Act strenuously in that direction which, after con-
scientious inquiry, seems to be the best; do the duty which lies most
nearly and plainly to our hands; and trust to what religious men call
Providence, and scientific men Evolution, for the result.

A large-minded and large-hearted creed is the more needful, as the
weak part in the otherwise admirable British nature is a tendency to that
peculiar form of narrowness which is commonly called Philistinism.
Why the Philistine, or dweller in the land of palms on the border of the
Mediterranean, should have been taken as the type of straight-laced and
narrow-minded conventionality, is hard to see. But the fact is there,
and the word expresses it; and it is beyond doubt that there is a great
deal of truth in Matthew Arnold's indignant diatribes, and that the average
well-meaning and respectable citizen in apt to be an awful Philistine. It
is not confined to classes; in fact, there is probably more of it in the
upper and middle classes than among workmen. But whether it be the
cut of a coat, or of a creed, and whether going to a court or to a chapel,
the essence of the thing is the same viz., that some class or coterie
fences itself in behind some narrow conventionality, and ignores the great
outer world. If the pale be one of fashion, those not within it are out-
siders, cads, commoners; if of religion, they are sons of perdition. To
the narrow-minded Tory all Irish are dynamiters, all Radicals rebels, and
Gladstone is Antichrist. To the narrow-minded Radical all landlords are
robbers and all parsons hypocrites. Socialists seek to regenerate society
by abolishing capital; capitalists to save it by ignoring that property has
duties as well as rights. It is all Philistinism, and incapacity to see that
there are two sides to every question, and that one thing only is certain,



PROBLEMS OF THE FUTURE. 135

that falsehood lies in extremes. Half the difficulties which perplex us
would disappear if we could enlarge our minds, so as, in the words of
Burns

**To see ourselves as others see us; *

and to act on the precept of the wise old Rabbi Hillel, now 1900 years

old: " Never to judge another man till you have stood in his shoes."

Another advantage of this Polar philosophy is that it enables us more
readily to assimilate with those who hold different forms of belief. What
matters it whether the Parsee embodies his good principle in an Ormuzd,
the Christian in a Jesus, the Stoic in a Marcus Aurelius, or the philoso-
pher finds no need for any personification at all ? The essential thing is
that they are all soldiers fighting together in the cause of goodness and
light, against evil and darkness. Practically, a great many modern
Christians are Zoroastrians, with Jesus for their Ormuzd. They care
little for dogmas, except as exalting the character of the object of their
veneration, and giving expression to their transcendental love and adora-
tion for his person and character. Listen to the simple preaching of the
Salvation Army, and you will find how exclusively it turns upon the one
element of the love of Jesus. You would never discover that Christianity
had been identified with mysterious dogmas and metaphysical puzzles,
and that salvation depended on holding the Catholic faith as defined by
St. Athanasius. But sinners are exhorted to give up drink and evil ways
for the love of the dear Redeemer who died for them; and if this touches
simple natures, and if calling themselves soldiers, marching in ranks, and
beating drums, aid in the work, why should any one object to it? We
are nearer to these simple souls than we are to the divines who beat the
drum ecclesiastic, and tell us from pulpits, that, unless we believe all the
articles of the Catholic faith without doubt we shall perish everlastingly.

To sum up, the duty of a man of the nineteenth century is clear. He
has to follow truth at all hazards. Questions of the highest importance
have been raised, which he cannot shirk without narrowing his whole na-
ture, and shutting himself up in an ever- contracting circle of ignorance and
prejudice. There are two theories of the universe and two of man, which
are in direct conflict. Of the universe, one, the theological, that it was
created and is upheld by miracles that is, by a succession of secondary
supernatural interferences by a Being who is a magnified man, acting from
motives and with an intelligence which, however transcendental, are
essentially human; the other, the scientific, that is the result of original
impress, or of evolution acting by natural laws on a basis of the Unknow-
able. In like manner, of man, one theory, the theological, is that he is
descended from the Biblical Adam, created quite recently in a state of
high moral perfection, from which he fell by an act of disobedience en-
tailing on his descendants the curse of sin and death, from which a por-
tion were redeemed by the sacrifice of the Creator's own son, incarnate in



I3 6 BEACON LIGHTS OF SCIENCE.

Jesus of Nazareth; the other, the scientific theory, that man is a product
of Evolution from palaeolithic ancestors, who lived for innumerable ages
in a state of savagery, but always gradually progressing upwards in art
and civilization.

Both theories cannot be true; they are in direct contradiction upon
fundamental facts, which are a question of evidence. The evidence for
the theological theory is based entirely on the assumption that the Bible
is an inspired record of Divine truth, attested by miracles. The scientific
theory rests on the evidence of a vast and ever-accumulating mass of facts,
which admit of no doubt or contradiction. It seems to me that an un-
learned man need not go farther than to contrast the theories of man's de-
scent. Let him go to the British Museum and look at the implements of
flint and bone which have been found in conjunction with remains of
extinct animals, in caves and river gravels of immense antiquity. How
can the theological theory hold water, unless it could be proved that these,
and the hundreds of thousands of similar human remains, including skulls
and skeletons, which have been discovered in similar deposits over the
four quarters of the earth, were placed there by a conspiracy of scientific
men, who wished to discredit the Bible ? Even the Duke of Argyll, who
has conspiracy on the brain, would hardly contend for such a conclusion,
or maintain that the narrative of Noah's deluge gives a true account of
the manner in which animal life has been diffused over the different zoolog-
ical provinces in which it is actually divided.

The more he extends his researches and enlarges his knowledge, the
more will every honest and conscientious inquirer find that the scientific
theory is victorious along the whole line. If he is a lover of truth,
therefore, he will find himself constrained to adopt the larger creed. But,
in doing so, let him show that it is not merely a speculative creed or in-
tellectual deduction ; but that the larger creed leads to a larger life ; that
it makes him more liberal and tolerant, more pure and upright, more
loving and unselfish, more strenuous, as becomes a soldier fighting in the
foremost ranks in the campaign against sin and misery ; so that, when
the last day comes which comes to all, it may be recorded of him that his
individual atom of existence left the world, on the whole, a little better,
rather than a little worse, than he found it



CHAPTER IX.
THE HISTORICAL ELEMENT IN THE GOSPELS

PROFESSOR Huxley in a recent article in the Nineteenth Century
refers to the great difficulty he has felt in his efforts to define "the
grand figure of Jesus as it lies in the primary strata of Christian literature.
What did he really say and do ? and how much that is attributed to him
in speech and action is the embroidery of the various parties into which
his followers tended to split themselves within twenty years after his
death, when even the threefold tradition was only nascent?"

I have felt the same difficulty myself, and after reading a mass of
critical literature, both English and German, I must confess to having
found myself more than ever perplexed. In English Biblical criticism the
tone is almost invariably that of advocate rather than of judges. The
opponents of Orthodoxy insist too much on finding arguments against
inspiration in every text, while its supporters are almost invariably guilty
of the fallacy which is known to logicians as the petitio principii, and begin
by assuming the very points which they profess to prove. Thus Dr.
Wace, in his reply to Huxley, starts with the assumption that the Sermon
on the Mount and the Lord's Prayer prove the divinity of Jesus and the
inspiration of the Gospels; and this being proved, it follows that we must
believe everything we find recorded in these Gospels as true, down even
to the miracle of the Gadarene swine, under pain of making Jesus out to
be a liar. Of course we must, if we admit the theory of divine inspiration,
but this is the very point to be proved. How does Dr. Wace attempt to
prove it ? By lengthened arguments to show that the omission of all
mention of the Sermon on the Mount and Lord's Prayer by Mark is not a
fatal objection; that the Synoptic Gospels, or parts of them, were probably
written not later than from 70 to 75 A.D., and other doubtful points of
really very little importance. But he totally ignores what is the real
difficulty in the way of accepting his fundamental axiom that the Sermon
on the Mount and Lord's Prayer compel us to admit inspiration. The
difficulty is this, that their precepts, admirable as they are, are not
original. There is scarcely one which is not to be found, identical in
substance and often almost in the exact words, in the older writings of
earlier religions and philosophies. Thus the cardinal precepts, such as to
" love your neighbor as yourself," to ' do as you would be done by," to

137



I 3 8 BEACON LIGHTS OF SCIENCE.

"return good for evil," &c., are found in the old Egyptian ritual, the
Vedic literature, the maxims of Confucius, and still more conspicuously
in the oldest writings of the Buddhist and Zoroastrian religions.

And what is even more important, the Talmudic or Rabbinical literature
of the age immediately preceding that of Jesus is full of them; the writings
of Jesus the Son of Sirach, of Hillel, and of Philo, certain many of the
same precepts, almost verbatim, and they were the common possession of
the Jewish world at the time when the Sermon on the Mount is supposed
to have been preached.

These facts are undeniable, and it is equally undeniable that, if so, the
bottom is knocked out of Dr. Wace's assumption; for if these precepts
and this code of morality could be evolved in other ages and countries by
natural means, why should they require the miracle of Divine Inspiration
to account for them in the New Testament ? The Sermon no doubt has
its value in bringing to a focus a number of excellent precepts, and help-
ing to form the ideal of Jesus and his teaching, which has become the
fundamental fact of Christianity, but as anything like reasonable proof of
miraculous inspiration it is worthless. Nor is there anything in the
Lord's Prayer which might not have been the prayer of any pious Jew of
the time, or, for the matter of that, of any pious Gentile, for " Our Father
which art in heaven " is a literal translation of Jupiter, or Dyaus-piter, the
father of gods and men identified with the vault of the sky. And it
cannot be reasonably denied that the omission of all mention of it in Mark
tells strongly against its authenticity, for, if really taught by Jesus, it
would have been the very thing to be committed to memory, and taught
to all converts by his immediate disciples.

I refer to this argument of Dr. Wace's to illustrate what I find to be
the great fault of English theologians, viz. , that they shirk the obvious
difficulties which present themselves to the minds of ordinary men using
their reasoning faculties, and either refuse to reason and appeal to faith,
or battle about minor points which hardly touch the real objections.

When I turned to German criticism I found it less obscured by theo-
logical, but more by theoretical prepossessions. Every professor had his
own theory to establish, and that of his predecessors to demolish, and in
doing so applied an enormous amount of erudition to points which, for
the most part, seemed to me to remain doubtful, or to be of minor im-
portance. The effect produced on my mind by critics such as Strauss,
Baur, Volckmer, and Reuss was to leave a sort of blurred and hazy image,
as of a landscape in which the essential features are lost in the multitude
of details.

For instance, it seemed to me that the enormous mass of literature
which has been written to assign the precise date of each Gospel, their
respective priorities, how many successive editions they went through,
and how far each copied from the others or from older manuscripts,
might have been greatly abridged if the learned authors had been content



PROBLEMS OF THE FUTURE. 139

to take the simple, straightforward evidence of the earliest Christian
writer who gives any account of their origin, viz., Papias.

Papias was Bishop of Hieropolis, one of the churches in Asia Minor,
which was reputed to have been founded by St John, and who suffered
martyrdom for his faith when an aged man, about 160 A.D. He was
certainly in a position to know what was accepted as of authority by the
early Christian Church of his period. He had been in close personal
communication with Polycarp and others of the generation preceding his
own, who had been themselves disciples of the apostles, and his infor-
mation was therefore only removed by one degree from being that of a con-
temporary and eye-witness. His work is unfortunately lost, but Eusebius,
who was a great collector of information respecting the Gospels in the
fourth century, happily preserves the most important part of it in a long
quotation.

What does Papias say ? Practically this that he preferred oral tradi-
tion to written documents, of which he expresses a somewhat contemp-
tuous opinion, assigning as a reason that there were only two written
records which possessed any real authority : one a collection of anecdotes
or reminiscences, taken down without method or order from the mouth
of St. Peter by Mark, his interpreter ; the other a collection of logia, or
sayings of Jesus, written by St. Matthew in Hebrew, and badly translated
into Greek by various writers.

This statement of Papias, if correct, proves several things :

1. The Gospel of St. John could not have been known to Papias, or
he, a bishop of a church reputed to have been founded by that apostle
and a friend of Polycarp and others who had known him personally, could
never have expressed an almost contemptuous preference for oral tradition
over any written records, and made no mention of what has been always
considered the most important and spiritual of all the Gospels, proceed-
ing direct from the Apostle whom Jesus loved.

2. The same remark applies to the Gospel and Acts of St Luke,
which contain by far the most precise details of the crowning miracles of
the Resurrection and Ascension.

3. It is equally clear that he could not have known the Gospels of
Mark and Matthew as they now exist, for they are connected biographies
of the life and teachings of Jesus, and not fragmentary anecdotes and say-
ings such as Papias describes.

4. It is evident, however, that two written records one attributed to
Mark and the other to Matthew were known in the time of Papias, and
received as of sufficient authority to make him refer to them in his general
depreciation of written as compared with oral testimony.

This is a perfectly clear and intelligible statement, made apparently in
good faith, without any dogmatic or other prepossession; and it is con-
firmed by all the evidence we possess of this obscure period whether it
be the external evidence that the Gospels in their present form are not



i 4 o BEACON LIGHTS OF SCIENCE.

quoted or referred to as an authority by any Christian writer earlier than
the second century, or the internal evidence derived from the Gospels
themselves. That of Mark has exactly the appearance of having been
compiled into a biography from a series of such reminiscences as Papias
describes. It is full of little life-like touches which have no special signif-
icance, but seem to have come from the recollection of an eye-witness.
For instance, that the throng was so great to hear Jesus that not only the
room but the doorway were crowded, and that the hurry and bustle were
such that they had not time even to eat.

It is true that such touches are not conclusive, and may have been
added to give local color and a life-like character to the narrative, a re-
markable instance of which is afforded by the episode of the woman
taken in adultery, in St. John, which is not found in the oldest manu-
scripts, and is doubtless an interpolation. This episode has every appear-
ance of being taken from the life; the abstracted air, the writing with
the finger on the sand, the exact words spoken, all give it an air of reality,
and yet it must have been interpolated at a comparatively late date after
several manuscripts of the Gospel were already in existence. Such an
instance may make us hesitate in judging of similar passages from internal
evidence, but it hardly applies to Mark, whose characteristic traits are
much shorter and simpler, and whose level of culture and literary ability is
much lower than that of the compiler whoever he may have been of
the Gospel according to St. John.

The Gospel of Matthew, again, has exactly the appearance of having
been compiled from such a collection of logia as Papias describes, woven
into a biography by the aid of the original Mark and other early tradi-
*ions, and embellished by the addition of much mythical matter intended
to show the fulfillment of Messianic prophecies, and to meet objections.

. It has always seemed to me, therefore, that all theories as to the date
and origin of the Canonical Gospels were comparatively worthless which
did not take into account the fundamental fact of this statement of Papia*.
It is either true or false. If true it is worth a hundred theories evolved,
Hke the ideal camel, from the inner consciousness of German professors,
and is conclusive of the fact that the Gospels in their present form were
not known, or not accepted as an authority, by the early Christian
Churches of the East in the first half of the second century, though this
is quite consistent with their containing passages and traditions whieb
may date back to the siege of Jerusalem, or even to a much earlier period.
If, on the other hand, Papias is to be rejected, let us know the reason
why, and give us some sort of an intelligible explanation of how such a
passage came to be quoted from his work by Eusebius. 1

1 The difference to which I have referred between the conclusions of common-sense
and those of erudite ingenuity acting under the influence of theological prepossession, fc
well illustrated by the attempt of Bishop Lightfoot, in his Essays on Supernatural Re-
to answer the obvious inference from this passage of Papias. Common sense says.



PROBLEMS OF THE FUTURE. 141

I give this as an illustration of the way in which the more I studied
these professional works of Biblical criticism, the more confusion be-
came worse confounded. At length, after having abandoned the subject
for a time, I resolved, almost in despair, to see what conclusion I could
form for myself by the application of common sense and the ordinary
rules of evidence. I succeeded thus in forming a tolerably clear and
consistent view of what might be the real historical element in the origin
of Christianity, and the personality of its Founder. I do not pretend to
impose on others my own solution of this extremely difficult and obscure
question, but I think it may perhaps aid some sincere inquirers in giving
clearness and precision to their ideas, and denning the boundaries be-
tween what may be accepted by the ordinary rules of reason, and that
which lies outside the province of reason, and can only be accepted as an
article of faith.

To begin with, I believe that miracles lie entirely within the domain

if the Canonical Gospels, and especially that of St. John, had been extant in their present
term and accepted as an authority by the early Christian Church, Papias must have
known them. If he had known them he could not have referred in such contemptuous
terms to written records as inferior to oral tradition, and could not have mentioned
the disconnected anecdotes of Mark and the Hebrew logia of Matthew as the only
records of importance. Nor could Eusebius have quoted this passage alone from
Papias, which obviously tells against his own views, without quoting other passages whick
refer to the Canonical Gospels, if any such had existed in other portions of the work of
Papias. The Bishop replies

1. That the design of Eusebius may have been to quote only references to the Apocry-
phal writings, and in the case of the Canonical Gospels anything which threw light OB
tiieir origin ; and therefore that the silence of Eusebius is no proof that there may not
fcave been references to and quotations from these Gospels in the writings of Papias.

But this, which is in itself a very far-fetched supposition, is contradicted by the words
of Eusebius himself, who says, " As my history proceeds, I will take care to indicate
what Church writers from time to time have made use of any of the disputed books, and
what has been said by them concerning the Canonical and acknowledged Scriptures.

2. That when Papias says, " I thought I could not derive so much advantage from
looks as from the living and abiding oral tradition," he meant books which were not Gos-
pels, but commentaries on Gospels.

Here again this far-fetched supposition is contradicted by Papias himself, who says
" books " without any qualification, and refers to written records, viz., the notes of Mark
and the logia of Matthew, which assuredly were not commentaries or interpretations of
existing Gospels, but historical records of the sayings and doings of the Founder of the
religion as much as the Canonical Gospels themselves; or rather they were the primary
matter and first forms of the Synoptic Gospels, and could not have been so referred
to, if the Gospels, in their more complete and elaborate form, and especially that accord-
ing to St. John, had been known to Papias and received as authorities.

The closer the connection is drawn between Papias and the Apostle John through Poly-
carp, and the Bishop insists greatly on this in his Essays, the more impossible does it be-
come that, if Papias had known of such a Gospel as is attributed to John, he could have
written such a sentence as is quoted from his lost works by Eusebius, saying that he could
get "little profit from books," and have referred, as he does, to Matthew and Mark,
without saying a word of John, or of the Gospel which is pre-eminently the foundation-
stone of Christian theology.



142 BEACON LIGHTS OF SCIENCE.

of faith. I mean real miracles, for a large number of those narrated by
the Gospels may well be natural occurrences described in the language of
the day. For instance, casting out devils, faith-healing, or curing para-
lytic affections of the nerve or will by a strong impulse; and the effects
of religious excitement, the sympathy of crowds, dreams, visions and
hallucinations, are all well-known causes at the present day, of effects



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