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implies the presence of a separate consciousness. Really, then, they were without the aid of any model to direct their course. And yet they have uniformly portrayed their Jeslis with a consciousness in which the distinction between the divine and the human does not exist. Whenever he acts or speaks, the careful reader of the Gospels cannot help perceiving that the Jesus who is there portrayed is utterly unconscious of any separation between God and himself. And yet we feel that there is a soul intensely human. The divine light is enshrined in a purely human temple. Moreover, the portraiture of Jesus, both as a teacher and a worker of miracles, presents a perfect uniformity of type and conception, notwithstanding the multiform aspects in which it might have been dramatized. But the essential unity which characterizes it, the author dwells upon at length in a separate chapter.
But again, another element in this delineation is suffering. Inasmuch as the historical fact that the human Jesus died was not ignored by the mythologists, a part of the task which lay before them was to depict the portraiture of a sufferer, who should be both divine and human. We see the difficulties to be overcome in solving the problem. If the human was to be represented as dying through suffering, how were the artists to avoid representing the divine as swallowed up in the sufferings of the human? But if the divine maintains its character, how can it be so portrayed that it shall not lend an undue support to a human sufferer? The success of the creators of the mythic Jesus was wonderful. Consider his perturbation as the hour of his death drew nigh. Since he was human, it was necessary that the thought of his impending sufferings should terribly agitate his frame. But it was equally necessary that the divine should be preserved intact. “ This was the problem they were required to solve, and their answer was the scene in Gethsemane. Who shall describe it after them ?”
A part of their task was to depict the sufferer as making a voluntary surrender of his life in an act of self-sacrificing love. They therefore refrain from describing him as offering a de
a fence, or as attempting to work on the conscience of the agents in the scene.
The death of Jesus was to be so dramatized as to exhibit him as retaining all the affections and feelings of a man, and at the same time to present him to view as invested with the attributes of one who was divine. And its moral elevation is such as to prove that it is indeed the true copy of a divine original. “The scene of the penitent thiet is the most perfect exhibition which we can conceive of the presence of divinity personally abiding in dying humanity. The conception of the prayer for his murderers is so intensely sublime, that the thought of such a spirit of forgiveness had never before occurred to a human mind.” It may be objected that these scenes are described only by Luke, and that they are subsequent additions. But the portraitures of the other Evangelists are of essentially the same type, and fit in their proper places as parts of the same whole.
But the mythologists, in representing their Jesus as exhibiting such sublime self-possession and calmness and unselfishness, were in danger of losing the conception of perfect humanity. We see the triumph of a divine being, but hardly that of one possessing our nature. “ But they went to work spontaneously, and presented as their solution of the difficulty the exclamation on the cross, and the scene of darkness.” While the divine consciousness remains entire, all the affections and feelings of a man are retained to the very
last. Again, there are the moral qualities which enter into the conception of the portraiture of the Evangelical Jesus, but we have no room for even a meagre abstract of what the author says on this subject. It is contained in the fourth chapter, in which he points out some of the difficult problems which the mythologists had to solve when they attempted to invest the human Jesus with the moral attributes (especially the attributes of benevolence and holiness) which belong to the Divine Being.
Much of the contents of the fifth chapter we are also compelled to leave unnoticed. It is entitled : “ The moral teaching of our Lord.” For those who created the Jesus of the Gospels have portrayed him as the great moral and religious teacher of mankind. The greatness of the work which they have represented their Jesus ás accomplishing in this char
VOL. XLII.-NO. IV.
acter will be seen, when it is considered that his moral system supplies a motive which is adequate to impart vitality to the moral law, and to make it a living principle in man. In this his originality as a teacher consists. It is in the attractive power of our Lord's own person that this motive is found. Philosophers had portrayed the idea of perfect states and constitutions, but the ideal refused to become the actual. They created moral systems but could not impart to them vitality. But Jesus not only taught men what is right, but created a motive in his own person powerful to make it live in the hearts of men. That motive is his divine attractive
Our Lord is depicted as habitually preaching himself, and, in virtue of his being divine, as claiming the throne of the human heart as his lawful right. As the divine man he was able to surrender his life for men in an act of self-sacrificing love, and he can therefore vindicate the human heart to himself by a claim compared to which all others are feeble. The power generated in the spiritual world, when the divine man lived and died and rose again for man, was that of constraining love. It is thus that his originality as a teacher appears. In
. connection with his teaching he created a new spiritual power, a new body of motivity by means of which he proposed to act on man. The creation of this spiritual power is precisely that which man requires. The teachers who preceded our Lord had indeed discovered the main outlines of the moral law, but they were utterly unable to supply a motive of sufficient power to make it a practical reality. This inability was openly declared,* At this moment a teacher appeared in our world claiming to be divine, and the Christianity founded by him has breathed a new vitality into the human bosom.
* “The Ethics of Aristotle is unquestionably the most important work on man's moral nature which was produced by the ancient world. The philosopher has handled the whole question with a masterly analysis. If we wish to get a correct idea of the despair with which philosophy contemplated the improvement of the masses of mankind, it is necessary to read the whole of the conclusion of this remarkable work. After the fullest discussion of man and the motives on which virtuous conduct rested, what good did he hope to accomplish by his labors ? He tells us plainly that his expectations were of the most limited char. acter. He hoped to do something with a few choice spirits, but he says positively that he was wholly unable to reach the masses of mankind. "Reasoninge' says he, are unable to impel the many to what is good and noble ; for they are not naturally disposed to yield obedience to shame but to fear; nor to abstain from bad things on account of their being disgraceful, but on account of punishment; for, living by passion, they pursue their peculiar pleasures, and avoid the
The means and instrumentality on which the Evangelists have represented him as relying to effectuate his great work in the spiritual world is one which had been unthought of before. That instrumentality is faith. All his predecessors had attempted to act on man through the principle of habituation. This principle does indeed exercise a powerful influence over the human character. Within certain limits, habit has made man what he is, but it is unable to resist the vehement impulses of passion, and it is unfit to be employed as the instrument of conversion. The power of evil must be restrained, before the principle of habituation can be set at work for the generation of good. The only road through which the sinner can be reached is the representations of the understanding. Our Lord therefore did not appeal to the power of habit. The principle which he called into being, partly intellectual, and partly moral, he designated faith. He insists in his teaching on the pre-eminent necessity of faith. nounced spiritual life to reside in his person. He taught that the cordial reception of him would generate it in man. The result has been the creation of the Christian Church. Thus have the mythologists dramatized their Jesus. Can the portraiture be a human invention?
There is another point which the author handles at considerable length in this chapter, in regard to which he falls into serious error.
It is difficult, he says, for any one to believe that the Gospel narratives are fictions, who considers how remarkably the writers, when they relate the acts of our Lord, recognize the philosophic truth that man's moral and spiritual nature is reg. ulated by laws widely different from those which prevail in the material universe, and that while power is the force which
posite pains: but of what is morally beautiful and truly pleasant, they have not even a conception, being devoid of all taste for it.'--( Nichomachean Ethics,' Book X.)"
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moves the physical; motive is that which impels the spiritual world. They have never once described him as infringing the laws of the spiritual world by an exertion of power, but have invariably depicted bim as observing them. “To state the case broadly. While our Lord is always represented
the Gospels as curing diseases by a power which overrules the ordinary course of nature, he is never once depicted as invoking the aid of a supernatural power to cure the diseases of the soul,” nor are we ever led to suppose that the Evangelists intended to represent him as implanting faith in the soul by an exercise of power. They must somehow have learned the truth that the whole apparatus of power contradicts the very idea of a moral agent.
Now for this assertion as to the intention of the Evange. lists our author has no warrant. Not only would the imparting of faith and spiritual life appear to have often accompanied onr Lord's miracles of healing, but the descriptions of some miraculous cures are such as to suggest the idea that the same power which healed the body implanted faith in the soul. Our belief is that Jesus often did when he was on earth, as l'e constantly does now, act by his supernatural power directly o'i the soul, new-creating it, "curing its diseases," "creating faith” where it did not exist. We admit, however, that his invariable action, in the spiritual world, was in conformity with law, and that he is never represented as failing to observe the laws of the spiritual world. Our author's error consists in his supposing that to cure the soul's diseases, to implant a faith in it which previously it did not possess,
involves the setting aside the laws by which the human spirit is governed, so as to do violence to its nature. And he assumes that if the soul is in any case the subject of the divine power acting immediately upon it, it is coerced and its free agency is destroyed. Whereas, the truth in relation to the subject is, that although there is both an efficacious and an immediate operation on the soul when it is made spiritually alive, yet the divine act is perfectly congruous to its nature. Indeed, not only is no restraint laid upon the spontaneous movement of the faculties, but the more powerful this direct