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Full text of "Christian apologetics of the second century in their relation to modern thought"

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CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS OF THE 
SECOND CENTURY 



The Hulaean Prize Essay » 1917 



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CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS 

OF THE 

SECOND CENTURY 

In their Relation to Modern Thought 



BY 

PHILIP GARRINGTON 

B.A. (CANTAB.), M.A. (NOV. ZEL.) 
BAR\\"ELL SCHOLAR OF 8ELWYN COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE 



" Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth 
itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity 
every thought to the obedience of Christ."— 2 Cor. x. 5. 



LONDON 

SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING 
CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE 

NORTHUMBERLAND AVENUE, W.G. 

NEW YORK : THE M ACMILLAN COMPANY 

1921 



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PREFACE 

The delay in the publication of this little work needs 
apology; it is due to the illness of the author, and his 
return to a bookless land. I wish to express my thanks 
to the Rev. Canon J. R. Wilford, B.D., of College House, 
Christchurchj without whose help it would have been 
hard to overcome the latter difficulty ; also to the Rev, 
H. C. Money, of Christ Church, Glasgow, who has kindly 
consented to read the proofs ; also to the Rev. J. O. F. 
Murray, D.D., Master of Selwyn College, Cambridge, 
and to the Rev. Professor V. H. Stanton, D.D., Regius 
Professor of Divinity, for kindly and practical sympathy. 
The book itself does not in any sense claim to be a 
learned book ; it is only the product of elementary 
theological training combined with a sympathetic read- 
ing of the literature of the period — which is not large. 
The title, " Apologetics " rather than " Apologists," 
left it open to treat the subject in a general manner : 
and it has only been possible to make a few scattered 
remarks on what is a vast field of knowledge. 

Philip Carrington. 

Feast of the Pubification, 

The Deaneby, Chbistchukch, 

New Zealand. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I 

PAGE 

The Rise of Christianity .... 9 



CHAPTER II 

The Champions of Christianity ... 21 



CHAPTER III 

Christianity and the Old Testament . . 44 



CHAPTER IV 

Christianity and the Philosophers . . 63 



CHAPTER V 

Christianity and Superstition ... 83 



CHAPTER VI 

Christianity and the State . . . .104 

7 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER VII 

PAGE 

The Faith of Christianity . . . .122 



CHAPTER VIII 

Christianity and Modern Thought . .138 

Index 153 



8 



CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS OF 
THE SECOND CENTURY 

CHAPTER I 
THE RISE OF CHRISTIANITY 

" And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." — The 
Acts of the Apostles xi. 26. 

" But if ye suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God 
in this name." — The First Epistle of St. Peter iv. 14. 

" And these men, who were hated for their immoralities, were called 
by the common people Christians." — Tacitus : Annals, xv. 44. 

" I found nothing but a degrading and extravagant superstition. 
So I deferred the trial and hastened to consult you ; for I thought 
the matter worthy of your consideration, especially because of the 
number of the accused. For many of every age and rank and even of 
both sexes are being accused, or are on the point of being accused ; 
and the plague has overrim not only cities, but villages and country- 
side. . . . And I felt considerable doubt whether there should be any 
discrimination of age, or whether the weak should be differently 
treated from the strong ; whether the penitent should be pardoned, 
or whether it should be any advantage for a thorough Christian to 
recant ; whether the bare ' name ' (without immorality) shoiild be 
punished, or the immoralities which go along with the ' name.' " — 
Pliny : Ep. 96, To Trajan. 

Answer : " They are not to be sought out : if they should be brought 
up and convicted they must be punished, provided that whoever 
denies he is a Christian and proves it by his actions, that is, by 
worshipping our gods, although suspect in the past, shall have pardon 
on his penitence. Anonymous accusations should not be received in 
any case ; it would be a bad precedent and unworthy of our age." — 
Trajan : Ep, 97, To Pliny. 

" O perplexity between reasons of state and justice ! He declares 
U3 to be innocent by forbidding us to be searched after, and at the 
same time commands us to be punished as criminals. What a mass of 
kindness and cruelty, connivance and punishment is here confounded 

9 



THE RISE OF CHRISTIANITY 

in one act ! You condemn him therefore when brought whom the laws 
forbid to be sought out." — Terttjllian : Apology II. 

" The bare application of a name without any fact falHng under 
that name is looked upon as neither good nor evil ; but as for our name, 
which is tantamount to a crime against a Christian, if we are tried 
upon that article we must certainly be acquitted as very good men. 
For we are indicted by the name ' Christian ' ; now, ' chrestos ' is a 
word for ' kind ' or ' good,' and such a word, surely, cannot be a 
just foundation for hatred." — St. Justin : Apology /, 4. 

" Then the air and all that is under heaven is in a certain sort anointed 
by light and spirit ; and are you unwilling to be anointed (' christos ') 
with the oil of God ? Wherefore we are called Christians on this ac- 
count, because we are ' anointed' with the oil of God." — Theophilus : 
To AutolycuSf i. 12. 



I. The First Appearance of Christianity 

The most difficult problem which lay before Roman 
statesmanship when the Empire was established was 
that of Jewish nationality. Not only was there the 
Jewish Kingdom itself, situated on the most dangerous 
border of the Empire, but little colonies of Jews had 
spread far and wide through the world, farther even 
than the Roman arms. Personally they were detest- 
able ; their commercial power was enormous ; and a 
successful rebellion in alliance with the Parthians was 
by no means an impossibility. Further, in spite of their 
manifest inferiority in the arts of peace and war, they 
regarded their nation, their city, and their law as being 
as far above Rome as Rome thought herself above the 
barbarians. 

What made them so difficult to manage was the 
independence of their national and religious life. Every 
other nation was content to enter the great association 
of nations, and let its gods take their seats in the 
imperial pantheon. The Jewish God refused to leave 
Mount Sion ; and before His face the gods of the nations 
were so much brass or stone. To the philosopher this 
10 



ROME AND JEWISH RELIGION 

was, perhaps, immaterial ; to the statesman it was a 
serious matter. If the Jewish God demanded this 
supreme place in the heavens, it could only lead to the 
Jewish nation demanding, and fighting for, the same 
supremacy in Mediterranean politics. And, as a matter 
of fact, some such war of liberation was continually 
breaking out. Further, every patriotic Jew expected 
his God to come down, destroy the world, and set up 
the last empire at Jerusalem. In this Day of the Lord 
only the holy " people," the " law," and the temple 
would remain. 

The historical inspiration for this hope was found in 
the days of David, when the great empires had become 
exhausted and Israel had obtained a temporary ascend- 
ancy that stretched from Egypt to the Euphrates. The 
Jews believed that, by virtue of His covenant with His 
people, Jehovah was bound to restore to them this 
Kingdom both as a reward to them and as a justification 
of Himself. But the failure of the Maccabean dynasty 
had profoundly modified this hope, and many religious 
people doubted whether this sinful earth was a fitting 
scene for the establishment of the Kingdom of God. 
Thus it came about that a great majority expected the 
Day to appear with destruction at the end of the world 
in which God would send His Anointed (Christ), no 
mere man, but the heavenly "Son of Man," to re- 
establish the Empire of David. The person and office 
of this " Christ " were both vague ; but when He came. 
He was to " redeem " Israel, that is liberate it from the 
Roman yoke, and in His person fulfil the words of the 
prophets. In this denouement would be seen by all the 
justification of the creation of the world, and the con- 
summation of the ages. It was this revelation for 
which the whole creation groaned and travailed. 

There were false Christs sometimes, who raised 
armies to enforce their claims to the Davidic throne : 

11 



THE RISE OF CHRISTIANITY 

the Galilean peasantry among whom they had their 
chief success were strong, simple, independent men 
with an inherited passion for liberty. When roused 
in this way they fought with the fanaticism and fury 
of dervishes, and the rebellions had to be put down 
with the vast and incredible cruelties told us by 
Josephus ; the sight of burning villages, and at one time 
as many as two thousand crucifixions, must have taught 
the young Jesus, even in His boyhood, that He must 
carry His cross along the road to Messiahship. But 
such measures are always apt to increase the revolu- 
tionary passions they attempt to crush. A far more 
satisfactory policy of the Romans was the entente with 
the House of Herod, an enlightened prince who had 
been educated at Rome, and with the Sadducees, the 
priestly but sceptical rulers in Jerusalem. 

Tertullian says that Tiberius proposed to the Senate 
that Christ should be enrolled among the number of 
the gods, and that, failing this, he issued severe penalties 
against all who should accuse the worshippers of Christ. 
Tertullian is careless and wild, perhaps, in his use of 
authority, but he is not likely, in a petition to the 
Emperor, to refer to imperial records that do not exist. 
The use of the word " Christ " suggests that it was not 
Jesus, crucified and risen, whom Tiberius wished to 
deify, but the expected Messiah in whose name all 
these rebellions occurred. At any rate, it became the 
Roman policy not to interfere with the religion of the 
Jews ; and it was left to the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem 
and to the synagogue authorities elsewhere (Acts ix. 2), 
to exercise powers of discipline and punishment in 
religious disputes. Is this perhaps the clue to the 
scene before Gallio at Corinth ? The proconsul rules 
that the matter at issue is one for the synagogue to 
decide, thereby recognising Paul's (Gentile) Christians 
as a kind of Jew. The Greek Christians then find they 
12 



MESSIANIC DISTURBANCES 

are in a majority in the synagogue, and judicial sentence ^ 
is passed on Sosthenes as on other occasions on Paul 
himself (2 Cor. xi. 24). 

But, if the Romans left the Jews to decide their own 
religious questions, they were doubly alert to catch any 
signs of political activity or rebellion. We can see 
how fiercely the light beat upon our Lord's life, and 
how careful He had to be not to make any reference 
which could possibly have a political meaning. This 
must be one of the reasons why He delayed to claim 
the title " Christ " and then did so secretly. Long 
before they ever heard of Him, the " Name " may have 
been known to the Romans ; and the term " Christian " 
can have signified to them nothing but rebellion. We 
must remember that, although to us the Roman Empire 
is almost synonymous with stability, it was then only 
an experiment. The Jews had seen many empires 
rise and fall, and there was no apparent reason for the 
permanence of this one. Indeed, at the death of Nero, 
it must have seemed in a very serious condition. 

The first half of the century saw great Messianic 
agitation : the Jews, continually travelling about, carried 
from place to place the seeds of the new hope. The 
Order founded by John the Baptist powerfully influenced 
the rank and file of Judaism ; we hear of it in Alexandria, 
and in Ephesus twenty years later ; and the fourth Gospel 
may have these Johannine Jews in mind. They con- 
tinue to be mentioned as a Jewish sect far into the 
second century. We learn from Suetonius that there 
were riots at Rome " at the instigation of Chrestus," 
in consequence of which the Jews were banished from 
the city. It seems natural to suppose that these riots 
were connected with the Christians, owing to the fact 
that we find Aquila and Prisca among the exiles at 
Corinth, while the accusations made at Philippi that 

1 Acta xviii. 17 does not say it was Gallio's judgment-seat. 

13 



THE RISE OF CHRISTIANITY 

they were " turning the world upside down " probably 
refer to the same events in Rome, or at any rate to 
something more important than the local preaching 
of Paul, for Philippi was on the great road eastward 
from Rome. And if it be true that the word " Christ " 
had this political connotation, it seems reasonable to 
suppose that a similar scene lies behind the statement 
that the brethren were called Christians first in Antioch. 

To the Roman world, Christianity first appeared as 
a part of this vast movement : it can have been dis- 
tinguished neither from Judaism nor from the crudest 
Messianism. The Acts of the Apostles represents this 
period, when the Church was regarded as a party among 
the liberal and revolutionary Jews ; and it was the 
conservative party among their own community — 
called by St. John simply " the Jews " — who were the 
first persecutors. They could not long remain under 
the protection of such unwilling guardians ; and, even 
if the Romans included them under their benevolent 
Jewish policy, neither the Jews themselves nor the 
Roman people were so kindly disposed. Popular riots, 
often engineered by the Jews, were the second form of 
persecution which the Christians had to face. 

The mob was their second great enemy. In the first 
place, the Jews were probably only too glad to see 
diverted on to the heads of others the unpopularity 
which they themselves had won as foreigners and 
followers of strange superstitions. But what must 
have brought the trouble to a head was the large number 
of conversions from paganism. It was bad enough to 
practise horrible superstitions ; but proselytism was 
unforgivable — a proselytism, that is, which demanded 
that the converts should renounce the gods of their 
own country, and anathematise them as devils. When 
this " atheism " began to assume threatening propor- 
tions, people grew alarmed. 
14 



POPULAR MISCONCEPTIONS 

Popular fury is easily roused against anything icono- 
clastic ; and it is quite easy to understand the fury 
roused by the spread of this intolerant religion. Not 
only did they anathematise the gods of their country 
and the divine emperor, but they taught others to do 
the same ; they were godless, atheists, treasonable. 
They were a confederacy of slaves and women, plotting 
to overthrow our lord god the emperor, and divine Rome. 
They led off honest men and women to their " love " 
feasts — the word " agape " is unfortunate — and there 
the most scandalous orgies were held. St. Paul's 
picture of the uninitiated outsider entering a Christian 
meeting-house (1 Cor. xiv. 23 ff.) gives us a little glimpse 
of what an outsider must have thought of the pente- 
costal gift. Besides, there were stories darker than 
this. The early Christian idea of what is now called 
platonic love gave rise to the basest insinuations ; and 
the language used about the carefully guarded mystery 
of the Holy Eucharist led to a common belief that they 
met together to eat a murdered child, a rite connected 
with witchcraft. 

There was sufficient evidence, too, to afford grounds 
for a belief in revolutionary tendencies. The actual 
communism of Jerusalem, the virtual communism of 
every tiny ecclesia, and the new social morality were 
the outstanding features of the faith. Of all the gospel 
passages, the ones that seem to have left their deepest 
impress on the works of the earliest writers are the 
Sermon on the Mount and its like. And the belief in the 
destruction of the world and the establishment of a new 
Empire on these lines was in the very forefront of the 
gospel message. Besides, we must remember the exist- 
ence of extremists of an irresponsible type, who needed 
the apostolic warnings to be sober, and to work, and to 
submit to legitimate authority. There was obviously 
much revolutionary excitement on the extreme left. 

15 



THE RISE OF CHRISTIANITY 

Thus we get the popular riots like those at Ephesus 
or Rome. An irritating trait in the Christians was their 
condemnation of the wonderful temples and images 
of the Empire ; and in the case of Ephesus we see the 
hierarchy and those who made their living out of the 
temples engineering the riot partly, of course, from 
motives of self-interest, but partly for the honour of 
the goddess whom " all the world reverences." In a 
word, the Christians had made themselves thoroughly 
unpopular with their secret society, their mysterious 
rites and doctrines, and their slaves who thought them- 
selves as good as their masters, breaking up family 
life and undermining the whole fabric of society. Many 
must have been the occasions on which a brother suffered 
shame for the " name " of Christian, hurled at him 
abusively by the mob ; and many must have been the 
Pilates who allowed a mad mob to have its way — thus, 
no doubt, perished the faithful martyr Antipas. And 
finally Caesar himself, yielding to the people and the 
Jews, allowed a spectacular massacre of Christians at 
Rome, so long and so bloody that a reaction of pity 
ensued even in the hearts of the shallow Italian mob. 
So far, however, there seems to have been no official 
suppression of the new society. 

Meanwhile the theory of the supreme God at Jeru- 
salem was working out to the logical catastrophe. It 
was impossible for a deified Emperor in Rome to own 
as his vassal the Ancient of Days. It had to be fought 
out one way or another. Jerusalem was burned to the 
ground after the siege in 71, and was finally re-established 
in 135 as a heathen city ; in that year came the final 
defeat of the last extremist Jews under Bar-Kokhabh. 
As long as the God of the Jews lived in a citadel at 
Jerusalem, He was dangerous ; so soon as He became a 
purely religious conception He was harmless, and the 
Jews were allowed to continue the worship and discipline 
16 



CAUSES OF UNPOPULARITY 

of the synagogue. But during these years the Romans 
had made the discovery that the Christians were a 
distinct body ; Aristides can write : " This is plain to 
you, O King, that there are four races of men in the 
world: Barbarians and Greeks, Jews and Christians." 
(Syriac Version). 

Gibbon suggests that this discovery was made when 
the Jewish temple-tax was converted to the upkeep 
of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, and that the 
collection of this tax would certainly bring out the 
distinction amd make it final. But, in any case, the 
Christian had been bound to dissociate himself from the 
Jewish policy when it came to fighting for the temple. 
On the one hand, Jesus had foretold the destruction 
of the temple, perhaps connecting it with Himself; 
on the other hand, Christianity was the very opposite 
of an armed nationalism. The Christians, therefore, 
when they saw the signs, fled to the mountains. But 
while the status of the Jew after the war was quite 
satisfactory, that of the Christian was a puzzle ; he 
had no nation, and therefore no locus standi. As a 
society, the existence of Christianity was indefensible 
in an Empire which forbade all societies. " Non licet 
esse vos" (You have no right to be) was the verdict 
of the law. But, when it came to the point, and it 
was found, after due inquiry, that the society was revolu- 
tionary, that it was secret and atheistic, and that it 
refused the oath of allegiance to the divine Emperor, 
it became obvious that it could not be allowed to 
continue. Its members were enemies of the human 
race, and the magnitude of their conspiracy was the 
measure of the fear which it inspired. Yet no steps 
were taken to root it up, or even to seek out its members ; 
only if information were laid, or if there were a popular 
outburst (as in the case of St. Polycarp) the officials 
were bound to act, very often, it seems, with great 
2 17 



THE RISE OF CHRISTIANITY 

reluctance ; for they had sooner or later to recognise 
that the Christians were their best subjects. This then 
is the way in which Christianity came into conflict with 
the Empire ; it was as a political development, as a 
society, as an imperium in imperio, that its existence 
was felt to be impossible : and an " apology " is an 
attempt to defend Christianity in this conflict. Yet 
the apologists never do defend it solely on these grounds ; 
for, though Christianity does appear as an organised 
society, yet its foundation is not political. Its founda- 
tion is a certain faith in God, which the apologists felt 
to be closely related to the philosophy of the day, so 
that, in their defence of Christianity, it is the statement 
of this point of view which is their first care, though the 
question of how it works itself out in organised human 
society is of no less importance. To the philosophers 
they mainly address themselves ; and among these we 
must count not only Epictetus or Marcus Aurelius, but 
the Emperors Hadrian and Antoninus. We must 
remember that it is with the practical philosophy of the 
Empire, and not with the speculative philosophy of 
Hellas, that they are dealing. Among the philosophers 
were found those who, to-day, would be called the 
religious men, the artists in conduct, experts in man's 
relation to the universe. 

The relation between the Christian ideal and the 
philosophic ideal of the second century has been well 
depicted by Dr. E. A. Abbott in Silanus the Christian. 
The Stoicism of Epictetus, tinged as it was a very little 
with adventure or romance, becomes almost warm and 
attractive. Rex sapiens : the wise man is a king ; he 
looks at everything with fearless eyes, and sees it as it 
is ; life holds no illusions or terrors for him ; he remains 
totally master of himself; no passion or emotion can 
stir his soul. He is like God, the divine Logos, impas- 
sible, eternal, who pervades and upholds the universe, 
18 



CHRISTIANITY AND STOICISM 

from whom comes his spark of soul, to whom it returns. 
In contrast with this ideal, the zeal of St. Paul must 
have appeared hysterical and unmanly. To rejoice 
with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that 
weep, was no part of the Stoic discipline. " You have 
lost your son," said a friend to a philosopher of old. 
" I did not think I had begotten an immortal," was the 
reply. When the ideal man loses his humanity like 
this, we can understand how a warmer heart would 
turn for comfort to the spirit of the Gospel. And this 
is exactly what happened, for instance, in the case of 
St. Justin. But it had to be a complete turn round ; 
no Stoic philosopher could expect his stony deity to 
assume such warm and human flesh as did the Logos of 
St. John. The One Eternal would never become a 
village carpenter, suffer, be insulted, and die. And his 
ideal man would never weep, sigh, and be weary, or 
pass through the agony of the garden. For such a God, 
the philosopher would have nothing but scorn ; to him, 
the supreme virtue was not humility, but dignity. 
Humiliation did not mature, it marred the perfect 
stature of a man. 

Marcus Aurelius, the emperor-philosopher, must have 
known something of Christianity ; yet he could calmly 
approve, if he did not order, the horrible martyrdoms of 
Lyons and Vienne. And it was his philosophy that 
nerved him to do without a tremor that from which 
the vicious but easy-going Commodus shrank ; he 
would probably have suffered the same torments as 
calmly as he ordered them. His only reference to the 
Christians is a comparison of their indecent glee in 
martyrdom with the seemly composure of the dying 
Stoic. 

Again, to the philosopher, the ignoble origin of Chris- 
tianity would be sufficient to discredit it. Not only 
was it current among slaves and women, who, rightly 

19 



THE RISE OF CHRISTIANITY 

speaking, were not human souls at all ; but it had risen 
among these pestilent Jews, a superstitious and un- 
reasonable people, quite devoid of philosophy. It is 
true there is a humaner spirit in the philosophy of the 
second century than in any that went before (despite 
isolated pronouncements on slavery, for instance, by 
men like Agatho) ; but its conscious connection with 
Christian writings or teaching must be left an open 
question : the spirit of Marcus or Epictetus is not such 
as to suggest that they would have read barbarous 
works like those of Paul. The resemblance must not 
be put down to direct cause and effect. 

Yet the apologists felt, and rightly too, that they had 
more in common with philosophy than with any other 
movement in the Empire ; they not only joined them 
in the province of conduct, the province to which 
philosophy had been more or less limiting itself, but also 
explored the length and breadth of those unknown lands 
through which the earlier speculators and physicists 
had driven a few roads. But, in spite of this undoubted 
affinity, the Christian Church found herself in deadly 
opposition to the philosopher when Plato's words came 
true, and the philosopher was king. The divine titles 
were given by the Church, not to him, but to the cruci- 
fied Galilean ; He was Lord, Master, God and Saviour. 
And in her efforts to explain this opposition, the Church 
was driven to explain her existence, her history, her 
philosophy, her belief, her politic ; and, what she could 
not explain, the new faith in Christ Jesus. 



20 



CHAPTER II 
THE CHA]\IPIONS OF CHRISTIANITY 

" It is clear to us, O King, that there are three orders of mankind 
in this world ; these are, the worshippers of your alleged gods, the 
Jews, and the Christians." — Abistides : Apology II. 

" To the Emperor Titus -^Elius Adrianus Antoninus, Pius Augustus 
Caesar and to his son Verissimus the philosopher, and to Lucius the 
philosopher, the natural son of Caesar, but the adopted of Pius the lover 
of learning ; and to the sacred Senate, and to all the people of Rome, in 
behalf of men of all ranks and nations unjustly loaded with public 
odium and oppression, I, Justin the son of Priscus and grandson of 
Bacchius, natives of Flavia Neapolis and Palestine, Syria, I who am 
one of the suffering multitude, humbly offer this apology." — Su Justin : 
Apology /, i. 

"Romans, the things which have recently happened in your city 
under Urbicus, and the things which are also being everywhere un- 
reasonably done by our governors, have compelled me to frame this 
composition for your sakes, who are men of like passions, and brethren, 
though ye know it not, and though you be unwilling to acknowledge 
it on account of your glorying in what you esteem dignities." — St. 
Justin ; Apology II, i. 

" To the Emperors, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus and Lucius Aurelius 
Commodus, conquerors of Armenia and Sarmatia, and, more than all, 
philosophers." — Athenaqoras : Embassy, i. 

'• A fluent tongue and an elegant style afford pleasure, and such 
praise as vain glory delights in, to wretched men who have been cor- 
rupted in mind ; the lover of truth does not give heed to ornamented 
speeches, but examines the real matter of speech, what it is, and what 
kind it is." — Theophilus : To Autolyciis, i. 

" Be not, O Greeks, so very hostilely disposed towards the bar- 
barians, nor look with ill-will on their opinions ; for which of your 
institutions has not been derived from the barbarians ? " — Tatian : To 
the Greeks, i. 

" When I consider, and call to mind my remembrance of Octavius, 
my excellent and most faithful companion, the sweetness and charm 

21 



CHAMPIONS OF CHRISTIANITY 

of the man so clings to me that I appear to myself in some sort as if I 
were returning to times past, and not only recalling to memory things 
which happened long ago and are now gone." — Minucius Felix : 
Octavius, i. 

" If you, the guardians of the Roman Empire, presiding in the eye 
of the city, for the administration of public justice ; if you must not 
examine the Christian cause and give it a fair hearing in open court ; 
if the Christian cause is the only cause which your lordships either fear 
or blush to be concerned for in public ; or, lastly, if your odium to this 
sect has been too much fermented by your late severities at home upon 
your Christian servants and you bring this domestic ferment into the 
courts of judicature; if these, I say, are the bars in the way to justice, be 
pleased at least to tolerate thus far, to let truth wait upon you in private, 
and to read the apology we are not suffered to speak." — Teetulltan : 
Apology, i. 

" Since I see, most excellent Diognetus, that thou hast shown an 
eager desire to understand the religion of the Christian, ... I welcome 
thy zeal, and I pray God, who bestows upon us the power both to speak 
and to hear, that it may be given to me to speak in such a way that 
thou mayest be most helped by what thou hearest, and to thee to hear 
in such a way that he who speaks may have no cause for regret." — To 
Diognetus, i. 

II. The Champions of Christianity 

With the Emperor Trajan and his successors a new era 
opened for the Roman Empire. The reign of tyranny 
and suspicion had passed away ; Nero and Domitian 
were now only evil memories. Not only the Christians, 
but the whole world, rejoiced. The philosophers had 
suffered under the house of Csesar much as the Chris- 
tians had done ; now they found the reward of their 
sufferings, and mounted the throne of the Empire. 

Some have claimed Hadrian as the greatest of the 
Caesars : it is true he surrendered the conquests Trajan 
had made in the East ; but in this he showed himself 
a wise administrator. Within the limits of the Empire, 
so consolidated, he was able to develop a truer peace 
than Augustus had done, not only by efficient adminis- 
tration and adequate military defence, but by the 
development of sound principles in law and devotion 
22 



EARLIEST APOLOGIES 

to an enlightened philosophy. Roman jurisprudence 
dates from this period, but it owed its being to the 
philosophical conception of an equal and universal law 
applying to all nations. As an example of what was 
done we may instance Trajan's Rescript to the Chris- 
tians ; popular outbursts and anonymous accusations 
were declared *' unworthy of our age " ; all proceedings 
against Christians were to take place through the legiti- 
mate channels of the public courts. 

There is considerable doubt as to the dates of the 
first apologies. It seems likely that Aristides of Athens 
addressed himself, not to Hadrian, but to Antoninus 
Pius, perhaps in Rome about the year 140. A lost 
apology by Quadratus (perhaps Bishop of Athens) must 
have been earlier. An extract preserved by Eusebius 
dates it very early indeed. 

" But the works of our Saviour were lasting : for 
they were real. Those who were healed, those who 
rose from the dead, were seen not only while being cured 
or while rising, but continued present; not only while 
the Saviour was with us, but when He had gone, they 
lived a long time, so that some of them survived even 
to our own times." 

The first apologies were addressed to philosophers, re- 
commending Christianity as the only religion worthy 
of their consideration. Hadrian is addressed by Aris- 
tides as a philosopher rather than a king. 

His first chapter deals with the nature of God, the 
Mover of the World, who has made all for the sake of 
man. He describes Him as unbegotten, unmade, 
without beginning or end, without name, likeness, parts 
or passions . . . perfect, complete, sufficient. " He 
asks no sacrifice and no libation, nor any of the things 
that are visible ; He asks not anything from anyone ; 

23 



CHAMPIONS OF CHRISTIANITY 

but all ask from Him." This is non-controversial ; the 
Stoie will agree with him. 

The second chapter describes the " four races of men 
in this world : Barbarians and Greeks, Jews and Chris- 
tians.'* The Barbarians come from Kronos and Rhea, 
the Greeks from Helenus and Zeus, the Jews from 
Abraham, and the Christians " from Jesus Christ, who 
is named the Son of God most High." An early bap- 
tismal creed is here incorporated, to define Christianity ; 
but, for further particulars, the reader is referred to a 
written Gospel, which tells how Jesus took flesh of a 
Hebrew virgin, chose twelve disciples, was pierced by 
the Jews, died and was buried, rose and ascended into 
heaven, and how the twelve disciples went out and 
taught in the known parts of the world. This, except 
for a reference to the coming judgment, is all he tells 
about the doctrine of Christianity. 

In chapters iii-vii he attacks the "Barbarians," 
showing how they worship idols, the elements, the sun, 
and deified men, putting the creation before the Creator. 
In chapters viii-xi he attacks the " Greeks," who, in 
spite of their intellectual achievements, worship gods 
who are both immoral and ridiculous. From these in 
chapters xii and xiii he turns to the mysteries of Isis, 
and the other superstitions of Egypt, especially animal- 
worship. In chapter xiv he commends the Jews 
because they worship God and not His works, and 
observe a kindly morality, but they too have gone 
astray by the service of angels, the observation of 
sabbaths, new moons, and other such ordinances, 
" which things not even thus have they perfectly ob- 
served." 

In these attacks on the non-Christian religions Aris- 
tides has much in common with the philosophers, and 
it is this that forms the main argumentative part of 
his work. When he comes to recommend Christianity 
24 



ARISTIDES 

he does not employ argument, but contents himself 
with describing the moral life of the " brethren," leav- 
ing that picture of love incarnate to exercise its con- 
verting influence. Chapter xv begins with an account 
of how they keep the commandments of God, the Maker 
of heaven and earth ; it begins with the Ten Command- 
ments, but describes them loosely and expands them 
into the new commandment of love. He describes 
their philanthropy, their honest and sober life, their 
care for each other. Chapter xvi describes how they 
know God and ask from Him petitions which are proper 
for Him to give and them to receive. He has no doubt 
that the world stands by reason of the intercession of 
the Christians. All is coloured by the hope and expec- 
tation of the world to come. For "their sayings and 
their ordinances, and the glory of the service, and the 
expectation of their reward," the reader is again re- 
ferred to their writings. Finally, in chapter xvii, he 
says " their teaching is the gate of light. Let all those 
then approach thereunto who do not know God . . . 
let them anticipate the dread judgment which is 
to come by Jesus Christ upon the whole race of 
man." 

In this primitive apology we see doctrinal and gospel 
Christianity ; but it is not made the subject of argu- 
ment. There is no reference to the sacraments or 
ministry of the Church — the whole emphasis is laid on 
the Christian morality and the worship of God the 
Creator, and the religions of the day are unmercifully 
attacked. In this it conforms to the normal type ; 
but it has a tolerant and philosophic calm which is soon 
lost. The theory that the heathen gods are devils has 
yet to be developed by St. Justin, and a philosophic 
argument laid down to support the Christian doctrine 
of the Incarnation. This is the second stage of the 
argument with the philosophers, and it is made more 

25 



CHAMPIONS OF CHRISTIANITY 

bitter by the fact that the Christians were persecuted 
by the philosophers just as they had been by the Caesars. 
Even Marcus Aurelius, who surrounded himself with 
philosophers and professors of renunciation, was a 
persecutor of the Church. 

St. Justin's Apologies ring with real indignation against 
the persecution of the innocent. 

(Chapters i-xv.) The First Apology of St. Justin 
is addressed to Antoninus Pius, " and to his son, Veris- 
simus the philosopher, and to Lucius the philosopher." 
Philosophers, he says, ought to be lovers of truth, and 
not condemn the innocent. Christians do not fear 
investigation ; they demand it. For the persecution 
of Christians, like the persecution of Socrates, comes of 
the devils. They are called atheists because they 
refuse to worship these devils ; but they worship God, 
who is Father, Son, and Spirit. They are not evil- 
doers ; for, like Plato, they look forward to a judgment. 
They cannot worship idols ; but turn to the living and 
true God, who made the world for men. Again, they 
do expect a kingdom, as their enemies allege ; but not 
an earthly one. They are the best of citizens, because 
they always act as if in God's presence. And yet 
their Master prophesied these very sufferings as a result 
of their goodness. 

(Chapter xvi-xxvi.) After this general plea St. 
Justin passes to a description and justification of the 
Christian religion, which he reveals far more fully than 
any other writer — chapters xvi-xxiii deal with the 
moral teaching of Jesus, based mainly on St. Matthew's 
Gospel, xxiv and xxvi emphasise the bodily nature of 
the Resurrection. 

(Chapters xxvii-xxxvii.) A comparison is then in- 
stituted with the religions and customs of the pagan 
world, showing how much more fantastic beliefs go 
unpunished, and how the immoralities attributed to the 
26 



JUSTIN MARTYR 

Christians are small compared with those actually found 
among the pagans. 

(Chapters xxxviii-lxxviii.) St. Justin then develops 
his main line of argument for the truth of the Christian 
religion, the argument from prophecy. The birth, suffer- 
ing, death and resurrection of Christ had been foretold 
by the Spirit through the prophets, and references are 
given for every detail. He also says that Greek mytho- 
logy and philosophy were based on these prophecies : 
the former at least through the agency of devils. " But 
here the devils were mistaken in not having one of 
Jupiter's sons crucified in imitation of Christ." 

The last section (Ixxix. to end) deals with the Church 
and the Christian way of life, revealing more than any 
other apologist. After fasting and penitence, the con- 
verts are regenerated by baptism in the name of the 
Trinity ; for Christ has said, " Unless you are born 
again, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven." By 
this they obtain remission of their sins, and it is also 
called illumination. There are traces of a baptismal 
creed. This sacrament also has been copied by the 
devils. Then follows a digression on the doctrine of 
the Logos in the Old Testament. 

In chapter Ixxxv follows an account of the prayers 
and the Eucharist. Bread, with a cup of wine and 
water, is brought to the president, who takes it and 
offers up praise and glory to the Father of all things, 
through the name of His Son and the Holy Spirit : 
" and this prayer to God ... is a prayer of no ordinary 
length. When the bishop has finished the prayers and 
the thanksgiving, all the people present conclude with an 
audible voice, saying Amen. . . . Those we call deacons 
distribute to everyone present to share in this eucharis- 
tic bread and wine and water, and they carry it to 
the absent. . . . We do not take this as common bread 
and wine ; but as Jesus Christ our Saviour was made 

27 



CHAMPIONS OF CHRISTIANITY 

flesh ... so are we taught that this food is turned 
into the nourishment and substance of our flesh and 
blood, and is in some sense the flesh and blood of the 
incarnate Jesus." An account is then given of the 
reading of the apostolic and prophetic writings at 
Sunday worship, and of the practice of almsgiving. 

St. Justin is not an orderly writer ; but such is the 
main structure of his work. The Logos Doctrine which 
he uses to explain the Incarnation is often alluded to 
in it, but is nowhere treated in an orderly manner. 
Another side of this doctrine is developed in the Second 
Apology, a shorter, less formal, more vigorous work, 
written on the occasion of the condemnation of two 
Christians, Ptolemaeus and Lucius, by Urbicus the 
praetor : it is written also partly in answer to the at- 
tacks of Crescens, a cynic philosopher. So far chap- 
ters i-iii. 

(Chapters iv-viii.) God has a purpose for the 
human race which is being carried out through Chris- 
tians. But the world has fallen away from that pur- 
pose since the time when the angels fell victims to the 
charms of the daughters of men, from which union were 
born the demons whom the world worships as gods 
(cf. Enoch, passim). God and Jesus, His Son, have 
powers over these demons. And God has His chosen 
people, the Christians, for whose sake the world is pre- 
served from inevitable punishment. This is why Chris- 
tians who are inspired by the Word are persecuted by 
the world, even as were Heraclitus and other philosophers 
who were similarly inspired. 

(Chapters ix-xiii.) God, since He is just, must in 
the end punish vice. As the divine Word He was par- 
tially known to the writers of old, like Socrates, though 
not fully revealed till the incarnation of Jesus Christ. 
The Christian contempt of death is bound up with their 
choice of an innocent life. And this innocence is tri- 
28 



ATHENAGORAS 

umphantly proved by their fearlessness. Not that we 
differ in all respects from all men, for all writers spoke 
the truth in proportion as they were inspired by the 
" Seed of the Word " in them : " Whatever things were 
rightly said among all men are the property of us 
Christians." 

St. Justin ends by beseeching the Romans — to whom 
he addresses himself — to make his book public, and so 
spread the truth about Christianity (chapters xiv-xv). 

We now come to Athenagoras, also a philosopher, but 
resident at Athens. We shall find in him also the 
Enochic myth of the origin of evil, and it is worth 
noting that this conception was imported into Chris- 
tianity from the learning — even the science — of the day. 
He also emphasises the importance of the resurrection 
of the body. He is more learned, cultured and philo- 
sophical than Justin ; and seems absolutely at ease 
when dealing with the poets and philosophers. 

His Apology is addressed to the Emperors Marcus 
Aurelius and Commodus, " conquerors of Armenia and 
Sarmatia, and, more than all, philosophers." He begins 
by complaining that Christians are singled out for un- 
just treatment. They have a right to common justice. 
And it is the duty of the state to inquire into the truth 
of the three charges brought against them : atheism, 
Thyestean feasts, and QEdipodean intercourse (chap- 
ters i-iii). 

(Chapters iv-xii.) As to the charge of atheism, we 
believe in one God, who made all things by the Logos. 
Poets like Euripides believe in one God. So also philo- 
sophers like Plato and Aristotle. Yet they are not 
persecuted, while we, who have the inspiration of His 
Spirit, are. This faith has reason on its side, and, in 
addition, the witness of God Himself speaking through 
His prophets, Moses, Isaiah, or Jeremiah. We believe, 
therefore, in one God and one co-eternal Logos, and in 

29 



CHAMPIONS OF CHRISTIANITY 

the Holy Spirit flowing from Him and returning back, 
like the rays from the sun. In accordance with this 
faith is our moral teaching, " Love your enemies " ; 
and in accordance with our faith is our practice. And 
therefore it is impossible to regard us as atheists. 

(Chapters xiii-xvi.) We now come to the " atheist" 
charges in detail. We do not sacrifice to God, because 
He has no need of blood and burnt-offerings ; but we 
do offer the bloodless sacrifice, which is our reasonable 
service. We do not honour all the gods of all the cities : 
their multitude and variance makes it impossible. We 
do not confuse God with matter, and worship idols. 
We admire the heavens and the elements as works of 
art, but do not worship them, knowing they are subject 
to a law of dissolution. 

(Chapter xvii-xxx.). The heathen gods were made 
by men ; by such poets as Homer and Hesiod, and such 
artists as Saurias and Cleanthes. The poets themselves 
affirm that these gods had a beginning, like men ; and 
the philosophers agree with them. They give these 
gods the forms of monsters, and attribute to them im- 
pure loves, myths for which symbolism supplies no 
explanation. 

If this is so, what power produces the miracles that 
are done in the name of the idols ? Thales divides 
" superior beings " into " God, demons, and heroes " ; 
and Plato agrees with him. We, too, recognise under 
God the existence of demons, the product of an unlaw- 
ful love between angels and women. These beings 
exercise an evil control over matter, and are responsible 
for the apparent moral chaos which has led poets and 
philosophers to deny the existence of Providence. 
They entice men to the impure worship of idols, and 
are always about men trying to get the mastery. In 
their origin the heathen gods were only men, as the 
poets admit ; and, though they may have been good 
80 



THEOPHILUS 

or strong, we are not atheists because we refuse to 
worship them. 

(Chapters xxxi-xxxvi.) The charges of immorahty 
are hardly hkely to be true, considering our belief in 
the judgment to come, and the future life. Compare 
the morality of Zeus with ours : " He that looketh on 
a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery 
already in his heart." And our morality, celibate or 
married, is equally pure. How, then, can you heathens 
accuse us ? Similarly, how can you, who delight in the 
gladiatorial shows, accuse us of cruelty ? Finally, our 
belief in the resurrection of the body — which is fully in 
accordance with your physics — is the most powerful 
guardian of morality. 

Athenagoras attaches such importance to the argu- 
ment from the resurrection of the body that he devotes 
a separate tract to this subject. It will be noted that 
less stress than ever is laid on the worship and doctrine 
of Christianity, and more emphasis laid on the main 
topics of controversy like the origin of evil, the existence 
of Providence. This is still more remarkable in Theo- 
philus, To Autolycus, It is worth noting that both 
Athenagoras and Theophilus ascribe their conversion to 
the Old Testament. 

Book I, First Principles. God is a Spirit, and can 
only be discerned by the eyes of the soul if the heart is 
pure. No words can describe Him in His perfection 
, and justice. He is without beginning and without end, 
the Creator of all things, and can in a limited way be 
discerned from His works, the seasons and winds and 
the stars, and the order of them. But we cannot see 
Him till we put on immortality. You think this faith 
of ours is unreasonable ; but is your worship of im- 
moral gods, of idols, or of kings any more reasonable ? 
We Christians are called so because we are anointed 
with the Spirit of God. Our faith in the resurrection is 

31 



CHAMPIONS OF CHRISTIANITY 

reasonable, because it is in accordance with the observed 
course of nature. This I learned because I found in 
the Scriptures the Holy Spirit, and this God which you 
have asked me to show you. 

Book II, The Origin of the World. This book be- 
gins by satirising heathen conceptions of deity, not 
merely the popular beliefs in images and local deities, 
but the errors of the philosophers in thinking matter 
co-eternal with God, and of the poets in the making 
and genealogies of their gods and the divine ruling of 
the world. 

In chapter ix he proceeds to the Christian belief, 
beginning from the prophets who were inspired by the 
Holy Spirit. These tell us how God, through His Word, 
made all things out of nothing. He then gives the his- 
tory of the world from the Creation to the Flood, and 
the division of the world among the sons of Noah. All 
is given in detail, and no occasion is lost of pointing out 
where these older books correct Homer and Hesiod. 
Secular history gives no account of these matters ; but 
we find them in the prophets, who also give us the laws 
of a holy life. He finally shows that the Sibyl, the 
poets, and the philosophers confirm the account given 
by the prophets. 

Book III. Greek and Hebrew literature contrasted. 
The Greek writers were later than the Hebrew ; and 
are consequently not reliable. They are self-contra- 
dictory, and also inculcate the very crimes of which 
Christians are falsely accused. They do not agree in 
their descriptions of the gods, and represent them as 
immoral. To us God has revealed His nature in the 
divine law of the Ten Commandments. We also find in 
the Old Law humanity towards strangers, repentance from 
evil works, social justice, chastity, and love of enemies. 
It will be noticed that Theophilus ignores the ceremonial 
law : to him the Old Testament is a prophetic book. 
32 



TATIAN 

Greek history is wrong in its chronology, while 
Hebrew history is accurate because it is inspired by 
God. He contrasts the myths of Noah and Deucalion, 
and the truth about Moses with Manetho's inaccuracy. 
He then goes on to show that the Temple is more ancient 
than classic civilisation, and that the prophets wrote 
before the Greek philosophers. The remainder of the 
book deals with the details of comparative chronology, 
and ends up by explaining that Greek writers do not 
deal with Hebrew history, in the first place, because it 
is of superior antiquity, and in the second because of 
their frivolous view of moral values. 

Theophilus is still sympathetic with philosophy, 
though not in the whole-hearted manner of St. Justin. 
In St. Justin's disciple, Tatian, we find the pendulum 
has swung to the other extreme. Tatian is an " As- 
syrian," and has none of the reverence for Greek thought 
so natural to a member of the civilised world. His 
work, To the Greeks, is a satire in the manner of Swift : 
and though it is just as unpardonably savage as The 
Tale of a Tub, it also makes just as good reading. 

(Chapters i-x.) Why so proud of your culture, O 
Greeks ? for you learned it all — magic, astronomy, writing, 
music, everything — from the barbarians; your philo- 
sophers are examples of vice and monuments of ridicule. 
Why, therefore, do you enter into conflict with us who 
worship God, the invisible Creator ? from Him comes 
forth the Logos. The creation of matter by God is the 
basis of our belief in the resurrection of the body. Then 
comes the story of the fall of the angels through the 
pride of one who thought himself equal to God ; this is 
the origin of demons, the heathen gods who sin like men 
and give rise to superstition. How ridiculous they all 
are ! 

(Chapters xi-xx.) We are not under fate : our 

sin is the result of our own free will. The spirit in 

3 33 



CHAMPIONS OF CHRISTIANITY 

US is superior to matter ; it is immortal, like God, 
and responsible. It will be punished, though not so 
severely as the demons. At present, it is necessary for 
the spirit, while still in her dwelling of flesh, to be united 
with the Spirit of God. Thus, repudiating matter, the 
Christian will be unharmed by the demons and their 
illusive terrors. They pretend to bestow blessing and 
health ; but this is not in their power, but in God's. 
And to God we must render thanks. 

(Chapters xx-xxviii.) Are not the heathen gods 
ridiculous beside the Christian God ? Could anything 
be more wicked and laughable than the Greek religious 
rites ? Is anything more demoralising than their 
gladiatorial shows and theatrical performances ? Their 
philosophers are a laughable rabble ; their learning is 
petty pride ; and men who believe as they do have no 
right to condemn the opinions of Christians. Their 
legislation allows the most unnatural immorality. 

(Chapters xxix-xlii.) I had seen all this myself, 
and was converted from it by reading the simple but 
great words of the prophets. I was initiated, therefore, 
and resolved to resist the devil. The doctrine I em- 
braced was far more ancient than that of Greece, and 
it was a doctrine fitted not only for philosophers, but 
for young and old, rich and poor, among whom are 
examples of virtue very different from the heroines of 
Greek story, to whom statues were erected in every 
city. I have not learned these things at second-hand ; 
I have visited many lands and seen them myself ; and 
I have chosen the best. 

The remaining seven chapters deal with the com- 
parative chronology of Greek and Hebrew history along 
the same lines as Theophilus, to whom perhaps Tatian, 
the pupil of Justin, owes part of this extremely original 
apology. It will be noted that, in Tatian, we have still 
less about Christian faith and worship. It has still 
34 



M I N U C I U S 

further narrowed itself down to the main points of 
controversy. 

There are several points of connection between the 
two Latin apologies ; but whether Minucius borrowed 
from Tertullian, or vice versa, remains doubtful. In 
the former case, Minucius cannot belong to the second 
century, or only just falls within it. There is very little 
evidence on which to decide this question, and, for 
completeness' sake it should be included here. 

The writer is a disciple of Cicero as well as of Christ. 
The Octavius is written in dialogue form like the De 
Amicitia or the De Oratore ; and the persons in the 
dialogue move in an atmosphere of Roman calm and 
dignity. They do not become excited or angry : 
strong things are said, but no tempers are lost. In 
this Minucius contrasts strongly with Tertullian, who 
was far more African than Latin. In Minucius we see 
Roman aristocracy accepting the new religion ; it is the 
beginning of that movement which saw the noble and 
ancient families of Rome become monks. 

(Chapters i, ii, iii, iv.) Octavius, the dear friend of 
Minucius, arrives in Rome, and the two, with Caecilius, 
are walking by the sea-shore : Caecilius kisses his hand 
to an image of Serapis, and the action provokes a de- 
bate with Octavius, in which Minucius is arbiter. It 
is interesting to note that it arises from an action in 
which Caecilius has philosophy against him as well as 
Christianity. 

(Chapters v-xiii.) Caecilius opens his attack on 
Christianity with the rationalist argument, the base- 
lessness of their religion in a universe governed by 
necessity. Pagan religion, on the other hand, recognises 
this necessity, or fate ; and the Romans have always 
met success by adoring what gods they found, and by 
their observance of auguries and auspices. The atheist 
philosophers who tried to destroy this religion were 

35 



CHAMPIONS OF CHRISTIANITY 

deservedly punished. How much more a low and 
illiterate conspiracy of slaves who despise the temples 
while their own ceremonies will not bear the light of 
day ! Chapter ix develops the slanderous charges against 
the Christians. He then goes on to ridicule the idea 
of an omnipresent God, whom he regards as a sort of 
spy ; he also satirises the destruction of the world by 
fire, the bodily resurrection, and the present want and 
poverty of Christians. " Where is that God who is 
able to help you when you come to life again if he 
cannot help you while you are in this life ? " True 
philosophy is sceptical, and the best advice to Christians 
is to give up their audacious religion, " lest either a 
childish religion should be introduced, or all religion 
should be overthrown." 

(Chapters xvi-xxi.) Octavius, in reply, points out 
that the truth of an argument does not depend on the 
poverty or riches of the man who advances it. He then 
goes on to the proof from design of the existence of a 
Creator ; a God greater than all definitions, recognised 
by common people in their ordinary speech, and praised 
by the poets and the philosophers, especially Plato in 
the TimcEUS. This being so, we must not be carried 
away by the old fables and belief in gods who, after 
all, were only deified men. Then follows (xxi-xxiv) 
the usual satire on the gods, their obscene myths, and 
their helpless images. The Roman Empire, he says, 
was obtained, not by favour of their gods, but by 
violence and crime ; " for to adore what you have taken 
by force is to consecrate sacrilege, not divinities." Nor 
were the auspices able to foretell the failure of Regulus 
and other great commanders. It is the devils, not 
God, who are worshipped in the pagan religion. But 
the devils fear the Christians and fly from them, and it 
is they who set going the slanders against them, which 
he repudiates. Christians do not worship the cross, 
86 



M I N U C I U S 

nor drink the blood of infants ; though pagans do just 
as cruel things with their children. And Christian 
feasts are modest and temperate. 

(Chapters xxxii-xxxviii.) Then comes the vindi- 
cation of the pure religion of Christianity. The Christian 
God has no temples, because He is too great. " Is it not 
better He should be dedicated in our mind, consecrated 
in our inmost heart ? " He is omnipresent, and the 
whole world is His family ; and He was able to protect 
the Jews as long as they followed Him. The philo- 
sophers have not found the destruction of the world 
by fire an absurdity ; and the resurrection of the body 
is equally possible. It does not follow that what is 
withdrawn from our eyes perishes before God ; and 
punishment is impossible without the bodily resurrection. 
Christians do not fear comparison with pagans in 
morality, now or at the last day. As for fate, fate is 
God. Chapter xxxvii points out how Christian boys 
and young women daily suffer death with a courage 
comparable with that shown by Mucins Scaevola or 
Regulus ; while the heathens find pleasure in their 
deaths and like spectacles. Christians, therefore, absent 
themselves from sacrifices and shows not because 
God's creation is corrupted, but lest any should think 
they were submitting to the devils in whose honour 
they were held. They are the true philosophers — " We 
who bear wisdom, not in our dress, but in our mind; 
we do not speak great things, but do them.'* 

(Chapters xxxix-xlii.) Ceecilius declares himself con- 
quered, and asks for further instruction — which, indeed, 
is necessary, the apology, as usual, dealing only with 
the first step towards the Christian faith. So ends the 
work, of which Milman said : " Perhaps no late work, 
either pagan or Christian, reminds us of the golden days of 
Latin prose so much as the Octavius of Minucius Felix." 

When we come to the consideration of Tertullian, we 

37 



CHAMPIONS OF CHRISTIANITY 

find that, if he borrowed from Cicero at all, it was from 
Philippics. His is the spirit of the lawyer, not of the 
philosopher : he pushes home his case with every art 
of which he is master — epigram, force, fury, vivid denun- 
ciation. His fault is his ferocity and lack of sympathy ; 
on the other hand, he is the most arresting thinker of 
the century. And it is a remarkable achievement that 
he should also be the father of Latin theology. It is 
also quite possible that, as a jurist, he had a finger in 
the codifying of Roman law in this century : certainly 
a lawyer of his name was prominent in this great work. 
In his Apology he collects and weaves together in a 
masterly manner the arguments of all who had gone 
before him. 

The first sixteen chapters of his Apology answer the 
charges against the Christians, and retort others against 
the pagans (chapters i-iv). He begins by alleging 
that the persecution of Christians is the persecution of 
the truth by ignorance and wickedness, as is natural 
in a world where truth is a stranger. The judges 
condemn Christians mainly out of fear of the mob ; 
and, as no crime is ever alleged against them, this is a 
sure sign that they mxust be innocent. It seems, therefore, 
that they are persecuted merely for their name, and the 
pagans do not understand the meaning even of that. 
If the law orders this persecution, then the law should 
be amended, as so many laws are now being amended. 

Chapter v contains the debateable statement that 
the wisest of Emperors have protected the Christians. 
Tiberius wished to enrol Christ among the received 
gods ; Nero and Domitian were the first persecutors ; 
Marcus Aurelius, Trajan, Hadrian, Vespasian, and 
Antoninus Pius all were favourable to Christianity. 
This is scarcely true of Marcus Aurelius ; and Tertullian 
is clearly carried away by the legend of the Thundering 
Legion. 
38 



TERTULLIAN 

(Chapters vi-viii.) In spite of the Roman talk of the 
antiquity of their rehgion, they are themselves intro- 
ducing scandalous novelties every day, so that civilisation 
is now corrupt and degenerate. And yet it is common 
talk that Christians behave in this fashion, which is 
pure rumour with no shred of evidence. The crimes 
charged on the Christians are incredible : human na- 
ture is incapable of them. Could you do them ? 

(Chapters ix-xvi.) And yet of all these practices 
the pagans themselves are guilty : the sacrifice of chil- 
dren to Saturn, the exposition of children, the blood- 
lust at the gladiatorial games, and the immoralities of 
the tragedies. You call us atheists, who worship God ; 
you yourselves worship men ; and the men you have 
deified are not half so moral as Socrates or Aristides. 
You worship images ; and, when these images are done 
with, put the materials to any shameful use. You in- 
sult your gods by sacrificing to them the worthless parts 
of animals. Your poets represent the gods as full of all 
manner of evil passions. You, and not the Christians, 
are the profaners of temples. You, not the Christians, 
worship the ass's head, the Cross, or the sun. 

(Chapters xvii-xxi.) What is Christianity ? We 
believe in one God, the Creator, omnipresent, pure 
Spirit, the giver of all good things ; to Him the soul of 
man turns naturally in gratitude and worship. He is 
revealed to us by the prophets, whose works were trans- 
lated in Egypt under Ptolemy Philadelphus. They are 
the oldest writings in the world — Moses lived a thou- 
sand years before the Trojan War ; and their divinity 
is proved by the fact that everything they wrote came 
to pass. For among the Jews the Word of God became 
incarnate in Jesus Christ, Spirit of Spirit, God of God, 
coming like a ray from the sun : and He wrought such 
miracles, and so died and rose again, as the prophets 
had foretold. He is the true God ; others are false. 

39 



CHAMPIONS OF CHRISTIANITY 

(Chapters xxii-xxvii.). Heathen rehgion, on the 
other hand, is inspired by devils. These devils are the 
fallen angels ; they abound everywhere, and are respon- 
sible for the miracles of paganism. But they fly from 
Christians, who are able to cure every man who is pos- 
sessed by them. It is these devils who form the array 
of gods worshipped throughout the Roman Empire. 
It is not to these that Rome owes her grandeur, but to 
war and desolation. Kingdoms are held only under 
the one supreme God. These devils are the origin of 
the persecution of Christians ; because they see their 
time is short. 

(Chapters xxviii-xxxviii.) The second charge against 
Roman religion is that the Emperor is put above all the 
gods, and is their patron. Our God is the eternal God, 
the Maker of Kings, to whom we pray for the prosperity 
of the Emperor. For we are ordered to love our enemies ; 
besides, we believe that the prosperity of the Empire 
stands between us and the dissolution of the world. 
Therefore we are loyal to the Emperor, though we do 
not call him God, " for I am Caesar's free-born subject, 
and we have but one Lord, the Almighty and Eternal 
God, who is his Lord as well as mine." This is why 
we take no part in the festivals of Csesar. But we, who 
love even our enemies, should not be persecuted as ill- 
doers. We are numerous enough to destroy the Empire 
in a single night ; yet we defend it with our prayers. 
Therefore, we whose interests lie in another world, 
cannot be suspected of having designs against the king- 
dom of this world. 

(Chapters xxxix-1.) Who are we, then ? A cor- 
poration of men, bound together to pray ; we meet 
together to read the Holy Scriptures, and to improve 
our lives ; we pay our money into a common fund for 
charitable purposes ; our brotherhood lasts unto death, 
and our whole lives are consecrated with prayer. It is 
40 



TERTULLIAN 

quite unreasonable that we should be held to be the 
cause of every calamity. All the evils which God 
sends on the world are sent as a warning to us, and as 
a punishment to you. We are, as a matter of fact, your 
best citizens, not Brahmins or hermits, but good people 
living in the world. Yet you condemn us and hate 
us merely for our name ; whereas we are likely to be 
better than other people because we believe God is 
always about us and will punish us if we go wrong. The 
philosophers are not treated as we are, and yet we are 
more inoffensive than they. And they stole many of 
their teachings from the Holy Scriptures. They differ 
from us on the question of the resurrection of the body ; 
but how can men be punished for their sins — as the 
poets say they will — unless this is so ? You ought not, 
then, to persecute us ; yet what is more glorious than 
the triumph of Christian martyrdom ? The more mar- 
tyrdoms the more Christians ; the blood of the martyrs 
is the seed of the Church. And there is such blessed 
emulation and discord between the divine and human 
judgment, that, when you condemn us upon earth, God 
absolves us in heaven. 

Even in a short summary it can be seen how closely 
parallel are the two Latin apologies, in spite of their 
difference of tone. The same arguments follow in the 
same order, and both conform generally to the norm 
observable as early as the Apology of Aristides. Ter- 
tullian differs from Minucius in giving an account of 
Christian theology and worship, the latter distressingly 
meagre, doubtless from reasons of secrecy. Both 
apologies contain the idea afterwards developed by 
Tertullian in the Testimonium Animce, 

The conception of the Church as a sojourner upon 
earth we find also in the fragmentary Epistle to 
Diognetus, which, though written in Greek, is there- 
fore noticed here. If Diognetus were the philosopher 

41 



CHAMPIONS OF CHRISTIANITY 

of that name mentioned by Marcus Aurelius, it might 
help us to understand this connection. It is possible 
he may belong to the aristocratic society of Rome, 
and have circulated his pamphlet in philosophic circles 
where Greek was spoken, just as we find the Medita- 
tions of Marcus Aurelius written in Greek. It is much 
more tolerant than either of the two Latin apologies ; 
for it is addressed to a sympathetic inquirer : and 
this may explain many of the notable differences. 

(Chapter i.). The apology is addressed to an official 
of high rank, who desires to understand the Christians' 
faith in God, their scorn of death, their rejection of 
paganism and Judaism, and their late appearance in the 
world. 

(Chapters ii-iv.) The author first satirises the wor- 
ship of idols in the spirit of Isaiah or of the Psalms. He 
commends the Jewish faith in God, but condemns their 
sacrifices and their observance of seasons. 

(Chapters v-x.) After this short introduction fol- 
lows the famous panegyric on Christianity. Christians 
live in the world ; but their citizenship is in heaven. 
They love all men, and are persecuted by all. What 
the soul is to the body, the Christians are to the world. 
Chapter vii contains the classic description of the In- 
carnation ; how God, the Creator, sent His Son in love 
and not in judgment : for force is not an attribute of 
God. In His power it is that Christians face death. 
This is a better theory than the fancies of the phi- 
losophers. God bore with the world's sin, until the 
time came that He sent His Son in mercy to take away 
that sin. Faith in this message is found through love 
and service. 

Chapters xi and xii form an appendix, perhaps by a 
later hand. First comes a little summary of apostolic 
teaching and practice ; then a little homily showing, 
from the story of the Garden of Eden, that life is neces- 
42 



AD DIOGNETUM 

sary as well as knowledge ; and that it is found in the 
Church, where " salvation is set forth plainly, and the 
apostles are interpreted, and the Lord's passover is 
carried on, and the seasons follow each other in order, 
and the Word is glad to teach the saints, the Word 
through whom the Father is glorified, to whom be glory 
for ever. Amen." 

If this little apology shows points of resemblance 
with Tertullian, the points of difference are no less 
striking. There is no reference to the argument from 
prophecy ; there is no theory of devils. In this it goes 
back to the period before St. Justin, and allies itself 
with the Apology of Aristides, from which we began. 
All goes to show that it is earlier than Tertullian, and 
that the late date suggested by some critics cannot be 
upheld. It should, however, be grouped here : the 
mystical conception of the Church in chapters v and vi 
owes nothing to any earlier apologist, w^hile it links the 
work w^ith the work of Tertullian, who actually quotes 
the statement that " force is not an attribute of God." 



43 



CHAPTER III 
CHRISTIANITY AND THE OLD TESTAMENT 

" But when you hear the prophets speaking, as it were, under the 
names of different persons, you must not look upon the men who 
speak so much as upon the divine Logos who inspires them." — St. 
Justin : Apology I, xlvi, 46. 

" It would be irrational for us to cease to believe in the Spirit from 
God, who moved the mouths of the prophets like musical instruments, 
and to give heed to mere human opinions." — Athenagoeas : Embassy, 
vii. 

" From these very old records it is proved that the writings of the 
rest are more recent than the writings given to us through Moses — 
yes, and than the subsequent prophets. For the last of the prophets, 
who was called Zechariah, was contemporary with the reign of Darius. 
But even the lawgivers themselves are all found to have legislated 
subsequently to that period. For if one were to mention Solon the 
Athenian, he lived in the days of the Kings Cyrus and Darius, in the 
time of the prophet Zechariah first mentioned, who was by many 
years the last of the prophets." — Theophilus : To Autolycus, iii, 23. 

" And while I was giving my most earnest attention to the matter, 
I chanced to meet with certain barbarian writings, too old to be com- 
pared with the opinions of the Greeks, and too divine to be compared 
with their errors ; and I was led to put faith in these by the unpre- 
tending cast of the language, the inartificial character of the writers, 
the foreknowledge which they displayed of future events, the excellent 
quality of their precepts, and the declaration of the government of the 
universe by one Being." — Tatian : To the Greeks, xxix. 

" For there is nothing of moment now done, but what has been 
foretold ; and what we prophets see, our forefathers have heard from 
the prophets. . . . Hence it is we come to be so infallibly certain of 
many things not yet come to pass from the experience we have of those 
that are ; because those were presignified by the same Spirit as these 
we see fulfilling every day . . . and this prophetic Spirit sees every- 
thing always and at once, though men see only by pieces and successions 
of time, and are forced to distinguish between the beginning of a pro- 
phecy and the fulfilling it, to separate present from future, and past 
from present." — Tertullian : Apology, xx. 

44 



CONVERSION OF ST. JUSTIN 



III. Christianity and History 

When our first apology, the Acts of the Apostles, was 
written, Christianity was still a sect within the Jewish 
Church, differentiated mainly by its belief that the 
Christ was Jesus, and that Gentiles could be admitted 
into it by baptism. When St. Justin wrote, Christianity 
was an independent and supra-national society, which 
claimed to be the true heir of the old covenant of 
Judaism, while non-Christian Judaism was crystallising 
into the Rabbinic legalism we now know. The histori- 
cal order, therefore, as well as the logical order, is to 
deal first with the defence Christianity made to the 
Jews. 

Although St. Justin wrote about the middle of the 
second century, his conversion goes back to the days 
before the disastrous war of 135. A pagan of Samaritan 
birth, he had studied one philosophy after another until 
he was finally brought to Christianity as the crown of 
all philosophies ; from that day he assumed the phi- 
losopher's cloak and I taught the new discipline at Rome, 
where he ultimately suffered martyrdom. He is able 
to feel a righteous indignation, as the Second Apology 
shows, but the great charm of his character is its mild- 
ness and tolerance, and his sympathy for those who do 
not agree with him. A certain simplicity and grace 
makes him one of the most pleasing writers of the cen- 
tury. 

The immediate cause of his conversion was the study 
of the Jewish Scriptures, and especially of the prophets ; 
he was deeply impressed, not only by the truth of their 
prophecies of Jesus Christ, but also by the authority 
with which they spoke. They were as yet the only 
inspired writings of the Church, and they were read, of 
course, in the Greek version called Septuagint. Indeed, 

45 



THE OLD TESTAMENT 

this version had become so exclusively Christian that, 
by the time of St. Justin, the Jews had been forced to 
make new translations in which he accused them of 
making alterations and omissions with an anti-Christian 
bias. The original Septuagint had been translated in 
Egypt by order of Ptolemy II, as we learn from Josephus 
and the Letter of Aristeas, But the latter is a forgery, 
and, though St. Justin has been blamed for placing the 
" authorised version " in the reigns of Herod and Ptolemy 
XII, there is something to be said for the theory that it 
was only then that the work (begun perhaps under 
Ptolemy II) was finished and received its official im- 
primatur. 

The Septuagint, then, was firmly established as the 
Bible of the new Church, and the unquestioned ground 
of controversy with the Jews ; how firmly, we may 
judge by the fact that, in spite of the existence of Gospels, 
it is the main influence in leading the philosopher to 
Christ. The New Testament, as such, was unknown ; 
and the use of the Septuagint is so important and so 
fundamental that we must begin by an examination 
of the Dialogue with Trypho, 

The speeches in the earlier chapters of the Acts give 
us some account of the first Christian use of Scripture. 
Our Lord had very definitely regarded Himself as ful- 
filling the words of the prophets, and the early theology 
carried on this line of argument. The apostolic Church 
saw in Him the Suffering Servant, and the Messianic 
King, whose soul God would not leave in hell ; and they 
applied to Him the words of the law, " Cursed is whoso- 
ever hangeth on a tree." To us, staled with custom and 
repetition, these words seem commonplace and colourless 
enough ; if we put ourselves back into the place of those 
who discovered them, the weird affinities between the 
two dispensations will seem extraordinarily illuminating 
and suggestive. Another and peculiar use of the 
46 



METHOD OF INTERPRETATION 

Septuagint is that of St. Paul ; he endeavours to show 
that the blessings of Jehovah have never been given 
in exchange for obedience to a material law, but in 
living response to God, the moral attitude which he 
calls faith. He employs the allegorical method of 
interpretation, which is a perfectly legitimate one, so 
long as there is a real moral affinity between the things 
compared. He has the spirit of Scripture on his side, 
though he finds it difficult to do himself justice by 
quoting isolated verses. A third stage is that which 
we find in St. Matthew's Gospel. Here we have a 
selection of proof-texts introduced at intervals wherever 
there seems to be what we might imagine the faintest 
or most fanciful verbal likeness. Sometimes the text 
is plainly misapplied, as in " Out of Egypt have I 
called my son," which refers not to the Messiah, but to 
the Jewish race. 

The truth is that the Christians had now got to the 
point at which the whole Old Testament was claimed 
for Jesus, and a meaning had to be found for every 
verse. Collections of such verses, with their interpre- 
tations, were in circulation, and part of one is found in 
the Epistle of Barnabas, To make the explanation 
cover the whole facts, the method of allegory is chosen. 
The details of the law have mystical Christian meanings 
hidden in them, and Abraham had three hundred and 
eighteen servants because, when expressed in Greek 
numerals, that number signifies the name of Jesus and 
the sign of the cross (IHT). The hare and the hyena 
are unclean beasts because they typify certain sins. 

It is obvious that it is not easy to interpret the whole 
Old Testament along these lines, and it is no wonder 
that there was a strong reaction in favour of giving up 
the Old Testament altogether. A large body of Chris- 
tians, under Marcion, rejected it, denying that the good 
God can ever have given the law, and regarding the 

47 



THE OLD TESTAMENT 

prophets alone as His witnesses. This heroic remedy, 
however, was not destined to be adopted ; the Church 
rightly held that the Septuagint contained a revelation 
of God too valuable to throw away, and yet it had no 
satisfactory method of interpreting it. 

St. Justin found his point of contact in the prophets. 
They were the men who brought him to the truth, not 
arguing about it like philosophers, but testifying as 
witnesses worthy to be believed. Their credentials 
were that the facts that they prophesied came to pass. 
This was always the main line of Christian evidence : 
the arguments which had been found so effective with 
the Jews could easily be put in a form that would appeal 
to the Gentiles. Prophets long ago foretold the coming 
of Jesus as the Messiah, describing accurately the 
story of His life : the Messiah comes, and their words 
are fulfilled to the letter. This was obviously a powerful 
argument in the second century, when a high value was 
placed on the Old Testament, even by the heathen, in 
virtue of its undisputed antiquity. 

In the Dialogue with Trypho we find almost the last 
attempt of Christianity to convert the sons of Abraham 
to their true Messiah. Trypho is a thinker, a philosopher, 
a student of the heathen theologies. He has read the 
Gospel as well as the books of Moses, and is ready to 
discuss the question openly and without prejudice. 
Such Jews were hard to find a generation later : for all 
Philo's spiritual sons were Christians. How, then, do 
the broad-minded Jew and the broad-minded Christian 
regard their Bible ? 

Both refer to it as their standard and basis of argu- 
ment. To the Christian it is as authoritative as to the 
Jew ; Trypho commends Justin on this point. But, 
while he acknowledges the high level of Christian 
morality (too high he thinks it), he points out two 
inconsistencies, the rejection of the Law of God, and the 
48 



ST. JUSTIN AND THE SCRIPTURES 

faith in a mere man, Christ Jesus. To a devout Jew, 
both these seem incompatible with the behef in the 
inspiration of the Old Testament. In the course of a 
platonic dialogue of two days, St. Justin explains the 
Christian way of looking at these points, using a wealth 
of illustration and detail that is invaluable. We shall 
not deal with the abrogation of the law, as it is really 
answered by the view of the Person of Christ, and it has 
very little bearing on modern thought. Let it suffice 
to say that the conflict between the Law and Grace 
exists in the Scriptures itself, and that the Christians 
had nearer affinities to the prophets who opposed 
legalism. 

St. Justin and Christians generally claimed that in 
them the prophetic age had begun again ; to St. Justin 
the Holy Ghost is the prophetic Spirit ; God, who made 
earth and heaven, was as near to him as to Isaiah. And 
this God, whose sons they were, who was at once 
transcendent and intimate, was revealed to them in 
the pages of the Bible as the God of history. Jew and 
Christian were at one on this point ; but the Christian 
believed that he had actual possession of the Spirit, 
" who spake by the prophets," and that he had seen 
and touched the Word of God who came to them. 
He saw the universe as a single process leading up to 
Jesus of Nazareth. 

Thus, it was no mere metaphor to say that the Chris- 
tian Church is the true Israel. The Scripture belongs 
to them, and to them alone the promises have come ; 
they have entered into the land of milk and honey, 
which was prepared for the children of Abraham. The 
actual Jews after the flesh misinterpret the Scriptures ; 
the Christians only can understand them, because they 
read them in the spirit in which they were written. 
And, though this is only, beginning to work itself out 
completely to-day as a result of historical study, he 
.4 49 



THE OLD TESTAMENT 

was quite right ; along the lines of narrow legal in- 
terpretation, verse by verse, it is impossible to under- 
stand them. 

What, then, is the story told by the Scriptures of the 
Jews ? It is the story of how God Almighty revealed 
Himself to one savage tribe in Arabia, how He brought 
them into the land of Palestine, how He set up in Jeru- 
salem a house where all nations might come and worship 
Him, and hear His law ... it is the revelation of the 
one everlasting God. His first law is, " Thou shalt have 
none other gods but Me." He admits no equal, no 
rival, no inferior even. Yet the Christians who accept 
this revelation worship also the man, Jesus Christ, and 
whom they give the blasphemous title " Son of God." 

In reply to this criticism, St. Justin goes to the Old 
Testament, and points out how, even there, the one 
God is represented as having more than one mode of 
personality. When God chose to make known His 
Name and Nature to His chosen people, the Being who 
spoke to Moses from the burning bush is described as 
" the Angel of the Lord " ; and it is this " Angel " who 
utters the great revelation, " I am what I am." This 
Angel is not to be confused with the Seraphim and 
Cherubim, and with the winged messengers of Christian 
art : He is a divine figure who comes as a messenger 
from God, and yet speaks as God Himself, receiving 
the prayer and sacrifice of the faithful. It is He who 
marches with the Hebrews into the promised land, 
sometimes as the Angel, sometimes as the " presence " 
(or face) of Jehovah. 

Again, the Word of the Lord, an expression which, in 
its technical use, is said to be a sign of late authorship, 
implies a great deal more than a mere verbal message ; 
it was certainly a divine and creative afflatus passing 
from Jehovah to the prophet, an actual power going 
forth from God and abiding in man. By the Word of 
50 



ST. JUSTIN AND THE LOGOS 

the Lord the prophets spoke ; but, before this, " by 
the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all 
the host of them by the spirit of His mouth." Even in 
creation it is the same power which actually brings 
about the w^ork done. " He spake the Word, and they 
were created." This power emitted from God is 
identified by Justin with the Angel of the Lord, and it 
is the story of His action in the world which Hebrew 
literature relates. It is He w^io perfectly carries out 
the will of His Father ; it was He who created the world, 
separated out the Jews from all races, taught them by 
the prophets, and finally became incarnate and suffered 
under Pontius Pilate. 

Now let us stop here for a moment and consider what 
on earth this all means to us in the twentieth century, 
when the words " Logos," " Angelos," and " Kurios," and 
all the developments of later Judaism mean so little. If 
we grant that St. Justin is right, that the Old Testament 
shows distinct traces of a belief in a second centre of 
personality in the Godhead, what follows ? We are 
told by scholars that the definite conception of the Logos 
is late ; we have found the idea of the " angel " of Bel 
in Babylonian folk-lore ; and we imagine that these 
words can never again mean to us what they once meant. 
Even with Jews, we might suppose, this line of argument 
would not prove very fruitful. 

But, on the other hand, let us be honest. This Jesus 
of Nazareth, who was born imperante Augusto, and suf- 
fered under Tiberius, obstinately refuses to stay buried 
in the rock-sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathea. He is 
alive and walking the world to-day, after many incredible 
deaths and resurrections. A hundred years ago, for 
instance. His Church was on its death-bed : to-day, 
though reft of the lip-worship of thousands, it has 
assimilated itself to modern thought, and moves with a 
vigour and power that is astonishing. Mathematically 

51 



THE OLD TESTAMENT 

considered, it has dwindled. As a living organism it 
grows daily, with a new yet ancient vitality. And the 
person of Jesus of Nazareth is still the crowning and 
final problem which the scientific world has to explain 
and every honest man has to face. 

Now, generally speaking, the world has recognised 
this fact, and students of all nationalities are devoting 
their energies to the investigation of His life, message 
and person. Those who have done so along frankly 
anti-Christian lines have strangely failed to produce any 
satisfactory or coherent description or explanation of 
what happened. Those who have tried to restate 
ancient beliefs in the terms of modern thought have 
not succeeded in winning over either party. There re- 
mains only the third possibility that St. Justin's faith 
is true, and that He who made the w^orld, and inspired 
the prophets, Himself entered the sphere of His own 
creation. As things stand at present, we must either 
accept this belief or declare that the problem has never 
been solved. 

The real objection of the modern world to the Chris- 
tian view of the personality of our Lord is that it implies 
views about creation which are repugnant to prevailing 
conceptions. To the modern man, God no longer has 
the full richness and power of personality ; he is a 
stream of tendencies making for something, perhaps 
for righteousness. A certain conception of evolution 
(not necessarily scientific) shuts up the first cause within 
the limits and laws of His own universe ; and, if there is 
anything we can call will or personality, it is will or 
personality only struggling into consciousness under 
the same limitations and with less success than our- 
selves. 

With this, the crucial point of our whole study, we 
shall deal later ; what concerns this chapter is the fact 
that in the modern world we can no longer draw infer- 
52 



THE RISE OF THE PROPHETS 

ences from the Old Testament in the manner of St. 
Justin. The book which triumphantly imposed itself 
on the world of Greek philosophy and Roman law 
stands suspect in the eyes of modern science. And in 
a certain degree we are sure modern science is right. 
We do not now believe that the Holy Spirit chose to lay 
down beforehand material details in the life of our 
Lord, that He should ride into Jerusalem on an ass, 
or that the ass should be tied to a vine. We look on 
it from another point of view. We see Him as the 
ultimate result of a long line of evolution, where law- 
giver, prophet, and apocalyptist combine to produce 
the perfect Son of Man. As modern historical analysis 
lays it bare to us, we see a complete historical progress 
from Mount Sinai to Mount Calvary. 

When Israel first appears clearly on the stage of his- 
tory it is as a superstitious people using the degraded 
rites of the Arab and the Canaanite ; vet even then we 
know of no time when the name of their God was not 
a symbol of a supernatural Being, higher and more 
powerful than the gods of the Hittite and Amorite, who 
fled before Him when He came marching from Sinai. 
As long as they served Him, He was bound to fight for 
them, and win them the victory. 

We then see one of the most amazing developments 
in all earth's history, the rise of the prophets. There 
had been seers of the ecstatic and clairvoyant type 
before, but it is Elijah, as far as we know, who found 
that God was not whirlwind or fire, but a whispering 
Word. This also was Jehovah. There was no logic 
at work, no learning, no study ; it was plain prayer. 
Prophet after prophet, poet after poet, arose, who 
claimed to have heard this Word in the silence and 
secrecy of their hearts. In two centuries there was a 
new religion. There was only one God, holy and 
righteous, immortal, invisible, transcending all space, 

53 



THE OLD TESTAMENT 

and He was to be worshipped in a pure heart and with 
a holy hfe ; finally came the unique conception of the 
true Servant of Jehovah, who was destined by pain 
and suffering and shame to win redemption for His 
people. 

This was the supreme gift which the Jews gave the 
world ; and the success of Christianity is proof that the 
world realised the value of the gift. But alongside went 
the evolution of a law, ceremonial and moral, that 
localised the worship of God in Jerusalem and preserved 
there the writings and psalms of the prophets. In the 
writers of the last two centuries B.C. we find a more 
material note. The old conception is reasserted and 
emphasised : Jehovah will send His anointed to de- 
stroy all the kingdoms of the world, and set up His own 
Kingdom in Mount Zion. In the Day of the Lord the 
Jews will be rewarded for their suffering and service. 
Finally, this picture expanded and became greater and 
greater : the messenger of Jehovah is the Son of Man 
chosen before all time ; heaven and earth pass away, 
and in a new heaven and a new earth the sons of Abra- 
ham enter the Kingdom prepared for them before the 
foundation of the world. 

Finally came Jesus of Nazareth, who claimed, not 
to teach about the Son of Man, but to be the Son of 
Man. His true descent was from the prophets, and 
He claimed to be the Suffering Servant whose death was 
to win the redemption of His people. 

Now the centuries of history summed up here in a few 
lines are to be regarded only in one way by the student 
of religion. They are a history of the evolution of 
religion from its lowest to its highest ; they are a per- 
fect anthology of religious experience from Baalism to 
Jesus Christ. And it is all purely natural ; there is no 
conscious logic or philosophy. From the crudest faith 
in Jehovah we are driven along the path of experience 
54 



ST. JUSTIN AND HISTORY 

until we come to the cross. One path leads into an- 
other ; one belief implies another ; one experience be- 
gets another ; and by action, faith, and experience 
Judaism evolves into Christianity. 

To return, then, to the theory of St. Justin, we must 
now ask how this evolution is to be explained. Was 
there a divine moral Being, the Word, with whom the 
prophets had come in contact, or was it a purely natural 
result of evolution and environment ? St. Justin saw 
it in a light different from us. By unmistakable signs 
God had brought His people into Palestine ; He had 
given them a law by an infallible mediator ; He had 
blessed their obedience with victory, and punished their 
rebellion with captivity; He had given them infallible 
guidance by the mouth of His prophets ; He had 
pointed forward to a great Day, and a great Deliverer, 
and these prophecies had all been fulfilled in Jesus 
Christ. Such a scheme left little room for faith, and 
we may well wonder, with Gibbon, that " the contem- 
poraries of Moses and Joshua had beheld with careless 
indifference the most amazing miracles ; and, as the 
protection of Heaven was deservedly withdrawn from 
the ungrateful race, their faith acquired a proportionate 
degree of vigour and purity." But it is St. Justin's 
theology, not his science, that interests us : he shared 
these historical views with the Jew Trypho, and the 
whole cultivated world of his day ; with our advance 
in historical method, we pass beyond his history : it is 
very much to be doubted whether we pass beyond his 
philosophy of history. 

It was impossible for Christians of that era to have 
any rational theory of Old Testament interpretation. 
They accepted the Septuagint in face of amazing diffi- 
culties. They acknowledged it to be the revelation of 
God, and yet they denied the law He seemed to have 
laid down so explicitly. On the one hand, Ebionites 

55 



THE OLD TESTAMENT 

and Nazarenes urged them to be logical, accept the 
whole book, and not break the decrees of God. On the 
other hand, Marcionites and Gnostics, with equal logic, 
declared that Jehovah was a tyrant and a bungler, and 
that the whole Jewish Scriptures were to be discarded 
by the " spiritual." In the midst of this clamour the 
Church saw two things ; circumcision, sabbaths, and 
the law must go, and yet the book was to be kept as 
the divine revelation. The difficulties in interpreta- 
tion were obvious enough, educated heathens like 
Porphyry were quite alive to them ; but it speaks 
volumes for the divine common sense of the Church that 
she faced the difficulties and retained the Bible. 

But, though we have an immense advantage over 
St. Justin in our interpretation of Old Testament his- 
tory, we must remember that, for purposes of religion, 
it is the same history we are rendering. Both versions 
end at Calvary, both begin from God, and both deal 
with the same phenomena. We both have the same 
results to account for ; and it makes it no easier to do 
so even if there were no theophanies ; it makes it 
harder. To the lover of miracles there are no miracles. 
If we believe that the five books of the law were written 
before ever Palestine was entered, then the rise of the 
prophets is no more supernatural than the sunrise. 
If we believe the Hebrews were a superstitious, semi- 
Canaanite tribe of savages, the rise of the prophets is a 
miracle of miracles. 

It was to a crowd of fetish-worshippers, dancing 
madly about the altars of Baal or the hangings of the 
maypole, dedicating their children by fire to Moloch, 
building houses in the sacrifice of their first-born, 
credulous of taboo, trustful in their war-god Jehovah, 
whom they carried into battle in a wooden box, that 
Elijah came. Civilisation, such as it was, was against 
him ; yet to Elijah, child of the desert, and cousin to 
56 



FACTS OF EXPERIENCE 

the wandering Arabs, the great secret was given that 
Jehovah was not in the earthquake, but in the whis- 
pering of a small voice. And this conviction and 
unshakable faith grew till the whole nation was 
impregnated with it ; nowhere else is found this 
belief in a transcendent deity who is at once intimate 
and tender, nowhere else is a localised worship, like 
that of Zion, addressed to an infinite and eternal 
Being — 

Who hath His dwelling so high. 
And yet humbleth Himself to behold the things 
which are in heaven and earth. 

Finally, it was this faith that led up to Him who said, 
" God is spirit," and it is this faith in the universal and 
intimate God which Christianity, alone of all religions, 
has been able to spread and perpetuate. 

Whether our history and chronology be that of Ussher 
or Wellhausen, it is still these facts which we have to 
explain, and these facts are the basis of St. Justin's 
logic. We have here, undenied and undeniable, a con- 
tinuous body of experience, we have an actual force 
whose influence can be measured in history : it brought 
the Jewish nation through disaster after disaster to the 
Crowning failure of Calvary ; it grew stronger and 
stronger until its widening influence touched every 
nation of the world ; it became the Christianity of to- 
day, and is growing still. How are these hard facts 
to be explained ? 

The evolutionist of the old school is always able to 
convince himself that the growth of such a religion can 
be explained on purely " natural " grounds. To him 
it is only a record of the national faith in Jehovah, 
modifying itself to meet successive changes of environ- 
ment. When circumstances change, the faith must 
either adapt itself to new conditions or go under. At 

57 



THE OLD TESTAMENT 

each crisis a prophet is found who makes the required 
adaptation, the message is given, and the faith goes on. 
It is no more than the natural result of forces already 
in the world, it can no other. It is natural selection 
over again, and the survival of the organism best 
adapted to its environment. 

One answer would be that while a cow or other 
animal may be said to adapt itself to its environment, 
a man does not. He adapts his environment to him- 
self. But we must go deeper than that. We must 
fight out here the battle which M. Bergson is fighting 
in the sphere of physical evolution. The old view is 
now condemned on purely scientific grounds : natural 
selection can never be a cause of evolution, but only a 
method along which it functions. Even as a method 
it is inadequate, and does not cover the whole ground : 
Darwin's own book on Orchids raises problems it can 
never solve. Logically, too, it is dishonest ; it is try- 
ing somehow to juggle an effect without a cause. As 
M. Bergson points out, the development of a little spot 
of pigment into an eye cannot be due solely to the 
influence of light or other external conditions ; there 
must be a potentiality in the matter itself, there must 
be a cause somewhere, a force capable under necessity 
of producing eyes, what he calls the elan vital ; to which 
we Christians might append the text, " He who made 
the eye, shall He not see ? " 

Still more in history must there be an efficient force 
behind evolutionary development, a cause of like nature 
to the effect. There must be behind Hebrew religion 
an elan vital which carried it over the mountains of 
difficulty ; and, if this is so, we are immediately brought 
back to a reconsideration of the idea that there was a 
divine Person who bore to the prophets exactly the 
relation which they said He did, St. Justin's theory of 
the Angel or Logos, which, as we have seen above, is a 
58 



GOD AND THE WORD 

perfectly legitimate deduction from the data he had at 
his command. We would prefer to say that Jewish 
faith demanded this conception, rather than that it is 
proved by their experience. Where modern thought 
would find its difficulty would be in the conception of 
this power as a person. 

The prophets, as they rose to their conception of a 
supramundane and eternal God, nevertheless clung to 
their belief in His revelation in history and experience. 
This, as we have seen, is their unique achievement. 
But reflection suggested that it was not the eternal 
God who appeared to Manoah about the time of the 
evening sacrifice, or to Moses in the burning bush ; it 
was His Second Self, or Angel. God inhabits eternity ; 
His angel appears in space. No man hath seen God at 
any time : He whom the world sees is His messenger, 
who yet is Himself. Philosophy would have denied 
any connection between Jewish history and the high 
and holy God ; faith, at once mystical and practical, 
insisted on both. And the psychology of religious ex- 
perience demands that we should think differently of 
God in history and creation, and God in His holiness 
and eternity. 

Similarly, the Word which is heard in the heart of 
the prophet, that Being with whom interior communion 
is held in the spirit, the inspiration of every sage and 
lawgiver, is subtly different from the Eternal. Inas- 
much as the Word issues forth from God, and enters the 
soul of the prophet, it is again God in action rather than 
God in eternity. And if we look into our own hearts 
we see how just this distinction is, and how different 
is the God we conceive as eternal and self -existing from 
the God to Whom we pray for help and guidance. 
We can none of us, surely, worship our conception of 
the Absolute. An undue insistence on the first leads 
to a barren philosophy like Stoicism or scepticism ; 

59 



THE OLD TESTAMENT 

concentration on the second soon degrades religion to 
the level of a mere cult. 

This distinction in religious psychology, while it 
obviously proves nothing, is a useful one ; and it is 
interesting to note how widespread we find some such 
idea. It is almost universal for a primitive people to 
have a sky-god to whom they do not pray except, per- 
haps, in moments of despair, and a lesser god or hero 
who will hear them. According to Christian theology, 
this distinction is not without its basis in fact. The 
God of history or experience is the Angelos or Logos of 
St. Justin, the " Prophet " of Theophilus, who inspired 
the prophets, thus preparing the way for His own 
incarnation as the supreme Prophet, Jesus Christ. An 
interesting point is our Lord's own understanding of 
the prophets. 

He regarded Himself as their successor and the ful- 
filment of their words ; but we never find in His mouth 
those fanciful and merely verbal applications of their 
words in which so many of His followers delighted. A 
central part of His teaching is that the prophets all 
spoke in protest against the religion of their day. They 
were unpopular ; the people refused to hear them, 
they were stoned, beaten, killed, precisely because they 
really came from God and gave His message. They 
were honoured anywhere but in their own country, and 
the most appropriate place for a prophet to die was 
Jerusalem. He Himself, as the fulfilment of all their 
hopes, was doomed to the same fate, and His followers 
could only expect a similar persecution, which would, at 
least, show that thev were in the direct line of descent 
from the prophets their fathers. 

With regard to actual prediction, we must discard 
the majority of references which St. Justin believed to 
be prophecies of the Messiah. Enough remains to show 
that they all looked forward to one who would fulfil 
60 



JESUS AND THE PROPHETS 

their hopes and restore the kingdom to Israel. The 
apocalyptic writers of the time expected a celestial 
Caesar ; but Jesus Christ was a prophet, not an apocalyp- 
tist. He is saturated with the language of the pro- 
phets, and it is doubtful whether one verbal quotation 
from an extra-canonical apocalyptist can be clearly 
proved. He may be using language from the Book of 
Enoch ; but the difficulty of proving that He knew it 
is sufficient to show how its influence compares with 
that of the prophets. On the mountain of transfigura- 
tion He is seen between Moses and Elijah, the Law and 
the Prophets, but where is Enoch, the apocalyptist, the 
third of the Old Testament worthies who was taken 
straight to God without dying ? 

The highest conception of the prophets was that of 
the Servant of Jehovah. Some inspired poet of the 
Exile drew that picture of the prophetic nation, or the 
prophetic hero, bruised, smitten, wounded to death, 
making no complaint to God, but by his death bringing 
illumination to his guilty nation. This is the fate of 
many a prophet, and Jesus of Nazareth saw how clearly 
it was to be His. Like the Suffering Servant, He was 
despised and rejected of men, falsely accused and con- 
demned ; His followers tried to resist by force, thus 
making it true that He was numbered among the law- 
breakers ; He gave His life a ransom for many ; and 
He made no resistance. He turned His cheek to the 
smiter. " For the prophecies concerning Me are 
valid." 

This is only an instance to show how completely Jesus 
. regarded Himself as the fulfilment or completion of 
Old Testament prophecy : just indeed as He also " ful- 
filled " the law, and as the Paschal Sacrifice was to be 
drunk " new " (" fulfilled " — Luke) in the kingdom. And 
the seal of God was set on His work by the Resurrec- 
tion, the final piece of evidence in the long chain of 

Gl 



THE OLD TESTAMENT 

cause and effect with which the Christian confronted 
his Jewish brother. 

Very tremendous this must have appeared to the 
Jew, and irresistible almost the belief that He was at 
last the Angelos of God in human form. And to the 
serious thinker of to-day, who does not hesitate to 
apply the principles of evolution to the history of 
world-religion, there must be much which is attractive 
in the evolutionary teaching of early Christianity. 
And to anyone who believes in the struggle of a life- 
principle to express itself, there should be great attrac- 
tion in the doctrine that the messenger has been, and 
the Word has spoken. The Jew of to-day, also, turn- 
ing to a more liberal and spiritual conception of the 
faith of his fathers, must find in Jesus of Nazareth 
much w^hich corresponds to the hope of Israel. Now 
that Jews have been so long the victims of Christian 
persecution, it ill becomes us to echo the fiery argu- 
ments of St. Paul ; but at least in some Platonic dia- 
logue, such as St. Justin used with Trypho, we might 
try to show how, when that which is perfect is come, 
that which is in part is done away. For in Jesus 
Christ the law is fulfilled, not destroyed. We have the 
promises by a more excellent way. 



62 



CHAPTER IV 
CHRISTIANITY AND THE PHILOSOPHERS 

" I proclaim that I both boast and strive with all my strength to 
be found a Christian, not because the teachings of Plato differ from those 
of Christ, but because they are not in all points the same ; neither are 
those of the others, Stoics, and poets, and historians. For each man 
spoke well in proportion to his own share of the seed of the Word, seeing 
only what was connected with it. . . . Whatever things were rightly 
said among all men are the property of us Christians ; for, next to God, 
we worship and love the Word, who is from the Unbegotten and 
Ineffable God, since He also became Man for our sakes, that, becoming 
a partner of our suSerings, He might also bring us healing. For all 
writers were able to see realities darkly because of the sowing in their 
hearts of the seed of the Word ; but the seed and imitation given 
according to individual capacity is one thing, but the Word itself (of 
which they have a share and an imitation) is another." — St. Justin : 
Apology II, xiii. 

*' Man ia to be honoured as an equal : God alone is to be feared, 
who is invisible to mortal eyes and transcends the circle of himian 
art. It is only when I am commanded to deny Him that I disobey 
men, and will rather die than prove a traitor or an ingrate. Our God 
had no beginning in time. He alone is without beginning, and He 
Himself is the beginning of all things. God is Spirit — not pervading 
matter, but the Maker of the spirit and the form that is in matter ; 
He cannot be seen or touched, though He is Himself the Father of all 
things, visible and invisible. We know Him from His creation, and 
apprehend His invisible power by His works. I refuse to worship the 
work of art which He made for us. The sun and moon were made for 
us ; how can I adore my own servants ? " — Tatian : To the Greeks, iv. 

" If we dispute Humility, I must tell you that Aristotle could not 
sit easy till he proudly made his friend Hermias sit below him. . . . 
The same Aristotle was as gross a flatterer of Alexander to keep that 
great pupil in order as Plato was of Dionysius for the benefit of his 
belly. Aristippua in his purple and imder the greatest show of gravity, 

63 



THE PHILOSOPHERS 

was a debauchee ; and Hippiag was killed while actually in ambush 
against his city . . . and where is now the similitude between a philo- 
sopher and a Christian ? between a disciple of Greece and of Heaven ? 
A trader in gossip and a saver of souls ? Between a man of words and 
a man of deeds ? Between a builder-up of virtue and a destroyer of 
it ? Between a dresser-up of lies and a restorer of truth ? Between a 
thief and a guardian of this sacred depositum ? " — Teetullian, Apology, 
xlvi. 



IV. Christianity and Philosophy 

We have roughly sketched St. Justin's use of Old 
Testament history, and indicated lines along which his 
argument might be restated in the light of present-day 
research. We have seen how there emerges from the 
pages of Jewish revelation the grand figure of the 
Word of God as the inspiring force behind all prophecy 
and history ; behind Him is God Himself, the unchang- 
ing Spectator of a transitory world. And both these 
conceptions are the result of a practical process of 
psychological experience, not the result of speculation. 
There is no intellectual research into the being and 
attributes of God, and no attempt at a co-ordination 
of the two aspects, or divisions (whichever they are to 
be) of His Personality. 

Indeed this speculation was impossible for the Jew ; 
he wanted to say much the same sort of thing as the 
Greek, but he had not the language to say it in. It is 
almost true to say that he had not an abstract word 
in his language. Words like " righteousness " or 
" mercy " refer to concrete acts or states of being ; to 
the state of being acquitted at a trial, to the act of 
showing mercy at a trial. Such a word as " holiness " 
never in ordinary speech quite shook itself free from 
the idea of " tabu." But though this forbade a system- 
atic logic or metaphysic, it gave to the writings of the 
Jews that poetic permanency for which they are so 
64 



JEWISH AND GREEK THOUGHT 

remarkable. Philosophical phrases change their mean- 
ing in a generation ; expressions like — 

" The Lord is my shepherd," 

" The Lord high and lifted up," 

" They shall wax old, but Thou shalt endure," 

never lose their meaning, because they are expressed 
in the universal and intuitive language of the heart. 
And, as national language is a sure sign of national 
character, we may deduce from this concrete and poetic 
use of words that the Jews were wanting in philosophy. 
Besides, words are the tools of thought, and philosophy 
is impossible without accurate tools. 

This accurate apparatus of speech was provided by 
the Greeks. The first elements of Greek religion were 
similar to those of Judaism, a number of scattered 
tribes united by their belief in a universal father-god 
in the sky, Zeus Panhellenios. There, however, the 
likeness ceases. From very early times the Greeks 
brought to the consideration of the problems of life 
the pure intellect. Philosophy was not original among 
them : science came to them from Babylon (Thales), 
philosophy from Persia (Heracleitus), some of their 
greatest thinkers came from Syria and Egypt, or had 
travelled in those countries. This is not to deny the 
originality of Greek genius ; but, like all true originality, 
it consisted in admitting whatever was good from outside. 
Their unique contribution to world-thought was the 
use of pure reason in ordering the material and drawing 
true deductions from it ; so that, while the intellectual 
method of the Greeks was totallv different from the 
moral method of the Hebrews, we must not be surprised 
if we find affinities between them, seeing that Greek 
philosophy received an impetus (and that more than 
once) from the oriental faiths from which we cannot 
dissociate Judaism. 

5 65 



THE PHILOSOPHERS 

Now Greek philosophy practically begins with Hera- 
cleitus of Ephesus in the sixth century, and, for our 
purposes, ends with the Stoics, who accepted his physics. 
Heracleitus took much from the Persians, but he reso- 
lutely rejected dualism, or the idea of two opposing 
forces in the universe ; the origin and nature of things 
was one. This creating, sustaining, and proceeding 
force was fire ; and to the system along which he saw 
evolution proceeding, he gave the name Logos. Sub- 
sequent thinkers were never quite able to banish all 
appearance of dualism from the universe ; but, what- 
ever the opinion on this subject, Greek philosophy was 
henceforth stamped with the belief that the universe 
could be explained along one consistent and logical plan, 
the plan that we call Evolution. 

The most abstract words, of course, had once a con- 
crete meaning, and the word Logos retains both. When 
a person desires to say anything, he first conceives in 
his own mind the word he wishes to say, and then utters 
it. That which he conceives and that which he utters 
are the same. It would exist in his mind, did he never 
utter it. (" You have taken the word out of my mouth " 
we say ourselves.) The Hebrew thinks only of the 
word as it issues from the lips ; he even visualises it. 
The Greek treats it as a conception in the mind of the 
speaker ; there it exists, whether he utters it or not. 
The conception or thought thrown off in his mind is 
still the Logos or word. Conversely, the Hebrew has 
no conception of pure thought ; he has not even a word 
for " I think," he has to say " I said in my heart." 

Hence Logos comes to mean thought and reason. Like 
the Latin ratio, it means a scientific system, and hence 
is applied to the principle of law, which the Greek so 
clearly perceived to be ruling the world. Law and 
reason, however, cannot (as far as we have experience) 
exist apart from a mind, so that the word Logos, with 
66 



THE LOGOS 

its personal associations, is not an inappropriate word 
to use. It just hints enough. 

The monistic theory of Heracleitus did not long 
satisfy a race with the acute intellectual powers of the 
Greeks. While pure dualism is to be rejected as a 
complete system, there is too great a difference between 
the world of reason and the world of experience for us 
to reject the idea altogether. Having observed the 
world of phenomena, with its obedience to law, they 
went on to consider the problems of infinity and absolute 
being, an infinity which our intellect demands, and yet 
which it seems impossible to co-ordinate with the world 
we know through the senses. The result is to discredit 
the senses, and we arrive either at scepticism or at the 
conception of the absolute, infinity being most easily 
defined by universal negatives, incapable of decay or 
change or motion or evolution or passion ; and incapable 
therefore of any commerce with the changing, moving, 
decaying world, or with human nature so moved by 
passion, weakness, or caprice. 

" The One remains ; the Many fade and pass. 

Heaven's lights for ever shine ; earth's shadows fly. 
Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass, 
Stains the white radiance of eternity." 

The relations of this absolute God with our world form 
a problem the Greeks were never able to solve. Not only 
is it difficult to conceive how He could have created it, 
but His very existence (in isolated self-sufficiency) is 
unthinkable ; for existence, as we know it, is conditioned 
by things external. 

This little sketch is not meant to be anything more 
than an explanation of certain current philosophical 
terms. The philosophy of the Roman Empire was 
neither academic nor speculative. Stoicism was prac- 
tically universal, but it was a Stoicism wider even than 

67 



THE PHILOSOPHERS 

that of the porch. Zeno, the father of the Stoics, had 
followed Heracleitus in insisting on one principle (fire) 
as explaining the universe ; but he had allowed a 
practical dualism, and has flung a religious glamour 
over his school by adopting, to a limited extent, the 
oriental renunciation of the Cynics. Under the Rhodian 
School difficult points in philosophy receded into the 
background, and the ethic was accommodated more 
and more to the sober virtues of Rome. But the various 
terms to which we have alluded were current in educated 
circles in Ephesus, Alexandria, and Rome, and perhaps 
used as loosely as we find terms such as "evolution" used 
to-day. In the Roman world " philosophy " meant 
this reduced form of Stoicism ; " reduced " from the 
point of view of intellectual speculation, but with the 
emphasis thrown on conduct. It aimed at mastering 
the universe rather than understanding it ; it solved 
problems rather than theorems. It set out to bring 
matter under the control of mind, body under the control 
of spirit. The spirit of man was a spark of the divine 
Logos, unhappily imprisoned in the flesh, and it must 
be as calm, unmoved, impassive, impersonal as God 
Himself. Stoicism never for one moment dreamed 
that this God took the slightest interest in what was 
going on in this poor world below ; and yet, in a confused 
way, it regarded Him as the Soul of the world, and to 
the order in the world sometimes gave the name of 
His Logos. 

It is easy to see how a Jew would be attracted by 
this use of the word Logos ; it was simplicity itself to 
equate it with the Word of God, and the absolute with 
Jehovah. It was to this extent legitimate, that each 
conception had been evolved in answer to the same 
problem, though one was in the sphere of morality and 
human history, the other in that of logic and physical 
evolution. As far as we know, the equation was first 
68 



PHILO AND THE LOGOS 

made by the philosopher Philo. The colony of Jews 
at Alexandria had long been the most learned and 
perhaps the largest in the world ; and the very trans- 
lation of the Old Testament " Word " as Logos must 
have suggested the idea. The conception of Wisdom 
is coloured with Greek thought, but the fact that we 
often find " Word " translated by p^/xa, shows that the 
identification can have been at best partial. It is not 
unreasonable to suppose that, in the personification of 
Word and Wisdom, Persian influences may have been 
at work. 

Philo is the first and only Jewish philosopher of anti- 
quity. To him Plato was only Moses talking Greek ; 
but, in spite of his Judaism and Platonism, he shows 
only too many traces of that Gnostic error which is so 
fatal to sound thinking. It was fatally easy to make 
the Logos a link between God and the world, thus 
apparently solving the problem of how the two were 
connected. The same problem was puzzling devout 
Jews on the moral side : how could the all-holy God 
have any dealings with a sinful earth ? The idea of 
putting a link in between seemed so simple, and yet, 
in the light of subsequent events, we realise that no 
number of links between God and the world in any way 
lessens His responsibility for its creation, or His con- 
nection with its evolution. It suffices to say here that 
Philo inserted the Logos as a barrier between God and 
the world, St. John caught up the phrase, but made 
the Logos a channel between God and the world. St. 
John's conception is Scriptural. Philo's is hardly even 
Stoic; it is Gnostic. 

It is inevitable, therefore, that the Logos conception 
should have been used to present to the philosophic 
world the theology of the Incarnation. There seem 
hints of its use before we come to the Gospel of St. John ; 
and, after the publication of this book, it is the normal 

69 



THE PHILOSOPHERS 

apologetic line of argument. We miss it in the Athenian 
Apology of the philosopher Aristides ; but it is difficult 
to imagine that there was not considerable development 
before we come to St. Justin, who has an elaborate Logos 
theology. Alexandria, no doubt, as well as Ephesus 
was connected with its evolution, though we possess 
practically no information as to this centre of Christian 
propaganda. 

St. Justin was not a man of clear scholarship or 
relentless logic ; but he was well-informed, an original 
thinker, and as good a philosopher as the heterogeneous 
age was likely to produce. Epictetus and Marcus were 
moralists ; it fell to the lot of Christian philosophy to 
carry on something of the work of the great Hellenic 
schools of speculation, which had practically come to 
an end with the death of Aristotle. St. Justin's main 
point was that the same Word of God who had inspired 
the Hebrew prophets had also inspired the Greek 
philosophers. Everything which was truly said any- 
where he claimed as the revelation of the Logos, and 
in this statement he had, to guide him, the teaching of 
St. John that the Logos was eternally with God, had 
created the world, was the only source of illumination 
to the world, and was incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth. 
The inspiration of the Greek philosophers was not on 
the whole the prevailing doctrine of the apologists. 
Tatian, of course, utterly condemns them ; Tertullian 
finds evil influences at work even in the " daemon " 
of Socrates ; but, even so, the philosophers were too 
valuable to neglect. Theophilus quotes philosopher 
and poet as witnesses to the Christian message of 
morality and judgment, and on the whole Greek 
philosophy passed into the fabric of Christian theology. 

Let us now stop here, as we did in the case of Hebrew 
history, and consider what this means to us of to-day. 
It seems wild and unfamiliar, owing to the strangeness 
70 



PHILOSOPHIC AIMS 

of the language ; but the great philosophic conceptions 
do not change their identity from age to age. The 
nature of the universe and of the mind remain the 
same ; and we shall gain by looking at things for a 
moment through the eyes of the philosophers of long 
ago, especially when they saw as clearly as the Greeks 
did, and when their intellectual monotheism was com- 
bined with the moral monotheism of the Jews to give 
us Christianity. 

What makes the study so difficult to-day is the 
gigantic field of modern thought. In a hundred years 
scientific knowledge has outgrown the grasp of a single 
man, and no simple generalisations have yet been 
produced which the ordinary man can grasp. Each 
special branch of knowledge is still in the melting-pot ; 
and, even were the task attempted, it would be a her- 
culean labour to synthesise, say, the god of the mathe- 
matician and the god of the biologist. 

This, perhaps, is the weak point in the concluding 
essay of the book called Foundations ; whether or not 
modern idealism is the most satisfactory theory of its 
kind yet produced, it is not the kind of thing with 
which the Christians of the early centuries had to deal. 
Roman Stoicism certainly, and the whole of Greek 
philosophy probably, was concerned with something 
very different from the building up of theories which 
would be logically unassailable. It dealt with the 
whole attitude of man towards the universe, and was 
not mainly concerned with the production of an accu- 
rate and logical metaphysic. If this had been so, I 
doubt whether Christianity would ever have taken the 
trouble to deal with it at all. But the object of Stoicism 
was not to think, but to live in accordance with nature, 
and the word "philosophy" came eventually to mean 
an ascetic or religious manner of life. 

The two things which the Greek saw in the universe 

71 



THE PHILOSOPHERS 

were Law and Progress, to which we give the one 
name of Evolution. We ourselves, with all our mechani- 
cal bias, can hardly refrain from talking of it in personal 
terms ; w^e very definitely apply to it the idea of pur- 
pose, if not of will ; we personify it under the name of 
Nature, and give it feminine pronouns. In our doubts 
and difficulties we ask what it can all mean, and what 
is its purpose, and to what in the end it will come. 
Thus we view the universe as a progress according to 
rational principles, solely because our own mind is 
constructed along those lines. Further, as a rule, we 
do not go, because speculative thought has lately been 
at a discount. 

But the Greek scientist posed himself with the ques- 
tion, "Why does the universe answer to the laws which 
I formulate in my brain ? What is the rational force 
in the universe which corresponds to my human way 
of thinking ? " And he had come to the conclusion that 
this energising law of the universe was of the same 
nature as human intellect, or rather, that human intel- 
lect was derived from the Logos, and had a spark or 
seed of the same fire. The legitimacy of this conclusion 
receives powerful testimony from the natural personi- 
fication we have noted above. 

Again, the age was like ours in that the earlier specu- 
lations into the manner and being of God were tacitly 
dropped. Endless discussion had produced nothing, 
and in the age that followed there was danger of even 
the necessity of a First Cause being overlooked. Men 
were tired of the profitless wrangles, and devoted them- 
selves to ethics, a sphere in which there appeared some 
chance of attaining certainty. The Epicureans earned 
the name of atheists among the Christians ; to the 
Stoics God was a breath mingled up in the world, 
though true orthodoxy seems to have known of a mys- 
terious external existence (to op) ; to the Platonist He 
72 



ST. JUSTIN AND PHILOSOPHY 

was an abstraction. Similarly, to-day there is no clear 
recognition of the necessity of a changeless and eternal 
Being, without whom progress, moral or physical, is 
meaningless. 

It has been necessary to say at least this much in 
order to make clear exactly what attitude St. Justin, 
the most tolerant of the apologists, took towards phil- 
osophy. His toleration may be easily overstated ; for, 
while he did commend the philosophic conceptions and 
phrases, he certainly did not give his imprimatur to 
philosophic theory. He refines and philosophises the 
Jewish conception of God ; but He does not accept 
the Absolute. He believes that the Word of God in- 
spired Socrates and Heracleitus ; but he does not 
accept Heracleitus's view of the Logos. His attitude 
is : " Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship. Him 
declare I unto you." He does not believe that by 
searching they found out God, he does not praise their 
speculative investigations ; he believes that the Word 
revealed Himself to them. 

Here again we seem a long way from modern ter- 
minology. What do we mean by " reveal " ? To-day, 
we look on revelation, intuition, or faith, as something 
weak and unreliable. Yet, as we look back over history, 
can we feel so sure that reason is likely to give us the 
truth ? Have we any guarantee that this time we are 
right, and that the theories will not all have to be 
melted down again ? Of course we have no such 
guarantee ; reason has never proved itself a firmer 
guide than faith. It is the intuitions of the soul which 
have remained the same for centuries, while kingdoms 
rose and fell. The God of the Jews was found by faith ; 
relying on Him, they lived adventurous lives ; and 
their faith has survived Babylonia, Assyria, and all the 
sciences and imperialisms of the past. Similarly, to 
St. Justin faith in Christ was the one reality, and, rely- 

73 



THE PHILOSOPHERS 

ing on Him, he set out, unlike the apologist of to-day, 
to restate modern thought in the terms of Christian 
faith. The essence of faith we shall consider later ; 
meanwhile we must study the audacious claim to set 
Hellenic philosophy right, and see whether we cannot 
make the same claim to-day. 

St. Justin's position was something like this : " We 
Christians also believe in your Logos, this purpose run- 
ning right through the ages. You are right in suppos- 
ing that it is akin to human reason ; for the Logos is 
a Person. He revealed Himself to the Jewish prophets 
just as He revealed Himself to Socrates and Heracleitus. 
He is the light that lighteth every man who cometh 
into the world. But if you would know more about 
Him, you must study the Jewish Scriptures ; for these 
are they which prophesied of Him, not as philosophers 
who speculate, but as messengers worthy to be believed. 
Finally, after many generations of revelation. He 
became personally incarnate on this earth as Jesus of 
Nazareth, who, as you know, was crucified in the reign 
of Tiberius when Pontius Pilate was Procurator of 
Judaea." 

We have already discussed St. Justin's philosophy 
of history, the progressive spiritual education of the 
race by contact with the Word of God. But it would 
have been not only a philosophical, but a tactical mis- 
take of the highest order to confine this experience to 
the Jews, a race which the Greeks regarded as bar- 
barians. The function of the Logos, therefore, is made 
to include all mankind. That this was easy enough at 
that time is obvious from the histories of Greece and 
the Jews. Both had been subjected to the same Baby- 
lonian and Persian influences, and these, with perhaps 
others from even farther east, formed an integral part 
of Stoicism. The doctrine of the Word itself may have 
been borrowed by the Greeks from Persian sources. 
74 



ST. JUSTIN AND THE LOGOS 

In any case, St. Justin does not accept the Greek con- 
ception of the Word ; it is modified in the Philonic 
direction ; but there is still a huge gap between the 
two ideas. It was mainly the Stoic phraseology that 
St. Justin used ; but nothing could have been more 
distasteful to the Stoic mind than the new view of the 
Logos. It was now made a superhuman being with a 
distinct personality, an archetypal man who had pre- 
sided over the fortunes of the race from the beginning : 
this is very different from the immanent soul of the 
universe, which was something less than human, and 
in whom personality would have been a weakness. 

We must notice, again, how close this almost Buddh- 
ist shrinking from personality is to modern thought. 
The main difficulty is the admission of personality and 
humanity as real as that of Jesus Christ into the being 
of God. The objections of Celsus read as if they were 
penned yesterday for the Rationalist Press Associa- 
tion : God will no more leave His state of blessedness 
for us and become human than He will listen to the 
croaking of frogs ; the world and all it contains is be- 
neath His notice, and He will not deign even to de- 
stroy it. He views the hopes, despairs, aspirations, and 
sins of mortality with a Stoic heedlessness. For if, 
says Celsus, He desired to help mankind why does He 
not do so, as He promised through Moses ? Christ is 
crucified, and no one is a penny the better — nay, rather 
worse. But God, if He willed, could exercise His 
power, and sweep away all our sin and misery ; there- 
fore He does not will. Here is really the crux of the 
whole matter. The philosopher is unwilling to attribute 
personality to God ; but, if he did so, his ideal of deity 
was summed up in strength. He looked to see, in 
the Divine Ruler of the heavens, a more splendid 
Caesar. If God cared for the world He would rule it 
well ; but God does not rule it well, and therefore 

75 



THE PHILOSOPHERS 

does not care for it. Therefore the Incarnation is 
ridiculous. 

This, of course, is very superficial ; for if God is 
infinite, He must also be infinitesimal. An infinite God 
Who takes no interest in frogs is not infinite ; besides, 
it shirks the question of how the frogs got there. How- 
ever much it strove to be monist, the Stoic position 
failed, for it made a moral divorce between creation and 
God ; God was not responsible for the world. It was 
a mark of the age, and even many Christians, when 
posed with the question of who made the frogs, were 
tempted to answer, " At any rate, not the good God." 
But it was the special virtue of orthodox Christianity 
that, in the face of science and philosophy, it fought 
alone for the belief that a good and infinite God had 
created the universe. This is the fundamental concep- 
tion of Jewish faith, and a necessary foundation of a 
true moral and personal religion. What sort of gods 
were they to whom their Roman votaries breathed 
prayers they did not wish their neighbours to hear ? 
The main message of Christianity to the heathen world 
was this view of the person of God, and the apologists 
spend as much time insisting on it as they do on the 
Incarnation. With the philosophical advance in the 
conception of God the belief in the possibility of per- 
sonal relationship with Him had died out. The age 
was sick because it was without God, and so is ours. 
The idea came back to them with the belief in the In- 
carnation, and so it will to us. 

The Incarnation was a pledge of two things, God's 
love for the world and the existence of love within His 
own being. The absolute God of the philosophers was 
so absolute as to be unable even to act. He was incap- 
able of passion, so love was not to be dreamed of. The 
Christian idea of Father and Son was repellent to them ; 
but it set Him free from the fetters of philosophy, by 
76 



CHRISTIANS AND PHILOSOPHY 

interpreting Him, not in terms of physics, but in terms 
of personality. The essence of personahty was declared 
to be love, not force, and all the materials for the solu- 
tion of the puzzle were present. But it can scarcely be 
maintained that philosophy supplied them. The difference 
between Christianity and philosophy is that philosophy 
began by searching for God, and Christianity began by 
having found Him. Faith had brought the Christian 
to his knowledge of God, and when he had found Him 
he discovered Him to be the same God after whom the 
philosophers were feeling. The intuitions of the phi- 
losophers were all right ; it was only their philosophy 
that was astray. It is typical that the Christians 
especially praised Socrates, whose bias was against 
speculation. 

The Christians then proceeded to claim the philo- 
sophers as inspired witnesses to Christianity. Their 
Logos was the Son ; their God was the Father. They 
had already the theology of Philo to guide them. But 
to these philosophers the Logos was necessary for the 
existence of the world only ; to the Christian he was 
necessary for the existence of God. His system was 
theocentric, not anthropocentric. A Mind conceiving 
an idea is a very different thing from a Person begetting 
a Son. And, for the Christian, the Son was necessary 
to the Father as an object of His love. " The same 
was in the beginning face to face with God," and He 
too " was God." He was another in number, not in 
consciousness. We thus get the conception of one 
infinite God active in love from all eternity owing to 
the multiplicity of His personality. It is very curious 
that the second-century theologians do not seem to be 
aware of the problem they have solved. 

It is necessary to note here that " Son " and " Father " 
are just as much metaphors as "Mind" and "Word"; 
but Sonship is a better metaphor because it implies 

77 



THE PHILOSOPHERS 

the real distinction in personality without which inter- 
change of relations would be impossible. The Christian 
view of life is love — that is to say, a continual giving out 
of oneself, a pouring out of personality ; this highest 
life can only be possible for God if there is in Him a 
fountain or source of this self-sacrificing energy, a 
recipient of equal power and importance, and the actual 
energy itself. But, as this occurs on the plane of moral 
personality rather than on that of physics, the best 
metaphor must be taken from the family and the love 
of a good father for a good son. The metaphor of Word 
or Wisdom is less good ; for while, on the one hand, 
it kept up the intellectual level of Christian thought, 
so that it never degenerated to the level of such family 
gods as Attis and Osiris, and, on the other, it opened a 
great door into the Church for the philosophers, it let 
in far too many who took a lower view of the Word as 
an inferior being who was called into existence to 
mediate between God and the world. The extreme 
Arians were simply heathen philosophers, who never 
had the true conception of the Trinity at all. St. Justin 
Himself is led away by the use of the words Logos and 
Angelos, to represent the Second Person as a subordinate 
being, though, where he is not philosophising, his language 
is clear enough. 

It is unnecessary for our purpose to go into the long 
chains of theological argument by which the relationship 
between the Father and the Son was established. There 
was as yet no adequate armoury of terms ; Tertullian 
settled the terminology of the West, and it is in Theo- 
philus that we first find the word Trinity (quite casually). 
But this is only of interest to theologians ; it was not 
as a solution of the philosophical puzzle that this doctrine 
of the Trinity conquered the world, but as a worthy 
co-ordination of faith in God the Father and Creator of 
men, in Jesus of Nazareth whom we serve, and in the 
78 



CONTRASTING IDEAS OF GOD 

comforting Spirit whose help we know in our lives. 
As Donne says, it is — 

" Bones to philosophy, but milk to faith." 

The locus classicus is the beautiful passage in the apology 
To Diognetus, " Did He send Him, as a man might 
think, on a mission of domination and fear and terror ? 
Indeed He did not ; but in gentleness and meekness 
He sent Him, as a king sending his own son who is 
himself a king ; He sent Him as God, He sent Him as 
Man to men, He sent Him with the idea of saving, of 
persuading, not of forcing ; for force is not an attribute 
of God." 

Now see how different this moral conception is .from 
that of Celsus, who would have an Emperor-God, either 
indifferent or ruling firmly. Like men to-day, he 
demanded a strong administrator as his ideal ; he 
could see that the world of physics and astronomy was 
a world of law rigorously working itself out, while the 
moral world, the world of men, was pure anarchy. 
This could only mean to him indifference. Faith 
carried the Jew to a higher point ; however adverse the 
circumstances might be, God was still to be trusted. 
From the Incarnation the Christian learned the truth 
that God loved the world, but that love did not consist 
in forcing men to be good. They were to go their own 
way, live their own lives, work out their own salvation 
(or damnation), and follow their own light, which is 
enough to walk by, if not to see by. A single coercive 
touch from the hand of God, and they would lose the 
dignity of man, and become automata. God desires 
with an infinite desire to see the world go right ; He 
does not desire to push it right. 

As a result of this neutrality on the part of God the 
world is full of pain, sorrow, and injustice, the vast 
majority of which is owing to the greed, carelessness, and 

79 



THE PHILOSOPHERS 

pride of men ; and it always seems that the good have 
to suffer most. Christianity neither denies nor explains 
the presence of pain ; it explains nothing in the world, 
it only accepts it. But it said that the art of suffering 
was the most arduous and godlike task in the world. 
The early writers nowhere, as far as I know, deny nobility 
to him who returns blow for blow ; they merely asserted 
that the more godlike part was to accept it ; and no 
one will deny it is harder. In addition, they pointed 
to the Crucifixion, where they had their pledge that 
God suffered with them, and identified Himself, not 
with force and strength, but with the broken and weak 
of the world. 

Further they did not go. They boldly stated that 
God had created the world as it stands ; and what 
corruption there was came from sin, human or daemonic. 
Over this sin the Holy Spirit gave them power. In 
spite of their dark and puritanic outlook, they furiously 
denounced those who made the material world evil or 
illusory. They had a perspective ; they saw the world 
as a sane and reasonable process with an end in view, 
the Good Time Coming, as Professor Burkitt paraphrases 
it. And when this day came (and all the arts of 
metaphor and picture-language were exhausted in 
describing its lurid glories) the probation would be over, 
God would be justified, and all put right. They devoutly 
hoped and believed it was coming in their own lifetime. 

This was the point of view that found in the doctrine 
of the Son of God its logical centre. Everything began 
from " I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." 
But to the Roman officials, educated perhaps in Greece, 
it was ridiculous. Trained to regard Rome and her 
Kultur as the greatest fruit of whatever divinity might 
be working through humanity, they could only see 
goodness in justice, law, force, and uniformity. Those 
who were the passive objects of justice, force, law, and 
80 



CONVERSION 

uniformity saw things with different eyes. They 
rejoiced to learn that the heavens were governed by a 
different Emperor, who was on the side of the " bottom 
dog " ; and that of Him force was no attribute. 

Such a God was a real personality, flesh and blood as 
one might say, a real father, a real hope ; He was no 
abstraction, or absolute, or idea. After all the philoso- 
phy of St. Justin, He remains a gracious and kingly 
figure, no stream of tendencies making for righteousness, 
but a good Samaritan, ready to die for man. He has 
personally watched over the world He made, and at 
every mistake or blunder of man has felt the sorrow of 
disappointed love. By His Son He spake through the 
prophets and philosophers ; His Son was made one 
with us, and died with us on Calvary ; and when we 
pray, He gives us the company of His Spirit. Such a 
God, they believed, answered the philosophic questions 
of the age, and solved the puzzle of the universe. But 
no one is converted by having his metaphysical diffi- 
culties solved ; usually he does not want them solved. 
The Jew was reluctant to see his prophecies fulfilled 
in Christ, because it deprived him of his promises : he 
loved the prophecies more than what they promised 
him. So the Hellene was unwilling to give up his 
philosophy ; he prized his doubts far more than the 
answer. Besides, each stood in a definite moral attitude 
to the world, and, whatever logic might prove, he did 
not want to go to the trouble of changing it. Such a 
change is a moral act, and must have a moral cause ; 
faith must come into it. 

When you are teaching a boy to swim, and have got 
him down to the water, and have taught him how it is 
done, and proved that it is possible, there only remains 
one thing : that is, for the boy to summon up faith and 
courage from I know not where, and jump in, and swim 
too. And the best thing you can do is to get in and 
6 81 



THE PHILOSOPHERS 

swim with him, for the strongest argument will be the 
sight of others swimming ; nay, the more he talks about 
it and looks at it, the less he likes it, so that there is 
only one thing for him to do, which is to jump in quickly. 

This applies to all businesses in life, and not least to 
religion. The most powerful argument is the sight of 
others living Christian lives ; and, when all the philo- 
sophical objections to Christianity are shown to be 
baseless, there is only one thing to do, not to change 
one's mind, but to change one's life ; for more discussion 
tends to less action. This business is like swimming, 
for there is a definite leap to be taken from one position 
to another, and it is a matter of moral attitude towards 
the universe. The religious man is a gambler, an 
adventurer — that is, a man of action ; he treads on, and 
finds his path surrounded with practical evidences, 
which at every moment support his faith. 

We cannot prove that the Christian view of God is 
true ; we can prove that if a man wants to believe in a 
good God, Christianity is the only way it has ever been 
done. " For there is no other Name given among men 
whereby they may be saved, but only the Name of our 
Lord Jesus Christ." 



82 



CHAPTER V 
CHRISTIANITY AND SUPERSTITION 

" If the absurdity of their theology were confined to saying that the 
gods were created, and owed their constitution to water ... I might 
proceed to the remaining charges. 

" But, on the other hand, they have described their bodily forms : 
speaking of Hercules as a dragon, of others as hundred-handed, of the 
daughter of Zeus, whom he begat of his mother Rhea, or of Demeter 
having two eyes in the natural order and two in her forehead, and the 
face of an animal on the back part of her neck. . . . 

" And on the other hand, they have described their admirable 
achievements ; how Kronos, for instance, mutilated his father and hurled 
him down from his chariot, and how he murdered his children and 
swallowed the males of them. . . ." — Athenagobas : Embassy y xx. 

" And if you speak of the mother of those who are called gods, far 
be it from me to utter with my lips her deeds, or the deeds of those by 
whom she is worshipped (for it is unlawful for us so much as to name 
such things), and what vast taxes and revenues she and her sons furnish 
to the King. For these are not gods, but idols, as we have already said, 
the work of men's hands and unclean demons." — Theophilus : To 
Autolycus, i, x. 

"So by a contagion that walketh in the like darkness do demons 
and evil angels blast the minds of men, and agitate them with furies 
and extravagant uncleannesses, and dart in outrageous lusts with a 
mixture of various errors ; the most capital of which is that, having 
taken possession of a soul, they recommend to it the worship of false 
gods, that by the fiimes of those sacrifices they may procure a banquet 
for themselves, the stench of the flesh, and the fumes of the blood 
being the proper repast of those unclean spirits." — Tertullian : 
Apology, xxii. 

" But gods they are, say you ; for the truth of this we appeal from 
your words to your conscience ; let that be our judge, and let that 
condemn us if you can deny all those you now worship for gods once 
to have been men. If you can be strenuous in denying this, you shall 
be convinced of the mistake from your own antiquities testifying against 

83 



SUPERSTITION 

them to this very day, from the cities where they were born, and the 
countries where they lefb the impressions of their frailty ; and, alas, 
where the very tombs of the immortals are shown." — Tertullian : 
Apology, x. 

" The devils no sooner heard this baptism spoken of by the prophet 
(Ezek. xxxvi. 25) but they too set up their baptisms, and made such 
as go to their temples, and officiate in their libations and meat offerings, 
first sprinkle themselves with water by way of lustration." — St. 
Justin : Apology, Ixxxi. 

*' In our coming in and our going out, when we put on our shoes, 
when we wash, when we eat, when we kindle the lights, when we 
sleep, when we sit down, whatever business occupies us, we sign our 
forehead with the sign of the cross." — Teetullian : On the Crown, iii. 



V. Christianity and Superstition 

The attitude adopted towards the many religions of the 
Empire was one of uncompromising hostility. St. 
Justin bitterly complains that the devils have stolen 
and parodied the Christian mysteries ; Tertullian is 
full of fiery invective against their filthiness, absurdity, 
and immorality. We found sympathy shown towards 
the philosophers ; but there is no hint that the devotees 
of Isis or Cybele are also feeling after God if haply they 
may find Him. 

One practical aspect of this contrast is that Chris- 
tianity could only be established on the ruins of these 
religions ; the philosopher might retain his cloak, 
philosophy might be captured for Christianity, but the 
false religions were to be definitely abjured. A Christian 
could no longer eat at the table of Lord Serapis ; and, 
even if he had regarded the deity as an aspect of the 
truth, that would be little consolation for the wholesale 
desertion of his altars. As organisations, the heathen 
systems were bound to be the Church's most determined 
enemies. 

Just, too, as Christianity found enemies in the popular 
superstitions, so it found a possible ally in philosophy. 
84> 



PAGAN SOCIETY 

With all their great differences, Christianity and philo- 
sophy stood in some things together and alone ; 
chiefly in their reverence for the supreme Being, the 
life of self-sacrifice, and their hostility to the common 
religions. From the pages of Christian apologist and 
Roman satirist alike, we construct a picture of them so 
dark and sinister that we are tempted to write it down 
at once as incredible. If we are to trust Juvenal or St. 
Paul, as later on Ammianus or St. Jerome, society was 
so deeply corrupted that reformation must have seemed 
impossible. And on the human side Christians were 
pessimists, really regarding reform as impossible ; on 
the divine side they looked to a fiery judgment, and 
the sure and certain hope of the Kingdom. 

In historical investigations, however, we must be 
careful not to take satiric and prophetic diatribes too 
literally. It is only in one mood that the religious 
mind sees that " all the world lies in the evil one." 
It w^as the same Christianity that maintained, in 
the face of all its opponents, that creation was good, 
and it was Tertullian himself who called the soul 
into the witness-box to proclaim itself Christian-born. 
To-day we are a little apt to decry the virulence 
of Christian opposition to heathenism on the grounds 
that it was not far from the kingdom of heaven, that 
Christianity borrowed from heathen systems as it did 
from philosophy, and that, after all, they were already 
discredited. 

On the last score it is easy enough for a modern pro- 
fessor to see that heathen cults were bound to disappear 
before Christianity ; he has the advantage over Ter- 
tullian in knowing how it happened : and it is always 
easier to understand a century when you have the 
history of the succeeding ones by way of commentary. 
But, in the second century itself, heathenism showed 
no lack of vitality. The philosopher hated and de- 

85 



SUPERSTITION 

spised it, but he was afraid to say so. The Roman 
official revered, if he did not believe in, the gods that 
had made his country great. Any strolling priest or 
quack doctor could drive a roaring trade. Apollonius 
of Tyana and Alexander of Abonoteichus found pagan- 
ism a paying business. The explanation of this success 
is what concerns us here ; and I fancy the clue will lie 
rather in the unchanging facts of psychology than in 
the precise details of the mysteries of Mithras, or the 
Magna Mater. 

Mithraism is, on the face of it, the best of the cults ; 
its language is pure and elevated, and its ritual is evi- 
dence of a striving for strength and goodness. But, 
for all that, we cannot place it as a religion alongside 
the great religions of the world. If pure and elevated 
language were sufficient test of a religion, then Free- 
masonry would be perhaps the most powerful and 
spiritual religion of to-day. But Freemasonry is not a 
religion at all ; it is a society for mutual benefit. But, 
by its claims to antiquity, and by its real world-wide 
character, it answers many of the religious needs of 
the human heart, the desire for brotherhood, law, 
ritual, and the possession of a secret ; for many people 
it takes the place of religion, and it is recognised by at 
least one branch of the Church as a definite antagonist 
of Christianity. 

Despite our small knowledge of Mithraism we can be 
quite certain that it was of this character. We know 
that it existed in Rome in the first century, and that 
St. Justin condemns it in the second as pseudo-Chris- 
tian ; but our real knowledge of it comes rather from 
the third, when we find its remains widespread. It has 
gone hand in hand with the deification of the Emperor, 
and has thus become the soldiers' religion ; the army 
is knit by it into a great brotherhood with baptismal 
and other rites like those of Christianity. Its pre- 
86 



MITHRAISM 

eminence at this time as the only serious rival to Chris- 
tianity is midoubtedly due to its ideals of purity and 
truth ; yet, as far as we know, it never produces a 
hero, a saint, a prophet, a doctor, or a martyr. It is 
a formless cult, a centreless secret society, without 
object or distinguishable cause, that sprang up solely 
to satisfy certain vague human aspirations. It makes 
no protest on being absorbed into Christianity. The 
army is heathen under Diocletian, monotheist under 
Constantius, Christian under Constantine, Arian under 
his son, and pagan again under Julian. There is 
obviously a vast body of men who are quite indifferent 
to what particular secret society they happen to belong, 
and Christianity itself, as its bonds of discipline weaken, 
is ready to come to terms with them. 

What we know of armies would not lead us to sup- 
pose that the popular freemasonry of their heterogeneous 
sons would really prove to be a spiritual bond of the 
highest order. The savage prays his god to make 
him " good " or " glad " or " strong." The baptisms, 
the initiation tortures, the tauroctony of Mithraism 
show that the same idea was at work here ; but, in 
addition to this, we see truth, justice, and purity, to- 
gether with a desire for spiritual illumination, and, 
possibly, to be at one with God. This the religion 
owed to its Persian origin, and in this excelled the Isis 
mysteries ; though we may doubt, perhaps, how far 
the barbarian legionary sometimes understood this 
part of his religion. In other words, it contained some- 
thing which satisfied, or tried to satisfy, the religious 
cravings of the soul. 

The second century, in which this religion developed, 
was a most religious epoch. The Augustan revival of 
ancestral piety had failed ; but the death of the homely 
and sober Latin religion had given place to the world- 
worship of Rome and the Emperor. Under his broad- 

87 



SUPERSTITION 

minded patronage the cults of Egypt, Greece, and the 
East established themselves throughout the world, and 
no artificial separation is to be made between the 
nationalities of these various deities. In the year 
100 B.C. the process of blending had already begun 
in the commercial area of the Eastern Mediterranean. 
The third century saw Rome's admission into this 
federation ; in 205 B.C. the process culminated in the 
transference to Rome of the fetish stone of the Magna 
Mater of Central Asia Minor. The Orontes had long 
flowed into the Tiber ; under the Empire it overflowed 
its banks. 

These religions were just such as to flourish among 
the quick and excitable Italians. They had a luxurious 
and exhilarating ritual, a mysterious system of sacra- 
mental dramas, through which was accomplished a 
salvation or redemption which set one right with the 
unseen powers. One felt better ; there was satisfac- 
tion of the senses ; sight and scent and sound combined 
often with something cruder. It is a common illusion 
to suppose that some purely physical sensation is of a 
religious nature ; we see it to-day in the ecstatic hymn- 
singing of the revivalist, the artist's devotion to beauty, 
or the nature-worship of the simple life. All these 
and many more mistake the satisfaction of purely 
physical desire for the attainment of religious beati- 
tude ; they often have the illusion that this ecstasy is 
spiritual. Nevertheless, to use the epigram of Oscar 
Wilde, they are curing the senses by means of the soul 
and the soul by means of the senses. The devotee of 
Isis saw something done, and underwent a definite 
experience which really satisfied him. A good play or 
a football match has the same result. 

This sense of physical desire and satisfaction, for 
which we seem to have no word in the English language 
(let us call it rapture), was the method of salvation, 
88 



PAGAN CULTS 

Rapture was something mysterious, and a gift of the 
gods ; for instance, it was inconceivable that any 
Hquor should give the rapturous sensation of semi- 
drunkenness : it must be a god. Worse methods than 
these were resorted to ; frenzy at the sight of blood 
was a common incident in the orgies, and Mithraism 
never shook this off. In some cults the worshipper was 
worked up to a condition of madness by methods we 
can scarcely think of to-day. Catullus laments the 
prevalence of the cult of Cybele, and draws a portrait 
of the young Roman who has committed a rash act, 
and cut himself off for ever from the sane enjoyments 
of the city. 

Egone a mea remota haec ferar in nemora domo ? 
Patria, bonis, amicis, genitoribus, abero ? 
Abero foro palaestra, stadio et gymnasiis ? 

The contrast between the plain severity of Roman dis- 
cipline and enjoyment and the licentiousness of the 
Phrygian worship is very well done. If the majority 
of Eastern cults had been like this, no Juvenal could 
have painted things too black ; as a matter of fact, they 
were not, though in a terrible number the sexual element 
predominated. 

The cults had to answer so many cravings that they 
could not be all of one kind, and that, after all, repulsive 
to a great majority of respectable citizens. They had 
to cater for every one and find a way out of all the dark 
enigmas of life. There were other elements that came 
in. In an age, for instance, when the principles of 
medicine were little understood, both illness and 
remedy were looked on as supernatural ; and ^Escu- 
lapius or Apollo, his father, had their priests on earth 
to dispense these mysteries. Every kind of success, 
too, was looked on as a gift from some capricious deity 
who needed to be propitiated and flattered ; it was 

89 



SUPERSTITION 

even believed that the god might deign to announce 
beforehand what the success of any particular venture 
might be, and oracular answers were eagerly sought. 
It was felt that there must be ways of averting the 
dangers and pains of life, if only one got on the right 
side of the spiritual powers. 

There were found then, as there are to-day, men and 
women with mediumistic powers, who were ready at a 
price to foretell the future or summon up spirits. Many 
of the mysteries brought one face to face with the 
supernatural ; and witchcraft was a fact of common 
experience. Modern science is puzzled by these phe- 
nomena ; and far the easiest and most natural solu- 
tion is to suppose that there is indeed contact with the 
unseen world of some kind. In those days no one had 
any doubt on the subject ; and even Christians were 
forced to admit the truth of heathen prophecy. 

The religion of the average citizen was eclectic. He 
seldom rose to the conception of one supreme deity of 
whom Isis and Serapis were but aspects ; but he very 
seldom differentiated his gods. They all worked, and 
he chose the one that worked best. One cult was very 
like another. He was initiated into the mysteries of 
Mithras or Attis ; he inquired the future of any local 
prophet or wise woman ; he sat at table with any god 
to whom his friends might invite him ; he experimented 
with any new and curious w^orship ; and he applied 
to iEsculapius or the Dea Tussis if he was ill. Human 
nature demands a kind of ritual at the grand climaxes 
of life — birth, maturity, marriage, or death ; and, in 
the face of all these new cults, the old religion became 
powerless to supply it. 

The mysteries of birth are far the most inexplicable 
phenomena of ordinary life, at once the most holy and 
horrible of human secrets. It is no wonder that they 
should inspire the greatest awe, and form the darkest 
90 



CHRISTIANITY AND THE CULTS 

centre of the most powerful religions. It is equally 
natural that this should lead to the most appalling and 
ruinous moral catastrophe. But it lies at the root of 
so much that we call Rapture, the development of life, 
and the yearning for the supernatural, that it is not 
hard to see it as the thread which runs through the 
most diverse cults of that day and this. We even find 
it (inverted) in the fierce dualism and asceticism of the 
Gnostic and Manichean cults and heresies. 

To the Christian, as to the heathen, all these cults 
were equally valid ; not knowing that in the sixth 
century they would all be (more or less) antiquated, he 
could only regard them as the darkest and most dan- 
gerous phenomena of social life. He himself had been 
converted from them ; and he could not commit the 
absurdity of denying his own previous experience. 
He compared their fruits with those of Christianity, and 
unhesitatingly denounced his previous religion as 
devil-worship. It was the only course open to him, as 
he was not yet sophisticated enough to invent a " sub- 
liminal self" with which to explain these perplexing 
phenomena. 

Whatever theory does explain them, it will readily 
be granted by the most materialistic investigator that 
the belief in the actual existence of these spirits is a very 
natural deduction to have drawn ; and, in the second 
century it was the only one to draw. The belief that 
the spirits were evil was only a further deduction from 
the facts. The suggestions often made at modern 
seances, and the lives and deaths of some mediums 
to-day, show that the moral standard either of the 
spirits or the subliminal self is very low. There is, in 
fact, sufficient warrant for connecting, at any rate, a 
great deal of this business with the (potentially) im- 
moral desires which underlie so many of these religions. 

To the pagan devotee, the supernatural authority 

91 



SUPERSTITION 

was sufficient to legitimise the practices concerned ; 
to the Christians, it was the evil nature of the practices 
that discredited the supernatural authority. Neither 
side disbelieved in the supernatural element. To 
Celsus, as much as to the apologists, witchcraft and 
miracles were among the accepted phenomena of life ; 
but to the philosopher, as to the Christian, they were 
no evidence of the divine. It was possible in the nine- 
teenth century to believe that there was nothing super- 
natural behind them ; to have done this under the 
conditions of the second century would have been to 
shut one's eyes to fact. 

Exactly how far these bad elements predominated in 
the religions of the Empire it is quite impossible to 
say. Apart from the element of fraud, much spiri- 
tualism, fortune-telling, and cultus is comparatively 
innocent ; yet a proverb about playing with edged 
tools suggests itself. Most people's religion must have 
been a very mild playing indeed ; and there was plenty 
of prophylactic religion in the shape of Semitic or 
Persian sects which sought an absolute escape from the 
perils of the flesh. Yet this scorn of the material often 
leads up to excesses quite comparable with those of 
the fleshly cults, and at times has an odd way of being 
almost indistinguishable from them. It is much the 
same in the end to be entirely spiritual as to be entirely 
fleshly ; physical ecstasy is often mistaken for absorption 
into God. 

Again, much religion insisted on a morality. Nothing 
is to be more regretted than our loss of the moral 
teaching of Mithraism. The main points are summed 
up as follows by Cumont : "lis prechaient de meme une 
morale imperative, tenaient I'asceticisme pour meritoire, 
et mettaient au nombre des vertus principales I'absti- 
nence, la continence, le renoncement, et I'empire sur 
lui-meme." This was combined with rites so like the 
92 



SATANIC NATURE OF CULTS 

Christian ones that St. Justin declares that they are 
copied from Christianity. Indeed, the Empire was full 
of gorgeous and decadent cults that all recall Christianity 
with their legends of dying gods and risen saviours. 
Modern criticism sometimes suggests that Christianity 
borrowed from them ; but this is impossible to prove, 
and there is little real relation between the humiliation 
of the Son of Man and the pageant of the dying year. 
The roaring success of religion in the second century 
is the most important of all the signs of the times ; 
any quack doctor, prophet, or enthusiast could easily 
establish himself and drive a roaring trade, from the 
papal Alexander of Abonoteichos to the lowest of the — 

Ambubaiarum collegia, pliarmacopolse , 
Mendici, mimae, balatrones, hoc genus omne. 

All ranks of society found themselves trying to satisfy 
the soul in much the same way ; and the century comes 
to a close under Mammaea and the Syrian Emperors, 
Philip and the unspeakable Elagabalus. But by this 
time the long Vanity Fair was coming to an end ; the 
w^orld was weary, and Christianity alone remained for 
the heroic, with Mithraism for the faint-hearts. 

When the Christian said, therefore, that the whole 
world w^as in the power of devils, he was not indulging 
in a mere luxury of puritanic pessimism, but stating 
what seemed an obvious fact. All human society was 
worshipping powers which were evil ; not only were 
they evil in practice, but the very myths on which they 
nourished their souls were full of the most horrible 
murders and adulteries. Socrates and Diogenes were 
better men than Zeus and Apollo ; and even the Roman 
Emperors must have raised the tone of the pantheon 
on their elevation to Olympus. And against this 
universal domination of the powers of evil, Christianity, 

93 



SUPERSTITION 

and Christianity only, stood firm — for the philosophers 
were afraid. 

The great point is that, whatever virtues we may 
now be able to see in the cults, and however innocent 
Mithraism, for instance, may actually be, they were 
all tarred with the same brush. They were none of 
them even neutral. What was the good of preaching 
an imperative morality, if you failed to condemn the 
rites of Cybele or the temple of Antinous ? All these 
gods of the pantheon were discredited by each other's 
company ; it must be an awful truth of which Serapis 
was one aspect, and Antinous another. And, in addition 
to this, they all, Mithraism especially, acquiesced in 
Emperor- worship. There was no room for sympathy 
in the Christian's dealing with this company of gods, 
who, as a matter of fact, by this time were all being 
identified with one another ; the cults could only be 
regarded as a whole, and, as they had the worst influence 
on the life of the Empire, it was necessary to clear them 
away. This task the Emperor was unable to perform ; 
he definitely ranged himself as divine patron of the 
deities. Christianity swept them all into oblivion. 

It was this intolerant attitude of Christianity that 
saved the Empire ; it is a mistaken idea of Christian 
charity which strains it to include tolerance of wrong 
opinion or religion. Christianity is the strait and narrow 
way which leads to eternal life, and it is no charity to 
desert it for the broad highway, or even to allow others 
to tread the " primrose path to the everlasting bonfire " 
without that warning which the age-long experience of 
Christianity is so well able to give. Christianity saved 
the Empire because it witnessed, even with its blood, 
to the truth ; but it was not trying to save the Empire, 
its business was to bear witness to the truth. 

To-day we should no doubt call the Church of that 
age puritan ; it is a matter of reproach that the Chris- 
94 



CHRISTIANITY AND THE CULTS 

tians are cold and dead to all the glories of art. They 
have little but scorn, satire, and hatred for the glories 
of Greece ; their antagonism to " idols " surpasses in 
activity and virulence even that of the Jews. They 
appear on the scene as dark, dour people who hate all 
the pleasures of life, even the baths. They spend their 
time in praying and psalm-singing, awaiting the Day 
of terrible vengeance in which they will at last be 
justified. Into some such position their terror of the 
sensuous and the idolatrous led them ; they distrusted 
bodily pleasures, and fled every occasion of sin. St. 
Augustine is doubtful even of the severe Ambrosian 
hymns ; and St. Jerome forswore Vergil. All this is 
true ; but we must beware of trusting too implicitly 
men like Tertullian or St. Jerome, whose ascetic zeal 
went almost beyond what Christianity allows. The 
average Christian w^as no fakir. 

It is not its negative side which explains the policy 
and success of Christianity. If we compare the spread 
of Christianity (or Mohammedanism) with the spread 
of Isis-worship, we find the two monotheistic religions 
have something which Isis-worship has not. They 
have (or claim to have) the truth ; a man becomes a 
Christian because he believes Christianity to be true, 
but a man becomes an enthusiast for Isis because he 
thinks it is nice. Christianity brings one into a new, 
absolute, and final relation with the truth. 

What is religion ? To the Christian (as to the Jew 
and the Mohammedan) it is a personal relation with a 
moral Being. Prayer and sacrament make up the daily 
round of intercourse with Him ; and religion itself 
consists in a reliance on Him and a constant self- 
adjustment to His will. This deliberate alteration of 
will affects not only the moments of prayer, but decides 
the most momentous issues of life, so that all one's 
actions are accommodated to the will of God. The 

95 



SUPERSTITION 

Christian is warned that this will certainly lead to a 
life of crucifixion, self-sacrifice, and perhaps death ; 
but the same God who raised up Jesus Christ will give 
the strength to go through. 

The heathen went to church to feel better after it ; 
he wanted to be satisfied. He prayed to God for health 
and strength and success ; he tried to find out his future, 
and, if possible, to influence it. But, if he had bad luck, 
he changed his god ; his religion was like a large in- 
surance society which he joined for the benefits. He 
also found his religious and moral aspirations satisfied. 
The best that can be said for this religion is that it 
might be harmless ; it was certainly not going to stand 
against Christianity, 

Christianity felt that its nearest relationship was not 
with the cults, but with the philosophers. Yet the 
philosophers were too far removed on the other side. 
They had no sympathy for the ordinary doubts and 
weaknesses of human nature. The wise man was to 
be totally unmoved by any accident, good or evil, 
that might occur to him or his friends. He was not, 
therefore, to go running about from god to god, or to 
bemoan his fate like a stage-player. He was to practise 
self-sufficiency {avrapKeia) and impassibility {aTrdOeia) 
and depend on no man or god for happiness. 

This ideal was barely possible, and, if carried out, 
would have produced an inhuman type, as it did in the 
Christian hermits of a later generation. It failed by 
its very strength ; it was utterly impossible for a good 
man to maintain a Buddhist indifference with regard 
to the human tragedy of the world around him, and 
his idea of independence violated the fundamental 
conceptions of mundane existence. It was not possible 
to be independent ; it was only possible to produce an 
exclusive caste. To do the philosophers justice, they 
were better than their creed. No one can help realising 
96 



MARCUS AURELIUS 

the sad nobility of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius ; 
and the picture he draws of his adoptive father is the 
picture of the most beautiful and tender type of monas- 
ticism. We are able to see in it the anima naturaliier 
Christiana. 

Again, whatever page of Marcus one opens, the eye 
is almost sure to fall on a reference to death ; he dwells 
on the fact that it is natural, that it is a transition, a 
door, a mere change, and that there is no need to be 
frightened of it. He does this so often that it impresses 
one at last with the fact that death is not natural, that 
it is very violent, and that there is every reason to be 
afraid of it. If he had really regarded it as the natural 
and dignified exit he describes, he would have insisted 
on it a little less ; but, as a fact, he must have been as 
apprehensive of it as Dr. Johnson. Dignity is incom- 
patible with sublunary existence, even for an Emperor. 
He strained nobly, however, to regard it like a phi- 
losopher, and his one allusion to the Christians (whom 
he allowed or ordered to be unmercifully persecuted) 
is a reference to the indecent glee with which they 
embraced martyrdom. 

The aristocratic system, at this time, was producing 
a very good type indeed. We English ought especially 
to recognise this, as we choose to educate our own 
aristocracy on just those classical authors which Marcus 
Aurelius read, rather than on the Old and New Testa- 
ments of Tertullian. The result is that we produce 
very much the type of the Roman gentleman. It is 
ridiculous to suppose that Roman society is summed 
up in some such epigram as — 

** On that hard pagan world disgust 
And secret loathing fell : 
Deep weariness and sated lust 
Made human life a hell." 

The long descriptions of voluptuous banquets and 
7 97 



SUPERSTITION 

self-indulgence, the immoral habits, the licentiousness 
and delirium of the mystery religions, the general mise- 
en-scene of love, liquor, and luxury, is all legitimate 
" atmosphere " of its kind. It is far more important 
to realise that in the second century Rome reached its 
zenith. We should recall the scientific spirit of Julius 
Caesar, Pliny, or Lucian, the noble philosophy with 
which Marcus found himself surrounded, the settlement 
of the bounds of the Empire under Hadrian, one of 
the world's greatest rulers, and the high level of civi- 
lisation throughout the known world. It is worth 
while recalling Trajan's little note to Pliny : " Secret 
informers," he says, " are evil, and unworthy of our 
age." Here he lays claim to an advance on the pre- 
vious age, the age of Domitian, and the claim was 
justified. It is true that there was no constructive 
thought or art, but it is questionable how far this is a 
sign of vigour or decadence. 

But an aristocracy, even when it is as cosmopolitan 
as that of Rome, contains the seeds of its own ruin. By 
isolating the goodness and enlightenment of the nation, 
it makes it impossible for the goodness and enlighten- 
ment to save the nation. The enlightened caste dies 
out, having scattered no seed. So it was in the Empire ; 
the rulers saw clearly the errors of the idol-worshipping 
multitude, but had no gospel, or hope for them. They 
could only legitimise all the superstitions, and bind 
them in one by the worship of the genius of Rome and 
the Empire. The one true religion, which alone had 
a message to the democracy, and could have saved the 
Empire, they proscribed. 

There were, of course, many who retained their belief 
in the old gods ; and all conformed. A sympathetic 
picture of the latter is given in the Octavius of Minucius 
Felix. The Roman aristocrat continued to pay his 
vows to the gods who had made his city and family 
98 



CHRISTIANITY AND DEMONS 

great. Just as many Englishmen used to adhere to 
the Anglican Church simply because it was the religion 
of England so, to the Roman, religion and patriotism 
were one. It was the gods who had made Rome 
great ; and their temples were not to be forsaken. Not 
all Romans were philosophers ; and to them the antiqua 
pietas was as dear as their city or Imperium. 

Yet, strive as they would, it was not the old-fashioned 
piety of their ancestors that survived. Greek religion 
had long displaced it, and the second century saw 
oriental religion triumph through and over that. The 
new cults were irresistible ; the chief supporter of 
Alexander of Abonoteichus was a Roman senator, 
Publius Mummius; Sisenna and Marcus himself con- 
sulted him before going to war ; what is more, his faith 
survived the falsification of his predictions. It seems 
probable that the most conservative of officials must 
have believed in the new superstitions. The deified 
Emperor was identified with Sol Invictus, or Mithras ; 
and, in the pagan revival of 361, it is the new gods that 
Julian introduces. 

All this goes to show how widespread was the " demon- 
worship " of the Empire ; in face of its power and 
universality neither Christian nor philosopher could 
deny it. One of the most interesting passages in Ter- 
tullian is the challenge to produce a man suffering from 
devil-possession whom the Christians would undertake 
to cure. From the very beginning this had been one 
of the powers and signs of the Spirit. When our Lord 
first appeared in Galilee He won fame by His authority 
over spirits ; this authority He solemnly handed on to 
the Twelve on the mountain, and in apostolic days it 
was counted a gift of the Spirit. An interesting case 
in the Acts is the cure of a girl possessed by the pro- 
phesying spirit of Apollo. According to Tertulhan, 
Christians still possessed this power, and he was ready 

99 



SUPERSTITION 

to come out before a magistrate and put the demons 
to flight in the Name of Jesus of Nazareth. 

The usual answer of the heathen was that Christians 
were not the only people who had this power ; this 
statement must also be accepted, but at the same time 
it is obvious that some power out of the ordinary must 
have belonged to the Christians. In the same way 
we learn that the sons of the Pharisees cast out demons, 
but that our Lord had an especial and unique power. 
What was this power, so pre-eminently the possession 
of Christians, and admitted by magistrate and phi- 
losopher ? It is plain that, whatever it is, it is no 
mechanical argument in favour of Christianity ; but 
even if the pathological condition is purely " natural," 
and the curative power acts along the same lines as 
" telepathy " and " suggestion " (whatever they are) 
it is still worth while inquiring into its nature. 

The same phenomena meet us on the mission field 
to-day ; tribes who live under the fear of devils are 
absolutely delivered from them by Christianity. Not 
only are individual cases cured, but lives are delivered 
from their domination and terror. Nothing is more 
certain than that, before the advance of Christianity, 
these real or imaginary demonic forces are clean swept 
away, so much so that for a brief space in modern 
educated circles men ceased to believe in them; now 
they are creeping back as the subject of " psychical 
research." 

It is not altogether beside the mark here to point 
out how Christianity itself, by its secrecy, not only 
incurred the accusation of being a mystery religion, but 
did a little assimilate itself to them. We have seen 
how all the apologists but one shrink from describing 
the Christian mysteries and ministry. Every other 
apologist conceals them as if they really were the hor- 
rible thing people believed them to be ; St. Justin alone 
100 



MYSTERY CULTS 

reveals that there is no magic, no optical illusion, no 
cruel or cannibalistic sacrifice, but plain bread and 
wine and water, with the soberest of prayer and 
ritual. 

It is not part of this essay to deal with the causes of 
the affinities between Christianity and the heathen 
rituals. In the poverty of our information we can only 
say that their extent is doubtful, their origin manifold, 
and that the influence of one on the other — for it seems 
to have acted both ways — is impossible to prove or dis- 
prove. But we can improve on St. Justin's theory that 
the demons parodied Christianity beforehand. It may 
well be that the originators of the mysteries had got 
hold of the right idea ; like Socrates or Abraham, they 
may have been Christians before Christ. The faith of 
man may have been groping in the dark for the re- 
demption and salvation which God has given through 
the Man Christ Jesus. At any rate, it is a very acute 
comment of St. Justin that here the devils failed in not 
having one of the sons of Zeus crucified in imitation of 
Christ. 

Here lies the centre of Christianity, so that, in com- 
parison, the cults are only gorgeous frames to enclose 
a picture which was yet to come ; and the apologists 
were right to insist on what sprang out of this faith in 
Christ crucified, namely, the harvest of repentance and 
good works, its prayers for persecuting Emperor and 
hostile populace. If Christianity was a mystery re- 
ligion like the rest, what made this difference ? What 
made the martyrs ? Why did Mithraism die out under 
the Christian Emperor ? Why did Christianity stand 
out against Emperor-worship, in which all the rest 
acquiesced ? It had something which the mysteries 
never had, and to which they were antagonistic. As 
historians, we can now look back and see the part the 
mysteries played in preparing the world for Christ ; as 

101 



SUPERSTITION 

Christians, it would have been our duty to oppose them 
to the death. 



NOTE TO CHAPTERS IV AND V 

THE PAGAN CONCEPTION OF MATTER 

The Persians held that matter was alien from spirit, and was under 
the control of an evil being who was totally opposed to the spirit of 
good. Hinduism in the main regards matter as an illusion to which 
ppirit must rise superior. It was rather this latter conception that was 
introduced into the Roman Empire through both philosophy and 
religion, though Mithraism must have been nominally pledged to the 
Persian point of view. 

In philosophy it takes the form of a rejection of creationism ; matter 
is always regarded as existing somehow independently of God. Plato 
has a creation myth, but he does not represent God as creating matter 
by direct influence. The Stoics regard matter as a thing quite in- 
different, and in consequence their morality suffers. In oiu" own 
period Marcus Aurelius quotes with approbation the saying of Epic- 
tetus, that man is a living soul dragging about a corpse. As a result, 
even Epictetus has no very high teaching on the subject of sexual 
purity. The body does not matter. 

In religion the effect was even worse. The great mother goddesses 
were regarded as personifications of the spirit which moves the world ; 
the continuous flux and recreation of nature was represented by sexual 
relations between the goddess and other figures, who were regarded 
now as her son, husband, or brother, now as but another form of her- 
self. On the consequences of this it is unnecessary to dwell. 

For the initiate there was a different interpretation. He was led 
to look on life as an attempt to escape from the domination of matter ; 
the end of his being was to be the reabsorption of his soul into the 
divine being from whom it was separated as long as it was imprisoned 
in the body. This view of the body was also held by the Christian 
Gnostic sects, which saw in Jesus Christ the Redeemer who was going 
to liberate their souls from the world and restore them to their rightful 
union with the infinite God. As far as this side of the mystery religions 
stirred a sense of sin and a desire for reconciliation they were good ; 
as far as the mysteries satisfied this sense, they were bad. On the 
other hand, they despaired absolutely of the world, the cardinal sin also 
of eschatology. 

Our Lord held a view quite the reverse of this, as we see from the 
famous discourse, only too fatally clear, in the eighth chapter of St. 
Mark. It is summed up at its shortest in the epigrammatic phrase, 
" The spirit, indeed, is willing, but the flesh is weak." Any other 
religious teacher of the age would have said, " The spirit, indeed, is 
willing, but the flesh is strong." Heathenism regarded the flesh as 

102 



PAGAN CONCEPTION OFMATTER 

an obstacle to being good ; Christianity regarded it as material for 
being good with. 

The reaction from philosophy on the part of Tatian and Tertullian 
is also to be explained by this. And they both point out that the 
superior morality of Christianity is due to this view of the body ; this 
also explains why the apologists are so explicit on the resurrection of 
the body and on the creation of matter by God. But, in their theory 
of the origin of evil by the temptation of evil demons, we may doubt 
whether they have really explained this mystery, except to insist on 
the fact that it is due to a perversion of will somewhere, and is inherent 
neither in God nor in His universe. The universe is only bad where it 
is under the domination of an evil will. 

Life is to be looked at like one of those Chinese puzzles in which 
little pieces of wood have to be put together to form a pattern. The 
pieces may be awkward in shape, the table-cloth may be uneven, the 
player may not have much capacity, there may be disturbing influences 
in the room ; but there is nothing evil about the materials. We may 
not all be able to make the perfect pattern of the cross out of them ; 
but we can all do the best we can. 

For it is again the cross that is the key to the situation. The Incar- 
nation and Resurrection of our Lord prove that there is nothing 
unholy about the flesh ; His cross and passion show that, whatever 
pain may be, it is not in itself incompatible with holiness. Nay, it 
shows that the mission of the saint may be, not to escape from the flesh, 
but to bear, more than other people, the evils it is able to inflict. " If 
any man would come after Me, let him take up his cross and follow Me." 
Matter is the material of morality, not its main obstacle. 



103 



CHAPTER VI 
CHRISTIANITY AND THE STATE 

*' I do not wish to be a king ; I am not anxious to be rich ; I decline 
military command ; I detest sin ; I am not compelled by an insatiable 
love of gain to go to sea ; 1 do not contend for crowns ; I am free from 
a mad thirst for fame ; I despise death ; I am superior to every kind 
of disease ; grief does not consume my soul. Am I a slave, I endure 
my servitude. Am I free, I do not make a vaunt of my good birth. I 
see that the same sun is for all, and one death for all, whether they live 
in pleasure or poverty. The rich man sows, and the poor man partakes 
in the same sowing. The wealthiest die, and the beggars have the 
same limit to their lives." — Tatian : To the Greeks, ii. 

" Happiness consists not in exercising lordship over a neighbour, 
nor in wishing to have advantage of weaker men, nor in possessing 
wealth and using force against inferiors. Not in ways like these can 
a man imitate God ; such ways are far removed frona His Majesty." 
— To Diognetus, x. 

" I must tell you, likewise, that of all men living we are the greatest 
promoters of peace, and bring you in the most powerful auxiliaries to 
establish it in your dominions, by teaching that it is impossible for 
any worker of iniquity, any covetous or insidious person, anyone 
either vicious or virtuous, to hide himself from God." — St. Justin : 
Apology I, xii. 

" Therefore I prefer to honour the king, not indeed worshipping him, 
but praying for him. ... As he will not have those called ' kings ' 
whom he has appointed luider himself (for ' king ' is his title, and it is 
not lawful for another to use it), so neither is it lawful for anyone to 
receive worship but God only. . . . Accordingly, honour the king, be 
subject to him, and pray for him with a loyal mind ; for, if you do this, 
you will do the will of God." — Theophilus : To Autolycus, i, 11. 

" Furthermore, we beseech Thee, O Lord, for the king and those 
that are in authority, and for the whole army, that they may be 
peaceably disposed towards us, in order that, leading all the rest of our 
life in peace and quietness, we may glorify Thee through Jesus Christ 
our hope." — Liturgy of the Apostolic Constitutions. 

" But for us, who are stark cold and dead to all the glories upon earth, 
what occasion can we have for caballings ? And in good truth nothing 

104 



EMPEROR WORSHIP 

is further from our soul than the thoughts of mixing up in state affairs 
or in any private designs ; for we look upon ourselves as citizens of the 
world." — Tertullian : Apology, xxxviii. 

VI. Christianity and the State. 

We have now considered the exalted claims of Chris- 
tianity, its ancient ancestry, its authority in philosophy, 
and its unique place among the cults of the day. It 
remains to deal with the relations between Church and 
State, which were the immediate cause of at least the 
two main Apologies. There is no maxim more admirable ' 
than that religion and politics should confine themselves 
each to its separate sphere ; but, unfortunately, Chris- 
tianity has always maintained that their sphere is the 
same. It was as a political phenomenon that Chris- 
tianitv first attracted the attention of the world. Re- 
ligion and politics affect the same persons and the same 
activities, and it is inevitable that they should clash. 

The deification of the Emperor seems to us now an 
intolerable intrusion of the State into the religious 
sphere ; we are so accustomed to regard the two spheres 
as independent. In fact, however, we have exactly 
the same problem to-day ; the State makes a claim 
which is just as uncompromising, even if it is not 
expressed in language so amazing. It is only the 
language of the imperial claim that shocks us ; it seems 
incredible that anyone can ever have consented to 
address that sinister beast Domitian as " Dominus et 
Deus Noster." But our horror is entirely due to the 
modern Christian associations of the words. Let us 
remember how the whole Anglican Church prayed for 
George IV as " our most religious and gracious king." 

It was only by a few philosophers that the word 
Deus was applied to the supreme Mind of the uni- 
verse ; the mysteries, it is true, had a pantheistic view 
of God ; but in neither case did it affect the common 

105 



CHRISTIANITY AND THE STATE 

use of the word Deus, To the average person, it im- 
pHed little more than a condition of beatification ; 
strength and honour and glory and blessing were the 
endowment of the immortals on Mount Olympus. 
But they were only glorified men, and their company 
could be attained by men like Hercules and Romulus. 
A good man, even on earth, might be known as jpcene 
deus, Julius Caesar claimed the title of divus or 
divine, and Augustus, though he never assumed the 
title Deus, made ample preparation for its application 
to him after his death. 

We must remember that no moral attributes were 
attached to the deities ; it was merely a question of 
strength or wisdom. Power and force were the attri- 
butes, yar excellence, of godhead. Power and force 
were the obvious privileges of the City of Rome ; she 
was the undisputed mistress of the world. But, as 
time went on, the imperial city became more and more 
levelled to the rank of the other cities of the Empire, 
and the power passed into the hands of the Emperor. 
The stable government of the world depended more 
and more on his absolute power. 

Thus the later government of the Empire shows the 
deliberate slighting of the Senate and People of Rome ; 
she becomes more and more a great name, a holy city 
containing — 

"The ashes of our fathers 

And the temples of our gods." 

Every god and goddess of the known world had his 
palace and sacred pomp somewhere in the stately streets ; 
countless barbarian shrines were grouped about the 
ancient temple of Capitoline Jupiter. There were 
temples sacred to Victory, Faith, and Wealth. But 
there was one august being in whose hands the whole 
of this world-wide power was concentrated ; there 
was one whom the gods permitted to exercise their 
106 



MEANING OF DEIFICATION 

world-empire for them. He could be seen there, with 
his palace, and trains of attendants and incense ; and 
he was the Emperor (Augustus, Sebastos, Worshipful), 
Autocrat of the World. And it is little wonder that, as 
well as being the supreme representative of heaven 
(Pontifex Maximus) he himself became Deus with a 
seat on Olympus. 

At any rate, it was absolutely essential for the peace 
of the world that the Emperor's power should be abso- 
lute ; nothing must interfere between him and the 
direct control of the taxes, the provinces, and, above all, 
the armies. There was no power on earth greater than 
his ; he was formally enrolled as Deus, one of the strong 
powers of the world. There was no religion except 
that of the Jews which would raise any objection ; 
they existed to flatter their gods, not to wield their 
powers. Even then, however, it was rather the genius 
(guardian spirit) of the Emperor who was worshipped 
so long as he was alive ; when dead, he became a god 
by apotheosis. 

To the philosopher or thinker all this business was 
ridiculous enough ; the Apocolocontosis of Petronius 
Arbiter was a stinging satire on the apotheosis of the 
feeble and pedantic Claudius. But, as time went on, 
people acquiesced in an idea which had so much patriotic 
and religious sentiment behind it, and was so practical 
and useful. The alacrity with which it was taken up, 
especially in Egypt and the East, where the idea was 
familiar, is sufficient proof of that. The ritual of 
allegiance was simple ; no one could object to burning 
a pinch of incense before the Emperor's statue. It 
was purely a civil and patriotic ceremony, which 
expressed the allegiance of the loyal subject to his 
Emperor as the supreme world-power. It was this 
one ceremony which bound together all the peoples 
of the Empire. 

107 



CHRISTIANITY AND THE STATE 

Now, in plain English, what does this mean ? We 
have seen that it implied no theological dogmas as to 
the person of the Emperor, and nothing we can call 
worship ; it simply used the ritual of religion to express 
that loyalty and obedience which law demands. It 
did not mean that the Emperor was infallible ; it meant 
that he was always to be obeyed. Naturally no Chris- 
tian could take this oath ; to him, the Emperor was 
not the supreme power : the supreme power was the 
voice of God. 

In reality it does not differ from the modern doctrine 
of the Sovereign State, the form in which we uphold 
to-day the doctrine of the divine right of kings. It 
does not state that the law is always right ; it states 
that it is always to be obeyed. It allows of no superior 
authority, and recognises no excuse for disobedience. 
The business of the civil magistrate is not to decide 
right and wrong, but to administer the law. No con- 
ceivable circumstance can alter or modify its universal 
validity or authority. From the point of view of the 
State, it is easy to see how necessary this is ; if any 
extraneous conceptions of right and wrong could 
modify the law in the slightest particular, there would 
be the end of its authority. It either is or is not to be 
obeyed ; it is inconceivable that an oath should be 
extracted that the law is to be obeyed, except when the 
subject shall deem otherwise. 

It is scarcely necessary to say that any such obedience 
or any such oath is quite impossible to the Christian. 
But it is necessary to insist that in the case of thousands 
this blind obedience to the State is the highest conception 
of duty ; the State is the biggest thing they ever come 
across, and they deify it as an allegorical figure, or as 
an animal, or in the person of its ruler. They believe 
that the authority of the Church is derived from its 
Establishment ; and they are quite certain that the 
108 



CHRISTIANS AND THE EMPEROR 

powers and privileges of their country are gifts from an 
imperial god to his favourite, and that members of their 
race are personally superior to those of any other. 

These perilous and Pharisaic superstitions are as 
dangerous now as ever they were in the pagan days of 
Rome ; and it is our duty to combat them as men com- 
bated them then. As a matter of law, Christians were 
in the wrong in absenting themselves from imperial 
festivals, or refusing to take the oath of allegiance. 
Tertullian, a lawyer, admitted this, but pleaded that 
the laws should be changed ; bad laws had been changed 
before, and could be changed again. But such a change 
would have meant a complete capitulation on the part 
of the Emperors. It was one thing to exempt an in- 
significant nation like the Jews ; it was another to 
give in to a vast international federation, embracing 
all classes and nationalities. 

Before considering the attitude of the apologists to 
the State, it is worth noting that it is far more pacific 
than that of most Christians in the dock. The apolo- 
gist was justifying his position as a respectable citizen, 
though the rhetoric of Tertullian must have been more 
irritating than mollifying. In the dock, however, as is 
natural, restraint was often cast aside ; to all questions 
("What is your name ? Are you a slave ? Are you a 
Roman citizen ? ") the answer would be, " I am a Chris- 
tian." The martyr would then go on to say that he 
was not a malefactor, that he could not offer incense to 
the Emperor, that he had another Emperor called 
Christ, and that in a matter so simple there was no 
room for further consideration. In view of the number 
of fanatics who courted martyrdom, we may say that 
they must often have been bolder than this ; and we 
gather from Celsus that they indulged in lurid denun- 
ciations and prophecies of the end of the world. 

But Tertullian is reflecting the official mind of the 

109 



CHRISTIANITY AND THE STATE 

Church when he says that the Christians are the most 
loyal subjects of the Emperor ; they pray for him, and 
for his officers, and for the success of his armies. They 
are a vast throng who fill the cities and villages and 
camps of the Empire ; only the temples are left. What 
could not such an army do if it appealed to force ? It 
could destroy the Empire merely by deserting it; for 
it would take most of the respectable citizens with it. 
Yes, the hated Christians who refused to worship the 
Emperor obeyed him better than the jingoistic mob. 

This doctrine obviously goes back to New Testament 
times. Our Lord, when consulted on the question of 
paying the imperial taxes, practically answered that 
every one had to decide for himself. " Pay back to 
Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the 
things that are God's." And the main drift of our 
Lord's life and teaching was undoubtedly in favour of 
obedience to law, however despicable the actual rulers 
might be. He recognises Pilate's power as given him 
from above, and perhaps St. Paul is echoing this state- 
ment when he say that the powers that be are ordained 
of God. Human law-courts are thus looked upon as 
having divine authority ; the sword of justice is not 
borne in vain. But, though the king is to be honoured, 
he is not to be feared ; for fear belongs to God ; and 
honour belongs also to all men. Above all, they are 
not to be ashamed of the name Christian ; they are to 
suffer anything for that. 

So far, then, the Gospel allows and orders a Christian 
to yield obedience to the powers that be ; but his obedi- 
ence is not to be such as will dominate or affect the 
obedience he owes to the higher law within, " knowing 
that no man judgeth you." The Christian attitude 
to the law was plain and easy ; it was the attitude of 
the law towards the Christian that was difficult. There 
seemed to be only two alternatives, that the Emperors 
110 



CHURCH AND STATE TO-DAY 

should believe in Christ, which, as Tertullian points out, 
is not compatible with their remaining Emperors, and 
the suppression of Christianity by force. The modern 
idea of toleration is a compromise, and it is extremely 
doubtful whether in a crisis it would be practical ; it 
is only as long as no serious difference arises between 
them that the State and the Church can each retain 
its full authority. But, as it stands even to-day, 
the Church is a society which recognises that each 
individual is answerable to God before he is answer- 
able to the State ; and it is ready to defend him in 
that right. 

As long as there exists a religion like Christianity, 
which claims to make a real revelation of the will of 
God, this conflict must arise. We see it in the case of 
the persecutions, and in the long conflict between Pope 
and Emperor in the Middle Ages ; it was vital in the 
Reformation ; it was an outstanding mark of English 
ecclesiastical history in the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries ; and in the nineteenth we find it at the 
root of such struggles as the Colenso controversy. Dr. 
Figgis has dealt with this subject in The Divine Right of 
Kings, and The Churches in the Modern State, and, 
though he has said much which is gratifying from the 
church point of view, he leaves us rather in the dark 
as to what is to happen to the authority of the State. 
It will probably always remain one of the insoluble pro- 
blems of politics. 

The Roman Empire, finding itself up against this one 
rebellious member among the Churches, set itself to 
crush it. It had behind it all the terrors of popular 
opinion. Not only were the priests and the religious 
scandalised by those who flouted their gods and their 
country, but the patriot was always ready to maltreat 
one to whom patriotism meant so little. In addition, 
the most horrible libels about the Christians were in 

111 



CHRISTIANITY AND THE STATE 

common circulation. All these served to aggravate 
the hatred. 

In the first place, the secrecy of their meetings was 
against them. They were secret of necessity ; it was 
the very condition of their existence. Clubs or societies 
of any kind were unlawful ; and where, under special 
favour and patronage of the Emperor, they were allowed 
to exist, meetings were limited to one a month, and 
business severely curtailed To exist at all, then, Chris- 
tians had to exist unknown ; and to this secrecy we 
may attribute the scantiness of our information on the 
most essential details of organisation. Pliny, for in- 
stance, after torturing Christians and examining apos- 
tates, seems to know nothing of baptism, the Lord's 
Supper, the episcopal ministry, or the sacred books. 

This secrecy, first imposed as a necessity, soon became 
normal, and has given a distinctive character to the 
Christian cult. Deep mystery shrouded the baptismal 
confession of faith ; no one, not an initiate, knew pre- 
cisely what lay on the board at the Christian Mass ; 
darkest of all was kept the nature and personnel of the 
Christian ministry. St. Justin, alone, of the apolo- 
gists, was wise enough to rend the veil and lay bare 
the innocence and simplicity of the Christian worship. 

What Christians seemed never to have revealed was 
that to the eye, ear, and touch, it was only bread and 
wine that lay on the table of Christ ; all that reached 
the outside world was the terrible language of the Body 
broken and the Blood shed, and confused stories of a 
child slain sacrificially, as Jews are fabled to kill a 
Christian child on Good Friday. Their love-feast was 
thought to be a promiscuous orgy of the most un- 
natural passion ; there was a tale of dogs who were 
tied to the lamp-stands ; at the right moment crusts 
of bread were thrown to them, the lights went out, and 
the dark practices began. Christians heightened the 
112 



PAGAN FEAR OF CHRISTIANITY 

religious awe by this dreadful secrecy ; but they paid 
for it. Tertullian would have done better by a frank 
statement than by his clever lawyerisms. As it was, 
no accusations were too terrible to be hurled at the 
heads of the Christians, their prophecies, their uncanny 
seances, and their power over devils. 

Not only the silence, but the magnitude of the new 
conspiracy was appalling ; it was impossible to com- 
pute the numbers, but it was known to have its repre- 
sentatives in all lands. It had allies among the enemies 
of Rome ; perhaps Armenia was already a Christian 
country. Men of the highest rank might turn out to 
be Christians, and people whose lives were outwardly 
virtuous and respectable, even one's own friends and 
most trusted advisers. Any actual calculation being 
impossible, men were ready, in their fear, to accept the 
wildest and most incredible statistics. Persecution 
only seemed to reveal the conspiracy as still wider and 
more dangerous. No wonder the people of the Empire 
were afraid. " Enemies of the human race," " pesti- 
lent superstition " were among the common epithets 
hurled at them ; and they did more to warrant these 
charges than the apologists admit. They believed that 
the Empire was under the dominion of devils, that 
society was utterly wicked, and that it was only a 
question of a few years before the whole w^orld would 
perish in the fire of divine anger. It had had its chance 
of finding salvation through Christ ; but, as that had 
failed, it was tacitly self-condemned. Christians had 
no sympathy with the glory and beauty of the Empire ; 
it was simply so much fuel for burning. 

Again, Christian social ideals were clean contrary to 
those of Rome, and this must have been profoundly 
disturbing to the authorities. It is true that Christians 
never dreamed of a revolution, or of the reformation of 
society ; the end of all things was at hand, and the only 
8 113 



CHRISTIANITY AND THE STATE 

possible social gospel was, " Come out of her, My people." 
Nevertheless, they had their ideal of a city of God, 
" Jerusalem, which is above, is free, which is the mother 
of us all." And this ideal they honestly tried to put 
into practice in their own communal life, a course 
which did more to convert society to their views than 
any political propaganda. Again, it must be noted 
that such good as was done was done unconsciously, 
purely by working out the principles which they believed 
to be right. 

Jerusalem had long been swept away ; but they 
looked back to the primitive Jerusalem Church as the 
very reign of the Lord on earth. This beautiful com- 
munity of the relations and friends of Jesus Himself 
was loved and revered by every Church on earth, Hebrew 
or Gentile. There was zeal and faith and love, there 
there was perfect hospitality ; they met daily in each 
other's houses for the prayers, the sacraments, and the 
communal meals. Poverty was blessed there ; the 
rich brought their superfluous wealth and laid it at the 
apostles' feet for the benefit of the poor brethren, so 
that nobody lacked. The very apostles Peter, John, 
and James, the Lord's brother, were to be seen ; they 
impressed St. Paul as the pillars of the temple of God ; 
their teaching could be heard in the synagogues and 
the courts of the temple. The poor of Jerusalem heard 
them gladly, and it was one of the proud privileges of 
the Gentile churches to send up their offerings to Jeru- 
salem so that the church there should not fail in her 
charity. 

This, of course, looks only on the ideal side of the 
mother Church ; but, in spite of shadows and dissensions 
in it, is a true picture. When the light of the world was 
extinguished, and the city set on a hill destroyed, alle- 
giance was transferred to the heavenly Jerusalem, and 
the new temple not built with hands. Christians began 
114 



SOCIAL IDEALS OF THE CHURCH 

to pray more fervently for the swift coming of a new 
heaven and a new earth. The prayer, " Thy Kingdom 
come," looked forward to the return of Christ and the 
new Jerusalem descending from heaven like a bride. 
But, though the final kingdom of Christ was not yet 
established on this earth, the Church of those who be- 
lieved on His Name and His Coming was a royal nation, 
a peculiar people, set apart for Him ; they had a fore- 
taste of the Spirit, they were the body and the Bride 
of Christ ; in a true sense, they were the kingdom. 

It was impossible for any other congregation to re- 
produce the ideal life of the Jerusalem Church ; but 
it was possible to govern them according to the same 
principle. There was no nationalism or colour-line in 
the Church ; Roman and Greek and barbarian and 
Scythian and Jew were all equal. There were no sex 
distinctions ; man and woman were equal. If there 
was any distinction of property, it was in favour of the 
poor. The rich man was no longer blessed ; salvation 
was a very difficult matter for him. Such riches as he 
had were to be used entirely for the benefit of the 
poor ; poverty was the ideal state ; work was a duty 
and a right. It was the business of the bishop to find 
hospitality and work for strange brethren. They lived 
together as a family, " having everything in common 
except their wives." 

In later days, when the gospel precepts were no 
longer so universally applied, great teachers like St. 
Chrysostom or St. Ambrose endeavoured to recall the 
Church to her first love, the lady Poverty. The root of 
all social sins was avarice, or love of property ; but 
property only existed as a legal fiction. Nature had 
lavished all her gifts as common property ; robbery 
had made them private. If men were content with 
the necessities of life, social evils would disappear. For 
a rich man to give alms was not charity, but justice. 

115 



CHRISTIANITY AND THE STATE 

The amassing of huge fortunes was not praised as a vir- 
tue with such names as " enterprise " or " success " ; it was 
regarded as a species of robbery, and came under the 
deadly sin of avarice. The desire to " get on," to get 
money, or to get power w^as the sin of sins. The love 
of monev was a root of all evils. 

The distinguishing and attractive mark of Chris- 
tianity was the new ethic ; the most frequently quoted 
of the words of our Lord are the commands to treat 
your neighbour with love. Professor von Harnack, in 
the Mission and Expansion of Christianity, has described 
the wonderful attractive power of the Spirit of Christ ; 
and its attractive power to some can only be equalled 
by the hate and fear it inspired in others. It must 
have appeared to the average pagan like a huge Labour 
Union in which the most dangerous and subversive 
doctrines of liberty and equality w^ere preached ; and 
it was knit together by the most perfect ties of mutual 
love. Strange as it may seem, the latter is far the more 
terrifying. When a trade union to-day strikes for 
higher wages it is likely to receive some sympathy 
among the governing classes ; when it strikes out of 
sympathy to secure higher wages or better conditions 
for a weaker union, no words are too bad for it. " So 
long as thou doest well unto thyself men will speak 
well of thee." However good and noble they may be, 
society has no sympathy for those who deny the cur- 
rent morality of the day. To the Christians worldly 
success meant nothing; they had no desire for wealth, 
honour, or office, and, as a result, society turned on 
them and rent them, not only because they thought 
society evil, but because they held that the happiness 
conferred by wealth and power was illusory. True 
treasure was of a spiritual nature, laid up in heaven, 
uncorruptible by moth or rust. They were not the 
only people to say this; there were those who went 
116 



CHRISTIANS AND CIVIC LIFE 

further, and said that all matter was evil. But they 
were the only people to act on it. The State — that is, 
society organised to defend its own interests — found 
Christianity its foe, as it always will. 

I have dwelt on this side of the question because it 
is vital, and because the apologists naturally tend to 
pass it over ; but we can see, even from them, that if the 
Christians made good subjects they made bad citizens. 
We cannot, of course, say how far abstention from 
public service was general, for there are three con- 
siderations that make our conclusions uncertain. In 
the first place, " ethic " is not a good name to apply to 
Christian morality, for it has no code of rules. Jesus 
Christ invariably laid down general principles from 
which the disciple was to draw his own deductions in 
particular cases. Entire responsibility was thrust on 
the individual, and, on the whole, the Church has never 
taken away this freedom by legislating for particular 
cases. Conduct is thus essentiallv a matter between 
a man's soul and the Spirit of God that is in him. 

Secondly, the case is not purely civil. There were 
religious barriers between a Christian and the magis- 
tracy of the army. If a magistrate, it was his duty to 
administer the rites of the gods, and especially of the 
Emperor-worship ; if a soldier, he had to take a pagan 
oath of allegiance. And, though we do find Christians 
in the army, we naturally rather wonder what kind of 
a Christian it was who took the pagan oath. We are 
therefore unable to say how far the objection was to 
the service of the Empire as such. 

Thirdly, we have to remember the fact that many 
were converted to Christianity when already in official 
positions. It was the usual custom for a Christian to 
remain in whatever condition he occupied before his 
conversion. St. Paul lays down this rule in the case 
of marriage and slavery. Marriage is a relationship he 

117 



CHRISTIANITY AND THE STATE 

himself dislikes, but married converts are to remain 
married. Slavery is an institution quite repugnant to 
Christianity, yet Christian slaves and masters are to 
remain in their original status. Onesimus is to be re- 
ceived back by Philemon as a slave still, but he is to 
be loved as a brother. 

But we wonder what sort of Christians they can have 
been who remained in a position in which every day 
might bring them a pagan duty to perform. It is quite 
clear, however, that we have, even in the earliest times, 
the two conceptions of Christianity, or rather, a variety 
of grades ranging from the fanatic and revolutionist 
who obeys no laws and has no connection with the 
State, to the converted official who is anxious to retain 
his position and emoluments. But, in spite of the 
uncertainty and differences of opinion, we are bound 
to accept as true in the main the heathen charge that 
the Christians took no interest in the affairs of the 
Empire. 

An interesting example is found in Tertullian's pamph- 
let, De Corona. A Christian soldier, after doing well in 
the wars, has been awarded a laurel crown, which he 
repudiates because of its heathen associations. The 
result is martyrdom. Christian opinion seems to have 
been divided on the merits of his act. Tertullian praises 
it. But what troubles one, as one reads it, is the initial 
question of how he ever took the first sacr amentum that 
made him a soldier. How could a man who had taken 
the sacramentum of Christ take the sacramentum of 
Caesar ? The average Christian would die sooner than 
do so, and yet this man had taken it, and then hesitated 
to accept the military crown. So difficult are the 
workings of the human mind to follow. 

The view taken by Christians of military service is 
another difficult point. In the first place, there is the 
plain injunction of the Master to resist not evil, to turn 
118 



CHURCH AND EMPIRE 

the other cheek, and to love one's enemies ; but as 
usual, these are general principles, and it is the indi- 
vidual's duty to apply them in particular cases. In 
addition we must remember the oath of allegiance, and 
the fact that, by serving as a legionary, he delivered 
himself into the hands of the military authorities for 
any devil's business they chose to take in hand. It 
is, therefore, only natural that Christians should be 
unsatisfactory from the military point of view. 

We see, therefore, that Christianity must have been 
more hostile to the Emperor than the apologists admit. 
There were two parties, the stricter and the laxer. 
During the third century, with its periods of toleration, 
the lax party grew to such an extent that Constantine 
was able at last to make peace with the Church ; out 
of the stricter party the monastic movement was de- 
veloped, with its continued antipathy to the world. In 
the days of Tertullian, however, the parties were not 
so separate ; more rigid views prevailed, and he is 
right in saying that it would be impossible for the 
Emperor to be a Christian. 

By this saying he gives away his case ; he is asking 
too much in his petition for the repeal of the laws 
which condemn Christianity. We have seen how it 
would imply a recantation of the Emperor's claim to 
supremacy, and acquiescence in principles opposed to 
those on which the Empire stood. The conflict is an 
inevitable one, and there seems no solution ; for neither 
State nor Church can relinquish its claim to absolute 
authority. And, when it comes to open war, the Church 
is bound to win easily, so long as it does not adopt the 
weapons of the State. 

The State, by its very constitution, has nothing to 
rely on but force ; Christianity, by its very name, has 
only one weapon, to suffer. Now force is no remedy ; 
it does not make things one whit better ; and there is a 

119 



CHRISTIANITY AND THE STATE 

point beyond which the most determined persecutor 
will not go. The Christian believed that the only way 
to meet this force was by suffering, and that by suffer- 
ing he would really win the crown of victory and life. 
In this way, too, he will convert his enemy; and his 
enemy's good is to be his main object. 

Jesus Christ was the pattern martyr. He had been 
hailed as Messiah, and was expected to raise an army 
and win His kingdom by force ; but His principal care 
was to avoid any such appearance. On the night when 
He was betrayed, Peter, His right-hand man, brought 
two swords ; he had often enough been told to depend 
on God alone ; and, after ironically suggesting that 
some change was now necessary, our Lord told him that 
in using force, he would at least fulfil the prophecy, 
that enrolled Him " among the breakers of the law." 
When Peter actually did resist he was told to put up 
his sword into the sheath, on the grounds that the 
sword gave no security it would not also take away. 

Our Lord was thus able to claim that His kingdom 
was not of this world ; otherwise His servants would 
have fought. Had they fought, He would have been 
rightly counted as a Theudas, or a Judas, a Messiah in 
arms. A plucky resistance in the garden of Geth- 
semane w^ould undoubtedly have brought His character 
nearer to the pagan ideal of a god or a man ; it could 
easily have led to a successful rebellion, and a new 
Maccabasan kingdom ; but a choice had now to be 
made between Christ and the Maccabees, and the new 
weapon was the cross, not the sword. Christ came to 
bring a sword, but it was a sword of suffering. 

Christians believed that by this suffering not only 
was the crown of personal salvation won, but the 
redemption of the world was effected. Christianity 
was founded on the willing death of Christ ; and that 
death was a natural culmination of a life of devotion 
120 



WEAPONS OF CHRISTIANITY 

and self-sacrifice. Christians believed that they would 
be redeemed and saved by the same death, they received 
the baptism of His death, and drank the cup of His 
death ; but, above all, they assimilated their lives to 
His, finding life through devotion, self-sacrifice, and 
death. And through their death they not only received 
the crown of life, but achieved the redemption of the 
world, and even of their very persecutors for whom they 
prayed. They filled up in their lives what was lacking 
of the sufferings of Christ. 

Such was the Christian faith, the centre and secret of 
the new religion. Believing in this, they went with 
joy and thanksgiving to bear the atrocities committed 
in the name of an enlightened Emperor. It only added 
one more reason for the hatred of the world ; the 
Christians had despised their glories, and now they 
equally despised their terrors. Nothing shifted them 
from their faith, their hope, their love. To the end 
they believed it was they who redeemed the world. 
And they were right. What could not be done by the 
Emperor of the world, the philosophy of Greece, and the 
gorgeous pantheisms of the East, was accomplished by 
the blood of the martyrs. And not till the kingdoms 
of the world become the kingdom of God and of His 
Christ can this strange Warfare of Martyrdom cease. 



121 



CHAPTER VII 
THE FAITH OF CHRISTIANITY 

" Stand forth, O soul, in the midst, whether thou art divine and eternal 
as many philosophers assert, and therefore less likely to lie, or whether 
thou art the opposite of divine, because mortal, as Epicurus is alone 
in thinking, and therefore oughtest the less to lie ; whether thou art 
received from heaven or conceived on earth ; whether thou art 
produced from numbers or atoms ; whether thou hast thy beginning 
from the body or art subsequently introduced into the body ; whence- 
soever and howsoever thou makest man to be a rational being, the 
most capable of sense and knowledge — stand forth and utter thy 
testimony." — Tertullian : On the Testimony of the Soul, i. 

" Nothing evil has been created by God ; we ourselves have manifested 
wickedness, but we, who have manifested it, are able again to reject it." 
— Tatian : To the Greeks, ii. 

" If thou, too, desire this faith, first obtain the knowledge of the 
Father. . . , And when thou hast obtained this knowledge, with what 
joy, thinkest thou, wilt thou be filled ? Or how wilt thou love Him 
Who first loved thee ? Loving Him, thou wilt be an imitator of His 
goodness. . . . Whosoever takes up his neighbour's burden, whosoever 
is willing to use his superiority to benefit another who is in this respect 
his inferior, whosoever bestows upon the needy what he himself holds 
as a recipient of God's bounty ... he is an imitator of God. Then, 
though thou art yet upon earth, thou shalt behold that God rvileth in 
heaven; then shalt thou begin to speak the mysteries of God." — To 
Diognetus, x. 

" And why do you not believe ? Do you not know that faith is the 
leading principle in all matters ? For what farmer can reap unless he 
first trust his seed to the earth ? Or who can cross the sea unless he first 
entrust himself to the boat and the pilot ? And what sick person can 
be healed unless he first entrust himself to the physician ? If, then, 
the husbandman trusts the earth, and the sailor the boat, and the 
sick the physician, will you not place confidence in God, even when 
you hold so many pledges at His hands ? " — Theophilus : To Auto- 
lycuSf i. 8. 

" What image of God shall I make, since, if you think rightly, man 
122 



FAITH AND THE FAITH 

himself is the image of God ? What temple shall I build to Him, when 
the whole world fashioned by His work cannot receive Him ? And 
when I, a man, dwell far and wide, shall I shut up the might of so great 
majesty in one little building ? Were it not better that He should be 
dedicated in our mind, consecrated in our inmost heart ? " — Minucius 
Felix : OctaviuSf xxxii. 



VII. The Faith of Christianity 

The Apologies we have were written for two main 
purposes : on the one hand, they were addressed to the 
philosopher, and justified the Christian view of the 
universe ; on the other hand, they were addressed to 
the magistrate, and justified the existence of the Christian 
society. But neither Christian philosophy nor Christian 
organisation was Christianity ; it was only that on 
these sides his faith brought a Christian into conflict 
with the world. But the faith itself was something 
interior and independent ; and it was in the strength 
of this faith that he was ready to correct philosophies 
and conquer empires. He was doing far more than he 
knew when he confessed that Jesus was " Lord," or 
that Jesus was the "Son of God." For, among the 
many results of this faith, was a new view of the uni- 
verse, and the formation of a new brotherhood. 

Tertullian's Testimony of the Soul, and a passage in 
the Octavius of Minucius Felix, treat of faith from the 
psychological point of view, and Theophilus, in his 
Apology, has a section dealing with its nature. But, on 
the whole, it is of the deductions from this faith that 
they write. Yet they were slow to realise the range 
of these deductions. They were beginners in philosophy, 
to political history they were blind ; the one thing they 
knew for certain was that they had found salvation in 
Christ. No one could be certain of Stoicism or Platon- 
ism ; no one could be certain of the stability of Rome ; 
but, in the certitude of his faith, the Christian could 

123 



THE FAITH OF CHRISTIANITY 

say with the blind man in St. John, " One thing I know : 
whereas I was bhnd, now I see." 

We Christians know what we mean by faith ; but it 
seems almost impossible to explain it to an outsider. 
In its highest form, it is something peculiarly Christian 
(or Jewish), for no other religion demands it; yet it is 
by virtue of the same quality, on a lower plane, that all 
the businesses of the world are carried on. The merely 
contemptuous opponent of Christianity generally dis- 
misses it as credulity, a blind belief in the impossible. 
We all know Gibbon's famous sentence ; but we do 
not fear such enemies ; they are attacking a chimaera, 
they fight as one beating the air. We know, and all 
sympathetic people know, that faith is nothing like 
this, though many good Christian people give the world 
the excuse for thinking so. 

Others attack the faith as sentimentalism. It is 
alleged to be grounded in emotion, and to be purely 
subjective. Again, many Christians have given an 
excuse for this charge. Not only do they regard Chris- 
tianity as dependent on certain feelings, and sometimes 
refuse the name of Christian to those who do not ex- 
perience them, but they warp the true conception of 
faith into a view that is magical rather than religious. 
They believe that God is ever about them to reward 
their piety and protect them from danger because they 
are Christians. There is no warrant for such an opinion 
in the pages of the New Testament. 

If there is any meaning in words, it is precisely because 
God will not reward their piety or protect them from 
dangers that Christian faith has its own unique and 
peculiar power. The whole point is that God does not 
promise success, victory, miracles or religious sensations 
to those who trust in Him ; He only promises difficulties 
and persecutions. It is only under such circumstances 
that faith has any meaning at all. To the Christian, 
124 



THE MEANING OF FAITH 

the world is thoroughly murderous and dangerous ; 
he has no illusion on that score ; but he nevertheless 
has faith. 

In the case of our Lord we see perfect and untroubled 
dependence on God. He is certain He is the Son of 
God ; He constantly prays to Him ; and in His most 
anxious moments it is this faith that carries Him through. 
" Not My will, but Thine be done." When the boat 
is near sinking on the lake. He reproaches His disciples 
for their lack of faith ; He does not mean that they 
should have trusted blindly in a magical deliverance. 
He means that, even in the danger of death, there is no 
need for panic or distrust of God. This perfect attitude 
of trust is the essence of Sonship. 

The virtue of faith was preached in the Old Testament, 
especially in the prophetic law-book of Deuteronomy, 
a favourite book of our Lord. It was taught and 
practised in its perfection by Him ; nothing in life was 
worth worrying about, food or clothes or illness or 
death ; they must trust God. Why hate an enemy ? 
Trust in God. Why revenge a wrong ? Trust in God. 
God, " your Father in the heavens," is the one reality 
to be trusted and loved. Faith is not different from 
love ; they are only two ways of looking at the same 
perfect Sonship. He alone truly trusted in God ; and 
His faith, casting out fear, carried Him triumphant 
and untroubled through the whole tragedy of Passion 
Week. 

Christianity saw in Him the supreme demonstration 
of the meaning of the universe. In His love, faith, and 
self-sacrifice they saw something that was more admir- 
able than all else the world had to show ; more, this 
love and faith had been stronger than fear, pain, and 
death; and, as a pledge of this victory, had come the 
Resurrection. But the actual victory was not the 
Resurrection, but the Passion, the suffering ; death, 

125 



THE FAITH OF CHRISTIANITY 

fear, force, and pain had done their worst without 
being able to weaken the love and faith of the Sufferer. 
Love was the one thing before which hate, force, and 
death were powerless. The philosophers had seen the 
origin of the universe in Fire, Force, or Mind ; Christians 
found something greater than all these in the courage 
and love of a great man. 

Moved by these considerations, and by His Resur- 
rection and miraculous powers, they regarded Him as 
perfect man ; He represented the highest point of the 
evolution of humanity, and the strongest power in the 
universe. He Himself had made this claim to be the 
Saviour of the world. He is the pre-existent heavenly 
figure, the Son of Man, who is at present on earth in 
humiliation but is to come and hold the Last Assize as 
King and Judge. Even in the present age His relations 
with God are unique ; He forgives the sins of others 
(though showing no need of forgiveness Himself), heals 
diseases, " fulfils " the law of God, speaks with authority, 
and comes to men not as a servant or prophet, but as a 
Son from God. 

No Christian dreamed of imitating this natural faith 
of Jesus ; their faith was something on a lower plane 
altogether, so that Jesus came in between as a Mediator. 
If we contrast His faith with that of St. Paul, we find 
the latter conscious of all kinds of fleshly dangers and 
spiritual pitfalls ; his very nature is streaked and shot 
with sin. It is only in Jesus we find the serene confidence 
and purity of heart which is able to see God, or, in so 
far as a Christian has it, he is sharing the faith of Jesus. 
By himself he cannot please God. 

Faith is the energetic confidence which carries on 
the world ; it is an attitude of active reliance on the 
unseen. No man knows that he will be alive this time 
to-morrow, or that his circumstances will be the same ; 
he may be a ruined and desolate man, everything which 
126 



FAITH IN ORDINARY LIFE 

makes life worth living may have disappeared. He 
has no security of tenure in this world, yet by faith he 
acts as if he has. Similarly, the whole race of men may 
to-morrow be blotted out by famine or volcanic disaster, 
or by some stupendous catastrophe involving the whole 
universe ; but, in spite of this possibility, human progress 
continues as if the eternity of the planet were assured. 
Indeed the prospect of death, even when it is very near 
and certain, notoriously exercises little effect on this 
faith of man. It is this fact which -^schylus has so 
clearly brought out in the myth of Prometheus ; the 
power of foresight and forethought would have been 
intolerable agony without the gift of " blind hope,'* 
as he calls it. 

So, also, the farmer sows in faith. He not only has 
no guarantee that the circle of the seasons will be the 
same, or that Nature will act in the same way ; he has 
very vivid knowledge of the possibility of long droughts 
or undue rains, or paralysing frosts ; nevertheless, he 
sows in faith. Similarly, every human business is 
grounded on faith ; the sailor crosses the sea by faith, 
the grocer sets up his shop by faith ; and one cannot 
even get into an omnibus except by faith. We do not 
know that it is really going to Kew, merely because it 
says so ; we do not know the conductor will really tell 
us where to get off, but we believe it. 

Our commercial system is founded on faith, and even 
says so ; for credit means faith. If I go into a shop 
and buy an article, I have no guarantee that the salesman 
will not snatch the coin I place on the counter, and refuse 
to give me the article, but I believe he will not. Faith is 
of still greater importance in high finance, and without it 
all great projects, like the humblest buying and selling 
and bartering, would be impossible. In other words, 
the only real bond between men is trust ; the horror 
of war is really that it breaks down this bond of faith, 

127 



THE FAITH OF CHRISTIANITY 

though faith in some form must continue or peace 
would be for ever impossible. 

The whole business of civilisation, then (quite apart 
from any dogmas with regard to the supernatural), 
depends on a certain moral attitude which Christian 
theology calls faith. Reason alone might occasionally 
convince us that the chances were in favour of the success 
of a project; but, however overwhelming the probabilities, 
it could never provide the spring of action. For, in 
the case of dull men who do not reason, we find the 
same faith acting instinctively and perhaps uncon- 
sciously ; for it is a prime mistake to suppose that a 
man is fully conscious of the motives which make him 
adopt a given course of action. Underneath all his 
reasoning lies the ultimate assumption of faith in 
the consistence of the universe and the honour of his 
fellow -men. 

From this faith springs action ; men of action are men 
in whom this confidence is most fully developed. We 
have compared it above to a boy's first dive, where 
faith alone gives the courage to act, while reason suggests 
such modifications as will enable him to act wisely. 
Action is to faith as the fruit to the tree. In the world, 
this quality is generally called self-confidence; the 
description is in error, for the confidence is not so much 
in oneself as in the conviction of one's success. This 
conviction is quite mystical and irrational, though one 
is apt to draw the innocent and apparently justifiable 
conclusion that the success is based on one's personal 
qualities. 

But it is only the very vulgar who repose this faith in 
themselves; most men of action are conscious enough 
of facts to place it in something vague and supernatural 
outside them. The lowest conception is too vague to 
be put into language at all ; it is merely the sort of 
something in which the adventurer trusts to carry him 
128 



LUCK AND DESTINY 

through. Next perhaps comes the conception of Luck, 
a superhuman force, capricious, whimsical, and yet 
acting in accordance with certain (arbitrary) rules, if 
only they could be found out. The luck of the gambler 
depends on the position of his chair, or the wearing of a 
mascot ; the sailor will not go to sea on a Friday ; and 
the Maori would not carry ambulance stretchers into 
battle. It is exactly the way in which a savage regards 
his god. But though the intellectual and moral con- 
ception is low, it is the same faith in Something 
as that by which all business, religious or secular, is 
carried on. 

Stronger than this, and opposed to it, is the idea of 
destiny. This is seldom worked out to its logical 
results ; for human intuition and common sense reject 
it as obviously false to facts. Yet it is an idea which 
many great men have played with ; indeed it may be 
true that no man had been truly great without a touch 
of it. Napoleon believed in his star ; Julius Caesar was 
certain of his destiny. " Quid times ? Caesarem vehis," 
he said to the trembling oarsman in the storm at Dyr- 
rhachium. And whatever we may believe about 
destiny, it is plain that, without this confidence, the one 
would not have bequeathed his name and law to France, 
nor the other to Rome. 

While these conceptions are at least superhuman, if 
they are not supernatural, they are differentiated from 
religious faith by the fact that they are intimately 
connected with worldly ideals. The self-confidence 
of the worldly man is mere worship of success ; luck 
is of the earth earthy ; the destiny of Caesar brings 
him power. The religious man dispenses with wealth, 
pleasure, and power ; he is the artist in faith, he wants 
faith for faith's sake. His faith is absolute ; the faith 
of worldly men is partial. With them it is a means to 
success, and becomes unnecessary as success becomes 
9 129 



THE FAITH OF CHRISTIANITY 

complete ; with him faith has no Hmits. His faith in man 
is absolute ; his faith in God is absolute. It is warmed 
and inspired by love ; it is tinged and coloured by hope. 
The worldly man, if his faith is disappointed, prefers 
success to faith ; the religious man prefers faith even 
to life. " Though He kill me, yet will I trust Him," 
is his attitude to God and man. He is the only perfect 
adventurer. 

The whole point of religious faith is that it is founded, 
not upon an illusion or an abstraction, but on a very 
firm rock indeed — the sense of right and wrong. There 
is no man who is not constantly being brought to a 
division in the ways of life, where duty tells him to 
follow one path and self-interest the other. The 
perplexity is a fact, and it is common to all, as is also 
the voice of conscience which comes with authority, 
telling him what he ought to do. It is a reliance on 
this alone which constitutes the religious attitude of 
faith ; for it is none other than the voice of the supreme 
goodness. That it is there, and that it has authority, 
is not to be denied. 

Religion is not alone in saying that it ought to be 
followed, for everyone follows it. But religion gives 
it a supremacy before which all other interests, art, 
science, and government, are secondary. The fact 
that men follow opposed paths at the call of conscience 
(e.g. one to war, and the other not) is a reflection of 
their education ; the same call operates on the minds 
stored with different concepts ; but the call is the same, 
for both desire peace. The Christian Church, as Sir 
John Seeley has pointed out, is a tutor of conscience ; 
right conduct is dependent on the proper education 
of the mind as well as on faith. 

" Faith is the soul's right hand ; reason her left." 
And by prayer, sacrament, and Christian discipline, 
the soul is instructed more and more in the way of the 
130 



ACHIEVEMENTS OF FAITH 

Lord. The religious creed logically involved is that of 
Judaism. 

" I believe in God. 
God is good, 

God wants me to be good. 
I must be good." 

And further, there is revealed to us — from moment to 
moment, if we have ears to hear — what we ought to 
do, just such good works as God has prepared for us 
to walk in. Faith consists in following, and is justified 
by following. It is justified by being able to look back 
on a life of obedience and say, " Now I can see the 
meaning and purpose of all this, though it was hid from 
me at the time. It is a logical sequence. We bring 
our years to an end as a tale that is told." 

By faith Abraham, when he was called, crossed the 
dead sands of the desert looking for a city with eternal 
foundations, but died a stranger on the earth ; by faith 
Moses led the children of Israel across the howling 
wilderness to inhabit the land they had been promised, 
but died without entering it ; by faith Elijah witnessed 
to the true God when all Israel was going after the 
Canaanite abominations and died almost alone : bv 
faith Jeremiah spoke the truth of God when the Baby- 
lonian was at the gate and corruption was within, but 
was carried away to Egypt, and never saw his words 
come true ; by faith Jerusalem was built again, and 
defended by the steadfast Maccabaean martyrs ; by faith 
Jesus foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and the 
coming of a new temple not made with hands, and 
gave up His body to the death of the cross, trusting to 
God thus to bring it in ; by faith the apostles preached 
the Resurrection, and by faith St. Paul carried the 
gospel to the farthest bounds of the West, and died 
for it in Rome ; by faith St. Justin and all the noble 

131 



THE FAITH OF CHRISTIANITY 

armies of martyrs washed their robes in blood, and 
entered the heavenly city ; by faith the good news 
was handed down, and by faith, and faith alone, we 
follow Him to-day, an incredible nmnber throughout 
the whole world. 

Surely also, we may add, by faith Marconi invented 
the wireless telegraph ; by faith Keats gave his poetry 
to the critics to mangle ; by faith Robert Owen laboured 
to improve his factories ; by faith Tom Paine urged 
on the American and French Revolutions ; by faith 
General Joffre rolled back the armies on the Marne. 
Yet all these were labouring for a visible success on 
earth ; the result seemed to them so fair that it justified 
the faith. To the religious man the faith is so fair that 
it justifies the risk. Love of God and man, faith in 
God and man, hope in God and man, are so beautiful 
that, for their sake, he will risk the hate and persecu- 
tion of the world, and hope in them for the good time 
coming. 

This moral attitude is the attitude Christianity calls 
faith ; but it is pinned to a confession of the Lordship 
of Christ. The situation is that all these died in faith, 
not having received the promises, but having seen them 
and greeted them from afar . . . but God has provided 
some better thing concerning us. All nations of men 
" seek after God if haply they may feel after Him and 
find Him, though He is not far from every one of us." 
But we Christians know what we believe. In the clear 
words of our Lord, " Many prophets and righteous men 
have desired to see the things which ye see and have 
not seen them." 

In other words, Christianity accepts the Jewish belief 
that God is the real ground of all confidence and faith. 
" Some put their trust in horses, and some in chariots," 
and some, we might add, in riches, and some in organisa- 
tion, " but we will remember the Name of the Lord 
132 



FAITH AND INTELLECT 

our God." It regards the life of Jesus Christ on earth 
as the fullest revelation of His personality, Who also 
created the world and Who speaks in secret to the soul. 
They no longer trusted in wealth or power ; and their 
faith in God and man was summed up in faith in Jesus 
Christ, Who is both God and man. 

Jesus Christ was a full, absolute, and final revelation 
of the person and character of God. His life does not 
provide complete and convincing evidence of the mean- 
ing of the universe, the purpose of pain, the origin of 
sin, the survival of personality beyond the grave, or 
any similar problem, though the Christian will find 
they cease to worry him as they did before. All are to 
be solved, not by an intellectual theory, but by trust 
in Jesus Christ, trust, not in the poor body that was 
nailed to the cross, but in the glorious and heavenly 
Spirit Who animated it. 

Faith in Jesus is not intellectual ; it is an act of the 
whole man, and intellect plays only its proper and 
subordinate part. The manner, for instance, in which 
a man chooses and trusts his wife is not intellectual, 
though the intellect plays its part. He believes in her, 
he trusts her ; but he cannot really prove her reliability 
to one who does not want to believe it. In every 
sphere of life, we find personal relation built on the 
same faith, whether it be that of friend and friend, 
master and man, or man and wife. The reasons for 
this faith are incommunicable ; they rest on personal 
relations deeper than intellect, and deeper than words ; 
but as time goes on, experience makes the faith and 
trust still stronger. And, in exactly the same way. 
Christian faith, though it bring hate, persecution, and 
worldly disaster, justifies itself, as it goes on, in a way 
which one finds hard to describe. 

This does not mean that we are to neglect the intel- 
lectual side of the Christian faith ; intellect may be an 

133 



THE FAITH OF CHRISTIANITY 

important obstacle or help in bringing a man to Christ. 
The arguments are mainly on the side of Christianity. 
Only the Christian hypothesis can satisfactorily ex- 
plain the life of our Lord, the belief of the early Church, 
the Christology of St. Paul, the faith of the martj^rs, 
and the triumph of Christianity. Only the Christian 
hypothesis can explain the fact that it is flourishing 
vigorously to-day. The newspapers largely ignore it ; 
the histories largely omit it ; the psychologist, the 
materialist, the student gather round to explain it ; but 
it goes on. Each of the critics produces a theory which 
is perfectly satisfactory to himself, if not to the others ; 
the expurgation of fact necessary to make the theory 
fit the documents is always due to " critical investiga- 
tions," not to the presuppositions of the investigator. 
Schweitzer's Von Reimarus zu Wrede, is a melancholy 
procession of ghosts : " The five are fallen, the one is, 
the other is not yet come." 

I have dwelt at length on the meaning of faith, 
because it is the living centre of the religion which the 
apologists were trying to justify to the world. They 
do not deal with the faith itself so much as with its 
immediate implications. In defending these corollaries 
of the faith they were, of course, defending the faith 
itself; but the defence of these corollaries is not in 
itself likely to convince men of the truth of Chris- 
tianity. It can only clear the way. The central work 
of the Church on earth is the guardianship of the good 
confession of this faith, always expressed in the form 
of words used at baptism. 

The number of corollaries which follow from this 
central belief is very important. In the first place, this 
Jesus appeared at a certain time and place ; He has 
a position in the orderly progress of history. Further, 
He was expected ; the Jews had long been looking 
for a day when a great man would arise from their 
134 



COROLLARIES OF THE FAITH 

race and show the world what God meant. They 
beheved that God had revealed the nature of this 
" Messiah " to their prophets. Jesus accepted this 
view, though, on investigation. He is found to have 
interpreted their writings in a different way from His 
predecessors, or even His followers. It was necessary, 
therefore, to preach Jesus as Christ — that is, as the 
culminating point of Hebrew history ; nothing could be 
more welcome to the modern evolutionary mind, and 
further investigation promises to place Jesus in His 
true relation to the world-crisis of that age. 

Secondly, the science of the day had a reasonable 
and philosophical view of the universe. Men were 
deeply conscious of an order and law which obviously 
upheld it ; and they had no mean knowledge of astro- 
nomy and mathematics. Among educated men an 
evolutionary hypothesis was held as to the origin of 
the world ; to this reasonable order of evolution the 
Stoics gave the name Logos. The Christian method 
of insisting on Jesus Christ as the revelation of the 
creating God was to identify Him with this Logos. 

Thirdly, the philosophers had seen no such order in 
humanity : everything was astray there, and difficult 
to explain. The general theory was that only the 
educated were really worth considering men at all ; 
women, slaves, and artisans were soulless beings, neces- 
sary to keep the educated alive. Christianity could 
not despise the condition of subjection which Jesus 
had assumed ; all humanity was, to them, a part of 
this divine order, but it had been wrecked by sin, the 
failure of human free-will. The only remedy was faith 
in Christ and reincorporation in that ideal humanity to 
which we all belong. 

Fourthly, it naturally involved obedience to His 
words. Even in His lifetime His words were regarded 
as having authority ; He ventured to improve on 

135 



THE FAITH OF CHRISTIANITY 

words then regarded as having divine authority ; and 
Christians gave His words an authority equal to that 
of God. Chief among these was the new moraUty, the 
attitude of unfaiHng love and trust in all men. The 
logical ground of this was the undoubted fact that God 
gives equal benefits of sun and rain to all ; for men 
this is a council of perfection, but perfection is required 
of them. They are not to judge or discriminate in 
their love. 

Fifthly, it involved joining a brotherhood which He 
had founded, and observing the two sacraments of 
Washing and Eating on which He had laid such great 
stress ; thus Christianity became a definite force in 
history, not a mere idea. Jesus had appointed Twelve 
to be with Him, and to wield all those powers over the 
spirits of evil which He Himself had wielded in the 
Spirit of God. After the Resurrection the Christian 
brotherhood found its centre in them, and the Holy 
Spirit was given by them with the imposition of hands ; 
connection with an apostle was a guarantee of the 
genuineness of a teacher or minister. The Christian 
Brotherhood met for worship and sacrament ; but of 
equal importance was the business of hospitality and 
poor relief. For, in obedience to gospel commands, 
they lived as a family, and each man's property was 
only his to administer to others. In this community 
the risen and invisible Christ reigned as Emperor. 

Sixthly, there was speculation, and hence a begin- 
ning of theology ; Christian theology seems to have 
been mainly a result of the existence of heresy. It is a 
common remark of non-Christian historians that ortho- 
doxy is a later development than heresy, e.g. that the 
first three centuries were Arian. It is true that hereti- 
cal teaching nearly always comes first, and that the 
Church is bound in self-defence to formulate something 
in the nature of a test. By heresy is meant any teach- 
136 



COROLLARIES OF THE FAITH 

ing which strikes at the eternal and cosmic Lordship of 
Christ. The confession of the Lordship is enough to 
make a Christian ; but, if he is going to publish a phi- 
losophy of his faith, he must not hold ideas which the 
long experience of the Church has shown to be dan- 
gerous. 

Seventhly, since personality, and therefore morality, 
is the key to the universe, there must inevitably be a 
division between the good and the bad. Man is incap- 
able of deciding and judging which is good and which 
is bad, and furthermore there is, to the last, hope of 
repentance. But deeply engraved on the Christian 
imagination is the picture of the Last Judgment ; the 
exact meaning of the terrible words used by our Lord 
is not clear, and I do not think they were meant to be 
clear : for Christianity gives us faith, not knowledge, 
as to the unseen. Every picture is lit up with the red 
flames of a ruined world ; there is a thunder of angel 
wings and of saints coming to judgment. Jesus Him- 
self is the strict Judge whose love is never weakened 
into sentiment ; there is a company of saints in glory ; 
there is the long line of failures departing from the 
Presence. 

" Lacrymosa dies ilia 
Qua resurgat e favilla 
ludicandus homo reus ; 
Huic ergo parce deus 
Pie Jesu Domine 
Dona eis requie." 



137 



CHAPTER VIII 
CHRISTIANITY AND MODERN THOUGHT 

"It is no strange message that I preach, no unreasonable argument 
that I pursue ; but, having learned from the apostles, I am now become 
a teacher of all nations, and what was once delivered to me I now 
minister to those who become worthy disciples of the truth. . . . This 
is He who was from the beginning, who appeared afresh and was 
found to be ancient, and is ever being born new in the hearts of the 
saints." — To Diognetiis, xi. 

" When the soul comes to herself as from a debauch or after sleep or 
a fit of sickness and recovers her health and reflection, she has recourse 
to the name of God and invokes Him by the single name of ' God.' " 
— Tertullian : Apology^ xvii. 

" That which you reproach in us as stubbornness has been the most 
instructing mistress in proselytising the world, for who has not been 
struck at the sight of that you call stubbornness, and from thence 
pushed on to look into the reality and reason of it ? And who ever 
looked well into our religion, but came over to it ? And who ever 
came over to it, but was ready to suHer for it ? " — Teetullian : 
Apology, i. 

" We enter on our defence not in the popular way, by begging your 
favour, and moving your compassion, because we know the state of 
our religion too well to wonder at our usage. The truth we profess 
we know to be a stranger upon earth, and she expects not friends in a 
strange land ; but she came from heaven, and her abode is there, and 
there are all owe hopes, all our friends, and all our preferments." — Ter- 
tullian : Apology, i. 

" These things, O Greeks, I, Tatian, a disciple of the barbarian 
philosophy, have composed for you. I was born in the land of the 
Assyrians, having been first instructed in your doctrines, and afterwards 
in those which I now undertake to proclaim. Henceforward, knowing 
who God is and what is His work, I present myself to you prepared 
for an examination concerning my doctrines, while I adhere immov- 
ably to that mode of life which is according to God." — Tatian : To 
the Greeks, xlii. 

" When Octavius had brought his speech to a close, for some time 

138 



ATTITUDE TO CURRENT IDEAS 

we were struck into silence, and our countenances fixed in attention ; 
and, as for me, I was lost in the greatness of my admiration that he had 
so adorned those things which it is easier to feel than to say, both by 
arguments and by examples, and by authorities derived from reading ; 
and that he had repelled the malevolent objectors with the very weapons 
of the philosophers with which they are armed, and had moreover 
shown the truth, not only as easy, but also as agreeable." — Minucius 
Felix : Octavius, xxxix. 



VIII. Christianity and Modern Thought 

In gathering up the strings of what we have been say- 
ing, and making what few suggestions may strike us in 
the hght of modern thought, it is necessary to deal 
rather with the common conceptions in normally 
educated circles than with the theoretica of the profes- 
sional scholar. This is not said in any kind of dispar- 
agement of the work of scholars ; but we have seen 
that the apologists were not really concerned with any- 
thing of this kind, but with the broad conceptions 
which were the common property of normally educated 
circles in the Empire. We do not find that they ever 
dealt seriously with the Stoic theology ; what we find 
is, that they realised and appreciated some of the main 
Stoic conceptions. They were well read in pagan litera- 
ture, but they were content to use their learning only 
as an auxiliary to their main purpose. 

On looking at the world to-day, we are astonished to 
find how like secular thought is to that of the second 
century, but how much Christianity has developed. It 
was then in a fluid, or, at any rate, plastic, condition ; 
as an intellectual system it scarcely existed. Since 
then there have been many contests with heresies, and 
the faith has slowly broadened into the intellectual con- 
fession we know to-day. It is next to impossible for a 
Christian to disentangle the content of his living faith 
from the creed in which it is contained. In his heart 

139 



MODERN THOUGHT 

he holds the faith of the first century ; with his mouth 
he speaks the creed-formulas which subsequent ages 
have evolved for him to defend it ; with his intellect he 
cannot disentangle the two. 

These formulas have been evolved in many centuries 
by a kind of natural selection. Such words were added 
to the creed as best defended it from the assaults of the 
heretics ; and each one is an ancient weapon, a battle- 
sword tested in the war with paganism. Believing as 
we do that the Church was guided by the Holy Spirit, 
we can only treat these formulas with the greatest 
reverence; but, as we believe that the Holy Spirit is 
still with us, we cannot deny ourselves the right or duty 
of phrase-making or phrase-altering. But the only 
possible reason for discarding a phrase is that it does 
not accurately defend a point vital to the Christian 
faith ; the object of a creed is to keep off attacks on the 
supreme and cosmic Lordship of Christ. And in her age- 
long experience the Church has found that many innocent- 
looking positions strike at the root of that Lordship. 

It is obviously no part of the average Christian's 
business to question the creeds which have come down 
to him with the sanction of twenty centuries of Chris- 
tianity behind them ; while it plainly is the part of the 
Christian scholar to appreciate the fundamental truth 
which lies behind each phrase, and, in his apologetic, to 
defend the truth rather than the phrase. It is also 
his duty to evolve such phraseology as will make the 
truth readily acceptable to the modern mind. He has 
before him the same task as the apologists, with the 
advantage of Christian history as an object lesson, and, 
if he follows their example, he will be extremely bold 
in capturing every true modern thought as a new pro- 
vince for the empire of Christ. 

It was through lack of this spirit that the Church let 
the world break loose at the Reformation ; and a return 
140 



DEVELOPMENT OF THOUGHT 

to Latin and Greek models has produced in the end 
an age not so unhke that of the Antonines. The out- 
standing difference lies in the accomplishments of 
physical science. The eighteenth century had accepted, 
as a law, the idea of the cast-iron uniformity of nature ; 
but, as the nineteenth century dawned, many observers 
and speculators came to the startling conclusion that 
the world was moving, that by itself it was slowly 
progressing from past to future, from species to species, 
from good to good. The work of Lyall, Darwin, and 
Wallace proved, as far as proof was possible, that this 
was a fact. 

The magnitude of the discovery is already obscured 
to us of the twentieth century by our utter unfamiliarity 
with any other theory than that of Evolution ; but its 
novelty at the time is proved by the fierce opposition 
it met, not only from old-fashioned ecclesiastics but 
from old-fashioned scientists. On the other hand. 
Materialism saw in it a new and powerful ally, and 
desperate efforts were made to explain all moral and 
biological progress as a result of material causes. This 
materialism went further than Darwin, and was directly 
contrary to Wallace. Samuel Butler was the pioneer of 
the distinguished band who have since opposed it. It 
is now giving way to the new theory that the universe 
is not merely moving, but living. There is life in the 
universe, feeling out now this way, now that, to ex- 
press itself, and moulding matter to its purpose. More 
than this, matter is no longer dead inert " stuff," but 
self-manifesting vibration of a strong and subtle ele- 
ment. 

Nevertheless, one conception has sunk deep into our 
consciousness ; we believe in the consistent evolution 
of the universe according to immutable law. We 
scarcely even allow nature any freaks or sports ; in one 
way or another, everything is to be explained by evolu- 

141 



MODERN THOUGHT 

tion. In a little while we shall be able to explain this 
or that ; we stand tip-toe upon the edge of countless 
discoveries. There is no need for a miracle ; now, 
more than ever, we believe that miracles do not happen : 
they would break the law of nature. 

It is unfortunate for scientists that, just as they 
stand with new gates opening before them, they should 
suffer from precisely the same misfortune as the Church. 
Men cling to such words as " evolution " and " law " 
as Christians often cling to the creeds or the gospel, 
without any apprehension of the real meaning of the 
fact which lies behind each, or of the elucidations of 
science as they slowly grow to perfection ; and as 
science moves forward the world is left behind. It has 
grown bored with trains and motor-cars ; it will soon 
grow bored with aeroplanes. It is certain that the 
word "evolution" has explained everything, and one 
naturally feels no further interest. And the conception 
of the automatic universe bites deeper and deeper year 
by year into the subconsciousness of the race. 

This view of the universe is accepted by a whole 
school of Christian critics. The universe is a machine, 
and God is somehow locked into it, or locked out, 
according to one's philosophy. He cannot alter it ; 
He is like us, chained to the wheel. Science cannot 
change water into wine ; therefore it follows that He 
who made water cannot. He cannot raise a body 
from the dead ; He cannot spiritualise that body ; He 
cannot raise it in the air, or make it walk on the 
water. Now, all these things are impossible to flesh 
and blood, but science has no way of finding out 
whether they are impossible with God. We cannot 
make any a priori statements as to what God cannot 
or will not do. 

If, then, the Christian interpretation of the gospel 
story is under consideration, we must protest against 
142 



METHOD OF APOLOGISTS 

an appeal to the authority of scholars whose whole 
work is conditioned by a denial of miracle. Their work 
possesses value for those who agree with them, but none 
for the Christian, and none for the impartial investiga- 
tor ; and this is true whether the scholar in question 
is a " rationalist " outside the Church, or a Christian 
theologian, anxious to preserve the " true humanity of 
our Lord." Great care is also to be taken with those 
scholars whose conception of law is partially modified 
by Christianity, and whose conception of Christianity 
is partially modified by their conception of law ; who, 
to effect a rapprochement ^ are ready to bind the Deity 
in lighter chains, and are willing to accept miracle 
where it can be found to fit in with the peculiar ways 
of thinking of the modern mind. 

The apologists began from the beginning, and set 
their opponents right about the nature of God and the 
universe. God is not bound by the material laws 
that bind us; He can do what He likes. They began 
neither with the gospel nor with Abraham ; they went 
right back into eternity and taught a new doctrine of 
the nature of God. They insisted on His personality, 
His goodness. His impartial love. His coming day of 
judgment, on the fact that the universe was made to 
please Him. 

This is our main duty to-day. Our system of psy- 
chology or metaphysic is not of equal importance and 
it is not part of our duty or even our right to call in 
question the generalisations which science has laid 
down with regard to the observed uniformity of nature. 
It is our duty to insist in season and out of season on 
the sovereignty of the moral Person who rules the 
universe, of whose freedom, goodness, and love we are 
assured in the Holy Passion of His Son our Lord, and, 
following the lead of the apologists, we must claim as 
His the whole order and beauty of evolution as far as 

143 



MODERN THOUGHT 

science has been able to unroll it. It is our duty, of 
course, very carefully to scrutinise what is put before 
us, and separate real knowledge from questionable 
deduction. And we must picture the progress of the 
universe as the making of a theatre in which the drama 
of will has worked itself out, so as to culminate in the 
tragedy of the cross. Our apologetic must lead up, as 
before, to a newer and more satisfactory Origenistic 
scheme in which morality is the clue to faith, and faith 
the clue to the unseen. 

When we look at the latest development of modern 
thought we see much that seems to run parallel to this ; 
there is a reaction against the established order of 
materialism. Modern thought, art and poetry, science 
and music, is renouncing the old ideas of law, and using 
terms like "life," "force," "will," "God," or even 
"Christ." But though each in its own department is 
for life against mechanism, it is still nevertheless true 
that the background of their thought remains material- 
istic. But the prophets are, as so often happens, the 
forerunners of the thinkers. 

Undoubtedly the most commanding intellectual figure 
in England to-day is that of George Bernard Shaw ; no 
other English writer has obtained the same European 
importance. He is distinguished as the last of the 
great Victorians by his conscientious and honest exa- 
mination of all the great problems, an examination he 
carries on with the crusading thoroughness of a Ruskin ; 
such an honourable facing of the whole universe is all 
too rare now. At the same time, Mr. Shaw faces it 
from quite a modern (rather than a Victorian) point of 
view, but with the idea of getting results that are not 
so much modern as true ; and the outstanding feature 
of his philosophy is his explanation of the universe as 
a manifestation of will. Now we Christians also be- 
lieve that the universe is the manifestation of a will, 
144 



THE WORK OF G. B. SHAW 

and that it culminated in the Incarnation of our Super- 
man, Jesus Christ. 

After all, rationalist evolution had always been a 
pedantic theory of the universe, and it came as a 
breath of fresh air when Mr. Shaw animated it with 
Nietzsche's conception of Will, when the universe was 
permitted to have not only force behind it, but life and 
personality. It is true that Mr. Shaw's conception of 
personality is defective, and that his pathetic picture 
of a helpless baby-god growing into consciousness and 
power does not satisfy either logic or common sense. 
Development or growth without some unchanging 
standard, background, or medium is inconceivable. 
No motion is possible unless something is fixed ; no pro- 
gress is possible unless something is changeless ; time 
is not possible without eternity. But the point is that 
a great man of the modern world has realised that the 
universe can only be explained by will. 

Men must advance to the next degree of truth as 
soon as it is presented to them, and men must there- 
fore follow Mr. Shaw. After that, it is only a question 
of time before the Will of the World is identified with 
the eternal and the infinite, and men will believe again 
in God. Perhaps a hundred years will be spent in 
searching blind alleys, before modern thought has 
quite found out the insufficiency of Gnostic gods who 
are of this world worldly. Mr. Wells's God the Invisible 
King is so rashly and hastily sketched in — perhaps 
because of its very genuineness — that its insufficiency 
is obvious. Other attempts may be more plausible and 
more successful, but such success cannot last. Nothing 
but the infinite God can satisfy the soul ; we will not be 
put off with one who is only the prince of this world. 
The soul must have, and will get, the Everlasting God ; 
and when it comes to Him, it will come to Him through 
Jesus Christ, difficult though the surrender will be. 
10 145 



MODERN THOUGHT 

I have chosen Mr. Shaw, not because he was the first 
person to think of the theory, but because he is a 
representative man, and in him we find exactly the 
position of the modern world : it is honest enough to 
avow the attraction of Jesus, but on no account will 
it bow its proud neck to the yoke of humility and the 
Incarnation. Whether it be the scientist believing in 
evolution or the elan vital, or whether it be the new 
religionist, with his enthusiasm for life, spirit, nature, 
or art, the narrow way of Jesus is too narrow, and sub- 
mission is too hateful a loss of freedom. Yet now, if 
ever, it is only the Christian belief which will explain 
the facts ; there is no other way of accounting for the 
sequence, David, Isaiah, Jesus, Paul, Justin. It simply 
has not been done ; Christianity has been left out. 

It is not a very daring forecast to make, that the 
new spirit will eventually break up the old mechanical 
theory ; the intellect by itself is bankrupt, and we are 
beginning to realise that it cannot solve all the mysteries 
of life. Not only will art and conduct be given a more 
important place, but there will be a revival of belief 
in the supernatural. As the containing hold of law 
and reason is withdrawn from the mind, we are likely 
to see it burst out in a thousand fantastic shapes, the 
nature of which our studies in second- century religion 
will help us to understand. Theosophy and Spiritualism 
will give us glimpses of this coming age of superstition. 
But, like the strange growths of that century, they must 
inevitably die away ; for they have no moral or intel- 
lectual stabilising power. Christianity is the one rock 
to stand firm. 

Our task will be the eternal task of defending the 
cosmic Lordship of Christ ; for this belief alone remains 
while empires and philosophies rise and pass. Marcus 
Aurelius believed in a regulated world of law and order ; 
but his cold and reasoned philosophy was powerless 
146 



CONDITION OF THE CHURCH 

in face of the real needs and nature of man. No dynasty 
succeeded his, till the dynasty of Constantine arose. 
Fifty years after his death the Syrian Emperors were 
rendering fashionable what was at the best a super- 
stitious and sentimental religiosity ; but this, having 
no root, withered away. By the end of the third cen- 
tury Christianity was obviously the victor, because it 
witnessed even unto death to its Master. 

It is for this reason I have not dealt with the contro- 
versies as to miracle, the Resurrection, or the Virgin 
Birth, as they do not seem, in the face of the great 
moral issues, to be of vital importance. They have long 
lost their freshness, and the modern mind is singularly 
little accustomed to be worried by them ; if Jesus is 
God, we are not going to object to miracles. 

We come now to the condition of the Church; and 
here, we must feel, is a tremendous change from the 
age of the apologists. We see that the beautiful ethic 
of equality and love is scarcely even reflected in the 
Church of to-day ; the deep and catastrophic divisions 
of modern society have driven great chasms through 
it, dividing it into sects, castes, classes, and nations. 
Were it not for the beginning of repentance and the 
dawn of hope, there would be ground, humanly speak- 
ing, to despair of the Church. But, while there are still 
some who believe we have nothing to repent of, the 
many are sure there is something wrong somewhere, 
and some find it a stumbling-block. 

The last century has seen a revival in religion at least 
as amazing as the great progress in science ; for in the 
year 1800 a man might have predicted the scientific, 
but scarcely the religious movements of the century. 
Christianity was morally, socially, and intellectually 
discredited ; the Church of England was folding her 
robes to die with what decency she could, and it was 
already being suggested in Parliament that these foolish 

147 



MODERN THOUGHT 

ordinations should cease. Under the blows of her 
antagonists Christianity visibly tottered. Nevertheless, 
there was a real renascence of Christianity, the old 
faith began to burn again with a strange certitude, and 
the two English Universities became homes of spiritual 
activity. It was also an age of missionary activity, 
rivalling the age of St. Peter and St. Paul ; and all 
along the line it w^as the traditional religion that was 
gaining ground. 

One hundred years ago the Church of England 
counted almost the whole nation among her adherents, 
and she was their pastor, by virtue of her " establish- 
ment." To-day establishment remains as a legal link 
between Church and State, but the congregations of 
nominal and conventional Christians have largely 
melted away. The great body of the people stands 
outside the Church, and is probably not less religious 
for it. The gain to the Church is immense, and as 
the sifting continues she will grow in spiritual vigour. 
Accepting only the Lordship of Christ, she will exist 
for the purpose of guarding that faith. And every- 
where are to be found small bodies of men and women, 
united in their loyalty to Him and ready to follow. 
We cannot see where He will lead us, but we are certain 
of our faith, and can follow. 

The practice of the gospel ethic will naturally flow 
from this allegiance. After all the valuable work of 
the critics we may hope for a good and popular account 
of the life and teaching of Jesus. Such a work, by 
strengthening the Church, and satisfying the inquirer, 
would perhaps be the most valuable contribution to a 
present-day apologetic. The apparent contrast be- 
tween the life of Jesus and that of His followers is, and 
always will be, the great obstacle to the faith. With 
deeper faith and a purer Church we may expect a re- 
vival of greater intensity even than that of the last 
148 



THE FUTURE OF THE CHURCH 

century ; and of this we have a foretaste in many a 
congregation. 

History knows no other method of being a Christian 
than that of joining the fellowship ; individual Chris- 
tianity is an impossibility. And, if the past is any guide 
to the future, we must expect that an invigorated 
Church will come into collision with the State. In as 
far as the latter represents the community as organised 
to defend its own interests, it is bound on some occasions 
to be opposed to Christianity ; and in as far as it re- 
flects current moral, social, or religious ideas, it is likely 
to be at variance with the highest revelation. The 
gospel prohibition of divorce, and the compulsory state- 
education of children are among the burning questions. 
War and pacifism will continue to provoke contro- 
versy ; and questions like Socialism and Syndicalism 
will be of importance owing to their close connection 
and resemblance with Christian social morality. 

Among all these it will be difficult to steer a safe 
course, and the best guide will still be the Catholic 
principle that, while a Christian must be a good subject 
and obey the law, he must also remember his allegiance 
to a celestial and infallible Emperor, and to the prin- 
ciples which he must never desert. Christianity has 
no message of salvation for a state other than that 
men should love one another ; but she cannot be in- 
different to social reform. What was impossible in 
the Roman Empire is in the air now, and no one sup- 
poses that it is the duty of the Church to pass by on 
the other side. The Church itself, however, can best 
serve the nation by preaching and practising the idea 
of a kingdom in heaven, leaving to individuals the 
right to practise the prophetic gift of suggesting or 
determining policy. 

The Church has been far too hesitative in her apolo- 
getic. She has been dominated by the idea of making 

149 



MODERN THOUGHT 

her message acceptable to modern thought, a method 
which never succeeds in practice. Christianity is 
something quite different from any kind of thought, 
ancient or modern ; the leap of faith is as difficult for 
one age as it is for the next, but the leap is the only 
thing. Clean self-abandonment to Christ is the one 
thing needful ; and nothing can be done to make 
this less a casting away of one's soul, a rebirth 
into life. 

Very sympathetically and carefully must the Church 
deal with her estranged children, whether they be duti- 
ful, careless, or rebellious ; she must appreciate all they 
have done by themselves and sanctify it by the know- 
ledge of her faith. All the broken and opposite faiths 
of to-day have a rightness in them as far as they go ; 
each is struggling towards the light of the Logos, the 
Way of Truth and Life. They are wandering children, 
losing themselves in the dark, and fighting among 
themselves sometimes ; and they must be shown that 
they will find all they want if they do but trust to Christ 
— and jump ! It is only in His faith that we shall find 
the peace that quite passes understanding, eternal 
peace and light perpetual. 

Nothing can explain the peace of the Christian faith 
but to have experienced it. Christ stands in the midst 
of the world with a hand stretched out to all ; in Him 
is the supreme Truth, the supreme Wisdom, the supreme 
Goodness, the supreme Adventure — He is Life, Power, 
Grace, Evolution, the Superman — Son of God and Son 
of Man. It is to us Christians that all the gates of the 
earth stand open ; it is we who welcome all new know- 
ledge and beauty and conduct ; our heart is fuller of 
words than ever we can speak. It is to us alone that 
each new phase of thought or life means something; 
for each is a street in the city of God. It is we who 
unite into one heavenly order all the experiences and 
150 



THE FUTURE OF THE CHURCH 

aesthetics of the world. To us alone they are not frag- 
mentary, abrupt, discordant, enigmatic. Surely the 
champions of modern thought ought to make peace in 
their own camp before they come to offer terms to 
Christianity. Perhaps, after all, we shall have to do it 
for them. 

THE END 



151 



INDEX 



Absolute, the, 59, 67, 76 
Accusations, 15 

Atheism, 17, 26, 29, 30 

disloyalty, 15, 17 

immorality, 15, 29, 31, 39, 112 

misanthropy, 37 
Acts, 14, 45 

Allegorical interpretation, 47 
Angelos, 50, 58, 59 
Apologies, 23 

Apologists {see also under per- 
sonal names) ^ 18, 20, 41, 70, 
134 
Aristides, 17, 23 
Argument from — 

attitude to death, 28, 37, 41, 
42, 97, 121 

history, 32-33, 34, 49-59 

morality, 25, 31 

philosophy, 70 

prophecy, 27, 29, 48, 60 

science, 29, 31, 135 

Scripture, 32 
Athenagoras, 29 
Atonement, 42, 54 
Attack on — 

heathen gods, 24-25, 30, 32, 33, 
36, 39, 40, 94 
morality, 26, 34, 39 
religion, 84, 92-94, 96 



Barnabas, Epistle of, 47 

Bergson, 58 

Brotherhood of Christians, 40, 136 

C 

Celsus, 75, 79, 92 
Christ, the, 11, 12-14, 135 
Christianity, 18, 95, 101, 113, 139 
and Judaism, 14, 48 



Cliristianity and Rome, 15, 18, 

HI, 119 
revolutionary element, 15 
Christians as citizens, 26, 41, 110, 

117 
Christians preserve the world, 25, 

28, 40, 42 
Church and State, 108, 110, 119, 

148-149 
Communism in Early Church, 15, 

114-115 
Creeds, 24, 139-140 
Cybele, 89 

D 

Demons, 30, 34 

Devils in pagan religion, 27, 28, 

40, 91, 93 
cast out by Christians, 40, 99- 

100 
Dialogue with Trypho, 46-49 
DiOGNETus, Epistle to, 41-43, 79 
Dualism, 66, 67 

E 

Ebionites, 55 
Elijah, 53, 56 
Emperors and Christianity, 17, 19, 

38 
Emperor- worship, 16, 40, 86, 87, 

93, 98, 105-108 
Eschatology — 

Christian, 15, 24, 25-26, 40, 80, 

113, 126, 137 
Jewish, 11, 54, 134 
Eucharist, 15, 27, 30, 100, 112 
Evolution, 52, 54, 56, 57-58, 62, 

72, 141 

F 

Faith, 47, 73, 77, 124-125, 126- 

129 
Faith, the, 123, 124, 133, 136 
Fourth Gospel, 13 

153 



INDEX 



G 

Gallic, 12 
Gnosticism, 56, 69 
God, doctrine of — 

Creator, 25, 29, 33, 36, 51, 76, 80 

in history, 49, 59 

nature of, 23, 31, 37, 39, 57, 72, 
76, 142, 143 

personality, 52-53, 59, 75, 77- 
82 

Trinity, 26, 27, 29, 50, 77-82 
Greek science, 72 

H 

Hadrian, 22 
Heracleitus, 66 
Holy Spirit, 30, 49, 80, 140 
in the Church, 31, 49, 99 



Incarnation, 24, 25, 39, 42, 52, 60, 

74 76 79 103 
Inspiration, 29, 50, 53, 59, 70, 73 



Jerusalem, 16 

Jesus Christ, 13, 46, 51, 60-62, 102, 
110, 126, 150 

His faith, 125, 126 

His passion, 101, 120, 125-126 
Jews — 

and Christianity, 12, 14, 24, 42, 
46, 62 

and language, 64 

and Rome, 10-13, 109 

religion, 10, 58-59 
John the Baptist, 13 
John, St., Gospel of, 69, 70 
Justin Mabtye, 26, 45, 70, 73- 

75, 100 



Law, 32, 47, 48, 54, 55 
Logos, see also Word — 

Christian, 19, 27, 29, 33, 51, 60, 
69, 70, 73-74 

Greek, 18, 66, 68, 72, 77, 135 

Jewish, 68-69 
Love, 40, 42, 77, 78, 116 

M 

Marcion, 47, 56 

Marcus Aurelius, 19, 29, 70, 97 

154 



Matter, 31, 32, 33, 102, 141 
Messiah, see Christ 
Military service, 117-119 
MiNucius Felix, 35-37 
Mithraism, 86-87, 92 
Moral law, 33 

Mystery cults, 88-89, 92-93, 101, 
102 

O 

Old Testament — 

Early Christian use, 31, 47, 48- 
49, 55-56 

modern use, 50-59 
Origin of evil, 29, 31, 80, 103 

of world, 32 



Paul, St., 47, 110 
Persecution, 14, 15, 26, 38 
Philo, 69 

Philosophers, 18, 37, 41, 96, 135 
Philosophy, 71, 85, 102 

and Christianity, 18, 20, 33, 70, 
77 

Greek, 18, 65, 72 

in Empire, 67-68 
Proof-texts, 47 
Prophecy, O.T., 53-59, 61 
Prophets, 29, 39, 45, 49, 59 



Q 



QUADBATUS, 23 



R 

Rapture, pagan, 89, 91 
Religious psychology, 59-60, 64 
Resurrection, 26, 29, 31, 33, 37, 41 
Roman Empire, 13, 36 
aristocracy, 97-99 

S 

Sacraments, 112, 136 

Scripture {see also Old Testament), 

32, 40, 45, 48-50, 74 
Septuagint, 45-46 
Shaw, G. B., 144-145 
Sin, 80 

Social morality, 15, 40, 113-116 
Son of Man, 11, 54, 126 
Spirit of Man, 33-34, 68 
State and Christians, 38 



INDEX 



stoics, 18, 19, 67-C8, 71, 75-76 
Suetonius, 13 
Suffering, 80, 119-120 
Suffering Servant, 46, 54, 61 



Tatian, 33-34, 103 
Tertullian, 12, 37-41, 99, 103, 
109, 118, 119 



Theophilus, 31, 70 
Tiberius, 12 
Trajan, 22 

W 

Word, the {see also Logos), 28, 
39, 43, 49, 50-51, 55, 59, 70, 
73, 78 



Printed by Hazell, Watson d: Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury. 



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BR 60 . A62 C3 1921 



Carrington, Philip, b. 1892. 



Christian apologetics of the 
second century in their