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" quam, inagna multitudo dulcedinis TUCK, Domine, gwam abscondisti 
timentibus Te !" PSALM xxxi. (xxx. in Vulgate) 19. 

" La tendance a I'ordre ne peut-elle faire une partie essentielle de nos 
inclinations, de notre instinct, comme la tendance a la conservation, a la 
reproduction ? " SENANCOUR. 

" And as it is owned the whole scheme of Scripture is not yet under- 
stood, so, if it ever comes to be understood, it must be in the same way 
as natural knowledge is come at: by the continuance and progress of 
learning and of liberty, and by particular persons attending to, comparing, 
and pursuing intimations scattered up and down it, which are overlooked 
and disregarded by the generality of the world. Nor is it at all incredible 
that a book which has been so long in the possession of mankind should 
contain many truths as yet undiscovered. For all the same phenomena 
and the same faculties of investigation, from which such great discoveries 
in natural knowledge have been made in the present and last age, were 
equally in the possession of mankind several thousand years before." 


" If a great change is to be made, the minds of men will be fitted to it, 
the general opinions and feelings will draw that way. Every fear, every 
hope, will forward it ; and then they, who persist in opposing this mighty 
current, will appear rather to resist the decrees of Providence itself, than 
the mere designs of men. They will not be resolute and firm, but perverse 
and obstinate." 



AN inevitable revolution, of which we all recognise 
the beginnings and signs, but which has already spread, 
perhaps, farther than most of us think, is befalling the 
religion in which we have been brought up. In those 
countries where religion has been most loved, this 
revolution will be felt the most keenly ; felt through 
all its stages and in all its incidents. In no country 
will it be more felt than in England. This cannot be 
otherwise. It cannot be but that the revolution should 
come, and that it should be here felt passionately, 
profoundly, painfully ; but no one is on that account 
in the least dispensed from the utmost duty of con- 
siderateness and caution. There is no surer proof 
of a narrow and ill-instructed mind than to think 
and uphold that what a man takes to be the truth on 
religious matters is always to be proclaimed. Our 
truth on these matters, and likewise the error of 
others, is something so relative that the good or harm 
likely to be done by speaking ought always to be 
taken into account. " I keep silence at many things," 
says Goethe, "for I would not mislead men, and am 
well content if others can find satisfaction in what 
gives me offence." The man who believes that his 


truth on religious matters is so absolutely the truth, 
that say it when, and where, and to whom he will, 
he cannot but do good with it, is in our day almost 
always a man whose truth is half blunder, and wholly 

To be convinced, therefore, that our current theology 
is false, is not necessarily a reason for publishing that 
conviction. The theology may be false, and yet one 
may do more harm in attacking it than by keeping 
silence and waiting. To judge rightly the time and 
its conditions is the great thing ; there is a time, as 
the Preacher says, to speak, and a time to keep silence. 
If the present time is a time to speak, there must be 
a reason why it is so. 

And there is a reason ; and it is this. Clergymen 
and ministers of religion are full of lamentations over 
what they call the spread of scepticism, and because 
of the little hold which religion now has on the masses 
of the people, the lapsed masses, as some call them. 
Practical hold on them it never, perhaps, had very 
much, but they did not question its truth, and they 
held it in considerable awe. As the best of them 
raised themselves up out of a merely animal life, 
religion attracted and engaged them. But now they 
seem to have hardly any awe of it at all, and they 
freely question its truth. And many of the most 
successful, energetic, and ingenious of the artisan class, 
who are steady and rise, are now found either of 
themselves rejecting the Bible altogether, or following 
teachers who tell them the Bible is an exploded 
superstition. Let me quote from the letter of a 


working-man, a man himself of no common intelli- 
gence and temper, a passage that sets this forth very 
clearly. "Despite the efforts of the churches," he 
says, " the speculations of the day are working their 
way down among the people, many of whom are 
asking for the reason and autJwrily for the things they 
have been taught to believe. Questions of this kind, 
too, mostly reach them through doubtful channels ; 
and owing to this, and to their lack of culture, a 
discovery of imperfection and fallibility in the Bible 
leads to its contemptuous rejection as a great priestly 
imposture. And thus those among the working class 
who eschew the teachings of the orthodox, slide off 
towards, not the late Mr. Maurice, nor yet Professor 
Huxley, but towards Mr. Bradlaugh." 

Despite the efforts of the churches, the writer tells us, 
this contemptuous rejection of the Bible happens. 
And we regret the rejection as much as the clergy and 
ministers of religion do. There may be others who do 
not regret it, but we do. All that the churches can 
say about the importance of the Bible and its religion 
we concur in. And it is the religion of the Bible that 
is professedly in question with all the churches when 
they talk of religion and lament its prospects. With 
Catholics as well as Protestants, and with all the sects 
of Protestantism, this is so ; and from the nature of 
the case it must be so. What the religion of the 
Bible is, how it is to be got at, they may not agree ; 
but that it is the religion of the Bible for which they 
contend they all aver. " The Bible," says Dr. Newman, 
" is the record of the whole revealed faith ; so far ali 


parties agree." Now, this religion of the Bible we 
say they cannot value more than we do. If we hesitate 
to adopt strictly their language about its oZZ-importance, 
that is only because we take an uncommonly large 
view of human perfection, and say, speaking strictly, 
that there go to this certain things, art, for instance, 
and science, which the Bible hardly meddles with. 
The difference between us and them, however, is more 
a difference of theoretical statement than of practical 
conclusion. Speaking practically, and looking at the 
very large part of human life engaged by the Bible, 
at the comparatively small part unengaged by it> we 
are quite willing, like the churches, to call the Bible 
arid its religion aZ/-important. 

All this agreement there is, both in words and in 
things, between us and the churches. And yet, when 
we behold the clergy and ministers of religion lament 
the neglect of religion and aspire to restore it, how 
must we feel that to restore religion as they under- 
stand it, to re-inthrone the Bible as explained by our 
current theology, whether learned or popular, is ab- 
solutely and for ever impossible ! as impossible as to 
restore the feudal system, or the belief in witches. 
Let us admit that the Bible cannot possibly die ; but 
then the churches cannot even conceive the Bible with- 
out the gloss they at present put upon it, and this gloss, 
as certainly, cannot possibly live. And it is not a 
gloss which one church or one sect puts upon the 
Bible and another does not ; it is the gloss they all 
put upon it, and call the substratum of belief common 
to all Christian churches, and largely shared with 


them, even by natural religion. It is this so-called 
axiomatic basis which must go, and it supports all the 
rest If the Bible were really inseparable from this 
and depended upon it, then Mr. Bradlaugh would 
have his way and the Bible would go too ; since this 
basis is inevitably doomed. For whatever is to stand 
must rest upon something which is verifiable, not un- 
verifiable. Now, the assumption with which all the 
churches and sects set out, that there is "a Great 
Personal First Cause, the moral and intelligent 
Governor of the universe," and that from him the 
Bible derives its authority, cannot at present, at any 
rate, be verified. 

Those who " ask for the reason and authority for 
the things.they have been taught to believe," as the 
people, we are told, are now doing, will begin at the 
beginning. Eude and hard reasoners as they are, 
they will never consent to admit, as a self-evident 
axiom, the preliminary assumption with which the 
churches start. But this preliminary assumption 
governs everything which in our current theology 
follows it ; and it is certain, therefore, that the people 
will not receive our current theology. So, if they are 
to receive the Bible, we must find for the Bible some 
other basis than that which the churches assign to it, 
a verifiable basis and not an assumption; and this, 
again, will govern everything which comes after. This 
new religion of the Bible the people may receive ; the 
version now current of the religion of the Bible they 
never will receive. 

Here, then, is the problem : to find, for the Bible, 


a basis in something which can be verified, instead oi 
in something which has to be assumed. So true and 
prophetic are Vinet's words: "We must" he said, 
" make it our business to bring forward the rational 
side of Christianity, and to show that for thinkers, 
too, it has a right to be an authority." Yes, and the 
problem we have stated must be the first stage in the 
business. With this unsolved, all other religious dis- 
cussion is idle trifling. 

This is why Dissent, as a religious movement of 
our day, would be almost droll, if it were not, from 
the tempers and actions it excites, so extremely irre- 
ligious. But what is to be said for men, aspiring to 
deal with the cause of religion, who either cannot see 
that what the people now require is a religion of the 
Bible quite different from that which any of the 
churches or sects supply ; or who, seeing this, spend 
their energies in fiercely battling as to whether the 
Church should be a national institution or no ? The 
question, at the present juncture, is in itself so 
absolutely unimportant ! The thing is, to recast 
religion. If this is done, the new religion will be the 
national one ; if it is not done, separating the nation^ 
in its collective and corporate character, from religion, 
will not do it. It is as if men's minds were much 
unsettled about mineralogy, and the teachers of it 
were at variance, and no teacher was convincing, and 
many people, therefore, were disposed to throw the 
study of mineralogy overboard altogether. What 
would naturally be the first business for every friend 
of the study? Surely, to establish on safe grounds 


the value of the study, and to put its claims in a new 
light where they could no longer be denied. But if 
he acted as our Dissenters act in religion, what would 
he do 1 Give himself, heart and soul, to a furious 
crusade against keeping the Government School of 
Mines ! 

Meanwhile, however, there is now an end to all 
fear of doing harm by gainsaying the received theology 
of the churches and sects. For this theology is itself 
now a hindrance to the Bible rather than a help. 
Nay, to abandon it, to put some other construction 
on the Bible than this theology puts, to find some 
other basis for the Bible than this theology finds, is 
indispensable, if we would have the Bible reach the 
people. And this is the aim of the following essay : 
to show that, when we come to put the right construc- 
tion on the Bible, we give to the Bible a real experi- 
mental basis, and keep on this basis throughout; 
instead of any basis of unverifiable assumption to 
start with, followed by a string of other unverifiable 
assumptions of the like kind, such as the received 
theology necessitates. 

And this aim we cannot seek without coming in 
sight of another aim, too, which we have often and 
often pointed out, and tried to recommend : culture, 
the acquainting ourselves with the best that has been 
known and said in the world, and thus with the 
history of the human spirit. One cannot go far in 
the attempt to bring in, for the Bible, a right con- 
struction, without seeing how necessary is something 
of culture to its being admitted and used. The cor- 


respondent we have above quoted notices how the 
lack of culture disposes people to conclude at once, 
from any imperfection or fallibility in the Bible, that 
it is a priestly imposture. To a certain extent, this 
is the fault not of people's want of culture, but of the 
priests and theologians themselves, who for centuries 
have kept assuring men that perfect and infallible the 
Bible is. Still, even without this confusion added 'by 
his theological instructors, the homo unius libri, the 
man of no range in his reading, must almost inevitably 
misunderstand the Bible, cannot treat it largely 
enough, must be inclined to treat it all alike, and to 
press every word. 

For, on the one hand, he has not enough experience 
of the way in which men have thought and spoken, 
to feel what the Bible -writers are about; to read 
between the lines, to discern where he ought to rest 
with his whole weight, and where he ought to pass 
lightly. On the other hand, the void and hunger in 
his mind, from want of aliment, almost irresistibly 
impels him to fill it by taking literally and amplifying 
certain data which he finds in the Bible, whether they 
ought to be so dealt with or no. Our mechanical and 
materialising theology, with its insane licence of 
affirmation about God, its insane licence of affirmation 
about a future state, is really the result of the poverty 
and inanition of our minds. It is because we cannot 
trace God in history that we stay the craving of our 
minds with a fancy-account of him, made up by putting 
scattered expressions of the Bible together, and taking 
them literally ; it is because we have such a scanty 

PREFACE. xiii 

sense of the life of humanity, that we proceed in the 
like manner in our scheme of a future state. He that 
cannot watch the God of the Bible, and the salvation 
of the Bible, gradually and on an immense scale dis- 
covering themselves and becoming, will insist on seeing 
them ready-made, and in such precise and reduced 
dimensions as may suit his narrow mind. 

To understand that the language of the Bible is 
fluid, passing, and literary, not rigid, fixed, and scien- 
tific, is the first step towards a right understanding 
of the Bible. But to take this very first step, some 
experience of how men have thought and expressed 
themselves, and some flexibility of spirit, are necessary; 
and this is culture. Much fruit may be got out of the 
Bible without it, and with those narrow and material- 
ised schemes of God and a future state which we 
have mentioned ; that we do not deny, but it is not 
the important point at present. The important point 
is, that the diffusion everywhere of some notion of the 
processes of the experimental sciences, processes 
falling in, too, very well with the hard and positive 
character of the life of "the people," the point is 
that this diffusion does lead " the people " to ask for 
the grownd and authority for those precise schemes of 
God and a future state which are presented to them, 
and to see clearly and scornfully the failure to give it. 
The failure to give it is inevitable, because given it 
cannot be ; but whereas in the training, life, and 
sentiment of the well-to-do classes there is much to 
make them disguise the failure to themselves and not 
insist upon it, in the training, life, and sentiment of 


the people there is next to nothing. So that, as fai 
as the people are concerned, the old traditional scheme 
of the Bible is gone ; while neither they nor the so- 
called educated classes have yet anything to put in 
its place. 

And thus we come back to our old remedy of 
culture, knowing the best that has been thought and 
known in the world ; which turns out to be, in another 
shape, and in particular relation to the Bible : getting 
the power, through reading, to estimate the proportion and 
relation in what we read. If we read but a very little, 
we naturally want to press it all ; if we read a great 
deal, we are willing not to press the whole of what 
we read, and we learn what ought to be pressed and 
what not Now this is really the very foundation of 
any sane criticism. We have told the Dissenters that 
their " spirit of watchful jealousy " is wholly destruc- 
tive and exclusive of the spirit of Christianity. They 
answer us, that St. Paul talks of "a godly jealousy," 
and that Jesus Christ uses severe invectives against 
the Scribes and Pharisees. The Dissenters conclude, 
therefore, that their jealousy is Christian, because 
covered by Jesus Christ's use of invective. 

Now, there can be no doubt whatever, that in his 
invectives against the Scribes and Pharisees Jesus 
abandoned the mild, uncontentious, winning, inward 
mode of working (He shall not strive nor cry /) which 
was his true characteristic, and in which his charm 
and power lay ; and that there was no chance at all 
of his gaining by such invectives the persons at whom 
they were launched. The same may be said of the 


cases where St. Paul lets loose his "godly jealousy," 
and employs objurgation instead of the mildness which 
was Jesus Christ's true means, and which Paul, 
though himself no special adept at it, nevertheless 
appreciated so worthily, and so earnestly extols. St. 
Paul certainly had no chance of convincing those 
whom he calls "dogs," the "concision," utterers of 
" profane and vain babblings," by such a manner of 
dealing with them. 

What may, indeed, fairly be said is, that the 
Pharisees against whom Jesus denounced his woes, 
or the Judaisers against whom Paul fulminated, 
were people whom there could be no hope of gaining ; 
and that not their conversion, but a strong impression 
on the faithful who read or heard, was the thing 
aimed at, and very rightly aimed at. And so far at 
any rate as Jesus Christ's use of invective against the 
Pharisees is concerned, this may be quite true ; but 
what a criticism is that, which can gather hence any 
general defence of jealousy and objurgation as Chris- 
tian ! For, in the first place, such weapons can have 
no excuse at all except as employed against individ- 
uals who are past hope, or against institutions which 
are palpably monstrosities. They can have none as 
employed against institutions containing more than 
half a great nation, and therefore a multitude of 
individuals good as well as bad. And therefore we 
see that Jesus Christ never dreamed of assailing the 
Jewish Church ; all he cared for was to transform it, 
by transforming as many as were transformable of 
the individuals composing it. In the second place, 

VOL. v. b 


when such means of action have a defence, they are 
defensible although violations of Jesus Christ's estab- 
lished rule of working, never commendable as exem- 
plifications of it. Mildness and sweet reasonableness 
is the one established rule for Christian working, and 
no other rule has it or can it have. But, using the 
Bible in the mechanical and helpless way in which 
one uses it when one has hardly any other book, men 
fail to see this, clear as it is. And they do really 
come to imagine that the Dissenters' " spirit of watch- 
ful jealousy," may be a Christian temper ; or that a 
movement like the Liberation Society's crusade against 
the Church of England may be a Christian work. 
And it is in this way that Christianity gets dis- 

Now, simple as it is, it is not half enough under- 
stood, this reason for culture : namely, that to read 
to good purpose we must read a great deal, and be 
content not to use a great deal of what we read. We 
shall never be content not to use the whole, or nearly the 
whole, of what we read, unless we read a great deal. Yet 
things are on such a scale, and progress is so gradual, and 
what one man can do is so bounded, that the moment 
we press the whole of what any writer says, we fall into 
error. He touches a great deal : the thing to know 
is where he is all himself and his best self, where he 
shows his power, where he goes to the heart of the 
matter, where he gives us what no other man gives 
us, or gives us so well. In his valuable Church History, 
Dr. Stoughton says of Hooker : " The Puritan prin- 
ciple of the authority and unchangeableness of a 

PREFACE. xvii 

revealed Church -polity Hooker substantially admits. 
Although this deep thinker sometimes talks perilously 
of altering Christ's laws, he says : ' In the matter of 
external discipline itself, we do not deny but there 
are some things whereto the Church is bound till the 
world's end.'" Dr. Stoughton does not see that to 
use his Hooker in this way is entirely fallacious. 
Hooker, this " deep thinker," as Dr. Stoughton truly 
calls him, one of the four chief names of the English 
Church, is great by having, signally and above others, 
or before others and when others had not, the sense, 
in religion, of history and of historic development 
So, too, Butler is great by having the sense of philo- 
sophy, Barrow by having that of morals, Wilson that 
of practical Christianity. But if Hooker spoke, as he 
did, of Church-history like a historian, and exploded 
the Puritan figment, due to a defective historic sense, 
of a revealed Church -polity, a Scriptural Church - 
order, if Hooker did this, this was so new that he 
could not possibly do it without reservations, limita- 
tions, apologies. He could not help saying : " We do 
not deny there may be some external things whereto 
the Church is eternally bound." But he is truly 
himself, he is the great Hooker, the man from whom 
we learn, when he shatters the Puritan figment, not 
when he uses the language of compliment and cere- 
mony in shattering it. 

In like manner that eloquent orator, Mr. Liddon, 
looking about him for authorities which commend 
the Athanasian Creed, finds Hooker commending it, 
and quotes him as an authority. This, again, is to 


make a use of Hooker which has no soundness in it 
Hooker's greatness is that he gives the real method 
of criticism for Church -dogma, the historic method. 
Church-dogma is not written in black and white in 
the Bible, he says : it has to be collected from it ; it 
is, as we now say, a development from it. This and 
that dogma, says Hooker, "are in Scripture nowhere 
to be found by express literal mention, only deduced 
they are out of Scripture by collection." And he 
assigns the one right criterion for determining whether 
a dogma is justly deduced, and what Scripture means, 
and what is its true character : the criterion of reason. 
He assigns this with splendid boldness : " It is not the 
word of God itself," says he, " which doth, or possibly 
can, assure us that we do well to think it his word ; " 
no, it is reason, much-reviled reason. Surely this is 
enough for a sixteenth-century divine to give us in 
theology, the very method of true science ! without 
our expecting him to make the full application of it, 
without expecting him to say that the Church-dogmas 
of his time, the dogma of the Athanasian Creed 
among the rest, which were not seriously in question 
yet, on which the Time-Spirit had not then turned 
his light, were false developments; without wondering 
at his saying, that they were developments " the 
necessity whereof is by none denied!" This is all 
that Hooker's warranty of the Athanasian Creed 
really comes to, or can come to. To fix the method 
by which that Creed must finally be judged was the 
main issue for him; to judge the Creed by that 
method was a side-issue, whereon he never really 


entered nor could enter, but treated the thing as 
already settled. Therefore Hooker is no real authority 
in favour of the Athanasian Creed ; though we might 
think he was, if we read him without discrimination. 
And to read him with discrimination culture is 

Luther, again, Mr. Liddon cites as a witness on 
the question of the Athanasian Creed ; and he might 
as well cite him as a witness on the question of the 
origin of species. Luther's greatness is in his revival 
of the sense of conscience and personal responsibility, 
and in the fresh vigorous power which this sense, joined 
to his robust mother-wit, gave him in using the Bible. 
He had enough to do in attacking Romish develop- 
ments from the Bible, which by their practical side 
were evidently, to a plain moral sense and a plain 
mother- wit, false developments, without attacking 
speculative dogma, which had no visible bad effects 
on practice, which had all antiquity in its favour, on 
which, as we say, the Time-Spirit had not then 
turned his light, of which, so Luther might say, like 
Hooker, " the necessity was by none denied." All 
this high speculative dogma he could not but affirm, 
and the more emphatically the more he questioned 
lower practical dogma. But his affirmation of it is 
not one of those things we can use; and whoever 
reads in the folios of Luther's works without passing 
lightly over very much, and, amongst it, over this, reads 
there ill. And without culture, without the use of so 
many books that he can afford not to over-use and mis- 
use one, ill a man is likely to read there. 


We can hardly urge this topic too much, of so 
great a practical importance is it, and above all at 
the present time. To be able to control what one 
reads by means of the tact coming, in a clear and fair 
mind, from a wide experience, was never perhaps so 
necessary as in the England of our own day, and in 
theology, and in what concerns the Bible. In every 
study one has to commence with the facts of that 
study. To get the facts, the data, in most matters of 
science, but notably in theology and Biblical learning, 
one goes to Germany. Germany, and it is her high 
honour, has searched out the facts and exhibited 
them. And without knowledge of the facts, no 
clearness or fairness of mind can in any study do 
anything ; this cannot be laid down too rigidly. 
Now, English religion does not know the facts of its 
study, and has to go to Germany for them. This is 
half apparent to English religion even now, and it 
will daily become more and more apparent. And so 
overwhelming is the advantage given by knowing the 
facts of a study, that a student, who comes to a man 
who knows them, is tempted to put himself into his 
hands altogether ; and this we in general see English 
students do, when they have recourse to the theologians 
of Germany. They put themselves altogether into 
their hands, and take all that they give them, con- 
clusions as well as facts. 

But they ought not to use them in this manner j 
for a man may have the facts and yet be unable to 
draw the right conclusions from them. In general, 
he may want power / as one may say of Strauss, for 


instance, that to what is unsolid in the New Testa- 
ment he applies a negative criticism ably enough, but 
that to deal with the reality which is still left in the 
New Testament, requires a larger, richer, deeper, 
more imaginative mind than his. But perhaps the 
quality specially needed for drawing the right con- 
clusion from the facts, when one has got them, is best 
called perception, justness of perception. And this no 
man can well have who is a mere specialist, who has 
not what we call culture in addition to the knowledge 
of his particular study ; and so many theologians, in 
Germany as well as elsewhere, are specialists ! After 
we have got all the facts of our special study, justness 
of perception to deal with the facts is still required, 
and is, even, the principal thing of all. 

But in this sort of tact, the German mind, if one 
may allow oneself to speak in such a general way, 
does seem to be even by nature somewhat wanting. 
In the German mind, as in the German language, 
there does seem to be something splay, something 
blunt-edged, unhandy and infelicitous, some positive 
want of straightforward, sure perception, which tends 
to balance the great superiority of the Germans in 
special knowledge, and in the disposition to deal 
impartially with knowledge. For impartial they are, 
as well as learned ; and this is a signal merit. While 
M. Barthelemy St-Hilaire cannot translate Aristotle 
without intermixing platitudes in glorification of the 
French gospel of the Eights of Man, while one English 
historian writes history to extol the Whigs and another 
to execrate the Church, German workers proceed in a 


more philosophical fashion. Still, in quickness and 
sureness of perception, in tact, they do seem to fall 
somewhat short. 

Of course in a man of genius this shortcoming is 
much less observable ; but even in Germans of genius 
there is something of it Goethe even, for instance, 
had less of quick, keen tact, one must surely own, than 
the great men of other nations whom alone one can 
cite as his literary compeers : Shakespeare, Voltaire, 
Cicero, Plato. Whether it be, as we have elsewhere 
speculated, 1 from race ; or whether this quickness and 
sureness of perception comes, rather, from a long 
practical conversance with great affairs, and only those 
nations which have at any time had a practical lead 
of the civilised world, the Greeks, the Eomans, the 
Italians, the French, the English, can have it ; and the 
Germans have till now had no such practical lead, 
though now they have got it", and may now, therefore, 
acquire the practical dexterity of perception ; however 
this may be, the thing is so, and a learned German 
has by no means, in general, a fine and practically sure 
perception in proportion to his learning. Give a 
Frenchman, an Italian, an Englishman, the same 
knowledge of the facts, removing from him, at the 
same time, all such disturbing influence as political 
partisanship, ecclesiastical antipathies, national vanity, 
and you could, in general, trust his perception 
more than you can the German's. This, I say, shows 
how large a thing criticism is ; since even of those 
from whom we take what we now in theology most 
1 On the Study of Celtic Literature, pp. 73, 74. 

PREFACE. xxiii 

want, knowledge of the facts of our study, and to 
whom therefore we are, and ought to be, under deep 
obligations, even of them we must not take too much, 
or take anything like all that they offer ; but we 
must take much and leave much, and must have tact 
enough to know what to take and what to leave. 
And an Englishman with the necessary knowledge 
has in other respects the training likely to give this tact; 
but without knowledge and culture we cannot have it. 
For a right understanding of the Bible itself, the 
discriminative experience, so much required in all our 
theological studies, is particularly indispensable. And 
to our popular religion it is especially difficult ; because 
we have been trained to regard the Bible, not as a 
book whose parts have varying degrees of value, but 
as the Jews came to regard their Scriptures, as a sort 
of talisman given down to us out of Heaven, with all 
its parts equipollent And yet there was a time when 
Jews knew well the vast difference there is between 
books like Esther, Chronicles, or Daniel, and books 
like Genesis or Isaiah. There was a time when 
Christians knew well the vast difference between the 
First Epistle of Peter and his so-called Second Epistle, 
or between the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Epistles 
to the Eomans and to the Corinthians. This, indeed, 
is what makes the religious watchword of the British 
and Foreign School Society : The Bible, the whole Bible, 
and nothing but the Bible ! so ingeniously (one must say) 
absurd ; it is treating the Bible as Mahometans treat 
the Koran, as if it were a talisman all of one piece, 
and with all its sentences equipollent. 


Yet the very expressions, Canon of Scripture, Canon- 
ical Books, recall a time when degrees of value were 
still felt, and all parts of the Bible did not stand on 
the same footing, and were not taken equally. There 
was a time when books were read as part of the Bible 
which are in no Bible now ; there was a time when 
books which are in every Bible now, were by many 
disallowed as genuine parts of the Bible. St. Atha- 
nasius rejected the Book of Esther, and the Greek 
Christianity of the East repelled the Apocalypse, and 
the Latin Christianity of the West repelled the Epistle 
to the Hebrews. And a true critical sense of relative 
value lay at the bottom of all these rejections. No 
one rejected Isaiah or the Epistle to the Romans. 
The books rejected were such books as those which 
we now print as the Apocrypha, or as the Book of 
Esther, or the Epistle to the Hebrews, or the so-called 
Epistle of Jude, or the so-called Second Epistle of St. 
Peter, or the two short Epistles following the main 
Epistle attributed to St. John, or the Apocalypse. 

Now, whatever value one may assign to these works, 
no sound critic would rate their intrinsic worth as 
high as that of the great undisputed books of the 
Bible. And so far from their finally getting where 
they now are after a thorough trial of their claims, 
and with indisputable propriety, they got placed there 
by the force of circumstances, by chance or by routine, 
rather than on their merits. Indeed, by merit alone 
the Book of Esther could have no right at all to be 
now in our Canon while Ecclesiasticus is not, nor the 
Epistle of Jude and the Second Epistle of Peter rather 


than the First Epistle of Clement. But the whole 
discussion died out, not because the matter was sifted 
and settled and a perfect Canon of Scripture deliber- 
ately formed ; it died out as mediaeval ignorance 
deepened, and because there was no longer knowledge 
or criticism enough left in the world to keep such a 
discussion alive. 

And so things went on till the Eenascence, when 
criticism came to life again. But the Church had now 
long since adopted the Vulgate, and her authority 
was concerned in maintaining what she had adopted. 
Luther and Calvin, on the other hand, recurred to the 
old true notion of a difference in rank and genuineness 
among the Bible -books. For they both of them 
insisted on the criterion of internal evidence for 
Scripture: "the witness of the Spirit." How freely 
Luther used this criterion we may see by reading 
in the old editions of his Bible his prefaces, which 
in succeeding editions have long ceased to appear. 
Whether he used it aright we do not now inquire, but 
he used it freely. Taunted, however, by Eome with 
their divisions, their want of a fixed authority like the 
Church, Protestants were driven to make the Bible 
this fixed authority ; and so the Bible came to be 
regarded as a thing all of a piece, endued with talis- 
manic virtues. It came to be regarded as something 
different from anything it had originally ever been, or 
primitive times had ever imagined it to be. And 
Protestants did practically in this way use the Bible 
more irrationally than Rome practically ever used it ; 
for Eome had her hypothesis of the Church Catholic 


endued with talismanic virtues, and did not want a 
talismanic Bible too. All this perversion has made a 
discriminating use of the Bible-documents very difficult 
in our country ; yet without it a sound criticism of 
the Bible is impossible ; and even, as we say, the very 
word Canon, the Canon of Scripture, points to such a use. 

But, indeed, there is hardly any great thing per- 
verted by men which does not in some sort thus 
indicate its own perversion. The idea of the infallible 
Church Catholic itself, as we have elsewhere said, 1 is 
an idea the mosj; fatal of all possible ideas to the 
concrete, so-called infallible, Church of Eome, such as 
we now see it. The infallible Church Catholic is, 
really, the prophetic soul of the wide world dreaming of 
things to come ; the whole human race, in its onward 
progress, discovering truth more complete than the 
parcel of truth any momentary individual can seize. 
Nay, and it is with the Pope himself as with the 
Church Catholic. That amiable old pessimist in St. 
Peter's Chair, whose allocutions we read and call them 
impotent and vain, the Pope himself is, in his idea, 
the very Time-Spirit taking flesh, the incarnate " Zeit- 
Geist !" man, how true are thine instincts, how 
over-hasty thine interpretations of them ! 

But to return. Difficult, certainly, is the right 
reading of the Bible, and true culture, too, is difficult 
For true culture implies not only knowledge, but right 
tact and justness of judgment, forming themselves by 
and with knowledge ; without this tact it is not true 
culture. Difficult, however, as culture is, it is necessary. 
1 St. Paul and Protestantism, p. 131. 


For, after all, the Bible is not a talisman, to be taken 
and used literally ; neither is any existing Church a 
talisman, whatever pretensions of the sort it may 
make, for giving the right interpretation of the Bible. 
Only true culture can give us this interpretation ; so 
that if conduct is, as it is, inextricably bound up with 
the Bible and the right interpretation of it, then the 
importance of culture becomes unspeakable. For if 
conduct is necessary (and there is nothing so necessary), 
culture is necessary. 

And the poor require it as much as the rich ; and 
at present their education, even when they get educa- 
tion, gives them hardly anything of it. Yet hardly 
less of it, perhaps, than the education of the rich gives 
to the rich. For when we say that culture is : To 
know the best that has been thought and said in the world, 
we imply that, for culture, a system directly tending 
to this end is necessary in our reading. Now, there 
is no such system yet present to guide the reading 
of the rich any more than of the poor. Such a 
system is hardly even thought of ; a man who wants 
it must make it for himself. And our reading being 
so without purpose as it is, nothing can be truer than 
what Butler says, that really, in general, no part of 
our time is more idly spent than the time spent in 

Still, culture is indispensably necessary, and culture 
is reading ; but reading with a purpose to guide it, and 
with system. He does a good work who does anything 
to help this : indeed, it is the one essential service 
now to be rendered to education. And the plea that 


this or that man has no time for culture will vanish 
as soon as we desire culture so much that we begin to 
examine seriously our present use of our time. It 
has often been said, and cannot be said too often : 
Give to any man all the time that he now wastes, not 
only on his vices (when he has them), but on useless 
business, wearisome or deteriorating amusements, 
trivial letter -writing, random reading, and he will 
have plenty of time for culture. " Die Zeit ist wnend- 
lich lang," says Goethe ; and so it really is. Some of 
us waste all of it, most of us waste much, but all of 
us waste soma 


















MR. DISRAELI, treating Hellenic things with the 
scornful negligence natural to a Hebrew, said the 
other day in a well-known book, that our aristocratic 
class, the polite flower of the nation, were truly 
Hellenic in this respect among others, that they 
cared nothing for letters and never read. Now, there 
seems to be here some inaccuracy, if we take our 
standard of what is Hellenic from Hellas at its highest 
pitch of development. For the latest historian of 
Greece, Dr. Curtius, tells us that in the Athens of 
Pericles "reading was universally diffused;" and 
again, that " what more than anything distinguishes 
the Greeks from the barbarians of ancient and modern 
times, is the idea of a culture comprehending body 
and soul in an equal measure." And we have our- 
selves called our aristocratic class Barbarians, which 
is the contrary of Hellenes, from this very reason : be- 
cause, with all their fine, fresh appearance, their open- 
VOL. V. & B 


air life, and their love of field-sports, for reading and 
thinking they have in general no great turn. But no 
doubt Mr. Disraeli was thinking of the primitive 
Hellenes of north-western Greece, from among whom 
the Dorians of Peloponnesus originally came, but 
who themselves remained in their old seats and did 
not migrate and develop like their more famous 
brethren. And of these primitive Hellenes, of Greeks 
like the Chaonians and Molossians, it is probably a 
very just account to give, that they lived in the open 
air, loved field-sports, and never read. And, explained 
in this way, Mr. Disraeli's parallel of our aristocratic 
class with what he somewhat misleadingly calls the 
old Hellenic race, appears ingenious and sound. To 
those lusty northerners, the Molossian and Chaonian 
Greeks Greeks untouched by the development which 
contradistinguishes the Hellene from the barbarian, 
our aristocratic class, as he exhibits it, has a strong re- 
semblance. At any rate, this class,- which from its 
great possessions, its beauty and attractiveness, the 
admiration felt for it by the Philistines or middle class, 
its actual power in the nation, and the still more con- 
siderable destinies to which its politeness, in Mr. 
Carlyle's opinion, entitles it, cannot but attract our 
notice pre-eminently, shows at present a great and 
genuine disregard for letters. 

And perhaps, if there is any other body of men 
which strikes one, even after looking at our aristo- 
cratic class, as being in the sunshine, as exercising 
great attraction, as being admired by the Philistines 
or middle class, and as having before it a future still 


more brilliant than its present, it is the friends of 
physical science. Now, their revolt against the tyranny 
of letters is notorious. To deprive letters of the too 
great place they have hitherto filled in men's estima- 
tion, and to substitute other studies for these, is the 
object of a sort of crusade with a body of people im- 
portant in itself, but still more important because of 
the gifted leaders who march at its head. 

Keligion has always hitherto been a great power 
in England ; and on this account, perhaps, whatever 
humiliations may be in store for religion in the future, 
the friends of physical science will not object to our 
saying that, after them and the aristocracy, the 
leaders of the religious world fill a prominent place 
in the public eye even now, and one cannot help 
noticing what their opinions and likings are. And it 
is curious how the feeling of the chief people in the 
religious world, too, seems to be just now against 
mere letters, which they slight as the vague and 
inexact instrument of shallow essayists and magazine- 
writers ; and in favour of dogma, of a scientific and 
exact presentment of religious things, instead of a 
literary presentment of them. " Dogmatic theology,'' 
says the Guardian, speaking of our existing dogmatic 
theology, " Dogmatic theology, that is, precision and 
definiteness of religious thought." " Maudlin sentimen- 
talism," says the Dean of Norwich, " with its miser- 
able disparagements of any definite doctrine ; a nerveless 
religion, without the sinew and bone of doctrine." 
The distinguished Chancellor of the University of 
Oxford thought it needful to tell us on a public 


occasion lately, that " religion is no more to be severed 
from dogma than light from the sun." Every one, 
again, remembers the Bishops of Winchester 1 and 
Gloucester making in Convocation their remarkable 
effort "to do something," as they said, "for the 
honour of Our Lord's Godhead," and to mark their 
sense of " that infinite separation for time and for 
eternity which is involved in rejecting the Godhead 
of the Eternal Son." In the same way: "To no 
teaching," says one champion of dogma, "can the 
appellation of Christian be truly given which does not 
involve the idea of a Personal God." Another lays 
like stress on correct ideas about the Personality of 
the Holy Ghost. " Our Lord unquestionably," says 
a third, " annexes eternal life to a right knowledge of 
the Godhead," that is, to a right speculative, dogma- 
tic knowledge of it. A fourth appeals to history and 
human nature for proof thut " an undogmatic Church 
can no more satisfy the hunger of the soul, than a 
snowball, painted to look like fruit, would stay the 
hunger of the stomach." And all these friends of 
theological science are, like the friends of physical 
science, though from another cause, severe upon 
letters. Attempts made at a literary treatment of 
religious history and ideas they call " a subverting of 
the faith once delivered to the saints." Those who 
make them they speak of as " those who have made 
shipwreck of the faith ; " and when they talk of " the 
poison openly disseminated by infidels," and describe 
the " progress of infidelity," which more and more, 
1 The late Bishop Wilberforce. 


according to their account, " denies God, rejects 
Christ, and lets loose every human passion," though 
they have the audaciousness of physical science most 
in their eye, yet they have a direct aim, too, at the 
looseness and dangerous temerity of letters. 

Keeping in remembrance what Scripture says 
about the young man who had great possessions, to 
be able to work a change of mind in our aristocratic 
class we never have pretended, we never shall pretend. 
But to the friends of physical science and to the 
friends of dogma we do feel emboldened, after giving 
our best consideration to the matter, to say a few words 
on behalf of letters, and in deprecation of the slight 
which, on different grounds, they both put upon 
them. But particularly in reply to the friends of 
dogma do we wish to insist on the case for letters, 
because of the great issues which seem to us to be 
here involved. Therefore of the relation of letters to 
religion we are going now to speak ; of their effect 
upon dogma, and of the consequences of this to 
religion. And so the subject of the present volume 
will be literature and dogma. 


It is clear that dogmatists love religion ; for else 
why do they occupy themselves with it so much, and 
make it, most of them, the business, even the pro- 
fessional business, of their lives 1 And clearly religion 
seeks man's salvation. How distressing, therefore, 
must it be to them, to think that " salvation is un- 


questionably annexed to a right knowledge of the 
Godhead," and that a right knowledge of the Godhead 
depends upon reasoning, for which so many people 
have not much aptitude ; and upon reasoning from 
ideas or terms such as substance, identity, causation, 
design, about which there is endless disagreement ! 
It is true, a right knowledge of geometry also depends 
upon reasoning, and many people never get it ; but 
then, in the first place, salvation is not annexed to a 
right knowledge of geometry ; and in the second, the 
ideas or terms such as point, line, angle, from which 
we reason in geometry, are terms about which there 
is no ambiguity or disagreement. But as to the 
demonstrations and terms of theology we cannot 
comfort ourselves in this manner. How must this 
thought mar the Archbishop of York's enjoyment of 
such a solemnity as that in which, to uphold and 
renovate religion, he lectured lately to Lord Harrowby, 
Dean Payne Smith, and other kindred souls, upon 
the theory of causation ! And what a consolation to 
us, who are so perpetually being taunted with our 
known inaptitude for abstruse reasoning, if we can 
find that for this great concern of religion, at any 
rate, abstruse reasoning does not seem to be the 
appointed help ; and that as good or better a help, 
for indeed there can hardly, to judge by the present 
state of things, be a worse, may be something which 
is in an ordinary man's power ! 

For the good of letters is, that they require no 
extraordinary acuteness such as is required to handle 
the theory of causation like the Archbishop of York, 


or the doctrine of the Godhead of the Eternal Son 
like the Bishops of Winchester and Gloucester. The 
good of letters may be had without skill in arguing, 
or that formidable logical apparatus, not unlike a 
guillotine, which Professor Huxley speaks of some- 
where as the young man's best companion ; and so 
it would be, no doubt, if all wisdom were come at by 
hard reasoning. In that case, all who could not 
manage this apparatus (and only a few picked crafts- 
men can manage it) would be in a pitiable condition. 

But the valuable thing in letters, that is, in the 
acquainting oneself with the best which has been 
thought and said in the world, is, as we have often 
remarked, the judgment which forms itself insensibly 
in a fair mind along with fresh knowledge ; and this 
judgment almost any one with a fair mind, who will 
but trouble himself to try and make acquaintance 
with the best which has been thought and uttered 
in the world, may, if he is lucky, hope to attain to. 
For this judgment comes almost of itself ; and what 
it displaces it displaces easily and naturally, and 
without any turmoil of controversial reasonings. The 
thing comes to look differently to us, as we look at it 
by the light of fresh knowledge. We are not beaten 
from our old opinion by logic, we are not driven off 
our ground ; our ground itself changes with us. 

Far more of our mistakes come from want of fresh 
knowledge than from want of correct reasoning; and, 
therefore, letters meet a greater want in us than does 
logic. The idea of a triangle is a definite and ascer- 
tained thing, and to deduce the properties of a 


triangle from it is an affair of reasoning. There are 
heads unapt for this sort of work, and some of the 
blundering to be found in the world is from this 
cause. But how far more of the blundering to be 
found in the world comes from people fancying that 
some idea is a definite and ascertained thing, like the 
idea of a triangle, when it is not ; and proceeding to 
deduce properties from it, and to do battle about 
them, when their first start was a mistake ! And 
how liable are people with a talent for hard, abstruse 
reasoning, to be tempted to this mistake ! And 
what can clear up such a mistake except a wide and 
familiar acquaintance with the human spirit and its 
productions, showing how ideas and terms arose, and 
what is their character? and this is letters and history 
not logic. 

So that minds with small aptitude for abstruse 
reasoning may yet, through letters, gain some hold 
on sound judgment and useful knowledge, and may 
even clear up blunders committed, out of their very 
excess of talent, by the athletes of logic. 



WE have said elsewhere 1 how much it has contributed 
to the misunderstanding of St. Paul, that terms like 
grace, new birth, justification, whicli he used in a fluid 
and passing way, as men use terms in common 
discourse or in eloquence and poetry, to describe 
approximately, but only approximately, what they 
have present before their mind, but do not profess 
that their mind does or can grasp exactly or ade- 
quately, that such terms people have blunderingly 
taken in a fixed and rigid manner, as if they were 
symbols with as definite and fully grasped a meaning 
as the names line or angle, and proceeded to use them 
on this supposition. Terms, in short, which with St. 
Paul are literary terms, theologians have employed as 
if they were scientific terms. 

But if one desires to deal with this mistake 
thoroughly, one must observe it in that supreme 
term with which religion is filled, the term God. 
The seemingly incurable ambiguity in the mode of 
employing this word is at the root of all our religious 
1 Culture and Anarchy, p. 137. 


differences and difficulties. People use it as if it 
stood for a perfectly definite and ascertained idea, 
from which we might, without more ado, extract 
propositions and draw inferences, just as we should 
from any other definite and ascertained idea. For 
instance, I open a book which controverts what its 
author thinks dangerous views ahout religion, and I 
read : " Our sense of morality tells us so-and-so ; our 
sense of God, on the other hand, tells us so-and-so." 
And again, "the impulse in man to seek God" is 
distinguished, as if the distinction were self-evident 
and explained itself, from " the impulse in man to 
seek his highest perfection." Now, morality repre- 
sents for everybody a thoroughly definite and ascer- 
tained idea: the idea of human conduct regulated 
in a certain manner. Everybody, again, understands 
distinctly enough what is meant by man's perfection : 
his reaching the best which his powers and circum- 
stances allow him to reach. And the word " God " is 
used, in connection with both these words, morality 
and perfection, as if it stood for just as definite and 
ascertained an idea as they do ; an idea drawn from 
experience, just as the ideas are which they stand 
for ; an idea about which every one was agreed, and 
from which we might proceed to argue and to make 
inferences, with the certainty that, as in the case of 
morality and perfection, the basis on which we were 
going every one knew and granted. But, in truth, the 
word " God " is used in most cases as by no means a 
term of science or exact knowledge, but a term of 
poetry and eloquence, a term thrown out, so to speak, 


at a not fully grasped object of the speaker's con- 
sciousness, a literary term, in short; and mankind 
mean different things by it as their consciousness 

The first question, then, is, how people are using 
the word; whether in this literary way, or in a 
scientific way. The second question is, what, sup- 
posing them to use the term as one of poetry and 
eloquence, and to import into it, therefore, a great 
deal of their own individual feelings and character, 
is yet the common substratum of idea on which, in 
using it, they all rest. For this will then be, for 
them, and for us in dealing with them, the real sense 
of the word; the sense in which we can use it for pur- 
poses of argument and inference without ambiguity. 

Strictly and formally the word " God," we now 
learn from the philologists, means, like its kindred 
Aryan words, Theos, Deus, and Deva, simply shining or 
brilliant. In a certain narrow way, therefore, this is 
the one exact and scientific sense of the word. It 
was long thought, however, to mean good, and so 
Luther took it to mean the best that man knows or can 
know; and in this sense, as a matter of fact and 
history, mankind constantly use the word. This is 
the common substratum of idea on which men in 
general, when they use the word God, rest ; and we 
can take this as the word's real sense fairly enough, 
only it does not give us anything very precise. 

But then there is also the scientific sense held by 
theologians, deduced from the ideas of substance, 
identity, causation, design, and so on ; but taught, 


they say, or at least implied, in the Bible, and on 
which all the Bible rests. According to this scientific 
and theological sense, which has all the outward 
appearances, at any rate, of great precision, God is 
an infinite and eternal substance, and at the same 
time a person, the great first cause, the moral and 
intelligent governor of the universe ; Jesus Christ 
consubstantial with him ; and the Holy Ghost a 
person proceeding from the other two. This is the 
sense for which, or for portions of which, the Bishops 
of Winchester and Gloucester are so zealous to do 

Other people, however, who fail to perceive the 
force of such a deduction from the abstract ideas 
above mentioned, who indeed think it quite hollow, 
but who are told that this sense is in the Bible, and 
that they must receive it if they receive the Bible, 
conclude that in that case they had better receive 
neither the one nor the other. Something of this 
sort it was, no doubt, which made Professor Huxley 
tell the London School Board lately, that "if these 
islands had no religion at all, it would not enter into 
his mind to introduce the religious idea by the agency 
of the Bible." Of such people there are now a great 
many ; and indeed there could hardly, for those who 
value the Bible, be a greater example of the sacrifices 
one is sometimes called upon to make for the truth, 
than to find that for the truth as held by the Bishops 
of Winchester and Gloucester, if it is the truth, one 
must sacrifice the allegiance of so many people to the 


But surely, if there be anything with which meta- 
physics have nothing to do, and where a plain man, 
without skill to walk in the arduous paths of abstruse 
reasoning, may yet find himself at home, it is religion. 
For the object of religion is conduct ; and conduct is 
really, however men may overlay it with philosophical 
disquisitions, the simplest thing in the world. That 
is to say, it is the simplest thing in the world as far 
as understanding is concerned ; as regards doing, it is 
the hardest thing in the world. Here is the difficulty, 
to do what we very well know ought to be done ; 
and instead of facing this, men have searched out 
another with which they occupy themselves by pre- 
ference, the origin of what is called the moral sense, 
the genesis and physiology of conscience, and so on. 
No one denies that here, too, is difficulty, or that the 
difficulty is a proper object for the human faculties to 
be exercised upon ; but the difficulty here is specula- 
tive. It is not the difficulty of religion, which is a 
practical one ; and it often tends to divert the 
attention from this. Yet surely the difficulty of 
religion is great enough by itself, if men would but 
consider it, to satisfy the most voracious appetite for 
difficulties. It extends to Tightness in the whole 
range of what we call conduct; in three -fourths, 
therefore, at the very lowest computation, of human 
life. The only doubt is whether we ought not to 
make the range of conduct wider still, and to say it is 
four-fifths of human life, or five-sixths. But it is better 
to be under the mark than over it ; so let us be content 
with reckoning conduct as three-fourths of human life. 


And to recognise in what way conduct is this, let 
us eschew all school-terms, like moral sense, and voli- 
tional, and altruistic, which philosophers employ, and 
let us help ourselves by the most palpable and plain 
examples. When the rich man in the Bible-parable 
says : " Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many 
years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry!" 1 
those goods which he thus assigns as the stuff with 
which human life is mainly concerned (and so in 
practice it really is), those goods and our dealings 
with them, our taking our ease, eating, drinking, being 
merry, are the matter of conduct, the range where it 
is exercised. Eating, drinking, ease, pleasure, money, 
the intercourse of the sexes, the giving free swing to 
one's temper and instincts, these are the matters 
with which conduct is concerned, and with which all 
mankind know and feel it to be concerned. 

Or, when Protagoras points out of what things we 

(/, C***^ are, from childhood till we die, being taught and 

' iy ll ' ^ admonished, and says (but it is lamentable that here 

- /fauLiF* h ave n k at hand Mr. Jowett, who so excellently 

^tintroduces the enchanter Plato and his personages, 

^^ but must use our own words) : "From the time he 

L^/p^an understand what is said to him, nurse, and mother, 

and teacher, and father too, are bending their efforts 

to this end, to make the child good ; teaching and 

showing him, as to everything he has to do or say, 

how this is right and that not right, and this is 

honourable and that vile, and this is holy and that 

unholy, and this do and that do hot;" Protagoras, 

1 Lukexii. 19. 


also, when, he says this, bears his testimony to the 
scope and nature of conduct, tells us what conduct is. 
Or, once more, when M. Littr6 (and we hope to 
make our peace with the Comtists by quoting an 
author of theirs in preference to those authors whom 
all the British public is now reading and quoting), 
when M. Littr6, in a most ingenious essay on* the 
origin of morals, traces up, better, perhaps, than any 
one else, all our impulses into two elementary instincts, 
the instinct of self-preservation and the reproduc- 
tive instinct, then we take his theory and we say, 
that all the impulses which can be conceived as deriv- 
able from the instinct of self-preservation in us and 
the reproductive instinct, these terms being applied 
in their ordinary sense, are the matter of conduct. It 
is evident this includes, to say no more, every im- 
pulse relating to temper, every impulse relating to 
sensuality ; and we all know how much that is. 

How we deal with these impulses is the matter of 
conduct, how we obey, regulate, or restrain them; 
that, and nothing else. Not whether M. Littr6's theory 
is true or false ; for whether it be true or false, there 
the impulses confessedly now are, and the business of 
conduct is to deal with them. But it is evident, if 
conduct deals with these, both how important a thing 
conduct is, and how simple a thing. Important, 
because it covers so large a portion of human life, and 
the portion common to all sorts of people ; simple, 
because, though there needs perpetual admonition to 
form conduct, the admonition is needed not to deter- 
mine what we ought to do, but to make us do it 



And as to this simplicity, all moralists are agreed. 
"Let any plain honest man," says Bishop/cutler, 
" before he engages in any course of actton " (he 
means action of the very kind we call conduct], " ask 
himself: Is this I am going about right or is it 
wrong 1 is it good or is it evil ? I do not in the least 
doubt but that this question would be answered 
agreeably to truth and virtue by almost any fair man 
in almost any circumstance." And Bishop Wilson says : 
"Look up to God "(by which he means just thds: 
Consult your Conscience) " at all times, and you will, 
as in a glass, discover what is fit to be done." And 
the Preacher's well-known sentence is exactly to the 
same effect : " God made man upright ; but they have 
sought out many inventions," 1 or, as it more 
correctly is, "many abstruse reasonings." Let us hold 
fast to this, and we shall find we have a stay by the 
help of which even poor -weak men, with no preten- 
sions to be logical athletes, may stand* firmly. 

And so, when we are asked, what is the object 
of religion 1 let us reply : Conduct. And when we 
are asked further, what is conduct 1 let us answer : 
Three-fourths of life. 


And certainly we need not go far about to prove 
that conduct, or "righteousness," which is the object 
of religion, is in a special manner the object of Bible- 
religion. The word " righteousness " is the master- 
word of the Old Testament. Keep judgment and do 
1 Ecclesiastes vii. 29. 


righteousness ! Cease to do evil, learn to do well ! l these 
words being taken in their plainest sense of conduct. 
Offer the sacrifice, not of victims and ceremonies, as the 
way of the world in religion then was, but : Offer the 
sacrifice of righteousness ! 2 The great concern of the 
New Testament is likewise righteousness, but right- 
eousness reached through particular means, righteous- 
ness by the means of Jesus Christ. A sentence 
which sums up the New Testament and assigns the 
ground whereon the Christian Church stands, is, as 
we have elsewhere said, 3 this : Let every one that 
nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity / 4 If 
we are to take a sentence which in like manner sums 
up the Old Testament, such a sentence is this : ye 
that lave the Eternal, see that ye hate the thing which is 
evil ! to him that ordei'eth his conversation right shall be 
shown the salvation of God. 5 

But instantly there will be raised the objection that 
this is morality, not religion ; morality, ethics, conduct, 
being by many people, and above all by theologians 
carefully contradistinguished from religion, which is 
supposed in some special way to be connected with 
propositions about the Godhead of the Eternal Son, 
or propositions about the personality of God, or about 
election or justification. Eeligion, however, means 
simply either a binding to righteousness, or else a 
serious attending to righteousness and dwelling upon 
it. Which of these two it most nearly means, dependa 

1 Isaiah Ivi. 1 ; i. 16, 17. 2 Psalm iv. 5. 

8 St. Paul and Protestantism, p. 134. 4 2 Timothy ii. 19. 

6 Psalm xcvii. 10 ; 1. 23. 
VOL. V. C 


upon the view we take of the word's derivation ; but 
it means one of them, and they are really much the 
same. And the antithesis between ethical and religious 
is thus quite a false one. Ethical means practical, it 
relates to practice or conduct passing into habit or 
disposition. Eeligious also means practical, but 
practical in a still higher degree; and the right 
antithesis to both ethical and religious, is the same as 
the right antithesis to practical : namely, theoretical. 

Now, propositions about the Godhead of the 
Eternal Son are theoretical, and they therefore are 
very properly opposed to propositions which are moral 
or ethical ; but they are with equal propriety opposed 
to propositions which are religious. They differ in 
kind from what is religious, while what is ethical 
agrees in kind with it But is there, therefore, no 
difference between what is ethical, or morality, and 
religion 1 There is a difference ; a difference of degree. 
Religion, if we follow the intention of human thought 
and human language in the use of the word, is ethics 
heightened, enkindled, lit up by feeling ; the passage 
from morality to religion is made when to morality is 
applied emotion. And the true meaning of religion is 
thus, not simply morality, but morality t(wched by emotion. 
And this new elevation and inspiration of morality is 
well marked by the word "righteousness." Conduct is 
the word of common life, morality is 'the word of philoso- 
phical disquisition, righteousness is the word of religion. 

Some people, indeed, are for calling all high 
thought and feeling by the name of religion ; accord- 
ing to that saying of Goethe : " He who has art and 


science, has also religion." But let us use words aa 
mankind generally use them. We may call art and 
science touched by emotion religion, if we will ; as we 
may make the instinct of self-preservation, into which 
M. Littre" traces up all our private affections, include 
the perfecting ourselves by the study of what is 
beautiful in art; and the reproductive instinct, into 
which he traces up all our social affections, include 
the perfecting mankind by political science. But 
men have not yet got to that stage, when we think 
much of either their private or their social affections 
at all, except as exercising themselves in conduct; 
neither do we yet think of religion as otherwise exer- 
cising itself. When mankind speak of religion, they 
have before their mind an activity engaged, not with 
the whole of life, but with that three-fourths of life 
which is conduct. This is wide enough range for one 
word, surely ; but at any rate, let us at present limit 
ourselves in the use of the word religion as mankind do. 
And if some one now asks : But what is this appli- 
cation of emotion to morality, and by what marks 
may we know it 1 we can quite easily satisfy him ; 
not, indeed, by any disquisition of our own, but in a 
much better way, by examples. " By the dispensation 
of Providence to mankind," says Quintilian, " goodness 
gives men most satisfaction." 1 That is morality. 
" The path of the just is as the shining light which 
shineth more and more unto the perfect day." 2 
That is morality touched with emotion, or religion. 

1 "Dedit hoc Providentia hominibus munus, ut honesta magis 
juvarent." a p roy erbs iv. 18. 


"Hold off from sensuality," says Cicero; "for, if you 
have given yourself up to it, you will find yourself 
unable to think of anything else." l That is morality. 
"Blessed are the pure in heart," says Jesus Christ, "for 
they shall see God." 2 That is religion. "We all want 
to live honestly, but cannot," says the Greek maxim- 
maker. 3 That is morality. " wretched man that I 
am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death !" 
says St. Paul. 4 That is religion. "Would thou wert 
of as good conversation in deed as in word!" 5 is 
morality. " Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, 
Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but he 
that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven," 6 
is religion. " Live as you were meant to live ! " r is 
morality. "Lay hold on eternal life !" 8 is religion. 

Or we may take the contrast within the bounds of 
the Bible itself. " Love not sleep, lest thou come to 
poverty," is morality ; but, " My meat is to do the 
will of him that sent me, and to finish his work," is 
religioa 9 Or we may even observe a third stage 
between these two stages, which shows to us the 
transition from one to the other. " If thou givest thy 
soul the desires that please her, she will make thee a 
laughing-stock to thine enemies ;" 10 that is morality. 

1 "Sis a venereis amoribus aversus ; quibus si te dedideris, 
non aliud quidquam possis cogitare quam illud quod diligis." 
Matthew v. 8. 

Q\o/> KaXuJs ffiv T&vTes, d\X' ov dwdfifQa. 
Romans vii. 24. 

EiO' f/ffOa ffdxppuv epya rots \6yois taa. 
Matthew vii. 21. 7 Zijffov Kara <f>v<ra>. 

I Tim. vi. 12. 9 Prov. xx. 13 ; John iv. 34. 

10 Ecclesiasticus xviii. 31. 


"He that resisteth pleasure crowneth his life;" 1 
that is morality with the tone heightened, passing, or 
trying to pass, into religion. "Flesh and blood 
cannot inherit the kingdom of God;" 2 there the 
passage is made, and we have religion. Our religious 
examples arc here all taken from the Bible, and from 
the Bible such examples can best be taken ; but we 
might also find them elsewhere. "Oh that my lot 
might lead me in the path of holy innocence of 
thought and deed, the path which august laws ordain, 
laws which in the highest heaven had their birth, 
neither did the race of mortal man beget them, nor 
shall oblivion ever put them to sleep ; the power of 
God is mighty in them, and groweth not old !" That 
is from Sophocles, but it is as much religion as any 
of the things which we have quoted as religious. 
Like them, it is not the mere enjoining of conduct, 
but it is this enjoining touched, strengthened, and 
almost transformed, by the addition of feeling. 

So what is meant by the application of emotion to 
morality has now, it is to be hoped, been made clear. 
The next question will probably be : But how does 
one get the application made t Why, how does one 
get to feel much about any matter whatever? By 
dwelling upon it, by staying our thoughts upon it, by 
having it perpetually in our mind. The very words 
mind, memory, remain, come, probably, all from the 
same root, from the notion of staying, attending. 
Possibly even the word man conies from the same ; 
HO entirely does the idea of humanity, of intelligence, 
1 Ecclesiasticus xix . 5. - 1 Corinthians xv. 50. 


of looking before and after, of raising oneself out of 
the flux of things, rest upon the idea of steadying 
oneself, concentrating oneself, making order in the 
chaos of one's impressions, by attending to one im- 
pression rather than the other. The rules of conduct, 
of morality, were themselves, philosophers suppose, 
reached in this way ; the notion of a whole self as 
opposed to a partial self, a best self to an inferior, to 
a momentary self a permanent self requiring the 
restraint of impulses a man would naturally have 
indulged; because, by attending to his life, man 
found it had a scope beyond the wants of the present 
moment. Suppose it was so; then the first man 
who, as "a being," comparatively, "of a large 
discourse, looking before and after," controlled the 
native, instantaneous, mechanical impulses of the 
instinct of self-preservation, controlled the native, 
instantaneous, mechanical impulses of the reproductive 
instinct, had morality revealed to him. 

But there is a long way from this to that habitual 
dwelling on the rules thus reached, that constant 
turning them over in the mind, that near and lively 
experimental sense of their beneficence, which com- 
municates emotion to our thought of them, and thus 
incalculably heightens their powers. And the more 
mankind attended to the claims of that part of our 
nature which does not belong to conduct, properly so 
called, or to morality (and we have seen that, after 
all, about one-fourth of our nature is in this case), the 
more they would have distractions to take off their 
thoughts from those moral conclusions which all races 


of men, one may say, seem to have reached, and to 
prevent these moral conclusions from being quickened 
by emotion, and thus becoming religious. 


Only with one people, the people from whom we 
get the Bible, these distractions did not happen. 

The Old Testament, nobody will ever deny, is 
filled with the word and thought of righteousness. 
" In the way of righteousness is life, and in the path- 
way thereof is no death;" "Righteousness tendeth to 
life;" "He that pursue th evil pursueth it to his OAVTI 
death;" "The way of transgressors is hard;"- 
nobody will deny that those texts may stand for the 
fundamental and ever -recurring idea of the Old 
Testament. 1 No people ever felt so strongly as the 
people of the Old Testament, the Hebrew people, 
that conduct is three-fourths of our life and its largest 
concern. No people ever felt so strongly that 
.succeeding, going right, hitting the mark in this great 
concern, was the way of peace, the highest possible 
satisfaction. " He that keepeth the law, happy is he ; 
its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths 
are peace; if thou hadst walked in its ways, thou 
shouldst have dwelt in peace for ever !" 2 Jeshurun, 
one of the ideal names of their race, is the upright ; 
Israel, the other and greater, is the wrestler with God, 
he who has known the contention and strain it costs 
to stand upright. That mysterious personage by 

i Prov. xii. 28 ; xi 19 ; xiii. 15. 

J Prov. xxix. 18 ; iii. 17. Baruch iii. 13. 


whom their history first touches the hill of Sion, is 
Melchisedek, the righteous king. Their holy city, 
Jerusalem, is the foundation, or vision, or inheritance, 
of that which righteousness achieves, peace. The 
law of righteousness was such an object of attention 
to them, that its words were to " be in their heart, 
and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, 
and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine 
house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when 
thou liest down, and when thou risest up." 1 That 
they might keep them ever in mind, they wore them, 
went about with them, made talismans of them . 
" Bind them upon thy fingers, bind them about thy 
neck; write them upon the table of thine heart!" 2 
" Take fast hold of her," they said of the doctrine of 
conduct, or righteousness, " let her not go ! keep her, 
tor she is thy life I"* 

People who thus spoke' of righteousness could not 
but have had their minds long and deeply engaged 
with it ; much more than the generality of mankind, 
who have nevertheless, as we saw, got as far as the 
notion of morals or conduct And, if they were so 
deeply attentive to it, one thing could not fail to 
strike them. It is this : the very great part in 
righteousness which belongs, we may say, to not 
ourselves. In the first place, we did not make our- 
selves and our nature, or conduct as the object of 
three-fourths of that nature ; we did not provide that 
happiness should folloAv conduct, as it undeniably 

1 Deuteronomy vi. 6, 7. 2 Prov. vii. 3 ; iii. 3- 

3 Prov. iv. 13. 


does ; that the sense of succeeding, going right, hit- 
ting the mark, in conduct, should give satisfaction, 
and a very high satisfaction, just as really as the 
sense of doing well in his work gives pleasure to a 
poet or painter, or accomplishing what he tries gives 
pleasure to a man who is learning to ride or to shoot ; 
or as satisfying his hunger, also, gives pleasure to a 
man who is hungry. 

All this we did not make ; and, in the next place, 
our dealing with it at all, when it is made, is not 
wholly, or even nearly wholly, in our own power. 
Our conduct is capable, irrespective of what we can 
ourselves certainly answer for, of almost infinitely 
different degrees of force and energy in the perform- 
ance of it, of lucidity and vividness in the perception 
of it, of fulness in the satisfaction from it ; and these 
degrees may vary from day to day, and quite incal- 
culably. Facilities and felicities, whence do they 
come 1 suggestions and stimulations, where do they 
tend ? hardly a day passes but we have some experi- 
ence of them. And so Henry More was led to say, 
that " there was something about us that knew better, 
often, what we would be at than we ourselves." For 
instance : every one can understand how health and 
freedom from pain may give energy for conduct, and 
how a neuralgia, suppose, may diminish it It does 
not depend on ourselves, indeed, whether we have 
the neuralgia or not, but we can understand its im- 
pairing our spirit. But the strange thing is, that with 
the same neuralgia we ma}' find ourselves one day with- 
out spirit and energy for conduct, and another day with 


them. So that we may most truly say : " Left to 
ourselves, we sink and perish ; visited, we lift up our 
heads and live." 1 And we may well give ourselves, in 
grateful and devout self-surrender, to that by which 
we are thus visited. So much is there incalculable, 
so much that belongs to not ourselves, in conduct ; and 
the more we attend to conduct, and the more we 
value it, the more we shall feel this. 

The not ourselves, which is in us and in the world 
around us, has almost everywhere, as far as we can see, 
struck the minds of men as they awoke to conscious- 
ness, and has inspired them with awe. Every one 
knows how the mighty natural objects which most 
took their regards became the objects to which this 
awe addressed itself. Our very word God is a remini- 
scence of these times, when men invoked "The 
Brilliant on high," sublime hoc candens quod inwcent 
omnes Jovem, as the power representing to them that 
which transcended the limits of their narrow selves, 
and that by which they lived and moved and had 
their being. Every one knows of what differences of 
operation men's dealing with this power has in 
different places and times shown itself capable ; how 
here they have been moved by the not ourselves to a 
cruel terror, there to a timid religiosity, there again 
to a play of imagination ; almost always, however, 
connecting with it, by some string or other, conduct. 

But we are not writing a history of religion ; we 
are only tracing its effect on the language of the men 

1 "Relicti mergimur et perimus, visitati vero erigimur et 


from whom we get the Bible. At the time they 
produced those documents which give to the Old 
Testament its power and its true character, the not 
ourselves which weighed upon the mind of Israel, and 
engaged its awe, was the not ourselves by which we get 
the sense for righteousness, and whence we find the help 
to do right. This conception was indubitably what 
lay at the bottom of that remarkable change which 
under Moses, at a certain stage of their religious 
history, befell the Hebrew people's mode of naming 
God. * This was what they intended in that name, 
which we wrongly convey, either without translation, 
by Jehovah, which gives us the notion of a mere 
mythological deity, or by a wrong translation, Lord, 
which gives us the notion of a magnified and non- 
natural man. The name they used was : The Eternal. 
Philosophers dispute whether moral ideas, as they 
call them, the simplest ideas of conduct and righteous- 
ness which now seem instinctive, did not all grow, 
were not once inchoate, embryo, dubious, unformed. 2 
That may have been so; the question is an interesting 
one for science. But the interesting question for 
conduct is whether those ideas are unformed or 
formed now. They are formed now ; and they were 
formed when the Hebrews named the power, out of 
themselves, which pressed upon their spirit: The 
Eternal. Probably the life of Abraham, the friend oj 
God, however imperfectly the Bible traditions by 

1 See Exodus iii. 14. 

1 "Qu'est-ce-que la nature ?" says Pascal: "peut-Stre une 
premiere coutume, coinme la couturae est une seconde nature. " 


themselves convey it to us, was a decisive step for- 
wards in the development of these ideas of righteous 
ness. Probably this was the moment when such 
ideas became fixed and ruling for the Hebrew people, 
and marked it permanently off from all others who 
had not made the same step. But long before the 
first beginnings of recorded history, long before the 
oldest word of Bible literature, these ideas must have 
been at work. We know it by the result, although 
they may have for a long while been but rudimentary, 
In Israel's earliest history and earliest literature, 
under the name of Eloah, Elohim, The Mighty, there 
may have lain and matured, there did lie and mature, 
ideas of God more as a moral power, more as a power 
connected, above everything, with conduct and right 
eousness, than were entertained by other races. Not 
only can we judge by the result that this must have 
been so, but we can see that it was so. Still their 
name, The Mighty, does not in itself involve any true 
and deep religious ideas, any more than our name, 
The Shining. With The Eternal it is otherwise. For 
what did they mean by the Eternal ; the Eternal 
what? The Eternal cause? Alas, these poor people 
were not Archbishops of York. They meant the 
Eternal righteous, who loveth righteousness. They had 
dwelt upon the thought of conduct and right and 
wrong, till the not ourselves which is in us and all 
around us, became to them adorable eminently and 
altogether as a power which makes for righteousness , 
which makes for it unchangeably and eternally, and 
is therefore called The Eternal. 


There is not a particle of metaphysics in their use 
of this name, any more than in their conception of the 
not ourselves to which they attached it Both came to 
them not from abstruse reasoning but from experience, 
and from experience in the plain region of conduct. 
Theologians with metaphysical heads render Israel's 
Eternal by the self-existent, and Israel's not ourselves by 
the absolute, and attribute to Israel their own subtleties. 
According to them, Israel had his head full of the 
necessity of a first cause, and therefore said, The 
Eternal ; as, again, they imagine him looking out into 
the world, noting everywhere the marks of design 
and adaptation to his wants, and reasoning out and 
inferring thence the fatherhood of God. All these 
fancies come from an excessive turn for reasoning, 
and a neglect of observing men's actual course of 
thinking and way of using words. Israel, at this 
stage when The Eternal was 'revealed to him, inferred 
nothing, reasoned out nothing; he felt and experi- 
enced. When he begins to speculate, in the schools 
of Rabbinism, he quickly shows how much less native 
talent than the Bishops of Winchester and Gloucester 
he has for this perilous business. Happily, when The 
Eternal was revealed to him, he had not yet begun to 

Israel personified, indeed, his Eternal, for he was 
strongly moved, he was an orator and poet. Man 
never knows how anthropomorphic he is, says Goethe, and 
so man tends always to represent everything under his 
own figure. In poetry and eloquence man may and 
must follow this tendency, but in science it often leads 


him astray. Israel, however, did not scientifically 
predicate personality of God ; he would not even have 
had a notion what was meant by it. He called him 
the maker of all things, who gives drink to all out of 
his pleasures as out of a river ; but he was led to thia 
by no theory of a first cause. The grandeur of the 
spectacle given by the world, the grandeur of the sense 
of its all being not ourselves, being above and beyond 
ourselves and immeasurably dwarfing us, a man of 
imagination instinctively personifies as a single, mighty, 
living and productive power ; as Goethe tells us that 
the words which rose naturally to his lips, when he 
stood on the top of the Brocken, were : " Lord, what is 
man, that thou mindest him, or the son of man, that 
thou makest account of him ?" x But Israel's confess- 
ing and extolling of this power came not even from his 
imaginative feeling, but came first from his gratitude 
for righteousness. To one who knows what conduct 
is, it is a joy to be alive ; and the not ourselves, which 
by bringing forth for us righteousness makes our 
happiness, working just in the same sense, brings 
forth this glorious world to be righteous in. That is 
the notion at the bottom of a Hebrew's praise of a 
Creator; and if we attend, we can see this quite 
clearly. Wisdom and understanding mean, for Israel, 
the love of order, of righteousness. Righteousness, 
order, conduct, is for Israel at once the source of all 
man's happiness, and at the same time the very 
essence of The Eternal. The great work of the 
Eternal is the foundation of this order in man, the 
1 Psalm cxliv. 3. 


implanting in mankind of his own love of righteous- 
ness, his own spirit, his own wisdom and understanding ; 
and it is only as a farther and natural working of 
this energy that Israel conceives the establishment 
of order in the world, or creation. " To depart from 
evil, that is understanding ! Happy is the man that 
findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understand- 
ing. The Eternal by wisdom hath founded the earth, by 
understanding hath he established the heavens;" 1 and so 
the Bible-writer passes into the account of creation. 
It all comes to him from the idea of righteousness. 

And it is the same with all the language our 
Hebrew religionist uses. God is a father, because the 
power in and around us, which makes for righteous- 
ness, is indeed best described by the name of this 
authoritative but yet tender and protecting relation. 
So, too, with the intense fear and abhorrence of 
idolatry. Conduct, righteousness, is, above all, a 
matter of inward motion and rule. No sensible forms 
can represent it, or help us to it ; such attempts at 
representation can only distract us from it. So, too, 
with the sense of the oneness of God. " Hear, 
Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord." 2 People 
think that in this unity of God, this monotheistic 
idea, as they call it, they have certainly got meta- 
physics at last. They have got nothing of the kind. 
The monotheistic idea of Israel is simply seriousness. 
There are, indeed, many aspects of the not ourselves ; 
but Israel regarded one aspect of it only, that by 
which it makes for righteousness. He had the 
1 Prov. ill 13-20. 3 Deut. vi. 4. 


advantage, to be sure, that with this aspect three- 
fourths of human life is concerned. But there are 
other aspects which may be set in view. " Frail and 
striving mortality," says the elder Pliny in a noble 
passage, "mindful of its own weakness, has dis- 
tinguished these aspects severally, so as for each man 
to be able to attach himself to the divine by this or 
that part, according as he has most need." 1 That is 
an apology for polytheism, as answering to man's 
many-sidedness. But Israel felt that being thus 
many-sided degenerated into an imaginative play, 
and bewildered what Israel recognised as our sole 
religious consciousness, the consciousness of right. 
" Let thine eyelids look right on, and let thine eyelids 
look straight before thee ; turn not to the right hand 
nor to the left ; remove thy foot from evil !" 2 

For does not Ovid say, 3 in excuse for the immorality 
of his verses, that the sight and mention of the gods 
themselves, the rulers of human life, <3ften raised 
immoral thoughts 1 And so the sight and mention of 
all aspects of the not ourselves must. Yet how tempt- 
ing are many of these aspects ! Even at this time of 
day, the grave authorities of the University of Cam- 
bridge are so struck by one of them, that of pleasure, 

1 " Fragilis et laboriosa mortalitas in partes ista digessit, infir- 
mitatis suse memor, ut portionibus coleret quisque, quo maxims 
indigeret." Nat. Hist. ii. 5. 

2 Prov. iv. 25, 27. 
8 Tristia ii. 287 : 

" Quis locus est templis augustior ? haec quoque vitet 

In culpam si qua est ingeniosa suam. " 
Sae the whole passage. 


life and fecundity, of the hominum divomque voluptas, 
alma Venus, that they set it publicly up as an object 
for their scholars to fix their minds upon, and to 
compose verses in honour of. That is all very well 
at present ; but with this natural bent in the authori- 
ties of the University of Cambridge, and in the Indo- 
European race to which they belong, where would 
they be now if it had not been for Israel, and for the 
stern check which Israel put upon the glorification 
and divinisation of this natural bent of mankind, this 
attractive aspect of the not ourselves? Perhaps going in 
procession, Vice-Chancellor, bedels, masters, scholars, 
and all, in spite of their Professor of Moral Philosophy, 
to the temple of Aphrodite ! Nay, and very likely 
Mr. Birks himself, his brows crowned with myrtle 
and scarcely a shade of melancholy on his countenance, 
would have been going along with them ! It is Israel 
and his seriousness that have saved the authorities of 
the University of Cambridge from carrying their divini- 
sation of pleasure to these lengths, or from making 
more of it, indeed, than a mere passing intellectual 
play; and even this play Israel would have beheld 
with displeasure, saying : turn away mine eyes lest 
they behold vanity, but quicken Thou me in thy way/ 1 
So earnestly and exclusively were Israel's regards 
bent on one aspect of the not ourselves : its aspect as a 
power making for conduct, righteousness. Israel's 
Eternal was the Eternal which says : " To depart from 
evil, that is understanding ! Be ye holy, for I am 
holy/" Now, as righteousness is but a heightened 

1 Psalro cxix. 37. 
VOL. V. D 


conduct, so holiness is but a heightened righteousness; 
a more finished, entire, and awe-filled righteousness. 
It was such a righteousness which was Israel's ideal ; 
and therefore it was that Israel said, not indeed what 
our Bibles make him say, but this : " Hear, Israel ! 
The Eternal is our God, The Eternal alone." 

And in spite of his turn for personification, his 
want of a clear boundary-line between poetry and 
science, his inaptitude to express even abstract notions 
by other than highly concrete terms, in spite of these 
scientific disadvantages, or rather, perhaps, because of 
them, because he had no talent for abstruse reasoning 
to lead him astray, the spirit and tongue of Israel 
kept a propriety, a reserve, a sense of the inadequacy 
of language in conveying man's ideas of God,*Svhich 
contrast strongly with the licence of affirmation in 
our Western theology. "The high and holy One 
that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy," 1 is 
far more proper and felicitous language than "the 
moral and intelligent Governor of the universe," 
just because it far less attempts to be precise, but 
keeps to the language of poetry and does not essay 
the language of science. As he had developed his 
idea of God from personal experience, Israel knew 
what we, who have developed our idea from his 
words about it, so often are ignorant of : that his 
words were but thrown out at a vast object of con- 
sciousness, which he could not fully grasp, and which 
he apprehended clearly by one point alone, that it 
made for the great concern of life, conduct. How 
1 Isaiah Ivii. 15. 


little we know of it besides, how impenetrable is the 
course of its ways with us, how we are baffled in our 
attempts to name and describe it, how, when we 
personify it and call it "the moral and intelligent 
Governor of the universe," we presently find it not to 
be a person as man conceives of person, nor moral as 
man conceives of moral, nor intelligent as man con- 
ceives of intelligent, nor a governor as man conceives 
of governors, all this, which scientific theology loses 
sight of, Israel, who had but poetry and eloquence, 
and no system, and who did not mind contradicting 
himself, knew. " Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, 
that thou art righteous ?" 1 What a blow to our ideal 
of that magnified and non-natural man, "the moral 
and intelligent Governor !" Say what we can about 
God, say our best, we have yet, Israel knew, to add 
instantly : " Lo, these are parts of his ways ; but how 
little a, portion is heard of him/" 2 Yes, indeed, Israel 
remembered that far better than our bishops do. 
" Canst thou by searching find out God ; canst thou 
find out the perfection of the Almighty 1 It is more 
high than heaven, what canst thou do ? deeper than 
hell, what canst thou know ?" 3 

Will it be said, experience might also have shown 
to Israel a not ourselves which did not make for his 
happiness, but rather made against it, baffled his 
claims to it? But no man, as we have elsewhere 
remarked, 4 who simply follows his own consciousness, 
is aware of any claims, any rights, whatever; what 

1 Job xxii. 3. 2 Job xxvi. 14. 3 Job xi 7, 8, 

4 Culture and Anarchy, p. 165. 


he gets of good makes him thankful, what he gets of 
ill seems to him natural. His simple spontaneous 
feeling is well expressed by that saying of Izaak 
Walton : " Every misery that I miss is a new mercy, 
and therefore let us be thankful." It is true, the not 
ourselves of which we are thankfully conscious we 
inevitably speak of and speak to as a man ; for 
" man never knows how anthropomorphic he is." 
And as time proceeds, imagination and reasoning 
keep working upon this substructure, and build from 
it a magnified and non-natural man. Attention is 
then drawn, afterwards, to causes outside ourselves 
which seem to make for sin and suffering ; and then 
either these causes have to be reconciled by some 
highly ingenious scheme with the magnified and non- 
natural man's power, or a second magnified and 
non-natural man has to be supposed, who pulls the 
contrary way to the first. So arise Satan and his 
angels. But all this is secondary, and comes much 
later. Israel, the founder of our religion, did not 
begin with this. He began with experience. He 
knew from thankful experience the not ourselves 
which makes for righteousness, and knew how little 
we know about God besides. 


The language of the Bible, then, is literary, not 
scientific language ; language thrown out at an object 
of consciousness not fully grasped, which inspired 
emotion. Evidently, if the object be one not fully 
to be grasped, and one to inspire emotion, the 


language of figure and feeling will satisfy us better 
about it, will cover more of what we seek to express, 
than the language of literal fact and science. The 
language of science about it will be below what we 
feel to be the truth. 

The question, however, has arisen and confronts 
us : what was the scientific basis of fact for this 
consciousness 1 When we have once satisfied our- 
selves both as to the tentative, poetic way in which 
the Bible-authors used language, and also as to their 
having no pretensions to metaphysics at all, let us, 
therefore, when there is this question raised as to the 
scientific account of what they had before their minds, 
be content with a very unpretending answer. And in 
this way such a phrase as that which we have formerly 
used concerning God, and have been much blamed for 
using, the phrase, namely, that, " for science, God is 
simply the stream of tendency by which all things fulfil the 
law of their being," may be allowed, and may even 
prove useful. Certainly it is inadequate; certainly 
it is a less proper phrase than, for instance : " Clouds 
and darkness are round about him : righteousness and 
judgment are the habitation of his seat." 1 But then 
it is, in however humble a degree and with however 

1 Ps. xcvii. 2. It has been urged that if this personifying 
mode of expression is more proper, it must also be more scienti- 
fically exact. But surely it must on reflection appear that this 
is by no means so. Wordsworth calls the earth ' ' the mighty 
mother of mankind," and the geographers call her "an oblate 
spheroid ;" Wordsworth's expression is more proper and ade- 
quate to convey what men feel about the earth, but it is not 
therefore the more scientifically exact. 


narrow a reach, a scientific definition, which the other 
is not. The phrase, " A Personal First Cause, the 
moral and intelligent Governor of the universe," has 
also, when applied to God, the character, no doubt, 
of a scientific definition ; but then it goes far beyond 
what is admittedly certain and verifiable, which is 
what we mean by scientific. It attempts far too 
much. If we want here, as we do want, to have 
what is admittedly certain and verifiable, we must 
content ourselves with very little. No one will say, 
that it is admittedly certain and verifiable, that there 
is a personal first cause, the moral and intelligent 
governor of the universe, whom we may call God if 
we will. But that all things seem to us to have what 
we call a law of their being, and to tend to fulfil it, is 
certain and admitted; though whether we will call 
this God or not, is a matter of choice. Suppose, 
however, we call it God,' we then give the name of 
God to a certain and admitted reality ; this, at least, 
is an advantage. 

And the notion of our definition does, in fact, 
enter into the term God, in men's common use of it. 
To please God, to serve God, to obey God's will, 
means to follow a law of things Avliich is found in 
conscience, and which is an indication, irrespective of 
our arbitrary wish and fancy, of what we ought to 
do. There is, then, a real power which makes for 
righteousness ; and it is the greatest of realities for us. 1 

1 Prayer, about which so much has often been said unad- 
visedly and ill, deals with this reality. All good and beueficiaJ 
prayer is in truth, however men may describe it, at bottom 


When St. Paul says, that our business is " to serve the 
spirit of God," "to serve the living and true God;" 1 
and when Epictetus says: "What do I want? to 
acquaint myself with the true order of things, and 
comply with it," 2 they both mean, so far, the same, in 
that they both mean we should obey a tendency, which 
is not ourselves, but which appears in our consciousness, 
by which things fulfil the real law of their being. 

It is true, the not ourselves, by which things fulfil 
the real law of their being, extends a great deal 
beyond that sphere where alone we usually think of 
it. That is, a man may disserve God, disobey indi- 
cations, not of our own making, but which appear, if 
we attend, in our consciousness, he may disobey, I 
say, such indications of the real law of our being, in 
other spheres besides the sphere of conduct. He 
does disobey them, when he sings a hymn like : My 
Jesus to know, and feel his blood flow, or, indeed, like 
nine-tenths of our hymns, or when he frames and 
maintains a blundering and miserable constitution of 
society, as well as when he commits some plain 
breach of the moral law. That is, he may disobey 
them in art and science as well as in conduct. But 
he attends, and the generality of men attend, only to 
the indications of a true law of our being as to conduct; 

nothing else than an energy of aspiration towards the eternal 
not ourselves that makes for righteousness, of aspiration to- 
wards it, and of co-operation with it. Nothing, therefore, can 
be more efficacious, more right, and more real. 

1 Philippians iii. 3 (in the reading of the Vatican manu- 
script) ; 1 Thessalonians i. 9. 

* rl 0oij\ofj.a.i ; Kara/j-aOfTv rty (fn'iffiv ical TauTg Zi 


and hardly at all to indications, though they as really 
exist, of a true law of our being on its aesthetic and 
intelligential side. The reason is, that the moral side, 
though not more real, is so much larger ; taking in. 
as we have said, at least three-fourths of life. Now, 
the indications on this moral side of that tendency, 
not of our making, by which things fulfil the law of 
their being, we do very much mean to denote and to 
sum up when we speak of the will of God, pleasing God, 
serving God. Let us keep firm footing on this basis of 
plain fact, narrow though it may be. 

To feel that one is fulfilling in any way the laAv of 
one's being, that one is succeeding and hitting the 
mark, brings us, we know, happiness ; to feel this in 
regard to so great a thing as conduct, brings, of 
course, happiness proportionate to the thing's great 
ness. We have already had Quintilian's witness, how 
right conduct gives joy. 'Who could value knowledge 
more than Goethe 1 but he marks it as being without 
question a lesser source of joy than conduct. Conduct 
he ranks with health as beyond all compare primary. 
"Nothing, after health and virtue," he says, "can give 
so much satisfaction as learning and knowing." Nay, 
and Bishop Butler, at the view of the happiness from 
conduct, breaks free from all that hesitancy and de - 
pression which so commonly hangs on his masterly 
thinking. " Self-love, methinks, should be alarmed ! 
May she not pass over greater pleasures than those 
she is so wholly taken up with 1" And Bishop 
Wilson, always hitting the right nail on the head in 
matters of this sort, remarks that, "if it were not 


for the practical difficulties attending it, virtue would 
hardly be distinguishable from a kind of sensuality." The 
practical difficulties are indeed exceeding great. Plain 
as is the .course, and high the prize, we all find our- 
selves daily led to say with the Imitation : " Would 
that for one single day we had lived in this world as 
we ought !" Yet the course is so evidently plain, 
and the prize so high, that the same Imitation cries 
out presently : " If a man would but take notice, 
what peace he brings to himself, and what joy to 
others, merely by managing himself right!" And 
for such happiness, since certainly we ourselves did 
not make it, we instinctively feel grateful ; according 
to that remark of one of the wholesomest and truest 
of moralists, Barrow : " He is not a man, who doth 
not delight to make some returns thither whence he 
hath found great kindness." And this sense of grati- 
tude, again, is itself an addition to our happiness ! So 
strong, altogether, is the witness and sanction happiness 
gives to going right in conduct, to fulfilling, so far as 
conduct is concerned, the law indicated to us of our 
being. Now, there can be no sanction to compare, 
for force, with the strong sanction of happiness, if it 
be true what Bishop Butler, who is here but the 
mouthpiece of humanity itself, says so irresistibly : 
"It is manifest that nothing can be of consequence 
to mankind, or any creature, but happiness." But 
we English are taunted with our proneness to an 
unworthy eudsemonism, and an Anglican bishop may 
perhaps be a suspected witness. Let us call, then, a 
glorious father of the Catholic Church, the great 


Augustine himself. Says St. Augustine: "Act we 
must in pursuance of what gives us most delight; quod 
amplius nos delected, secundum id operemur necesse est. :> 

And now let us see how exactly Israel's perceptions 
about God follow and confirm this simple line, which 
we have here reached quite independently. First : 
"It is joy to the just to do judgment." 1 Then : "It 
becometh well the just to be thankful." 2 Finally: "A 
pleasant thing it is to be thankful." 3 What can be 
simpler than this, and at the same time more solid 1 
But again : " The statutes of the Eternal rejoice the 
heart." 4 And then : "I will give thanks unto thee, 
Eternal, with my whole heart ; at midnight will I 
rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous 
judgments!" 5 And lastly: "It is a good thing to 
give thanks unto the Eternal; it is a good thing to 
sing praises unto our God!" 6 Why, these are the 
very same propositions as the preceding, only with a 
power and depth of emotion added ! Emotion has 
been applied to morality. 

God or Eternal is here really, at bottom, nothing 
but a deeply moved way of saying conduct or righteous 
ness. "Trust in God" is, in a deeply moved way of 
expression, trust in the law of conduct : " delight in 
the Eternal " is, in a deeply moved way of expression, 
the happiness we all feel to spring from conduct. 
Attending to conduct, to judgment, makes the at- 
tender feel that it is joy to do it. Attending to it 

1 Prov. xxi. 15. 2 Ps. xxxiii. 1. 

3 Ps. cxlvii. 1. 4 Ps. xix. 8. 

5 Ps. cxxxviii. 1; cxix. 62. 6 Ps. xcii. 1; cxlvii. 1. 


more still, makes him feel that it is the commandment 
of the Eternal, and that the joy got from it is joy 
from fulfilling the commandment of the Eternal. The 
thankfulness for this joy is thankfulness to the Eter- 
nal; and to the Eternal, again, is due that further joy 
which comes from this thankfulness. "The fear of 
the Eternal, that is wisdom ; and to depart from evil, 
that is understanding." 1 " The fear of the Eternal" 
and " To depart from evil " here mean, and are put to 
mean, and by the very laws of Hebrew composition 
which make the second phrase in a parallelism repeat 
the first in other words, they must mean, just the 
same thing. Yet what man of soul, after he had 
once risen to feel that to depart from evil was to 
walk in awful observance of an enduring clue, within 
us and without us, which leads to happiness, but 
would prefer to say, instead of "to depart from evil," 
" the fear of the Eternal ? " 

Henceforth, then, Israel transferred to this Eternal 
all his obligations. Instead of saying : " Whoso 
keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul," 2 
he rather said, " My soul, wait thou only upon God, 
for of him cometh my salvation!" 3 Instead of say- 
ing : " Bind them (the laws of righteousness) continu- 
ally upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck ! " 4 
he rather said, " Have I not remembered Thee on my 
bed, and thought upon Thee when I was waking ?" 5 
The obligation of a grateful and devout self-surrender 
to the Eternal replaced all sense of obligation to one's 

1 Job xxviii. 28. 2 Prov. xix. 16. 3 Ps. Ixii. 5, 1. 
4 Prov. vi 21. * Ps. Ixiii. 7. 


own better self, one's own permanent welfare. The 
moralist's rule : " Take thought for your permanent, 
not your momentary, well-being," became now: 
" Honour the Eternal, not doing thine own ways, nor 
finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own 
words." 1 That is, with Israel religion replaced 

It is true, out of the humble yet divine ground of 
attention to conduct, of care for what in conduct is 
right and wrong, grew morality and religion both ; but, 
from the time the soul felt the motive of religion, it 
dropped and could not but drop the other. And the 
motive of doing right, to a sincere soul, is now really 
no longer his own welfare, but to please God ; and it 
bewilders his consciousness if you tell him that he 
does right out of self-love. So that, as we have said 
that the first man who, as "a being of a large 
discourse, looking before' and after," controlled the 
blind momentary impulses of the instinct of self- 
preservation, and controlled the blind momentary 
impulses of the sexual instinct, had morality revealed 
to him ; so in like manner we may say, that the first 
man who was thrilled with gratitude, devotion and 
awe at the sense of joy and peace, not of his own 
making, which followed the exercise of this self-con- 
trol, had religion revealed to him. And, for us at 
least, this man was Israel. 

Now here, as we have already pointed out the 
falseness of the common antithesis between ethical and 
religious, let us anticipate the objection that the 
1 Isaiah Iviii. 13. 


religion here spoken of is but natural religion, by 
pointing out the falseness of the common antithesis, 
also, between natural and revealed. For that in us 
which is really natural is, in truth, revealed. We 
awake to the consciousness of it, we are aware of it 
coming forth in our mind ; but we feel that we did 
not make it, that it is discovered to us, that it is what 
it is whether we will or no. If we are little con- 
cerned about it, we say it is natural ; if much, we say 
it is revealed. But the difference between the two is 
not one of kind, only of degree. The real antithesis, 
to natural and revealed alike, is invented, artificial. 
Religion springing out of an experience of the power, 
the grandeur, the necessity of righteousness, is 
revealed religion, whether we find it in Sophocles 01 
in Isaiah. " The will of mortal men did not beget it, 
neither shall oblivion ever put it to sleep." A sys- 
tem of theological notions about personality, essence, 
existence, consubstantiality, is artificial religion, and 
is the proper opposite to revealed ; since it is a religion 
which comes forth in no one's consciousness, but is 
invented by theologians, able men with uncommon 
talents for abstruse reasoning. This religion is in no 
sense revealed, just because it is in no sense natural. 
And revealed religion is properly so named, just in 
proportion as it is in a pre-eminent degree natural. 

The religion of the Bible, therefore, is well said to 

be revealed, because the great natural truth, that 

" righteousness tendeth to life," l is seized and exhibited 

there with such incomparable force and efficacy. All, 

1 Prov xi. 19 


or very nearly all, the nations of mankind have 
recognised the importance of conduct, and have attri- 
buted to it a natural obligation. They, however, 
looked at conduct, not as something full of happiness 
and joy, but as something one could not manage to 
do without. But: "Sion heard of it and rejoiced, 
and the daughters of Judah were glad, because of thy 
judgments, Eternal ! " l Happiness is our being's 
end and aim, and no one has ever come near Israel 
in feeling, and in making others feel, that to righteous- 
ness belongs happiness/ The prodigies and the mar- 
vellous of Bible-religion are common to it with all 
religions ; the love of righteousness, in this eminency, 
is its own. 


The real germ of religious consciousness, therefore, 
out of which sprang Israel's name for God, to which 
the records of his history adapted themselves, and 
which came to be clothed upon, in time, with a 
mighty growth of poetry and tradition, was a con- 
sciousness of the not ourselves which makes for righteous- 
ness. And the way to convince oneself of this is by 
studying the Bible with a fair mind, and with the tact 
which letters, surely, alone can give. For the thing 
turns upon understanding the manner in which men 
have thought, their way of using words, and what 
they mean by them. And by knowing letters, by 
becoming conversant with the best that has been 
thought and said in the world, we become acquainted 
1 Psalm xcviL 8. 


not only with the history, but also with the scope and 
powers, of the instruments men employ in thinking 
and speaking. And this is just what is sought for. 

And with the sort of experience thus gained of the 
hjstory of the human spirit, objections, as we have 
said, will be found not so much to be refuted by 
reasoning as to fall away of themselves. It is ob- 
jected : " Why, if the Hebrews of the Bible had thus 
eminently the sense for righteousness, does it not 
equally distinguish the Jews now?" But does not 
experience show us, how entirely a change of circum- 
stances may change a people's character; and have 
the modern Jews lost more of what distinguished 
their ancestors, or even so much, as the modern 
Greeks of what distinguished theirs ? Where is now, 
among the Greeks, the dignity of life of Pericles, the 
dignity of thought and of art of Phidias and Plato 1 
It is objected, that the Jews' God was not the endur- 
ing power that makes for righteousness, but only 
their tribal God, who gave them the victory in the 
battle and plagued them that hated them. But how, 
then, comes their literature to be full of such things 
as : " Shew me thy ways, Eternal, and teach me 
thy paths ; let integrity and uprightness preserve me, 
for I put my trust in thee ! if I incline unto wickedness 
with my heart, the Eternal will not hear me?" 1 
From the sense that with men thus guided and going 
right in goodness it could not but be well, that their 
leaf could not wither and that whatsoever they did 
must prosper, 2 would naturally come the sense that 
1 Ps. xxv. 4, 21 ; Ixvi 18. 2 Ps. L 3. 


in their wars with an enemy the enemy should be put 
to confusion and they should triumph. But how, out 
of the mere sense that their enemy should be put to 
confusion and they should triumph, could the desire 
for goodness come ? 

It is objected, again, that their " law of the Lord " 
was a positive traditionary code to the Hebrews, 
standing as a mechanical rule which held them in awe ; 
that their " fear of the Lord " was superstitious dread 
of an assumed magnified and non-natural man. But 
why, then, are they always saying : " Teach me thy 
statutes, Teach me thy way, Show thou me the way 
that I shall walk in, Open mine eyes, Make me to under- 
stand wisdom secretly!" 1 if all the law they were 
thinking of stood, stark and written, before their eyes 
already 1 And what could they mean by : " I will 
love thee, Eternal, my strength !" 2 if the fear they 
meant was not the awe-filled observance from deep 
attachment, but a servile terror ? It is objected, that 
their conception of righteousness was a narrow and 
rigid one, centring mainly in what they called judg- 
ment : " Hate the evil and love the good, and establish 
judgment in the gate!" 3 so that "evil," for them, did 
not take in all faults whatever of heart and conduct, 
but meant chiefly oppression, graspingness, a violent 
mendacious tongue, insolent and riotous excess. 
True ; their conception of righteousness was much of 
this kind, and it was narrow. But whoever sincerely 
attends to conduct, along however limited a line, is on 

1 Ps. cxix. 12 ; Ixxxvi 11 ; cxliii. 8 ; cxix. 18 ; li. 6. 
2 Ps. xviii. 1. * Amos v. 15. 


his way to bring under the eye of conscience all con- 
duct whatever; and already, in the Old Testament, 
the somewhat monotonous inculcation of the social 
virtues of judgment and justice is continually broken 
through by deeper movements of personal religion. 
Every time that the words contrition or humility drop 
from the lips of prophet or psalmist, Christianity 

It is objected, finally, that even their own narrow 
conception of righteousness this people could not 
follow, but were perpetually oppressive, grasping, 
slanderous, sensual. Why, the very interest and im- 
portance of their witness to righteousness lies in their 
having felt so deeply the necessity of what they were 
so little able to accomplish ! They had the strongest 
impulses in the world to violence and excess, the 
keenest pleasure in gratifying these impulses. And 
yet they had such a sense of the natural necessary 
connection between conduct and happiness, that they 
kept always saying, in spite of themselves : To him 
that ordereth his conversation right shull be shoivn the sal- 
vation of God ! l 

Now manifestly this sense of theirs has a double 
force for the rest of mankind, an evidential force 
arid a practical force. Its evidential force is in keep- 
ing before men's view, by the example of the signal 
apparition, in one branch of our race, of the sense for 
conduct and righteousness, the reality and naturalness 
of that sense. Clearly, unless a sense or endowment 
of human nature, however in itself real and beneficent, 

1 Psalm 1. 23. 
VOL. V. E 


has some signal representative among mankind, it 
tends to be pressed upon by other senses and endow- 
ments, to suffer from its own want of energy, and to 
be more and more pushed out of sight. Any one, for 
instance, who will go to the Potteries, and will look 
at the tawdry, glaring, ill-proportioned ware which 
is being made there for certain American and colonial 
markets, will easily convince himself how, in our 
people and kindred, the sense for the arts of design, 
though it is certainly planted in human nature, 
might dwindle and sink to almost nothing, if it were 
not for the witness borne to this sense, and the pro- 
test offered against its extinction, by the brilliant 
aesthetic endowment and artistic work of ancient 
Greece. And one cannot look out over the world 
without seeing that the same sort of thing might very 
well befall conduct, too, if it were not for the signal 
witness borne by Israel. 

Then there is the practical force of their example ; 
and this is even more important. Every one is aware 
how those, who want to cultivate any sense 01 
endowment in themselves, must be habitually con- 
versant with the works of people who have been 
eminent for that sense, must study them, catch 
inspiration from them. Only in this way, indeed, 
can progress be made. And as long as the world 
lasts, all who want to make progress in righteousness 
will come to Israel for inspiration, as to the people 
who have had the sense for righteousness most glowing 
and strongest ; and in hearing and reading the words 
Israel has uttered for us, carers for conduct will find 


a glow and a force they could find nowhere else. As 
well imagine a man with a sense for sculpture not 
cultivating it by the h,elp of the remains of Greek art, 
or a man with a sense for poetry not cultivating it by 
the help of Homer and Shakspeare, as a man with a 
sense for conduct not cultivating it by the help of the 
Bible ! And this sense, in the satisfying of which we 
come naturally to the Bible, is a sense which the 
generality of men have far more decidedly than they 
have the sense for art or for science. At any rate, 
whether this or that man has it decidedly or not, it 
is the sense which has to do with three-fourths of 
human life. 

This does truly constitute for Israel a most extra- 
ordinary distinction. In spite of all which in them 
and in their character is unattractive, nay, repellent, 
in spite of their shortcomings even in righteousness 
itself and their insignificance in everything else, 
this petty, unsuccessful, unamiable people, without 
politics, without science, without art, without charm, 
deserve their great place in the world's regard, and 
are likely to have it more, as the world goes on, 
rather than less. It is secured to them by the facts 
of human nature, and by the unalterable constitution 
of things. " God hath given commandment to bless, 
and he hath blessed, and we cannot reverse it; he 
hath not seen iniquity in Jacob, and he hath not 
seen perverseness in Israel ; the Eternal, his God, is 
with him I" 1 

Any one does a good deed who removes the stumb- 
1 Numbers xxiii 20. 21. 


ling-blocks out of the way of feeling and profiting by 
the witness left by this people. And so, instead of 
making our Hebrew speakers mean, in their use of 
the word God, a scientific affirmation which never 
entered into their heads, and about which many will 
dispute, let us content ourselves with making them 
mean, as matter of scientific fact and experience, what 
they really did mean as such, and what is unchal- 
lengeable. Let us put into their "Eternal" and 
" God " no more science than they did : the enduring 
power, not ourselves, which makes for righteousness. They 
meant more by these names, but they meant this ; 
and this they grasped fully. And the sense which 
this will give us for their words is at least solid ; so 
that we may find it of use as a guide to steady us, 
and to give us a constant clue in following what they 

And is it so unworthy 1 It is true, unless we can 
fill it with as much feeling as they did, the mere 
possessing it will not carry us far. But matters are 
not at all mended by taking their language of approxi- 
mate figure and using it for the language of scientific 
definition ; or by crediting them with our own 
dubious science, deduced from metaphysical ideas 
which they never had. A better way than this, 
surely, is to take their fact of experience, to keep it 
steadily for our basis in using their language, and to 
see whether from using their language with the 
ground of this real and firm sense to it, as they them- 
selves did, somewhat of their feeling, too, may not 
grow upon us. At least we shall know what we are 


saying ; and that what we are saying is true, however 

But is this confessed inadequateness of our speech, 
concerning that which we will not call by the negative 
name of the unknown and unknowable, but rather by 
the name of the unexplored and the inexpressible, 
and of which the Hebrews themselves said : It is 
more high tJian heaven, what canst thou do ? deeper than 
hell, what canst thou know? 1 is this reservedness of 
affirmation about God less worthy of him, than the 
astounding particularity and licence of affirmation of 
our dogmatists, as if he were a man in the next 
street? Nay, and nearly all the difficulties which 
torment theology, as the reconciling God's justice 
with his mercy, and so on, come from this licence 
and particularity ; theologians having precisely, as it 
would often seem, built up a wall first, in order after- 
wards to run their own heads against it. 

This, we say, is what comes of too much talent for 
abstract reasoning. One cannot help seeing the 
theory of causation and such things, when one should 
only see a far simpler matter : the power, the grandeur, 
the necessity of righteousness. To be sure, a percep- 
tion of these is at the bottom of popular religion, 
underneath all the extravagances theologians have 
taught people to utter, and makes the whole value of 
it. For the sake of this true practical perception one 
might be quite content to leave at rest a matter where 
practice, after all, is everything, and theory nothing. 
Only, when religion is called in question because of 
1 Job a. 7. 


the extravagances of theology being passed off aa 
religion, one disengages and helps religion by showing 
their utter delusiveness. They arose out of the talents 
of able men for reasoning, and their want (not through 
lack of talent, for the thing needs none ; it needs 
only time, trouble, good fortune, and a fair mind ; 
but through their being taken up with their reasoning 
power), their want of literary experience. By a sad 
mishap the sphere where they show their talents is 
one for literary experience rather than for reasoning. 
This mishap has at the very outset, in the dealings 
of theologians with that starting-point in our religion, 
the experience of Israel as set forth in the Old Testa- 
ment, been the cause, we have seen, of great 
confusion. Naturally, as we shall hereafter see, the 
confusion becomes worse confounded as they proceed. 



WHEN people ask for our attention because of what 
has passed, they say, "in the Council of the Trinity," 
and been promulgated, for our direction, by " a 
Personal First Cause, the moral and intelligent 
Governor of the universe," it is certainly open to any 
man to refuse to hear them, on the plea that the very 
thing they start with they have no means of proving. 
And we see that many do so refuse their attention ; 
and that the breach there is, for instance, between 
popular religion and what is called science, comes from 
this cause. But it is altogether different when people 
ask for our attention on the strength of this other 
first principle : " To righteousness belongs happi- 
ness;" or this: "There is an enduring power, not 
ourselves, which makes for righteousness." The more 
we meditate on the starting -ground of theirs, the 
more we shall find that there is solidity in it, and the 
more we shall be inclined to go along with them and 
to see what will come of it. 

And herein is the advantage of giving this plain, 
though restricted, sense to the Bible-phrases : " Blessed 


is the man that feareth the Eternal !" and : "Whoso 
trusteth in the Eternal, happy is he I" 1 By tradition, 
emotion, imagination, the Hebrews, no doubt, came 
to attach more than this plain sense to these phrases. 
But this plain, solid, and experimental sense they 
attached to them at bottom, they attached originally ; 
and in attaching it they were on sure ground of fact, 
where we can all go with them. Their words, we 
shall find, taken in this sense have quite a new force 
for us, and an indisputable one. It is worth while 
accustoming ourselves to use them thus, in order to 
bring out this force and to see how real it is, limited 
though it be, and insignificant as it may appear. 
The very substitution of the word Eternal for the 
word Lord is something gained in this direction. 
The word Eternal has less of particularity and palpa- 
bility for the imagination, but what it does affirm is 
real and verifiable. 

Let us fix firmly in our minds, with this limited 
but real sense to the words we employ, the connection 
of ideas which was ever present to the spirit of the 
Hebrew people. In the way of righteousness is life, and 
in the pathway thereof is no death; as righteousness 
tendeth to life, so he that pursueth evil, pursueth it to his 
own death ; as the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no 
more, but the righteous is an everlasting foundation ; 
here is the ground idea. 2 Yet there are continual 
momentary suggestions which make for gratifying 
our apparent self, for unrighteousness ; nevertheless, 

1 Ps. cxii. 1 ; Prov. xvi. 20. 

2 Prov. xii. 28 : xi. 19 ; x. 25. 


what makes for our real self, for righteousness, is 
lasting, and holds good in the end. Therefore : 
Trust in the Eternal with all thine heart, and lean not 
unto thine own understanding ; tJiere is no wisdom, nor 
understanding, nor counsel against the Eternal ; there is 
a way that seemelh right unto a man, but the end thereof 
are the ways of death ; there are many devices in a man's 
heart, nevertheless, the counsel of the Eternal, that shall 
stand. 1 To follow this counsel of the Eternal is the 
only true wisdom and understanding : The fear of the 
Eternal, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil, that is 
understanding. 2 It is also happiness : Blessed is every 
one that feareth the Eternal, thai walketh in his ways; 
liappy shall he be, and it shall be well with him / 3 
taste and see how gracious the Eternal is ! blessed is the 
man that trmteth in him.* Blessed is the man whose 
delight is in the law of the Eternal; his leaf shall not 
wither, and whatsoever he doeth, it shall prosper. 5 And 
the more a man walks in this way of righteousness, 
the more he feels himself borne by a power not his 
own : Not by might and not by power, but by my spirit, 
saith the Eternal. 6 Eternal, I know that the way of 
man is not in himself/ all things come of thee; in thy 
light do we see light ; man's goings are of the Eternal , 
The Eternal ordereth a good man's going, and maketh his 
way acceptable to himself. r But man feels, too, how far 
he always is from fulfilling or even from fully per- 

1 Prov. iii. 5 ; xxi. 30 ; xiv. 12 ; xix. 21. 

2 Job xxviii. 28. 3 Ps. cxxviii. 1. 4 Ps. xxxiv. 8. 
5 Ps. i. 1, 2, 3. 6 Zechariah iv. 6. 

7 Jeremiah x. 23 ; 1 Chronicles xxix. 14 ; Ps. xxxvi. 9 ; 
I'rov. xx. 24 ; Ps. xxxvii. 23. 


ceiving this true law of his being, these indications of 
the Eternal, the way of righteousness. He says and 
must say : / am a stranger upon earth, Oh, hide not thy 
commandments from me ! Enter not into judgment with 
thy servant, Eternal, for in thy sight shall no man living 
be justified/ 1 Nevertheless, as a man holds on to 
practice as well as he can, and avoids, at any rate, 
" presumptuous sins," courses he can clearly see to be 
wrong, films fall away from his eyes, the indications 
of the Eternal come out more and more fully, we are 
cleansed from faults which were hitherto secret to 
us : Examine me, God, and prove me, try out my reins 
and my heart ; look well if there be any way of wickedness 
in me, and lead me in the way everlasting ! 2 cleanse 
thou me from my secret faults! thou liast proved my 
heart, thou hast visited me in the night, thou hast tried me 
and shaltfind nothing* And the more we thus get to 
keep innocency, the more we wonderfully find joy and 
peace : how plentiful is thy goodness which thou hast 
laid up for them that fear thee / thou shalt hide them in 
the secret of thy presence from the provoking of men.* 
Thou wilt show me the path of life, in thy presence is the 
fulness of joy, at thy right hand there are pleasures for 
evermore.^ More and more this dwelling on the joy 
and peace from righteousness, and on the power which 
makes for righteousness, becomes a man's consolation 
and refuge : Thou art my hiding-place, thou shalt preserve 
me from trouble ; if my delight had not been in thy law, 1 

1 Ps. cxix. 19 ; cxliii. 2. 2 Ps. xix. 13 ; cxxxix. 23, 24. 
3 Ps. xix. 12 ; xvii. 3. 4 Ps. xxxi. 19, 20. 

8 Ps. xvi. 11. 


should have perished in my trouble. 1 In the day of my 
trouble I sought the Eternal ; a refuge from the storm, a 
shadow from the heat / 2 lead me to the rock that is 
higher than If 3 The name of the Eternal is as a strong 
tower, the righteous runneth into it and is. safe. 4 And the 
more we experience this shelter, the more we come 
to feel that it is protecting even to tenderness : Like as 
a father pitieth his own children, even so is the Eternal 
merciful unto them that fear him. 5 Nay, every other 
support, we at last find, every other attachment may 
fail us, this alone fails not : Can a woman forget her suck- 
ing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of 
her womb I Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget 
thee. G 

All this,' we say, rests originally upon the simple 
but solid experience : " Conduct brings happiness," 
or, " Eighteousness tendeth to life." r And, by making 
it again rest there, we bring out in a new but most 
real and sure way its truth and its power. 

For it has not always continued to rest there, 
and in popular religion now, as we manifestly see, it 
rests there no longer. It is important to follow the 
way in which this change gradually happened, and 
the thing ceased to rest there. Israel's original per- 
ception was true : Eighteousness tendeth to life ! 8 It 
was true, that the workers of righteousness have a 
covenant with the Eternal, that their work shall be 
blessed and blessing, and shall endure for ever. 

1 Ps. xxxii. 7 ; cxix. 92. 2 Ps. Ixxvii. 2 ; Isaiah xxv. 4. 
3 Ps. Ixi. 2. 4 Prov. xviii. 10. 6 Ps. ciii. 13. 

Isaiah xlix. 15. ' Prov. xi. 19. 3 Prov. xi. 19. 


But what apparent contradictions was this true 
original perception destined to meet with ! what vast 
delays, at any rate, were to be interposed before its 
truth could become manifest ! And how instructively 
the successive documents of the Bible, which popular 
religion treats as if it were all of one piece, one time, 
and one mind, bring out the effect on Israel of these 
delays and contradictions ! What a distance between 
the eighteenth Psalm and the eighty-ninth ! between 
the Book of Proverbs and the Book of Ecclesiastes ! 
A time some thousand years before Christ, the golden 
age of Israel, is the date to which the eighteenth 
Psalm and the chief part of the Book of Proverbs 
belong. This is the time in which the sense of the 
necessary connection between righteousness and happi- 
ness appears with its full simplicity and force. The 
righteous shall be recompensed in the earth, much more 
the vncked and tJie sinner/, is the constant burden of 
the Book of Proverbs ; the evil bow before tlie good, and 
the wicked at the gates of the righteous ! l And David, 
in the eighteenth Psaltn, expresses his conviction of 
the intimate dependence of happiness upon conduct, 
in terms which, though they are not without a certain 
crudity, are yet far more edifying in their truth and 
naturalness than those morbid sentimentalities of Pro- 
testantism about man's natural vileness and Christ's 
imputed righteousness, to which they are diametrically 
opposed. " I have kept the ways of the Eternal," he 
says ; " I was also upright before him, and I kept 
myself from mine iniquity ; therefore hath the EternaJ 
1 Prov. xi. 31 ; xiv. 1. 


rewarded me according to my righteousness, according 
to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed 
me ; great prosperity showeth he unto his king, and 
showeth loving -kindness unto David his anointed, 
and unto his seed for evermore." That may be called 
a classic passage for the covenant Israel always thinks 
and speaks of as made by God with his servant David, 
Israel's second founder. And this covenant was but 
a renewal of the covenant made with Israel's first 
founder, God's servant Abraham, that "righteousness 
shall inherit a blessing," and that " in thy seed all nations 
of the earth shall be blessed" * 

But what a change in the eighty-ninth Psalm, a few 
hundred years later! " Eternal, where are thy former 
loving-kindnesses which thou swarest unto David? thou 
hast abhorred and forsaken thine anointed, thou hast 
made void the covenant ; O remember how short my 
time is !" 2 " Tlie, righteous shall be recompensed in the 
earth/" the speaker means; "my death is near, and 
death ends all ; where, Eternal, is thy promise 1" 

Most remarkable, indeed, is the inward travail to 
which, in the six hundred years that followed the age 
of David and Solomon, the many and rude shocks 
befalling Israel's fundamental idea, Righteousness 
tendeth to life, and he that pursueth evil pursueth it to 
his own death, gave occasion. "Wherefore do the 
wicked live," asks Job, " become old, yea, are mighty 
in power 1 their houses are safe from fear, neither is 
the rod of God upon them?" 3 Job himself is righteous, 

1 1 Peter iii. 9 ; Genesis xxvi. 4. 
Psalm Ixxxix. 49, 38, 39, 74. 3 Job xxi. 7, 9. 


and yet : "On mine eyelids is the shadow of death, 
not for any injustice in mine hands." l All through 
the Book of Job the question, how this can be, is 
over and over again asked and never answered ; 
inadequate solutions are offered and repelled, but an 
adequate solution is never reached. The only solution 
reached is that of silence before the insoluble : "I will 
lay mine hand upon my mouth. " 2 The two percep- 
tions, Righteousness tendeth to life, and, The ungodly 
prosper in the world, are left confronting one another 
like Kantian antinomies. 3 " The earth is given unto the 
hand of the wicked!" and yet: "The counsel of the 
wicked is far from me; God rewardeth him, and he shall 
know it/"* And this last, the original perception, 
remains indestructible. The Book of Ecclesiastes has 
been called sceptical, epicurean; it is certainly without 
the glow and hope which animate the Bible in general. 
It belongs, probably, to the fourth century before 
Christ, to the latter and worse days of the Persian 
power; with difficulties pressing the Jewish com- 
munity on all sides, with a Persian governor 
lording it in Jerusalem, with resources light and 
taxes heavy, with the cancer of poverty eating into 
the mass of the people, with the rich estranged from the 
poor and from the national traditions, with the priest- 
hood slack, insincere, and worthless. Composed under 
such circumstances, the book has been said, and with 
justice, to breathe resignation at the grave of Israel, Ite 
author sees " the tears of the oppressed, and they 

1 Job xvi. 16, 17. Job xl. 4. 

Prov. xi 19 ; Ps. Ixxiii 12. * Job ix. 24 ; xxi. 16, 19- 


had no comforter, and on the side of their oppressors 
there was power ; wherefore I praised the dead which 
are already dead more than the living which are yet 
alive." 1 He sees "all things come alike to all, there 
is one event to the righteous and to the wicked." 2 
Attempts at a philosophic indifference appear, at a 
sceptical suspension of judgment, at an easy ne quid 
nimis: "Be not righteous overmuch, neither make 
thyself overwise ! why shouldst thou destroy thy- 
self?" 3 Vain attempts, even at a moment which 
favoured them ! shows of scepticism, vanishing as 
soon as uttered before the intractable conscientious- 
ness of Israel! For the Preacher makes answer 
against himself : " Though a sinner do evil a hundred 
times and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know 
that it shall be well with them that fear God ; but it 
shall not be well with the wicked, because he feareth 
not before God." 4 

Malachi, probably almost contemporary with the 
Preache^-, felt the pressure of the same circumstances, 
had the same occasions of despondency. All around 
him people were saying : " Every one that doeth evil 
is good in the sight of the Eternal, and he delighteth 
in them ; where is the God of judgment ? it is vain 
to serve God, and what profit is it that we have kept 
his ordinance?" 5 What a change from the clear 
certitude of the golden age : " As the whirlwind 
passe th, so is the wicked no more ; but the righteous 

1 Eccles. iv. 1,2. 2 Ecclcs. ix. 2. 

8 Eccles. vii. 16. Eccles. viii. 12, 13. 

6 Malachi ii. 17 ; iii. 14. 


is an everlasting foundation !" l But yet, with all the 
certitude of this happier past, Malachi answers on 
behalf of the Eternal : " Unto you that fear my name 
shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in 
his wings!" 2 

Many there were, no doubt, who had lost all living 
sense that the promises were made to righteousness ; 
who took them mechanically, as made to them and 
assured to them because they were the seed of 
Abraham, because they were, in St. Paul's words : 
" Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption and the 
glory and the covenants and the giving of the law and 
the service of God, and whose are the fathers." 3 
These people were perplexed and indignant when the 
privileged seed became unprosperous; and they looked 
for some great change to be wrought in the fallen for- 
tunes of Israel, wrought miraculously and materially. 
And they were, no doubt,, the great majority, and of 
the mass of Jewish expectation concerning the future 
they stamped the character. With them, however, 
our interest does not for the present lie ; it lies with 
the prophets and those whom the prophets represent. 
It lies with the continued depositaries of the original 
revelation to Israel, Righteousness tendeth to life ; who 
saw clearly enough that the promises were to righteous- 
ness, and that what tendeth to life was not the seed of 
Abraham taken in itself, but righteousness. With this 
minority, and with its noble representatives the pro- 
phets, our present interest lies ; the further develop- 
ment of their conviction about righteousness is what 
1 Prov. x. 25. 8 Malachi iv. 2. 3 Rom. ix. 4, 5. 


it here imports us to trace. An indestructible faith 
that the righteous is an everlasting foundation they had ; 
yet they too, as we have seen, could not but notice, 
as time went on, many things which seemed apparently 
to contradict this their belief. In private life, there 
was the frequent prosperity of the sinner. In the 
life of nations, there was the rise and power of the 
great unrighteous kingdoms of the heathen, the 
unsuccessfulness of Israel; although Israel was un- 
doubtedly, as compared with the heathen, the deposi- 
tary and upholder of the idea of righteousness. 
Therefore prophets and righteous men also, like the 
unspiritual crowd, could not but look ardently and 
expectantly to the future, to some great change and 
redress in store. 

At the same time, although their experience that 
the righteous were often afflicted, and the wicked often 
prosperous, could not but perplex pious Hebrews ; 
although their conscience felt, and conld not but feel, 
that, compared with the other nations with whom they 
came in contact, they themselves and their fathers had 
a concern for righteousness, and an unremitting sense 
of its necessity, which put them in covenant with the 
Eternal who makes for righteousness, and which 
rendered the triumph of other nations over them a 
triumph of people who cared little for righteousness 
over people who cared for it much, and a cause of 
perplexity, therefore, to men's trust in the Eternal, 
though their conscience told them this, yet of their 
own shortcomings and perversities it told them louder 
still, and that their sins had in truth been enough to 
VOL. v. F 


break their covenant with the Eternal a thousand 
times over, and to bring justly upon them all the 
miseries they suffered. To enable them to meet the 
terrible day, when the Eternal would avenge him of 
his enemies and make up his jewels, they themselves 
needed, they knew, the voice of a second Elijah, 8 
change of the inner man, repentance. 1 


And then, with Malachi's testimony on its lips to 
the truth of Israel's ruling idea, Righteousness tendeth 
to life ! died prophecy. Through some four hundred 
years the mind of Israel revolved those wonderful 
utterances, which, even now, on the ear of even those 
who only half understand them and who do not at all 
believe them, strike with such strange, incomparable 
power, the promises of prophecy. Through four 
hundred years, amid distress and humiliation, the 
Hebrew race pondered those magnificent assurances 
that " the, Eternal's arm is not shortened," that "righteous- 
ness sliall be for ever," 2 and that the future would prove 
this, even if the present did not. "The Eternal 
fainteth not, neither is weary ; he giveth power to 
the faint. 3 They that wait on the Eternal shall 
renew their strength; the redeemed of the Eternal 
shall return and come with singing to Zion, and ever- 
lasting joy shall be upon their head ; they shall repair 
the old wastes, the desolations of many generations ; 

> Malachi iii. 17 ; iv. 5. 2 Isaiah lix. 1 ; li 8. 

Isaiah xl. 28, 29. 


and I, the Eternal, will make an everlasting covenant 
with them. 1 The Eternal shall be thine everlasting 
light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended ; 
the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the 
brightness of thy rising, and my salvation shall be for 
ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished." 2 

The prophets themselves, speaking when the ruin 
of their country was impending, or soon after it had 
happened, had for the most part had in prospect the 
actual restoration of Jerusalem, the submission of the 
nations around, and the empire of David and Solomon 
renewed. But as time went on, and Israel's return 
from captivity and resettlement of Jerusalem by no 
means answered his glowing anticipations from them, 
these anticipations had more and more a construction 
put upon them which set at defiance the unworthiness 
and infelicities of the actual present, which filled up 
what prophecy left in outline, and which embraced 
the world. The Hebrew Amos, of the eighth century 
before Christ, promises to his hearers a recovery from 
their ruin in which they shall possess the remnant of 
Edom ; the Greek or Aramaic Amos of the Christian 
era, whose words St. James produces in the conference 
at Jerusalem, promises a recovery for Israel in which 
the residue of men shall seek the Eternal? This is but 
a specimen of what went forward on a large scale. 
The redeemer, whom the unknown prophet of the 
captivity foretold to Zion, 4 has, a few hundred years 

1 Isaiah xl. 31 ; xxxv. 10 ; Ixi. 4. 8. 

2 Isaiah Ix. 20, 3 ; li. 6. 
3 Amos ix. 12 ; Acts xv. 17. * Isaiah lix. 20. 


later, for the writer whom we call Daniel and for his 
contemporaries, become the miraculous agent of Israel's 
new restoration, the heaven-sent executor of the 
Eternal's judgment, and the bringer-in of the kingdom 
of righteousness the Messiah, in short, of our popu- 
lar religion. " One like the Son of Man came with 
the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of 
Days, and there was given him dominion and glory, 
and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages 
should serve him; and the kingdom and dominion 
shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most 
High." 1 An impartial criticism will hardly find in 
the Old Testament writers before the times of the 
Maccabees (and certainly not in the passages usually 
quoted to prove it) the set doctrine of the immortality 
of the soul or of the resurrection of the dead. But 
by the time of the Maccabees, when this passage of 
the Book of Daniel was written^ in the second century 
before Christ, the Jews have undoubtedly become 
familiar, not indeed with the idea of the immortality 
of the soul as philosophers like Plato conceived it, 
but with the notion of a resurrection of the dead to 
take their trial for acceptance or rejection in the Most 
High's judgment and kingdom. 

To this, then, has swelled Israel's original and 
fruitful thesis : Righteousness tendeth to life ! as the 
whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more, but the right- 
eous is an everlasting foundation ! ~ The phantasma- 
gories of more prodigal and wild imaginations have 
mingled with the product of Israel's own austere 
1 Daniel vii. 13, 14, 27. 2 Prov. xi. 19 ; x. 25. 


spirit ; Babylon, Persia, Egypt, even Greece, have 
left their trace there ; but the unchangeable substruc- 
ture remains, and on that substructure is everything 
built which comes after. 

In one sense, the lofty Messianic ideas of "the 
great and notable day of the Eternal," " the consola- 
tion of Israel," "the restitution of all things," 1 are 
even more important than the solid but humbler idea, 
righteousness tendeth to life, out of which they arose. 
In another sense they are much less important. They 
are more important, because they are the development 
of this idea and prove its strength. It might have 
been crushed and baffled by the falsification events 
seemed to delight in giving it ; that, instead of being 
crushed and baffled, it took this magnificent flight, 
shows its innate power. And they also in a wonder- 
ful manner attract emotion to the ideas of conduct 
and morality, attract it to them and combine it with 
them. On the other hand, the idea that righteousness 
tendeth to life has a firm, experimental ground, which 
the Messianic ideas have not. And the day comes 
when the possession of such a ground is invaluable. 

That the spirit of man should entertain hopes and 
anticipations, beyond what it actually knows and can 
verify, is quite natural. Human life could not have 
the scope, and depth, and progress it has, were this 
otherwise. It is natural, too, to make these hopes 
and anticipations give in their turn support to the 
simple and humble experience which was their original 
ground. Israel, therefore, who originally followed 
1 Acts ii 20 ; Luke ii. 25 ; Acts iii. 21. 


righteousness because he felt that it tended to life, 
might and did naturally come at last to follow it 
because it would enable him to stand before the Son 
of Man at his coming, and to share in the triumph ot 
the saints of the Most High. 

But this latter belief has not the same character as 
the belief which it is thus set to confirm. It is a 
kind of fairy-tale, which a man tells himself, which 
no one, we grant, can prove impossible to turn out 
true, but which no one, also, can prove certain to 
turn out true. It is exactly what is expressed by the 
German word " Aberglaube," extra-belief, belief beyond 
what is certain and verifiable. Our word " supersti- 
tion " had by its derivation this same meaning, but it 
has come to be used in a merely bad sense, and to 
mean a childish and craven religiosity. With the 
German word it is not so ; therefore Goethe can say 
with propriety and truth : " Aberglaube is the poetry 
of life, der Aberglaube ist die Poesie des Lebens." It 
is so. Extra -belief, that which we hope, augur, 
imagine, is .the poetry of life, and has the rights of 
poetry. But it is not science ; and yet it tends 
always to imagine itself science, to substitute itself 
for science, to make itself the ground of the very 
science out of which it has grown. The Messianic 
ideas, which were the poetry of life to Israel in the 
age when Jesus Christ came, did this ; and it is the 
more important to mark that they did it, because 
similar ideas have so signally done the same thing 
with popular Christianity. 



JESUS CHRIST was undoubtedly the very last sort of 
Messiah whom the Jews expected. Christian theo- 
logians say confidently that the characters of humility, 
obscureness, and depression, were commonly attributed 
to the Jewish Messiah; and even Bishop Butler, in 
general the most severely exact of writers, gives 
countenance to this error. What is true is, that we 
find these characters attributed to some one by the 
prophets; that we attribute them to Jesus Christ; 
that Jesus is for us the Messiah, and that Jesus they 
suit. But for the prophets themselves, and for the 
Jews who heard and read them, these characters of 
lowliness and depression belonged to God's chastened 
servant, the idealised Israel. When Israel had been 
purged and renewed by these, the Messiah was to 
appear ; but with glory and power for his attributes, 
not humility and weakness. It is impossible to resist 
acknowledging this, if we read the Bible to find from 
it what those who wrote it really intended to think 
and say, and not to put into it what we wish them to 
have thought and said. To find in Jesus the genuine 


Jewish Messiah, or to find in him the Son of Man of 
Daniel, one coming with the clouds of heaven and 
having universal dominion given him, must certainly, 
to a Jew, have been extremely difficult 

Nevertheless, there is undoubtedly in the Old Tes- 
tament the germ of Christianity. In developing this 
germ lay the future of righteousness itself, of Israel's 
primary and immortal concern ; and the incomparable 
greatness of the religion founded by Jesus Christ 
conies from his having developed it. Jesus Christ is 
not the Messiah to whom the hopes of his nation 
pointed ; and yet Christendom with perfect justice 
has made him the Messiah, because he alone took, 
when his nation was on another and a false tack, a 
way obscurely indicated in the Old Testament, and 
the one only possible and successful way, for the 
accomplishment of the Messiah's function : to bring 
in everlasting righteousness.* Let us see how this was 

Religion in the Old Testament is a matter of 
national and social conduct mainly. First, it consists 
in devotion to Israel's God, the Eternal who loveth 
righteousness, and of separation from other nations 
whose concern for righteousness was less fervent, of 
abhorrence of their idolatries which were sure .to 
bewilder and diminish this fervent concern. Secondly, 
it consists in doing justice, hating all wrong, robbery, 
and oppression, abstaining from insolence, lying, and 
slandering. The Jews' polity, their theocracy, was of 
such immense importance, because reHgion, when 
1 Daniel ix. 24. 


conceived as having its existence in these national 
and social duties mainly, requires a polity to put itself 
forth in ; and the Jews' polity was adapted to religion 
so conceived. But this religion, as it developed itself, 
was by no means fully worthy of the intuition out of 
which it had grown. We have seen how, in its 
intuition of God, of that " not ourselves " of which 
all mankind form some conception or other, as the 
Eternal that makes for righteousness, the Hebrew race 
found the revelation needed to breathe emotion int<3 
the laws of morality, and to make morality religion. 
This revelation is the capital fact of the Old Testament, 
and the source of its grandeur and power. But it is 
evident that this revelation lost, as time went on, its 
nearness and clearness ; and that for the mass of the 
Hebrews their God came to be a mere magnified and 
non-natural man, like the God of our popular religion 
now, who has commanded certain courses of conduct 
and attached certain sanctions to them. 

And though prophets and righteous men, among 
the Hebrews, might preserve always the immediate 
and truer apprehension of their God as the Eternal 
who makes for righteousness, they in vain tried to com- 
municate this apprehension to the mass of their 
countrymen. They had, indeed, special difficulty to 
contend with in communicating it ; and the difficulty 
was this. Those courses of conduct, which Israel's 
intuition of the Eternal had originally touched with 
emotion and made religion, lay chiefly, we have seen, 
in the line of national and social duties. By reason 
of the stage of their own growth and the world's, at 


which this revelation found the Hebrews, the thing 
could not well be otherwise. And national and social 
duties are peculiarly capable of a mechanical, exterior 
performance, in which the heart has no share. One 
may observe rites and ceremonies, hate idolatry, 
abstain from murder and theft and false witness, and 
yet have one's inward thoughts bad, callous, and 
disordered. Then even the admitted duties them- 
selves come to be ill-discharged or set at nought, 
because the emotion which was the only certain 
security for their good discharge is wanting. The 
veiy power of religion, as we have seen, lies in its 
bringing emotion to bear on our rules of conduct, and 
thus making us care for them so much, consider them 
so deeply and reverentially, that we surmount the 
great practical difficulty of acting in obedience to 
them, and follow them heartily and easily. There- 
fore the Israelites, when, they lost their primary 
intuition and the deep feeling which went with it, 
were perpetually idolatrous, perpetually slack or 
niggardly in the service of Jehovah, perpetually 
violators of judgment and justice. 

The prophets earnestly reminded their nation of 
the superiority of judgment and justice to any 
exterior ceremony like sacrifice. But judgment and 
justice themselves, as Israel in general conceived them, 
have something exterior in them; now, what was 
wanted wus more inwardness, more feeling. This was 
given by adding mercy and humbleness to judgment 
and justice. Mercy and humbleness are something 
inward, they are affections of the heart. And even 


in the Proverbs these appear : " The merciful man 
doeth good to his own soul ;" "He that hath mercy 
on the poor, happy is he ;" " Honour shall uphold the 
humble in spirit ; " " When pride cometh, shame 
cometh, but with the lowly is wisdom." 1 And the 
prophet Micah asked his nation : " What doth the 
Eternal require of thee, but to do justly, and to love 
mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" adding 
mercy and humility to the old judgment and justice. 2 
But a further development is given to humbleness, 
when the second Isaiah adds contrition to it: "I" 
(the Eternal) "dwell with him that is of a contrite 
and humble spirit ;" 3 or when the Psalmist says, " The 
sacrifices of God are a broken spirit ; a broken and a 
contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise !" 4 

This is personal religion ; religion consisting in the 
inward feeling and disposition of the individual 
himself, rather than in the performance of outward 
acts towards religion or society. It is the essence of 
Christianity, it is what the Jews needed, it is the 
line in which their religion was ripe for development. 
And it appears in the Old Testament. Still, in the 
Old Testament it by no means comes out fully. The 
leaning, there, is to make religion social rather than 
personal, an affair of outward duties rather than of 
inward dispositions. Soon after the very words we 
have just quoted from him, the second Isaiah adds : 
" If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, 
the putting forth of the finger and speaking vanity, 

1 Prov. XL 17 ; xiv. 21 ; xxix. 23 ; xi. 2. 2 Micah vi 8. 
3 Isaiah Ivii. 15. * Psalm 1L 17. 


and if them draw out thy soul to the hungry, and 
satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall thy light rise in 
obscurity and thy darkness be as the noon-day, find 
the Eternal shall guide thee continually and make fat 
thy bones." 1 This stands, or at least appears to 
stand, as a full description of righteousness ; and, as 
such, it is unsatisfying. 


What was wanted, then, was a fuller description 
of righteousness. Now, it is clear that righteousness, 
the central object of Israel's concern, was the central 
object of Jesus Christ's concern also. Of the develop- 
ment and of the cardinal points of his teaching we 
shall have to speak more at length by and by ; all we 
have to do here is to pass them in a rapid preliminary 
review. Israel had said : " To him that ordereth his 
conversation right shall be shown the salvation of 
God." 2 And Jesus said : "Except your righteousness 
exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Phari- 
sees," that is, of the very people who then passed 
for caring most about righteousness and practising it 
most rigidly, "ye shall in no wise enter into the 
kingdom of heaven." 3 But righteousness had by 
Jesus Christ's time lost, in great measure, the mighty 
impulse which emotion gives ; and in losing this, had 
lost also the mighty sanction which happiness gives. 
The whole head was sick and the whole heart faint ;" 4 
the glad and immediate sense of being in the right 
way, in the way of peace, was gone; the sense of 
1 Is. Iviii. 9-11. 2 Ps. 1. 23. 3 Matt. v. 20. * Is i. 5. 


being wrong and astray, of sin, and of helplessness 
under sin, was oppressive. The thing was, by giving 
a fuller idea of righteousness, to reapply emotion to it, 
and by thus reapplying emotion, to disperse the 
feeling of being amiss and helpless, to give the sense 
of being right and effective; to restore, in short, to 
righteousness the sanction of happiness. 

But this could only be done by attending to that 
inward world of feelings and dispositions which 
Judaism had too much neglected. The first need, 
therefore, for Israel at that time, was to make religion 
cease to be mainly a national and social matter, and 
become mainly a personal matter. "Thou blind 
Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, that the 
outside may be clean also I" 1 this was the very 
ground-principle in Jesus Christ's teaching. Instead 
of attending so much to your outward acts, attend, 
he said, first of all to your inward thoughts, to the 
state of your heart and feelings. This doctrine has 
perhaps been overstrained and misapplied by certain 
people since; but it was the lesson which at that 
time was above all needed. It is a great progress 
beyond even that advanced maxim of pious Jews : 
"To do justice and judgment is more acceptable 
than sacrifice." 2 For to do justice and judgment is 
still, as we have remarked, something external, and 
may leave the feelings untouched, uncleared, and 
dead. What was wanted was to plough up, clear, 
and quicken the feelings themselves. And this is 
what Jesus Christ did. 

1 Matthew xxiii. 26. " Proverbs xxi 3. 


"My son, give me thy heart/" says the teacher of 
righteousness in the golden age of Israel. 1 And 
when Israel had the Eternal revealed to him, and 
founded our religion, he gave his heart. But the time 
came when this direct vision ceased, and Israel's 
religion was a mere affair of tradition, and of doctrines 
and rules received from without. Then it might be 
truly said of this professed servant of the Eternal : 
"This people honour me with their lips, but have 
removed their Jieart far from me, and their fear toward 
me is taught by the precept of men." 2 With little 
or no power of distinguishing between what was rule 
of ceremonial and what was rule of conduct, they 
followed the prescriptions of their religion with a 
servile and sullen mind, "precept upon precept, line 
upon line, here a little and there a little," and no end 
to it all. 3 What a change since the days when it was 
joy to the just to do judgment!* The prophets saw 
clearly enough the evil, nay, they even could point to 
the springs which must be touched in order to work a 
cure. But they could not press these springs steadily 
enough or skilfully enough to work the cure them- 

Jesus Christ's new and different way of putting things 
was the secret of his succeeding where the prophets 
failed. And this new way he had of putting things 
is what is indicated by the expression epieikeia, an 
expression best rendered, as we have elsewhere said, 5 

1 Prov. xxiii. 26. a Isaiah xxix. 13. 

* Isaiah xxviii. 13. 4 Prov. xxi. 15. 

8 St. Paul and Protestantism, preface, p. xix. 


by these two words: "sweet reasonableness." For 
that which is epidkes is that which has an air of truth 
and likelihood ; and that which has an air of truth 
and likelihood is prepossessing. Now, never were 
there utterances concerning conduct and righteous- 
ness, Israel's master-concern, and the master-topic 
of the New Testament as well as of the Old, which 
sc carried with them an air of consummate truth and 
likelihood as Jesus Christ's did ; and never, therefore, 
were any utterances so irresistibly prepossessing. 
He put things in such a way that his hearer was led 
to take each rule or fact of conduct by its inward 
side, its effect on the heart and character ; then the 
reason of the thing, the meaning of what had been 
mere matter of blind rule, flashed upon him. The 
hearer could distinguish between what was only cere- 
mony, and what was conduct ; and the hardest rule 
of conduct came to appear to him infinitely reasonable 
and natural, and therefore infinitely prepossessing. 
A return upon themselves, and a consequent intuition 
of the truth and reason of the matter of conduct in 
question, gave men for right action the clearness, 
spirit, energy, happiness, they had lost. 

This power of returning upon themselves, and 
seeing by a flash the truth and reason of things, his 
disciples learnt of Jesus. They learnt too, from 
observing him and his example, much which, without 
perhaps any conscious process of being apprehended 
in its reason, was discerned instinctively to be true 
and life-giving as soon as it was recommended in 
Christ's words and illustrated by Christ's example. 


Two lessons in particular they learnt in this way, and 
added them to the great lesson of self-examination 
and an appeal to the inner man, with which they 
started. " Whoever will come after me, let him renounce 
himself and take up his cross daily and follow me/" 1 
was one of the two. " Learn of me that I am mild and 
lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls /" 2 
was the other. Jesus made his followers first look 
within and examine themselves ; he made them feel 
that they had a best and real self as opposed to their 
ordinary and apparent one, and that their happiness 
depended on saving this best self from being over- 
borne. To find his own soul, 3 his true and permanent 
self, became set up in man's view as his chief concern, 
as the secret of happiness ; and so it really is. " How 
is a man advantaged if he gain the whole world and 
suffer the loss of himself?" 1 was the searching 
question which Jesus made men ask themselves. 
And then, by recommending, and still more by 
himself exemplifying in his own practice, by the 
exhibition in himself with the most prepossessing 
pureness, clearness, and beauty, of the two qualities 
by which our ordinary self is indeed most essentially 
counteracted, self-renouncement and mildness, he made 
his followers feel that in these qualities lay the 
secret of their best self ; that to attain them was in 
the highest degree requisite and natural, and that a 
man's whole happiness depended upon it. 

Self-examination, self-renouncement, and mildness, 

^ Luke ix. 23. 3 Matthew xi. 29. 

a Matthew xvi. 25. 4 Luke ix. 25. 


were, therefore, the great means by which Jesus Christ 
renewed righteousness and religion. All these means 
are indicated in the Old Testament : God reguireth 
truth in the inward parts ! Not doing thine own ways, 
nor finding thine own pleasure / Seek meekness/ 1 But 
how far more strongly are they forced upon the 
attention in the New Testament, and set up clearly 
as the central mark for our endeavours ! Thou blind 
Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup that the outside 
may be clean also 7 2 Whoever will come after me, let him 
renounce himself and take up his cross daily and follow 
me / 3 Learn of me that I am mild and lowly in heart, 
and ye shall find rest unto your souls/ 4 So that, although 
personal religion is clearly recommended in the Old 
Testament, nevertheless these injunctions of the New 
Testament effect so much more for the extrication and 
establishment of personal religion than the general 
exhortations in the Old to offer the sacrifice of righteous- 
ness, to do judgment, 5 that, comparatively with the 
Old, the New Testament may be said to have really 
founded inward and personal religion. While the 
Old Testament says: Attend to conduct! the New 
Testament says : Attend to Hie feelings and dispositions 
whence conduct proceeds I And as attending to conduct 
had very much degenerated into deadness and for- 
mality, attending to the springs of conduct was a 
revelation, a revival of intuitive and fresh percep- 
tions, a touching of morals with emotion, a discovering 

1 Psalm li. 6 ; Isaiah Iviii. 13 ; Zephaniah ii 3. 
8 Matthew xxiii. 26. 3 Luke ix. 23. 

4 Matthew xi. 29. 5 Ps. iv. 5 : Is. Ivi. 1. 



of religion, similar to that which had been effected 
when Israel, struck with the abiding power not of 
man's causing which makes for righteousness, and 
filled with joy and awe by it, had in the old days 
named God the Eternal. Man came under a new 
dispensation, and made with God a second covenant 


To rivet the attention on the indications of personal 
religion furnished by the Old Testament ; to take the 
humble, inward, and suffering "servant of God" of 
the prophets, and to elevate this as the Messiah, the 
seed of Abraham and of David, in whom all nations 
should be blessed, whose throne should be as the days 
of heaven, who should redeem his people and restore 
the kingdom to Israel, was a work of the highest 
originality. It cannot, as- we have seen, be said, that 
by the suffering servant of God, and by the triumphant 
Messiah, the prophets themselves meant one and the 
same person. But language of hope and aspiration, 
such as theirs, is in its very nature malleable. Criti- 
cism may and must determine what the original 
speakers seem to have directly meant. But the very 
nature of their language justifies any powerful and 
fruitful application of it ; and every such application 
may be said, in the words of popular religion, to have 
been lodged there from the first by the spirit of God. 
Certainly it was a somewhat violent exegetical pro- 
ceeding, to fuse together into one personage Daniel's 
Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven, the 


first Isaiah's " Branch out of the root of Jesse," who 
should smite the earth with the rod of his mouth and 
reign in glory and peace and righteousness, and the 
second Isaiah's meek and afflicted Servant of God 
charged with the precious message of a golden future; 
to fuse together in one these three by no means 
identical personages ; to add to them the sacrificial 
lamb of the passover and of the temple-service, which 
was constantly before a Jew's eyes ; to add, besides, 
the Prophet like to himself whom Moses promised to 
the children of Israel ; to add, further, the Holy One 
of Israel and Redeemer, who for the prophets was 
the Eternal himself ; and then to say, that the com- 
bination thence resulting was the Messiah or Christ 
whom all the prophets had meant and predicted, and 
that Jesus was this Messiah. To us, who have been 
formed and fashioned by a theology whose set purpose 
is to efface all the difficulties in such a combination, 
and to make it received easily and unhesitatingly, it 
may appear natural. In itself, and with the elements 
of which it is composed viewed singly and impartially, 
it cannot but be pronounced violent. 

But the elements in question have their chief uso 
and value, we repeat, not as objects of criticism; they 
belong of right to whoever can best possess himself of 
them for practice and edification. Simply of the Son 
of Man coming in the clouds, of the Branch of Jesse 
smiting the earth with the rod of his mouth, slaying 
the wicked with his breath, and re-establishing in 
unexampled splendour David's kingdom, nothing 
could be made. With such a Messiah filling men's 


thoughts and hopes, the real defects of Israel still 
remained, because these chiefly proceeded from Israel's 
making his religion too much a national and social 
affair, too little a personal affair. But a Messiah who 
did not strive nor cry, who was oppressed and afflicted 
without opening his mouth, who worked inwardly, 
obscurely, and patiently, yet failed not nor was 
discouraged until his doctrine made its way and 
transformed the world, this was the Messiah whom 
Israel needed, and in whom the lost greatness of 
Israel could be restored and culminate. For the true 
greatness of Israel was righteousness ; and only by an 
inward personal religion could the sense revive of 
what righteousness really was, revive in Israel and 
bear fruit for the world. 

Instead, then, of "the Eoot of Jesse who should 
set up an ensign for the nations and assemble the 
outcasts of Israel," 1 Jesus Christ took from prophecy 
and made pre-eminent " the Servant whom man de- 
spise th and the people abhorreth," but "who bringeth 
good tidings, who publisheth peace, publisheth salva- 
tion." 2 And instead of saying like the prophets : 
" This people must mend, this nation must do so and 
so, Israel must follow such and such ways," Jesus 
took the individual Israelite by himself apart, made 
him listen for the voice of his conscience, and said to 
him in effect : " If every one would mend one, we 
should have a new world." So vital for the Jews 
was this change of character in their religion, that 
the Old Testament abounds, as we have said, in 
1 Isaiah xl 10, 12. 2 Isaiah xlix. 7 ; lit 7. 


pointings and approximations to it ; and most truly 
might Jesus Christ say to his followers, that many 
prophets and righteous men had desired, though un- 
availingly, to see the things which they, the disciples, 
saw and heard. 1 

The desire felt by pious Israelites for some new 
aspect of religion such as Jesus Christ presented, is, 
undoubtedly, the best proof of its timeliness and 
salutariness. Perhaps New Testament witnesses to 
the workings of this desire may be received with 
suspicion, as having arisen after the event and when 
the new ideal of the Christ had become established. 
Otherwise, John the Baptist's characterisation of the 
Messiah as " the lamb of God that taketh away the 
sins of the world," 2 and the bold Messianic turn 
given in the twelfth chapter of St. Matthew to the 
prophecy there quoted from the forty-second chapter 
of Isaiah, would be evidence of the highest importanca 
" A bruised reed breaketh he not," says Isaiah of the 
meek servant and messenger of God, " and a glimmer- 
ing wick quencheth he not; he declareth judgment 
with truth; far lands wait for his doctrine." 3 "A 
bruised reed shall he not break," runs the passage in 
St. Matthew, " and smoking flax shall he not quench, 
until he send forth judgment unto victory : in his name 
shall the Gentiles trust." 4 The words, until he send 
forth judgment unto victory, words giving a clear Mes- 
sianic stamp to the personage described, are neither 
in the original Hebrew nor in the Greek of the 

1 Matthew xiii. 17. a John i. 29. 

Isaiah xlii 8, 4. Matthew xii. 20, 21. 


Septuagint. Where did the Gospel-writer find theml 
If, as is possible, they were in some version then 
extant, they prove in a striking way the existence 
and strength of the aspiration which Jesus Christ 
satisfied by transforming the old popular ideal of the 
Messiah. But there are in any case signs of the 
existence of such an aspiration, since a Jewish com- 
mentator, contemporary, probably, with the Christian 
era but not himself a Christian, assigns to this very 
prophecy a Messianic intention. And, indeed, the 
rendering of the final words, in his name shall the 
Gentiles trust, 1 which is in the Greek of the Septuagint 
as well as in that of St. Matthew, shows a similar 
leaning in the Jews of Alexandria some two centuries 
before Christ. 

Signs there are then, without doubt, of others 
trying to identify the Messiah of popular hope, the 
triumphant Root of David, the mystic Son of Man, 
with an ideal of meekness, inwardness, patience, and 
self-denial. And well might reformers try to effect 
this identification, for the true line of Israel's progress 
lay through it ! But not he who tries makes an epoch, 
but he who effects ; and the identification which was 
needed Jesus Christ effected. Henceforth the true 
Israelite was, undoubtedly, he who allied himself with 
this identification; who perceived its incomparable 
fruitfulness, its continuance of the real tradition of 

1 These words are imported from an undoubtedly Messianic 
passage, the famous prediction of the "rod out of the stem of 
Jesse " in the eleventh chapter of Isaiah. Compare, in the 
Septuagint, Isaiah xi. 10 with Isaiah xlii. 4. 


Israel, its correspondence with the ruling idea of the 
Hebrew spirit : Through righteousness to happiness ! or, 
in Bible -words : To him that ordereth his conversation 
right shall be shown the salvation of God/ 1 That the 
Jewish nation at large, and its rulers, refused to 
accept the identification, shows simply that want of 
power to penetrate through wraps and appearances to 
the essence of things, which the majority of mankind 
always display. The national and social character of 
their theocracy was everything to the Jews, and they 
could see no blessings in a revolution which annulled it. 
It has often been remarked that the Puritans are 
like the Jews of the Old Testament; and Mr. Froude 
thinks he defends the Puritans by saying that they, 
like the Jews of the Old Testament, had their hearts 
set on a theocracy, on a fashioning of politics and 
society to suit the government of God. How strange 
that he does not perceive that he thus passes, and 
with justice, the gravest condemnation on the Puri- 
tans as followers of Jesus Christ ! At the Christian 
era the time had passed, in religion, for outward 
adaptations of this kind, and for all care about 
establishing or abolishing them. The time had come 
for inwardness and self -reconstruction, a time to last 
till the self-reconstruction is fully achieved. It was 
the error of the Jews that they did not perceive this ; 
and the old error of the Jews the Puritans, with- 
out the Jews' excuse, faithfully repeated. And the 
blunder of both had the same cause, a want of 
tact to perceive wha.t is really most wanted for the 
1 Psalm L 23. 


attainment of their own professed ideal, the reign oj 

When Jesus appeared, his disciples were those who 
did not make this blunder. They were, in general, 
simple souls, without pretensions which Jesus Christ's 
new religious ideal cut short, or self -consequence 
which it mortified. And any Israelite who was, on 
the one hand, not warped by personal pretensions 
and self-consequence, and on the other, not dull of 
feeling and gross of life like the common multitude, 
might well be open to the spell which, after all, was 
the great confirmation of Christ's religion, as it was 
the great confirmation of the original religion of 
Israel, the spell of its happiness. "Be glad, ye 
righteous, and rejoice in the Eternal," the old and 
lost prerogative of Israel, Christianity offered to 
make again a living and true word to him. 1 


For we have already remarked how it is the great 
achievement of the Israel of the Old Testament, 
happiness being mankind's confessed end and aim, to 
have more than any one else felt, and more than any 
one else succeeded in making others feel, that to 
righteousness belongs happiness. Now, it will be denied 
by no one that Jesus, in his turn, was eminently 
characterised by professing to bring, and by being felt 
to bring, happiness. All the words that belong to his 
mission, gospel, kingdom of God, saviour, grace, peace, 
1 Psalm xxxii. 11 ; xcvii. 12. 


living water, bread of life, are brimful of promise and 
of joy. " I am come," he said, " that ye might have life, 
and that ye might have it more abundantly ;" "Come 
to me, and ye shall find rest iwlo your souls /" " I speak, 
that my disciples may have my joy fulfilled in them- 
selves." l That the operation, professed and actual, of 
this " son of peace " 2 was to replace his followers in 
"the way of peace," 3 no one can question. The 
only matter of dispute can be, how he replaced them 

Now, this we have indicated in what has been said 
already. But that we may show it more clearly, let 
us return for a moment to what we said of conduct ; 
of conduct, which we found to be three-fourths, 
at least, of human life, and the object with which 
religion is concerned. We said of conduct, that it 
is the simplest thing in the world as far as knowledge 
is concerned, but the hardest thing in the world as 
far as doing is concerned. It is an affair, we said, of 
conscience, which speaks plainly enough if we will 
only listen to it; but we have to listen to it, and 
then we have to follow it. If we follow it, we shall 
have the sense of going right, succeeding, in the man- 
agement of our conduct. We added, that going right, 
succeeding, in the management of this vast concern, 
gave naturally the liveliest possible sense of satisfac- 
tion and happiness ; that attending to it was naturally 
the secret of success ; that attachment made us attend ; 
and that whatever, therefore, made us love to attend 

1 John x. 10 ; Matthew xi. 28, 29 ; John xvii. 13. 
Luke x. 6. Luke i. 79. 


to it must inspire us with gratitude. Let us take, to 
guide ourselves in the New Testament, the help of 
the clue furnished by all this. 

First, as to the extreme simplicity of the matter 
concerned; a matter sophisticated, overlaid, and 
hidden in a thousand ways. The artless, unschooled 
perception of a child is, Jesus says, the right organ 
for apprehending it : " Whosoever does not receive 
the kingdom of God as a little child, cannot enter 
therein." 1 And yet it is so difficult of attainment 
that it seems we cannot obtain it of ourselves : " No 
man can come to me unless it be given him of my 
Father." 2 The things to be done are so simple and 
necessary that the doctrine about them proves itself as 
soon as we do them : " Whoever will do God's will, 
shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God." 3 
Only it is indispensable to do them. Speculating and 
professing are absolutely useless here, without doing : 
" Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things 
that I say?" 4 The great and learned people, the 
masters in Israel, have their authoritative version of 
what righteousness and the will of God is, of what 
the ideal for the Jewish nation is, of the correct way 
to interpret the prophets. But : " Judge not accord- 
ing to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment;" 
"beware of insincerity;" "God sees the heart/" 
" Avhat comes from within, that defiles us." 5 The new 
covenant, the New Testament, consists in the reign of 

1 Mark x. 15. 2 John vi. 44, 65. 

3 John vii. 17. 4 Luke vi. 46. 

8 John vii. 24 ; Luke xii. 1 ; 1 Samuel xvi. 7, and Luke xvi. 
15 ; Mark vii. 15. 


this very inwardness, in a state of things when God 
" puts his law in the inward parts and writes it in 
the heart," l in conscience being made the test. You 
can see, Jesus says, you can see the leading religionists 
of the Jewish nation, with the current notions about 
righteousness, God's will, and the meaning of prophecy, 
you can see them saying and not doing, full of fierce 
temper, pride, and sensuality ; this shows they can 
be but blind guides for you. The saviour of Israel is 
he who makes Israel use his conscience simply and 
sincerely, who makes him change and sweeten his 
temper, conquer and annul his sensuality. Such a 
saviour will make unhappy Israel happy again. The 
prophets all point to such a saviour, and he is the 
Messiah, and the promised happiness to Israel is in 
him and in his reign. He is, in the exalted language 
of prophecy, the holy one of God, the son of God, 
the beloved of God, the chosen of God, the anointed 
of God, the son of man in an eminent and unique 
sense, the Messiah and Christ. In plainer language, 
he is "a man who tells you the truth which he has 
heard of God ;" who came not of himself and speaks 
not of himself, but who "came forth from God," 
from the original God of Israel's worship, the God of 
righteousness and of happiness joined to righteousness, 
" and is come to you." 2 Israel is perpetually talk- 
ing of God and calling him his Father ; and " every 
one," says Jesus Christ, "who hears the Father, 
conies to me, for I know Him, and know His will, 

1 Jeremiah xxxi. 33, 34 ; Hebrews viii. 8-12. 
2 John viii. 40, 42 ; xvi. 27, 28. 


and utter His word." 1 God's will and word, in the 
Old Testament, was righteousness. In the New Testa- 
ment, it is righteousness explained to have its essence 
in inwardness, mildness, and self-renouncement. This is, 
in substance, the word of Jesus which he who hears 
"shall never see death;" of which he who follows it 
"shall know by experience whether it be of God." 2 

But as the Israel of the Old Testament did not 
say or feel that he followed righteousness by his own 
power, or out of self-interest and self-love, but said 
and felt that he followed it in thankful self -sur- 
render to "the Eternal who loveth righteousness," and 
that "the Eternal ordereth a good man's going and 
maketh his way acceptable to Himself"* so, in the 
restoration effected by Jesus, the motive which is of 
force is not the moral motive that inwardness, mild- 
ness, and self-renouncement make for man's happiness, 
but a far stronger motive, full of ardent affection and 
gratitude, and which, though it really has its ground 
and confirmation in the fact that inwardness, mildness, 
and self-renouncement do make for man's happiness, 
yet keeps no consciousness of this as its ground. For 
it acquired a far surer ground in personal devotion to 
Jesus Christ, who brought the doctrine to his disciples 
and made a passage for it into their hearts; in be- 
lieving that he was indeed the Christ come from God ; 
in following him, loving him. And in the happiness 
which thus believing in Jesus Christ, following him, and 
loving him, gives, it found the mightiest of sanctions. 

1 John vi. 45 ; viii. 29, 16. 3 John viii. 51 ; vii. 17- 

3 Psaliu xi. 7 ; xxxvii 23. 



And thus was the great doctrine of the Old Testa- 
ment : To righteousness belongs happiness ! made a true 
and potent word again. Jesus Christ was the Mes- 
siah to restore the all things of Israel, 1 righteousness, 
and happiness with righteousness ; to bring light and 
recovery after long days of darkness and ruin, and to 
make good the belief written on Israel's heart : The 
righteous is an everlasting foundation ! 2 But we have 
seen how in the hopes of the nation and in the 
promises of prophecy this true and vital belief of 
Israel was mixed with a quantity of what we have 
called Aberglaube or extra-belief, adding all manner of 
shade and circumstance to the original thought. The 
kingdom of David and Solomon was to be restored on 
a grander scale, the enemies of Israel were to lick the 
dust, kings were to bring gifts ; there was to be the 
Son of Man coming in the clouds, judgment given to 
the saints of the Most High, and an eternal reign of 
the saints afterwards. 

Now, most of this has a poetical value, some of it 
has a moral value. All of it is, in truth, a testimony 
to the strength of Israel's idea of righteousness. For 
the order of its growth is, as we have seen, this : " To 
righteousness belongs happiness; but this sure rale is 
often broken in the state of things which now is; there 
must, therefore, be in store for us, in the future, a 
state of things where it will hold good." But none of 
it has a scientific value, a certitude arising from prooi 
1 Matthew xvii. 11 ; Acts iii. 21. 8 Prov. x. 26. 


and experience. And indeed it cannot have this, for 
it professes to be an anticipation of a state of things 
not yet actually experienced. 

But human nature is such, that the mind easily 
dwells on an anticipation of this kind until we come 
to forget the order in which it arose, place it first 
when it is by rights second, and make it support that 
by which it is in truth supported. And so there had 
come to be many Israelites, most likely they were 
the great majority of their nation, who supposed 
that righteousness was to be followed, not out of 
thankful self -surrender to "the Eternal who loveth 
righteousness," 1 but because the Ancient of Days was 
to sit before long, and judgment was to be given to 
the saints, and they were to possess the kingdom, 
and from the kingdom those who did not follow right- 
eousness were to be excluded. From this way of 
conceiving religion came naturally the religious condi- 
tion of the Jews as Jesus at his coming found it ; and 
from which, by his new and living way of presenting 
the Messiah, he sought to extricate the whole nation, 
and did extricate his disciples. He did extricate these, 
in that he fixed their thoughts upon himself and upon 
an ideal of inwardness, mildness, and self-renounce 
ment, instead of a phantasmagory of outward grandeur 
and self-assertion. But at the same time the whole 
train of an extra - belief, or Aberglaube, which had 
attached itself to Israel's old creed : The righteous is 
an everlasting foundation ! transferred itself to the new 
creed brought by Jesus : / am the door ; by me, if any 
1 Psalm xi. 7. 


man enter in, he shall be saved! 1 And there arose, 
accordingly, a new Aberglaube like the old. The mild, 
inward, self-renouncing and sacrificed Servant of the 
Eternal, the new and better Messiah, was yet, before 
the present generation passed, to come on the clouds 
of heaven in power and glory like the Messiah of 
Daniel, to gather by trumpet-call his elect from the 
four winds, and to set his apostles on twelve thrones 
judging the twelve tribes of Israel. The motive of 
Christianity, which was, in truth, that pure souls 
" knew the voice " 2 of Jesus as sheep know the voice 
of their shepherd, and felt, after seeing and hearing 
him, that his doctrine and ideal was what they wanted, 
that he was "indeed the saviour of the world,'* 3 
this simple motive became a mixed motive, adding to 
its first contents a vast extra-belief of a phantasma- 
gorical advent of Jesus Christ, a resurrection and 
judgment, Christ's adherents glorified, his rejectors 
punished everlastingly. 

And when the generation, for which this advent 
was first fixed, had passed away without it, Christians 
discovered by a process of criticism common enough in 
popular theology, but by which, as Bishop Butler says of 
a like kind of process, " anything may be made out 
of anything," they discovered that the advent had 
never really been fixed for that first generation by the 
writers of the New Testament, but that it was foretold, 
and certainly in store, for a later time. So the 
Aberglaube was perpetuated, placed out of reach of all 

1 Prov. x. 25 ; John x. 9. 3 John x. 4. 

John iv. 42. 


practical test, and made stronger than ever. With 
the multitude, this Aberglaube, or extra-belief, inevit- 
ably came soon to surpass the original conviction in 
attractiveness and seeming certitude. The future and 
the miraculous engaged the chief attention of Chris- 
tians ; and, in accordance with this strain of thought, 
they more and more rested the proof of Christianity, 
not on its internal evidence, but on prophecy and 



' ABERGLAUBE is the poetry of life." That men should, 
by help of their imagination, take short cuts to what 
they ardently desire, whether the triumph of Israel or 
the triumph of Christianity, should tell themselves 
fairy-tales about it, should make these fairy-tales the 
basis for what is far more sure and solid than the 
fairy-tales, the desire itself, all this has in it, we 
repeat, nothing which is not natural, nothing blame- 
able. Nay, the region of our hopes and presentiments 
extends, as we have also said, far beyond the region 
of what we can know with certainty. What we reach 
but by hope and presentiment may yet be true ; and 
he would be a narrow reasoner who denied, for 
instance, all validity to the idea of immortality, 
because this idea rests on presentiment mainly, and 
does not admit of certain demonstration. In religion, 
above all, extra-belief is in itself no matter, assuredly, 
for blame. The object of religion is conduct ; and if 
a man helps himself in his conduct by taking an 
object of hope and presentiment as if it were an 
VOL. V. H 


object of certainty, he may even be said to gain 
thereby an advantage. 

And yet there is always a drawback to a man's 
advantage in thus treating, when he deals Avith 
religion and conduct, what is extra-belief and not 
certain as if it were matter of certainty, and in mak- 
ing it his ground of action. He pays far it. The time 
comes when he discovers that it is not certain ; and 
then the whole certainty of religion seems discredited, 
and the basis of conduct gone. This danger attends 
the reliance on prediction and miracle as evidences of 
Christianity. They have been attacked as a part of 
the "cheat" or "imposture" of religion and of 
Christianity. For us, religion is the solidest of 
realities, and Christianity the greatest and happiest 
stroke ever yet made for human perfection. Predic- 
tion and miracle were attributed to it as its supports 
because of its grandeur, and because of the awe and 
admiration which it inspired. Generations of men 
have helped themselves to hold firmer to it, helped 
themselves in conduct, by the aid of these supports. 
" Miracles prove" men have said and thought, " that 
the order of physical nature is not fate, nor a mere 
material constitution of things, but the subject of a 
free, omnipotent Master. Prophecy fulfilled proves 
that neither fate nor man are masters of the world." 1 

And to take prophecy first. " The conditions," it 
is said, " which form the true conclusive standard of 
a prophetic inspiration are these : That the prediction 
be known to have been promulgated before the event ; 

1 Pavison's Discourses on Prophecy ; Discourse ii. Part 2. 


that the event be such as could not have been foreseen, 
when it was predicted, by an effort of human reason ; 
and that the event and the prediction correspond 
together in a clear accomplishment. There are pro- 
phecies in Scripture answering to the standard of an 
absolute proof. Their publication, their fulfilment, 
their supernatural prescience, are all fully ascertained." 1 
On this sort of ground men came to rest the proof of 

Now, it may be said, indeed, that a prediction 
fulfilled, an exhibition of supernatural prescience, 
proves nothing for or against the truth and necessity 
of conduct and righteousness. But it must be allowed, 
notwithstanding, that while human nature is what it 
is, the mass of men are likely to listen more to a 
teacher of righteousness, if he accompanies his teach- 
ing by an exhibition of supernatural prescience. And 
what were called the " signal predictions " concerning 
the Christ of popular theology, as they stand in oui 
Bibles, had and have undoubtedly a look of super- 
natural prescience. The employment of capital letters, 
and other aids, such as the constant use of the future 
tense, naturally and innocently adopted by interpreters 
who were profoundly convinced that Christianity 
needed these express predictions and that they must 
be in the Bible, enhanced, certainly, this look ; but the 
look, even without these aids, was sufficiently striking. 

Yes, that Jacob on his death -bed should two 
1 Discourses ix and xiL 


thousand years before Christ have " been enabled," as 
the phrase is, to foretell to his son Judah that " the 
sceptre shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh (or 
the Messiah) come, and unto him shall the gathering 
of the people be," l does seem, when the explanation 
is put with it that the Jewish kingdom lasted till the 
Christian era and then perished, a miracle of predic- 
tion in favour of our current Christian theology. 
That Jeremiah should during the captivity have 
" been enabled " to foretell, in Jehovah's name : " The 
days come that I will raise unto David a righteous 
Branch ; in his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel 
shall dwell safely ; and this is his name whereby he 
shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS !" 2 
does seem a prodigy of prediction in favour of that 
tenet of the Godhead of the Eternal Son, for which 
the Bishops of Winchester and Gloucester are so 
anxious to do something. For unquestionably, in the 
prophecy here given, the Branch of David, the future 
Saviour of Israel, who was Jesus Christ, appears to 
be expressly identified with the Lord God, with 
Jehovah. Again, that David should say : " The Lord 
said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand until I 
make thy foes thy footstool," does seem a prodigy of 
prediction to the same effect. And so long as these 
prophecies stand as they are here given, they no 
doubt bring to Christianity all the support (and with 
the mass of mankind this is by no means inconsider- 
able) which it can derive from the display of super- 
natural prescience. 

1 Gen. xlix. 10. a Jer. xxiii. 5, 6. 


But who will dispute that it more and more 
becomes known that these prophecies J cannot stand 
as we have here given them? Manifestly, it more 
and more becomes known, that the passage from 
Genesis, with its mysterious Shikh and the gathering 
of the people to him, is rightly to be rendered as 
follows: "The pre-eminence shall not depart from 
Judah so long as the people resort to Shiloh (the national 
sanctuary before Jerusalem was won) ; and the nations 
(the heathen Canaanites) shall obey him" We here 
purposely leave out of sight any such consideration as 
that our actual books of the Old Testament came first 
together through the piety of the house of Judah, and 
when the destiny of Judah was already traced ; and 
that to say roundly and confidently: "Jacob was 
enabled to foretell, The sceptre shall not depart from 
Judah," is wholly inadmissible. For this considera- 
tion is of force, indeed, but it is a consideration drawn 
from the rules of literary history and criticism, and 
not likely to have weight with the mass of mankind. 
Palpable error and mistranslation are what will have 
weight with them. 

And what, then, will they say as they come to 
know (and do not and must not more and more of 

1 A real prediction of Jesus Christ's Godhead, of the kind 
that popular religion desires, is to be found in Benjamin's 
prophecy of the coming, in the last days, of the King of Heaver 
to judge Israel, "because when God came to them in the flesh 
they did not believe in him as their deliverer." But this 
prediction occurs in an apocryphal Christian writing of the end 
of the first century, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. 
See Fabricius, Codex Pseiidepigraphus Veteris Testamenti, vol 
il p. 745. 


them come to know it every day?) that Jeremiah's 
supposed signal identification of Jesus Christ with the 
Lord God of Israel : " I will raise to David a righteous 
Branch, and this is the name whereby he shall be 
called, THE LORD OUB, RIGHTEOUSNESS," runs really: 
" I will raise to David a righteous branch ; in his days 
Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely; 
and this is the name whereby they shall call them- 
selves: The Eternal is our righteousness!" The prophecy 
thus becomes simply one of the many promises of a 
successor to David under whom the Hebrew people 
should trust in the Eternal and follow righteousness ; 
just as the prophecy from Genesis is one of the many 
prophecies of the enduring continuance of the great 
ness of Judah. " The Lord said unto my Lord," in 
like manner ; will not people be startled when they 
find that it ought instead to run as follows : " The 
Eternal said unto my lord the king," a simple 
promise of victory to a royal leader of God's chosen 
people ? 


Leslie, in his once famous Short and Easy Method 
with the Deists, speaks of the impugners of the current 
evidences of Christianity as men who consider the 
Scripture histories and the Christian religion " cheats 
and impositions of cunning and designing men upon 
the credulity of simple people." Collins, and the 
whole array of writers at whom Leslie aims this, 
greatly need to be re-surveyed from the point of view 
of our own age. Nevertheless, we may grant that 


some of them, at any rate, conduct their attacks on 
the current evidences for Christianity in such a 
manner as to give the notion that in their opinion 
Christianity itself, and religion, is a cheat and an 
imposture. But how far more prone will the mass of 
mankind be to hearken to this opinion, if they have 
been kept intent on predictions such as those of which 
we have just given specimens ; if they have been kept 
full of the great importance of this line of mechanical 
evidence, and then suddenly find that this line of 
evidence gives way at all points 1 It can hardly be 
gainsaid, that, to a delicate and penetrating criticism, 
it has long been manifest that the chief literal fulfil- 
ment by Jesus Christ of things said by the prophets 
was the fulfilment such as would naturally be given 
by one who nourished his spirit on the prophets, and 
on living and acting their words. The great pro- 
phecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah are, critics can easily 
see, not strictly predictions at all; and predictions 
which are strictly meant as such, like those in the Book 
of Daniel, are an embarrassment to the Bible rather 
than a main element of it. The "Zeit-Geist," and 
the mere spread of what is called enlightenment, super- 
ficial and barren as this often is, will inevitably, 
before long, make this conviction of criticism a 
popular opinion held far and wide. And then, what 
will be their case, who have been so long and sedu- 
lously taught to rely on supernatural predictions as a 
mainstay ? 

The same must be said of miracles. The substitu- 
tion of some other proof of Christianity for this 


accustomed proof is now to be desired most by those 
who most think Christianity of importance. That old 
friend of ours on whom we have formerly commented, 1 
who insists upon it that Christianity is and shall be 
nothing else but this, " that Christ promised Paradise 
to the saint and threatened the worldly man with 
hell -fire, and proved his power to promise and to 
threaten by rising from the dead and ascending into 
heaven," is certainly not the guide whom lovers of 
Christianity, if they could discern what it is that he 
really expects and aims at, and what it is which they 
themselves really desire, would think it wise to 

But the subject of miracles is a very great one ; it 
includes within itself, indeed, the whole question 
about "supernatural prescience," which meets us 
when we deal with prophecy. And this great subject 
requires, in order that we may deal with it properly, 
some little recapitulation of our original design in this 
essay, and of the circumstances in which the cause of 
religion and of the Bible seems to be at this moment 

1 St. Paul and Protestaiitisni, p. 1351. 



WE have seen that some new treatment or other the 
religion of the Bible certainly seems to require, for it 
is attacked on all sides, and the theologians are not 
so successful as one might wish in defending it One 
critic says, that if these islands had no religion at 
all, it would not enter into his mind to introduce 
the religious and ethical idea by the agency of the 
Bible. Another, that though certain commonplaces 
are common to all systems of morality, yet the Bible- 
way of enunciating these commonplaces no longer 
suits us. And we may rest assured, he adds, that by 
saying what we think in some other, more congenial, 
language, we shall really be taking the shortest road 
to discovering the new doctrines which will satisfy 
at once our reason and our imagination. Another 
critic goes farther still, and calls Bible-religion not 
only destitute of a modern and congenial way of 
stating its commonplaces of morality, but a defacer 
and disfigurer of moral treasures which were once in 
better keeping. The more one studies, the more, 
says he, one is convinced that the religion which calls 


itself revealed contains, in the way of what is good, 
nothing which is not the incoherent and ill-digested 
residue of the wisdom of the ancients. To the same 
effect the Duke of Somerset, who has been affording 
proof to the world that our aristocratic class are not, 
as has been said, inaccessible to ideas and merely 
polite, but that they are familiar, on the contrary, 
with modern criticism of the most advanced kind, 
the Duke of Somerset finds very much to condemn 
in the Bible and its teaching ; although the soul, he 
says, has (outside the Bible, apparently) one unassail- 
able fortress to which she may retire, faith in God. 
All this seems to threaten to push Bible-religion 
from the place it has long held in our affections. 
And even what the most modern criticism of all 
sometimes does to save it and to set it up again, can 
hardly be called very flattering to it. For whereas 
the Hebrew race imagined that to them were com- 
mitted the oracles of God, and that their God, " the 
Eternal who loveth righteousness," 1 was the God to 
whom " every knee shall bow and every tongue shall 
swear," 2 there now comes M. Emile Burnouf, the 
accomplished kinsman of the gifted orientalist Eugene 
Burnouf, and will prove to us in a thick volume 3 that 
the oracles of God were not committed to a Semitic 
race at all, but to the Aryan ; that the true God ia 
not Israel's God at all, but is "the idea of the 
absolute " which Israel could never properly master. 
This " sacred theory of the Aryas," it seems, passed 

1 Psalm xi. 7. 2 Isaiah xlv. 23. 

8 La Science des Religions : Paris, 1872. 


into Palestine from Persia and India, and got posses- 
sion of the founder of Christianity and of his greatest 
apostles St. Paul and St. John ; becoming more per- 
fect, and returning more and more to its true character 
of a "transcendent metaphysic," as the doctors of the 
Christian Church developed it. So that we Christians, 
who are Aryas, may have the satisfaction of thinking 
that " the religion of Christ has not come to us from 
the Semites," and that "it is in the hymns of the 
Veda, and not in the Bible, that we are to look for 
the primordial source of our religion." The theory 
of Christ is accordingly the theory of the Vedic 
Agni, or fire. The Incarnation represents the Vedic 
solemnity of the production otfire, symbol of force of 
every kind, of all movement, life, and thought. The 
Trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit is the Vedic Trinity 
of Sun, Fire, and Wind; and God, finally, is "a 
cosmic unity." 

Such speculations almost take away the breath of 
a mere man of letters. What one is inclined to say 
of them is this. Undoubtedly these exploits of the 
Aryan genius are gratifying to us members of the 
Aryan race. The original God of the Hebrews, M. 
Burnouf says expressly, "was not a cosmic unity;" 
the religion of the Hebrews "had not that trans- 
cendent metaphysic which the genius of the Aryas 
requires;" and, "in passing from the Aryan race to 
the inferior races, religion underwent a deterioration 
due to the physical and moral constitution of these 
races." For religion, it must be remembered, is, in 
M. Burnouf 's view, fundamentally a science; " a meta- 


physical conception, a theory, a synthetic explanation 
of the universe." Now "the perfect Arya is capable 
of a great deal of science ; the Semite is inferior to 
him." As Aryas or Aryans, then, we ought to be 
pleased at having vindicated the greatness of our 
race, and having not borrowed a Semitic religion 
as it stood, but transformed it by importing our own 
metaphysics into it. 

And this seems to harmonise very well with what 
the Bishops of Winchester and Gloucester say about 
" doing something for the honour of Our Lord's 
Godhead," and about "the infinite separation for 
time and for eternity which is involved in rejecting 
the Godhead of the Eternal Son, Very God of Very 
God, Light of Light;" and also with the Athanasian 
Creed generally, and with what the clergy write to 
the Guardian about "eternal life being unquestionably 
annexed to a right knowledge of the Godhead." For 
all these have in view high .science and metaphysics, 
worthy of the Aryas. But to Bible-religion, in the 
plain sense of the word, it is not nattering; for it 
throws overboard almost entirely the Old Testament, 
and makes the essence of the New to consist in an 
esoteric doctrine not very visible there, but more fully 
developed outside of it. The metaphysical element is 
made the fundamental element in religion. But, 
"the Bible -books, especially the more ancient of 
them, are destitute of metaphysics, and consequently 
of method and classification in their ideas." Israel, 
therefore, instead of being a light of the Gentiles and 
a salvation to the ends of the earth, falls to a place 


in the world's religious history behind the Arya. He 
is dismissed as ranking anthropologically between the 
Aryas and the yellow men ; as having frizzled hair, 
thick lips, small calves, flat feet, and belonging, above 
all, to those "occipital races" whose brain cannot 
grow after the age of sixteen ; whereas the brain of a 
theological Arya, such as one of our bishops, may go 
on growing all his life. 

But we, who think that the old Testament leads 
surely up to the New, who believe that, indeed, 
"salvation is of the Jews," 1 and that, for what 
concerns conduct or righteousness (that is, for what 
concerns three-fourths of human life), they and their 
documents can no more be neglected by whoever 
would make proficiency in it, than Greece can be 
neglected by any one who would make proficiency in 
art, pr Newton's discoveries by whoever would com- 
prehend the world's physical laws, we are naturally 
not satisfied with this treatment of Israel and the 
Bible. And admitting that Israel shows no talent 
for metaphysics, we say that his religious greatness 
is just this, that he does not found religion on meta- 
physics, but on moral experience, which is a much 
simpler matter ; and that, ever since the apparition 
of Israel and the Bible, religion is no longer what, 
according to M. Burnouf, to our Aryan forefathers in 
the valley of the Oxus it was, and what perhaps it 
really was to them, a metaphysical theory, but is 
what Israel has made it. 

And what Israel made, and how he made it, we 
1 John iv. 22. 


geek to show from the Bible itself. Thus we hope to 
win for the Bible and its religion, which seem to us 
so indispensable to the world, an access to many of 
those who now neglect them. For there is this to be 
said against M. Burnouf's metaphysics : no one can 
allege that the Bible has failed to win access for want 
of metaphysics being applied to it. Metaphysics are 
just what all our theology runs up into, and our 
bishops, as we know, are here particularly strong. 
But we see every day that the making religion into 
metaphysics is the weakening of religion; now, M. 
Burnouf makes religion into metaphysics more than 
ever. Yet evidently the .metaphysical method lacks 
power for laying hold on people, and compelling them 
to receive the Bible from it ; it is felt to be incon- 
clusive as thus employed, and its inconclusiveness 
tells against the Bible. This is the case with the old 
metaphysics of our bishops, and it will be the case 
with M. Burnouf's new metaphysics also. They will 
be found, we fear, to have an inconclusiveness in their 
recommendation of Christianity. To very many per- 
sons, indeed to the great majority, such a method, in 
such a matter, must be inconclusive. 


Therefore we would not allow ourselves to start 
with any metaphysical conception at all, not with the 
monotheistic idea, as it is styled, any more than with 
the pantheistic idea ; and, indeed, we are quite sure 
that Israel himself began with nothing of the kind. 


The idea of God, as it is given us in the Bible, rests, 
we say, not on a metaphysical conception of the ne- 
cessity of certain deductions from our ideas of cause, 
existence, identity, and the like ; but on a moral 
perception of a rule of conduct not of our o\ra making, 
into which we are born, and which exists whether we 
will or no ; of awe at its grandeur and necessity, and 
of gratitude at its beneficence. This is the great 
original revelation made to Israel, this is his "Eternal." 

Man, however, as Goethe says, never knows how 
anthropomorphic he is. Israel described his Eternal in 
the language of poetry and emotion, and could not 
thus describe him but with the characters of a man. 
Scientifically he never attempted to describe him at 
all. But still the Eternal was ever at last reducible, 
for Israel, to the reality of experience out of which 
the revelation sprang ; he was " the righteous Eternal 
who loveth righteousness." They who " seek the 
Eternal," and they who "follow after righteousness," 
were identical; just as, conversely, they who "fear 
the Eternal," and they who "depart from evil," were 
identical. l Above all : " Blessed is the man that feareth 
the Eternal ;" "it is joy to the just to do judgment ;" 
"righteousness tendeth to life;" " the righteous is an 
everlasting foundation. " 2 

But, as time went on, facts seemed, we saw, to 
contradict this fundamental belief, to refute this faith 
in the Eternal ; material forces prevailed, and God 
appeared, as they say, to be on the side of the big 

1 Isaiah li. 1 ; Prov. iii 7. 

Pa. cxil 1 ; Prov. yxi 15 ; xL 19 ; x. 26. 


battalions. The great unrighteous kingdoms of the 
world, kingdoms which cared far less than Israel for 
righteousness, and for the Eternal who makes for 
righteousness, overpowered Israel. Prophecy assured 
him that the triumph of the Eternal's cause and 
people was certain : Behold, the Eternal's hand is not 
shortened, that it cannot save. * The triumph was but 
adjourned through Israel's own sins : Your iniquities 
have separated between you and your God. 2 Prophecy 
directed its hearers to the future, and promised them 
a new, everlasting kingdom, under a heaven-sent 
leader. The characters of this kingdom and leader 
were more spiritualised by one prophet, more mate- 
rialised by another. As time went on, in the last 
centuries before our era, they became increasingly 
turbid and phantasmagorical. In addition to his 
original experimental belief in the almighty Eternal 
who makes for righteousness, Israel had now a vast 
Aberglaube, an after or extra-belief, not experimental, 
in an approaching kingdom of the saints, to be 
established by an Anointed, a Messiah, or by "one 
like the Son of Man," commissioned from the 
Ancient of Days and coming in the clouds of heaven. 
Jesus came, calling himself the Messiah, the Son 
of Man, the Son of God ; and the question is, what is 
the true meaning of these assertions of his, and of all 
his teaching ? It is the same question we had about 
the Old Testament Is the language scientific, or is 
it, as we say, literary? that is, the language of 
poetry and emotion, approximative language, thrown 
1 Isaiah lix. 1. * Isaiah lix. 2. 


out, as it were, at certain great objects which the 
human mind augurs and feels after, but not language 
accurately denning them 1 Popular religion says, we 
know, that the language is scientific; that the God 
of the Old Testament is a great Personal First Cause, 
who thinks and loves (for this too, it seems, we ought 
to have added), the moral and intelligent Governor 
of the universe. Learned religion, the metaphysical 
theology of our bishops, proves or confirms this by 
abstruse reasoning from our ideas of cause, design, 
existence, identity, and so on. Popular religion rests 
it altogether on miracle. 

The God of Israel, for popular religion, is a mag- 
nified and non-natural man who has really worked 
stupendous miracles, whereas the Gods of the heathen 
were vainly imagined to be able to work them, but 
could not, and had therefore no real existence. Of 
this God, Jesus for popular religion is the Son. He 
came to appease God's wrath against sinful men by 
the sacrifice of himself; and he proved his Sonship 
by a course of stupendous miracles, and by the 
wonderful accomplishment in him of the supernatural 
Messianic predictions of prophecy. Here, again, 
learned religion elucidates and develops the relation 
of the Son to the Father by a copious exhibition of 
metaphysics; but for popular religion the relation- 
ship, and the authority of Jesus which derives from 
it, is altogether established by miracle. 

Now, we have seen that our bishops and their 
metaphysics are so little convincing, that many people 
throw the Bible quite aside and will not attend to it, 

VOL. V. I 


because they are given to understand that the meta- 
physics go necessarily along with it, and that one 
cannot be taken without the other. So far, then, the 
talents of the Bishops of Winchester and Gloucester, 
and their zeal to do something for the honour of the 
Eternal Son's Godhead, may be said to be actual 
obstacles to the receiving and studying of the Bible. 
But the same may now be also said of the popular 
theology which rests the Bible's authority and the 
Christian religion on miracle. To a great many 
persons this is tantamount to stopping their use of 
the Bible and of the Christian religion ; for they 
have made up their minds that what is popularly 
called mirade never really happens nor can happen, 
and that the belief in it arises out of either ignorance 
or mistake. To these persons we restore the use of 
the Bible, if, while showing them that the Bible- 
language is not scientific, but the language of common 
speech or of poetry and eloquence, approximative 
language thrown out at certain great objects of con- 
sciousness which it does not pretend to define fully, 
we convince them at the same time that this language 
deals with facts of positive experience, most moment- 
ous and real. 

We have sought to do this for the Old Testament 
first, and we now seek to do it for the New. But 
our attempt has in view those who are incredulous 
about the Bible and inclined to throw it aside, not 
those who at present receive it on the grounds 
supplied either by popular theology or by metaphy- 
sical theology. For persons of this kind, what we say 


neither will have, nor seeks to have, any constraining 
force at all; only it is rendered necessary by the 
want of constraining force, for others than themselves, 
in their own theology. How little constraining force 
metaphysical dogma has, we all see. And we have 
shown, too, how the proof from the fulfilment in Jesus 
Christ of a number of detailed predictions, supposed to 
have been made with supernatural prescience about 
him long beforehand, is losing, and seems likely more 
and more to lose, its constraining force. It is found 
that the predictions and their fulfilment are not what 
they are said to be. 

Now we come to miracles, more specially so called. 
And we have to see whether the constraining force 
of this proof, too, must not be admitted to be far less 
than it used to be, and whether some other source of 
authority for the Bible is not much to be desired. 


That miracles, when fully believed, are felt by 
men in general to be a source of authority, it is 
absurd to deny. One may say, indeed : Suppose I 
could change the pen with which I write this into a 
penwiper, I should not thus make what I write any 
the truer or more convincing. That may be so in 
reality, but the mass of mankind feel differently. In 
the judgment of the mass of mankind, could I visibly 
and undeniably change the pen with which I write 
this into a penwiper, not only would this which I 
write acquire a claim to be held perfectly true and 


convincing, but I should even be entitled to affirm, 
and to be believed in affirming, propositions the most 
palpably at war with common fact and experience. 
It is almost impossible to exaggerate the proneness of 
the human mind to take miracles as evidence, and 
to seek for miracles as evidence; or the extent to 
which religion, and religion of a true and admirable 
kind, has been, and is still, held in connection with 
a reliance upon miracles. This reliance will long 
outlast the reliance on the supernatural prescience of 
prophecy, for it is not exposed to the same tests. To 
pick Scripture-miracles one by one to pieces is an 
odious and repulsive task ; it is also an unprofitable 
one, for whatever we may think of the affirmative 
demonstrations of them, a negative demonstration of 
them is, from the circumstances of the case, im- 
possible. And yet the human mind is assuredly 
passing away, however slowly, from this hold of 
reliance also ; and those who make it their stay will 
more and more find it fail them, will more and 
more feel themselves disturbed, shaken, distressed, 
and bewildered. 

For it is what we call the Time-Spirit which is sap 
ping the proof from miracles, it is the " Zeit-Geist " 
itself. Whether we attack them, or whether we 
defend them, does not much matter. The human 
mind, as its experience widens, is turning away from 
them. And for this reason : it sees, as its experience 
widens, how they arise. It sees that, under certain 
circumstances, they always do arise; and that they 
have not more solidity in one case than another. 


Under certain circumstances, wherever men are 
found, there is, as Shakspeare says : 

" No natural exhalation in the sky, 
No scape of nature, no distemper'd day, 
No common wind, no customed event, 
But they will pluck away his natural cause, 
And call them meteors, prodigies, and signs, 
Abortives, presages, and tongues of heaven. " 

Imposture is so far from being the general rule in 
these cases, that it is the rare exception. Signs and 
wonders men's minds will have, and they create them 
honestly and naturally ; yet not so but that we can 
see how they create them. 

Roman Catholics fancy that Bible -miracles and 
the miracles of their Church form a class by them- 
selves; Protestants fancy that Bible-miracles, alone, 
form a class by themselves. This was eminently the 
posture of mind of the late Archbishop Whately : 
to hold that all other miracles would turn out to be 
impostures, or capable of a natural explanation, but 
that Bible-miracles would stand sifting by a London 
special jury or by a committee of scientific men. No 
acuteness can save such notions, as our knowledge 
widens, from being seen to be mere extravagances, 
and the Protestant notion is doomed to an earlier 
ruin than the Catholic. For the Catholic notion 
admits miracles, so far as Christianity, at least, is 
concerned, in the mass; the Protestant notion 
invites to a criticism by which it must before long 
itself perish. When Stephen was martyred, he 
looked up into heaven, and saw the glory of God and 


Jesus standing on the right hand of God. That, says 
the Protestant, is solid fact. At the martyrdom of 
St. Fructuosus, Babylas and Mygdone, the Christian 
servants of the Roman governor, saw the heavens 
open, and the saint and his deacon Eulogius carried 
up on high with crowns on their heads. That is, 
says the Protestant, imposture or else illusion. St 
Paul hears on his way to Damascus the voice of Jesus 
say to him : "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" 
That is solid fact. The companion of St. Thomas 
Aquinas hears a voice from the crucifix say to the pray- 
ing saint : " Thou hast written well of me, Thomas ; 
what recompense dost thou desire ? " That is imposture 
or else illusion. Why ? It is impossible to find any 
criterion by which one of these incidents may establish 
its claim to a solidity which we refuse to the others. 

One of two things must be made out in order to 
place either the Bible -miracles alone, or the Bible- 
miracles and the miracles of the Catholic Church with 
them, in a class by themselves. Either they must be 
shown to have arisen in a time eminently unfavourable 
to such a process as Shakspeare describes, to amplifica- 
tion and the production of legend ; or they must be 
shown to be recorded in documents of an eminently 
historical mode of birth and publication. But surely 
it is manifest that the Bible-miracles fulfil neither of 
these conditions. It was said that the waters of the 
Pamphylian Sea miraculously opened a passage for 
the army of Alexander the Great. Admiral Beaufort, 
however, tells us that, " though there are no tides in 
this part of the Mediterranean, a considerable depres- 


sion of the sea is caused by long -continued north 
winds, and Alexander, taking advantage of such a 
moment, may have dashed on without impediment." * 
And we accept the explanation as a matter of course. 
But the waters of the Eed Sea are said to have 
miraculously opened a passage for the children of 
Israel ; and we insist on the literal truth of this story, 
and reject natural explanations as impious. Yet the 
time and circumstances of the flight from Egypt were 
a thousand times more favourable to the rise of some 
natural incident into a miracle, than the age of 
Alexander. They were a time and circumstances of 
less broad daylight. It was said, again, that during 
the battle of Leuctra the gates of the Heracleum at 
Thebes suddenly opened, and the armour of Hercules 
vanished from the temple, to enable the god to take 
part with the Thebans in the battle. Probably there 
was some real circumstance, however slight, which 
gave a foundation for the story. But this is the 
most we think of saying in its favour; the literal 
story it never even occurs to one of us to believe. 
But that the walls of Jericho literally fell down at 
the sound of the trumpets of Joshua, we are asked to 
believe, told that it is impious to disbelieve it. Yet 
which place and time were most likely to generate a 
miraculous story with ease, Hellas and the days of 
Epaminondas, or Palestine and the days of Joshua 1 
And of documentary records, which are the most 
historical in their way of being generated and pro- 
pagated, which the most favourable for the admission 
1 Beaufort's Karamania, p. 116. 


of legend and miracle of all kinds, the Old Testa- 
ment narratives with their incubation of centuries, 
and the New Testament narratives with their 
incubation of a century (and tradition active all 
the while), or the narratives, say, of Herodotus or 
Plutarch ? 

None of them are what we call critical. Experi- 
ence of the history of the human mind, and of men's 
habits of seeing, sifting, and relating, convinces us 
that the miraculous stories of Herodotus or Plutarch 
do grow out of the process described by Shakspeare. 
But we shall find ourselves inevitably led, sooner or 
later, to extend the same rule to all miraculous stories; 
nay, the considerations which apply in other cases, 
apply, we shall most surely discover, with even greater 
force in the case of Bible-miracles. 


This being so, there is nothing one would more 
desire for a person or document one greatly values, 
than to make them independent of miracles. And 
with regard to the Old Testament we have done this ; 
for we have shown that the essential matter in the 
Old Testament is the revelation to Israel of the 
immeasurable grandeur, the eternal necessity, the 
priceless blessing of that with which not less than 
three-fourths of human life is indeed concerned, 
righteousness. And it makes no difference to the 
preciousness of this revelation, whether we believe 
that the Ked Sea. miraculously opened a passage to 


the Israelites, and the walls of Jericho miraculously 
fell down at the blast of Joshua's trumpet, or that 
these stories arose in the same way as other stories of 
the kind. But in the New Testament the essential 
thing is the revelation of Jesus Christ. For this too, 
then, if one values it, one's great wish must in like 
manner be to make it independent of miracle, if 
miracle is a stay which one perceives, as more and 
more we are all coming to perceive it, to be not solid. 
Now, it may look at first sight a strange thing to 
say, but it is a truth which we will make abundantly 
clear as we go on, that one of the very best helps to 
prepare the way for valuing the Bible and believing 
in Jesus Christ, is to convince oneself of the liability 
to mistake in the Bible- writers. Our popular theology 
supposes that the Old Testament writers were miracu- 
lously inspired, and could make no mistakes; that 
the New Testament writers were miraculously in- 
spired, and could make no mistakes ; and that there 
this miraculous inspiration stopped, and all writers on 
religion have been liable to make mistakes ever since. 
It is as if a hand had been put out of the sky present- 
ing us with the Bible, and the rules of criticism which 
apply to other books did not apply to the Bible. 
Now, the fatal thing for this supposition is, that its 
owners stab it to the heart the moment they use any 
palliation or explaining away, however small, of the 
literal words of the Bible ; and some they always use. 
For instance, it is said in the Eighteenth Psalm, that 
a consuming fire went out of the mouth of God, so 
that coals were kindled at it The veriest literalist 


will cry out : Every one knows that this is not to be 
taken literally ! The truth is, even he knows that 
this is not to be taken literally ; but others know that 
a great deal more is not to be taken literally. He 
knows very little ; but, as far as his little knowledge 
goes, he gives up his theory, which is, of course, 
palpably hollow. For indeed it is only by applying 
to the Bible a criticism, such as it is, that any man 
makes out that criticism does not apply to the 

But suppose that the Bible itself put forth (which 
it does not) this theory, and made its own value all 
depend on the truth of it, then the result would be, 
at the best, not firmer conviction, but utter puzzle 
and bewilderment. Contradictions would meet us, 
and we should have no means of escape from them. 
There would grow up an irresistible sense that the 
belief in miracles was due to man's want of experience, 
to his ignorance, agitation,- and helplessness ; and yet 
we should have a book, which if true was precious, 
staking all its truth and value upon its having been 
put out of the sky, upon its being guaranteed by 
miracles, and upon their being true. Then it is that 
the cry, Imposture ! would more and more, in spite of 
all we could do, gather strength, and the book be 
thrown aside more and more. 

But when we convince ourselves that, in the New 
Testament as in the Old, what is given us is words 
thrown out at an immense reality not fully or half fully 
grasped by the writers, but, even thus, able to affect 
us with indescribable force ; when we convince our- 


selves that, as in the Old Testament, we have Israel's 
inadequate yet inexhaustibly fruitful testimony to 
tlie Eternal that makes for righteousness, so we have in 
the New Testament a report inadequate, indeed, but 
the only report we have, and therefore priceless, by 
men, some more able and clear, others less able and 
clear, but all full of the influences of their time and 
condition, partakers of some of its simple or its 
learned ignorance, inevitably, in fine, expecting 
miracles and demanding them, a report, I say, by 
these men of that immense reality not fully or half 
fully grasped by them, the mind of Christ ; then we 
shall be drawn to the Gospels with a new zest and 
as by a fresh spell. We shall throw ourselves upon 
their narratives with an ardour answering to the 
value of the pearl of great price they hold, and to the 
difficulty of reaching it. 

So, to profit fully by the New Testament, the first 
thing to be done is to make it perfectly clear to one- 
self that its reporters both could err and did err. 
For a plain person, an incident in the report of St. 
Paul's conversion, which comes into our minds the 
more naturally as this incident has been turned 
against something we have ourselves said, 1 would, 
one would think, be enough. We had spoken of the 
notion that St. Paul's miraculous vision at his con- 
version proved the truth of his doctrine. We related 
a vision which converted Sampson Staniforth, one of 
the early Methodists ; and we said that just so much 
proving force, and no more, as Sampson Staniforth's 
1 St Paul and Protestantism, p. 54. 


vision had to confirm the truth of anything he might 
afterwards teach, St. Paul's vision had to establish his 
subsequent doctrine. It was eagerly rejoined that 
Staniforth's vision was but a fancy of his own, 
whereas the reality of Paul's was proved by his com- 
panions hearing the voice that spoke to him. And 
so in one place of the Acts we are told they did ; but 
in another place of the Acts we are told by Paul him- 
self just the contrary : that his companions did not 
hear the voice that spoke to him. Need we say that 
the two statements have been " reconciled'"! They 
have, over and over again ; but by one of those pro- 
cesses which are the opprobrium of our Bible-criticism, 
and by which, as Bishop Butler says, anything can be 
made to mean anything. There is between the two 
statements a contradiction as clear as can be. The 
contradiction proves nothing against the good faith 
of the reporter, and St. Paul undoubtedly had his 
vision; he had it as Sampson Staniforth had his. 
What the contradiction proves is the incurable loose- 
ness with which the circumstances of what is called 
and thought a miracle are related ; and that this 
looseness the Bible-relaters of a miracle exhibit, just 
like other people. And the moral is, what an unsure 
stay, then, must miracles be ! 

But, after all, that there is here any contradiction 
or mistake, some do deny; so let us choose a case 
where the mistake is quite undeniably clear. Such a 
case we find in the confident expectation and assertion, 
on the part of the New Testament writers, of the 
approaching end of the world. Even this mistake 


people try to explain away ; but it is so palpable that 
no words can cloud our perception of it. The time is 
short. The Lord is at hand. The end of all things is at 
hand. Little children, it is the final time. The Lord's 
coming is at hand ; behold, the judge standeth before the 
door. 1 Nothing can really obscure the evidence fur- 
nished by such sayings as these. When Paul told 
the Thessalonians that they and he, at the approach- 
ing coming of Christ, should have their turn after, 
not before, the faithful dead : " For the Lord himself 
shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the 
voice of the archangel and with the trump of God, 
and the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we which 
are alive and remain shall be caught up together with 
them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air," 2 - 
when he said this, St. Paul was purely simply mistaken 
in his notion of what was going to happen. This is 
as clear as anything can be. 

And not only were the New Testament writers 
thus demonstrably liable to commit, like other men, 
mistakes in fact ; they were also demonstrably liable 
to commit mistakes in argument. As before, let us 
take a case which will be manifest and palpable to 
every one. St. Paul, arguing to the Galatians that 
salvation was not by the Jewish law but by Jesus 
Christ, proves his point from the promise to Abraham 
having been made to him and his seed, not seeds. 

1 1 Cor. vii. 29 ; Phil. iv. 5 ; 1 Peter iv. 7 ; 1 John ii. 18 ; 
James v. 8, 9. We have here the express declarations of St 
Paul, St. Peter, St. John, and St. James. 

2 1 Thess. iv. 16, 17. 


The words are not, he says, "seeds, as of many, but as 
of one; to thy seed, which is Christ." 1 Now, as to 
the point to be proved, we all agree with St. Paul ; 
but his argument is that of a Jewish Rabbi, and is 
clearly both fanciful and false. The writer in Genesis 
never intended to draw any distinction between one 
of Abraham's seed, and Abraham's seed in general. 
And even if he had expressly meant, what Paul says 
he did not mean, Abraham's seed in general, he would 
still have said seed, and not seeds. This is a good 
instance to take, because the Apostle's substantial 
doctrine is here not at all concerned. As to the root 
of the matter in question, we are all at one with St. 
Paul. But it is evident how he could, like the rest 
of us, bring a quite false argument in support of a 
quite true thesis. 

And the use of prophecy by the writers of the 
New Testament furnishes really, almost at every 
turn, instances of false argument of the same kind. 
Habit makes us so lend ourselves to their way of 
speaking, that commonly nothing checks us; but, the 
moment we begin to attend, we perceive how much 
there is which ought to check us. Take the famous 
allegation of the parted clothes but lot-assigned coat 
of Christ as fulfilment of the supposed prophecy in 
the Psalms : " They parted my garments among them, 
and for my vesture did they cast lots." 2 The words 
of the Psalm are taken to mean contrast, when they 
do in truth mean identity. According to the rules 
of Hebrew poetry, for my vesture they did cast lots is 
1 Gal. iii. 16. * Psalm xxii. 18. 


merely a repetition, in different words, of they parted 
my garments among them, not an antithesis to it The 
alleged "prophecy" is, therefore, due to a dealing 
with the Psalmist's words which is arbitrary and 
erroneous. So, again, to call the words, a bone of him 
shall not be broken, 1 a prophecy of Christ, fulfilled by his 
legs not being broken on the cross, is evidently, the 
moment one considers it, a playing with words which 
nowadays we should account childish. For what do 
the words, taken, as alone words can rationally be 
taken, along with their context, really prophesy? 
The entire safety of the righteous, not his death. 
Many are the troubles of the righteous, but the Eternal 
deliver eth him out of all ; he Jceepeth all his bones, so that 
not one of them is broken. 2 Worse words, therefore, 
could hardly have been chosen' from the Old Testa- 
ment to apply in that connection where they come ; 
for they are really contradicted by the death of Christ, 
not fulfilled by it. 

It is true, this verbal and unintelligent use of 
Scripture is just what was to be expected from the 
circumstances of the New Testament writers. It was 
inevitable for them ; it was the sort of trifling which 
then, in common Jewish theology, passed for grave 
argument and made a serious impression, as it has in 
common Christian theology ever since. But this does 
not make it the less really trifling; or hinder one 
nowadays from seeing it to be trifling, directly we 
examine it. The mistake made will strike some 
people more forcibly in one of the cases cited, some 
1 See John xix. 36. 2 Psalm xxxiv. 19, 20. 


in another, but in one or other of the cases the mistake 
will be visible to everybody. 

Now, this recognition of the liability of the New 
Testament writers to make mistakes, both of fact and 
of argument, will certainly, as we have said, more 
and more gain strength, and spread wider and wider. 
The futility of their mode of demonstration from 
prophecy, of which we have just given examples, will 
be more and more felt. The fallibility of that 
demonstration from miracles to which they and all 
about them attached such preponderating weight, 
which made the disciples of Jesus believe in him, 
which made the people believe in him, will be more 
and more recognised. 

Reverence for all, who, in those first dubious days 
of Christianity, chose the better part, and resolutely 
cast in their lot with " the despised and rejected of 
men!" Gratitude to all, who, while the tradition 
was yet fresh, helped by their writings to preserve 
and set clear the precious record of the words and 
life of Jesus ! And honour, eternal honour, to the 
great and profound qualities of soul and mind which 
some of these writers display ! But the writers are 
admirable for what they are, not for what, by the 
nature of things, they could not be. It was superi- 
ority enough in them to attach themselves firmly to 
Jesus; to feel to the bottom of their hearts that 
power of his words, which alone held permanently, 
held, when the miracles, in which the multitude 
believed as well as the disciples, failed to hold. The 
good faith of the Bible-writers is above all question, it 


speaks for itself ; and the very same criticism, which 
shows us the defects of their exegesis and of their 
demonstrations from miracles, establishes their good 
faith. But this could not, and did not, prevent them 
from arguing in the methods by which every one 
around them argued, and from expecting miracles 
where everybody else expected them. 

In one respect alone have the miracles recorded 
by them a more real ground than the mass of miracles 
of which we have the relation. Medical science has 
never gauged, never, perhaps, enough set itself to 
gauge, the intimate connection between moral fault 
and disease. To what extent, or in how many cases, 
what is called illness is due to moral springs having 
been used amiss, whether by being over-used or by 
not being used sufficiently, we hardly at all know, 
and we too little inquire. Certainly it is due to this 
very much more than we commonly think ; and the 
more it is due to this, the more do moral therapeutics 
rise in possibility and importance. 1 The bringer of 
light and happiness, the calmer and pacifier, or 
invigorator and stimulator, is one of the chiefest of 
doctors. Such a doctor was Jesus ; such an operator, 
by an efficacious and real, though little observed and 
little employed agency, upon what we, in the language 
of popular superstition, call the unclean spirits, but 
which are to be designated more literally and more 
correctly as the uncleared, unymrified spirits, which 

1 Consult the Charmides of Plato (cap. v. ) for a remarkable 
account of the theory of such a treatment, attributed by Socrates 
to Zamolxis, the god-king of the Thracians. 

VOL. V. K 


came raging and madding before him. This his 
own language shows, if we know how to read it 
"What does it matter whether I say, Thy sins are 
forgiven theef or whether I say, Arise and walkJ*' 1 
And again : " Thou art made whole ; sin no more, lest 
a worse thing befall thee." 2 His reporters, we must 
remember, are men who saw thaumaturgy in all that 
Jesus did, and who saw in all sickness and disaster 
visitations from God, and they bend his language 
accordingly. But indications enough remain to show 
the line of the Master, his perception of the large 
part of moral cause in many kinds of disease, and his 
method of addressing to this part his cure. 

It would never have done, indeed, to have men 
pronouncing right and left that this and that was a 
judgment, and how, and for what, and on whom. 
And so, when the disciples, seeing an afflicted person, 
asked whether this man had done sin or his parents, 
Jesus checked them and. said : "Neither the one nor 
the other, but that the works of God might be made 
manifest in him." 3 Not the less clear is his own 
belief in the moral root of much physical disease, and 
in moral therapeutics; and it is important to note 
well the instances of miracles where this belief comes 
in. For the action of Jesus in these instances, how- 
ever it may be amplified in the reports, was real ; 
but it is not, therefore, as popular religion fancies, 
thaumaturgy, it is not what people are fond of 
calling the supernatural, but what is better called the 
non-natural. It is, on the contrary, like the grace of 

* Matthew ix. 5. 2 John v. 14. 3 John ix. 3 


Raphael, or the grand style of Phidias, eminently 
natural; but it is above common, low-pitched nature; 
it is a line of nature not yet mastered or followed out. 

Its significance as a guarantee of the authenticity 
of Christ's mission is trivial, however, compared with 
the guarantee furnished by his sayings. Its import- 
ance is in its necessary effect upon the beholders and 
reporters. This element of what was really wonderful, 
unprecedented, and unaccountable, they had actually 
before them ; and we may estimate how it must have 
helped and seemed to sanction that tendency which 
in any case would h&ve carried them, circumstanced 
as they were, to find all the performances and career 
of Jesus miraculous. 

But, except for this, the miracles related in the 
Gospels will appear to us more and more, the more 
our experience and knowledge increases, to have but 
the same ground which is common to all miracles, 
the ground indicated by Shakspeare; to have been 
generated under the same kind of conditions as other 
miracles, and to follow the same laws. When once 
the " Zeit-Geist " has made us entertain the notion of 
this, a thousand things in the manner of relating will 
strike us which never struck us before, and will make 
us wonder how we could ever have thought differently. 
Discrepancies which we now labour with such honest 
pains and by such astonishing methods to explain 
away, the voice at Paul's conversion, heard by the 
bystanders according to one account, not heard by 
them according to another; the Holy Dove at Christ's 
baptism, visible to John the Baptist in one narrative, 


in two others to Jesus himself, in another, finally, to 
all the people as well ; the single blind man in one 
relation, growing into two blind men in another ; the 
speaking with tongues, according to St. Paul a sound 
without meaning, according to the Acts an intelligent 
and intelligible utterance, all this will be felt to 
require really no explanation at all, to explain itself, 
to be natural to the whole class of incidents to which 
these miracles belong, and the inevitable result of the 
looseness with which the stories of them arise and are 

And the more the miraculousness of the story 
deepens, as after the death of Jesus, the more does 
the texture of the incidents become loose and floating, 
the more does the very air and aspect of things seem 
to tell us we are in wonderland. Jesus after hia 
resurrection not known by Mary Magdalene, taken 
by her for the gardener ; appearing in another form, 
and not known by the two disciples going with him 
to Emmaus and at supper with him there ; not known 
by his most intimate apostles on the borders of the 
Sea of Galilee; and presently, out of these vague 
beginnings, the recognitions getting asserted, then the 
ocular demonstrations, the final commissions, the 
ascension ; one hardly knows which of the two to 
call the most evident here, the perfect simplicity and 
good faith of the narrators, or the plainness with 
which they themselves really say to us : Behold a 
legend growing under your eyes ! 

And suggestions of this sort, with respect to the 
whole miraculous side of the New Testament, will 


meet us at every turn ; we here but give a sample of 
them. It is neither our wish nor our design to 
accumulate them, to marshal them, to insist upon them, 
to make their force felt. Let those who desire to keep 
them at arm's length continue to do so, if they can, and 
go on placing the sanction of the Christian religion 
in its miracles. Our point is, that the objections to 
miracles do, and more and more will, without 
insistence, without attack, without controversy, make 
their own force felt ; and that the sanction of Chris- 
tianity, if Christianity is not to be lost along with its 
miracles, must be found elsewhere. 



Now, then, will be perceived the bearing and gravity 
of what we some little way back said, that the more 
we convince ourselves of the liability of the New 
Testament writers to mistake, the more we really 
bring out the greatness and worth of the New Testa- 
ment. For the more the reporters were fallible and 
prone to delusion, the more does Jesus become inde- 
pendent of the mistakes they made, and unaffected by 
them. We have plain proof that here was a very 
great spirit ; and the greater he was, the more certain 
were his disciples to misunderstand him. The depth 
of their misunderstanding of him is really a kind of 
measure of the height of his superiority. And this 
superiority is what interests us in the records of the 
New Testament ; for the New Testament exists to 
reveal Jesus Christ, not to establish the immunity of 
its writers from error. 

Jesus himself is not a New Testament writer ; he 
is the object of description and comment to the New 
Testament writers. As the Old Testament speaks 


about the Eternal and bears an invaluable witness to 
him, without yet ever adequately in words defining 
and expressing him ; so, and even yet more, do the 
New Testament writers speak about Jesus and give 
a priceless record of him, without adequately and 
accurately comprehending him. They are altogether 
on another plane from Jesus, and their mistakes are 
not his. It is not Jesus himself who relates his own 
miracles to us ; who tells us of his own apparitions 
after his death ; who alleges his crucifixion and 
sufferings as a fulfilment of the prophecy : The Eternal 
Tceepeth all the bones of the righteous so that not one of them 
is broken ; l who proves salvation to be by Christ alone, 
from the promise to Abraham being made to seed in 
the singular number, not the plural. If, therefore, 
the human mind is now drawing away from reliance 
on miracles, coming to perceive the community of 
character which pervades them all, to understand 
their natural laws, so to speak, their loose mode 
of origination and their untrustworthiness, and is 
inclined rather to distrust the dealer in them than to 
pin its faith upon him ; then it is good for the 
authority of Jesus, that his reporters are evidently 
liable to ignorance and error. He is reported to deal 
in miracles, to be above all a thaumaturgist. But the 
more his reporters were intellectually men of their 
nation and time, and of its current beliefs, the more, 
that is, they were open to mistakes, the more certain 
they were to impute miracles to a wonderful and half- 
understood personage like Jesus, whether he would or 
1 Psalm xxxiv. 20. 


no. He himself may, at the same time, have had quite 
other notions as to what he was doing and intending. 
Again, the mistake of imagining that the world was 
to end, as St. Paul announces, within the lifetime 
of the first Christian generation, is palpable. But the 
reporters of Jesus make him announcing just the same 
thing : " This generation shall not pass away till they 
shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with 
great power and glory, and then shall he send his 
angels and gather his elect from the four winds." 1 
Popular theology can put a plain satisfactory sense 
upon this, but, as usual, through that process described 
by Butler by which anything can be made to mean 
anything; and from this sort of process the human 
mind is beginning to shrink. A more plausible 
theology will say that the words are an accommoda- 
tion; that the speaker lends himself to the fancies 
and expectations of his hearers. A good deal of such 
accommodation there is in this and other sayings 
of Jesus ; but accommodation to the full extent 
here supposed would surely have been impossible. 
To suppose it, is most violent and unsatisfactory. 
Either, then, the words were, like St. Paul's announce- 
ment, a mistake, or they are not really the very words 
Jesus said, just as he said them. That is, the 
reporters have given them a turn, however slight, a 
tone and a colour, a connection, to make them comply 
with a fixed idea in their own minds, which they 
unfeignedly believed was a fixed idea with Jesus also 
Now, the more we regard the reporters of Jesus as 
1 Matthew xxiv. 30. 81, 34. 


men liable to err, full of the turbid Jewish fancies 
alrout "the grand consummation" which were then 
current, the easier we can understand these men 
inevitably putting their own eschatology into the 
mouth of Jesus, when they had to report his discourse 
about the kingdom of God and the troubles in store 
for the Jewish nation, and the less need have we to 
make Jesus a co-partner in their eschatology. 

Again, the futility of such demonstrations from 
prophecy as those of which we have given examples, 
and generally of all that Jewish exegesis, based on a 
mere unintelligent catching at the letter of the Old 
Testament, isolated from its context and real meaning, 
of which the New Testament writers give us so much, 
begins to disconcert attentive readers of the Bible 
more and more, and to be felt by them as an embar- 
rassment to the cause of Jesus, not a support. Well, 
then, it is good for the authority of Jesus, that those 
who establish it by arguments of this sort should be 
clearly men of their race and time, not above its futile 
methods of reasoning and demonstration. The more 
they were this, and the more they were sure to mix 
up much futile logic and exegesis with their presenta- 
tion of Jesus, the less is Jesus himself responsible for 
such logic and exegesis, or at all dependent upon it. 
He may himself have rated such argumentation at 
precisely its true value, and have based his mission 
and authority upon no grounds but solid ones. 
Whether he did so or not, his hearers and reporters 
were sure to base it on their own fantastic grounds 
also, and to credit Jesus with doing the same. 


In short, the more we conceive Jesus as almost as 
much over the heads of his disciples and reporters 
then, as he is over the heads of the mass of so-called 
Christians now, the more we see his disciples to have 
been, as they were, men raised by a truer moral sus- 
ceptiveness above their countrymen, but in intellectual 
conceptions and habits much on a par with them, all 
the more do we make room, so to speak, for Jesus to 
be a personage immensely great and wonderful ; as 
wonderful as anything his reporters imagined him to 
be, though in a different manner. 


We make room for him to be this, and through the 
inadequate reporting of his followers there breaks and 
shines, and will more and more break and shine the 
more the matter is examined, abundant evidence that 
he was this. It is most remarkable, and the best 
proof of the simplicity, seriousness, and good faith 
which intercourse with Jesus Christ inspired, that 
witnesses with a fixed prepossession, and having no 
doubt at all as to the interpretation to be put on 
Christ's acts and career, should yet admit so much of 
what makes against themselves and their own power 
of interpreting. For them, it was a thing beyond all 
doubt, that by miracles Jesus manifested forth his 
glory, and induced the faithful to believe in him. 
Yet what checks to this paramount and all-governing 
belief of theirs do they report from Jesus himself ! 
Everybody will be able to recall such checks, although 


he may never yet have been accustomed to consider 
their full significance. Except ye see signs and wonders, 
ye mil not believe/ 1 as much as to say: "Believe on 
right grounds you cannot, and you must needs believe 
on wrong !" And again : "Believe me that I am in 
the Father and the Father in me ; or else believe for 
the very works' sake /" 2 as much as to say : " Acknow- 
ledge me on the ground of my healing and restoring 
acts being miraculous, if you must ; but it is not the 
right ground." No, not the right ground ; and when 
Nicodemus came and would put conversion on this 
ground (" We know that thou art a teacher come from 
God, for no one can do the miracles that thou doest except 
God be with him "), Jesus rejoined : " Verily, verily, I 
say unto thee, except a man be born from above, he can- 
not see the kingdom of God !" thus tacitly changing 
his disciple's ground and correcting him. 3 Even 
distress and impatience at this false ground being 
taken is visible sometimes : " Jesus groaned in his spirit 
and said, Why doth this generation ask for a sign ? 
Verily I say unto you, there shall no sign be given to 
this generation !" 4 Who does not see what double 
and treble importance these checks from Jesus to the 
reliance on miracles gain, through their being reported 
by those who relied on miracles devoutly 1 Who does 
not see what a clue they offer as to the real mind of 
Jesus ? To convey at all to such hearers of him that 
there was any objection to miracles, his own sense of 
the objection must have been profound; and to get 

1 John iv. 48. 2 John xiv. 11. 

3 John iii. 2, 3. * Mark viii. 12. 


them, who neither shared nor understood it, to repeat 
it a few times, he must have repeated it many times. 
Take, again, the eschatology of the disciples, their 
notion of the final things, and of the approaching 
great judgment and end of the world. This consisted 
mainly in a literal appropriation of the apocalyptic 
pictures of the book of Daniel and the book of 
Enoch, and a transference of them to Jesus Christ 
and his kingdom. It is not surprising, certainly, that 
men with the mental range of their time, and with so 
little flexibility of thought that when Jesus told 
them to beware of "the leaven of the Pharisees," 1 or 
when he called himself " the bread of life " and said, 
He that eateth me shall live by me, 2 they stuck hopelessly 
fast in the literal meaning of the words, and were 
accordingly puzzled or else offended by them, it is 
not surprising that these men should have been incap- 
able of dealing in a large spirit with prophecies like 
those of Daniel, that they should have applied them 
to Jesus narrowly and literally, and should there- 
fore have conceived his kingdom unintelligently. 
This is not remarkable ; what is remarkable is, that 
they should themselves supply us with their Master's 
blame of their too literal criticism, his famous sen- 
tence : "The kingdom of God is within you !" 3 Such 
an account of the kingdom of God has more right, 
even if recorded only once, to pass with us for Jesus 
Christ's own account, than the common materialising 
accounts, if repeated twenty times ; for it was mani- 

1 Matthew zvi. 6-12. 2 John vL48, 57. 

3 Luke xvii 21. 


festly quite foreign to the disciples' 'own notions, and 
they could never have invented it. Evidence of the 
same kind, again, evidence borne by the reporters 
themselves against their own power of rightly under- 
standing what their Master, on this topic of the 
kingdom of God and its coming, meant to say, is 
Christ's warning to his apostles, that the subject of 
final things was one where they were all out of their 
depth : " It is not for you to knmv the times and seasons 
which the Father hath put in his own power." 1 

So, too, with the use of prophecy and of the Old 
Testament generally. A very small experience of 
Jewish exegesis will convince us that, in the disciples, 
their catching at the letter of the Scriptures, and 
mistaking this play with words for serious argument, 
was nothing extraordinary. The extraordinary thing 
is that Jesus, even in the report of these critics, uses 
Scripture in a totally different manner ; he wields it 
as an instrument of which he truly possesses the use. 
Either he puts prophecy into act, and by the startling 
point thus made he engages the popular imagination 
on his side, makes the popular familiarity with pro- 
phecy serve him ; as when he rides into Jerusalem on 
an ass, or clears the Temple of buyers and sellers. 
Or else he applies Scripture in what is called "a 
superior spirit," to make it yield to narrow-minded 
hearers a lesson of wisdom ; as, for instance, to rebuke 
a superstitious observance of the Sabbath he employs 
the incident of David's taking the shewbread. His 
reporters, in short, are the servants of the Scripture- 
1 Acts i. 7. 


letter, Jesus is its master; and it is from the very 
men who were servants to it themselves, that we 
learn that he was master of it. How signal, therefore, 
must this mastery have been ! how eminently and 
strikingly different from the treatment known and 
practised by the disciples themselves ! 

Finally, for the reporters of Jesus the rule was, 
undoubtedly, that men "believed on Jesus when 
they saw the miracles which he did." * Miracles were 
in these reporters' eyes, beyond question, the evi- 
dence of the Christian religion. And yet these same 
reporters indicate another and a totally different evi- 
dence offered for the Christian religion by Christ him- 
self. Every one that heareth and learneth from the Father 
cometh unto me. 2 As the Father hath taught me, so I 
speak; 3 he that is of God heareth the words of God;* if 
God was your Father, ye would have loved me/ 5 This is 
inward evidence, direct evidence. From that previous 
knowledge of God, as " the Eternal that loveth right- 
eousness," which Israel possessed, the hearers of 
Jesus could and should have concluded irresistibly, 
when they heard his words, that he came from God. 
Now, miracles are outward evidence, indirect evidence, 
not conclusive in this fashion. To walk on the sea 
cannot really prove a man to proceed from the Eternal 
chat loveth righteousness ; although undoubtedly, as 
we have said, a man who walks on the sea will be 
able to make the mass of mankind believe about him 
almost anything he chooses to say. But there is, 

1 John ii. 23. 2 John vi. 45. 

John viii. 28. * John viiL 47. 5 John viii. 42. 


after all, no necessary connection between walking on 
the sea and proceeding from the Eternal that loveth 
righteousness. Jesus propounds, on the other hand, 
an evidence of which the whole force lies in the 
necessary connection between the proving matter and 
the power that makes for righteousness. This is his 
evidence for the Christian religion. 

His disciples felt the force of the evidence, indeed. 
Peter's answer to the question "Will ye also go 
away ?" " To whom should we go ? thou hast the words 
of eternal life /" l proves it. But feeling the force of 
a thing is very different from understanding and pos- 
sessing it. The evidence, which the disciples were 
conscious of understanding and possessing, was the evi- 
dence from miracles. And yet, in their report, Jesus 
is plainly shown to us insisting on a different evidence, 
an internal one. The character of the reporters gives 
to this indication a paramount importance. That 
they should indicate this internal evidence once, as 
the evidence on which Jesus insisted, is more signifi- 
cant, we say, than their indicating, twenty times, the 
evidence from miracles as the evidence naturally con- 
vincing to mankind, and recommended, as they thought, 
by Jesus. The notion of the one evidence they would 
have of themselves ; the notion of the other they could 
only get from a superior mind. This mind must have 
been full of it to induce them to feel it at all ; and 
their exhibition of it, even then, must of necessity be 
inadequate and broken. 

But is it possible to overrate the value of the ground 
John vi. 68. 


thus gained for showing the riches of the New Testar 
ment to those who, sick of the popular arguments 
from prophecy, sick of the popular arguments from 
miracles, are for casting the New Testament aside 
altogether ? The book contains all that we know of 
a wonderful spirit, far above the heads of his reporters, 
still farther above the head of our popular theology, 
which has added its own misunderstanding of the 
reporters to the reporters' misunderstanding of Jesus. 
And it was quite inevitable that anything so superior 
and so profound should be imperfectly understood by 
those amongst whom it first appeared, and for a very 
long time afterwards ; and that it should come at last 
gradually to stand out clearer only by time, Time, 
as the Greek maxim says, the wisest of all things, for he 
is the unfailing discoverer. 

Yet, however much is discovered, the object of 
our scrutiny must still be beyond us, must still 
transcend our adequate knowledge, if for no other 
reason, because of the character of the first and only 
records of him. But in the view now taken we have, 
even at the point to which we have already come, 
at least a wonderful figure transcending his time, 
transcending his disciples, attaching them, but trans- 
cending them ; in very much that he uttered going 
far above their heads, treating Scripture and prophecy 
like a master while they treated it like children, 
resting his doctrine on internal evidence while they 
rested it on miracles ; and yet, by his incomparable 
lucidity and penetrativeness, planting his profound 
veins of thought in their memory along with their 


own notions and prepossessions, to come out all 
mixed up together, but still distinguishable one day 
and separable ; and leaving his word thus to bear 
fruit for the future. 


Surely to follow and extract these veins of true 
ore is a wise man's business; not to let them lie 
neglected and unused, because the beds where they 
are found are not all of the same quality with them. 
The beds are invaluable because they contain the ore ; 
and though the search for it in them is undoubtedly 
a grave and difficult quest, yet it is not a quest of the 
elaborate and endless kind that it will at first, per- 
haps, be fancied to be. It is a quest with this for its 
governing idea: Jesus was over the heads of his reporters; 
what, therefore, in their report of him, is Jesus, and what 
is the reporters ? 

Now, this excludes as unessential much of the 
criticism which is bestowed on the New Testament, 
and gives a sure point of view for the remainder. 
And what it excludes are those questions as to the 
exact date, the real authorship, the first publication, 
the rank of priority, of the Gospels; questions which 
have a great attraction for critics, which are perhaps 
in themselves good to be entertained, which lead to 
much close and fruitful observation of the texts, and 
in which very high ingenuity may be shown and 
very great plausibility reached, but not more ; they 
cannot be really settled, the data are insufficient 
And for our purpose they are not essential Neither 

VOL. V. L 


is it essential for our purpose to get at the very 
primitive text of the New Testament writers, deeply 
interesting and deeply important as this is. The 
changes that have befallen the text show, no doubt, 
the constant tendency of popular Christianity to add 
to the element of theurgy and thaumaturgy, to increase 
and develop it. To clear the text of these changes, 
will show the New Testament writers to have been 
less preoccupied with this tendency, and is, so far, 
very instructive. But it will not, by re-establishing 
the real words of the writers, necessarily give the 
real truth as to Jesus Christ's religion ; because to 
the writers themselves this religion was, in a con- 
siderable degree certainly, a theurgy and a thau- 
maturgy, although not quite in the mechanical and 
extravagant way that it is in our present popular 

For instance, the famous text of the three heavenly 
witnesses 1 is an imposture, and an extravagant one. 
It shows us, no doubt, theologians like our bishops 
already at work, men with more metaphysics than 
literary tact, full of the Aryan genius, of the notion 
that religion is a metaphysical conception ; anxious 
to do something for the thesis of " the Godhead of 
the Eternal Son," or of " the blessed truth that the 
God of the universe is a person," or, as the Bishop 
of Gloucester writes it, "PERSON," and so on. But 
something of the same intention is unquestionably 
visible, never, indeed, in Jesus, but in the author of 
the Fourth Gospel. Much of the conversation with 
1 1 John v. 7- 


Nicodemus is a proof of it ; the forty-sixth verse of 
the sixth chapter is a signal proof of it. One can 
there almost see the author, after recording Christ's 
words : Every one that heareth and learneth of the father 
cometh unto me, take alarm at the notion that this looks 
too downright and natural, and, sincerely persuaded 
that he " did something " for the honour of Jesus by 
making him more abstract, bring in and put into the 
mouth of Jesus the 46th verse : Not that any one hath 
seen the father, except he that is from God, he hath seen 
the father. This verse has neither rhyme nor reason 
where it stands in Christ's discourse, it jars with the 
words Avhich precede and follow, and is in quite 
another vein from them. Yet it is the author's own, 
it is no interpolation. 

Again, Unitarians lay much stress on the prob- 
ability that in the first words of St. Mark's Gospel : 
" The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son 
of God," the Son of God is an interpolation. And, no 
doubt, if the words are an interpolation, this shows 
that the desire to prove the dogma of Christ's God- 
head was not so painfully ever-present to the writer 
of the Second Gospel as it became to later theologians. 
But it shows no more ; it does not show that he had 
the least doubt about Jesus being the Son of God. 
Ten verses later, in an undisputed passage, he calls 
him so. 

Again, in the last chapter of the same Gospel, all 
which follows the eighth verse, all the account of 
Christ's resurrection and ascension, is probably an 
addition by a later hand. But the resurrection is 


plainly indicated in the first eight verses ; and that 
the writer of the Second Gospel stops after the eighth 
verse, proves rather that he was writing briefly than 
that he did not believe in the resurrection and ascen- 
sion as much as, for instance, the writer of the Third 
Gospel; unless, indeed, there are other signs (for 
example, in his way of relating such an incident as 
the Transfiguration) to show that he was suspicious 
of the preternatural But there are none; and he 
plainly was not, and could not have been. 

Again ; it seems impossible that the very primitive 
original of the First Gospel should have made Jesus 
say, that " the sign of Jonas " consisted in his being 
three days and three nights in the whale's belly as 
the Son of Man was to be a like time in the heart of 
the earth. 1 It spoils the argument, and in the next 
verse the argument is given simply and rightly. 
Jonas was a sign to the Jews, because the Ninevites 
repented at his preaching and a greater than Jonas 
stood now preaching to the Jews. But whether the 
words are genuine (and there seems no evidence to 
the contrary) in that particular place or not, to get 
rid of them brings us really but a very little way, 
when it is plain that their argument is exactly one 
which the Evangelists would be disposed to use, and 
to think that Jesus meant to use. For so they make 
him to have said, for instance : Destroy this temple, and 
in three days I mil raise it up ! 2 in prediction of his 
own death and resurrection. 

In short, to know accurately the history of x>ur 
1 Matthew xil 40. a John ii. 19. 


documents is impossible, and even if it were possible, 
we should yet not know accurately what Jesus said 
and did ; for his reporters were incapable of rendering it, 
he was so much above them. This is the important thing 
to get firmly fixed in our minds. And the more it 
becomes established to us, the more we shall see the 
futility of what is called rationalism, rationalism proper, 
and the rationalistic treatment of the New Testament ; 
of the endeavour, that is, to reduce all the super- 
natural in it to real events, much resembling what is 
related, which have got a little magnified and coloured 
by being seen through the eyes of men having certain 
prepossessions, but may easily be brought back to 
their true proportions and made historical and reason- 
able. A famous specimen of this kind of treatment is 
Schleiermacher's fancy of the death on the cross 
having been a swoon, and the resurrection of Jesus a 
recovery from this swoon. Victorious indeed, what- 
ever may be in other ways his own shortcomings, is 
Strauss's demolition of this fancy of Schleiermacher's ! 
Like the rationalistic treatment of Scripture through- 
out, it makes far more difficulties than it solves, and 
rests on too narrow a conception of the history of the 
human mind, and of its diversities of operation and 
production. It puts us ourselves in the original 
disciples' place, imagines the original disciples to have 
been men rational in our sense and way, and then 
explains their record as it might be made explicable 
if it were ours. And it may safely be said that in 
this fashion it is not explicable. Imaginations so little 
creative, and with so substantial a framework of fact 


for each of their wonderful stories as this theory 
assumes, would never have created so much as they 
did ; at least, they could not have done so and 
retained their manifest simplicity and good faith. 
They must have fallen, we in like case should fall, 
into arrangement and artifice. 

But the original disciples were not men rational in 
our sense and way. The real wonderfulness of Jesus, 
and their belief in him, being given, they needed no 
such full and parallel body of fact for each miracle as 
we suppose. Some hint and help of fact, undoubtedly, 
there almost always was, and we naturally seek to 
explore it. Sometimes our guesses may be right, 
sometimes wrong, but we can never be sure, the range 
of possibility is so wide; and we may easily make 
them too elaborate. Shakspeare's explanation is far 
the soundest : 

"No natural exhalation in the sky, 
No scape of nature, no distemper'd day, 
No common wind, no customed event, 
But they will pluck away his natural cause, 
And call them meteors, prodigies, and signs, 
Abortives, presages, and tongues of heaven. " 

And it must be remembered, moreover, that of 
none of these recorders have we, probably, the very 
original record. The whole record, when we first get 
it, has passed through at least half a century, or more, 
of oral tradition, and through more than one written 
account. Miraculous incidents swell and grow apace ; 
they are just the elements of a tradition that swell 
and grow most. These incidents, therefore, in the 


history of Jesus, the preternatural things he did, the 
preternatural things that befell him, are just the parts 
of the record which are least solid. Beyond the 
historic outlines of the life of Jesus, his Galilean 
origin, his preaching in Galilee, his preaching in 
Jerusalem, his crucifixion, much the firmest element 
in the record is his wards. Happily it is of these that 
he himself said : " The wards that I speak unto you, 
they are spirit and they are life." l But in reading 
them, we have still to bear in mind our governing 
idea, that they are words of one inadequately compre- 
hended by his hearers, men though these be of pureness 
of heart, discernment to know and love the good, 
perfect uprightness of intention, faithful simplicity. 

What they will have reported best, probably, is 
discourse where there was the framework of a story 
and its application to guide them, discourse such 
as the parables. Instructive and beautiful as the 
parables are, however, they have not the importance 
of the direct teaching of Jesus. But in his direct 
teaching we are on the surest ground in single sen- 
tences, which have their ineffaceable and unforgettable 
stamp : My yoke is kindly and my burden light ; Many 
are called, few chosen ; They that are whole need not a 
physician, but they that are sick; No man having put his 
hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit far tlie kingdom 
of God. 2 The longer trains of discourse, and many 
sayings in immediate connection with miracles, present 
much more difficulty. Probably there are very few 

1 John TL 63. 
- 1 Matthew xi. 30; xxii. 14 ; ix. 12 ; Luke ix. C2. 


sayings attributed to Jesus which do not contain what 
he on some occasion actually said, or much of what 
he actually said. But the connection, the juncture, is 
plainly often missed ; things are put out of their true 
place and order. Failure of memory would occa- 
sionally cause this with any reporters ; failure of 
comprehension would with the reporters of Jesus 
frequently cause it. The surrounding tradition in- 
sensibly biases them, their love of miracles biases 
them, their eschatology biases them. All these three 
exercise an attraction on words of Jesus, and draw 
them into occasions, placings, and turns, which are 
not exactly theirs. The one safe guide to the 
extrication and right reception of what comes from 
Jesus is the internal evidence. And wherever we 
find what enforces this evidence or builds upon it, 
there we may be especially sure that we are on the 
trace of Jesus ; because turn or bias in this direction 
the disciples were more likely to omit from his dis- 
course than to import into it, they were themselves so 
wholly preoccupied with the evidence from miracles. 


This is what gives such eminency and value to the 
Fourth Gospel. 1 The confident certainty with which 

1 Some critics object that the Fourth Gospel has been proved 
by Baur to be entirely unhistorical, and to give for sayings of 
Jesusj wherever it does not follow the synoptics, the free 
inventions of some Christian dogmatist of late date. So little 
do I think Baur to have proved this, that I hold adherence to his 
thesis to be a conclusive sign of the adherent's want of real 


Ewald settles the authorship of this gospel, and assigns 
it to St. John, is an exhibition of that learned man's 
weakness. To settle the authorship is impossible, the 
data are insufficient ; but from what data we have, 
to believe that the Gospel is St. John's is extremely 
difficult. But, on the other hand, the stress which 
Ewald, following Luther, lays on this Gospel, the 
value which he attributes to it, is an exhibition of 
his power, of his deep, sure feeling, and true insight, 
in the essential matters of religious history; and of 
his superiority, here, to the best of his rivals, Baur, 
Strauss, and even M. Renan. " The true evangelical 
bread," says Strauss, "Christians have always gone 
to the three first Gospels for!" But what, then, 
means this sentence of Luther, who stands as such a 
good, though favourable, representative of ordinary 
Christianity: "John's Gospel is the one proper Head- 
Gospel, and far to be preferred to the three others"? 
Again, M. Eenan, often so ingenious as well as elo- 
quent, says that the narrative and incidents in the 
Fourth Gospel are probably in the main historical, the 
discourses invented. Reverse the proposition, and it 
would be more plausible ! The narrative, so meagre, 
and skipping so unaccountably backwards and for- 
wards between Galilee and Jerusalem, might well be 
thought, not indeed invented, but a matter of infinitely 

critical insight. To discuss controversially in the text the date, 
mode of composition, and character of the Fourth Gospel would 
be quite unsuitable to the design of the present work. But I 
have noticed objections, and amongst them this as .to my use 
of the Fourth Gospel, elsewhere. See God and the Bible: A 
Review of Objections to literature and Dogma. 


little care and attention to the writer of the Gospel, a 
mere slight framework in which to set the doctrine 
and discourses of Jesus. The doctrine and discourses 
of Jesus, on the other hand, cannot in the main be 
the writer's, because in the main they are clearly out 
of his reach. 

The Fourth Gospel delights the heart of M. 
Burnouf. For its writer shows, M. Burnouf thinks, 
signal traces of the Aryan genius, has much to favour 
the notion that religion is a metaphysical conception, 
and was perhaps even capable, with time, of reaching 
the grand truth that God is a cosmic unity ! And 
undoubtedly the writer of the Fourth Gospel seems 
to have come in contact, in Asia or Egypt, with 
Aryan metaphysics whether from India or Greece; 
and to have had this advantage, whatever it amounts 
to, in writing his Gospel. But who, that has eyes to 
read, cannot see the difference between the places in 
his Gospel, such as the introduction, where the writer 
speaks in his own person, and the places where Jesus 
himself speaks 1 The moment Jesus speaks, the meta- 
physical apparatus falls away, the simple intuition 
takes its place; and wherever in the discourse of 
Jesus the metaphysical apparatus is intruded, it jars 
with the context, breaks the unity of the discourse, 
impairs the thought, and comes evidently from the 
writer, not Jesus. It may seem strange and incredible 
to M. Burnouf that metaphysics should not always 
confer the superiority upon their possessor ; but such 
is the case. 

Who, again, cannot understand that the philo- 


sophical acquirements of the author of the Fourth 
Gospel, like the rabbinical training and intellectual 
activity of Paul, though they may have sometimes 
led each of them astray, must yet have given each of 
them a range of thought, and an enlarged mental 
horizon, enabling them to perceive and follow ideas 
of Jesus which escaped the ken of the more scantily 
endowed authors of the synoptical Gospels? Plato 
sophisticates somewhat the genuine Socrates ; but it 
is very doubtful whether the culture and mental 
energy of Plato did not give him a more adequate 
vision of this true Socrates than Xenophon had. It 
proves nothing for the superiority of the first three 
Gospels that their authors are without the logic of 
Paul and the metaphysics of John (by this commonly 
received name let us for shortness' sake call the author 
of the Fourth Gospel), and that Jesus also was with- 
out them. Jesus was without them because he was 
above them; the authors of the synoptical Gospels 
because they were (we say it without any disrespect) 
below them. Therefore, the author of the Fourth 
Gospel, by the very characters which make him 
inferior to Jesus, was made superior to the three 
synoptics, and better able than they to seize and 
reproduce the higher teaching of Jesus. 

Does it follow, then, that his picture of Christ's 
teaching can have been his own invention? By no 
means ; since Christ's teaching is as plainly over his 
head (at that time of day it could not have been 
otherwise) as it is over theirs. He deals in miracles 
as confidingly as they do, while unconsciously indica- 


ting, far more than they do, that the evidence of 
miracles is superseded. In those two great chapters, 
the fifth and sixth, where Jesus deals with the topics 
of life, death, and judgment, and with his thesis : He 
that eateth me shall live by me / l invaluable and full of 
light as is what is given, the eschatology and the 
materialising conceptions of the writer do yet 
evidently intervene, as they did with all the disciples, 
as they did with the Jews in general, to hinder a per- 
fectly faithful mirroring of the thought of Jesus. 
We have already remarked how his metaphysical 
acquirements intervene in like manner. In the dis- 
course with Nicodemus in the third chapter, from the 
thirteenth verse to the end, phrases and expressions 
of Jesus of the highest worth are scattered ; but they 
are manifestly set in a short theological lecture inter- 
posed by the writer himself, a lecture which is, as a 
whole, without vital connection with the genuine 
discourse of Jesus, and needing only to be carefully 
studied side by side with this for its disparateness to 
become apparent. 

But a failure of right understanding, which will 
be visible to every one, occurs with this writer in his 
seventh chapter. Jesus, with a reference to words of 
the second Isaiah, 2 says here : " He that believeth on 
me, as the Scripture saith, out of his belly shall flow 
rivers of living water." 3 The thought is plain ; it 

1 John vi. 57. 

2 Chap. Iviii. 10 ; where it is promised to the righteous : 
"Thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of 
water, whose waters fail not." 3 John vii. 38. 


belongs to the same order as the thought of the 
saying : " If any thirst, let him come unto me and 
drink;" or of the words to the woman of Samaria: 
"If thou hadst known the gift of God, and who it is 
that talketh with thee, thou wouldst have asked of 
him and he would have given thee living water." It 
means that a man, receiving Jesus, obtains a source 
of refreshment for himself and becomes a source of 
refreshment for others ; and it means this generally, 
without any limitation to a special time. But the 
reporter explains : " Now this he said concerning the 
Spirit (Pneuma) which they who believed on him 
should receive; for Pneuma was not yet, because 
Jesus was not yet glorified." l A clearer instance of a 
narrow and mechanical interpretation of a great and 
free thought can hardly be imagined ; and the words 
of Jesus himself enable us here to control the inade- 
quacy of the interpretation, and to make it palpable. 
So that the superior point of view in the Fourth 
Gospel, the more spiritual treatment of things, the 
insistence on internal evidence, not external, cannot, 
we say, be the writer's, for they are above him ; and 
while his gifts and acquirements are such as to make 
him report them, they are not such as to enable him 
to originate them. The great evidential line of this 
Gospel : " You are always talking about God, and 
about your founder Abraham, the father of God's 
faithful people ; here is a man who says nothing of 
his own head, who tells you the truth, as he has 
learnt it of God ; if you were really of God you would 
1 John vii. 39. 


hear the words of God ! if you were really Abraham's 
children you would follow the truth like Abraham !" 
this simple but profound line, sending Israel back 
to amend its conventional, barren notions of God, of 
righteousness, and of the founders of its religion, 
sending it to explore them afresh, to sound them 
deeper, to gather from them a new revelation and a 
new life, was, we say, at once too simple and too pro- 
found for the author of the Fourth Gospel to have 
invented. Our endless gratitude is due to him, how- 
ever, for having caught and preserved so much of it 
And our business is to keep hold of the clue he has 
thus given to us, and to use it as profitably as possible. 


Truly then, some one will exclaim, we may say 
with the "Imitation:" Magnet, ars est scire conversari 
cum Jesu ! And so it is. To extract from his reporters 
the true Jesus entire, is even impossible ; to extract 
him in considerable part is one of the highest con- 
ceivable tasks of criticism. And it is vain to use that 
favourite argument of popular theology that man 
could never have been left by Providence in difficulty 
and obscurity about a matter of so much importance 
to him. For the cardinal rule of our present inquiry 
is that rule of Newton's : Hypotheses non fmgo ; and 
this argument of popular theology rests on the 
eternal hypothesis, of a magnified and non-natural 
man at the head of mankind's and the world's affairs. 
And a further answer is, that, as to the argument 


itself, even if we allowed the hypothesis, yet the 
course of things, so far as we can see, is not so ; they 
do not proceed in this fashion. Because a man has 
frequently to make sea-passages, he is not gifted with 
an immunity from sea-sickness ; because a thing is of 
the highest interest and importance to know, it is not, 
therefore, easy to know ; on the contrary, in general, 
in proportion to its magnitude it is difficult, and 
requires time. 

But the right commentary on the sentence of the 
" Imitation " is given by the " Imitation " itself in the 
sentence following : Esto humilis et pacificus, el erit 
tecum Jesus ! What men could take at the hands of 
Jesus, what they could use, what could save them, he 
made as clear as light; and Christians have never 
been able, even if they would, to miss seeing it. No, 
never; but still they have superadded to it a vast 
Aberglaube, an after or extra-belief of their own ; 
and the Aberglaube has pushed on one side, for very 
many, the saving doctrine of Jesus, has hindered 
attention from being riveted on this and on its line 
of growth and working, has nearly effaced it, has 
developed all sorts of faults contrary to it. This 
Aberglaube has sprung out of a false criticism of the 
literary records in which the doctrine is conveyed ; 
what is called "orthodox divinity" is, in fact, an 
immense literary misapprehension. Having caused 
the saving doctrines enshrined in these records to be 
neglected, and having credited the records with exist- 
ing for the sake of its own Aberglaube, this blunder 
aow threatens to cause the records themselves to be 


neglected by all those (and their numbers are fast 
increasing) whom its own Aberglaube fills with im- 
patience and aversion. Therefore it is needful to 
show the line of growth of this Aberglaube, and its 
delusiveness ; to show anew, and with more detail 
than we have admitted hitherto, the line of growth 
of Jesus Christ's doctrine, and the far-reaching 
sanctions, the inexhaustible attractiveness, the grace 
and truth, with which he invested it. But the 
doctrine itself is essentially simple; and what is 
difficult, the literary criticism of the documents 
containing the doctrine, is not the doctrine. 

This literary criticism, however, is extremely diffi- 
cult. It calls into play the highest requisites for the 
study of letters ; great and wide acquaintance with 
the history of the human mind, knowledge of the 
manner in which men have thought, of their way of 
using words and of what they mean by them, delicacy 
of perception and quick tact, and, besides all these, a 
favourable moment and the "Zeit-Geist." And yet 
every one among us criticises the Bible, and thinks it 
is of the essence of the Bible that it can be thus 
criticised with success ! And the Four Gospels, the 
part of the Bible to which this sort of criticism is 
most applied and most confidently, are just the part 
which for literary criticism is infinitely the hardest, 
however simple they may look, and however simple 
the saving doctrine they contain really is. For 
Prophets and Epistlers speak for themselves ; but in 
the Four Gospels reporters are speaking for Jesus, 
who is far above them. 


Now, we all know what the literary criticism of the 
mass of mankind is. To be worth anything, literary 
and scientific criticism require, both of them, the 
finest heads and the most sure tact; and they require, 
besides, that the world and the world's experience 
shall have come some considerable way. But, ever 
since this last condition has been fulfilled, the finest 
heads for letters and science, the surest tact for 
these, have turned themselves in general to other 
departments of work than criticism of the Bible, this 
department being occupied already in such force of 
numbers and hands, if not of heads, and there being 
so many annoyances and even dangers in freely 
approaching it As our Eeformers were to Shak- 
speare and Bacon in tact for letters and science, or as 
Luther, even, was to Goethe in this respect, such 
almost has on the whole been, since the Kenascence, 
the general proportion in rate of power for criticism 
between those who have given themselves to secular 
letters and science, and those who have given them- 
selves to interpreting the Bible, and who, in con- 
junction with the popular interpretation of it both 
traditional and contemporary, have made what is 
called " orthodox theology." It is as if some simple 
and saving doctrines, essential for men to know, were 
enshrined in Shakspeare's Hamlet or in Newton's 
Principia (though the Gospels are really a far more 
complex and difficult object of criticism than either) ; 
and a host of second-rate critics, and official critics, 
and what is called " the popular mind " as well, threw 
themselves upon Hamlet and the Principia, with the 
VOL. v. M 


notion that they could and should extract from these 
documents, and impose on us for our belief, not only 
the saving doctrines enshrined there, but also the 
right literary and scientific criticism of the entire 
documents, A pretty mess they would make of it ! 
and just this sort of mess is our so-called orthodox 
theology. And its professors are nevertheless bold, 
overweening, and even abusive, in maintaining their 
criticism against all questioners; although really, if 
one thinks seriously of it, it was a kind of imperti- 
nence in such professors to attempt any such criticism 
at all 

Happily, the faith that saves is attached to the 
saving doctrines in the Bible, which are very simple ; 
not to its literary and scientific criticism, which is 
very hard. And no man is to be called " infidel " for 
his bad literary and scientific criticism of the Bible ; 
but if he were, how dreadful would the state of our 
orthodox theologians be.! They themselves freely 
fling about this word infidel at all those who reject 
their literary and scientific criticism, which turns out 
to be quite false. It would be but just to mete to 
them with their own measure, and to condemn them 
by their own rule ; and, when they air their unsound 
criticism in public, to cry indignantly : The Bishop of 
So-and-So, the Dean of So-and-So, and other infidel lec- 
turers of the present day ! or : That rampant infidel, the 
Archdeacon of So-and-So, in his recent letter on the Atha- 
nasian Creed/ or: "The Rock," "The Church Times" 
and the rest of the infidel press/ or: The torrent of 
infidelity which pours every Sunday from our pulpits/ 


Just would this be, and by no means inurbane ; but 
hardly, perhaps, Christian. Therefore we will not 
permit ourselves to say it; but it is only kind to 
point out, in passing, to these loud and rash people 
to what they expose themselves, at the hands of 
adversaries less scrupulous than we are. 



WE have said, and it cannot be repeated too often, 
that what is called orthodox theology is, in fact, 
an immense misunderstanding of the Bible, due to 
the junction of a talent for abstruse reasoning with 
much literary inexperience. It cannot be repeated 
too often; because our dogmatic friends seem to 
imagine that the truth of their dogma is conceded on 
all hands, and that the only objection is to the harsh 
or over-rigid way in which it is put. Dr. Pusey and 
the Church Review assume that what the Athanasian 
Creed, for instance, does, is " to take up the admitted 
fads of Christian faith, and arrange them sentence 
after sentence ; " and then they ask us why we 
should be so squeamish about "letting the Prayer 
Book contain once, at least, the statement that Chris- 
tian faith is necessary to salvation." Others, we 
know, talk of the contest going on between " definite 
religion," " religion with the sinew and bone of doc- 
trine," and " indefinite religion," " nerveless religion," 
"vague, negative, and cloudy religion;" and Lord 
Salisbury, as we have seen, declares that " religion is 


no more to be severed from dogma than light from 
the sun." 

To be sure, to make this maxim of Lord Salisbury's 
indisputable, it ought to run : " Eeligion is no more 
to be severed from the true doctrine of religion than 
light from the sun." And dogma and the true doctrine 
of religion are not exactly synonyms. Dogma means, 
not necessarily a true doctrine, but merely a doctrine 
or system of doctrine determined, decreed, received. Lord 
Salisbury, however, takes it as in this case another 
word for truth, and so do the other speakers. And 
they accordingly represent their opponents as either 
secret enemies of the truth of religion, men who are, 
as the Hock says in a Biblical figure addressed to the 
Dean of Westminster, " the degenerate plant of a 
strange vine bringing forth the grapes of Sodom and 
the clusters of Gomorrah;" or, at best, as amiable, 
soft-headed people, afraid of clear thought and plain 
speech, and requiring with their light a very unneces- 
sary dose of sweetness. 

We, however, try to keep our love of sweetness 
within reasonable bounds ; and the Rock will hardly 
call us a Gomorrah vine, when we agree to say heartily 
after it. as we do, that " Christian faith is necessary 
to salvation." But what is Christian faith? Is it 
" the admitted facts taken up and arranged, sentence 
after sentence, in the Athanasian Creed?" Are these 
facts admitted ? the whole question is here. So far 
from these facts being admitted, or from the enumera- 
tion of them being the emimeration of the facts of the 
Christian faith, we say that they are deductions from 


the Bible of matters which are not the real matters 
of Christian faith at all; and that, moreover, they 
are false deductions from the Bible, blunders arising 
from a want of skill and experience in dealing with a 
very complex literary problem. 

Therefore we can honestly tell our dogmatic friends 
that we agree with them in disliking an indefinite 
religion, in preferring a definite one. Our quarrel 
with them is, n6t that they define religion, but that 
they define it so abominably. And to the eloquent 
and impetuous Chancellor of Oxford, who cannot 
away with a hazy amiability in religious matters, and 
brandishes before us his dogma, not vague, he says, 
but precise ; " Precise enough," we answer, " precisely 
wrong!" And having thus, we hope, put ourselves 
right with our adversaries as to the real question 
between us and them, we will proceed with our 
endeavour to free the Bible, by showing that it is 
not science but literature, by following it continuously 
and by interpreting it naturally, to free the Bible 
from the serious dangers with which their advocacy 
threatens it. Because, when the bishops talk of 
"doing something for the Godhead of the Eternal 
Son," they are doing nothing, we say, for the Bible, 
they are endangering it. For their notions about 
the Godhead of the Eternal Son, and what it is, 
cannot possibly stand ; and yet these notions they 
have drawn, they tell us, from the Bible, they impute 
them to the Bible. But they have drawn them 
wrongly, and the Bible is to be made answerable for 
no such doctrine. And we have now come to that 


point where we may see, clearer than we were in a 
position to see before, what is rightly to be drawn 
from the Bible on this matter, and what the doctrine 
of Jesus himself about his own Godhead really is. 


' Following the Bible continuously and interpreting 
it naturally, we saw the people of " the Eternal that 
loveth righteousness," and that "blesseth the man 
that putteth his trust in Him," l we saw Israel con- 
founded and perplexed by the misfortunes of God's 
people and the success of the unrighteous world 
construct a vast Aberglaube, an after or extra-belief, 
according to which there should come about, in no 
distant future, a grand and wonderful change. God 
should send his Messiah, judge the world, punish the 
wicked, and restore the kingdom to Israel. For 
Israel's original revelation and intuition had been : 
The Eternal loveth righteousness ; to him that order eth his 
conversation right shall be shown the salvation of God. 2 
And the natural corollary from this was : As the 
whirlmnd passeth, so is the wicked no more; but the 
righteous is an everlasting foundation. 3 

Both the revelation and the corollary from it were 
true ; but the virtue of both, for Israel, turned upon 
knowing what righteousness and righteous meant. And 
this indispensable intuition Israel is always repre- 
sented as having once had, and with time in great 

1 Psalm xi 7 ; xxxiv. 8. Psalm xi. 7 ; 1. 23. 

3 Proverbs x. 25. 


measure lost. " Stand ye in the ways and see," says 
Jeremiah, "and ask for the old paths, where is the good 
ivay, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your 
souls. 1 The prophets may be seen trying to reawaken 
in Israel this intuition, by inculcating inwardness, 
humbleness, sincerity. But the mass of people 
naturally inclined to place righteousness rather in 
something mechanically to be given or done, in 
being endowed with the character of God's chosen 
people, or in punctually observing a law full of minute 
observances. And the promises to righteousness 
they in like manner construed as promises of things 
material : a mighty Jewish kingdom, God's people 
"shepherding the nations with a rod of iron," 2 the 
heathen licking the dust. 

This material conception of the promises to right- 
eousness fell in with the mechanical conception of 
righteousness itself, and each heightened the hurtful- 
ness of the other. Between them both, a type of soul 
more and more hard, impervious, and impracticable, 
was formed in the Jewish people ; and the intuition, 
in which their greatness began, died out more and 
more. There still remained of it so much as this : 
that of all the nations of the world they were the only 
one that felt the all-importance of righteousness, and 
the eternity of the promises made to it. But what 
righteousness really was they knew not; and their 
situation, when Jesus Christ came, is admirably 
summed up in these two verses of prophecy, which 
every one who wishes for a clear sense of the Jews 

1 Jeremiah vL 16. a Rev. xix. 15 and Psalm ii 9- 


relations with Jesus would do well to write as a 
reminder on the blank page of his Bible between the 
Old Testament and the New : 

"Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their 
mouth, and loith their lips do honour me, but have removed 
their heart from me, and their fear towards me is taught 
by the precept of men ; 

"Therefore, behold, I mil proceed to do a marvellous 
work among this people, even a marvellous work and a 
wonder ; for the wisdom of the wise man shall perish, and 
the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." 1 

Meanwhile, the Jews were full of their Aberglaube, 
their added or extra-belief in a Messianic advent, a 
great judgment, a world-wide reign of the saints ; and 
it is well to have distinctly before us the main texts 
which they had gathered from the Old Testament in 
support of this belief, and which were in everybody's 
mind and mouth. They are all indicated to us by 
the New Testament. Moses had said : " The Eternal 
thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the 
midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me ; unto 
him shall ye hearken." 2 In the Psalms it was written : 
" The Eternal hath sworn a faithful oath unto David : 
Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy seat ; thy seed 
will I stablish for ever, and set up thy throne from one 
generation to another" 3 Isaiah had said : " There shall 
come forth a Eod out of the stem of Jesse and a 
Branch shall grow out of his roots ; and the Spirit of 
the Eternal shall rest upon him, and he shall smite 

1 Isaiah xxix. 13, 14. - Deut. xviii 15. 

8 Psalm cxxxii. 11 ; Ixxxix. 4. 


the earth with the breath of his mouth, and with the 
breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked." l Finally, 
Malachi, the last prophet, had announced from God 
" Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the 
coming of the great and dreadful day of the Eternal." 2 
These may stand, perhaps, as four fundamental 
texts forming the ground for popular Jewish Aber- 
glaube as it developed itself ; and it will be seen of 
what largfe and loose construction they admit. But 
the ground-plan thus given was filled out from later 
and inferior scriptures, full of the spirit of the time, 
grandiose, but turbid and phantasmagoric, such as 
the Book of Enoch and the Book of Daniel The 
Book of Daniel is in our Bibles; we can all verify 
there the elements which constituted, when Jesus 
Christ came, the popular religious belief and expecta- 
tion of the Jews. It may be hoped that we ourselves, 
most of us, read other parts of the Bible far more than 
the Book of Daniel ; but we know how, in general, 
those who use the Bible most unintelligently have a 
peculiar fondness for the apocalyptic and phantasma- 
goric parts of it. The Book of Daniel gave form and 
body to the Prophet of Moses, the seed of David of the 
Psalms, the great and dreadful day of Malachi; it 
enabled the popular imagination to see and figure 
them. " A time of trouble such as never was since 
there was a nation to that time ! The Ancient of 
days did sit, whose garment was white as snow and 
the hair of his head like the pure wool ; his throne 
was like the fiery flame ; the judgment was set and 
1 Isaiah xi. 1, 2, 4. 2 Malachi vi. 6. 


the books were opened. And behold, one like the 
Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and 
came to the Ancient of days, and there was given him 
dominion and glory, that all people, nations, and 
languages should serve him ; his dominion is an ever- 
lasting dominion which shall not pass away. And 
judgment was given to the saints of the Most High, 
and the time came that the saints possessed the king- 
dom. At that time the people of God shall be 
delivered, every one that- shall be found written in the 
book; and many of them that sleep in dust shall 
awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame 
and everlasting contempt." l 

Other figures which laid hold on men's imagina- 
tions the Book of Enoch supplied. It told how, in 
the great visitation : " They shall rise up to destroy 
one another, neither shall a man acknowledge his 
friend and his brother, nor the son his father and 
his mother." It told how: "Ye shall enter into the 
holes of the earth and into the cliffs of the rocks ; " 
and how, finally, the proud rulers of the world "shall 
see the Son of Man sitting on the throne of his 
glory." The Book of Enoch described this Son of 
Man, also, as " The Son of Man, living with the Lord 
of Spirits;" "The Elect One, whom the Lord of 
Spirits hath gifted and glorified." Both books gave 
him the name of "Son of God" and of "Messiah." 

It was of all this that the heart of the Jews was 
full when Jesus Christ came; it was on this that 
their thoughts fed and their hopes brooded. The 
1 Daniel xii. 1 ; vii. 9, 13, 14, 22 ; xii 1, 2. 


old words, God, the Eternal, the Father, the Redeemer, 
were perpetually in their mouths; but in this con- 
nection. The goal of their lives was still, as of old, 
" the salvation of God ; " but this was what they 
understood the salvation of God to be. They had 
lost the intuition, and they had thrown themselves, 
heart and soul, upon a great extra-belief, or Aberglaube. 


Now, if we describe the work of Jesus Christ by 
a short expression which may give the clearest view 
of it) we shall describe it thus : that he came to 
restore the intuition. He came, it is true, to save, and 
to give eternal life ; but the way in which he did this 
was by restoring the intuition. 

This we have already touched upon in our third 
chapter. We there passed in brief review the teaching 
of Jesus. But there the objection met us, that what 
attested Jesus Christ was miracles, and the preter- 
natural fulfilment in him of certain detailed predic- 
tions made about him long before ; and that such is 
the teaching of Jesus Christ himself and of the Bible. 
We had to pause and deal with this objection. And 
now, as it disperses, we come in full view of our old 
point again : that what did attest Christ was his 
restoration of the intuition. Jesus Christ found Israel 
all astray, with an endless talk about God, the law, 
righteousness, the kingdom, everlasting life, and no 
real hold upon any one of them. Israel's old, sure 
proof of being in the right way, the sanction of joy 


and peace, was plainly wanting ; and this was a test 
which anybody could at once apply. "0 Eternal. 
blessed is the man that putteth his trust in thee," 1 
was a corner-stone of Israel's religion. Now, the 
Jewish people, however they might talk about putting 
their trust in the Eternal, were evidently, as they 
stood there before Jesus, not blessed at all; and they 
knew it themselves as well as he did. " Great peace 
have they who love thy law," 2 was another corner- 
stone. But the Jewish people had at that time in 
its soul as little peace as it had joy and blessedness ; 
it was seething with inward unrest, irritation, and 
trouble. Yet the way of the Eternal was most 
indubitably a way of peace and joy; so, if Israel 
felt no peace and no joy, Israel could not be walking 
in the way of the Eternal Here we have the firm 
unchanging ground on which the operations of Jesus 
both began, and always proceeded. 

And it is to be observed that Jesus by no means 
gave a new, more precise, scientific definition of God, 
but took up this term just as Israel used it, to stand 
for the Eternal that loveth righteousness. If therefore 
this term was, in Israel's use of it, not a term of 
science, but, as we say, a term of common speech, of 
poetry and eloquence, thrown out at a vast object of 
consciousness not fully covered by it, so it was in 
Jesus Christ's use of it also. And if the substratum 
of real affirmation in the term was, with Israel, not 
the affirmation of " a great Personal First Cause, the 
moral and intelligent Governor of the universe," but 
1 Ps. Ixxxiv. 13. Ps. cxix. 165. 


the affirmation of "an enduring Power, not ourselves, 
that makes for righteousness," so it remained with 
Jesus Christ likewise. He set going a great process 
of searching and sifting ; but this process had for its 
direct object the idea of righteousness, and only touched 
the idea of God through this, and not independently of 
this and immediately. If the idea of righteousness was 
changed, this implied, undoubtedly, a corresponding 
change in the idea of the Power that makes for right- 
eousness; but in this manner only, and to this extent, 
does the teaching of Jesus re-define the idea of God. 

But search and sift and renew the idea of righteous- 
ness Jesus did. And though the work of Jesus, like 
the name of God, calls up in the believer a multitude 
of emotions and associations far more than any brief 
definition can cover, yet, remembering Jeremy Taylor's 
advice to avoid exhortations to get Christ, to be in Christ, 
and to seek some more distinct and practical way of 
speaking of him, we shall .not do ill, perhaps, if we 
summarise to our own minds his work by saying, that 
he restored the intuition of God through transforming 
the idea of righteousness ; and that, to do this, he 
brought a method, and he brought a secret. And of 
those two great words which fill such a place in his 
gospel, repentance and peace, as we see that his 
Apostles, when they preached his gospel, preached 
"Repentance unto life" 1 and "Peace through Jesus 
Christ," 2 of these two great words, one, repentance, 
attaches itself, we shall find, to his method, and the 
other, peace, to his secret, 

1 Acts XL 18. 2 Acts x. 36. 


There was no question between Jesus Christ and 
the Jews as to the object to aim at " If thou wouldst 
enter into life, keep the commandments," said Jesus. 1 
And Israel, too, on his part, said: "He that keepeth 
the commandments keepeth his own soul." 2 But what 
commandments 1 The commandments of God ; about 
this, too, there was no question. But: "Leaving 
the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of 
men; ye make the commandment of God of none 
effect by your tradition," said Jesus. 3 Therefore the 
commandments which Israel followed were not those 
commandments of God by which a man keeps his 
own soul, enters into life. And the practical proof 
of this was, that Israel stood before the eyes of the 
world manifestly neither blessed nor at peace ; yet 
these characters of bliss and peace the following of 
the real commandments of God was confessed to give. 
So a rule, or method, was wanted, by which to deter- 
mine on what the keeping of the real commandments 
of God depended. 

And Jesus gave one : " The things that come from 
within a man's heart, they it is which defile him ! " 4 

We have seen what an immense matter conduct 
is; that it is three-fourths of life. We have seen 
how plain and simple a matter it is, so far as know- 
ledge is concerned. We have seen how, moreover, 
philosophers are for referring all conduct to one or 
other of man's two elementary instincts, the instinct 
of self-preservation and the reproductive instinct. It 

1 Matt. xix. 17. 2 Prov. xix. 16. 

3 Mark vii 9, 13. 4 Matt xv. 18 ; Mark vii. 20, 21, 


is the suggestions of one or other of these instincts, 
philosophers say, which call forth all cases in which 
there is scope for exercising morality, or conduct. 
And this does, we saw, cover the facts well enough. 
For we can run up nearly all faults of conduct into 
two classes faults of temper and faults of sensuality; 
to he referred, all of them, to one or other of these 
two instincts. Now, Jesus not only says that things 
coming from within a man's heart defile him, he 
adds expressly what these things that, coming from 
within a man, defile him, are. And what he enume- 
rates are the following : " Evil thoughts, adulteries, 
fornications, murders, stealings, greeds, viciousnesses, 
fraud, dissoluteness, envy, evil-speaking, pride, folly." 1 
These fall into two groups : one, of faults of self- 
assertion, graspingness, and violence, all of which we 
may call faults of temper ; and the other, of faults of 
sensuality. And the two groups, between them, do 
for practical purposes cover all the range of faults 
proceeding from these two sources, and therefore all 
the range of conduct. So the motions or impulses to 
faults of conduct were what Jesus said the real com- 
mandments of God are concerned with. And it was 
plain what such faults are; hut, to make assurance 
more sure, he went farther and said what they are. 
But no outward observances were conduct, were that 
keeping of the commandments of God which was the 
keeping of a man's own soul and made him enter into 
lifa To have the heart and thoughts in order as to 
certain matters, was conduct. 

1 Mark vii. 21, 22. 


This was the " method " of Jesus : the setting up 
a great unceasing inward movement of attention and 
verification in matters which are three -fourths of 
human life, where to see true and to verify is not diffi- 
cult, the difficult thing is to care and to attend. And 
the inducement to attend was because joy and peace, 
missed on every other line, were to be reached on this. 

" Keep judgment and do righteousness ! " l had not 
been guidance enough. The Jews found themselves 
taking " meats and drinks and divers washings " for 
judgment; taking for righteousness "gifts and sacri- 
fices which cannot perfect the worshipper as to his 
conscience" 2 (here is the word of Jesus!); tithing 
mint, anise and cummin ; 3 saying to a father or 
mother, when filial succour was claimed, It is Corban/* 
evil disposed, and not at all blessed. But: "As 
to all wherein what men commonly call conduct is 
exercised, eating, drinking, ease, pleasure, money, 
the intercourse of the sexes, the giving full swing to 
one's tempers and instincts, as to all this, watch 
attentively what passes within you, that you may 
obey the voice of conscience ! so you will keep God's 
commandment and be blessed;" this is the new and 
much more exact guidance. " The things that come 
from within a man's heart, they defile him ! cleanse the 
inside of the cup ! beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, 
which is insincerity/ judge not after the appearance, 
but judge righteous judgment !" 5 this, we say, is the 

1 Isaiah Ivi. 1. 2 Hebrews ix. 9, 10. 

3 Matthew xxiii. 23. * Mark vii. 11. 

6 Matthew xv. 18; xxiii. 16; Luke xii. 1; John vii. 24. 
VOL. V. N 


"method" of Jesus. To it belongs his use of that 
important word which in the Greek is " metanoia." 
We translate it repentance, a groaning and lamenting 
over one's sins; and we translate it wrong. Of 
" metanoia," according to the meaning of Jesus, the 
bewailing one's sins was a small part. The main 
part was something far more active and fruitful 
the setting up an immense new inward movement for 
obtaining one's rule of life. And " metanoia," accord- 
ingly, is : A change of the inner man, 

Mention and recommendation of this inwardness 
there often was, we know, in prophet or psalmist. 
But to make mention of it was one thing, to erect 
it into a positive method was another. Christianity 
has made it so familiar, that to give any freshness to 
one's words about it is now not easy ; but to its first 
recipients it was abundantly fresh and novel. It was 
the introduction, in morals and religion, of the famous 
know thyself of the Greeks ; and this among a people 
deeply serious, but also wedded to moral and religious 
routine, and singularly devoid of flexibility and play 
of mind. For them it was a revolution. Of course 
the hard thing is, not to say, " Cleanse the inside of 
the cup," but to make people do it. In morals and 
religion, the man who is "founded upon rock" is 
always, as Jesus said, the man who does, never the 
man who only hears. 1 To say, "Look within," was 
therefore not everything; yet we none of us, probably, 
enough feel the power which at first resided in the 
mere saying of it as Jesus said it. And this is 
1 Matthew vii. 24. 


because his words have become so trite to us, that 
we fail to see how powerfully they were all adapted 
to call forth the new habit of inwardness ; and if we 
want to see this, we must for a time either re-translate 
his words for ourselves, or paraphrase them. And not 
only the words he employed, but also the words he 
occasioned ; the words which the effect produced by 
him made men use about him. Just as it is well to 
substitute Eternal for Lord, and the good news for the 
gospel, so we must put new words in the place of the 
now hackneyed repentance, truth, grace, spirit, if we wish 
at all to know how these words worked originally. 
" Metanoia," we have seen, is a change of the inner 
man. Repentance unto life was a life-giving change of 
the inner man. "Aletheia" is not so well rendered 
truth, which is often speculative only, as it is reality. 
"Charis" is the boon of happiness* Instead, then, 
of : " Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ," 
let us say : " Happiness and reality came through 
Jesus Christ." Instead of: "To know the grace of 
God in truth," let us say : " To know the happiness of 
God in reality." Even though the new rendering be 
not so literally correct as the old, not permanently to 
be adopted, it will prove of use to us for a while to 
show us how the words worked. 

Above all is this true in regard to the word spirit, 
made so mechanical by popular religion, that it has 
come to mean a person without a body, which is the 

1 Professor F. Newman has truly remarked that this rendering 
is not closely accurate. But see what I have said in the next 
sentence but one. The most literal rendering of a word such 
as charts ia not, in the present case, what we want. 


child's definition of a ghost. This word, specially de- 
signed by Jesus to serve in restoring the intuition, and 
in bringing Israel's religion face to face with Israel's 
inward consciousness, is rather influence. " Except a 
man be born of cleansing and of a new influence, he 
cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 1 Instead of 
proclaiming what the Bishop of Gloucester calls " the 
blessed truth that the God of the universe is a 
PERSON," Jesus uttered a warning for all time against 
this unprofitable jargon, when he said : " God is an 
influence, and those who would serve him must serve 
him not by any form of words or rites, but by inward 
motion and in reality ! " No rendering can too 
strongly bring out the original bent to inwardness 
and intuition in language of this kind, which has now 
become almost formal to us. 

Just the same bent appears in Jesus taking, as 
the rule for a man's action in regard to another's 
conduct, simply and solely the effect on the actor's 
own character. This is what is so striking in the 
story of the woman taken in adultery. " Let him that 
is without fault cast the first stone ! and they were all 
convicted by their conscience." And who is without 
fault, and where is the judge whom the conviction 
of conscience might not thus paralyse 1 Punishment, 
then, is impossible ; and, with punishment, govern- 
ment and society! But punishment, government, and 
society, are all of them after-inventions ; creations of 
assemblages of men, and not matter of the individual's 
intuition. Jesus regarded simply what was primary, 

1 John iii. 5. 


the individual and the intuition. And in truth, if 
the individual and the intuition are once reached, the 
after-inventions may be left to take care of themselves. 
And if conscience ever became enough of a power, 
there would be no offenders to punish. This is the 
true line of religion ; it was the line of Jesus. To 
work the renovation needed, he concentrated his 
efforts upon a method of inwardness, of taking counsel 
of conscience. 


But for this world of busy inward movement 
created by the method of Jesus, a rule of action was 
wanted; and this rule was found in his secret. It 
was this of which the Apostle Paul afterwards pos- 
sessed himself with such energy, and called it "the 
word of the cross," l or, necrosis, " dying." The rule 
of action St. Paul gave was : " Always bearing about 
in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of 
Jesus may be made manifest in our body !" 2 In the 
popular theurgy, these words are commonly referred to 
what is called "pleading the blood of the covenant," 
relying on the death and merits of Christ, in pur- 
suance of the contract originally passed in the Council 
of the Trinity, to satisfy God's wrath against sinners 
and to redeem us. But they do really refer to words 
of Jesus, often and often repeated, and of which the 
following may very well stand as pre-eminently 
representative : " He that loveth his life shall lose it, 

1 '0 \6yos 6 TOV ffravpov.l Cor. i. 18. 
2 2 Cor. iv. 10 (according to the Vatican manuscript). 


and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto 
life eternal. Wliosoever will come after me, let him renounce 
himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." l 

These words, or words like them, were repeated 
again and again, so that no reporter could miss them. 
No reporter did miss them We find them, as we 
find the "method" of conscience, in all the four 
Gospels. Perhaps there is no other maxim of Jesus 
which has such a combined stress of evidence for it, 
and may be taken as so eminently -his. And no 
wonder. For the maxim contains his secret, the secret 
by which, emphatically, his gospel " brought life and 
immortality to light." 2 Christ's "method" directed 
the disciple's eye inward, and set his consciousness to 
work ; and the first thing his consciousness told him 
was, that he had two selves pulling him different 
ways. Till we attend, till the method is set at work, 
it seems as if "the wishes of the flesh and of the 
current thoughts " 3 were to be followed as a matter 
of course ; as if an impulse to do a thing must mean 
that we should do it. But when we attend, we find 
that an impulse to do a thing is really in itself no 
reason at all why we should do it ; because impulses 
proceed from two sources, quite different, and of 
quite different degrees of authority. St. Paul contrasts 
them as the inward man, and the man in our mem- 
bers ; the mind of the flesh, and the spiritual mind.* 
Jesus contrasts them as life, properly so named, and 

* John xiL 25 ; Luke ix. 23. 2 2 Tim. i. 10. 

8 TA fleXij/wmi rrjs <ra/>K6s Kal ruv diavoiwv. Ephesians ii. 8. 

4 Romans chap. viii. 


life in this world. 1 And the moment we seriously 
attend to conscience, to the suggestions which concern 
practice and conduct, we can see plainly enough from 
which source a suggestion comes, and that the sug- 
gestions from one source are to overrule those from 
the other. 

But this is a negative state of things, a reign of 
check and constraint, a reign, merely, of morality. 
Jesus changed it into what was positive and attrac- 
tive, lighted it up, made it religion, by the idea of 
two lives. One of them life properly so called, full of 
light, endurance, felicity, in connection with the 
higher and permanent self; and the other of them 
life improperly so called, in connection with the lower 
and transient self. The first kind of life was already 
a cherished ideal with Israel (" Thou wilt show me 
the path of life/") ; 2 and a man might be placed in 
it, Jesus said, by dying to the second. For it is to 
be noted that our common expression, " deny himself," 
is an inadequate and misleading version of the words 
used by Jesus. To deny one's self is commonly 
understood to mean that one refuses one's self some- 
thing. But what Jesus says is : " Let a man disown 
himself, renounce himself, die as regards his old self, 
and so live." Himself, the old man, the life in this 
world, meant following those " wishes of the flesh and 
of the current thoughts" which Jesus had, by his 
method, already put his disciples in the way of sifting 

1 John xil 25. The strict grammatical and logical connec- 
tion of the words tv T$ K&fffu? Tofot? is with 6 fuaCiv, but the 
sense and effect is as given above. 2 Ps. xvL 11. 


and scrutinising, and of trying by the standard of 
conformity to conscience. 

Thus, after putting him by his method in the way 
to find ivliat doing righteousness was, by his secret 
Jesus put the disciple in the way of doing it. For 
the breaking the sway of what is commonly called one's 
self, ceasing our concern with it and leaving it to perish, 
is not, Jesus said, being thwarted or crossed, but living. 
And the proof of this is that it has the characters of 
life in the highest degree, the sense of going right, 
hitting the mark, succeeding. That is, it has the 
characters of happiness; and happiness is, for Israel, 
the same thing as having the Eternal with us, seeing 
the salvation of God. "The tree," as Jesus said, 
and as men's common sense and proverbial speech 
say with him, "is known by its fruits;" 1 and Jesus, 
then, was to be received by Israel as sent from God, 
because the secret of Jesus leads to the salvation of 
God, which is what Israel most desired. The word of 
the cross, in short, turned out to be at the same time 
the word of the kingdom? And to this experimental 
sanction of his secret, this sense it gives of having the 
Eternal on our side and approving us, Jesus appealed 
when he said of himself : " Tlierefore doth my Father 
love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take 
it again." 3 This, again, in our popular theurgy, is 
materialised into the First Person of the Trinity 
approving the Second, because he stands to the con- 
tract already in the Council of the Trinity passed. 

1 Matthew xii. 33. 

8 '0 \6yos r?)j ^aeriXf/os. Matt. xiii. 19. 3 John x. 17 


But what it really means is, that the joy of Jesus, of 
this "Son of peace," 1 the "joy" he was so desirous 
that his disciples should find " fulfilled in themselves," 2 
was due to his having himself followed his own 
secret. And the great counterpart to : A life-giving 
change of the inner man, the promise : Peace through 
Jesus Christ / 3 is peace through this secret of his. 

Now, the value of this rule that one should die to 
one's apparent self, live to one's real self, depends 
upon whether it is true. And true it certainly is ; a 
profound truth of what our scientific friends, who 
have a systematic philosophy and a nomenclature to 
match, and who talk of Egoism and Altruism, would 
call, perhaps, psycho-physiology. And we may trace 
men's experience affirming and confirming it, from a 
very plain and level account of it to an account 
almost as high and solemn as that of Jesus. That an 
opposition there is, in all matter of what we call 
conduct, between a man's first impulses and what he 
ultimately finds to be the real law of his being ; that 
a man accomplishes his right function as a man, fulfils 
his end, hits the mark, in giving effect to the real law 
of his being; and that happiness attends his thus 
hitting the mark, all good observers report. No 
statement of this general experience can be simpler 
or more faithful than one given us by that great 
naturalist, Aristotle. 4 "In all wholes made up of 
parts," says he, "there is a ruler and a ruled; 
throughout nature this is so ; we see it even in things 

] Luke x. 6. 2 John xvii. 13. 

3 Acts xi. 18 ; x. 36. 4 Politics i. 5. 


without life, they have their harmony or law. The 
living being is composed of soul and body, whereof 
the one is naturally ruler and the other ruled. Now 
what is natural we are to learn from what fulfils the 
law of its nature most, and not from what is 
depraved. So we ought to take the man who has 
the best disposition of body and soul ; and in him we 
shall find that this is so; for in people that are 
grievous both to others and to themselves the body 
may often appear ruling the soul, because such people 
are poor creatures and false to nature." And 
Aristotle goes on to distinguish between the body, 
over which, he says, the rule of the soul is absolute, 
and the movement of thought and desire, over which 
reason has, says he, "a constitutional rule," in words 
which exactly recall St. Paul's phrase for our double 
enemy : " the flesh and the current thoughts. " So 
entirely are we here on ground of general experience. 
And if we go on and take this maxim from Stobseus : 
"All fine acquirement implies a foregoing effort of 
self-control;" 1 or this from Horace: "Rule your 
current self or it will rule you ! bridle it in and chain 
it down!" 2 or this from Goethe's autobiography: 
" Everything cries out to us that we must renounce ;" 3 
or still more this from his Faust: "Thou must go 
without, go without ! that is the everlasting song which 
every hour, all our life through, hoarsely sings tc 

1 Havrbs /caXoO KT-^/JMTOS TT&VOS irporjyeiTat 6 /car' eyKpa.rei.av. 

2 ". . . . Animum rege, qui nisi paret 
Imperat ; hunc fraenis, hunc tu compesce catenis. " 

3 " Alles ruft uns zu, dass wir entsagen sollen." 


us!" 1 then we have testimony not only to the 
necessity of this natural law of rule and suppression, 
but also to the strain and labour and suffering which 
attend it. But when we come a little further and 
take a sentence like this of Plato : " Of sufferings 
and pains cometh help, for it is not possible by any 
other way to be ridded of our iniquity;" 2 then we 
get a higher strain, a strain like St. Peter's : "He 
that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin ;" 3 
and we are brought to see, not only the necessity of 
the law of rule and suppression, not only the pain 
and suffering in it, but also its beneficence. And this 
positive sense of beneficence, salutariness, and hope, 
come out yet more strongly when Wordsworth saya 
to Duty : " Nor know we anything so fair as is the 
smile upon thy face ;" or when Bishop Wilson says : 
" They that deny themselves will be sure to find their 
strength increased, their affections raised, and their 
inward peace continually augmented;" and most of all, 
perhaps, when we hear from Goethe : " Die and come 
to life ! for so long as this is not accomplished thou 
art but a troubled guest upon an earth of gloom !" 4 

1 "Entbehren sollst du ! sollst entbehren ! 
Das ist der ewige Gesang, 
Den unser ganzes Leben lang 
Tins heiser jede Stunde singt." 

* Ai' d\y>j56i'wv /col 65vviav ylyvfrai ij wQlXeia ' ov y&p otbi 
Tf dEXXws aOLKias &ira\\a.TT<rOcu. 
8 1 Peter iv. 1. 

* " Stirb und werde ! 

Denn, so lang du das nicht hast, 
Bist du nur ein triiber Gast 
Auf der dunkeln Erde 1 " 


But this is evidently borrowed from Jesus, and 
by one whose testimony is of all the more weight, 
because he certainly would not have become thus a 
borrower from Jesus, unless the truth had compelled 

.And never certainly was the joy, which in self- 
renouncement underlies the pain, so brought out as 
when Jesus boldly called the suppression of our first 
impulses and current thoughts : life, real life, eternal 
life. So that Jesus not only saw this great necessary 
truth of there being, as Aristotle says, in human 
nature a part to rule and a part to be ruled ; he saw 
it so thoroughly, that he saw through the suffering at 
its surface to the joy at its centre, filled it with 
promise and hope, and made it infinitely attractive. 
As Israel, therefore, is "the people of righteousness," 
because, though others have perceived the importance 
of righteousness, Israel, above every one, perceived 
the happiness of it; so self -renouncement, the main 
factor in conduct or righteousness, is " the secret of 
Jesus," because, although others have seen that it 
was necessary, Jesus, above every one, saw that it was 
peace, joy, life. 

Now, we may observe, that even Aristotle (and it 
is a mark of his greatness) does not, in the passage 
we have quoted from him, begin with a complete 
system of psycho-physiology, and show us where and 
how and why in this system the rule of renouncement 
comes in, and draw out for us definitively the law of 
our being towards which this rule leads up. He says 
that the rule exists, that it is ancillary to the law oi 


our being, and that we are to study the best men, in 
whom it most exists, to make us see that it is thus 
ancillary. He here appeals throughout to a verifying 
sense, such as we have said that every one in this 
great but plain matter of conduct really has ; he does 
not appeal to a speculative theory of the system of 
things, and deduce conclusions from it. And he 
shows his greatness in this, because the law of our 
being is not something which is already definitively 
known and can be exhibited as part of a speculative 
theory of the system of things ; it is something which 
discovers itself and becomes, as we follow (among other 
things) the rule of renouncement. What we can say 
with most certainty about the law of our being is, 
that we find the rule of renouncement practically 
lead up to it. In matters of practice and conduct, 
therefore, an experience like this is really a far safer 
ground to insist on than any speculative theory of 
the system of things. And to a theory of such sort 
Jesus never appeals. Here is what characterises his 
teaching, and distinguishes him, for instance, from the 
author of the Fourth Gospel. This author handles 
what we may call theosophical speculation in a beau- 
tiful and impressive manner ; the introduction to his 
Gospel is undoubtedly in a very noble and profound 
strain. But it is theory ; an intellectual theory of the 
divine nature and the system of things, which was 
then, and is still at present, utterly irreducible to 
experience. And therefore it is impossible even to 
conceive Jesus himself uttering the introduction to 
the Fourth Gospel; because theory Jesus never touches, 


but bases himself invariably on experienca True, 
the experience must, for philosophy, have its place in 
a theory of the system of human nature, when the 
theory is perfect; but the point is, that the experience 
is ripe and solid, and to be used safely, long before 
the theory. And it was the experience which Jesus 
always used. 

Undoubtedly, however, attempts may not impro- 
perly be made, even now, by those, at least, who 
have a talent for these matters, to exhibit the 
experience, with what leads to it and what derives 
from it, in a system of psycho -physiology. And 
then, perhaps, it will be found to be connected with 
other truths of psycho-physiology, such as the unity 
of life, as it is called, and the impersonality of reason. 
Only, thus exhibited, it will be philosophy, mental 
exercitation, and will concern us as a matter of science, 
not of conduct. And, as the discipline of conduct is 
three-fourths of life, for our aesthetic and intellectual 
disciplines, real as these are, there is but one-fourth 
of life left ; and if we let art and science divide this 
one-fourth fairly between them, they will have just 
one-eighth of life each. 

So the exhibition of the truth : " He that lovetli his 
life shall lose it, and he that hateth his life in this world 
shall keep it unto life eternal," in its order and place aa 
a truth of psycho-physiology, concerns one-eighth of 
our life and no more. But Jesus, we say, exhibited 
nothing for the benefit of this one-eighth of us ; this 
is what distinguishes him from all moralists and 
philosophers, and even from the greatest of his own 


disciples. How he reached a doctrine we cannot say; 
but he always exhibited it as an intuition and practical 
rule, and a practical rule which, if adopted, would 
have the force of an intuition for its adopter also. 
This is why none of his doctrines are of the character 
of that favourite doctrine of our theologians, "the 
blessed truth that the God of the universe is a 
Person ; " because this doctrine is incapable of appli- 
cation as a practical rule, and can never come to have 
the force of an intuition. But what we call the secret 
of Jesus : " He that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that 
hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal," 
was a truth of which he could say : " It is so ; try it 
yourself and you will see it is so, by the sense of 
going right, hitting the mark, succeeding, living, which 
you will get." 

And the same with the commandment, " Love one 
another," l which is the positive side of the command- 
ment, "Renounce thy self "^ and, like this, can be drawn 
out as a truth of psycho-physiology. Jesus exhibited 
it as an intuition and a practical rule ; and as what, 
by being practised, would, through giving happiness, 
prove its own truth as a rule of life. This, we say, 
is of the very essence of his secret of self-renounce- 
ment, as of his method of inwardness ; that its truth 
will be found to commend itself by happiness, to prove 
itself by happiness. And of the secret more especially 
is this true. And as we have said, that though there 

1 John xiii 34. 

* " We know that we have passed from death to life," how I 
" because we love the brethren." See 1 John iii. 14. 


gathers round the word " God " very much besides, 
yet we shall in general, in reading the Bible, get the 
surest hold on the word " God " by giving it the 
sense of the Eternal Power, not ourselves, which makes for 
righteousness, so we shall get the best hold on many 
expressions of Jesus by referring them, though they 
include more, yet primarily and pointedly to his 
" secret," and to the happiness which this contained. 
Bread of life, living water, these are, in general, Jesus, 
Jesus in his whole being and in his total effect; 
but in especial they are Jesus as offering his secret. 
And when Jesus says : " He that eateth me shall live 
by me I" 1 we shall understand the words best if we 
think of his secret. 

And so again with the famous words to the woman 
by the well in Samaria: "Whosoever drinketh of 
this water shall thirst again, but whosoever drinketh 
of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, 
but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a 
fount of water springing up unto everlasting life." 2 
These words, how are we to take them, so as to reach 
their meaning best 1 What distinctly is this " water 
that I shall give him " 1 Jesus himself and his word, 
no doubt ; yet so we come but to that very notion, 
which Jeremy Taylor warns us against as vague, of 
yetting Christ. The Bishop of Gloucester will tell us, 
perhaps, that it is "the blessed truth that the Creator 
of the universe is a Person," or the doctrine of the 
consubstantiality of the Eternal Son. But surely it 
would be a strong figure of speech to say of these 
1 John vi. 57. * John iv. 13, 14. 


doctrines, that a man, after receiving them, could 
never again feel thirsty ! See, on the contrary, how 
the words suit the secret: "He that loveth his life 
shall lose it, and he that hateth his life in this world 
shall keep it unto life eternal." This "secret of 
Jesus," as we call it, will be found applicable to all 
the thousand problems which the exercise of conduct 
daily offers ; it alone can solve them all happily, and 
may indeed be called " a fount of water springing 
up unto everlasting life." And, in general, wherever 
the words life and death are used by Jesus, we 
shall do well to have his " secret " at hand ; for 
in his thoughts, on these occasions, it is never far 

And now, too, we can see why it is a mistake, and 
may lead to much error, to exhibit any series of 
maxims, like those of the Sermon on the Mount, as 
the ultimate sum and formula into which Christianity 
may be run up. Maxims of this kind are but appli- 
cations of the method and the secret of Jesus ; and 
the method and secret are capable of yet an infinite 
number more of such applications. Christianity is a 
source; no one supply of water and refreshment that 
comes from it can be called the sum of Christianity. 


A method of inwardness, a secret of self-renounce- 
ment ; but can any statement of what Jesus brought 
be complete, which does not include that element of 
mildness and sweetness in which both these worked 1 

VOL. V. 


To the representative texts already given there is 
certainly to be added this other : " Learn of me that 1 
am mild and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unio 
your souls 7" 1 Shall we attach mildness to the method, 
because, without it, a clear and limpid view inwarda 
is impossible 1 Or shall we attach it to the secret ? 
the dying to faults of temper is a part, certainly, of 
dying to one's ordinary self, one's life in this world. 
Mildness, however, is rather an element in which, in 
Jesus, both method and secret worked ; the medium 
through which both the method and the secret were 
exhibited. We may think of it as perfectly illustrated 
and exemplified in his answer to the foolish question, 
Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven ? when, 
taking a little child and setting him in the midst, he 
said : " Whosoever receives the kingdom of God as a 
little child, the same is the greatest in it." 2 Here 
are both inward appraisal and self -renouncement ; 
but what is most admirable is the sweet reasonable- 
ness, the exquisite, mild, winning felicity, with which 
the renouncement and the inward appraisal are applied 
and conveyed. And the conjunction of the three in 
Jesus the method of inwardness, and the secret of self- 
renouncement, working in and through this element 
of mildness produced the total impression of his 
" epieikeia," or sweet reasonableness ; a total impres- 
sion ineffable and indescribable for the disciples, as 
also it was irresistible for them, but at which their 
descriptive words, words like this "sweet reasonable- 

1 Matt. xi. 29. 
' Matt, xviii. 1-4 ; Mark ix. 15, 


ness," and like "jull of grace and truth" are thrown 
out and aimed. 1 

And this total stamp of "grace and truth," this 
exquisite conjunction and balance, in an element of 
mildness, of a method of inwardness perfectly handled 
and a self-renouncement perfectly kept, was found in 
Jesus alone. What are the method of inwardness 
and the secret of self-renouncement without the sure 
balance of Jesus, without his epieihia? Much, but 
very far indeed from what he showed or what he 
meant; they come to be used blindly, used mechani- 
cally, used amiss, and lead to the strangest aberrations. 
St. Simeon Stylites on his column, Pascal girdled with 
spikes, Lacordaire flogging himself on his death-bed, 
are what the secret by itself produces. The method by 
itself gives us our political Dissenter, pluming himself 
on some irrational " conscientious objections," and not 
knowing, that with conscience he has done nothing 
until he has got to the bottom of conscience, and 
made it tell him right. Therefore the disciples of 
Jesus were not told to believe in his method, or to 
believe in his secret, but to believe in him; they were 
not told to follow the method or to follow the secret, 
but they were told : "Follow me /" For it was only 
by fixing their heart and mind on Jesus that they 
could learn to use the method and secret right; by 
"feeding on him," by, as he often said, "remaining in 

1 Bossuet calls him le dtbonnaire J&us ; Cowper speaks of 
his questioning the disciples going to Emmaue " with a kind, 
engaging air. " 


But this is just what Israel had been told to do as 
regards the Eternal himself. " I have set the Eternal 
always before me;" "Mine eyes are ever toward the 
Eternal;" "The Eternal is the strength of my life;" 
" Wait, I say, on the Eternal I" 1 Now, then, let us go 
back again for a little to Israel, and to Israel's belief. 


We have seen how the Jews, at the coming of 
Jesus Christ, had their thoughts full of a grand and 
turbid phantasmagory ; a vision of God judging the 
world, sending the Son of Man on the clouds of 
heaven, taking vengeance on the wicked, restoring 
the kingdom to Israel. And we marked the line of 
texts which this expectation followed : from the 
"Prophet" of Moses to the victorious "Rod out of 
the stem of Jesse " of Isaiah, and thence to the " Son 
of Man," the " Son of God," of the Book of Daniel, 
and to the " Messiah." 

But there was another line of texts pointing to a 
servant and emissary of God, besides the line pointing 
to the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the princely and con- 
quering Root of David. It stood written: "Behold 
my servant whom I uphold, mine elect in whom my 
soul delighteth ! I have put my spirit upon him ; he 
shall declare judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not 
strive nor cry, nor cause his voice to be heard in the 
street; he shall declare judgment with truth. He shall 
not fail nor be discouraged, until he set judgment in 
xvi. 8 ; xxv. 15 ; xxvii. 1, 14. 


the earth ; far lands wait for his law." l Who is 

And again : " He was despised, and we esteemed 
him not ; but he was wounded for our transgressions, 
he was bruised for our iniquities. All we like sheep 
were gone astray, we were turned every one to his 
own way ; and the Eternal hath laid on him the 
iniquity of us all. And he made his grave with the 
wicked, although he had done no violence; yet it 
pleased the Eternal to bruise him. When he hath 
made his life an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, 
he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the 
Eternal shall prosper in his hand ; he shall see of the 
travail of his soul and shall be satisfied!" 2 Who, 
again, is this 1 ? 

Is it the " Prophet " like great Moses 1 Is it the 
brilliant " Branch " out of the root of Jesse, smiting 
the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the 
breath of his lips slaying the wicked ; with his 
dominion stretching from the one sea to the other, 
all things falling down before him, all nations serving 
him; with his seed to endure for ever, and his throne 
as the days of heaven ? This " Branch " it was, whom 
Israel identified with the Messiah coming in the clouds 
of heaven to give the kingdom to the saints of the 
Most High, with the Son of Man sitting on the throne 
of his glory. Was the afflicted and lowly servant at the 
same time the Branch, and therefore the Messiah, the 
Son of God, and the bringer of the kingdom 1 Israel 
never identified them. Here and there he made 

1 Isaiah xlii. 1-4. 2 Isaiah liii. 3, 5, 6, 9-11. 


guesses and snatches at the truth. Momentary eleva^ 
tions of it there were, faint approaches towards con- 
necting the two ideals, isolated tentatives; but the 
Jewish people at large had never grasped the idea of 
the identification, and it had never been so presented 
to them that they could grasp it. 

And, as we have already said, it was an extraor- 
dinary novelty, although the profound and the only 
true solution of Israel's wonderful history, when this 
identification was by Jesus boldly made. "A little 
while," the Jews were saying, " and the God of heaven 
shall set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed." 1 
"Nay," answered Jesus, "the time is fulfilled and the king- 
dom of God is close here ! change the inner man, and believe 
the good news/" 2 "But," said the Jews, " Elias must 
first come." 3 Jesus replied : " Elias has come already ; 4 
John the Baptist, my precursor, who preached a 
change of the inner man as I do !" "But there shall 
be a time of trouble," the Jews urged, " such as never 
was since there was a nation to that time; abomination 
and desolation ; a, fiery stream issuing from before the 
throne of the Ancient of days ; one like the Son of Man 
coming with the clouds of heaven/" 5 Jesus surveyed 
the fierce and impracticable people before him, with 
their inevitable future : " Fear not," he answered 
mournfully, " where the carcase is, there will the eagles be 
gathered together/ 6 soon enough you will have the 
affliction such as was not from the beginning of the 

1 Dan. ii. 44. 2 Mark i. 15. 3 Mark ix. 11. 

Matt. xvii. 12. 6 Dan. xii. 1, 11 , vii. 10, 13. 

6 Matt. xxiv. 28. See the whole chapter, and Luke xxi. 20 


world to this time, the Son of Man coming, Jerusalem 
encompassed with armies, abomination and desola- 
tion, not one stone of the Temple left on another." 
" But the judgment shall sit ! " said the Jews, " and at 
that time the people shall be delivered, every one 
that shall be found written in the book!" 1 "And 
the judgment is coming," Jesus answered, " the world- 
judgment of Jerusalem's ruin ! 2 but, moreover, to 
this outward crisis shall correspond an inward judg- 
ment, the new crisis of conscience. The hour is 
coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice 
of the Son of God; and he who heareth shall live ! 3 
Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice; 4 
the word that I speak, the same shall judge him." 6 
"But the righteous," the Jews said, "shall awake to 
everlasting life/" Q " If a man keep my word," 
answered Jesus, "he shall never see death; 7 but it 
shall be in him a fount of water, springing up unto 
everlasting life." s "But God's Messiah, "finally rejoined 
the Jews, " shall shepherd the nations with a rod of iron, 9 
shall slay the wicked with the breath of his lips/ 10 his 
throne shall endure for ever, and his dominion shall be from 
the one sea to the other/ the Gentiles shall be given to him/" 11 
" Ye know not what spirit ye are of ! " said Jesus : 
"He is mild, and lowly in heart;' 12 he breaJcs not the 
bruised reed and quenches not the smoking flax; ls he 

Dan.,Yii. 10; xii. 1. 2 Matt, xxiii. 36-39 

John v. 25. 4 John xviii. 37. 6 John xii. 48. 

Dan. xii. 2. 7 John viii. 51. 8 John iv. 14. 

Ps. ii. 9. 10 Isaiah xi. 4. 

Ps. Ixxxix. 4 ; IxxiL 8 ; ii. 8 ; and Isaiah liv. 3. 

Matt. xi. 29. 1S Matt. xii. 20. 


must suffer many things and be rejected of his generation. 1 
Except a corn of wheat fall to the ground and die, it 
abideth alone, but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit ; 2 
and /, if I be lifted up from the earth, mil draw all men 
unto me/" 3 Then, turning to the disciples : " Fear 
not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure 
to give you the kingdom/* And other sheep I have, 
not of this fold ; they also shall be brought ! and there 
shall be one flock, one shepherd ! " 6 

By a line like this did Jesus identify the two ideals, 
the ideal of popular Aberglaube and his own. And 
this is why the phrases of the popular Aberglaube come 
so often from his lips. He was for ever translating it 
into the sense of the higher ideal, the only sense in 
which it had truth and grandeur. It was hopeless 
that the Jews should go along with him. The best 
of his disciples went along with him but imperfectly, 
and popular Christianity has fallen far behind the best 
of his disciples. The hour is coming, and now is, when 
the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they 
who hear shall live ! 6 this saying could not lift the 
Jews out of their Aberglaube into the ideal of Jesus, 
with its new meaning for the words life and death. 
But neither has it lifted popular Christianity ; which 
out of this and other like sayings has fashioned for 
itself an Aberglaube precisely corresponding to that 
of the Jews. 

Yet Jesus could not but use the dominant phrases 
of the Jewish religion, if he was to talk to the Jewish 

1 Luke xvii. 25. 2 John xii. 24. 3 John xii. 32. 

4 Luke xii. 32. B John x. 16. 6 John v. 25. 


people about religion at all. And we have now seen 
that he did use them, and how. And this leads us 
further, and explains his way of using such words as 
the Christ or Messiah, the Son of Man, the Son of God. 
For, as the Jews were always talking about the 
Messiah, so they were always talking, we know, 
about God. And they believed in God's Messiah 
after their notion of him, because they believed in 
God after their notion of him; but both notions 
were wrong. All their aspirations were now turned 
towards the Messiah ; whoever would do them good, 
must first change their ideal of the Messiah. But 
their ideal of God's Messiah depended upon their 
notion of God. This notion was now false, like their 
ideal of the Messiah ; but once it had been true, or, 
at least, true comparatively ; once Israel had had 
the intuition of God as the Eternal that loveth righteous- 
ness. And the intuition had never been so lost but 
that it was capable of being revived. To change their 
dangerous and misleading ideal of God's Messiah, there- 
fore, and to make the Jews believe in the true Messiah, 
could only be accomplished by bringing them back 
to a truer notion of God and his righteousness. By 
this it could, perhaps, be accomplished, but by this only. 
And this is what Jesus sought to do. He sought 
to do it in the way we have seen, by his " method " 
and his "secret." First, by his "method" of a 
change of the inner man. " Do not be all abroad, do 
not be in the air," l he said to his nation. " You look 
for the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is 
1 Mr) fjxTewplea0e. Luke xii. 29. 


the reign of righteousness, God's will done by all 
mankind. Well, then, seek the kingdom of God ! 
the kingdom of God is within you ! l And, next, by his 
" secret " of peace. " Renounce thyself, and take up thy 
cross daily and follow me/" 2 " He that loveth Us life shall 
lose it, and lie that hateth his life in this world shall keep 
it unto life eternal." 3 And the revolution thus made 
was so immense, that the least in this new kingdom 
of heaven, this realm of the " method " and the 
" secret," was greater, Jesus said, than one who, like 
John the Baptist, was even greatest in the old realm 
of Jewish religion. 4 And those who obeyed the 
gospel of this new kingdom came to the light; 5 
they had joy ; 6 they entered into peace ; 7 they ceased 
to thirst ; the word became in them a fount of water 
springing up unto everlasting life. & But these were the 
admitted tests of righteousness, of obeying the voice of 
the Eternal who loveth righteousness. " There ariseth 
light for the righteous, and gladness for the upright 
in heart ; 9 he that feareth the Eternal, blessed is he !" 10 
Now, the special value of the Fourth Gospel is, 
not that it exhibits the method and secret of Jesus, for 
all the Gospels exhibit them, but that it exhibits 
the establishment of them by mean's of Israel's own 
idea of God, cleared and re-awakened. The argument 
is : " You are always talking about God, God's word, 
righteousness; always saying that God is your Father, 

1 Luke xvii. 21. 2 Luke ix. 23. 3 John xii. 25. 

Matt. xi. 11. B John iii. 21. 6 John xvii. 13. 

' John xvi. 33. 8 John iv. 14. Ps. xcviL 11. 

10 Ps. cxii, 1. 


and will send his Messiah for your salvation. Well, 
he who receives me shows that he talks about God 
with a knowledge of what he is saying ; he sets to his 
seal that God is true. 1 He who is of God heareth the 
words of God ; 2 every one that heareth and learneth of the 
Father cometh unto me* and ye have not his word abiding 
in you, because, whom he hath sent, him yelelieve not; 4 
if any one will do God's will he shall know of the doctrine, 
whether it be of God." 5 This, therefore, is what Jesus 
said : " I, whose message of salvation is: If a man 
keep my word he shall never see death/ 6 am sent of 
God ; because he who obeys my saying : Denounce 
thyself and follow me/ 7 shall feel that he truly lives, 
and that he is following, therefore, Israel's God, of 
whom it is said : Thou wilt sJww me the path of life." 8 

The doctrine therefore is double: Renounce thy- 
self, the secret of Jesus, involving a foregoing exercise 
of his method ; and, Follow me, who am sent from God / 
That is the favourite expression : Sent from God. 
" I come forth from the Father ; the Father hath sent 
me ; God hath sent me." 9 Now this identified Jesus 
and his salvation with the Messiah whom, with his 
salvation, the Jews were expecting. For his disciples 
therefore, and for Christendom after them, Jesus was 
and is the Messiah or Christ. This, we say, his dis- 
ciples, and Christendom after them, have compre- 
hended and accepted : his identification of himself 

1 John iii. 33. 2 John viii. 47. 3 John vL 45. 

4 John v. 38. B John vii. 17. 6 John viii. 51. 

7 Matt. xvi. 24. Pu. xvi. 11. 

8 John xvi. 27, 28, 30 ; vL 57 ; vii. 29 ; viii. 42 ; xvii. 8. 


with the Messiah. On the other hand, his -fruitful 
and profound harmonisation of the two ideals, the 
mild and suffering Servant of God, and the Anointed 
Prince conquering the earth in the cause of righteous- 
ness and giving the kingdom to the saints, was not 
understood and accepted. At least, only so far as 
this was it accepted : that the turbid Aberglaube, with 
which the Jews had surrounded this latter ideal, was 
by the disciples of Jesus borrowed and transferred 
wholesale to their Master and his future advent. 

Meanwhile, as with the word God, so with the 
word Christ. Jesus did not give any scientific defini- 
tion of it, such as, for instance, that Christ was the 
Logos. He took the word Christ as the Jews used 
it, as he took the word God as the Jews used it. 
And as he amended their notion of God, the Eternal 
who loveth righteousness, by showing what righteousness 
really was, so he amended their notion of the Messiah, 
the chosen bringer of God's salvation, by showing what 
salvation really was. And though his own application 
of terms to designate himself is not a matter where 
we can perfectly trust his reporters (as it is clear, for 
instance, that the writer of the Fourth Gospel was 
more metaphysical than Jesus himself), 1 yet there is 
no difficulty in supposing him to have applied to 
himself each and all of the terms which the Jews in 
any way used to describe the Messiah, Messiah or 

1 It is to be remembered, too, that whereas Jesus spoke in 
Aramaic, the most concrete and unmetaphysical of languages, 
he is reported in Greek, the most metaphysical. What, in the 
uiouth of Jesus, was the word which comes to us as no 


Christ, God's Chosen or Beloved or Consecrated or Glori 
fied One, the Son of God, the Son of Man ; because his 
concern, as we have said, was with his countrymen's 
idea of salvation, not with their terms for designating 
the bringer of it. But the simplest term, the term 
which gives least opening into theosophy, Son of 
Man, he certainly preferred. So, too, he loved the 
simple expressions, "God sent me," "The Father hath 
sent me;" and he chose so often to say, in a general 
manner, " I am He," l rather than to say positively, 
"I am Christ" 

And evidently this mode of speaking struck his 
hearers. We find the Jews saying : " How long dost 
thou make us to doubt ? if thou be Christ, tell us 
plainly/" 2 And even then Jesus does not answer 
point-blank, but prefers to say : " I have told you, 
and ye believe not." Yet this does not imply that 
he had the least doubt or hesitation in naming him- 
self the Messiah, the Son of God ; but only that his 
concern was, as we have said, with God's righteousness 
and Christ's salvation, and that he avoided all use 
of the names God, and Christ, which might give an 
opening into mere theosophical speculation. And this 
is shown, moreover, by the largeness and freedom, 
almost, one may say, indifference, of his treatment 
of both names ; as names, in using which, his hearers 
were always in danger of going off into a theosophy 

(only begotten) ? Probably the simple Aramaic word for uniqut, 
only. And yet, in the Greek record, even the word fMvoyevw 
is not, like only-begotten in our translation, reserved for Christ ; 
see Luke vii. 12 ; viii. 42 ; ix. 38. 

1 John iv. 26 ; viii. 24, 28. a John x. 24. 


that did them no good and had better occupy them 
as little as possible. "/ and my Father are one/' n 
he would say at one time ; and " My Father is greater 
than I/" 2 at another. When the Jews were offended 
at his calling himself the Son of God, he quotes 
Scripture to show that even mere men were in Scrip- 
ture called Gods; and for you, he says, who go by 
the letter of Scripture, surely this is sanction enough 
for calling any one, whom God sends, the Son of God/ 3 
He did not at all mean, that the Messiah was a son of 
God merely in the sense in which any great man 
might be so called ; but he meant that these questions 
of theosophy were useless for his hearers, and that 
they puzzled themselves with them in vaia All they 
were concerned with was, that he was the Messiah they 
expected, sent to them with salvation from God. 

It is the same when Jesus says : " Before Abraham 
was, I am ! " 4 He was baffling his countrymen's 
theosophy, showing them how little his doctrine was 
meant to offer a field for it " Life," he means, " the 
life of him who lays down his life that he may take it 
again, 5 is not what you suppose. Your notions of 
life and death are all false, and with your present 
notions you cannot discuss theology with me ; follow 
me ! " So, again, to the Jews in the rut of their 
traditional theology, and haggling about the Son of 
David ; Jesus, they insisted, could not be the Christ, 
because the Christ was the Son of David. Jesus 
answers them by the objection that in the Psalms 

1 John x. 30. 2 John xiv. 28. 3 John x. 34-36. 

4 John viii 58. * John x. 17. 


(and the Scripture cannot be broken !) David calls 
the Christ his Lord ; and " if he call him Lord, how 
is he then his son 1 ?" 1 The argument as a serious 
argument is perfectly futile. The king of God's 
chosen people is going out to war, and what the 
Psalmist really sings is : " The Eternal saith unto the 
king's majesty, Thou shall conquer/" St. Peter in 
the Acts gravely uses the same verse to prove Jesus 
to be Christ: "God," says he, "tells my Lord, Sit 
thou upon my right Jiand ! Yet David never went up 
into heaven." 2 Now, this is exactly of a piece with 
St. Paul's proving salvation to be by Christ alone, 
from seed, in the promise to Abraham, being in the 
singular, not the plural. 3 It is merely false criticism 
of the Old Testament, such as the Jews were full of, 
and of which the Apostles retained far too much. 
But the Jews were full of it, and therefore the objec- 
tion of Jesus was just such an objection as the Jews 
would think weighty. He used it as he might have 
used a crux about personality or consubstantiality with 
the Bishops of Winchester or Gloucester; to baffle 
and put to rout their false dogmatic theology, to 
disenchant them with it and make them cast it aside 
and come simply to him. " See," he says to the 
Jewish doctors, " what a mess you make of it with 
your learning, and evidences, and orthodox theology ; 
with the wisdom of your wise men and the understanding 
of your prudent men / You can do nothing with them, 
your arms break in your hands. Fling the rubbish 
away, cease from your own wisdom, 4 and throw your- 
i Matt. xxii. 42-45. 2 Acts ii. 34. 3 Gal. ill 16. * Prov. xxiii. 4, 


selves upon my method and secret, upon me! 
Believe that the Father hath sent me, ; lie that receiveth 
me receiveth Him that sent me. If any man will do His 
mil, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God, or 
whether I have invented it/" 1 

And no grand performance or discovery of a man's 
own to bring him thus to joy and peace, but an 
attachment ! the influence of One full of grace and 
truth! An influence, which we feel we know not 
how, and which subdues us we know not when ; 
which, like the wind, breathes where it lists, passes 
here, and does not pass there ! Once more, then, we 
come to that root and ground of religion, that element 
of awe and gratitude which fills religion with emotion, 
and makes it other and greater than morality, the 
not ourselves. We did not make the order of conduct, 
or provide that happiness should belong to it, or dis- 
pose our hearts to it. Man's goings are of the Eternal, 
as Israel said ; Eternal, I know that the way of man is 
not in himself/* Neither did we invent Jesus, or 
make the " grace and truth " of Jesus, or provide that 
happiness should belong to feeling them, or dispose 
our hearts to feel them. No man can come to me, as 
Jesus said, except the father, which sent me, draw him / 3 
So the revelation of Jesus Christ in the new Testa- 
ment is like the revelation of the God of Israel in the 
Old, in being the revelation of "the Eternal not ourselves 
which makes for righteousness." It is like it, and has 
the same power of religion in it 

J John xii. 44 ; xiii. 20 ; viL 17. 2 Prov. xx. 24 j Jer. x. 2* 
3 John vi. 44. 



Now, then, we see what the doctrine, / came forth 
from God, 1 really means. We see how far it has any 
kinship with that doctrine of the Godhead of the 
Eternal Son, for which our two bishops are so anxious 
to "do something." We see how far the pseudo- 
scientific language of our creeds, about persons, and 
substance, and godhead, and co-equal, and co-eternal, and 
created, and begotten, and proceeding, has anything at 
all to do with what Jesus said or meant. We see how 
impossible it is that one should concede to our 
clerical friends what they assume to be beyond dis- 
pute : that the so-called Athanasian Creed " takes the 
facts of Christian doctrine, and just arranges them 
sentence after sentence." We see how wide of the 
mark is that metaphysical clergyman, who writes to 
the Guardian that " Our Lord unquestionably annexes 
eternal life to a right knowledge of the Godhead," in 
imagining that when Jesus said, " This is life eternal, 
to know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ 
whom thou hast sent," 2 Jesus had in view anything 
at all like the " facts " which the Athanasian Creed 
" arranges, sentence after sentence." But we see more 
than this. We see how much a very common use of 
the word faith, which gives rise to false notions like 
that of this clergyman, needs amending. 

For it is constantly assumed that there is an 
opposition between faith and reason ; and that those, 

1 John xvi. 27, 28, 30. 2 John xvii. 3. 

VOL, V. P 


whom Jesus Christ calls to believe in him, he calls to 
receive a doctrine puzzling to the reason, but which, 
if adopted, will gradually become clear. It is obvious 
how well this notion of faith suits the recommenders 
of such doctrine as that which the Athanasian Creed 
" arranges, sentence after sentence," which is certainly 
very puzzling to the reason. But this is of the 
essence of faith, it is said : to take on trust what 
perplexes the reason. Only adopt the doctrine which 
perplexes the reason, be a Christian, and afterwards 
"you shall know of the doctrine whether it be of 
God." And with this is connected what is so often 
said in the Bible about " receiving the kingdom of God 
as a little child," about " babes seeing what is hidden 
from the wise and prudent." 1 The unlettered believer 
is, in fact, according to this version of what the Bible 
means to say, represented in the Bible as a better 
judge about a thing which perplexes the reason than 
the philosopher. And this explains the disdain with 
which the possessors of gospel-truth, as it is called, are apt 
to treat art, and literature, and science. These happy 
men are supposed to have, by faith, a certainty in 
matters perplexing in the highest degree to the reason, 
which the vaunted exercise of the reason can never 
attain to. And as with faith in Christ, so with 
faith in God : it is taking on trust something per- 
plexing to the reason. Texts like : They that seek 
the Eternal understand all things, 2 and : / have more 
understanding than my teachers, for Thy testimonies are 
my study ; I am wiser than the aged because I keep Thy 
Mark x. 15 ; Matt. xi. 25. 2 Prov. xxviii. 5, 


commcmd'ments, 1 mean, that we are better off and sea 
clearer than men of study and experience, if, in spite 
of its puzzling the reason, we accept in faith, and they 
do not, some truth like the " blessed truth that the 
God of the universe is a PERSON." 

No one has more insisted on this opposition 
between faith and reason than a writer whom we can 
never name but with respect, Dr. Newman. " The 
moral trial involved in faith," he says, "lies in the 
submission of the reason to external realities partially 
disclosed." And again : " Faith is, in its very nature, 
the acceptance of what our reason cannot reach, 
simply and absolutely upon testimony." But surely 
faith is in its very nature (with all deference be it 
spoken !) nothing of the kind ; else how could Jesus 
Christ say to the Jews : "HI tell you the truth, why 
do ye not believe me?" 2 Surely this implies that 
faith, instead of being a submission of the reason to 
what puzzles it, is rather a recognition of what is 
perfectly clear, if we will attend to it. 3 We cannot 
always attend, all of us ; and here is the not ourselves 
in the matter, " the grace of God." But attention, cleav- 
ing, attaching oneself fast to what is undeniably true, 
this is what the faith of Scripture, "in its very 
nature," is ; and not the submission of the reason to 
what puzzles it, or the acceptance, simply and abso- 
lutely upon testimony, of what our reason cannot 
reach. And all that the Bible says of bringing to 
nought the wisdom of the wise, and of receiving the 

1 Psalm cxix. 99, 100. 
* John viii. 46. 3 TT&VTO. TO. avayKcua dfj\a, says Chrysostom. 


kingdom of God as a little child, has nothing what- 
ever to do with the believer's acceptance of some 
dogma that perplexes the reason ; it is aimed at those 
who sophisticate a very simple thing, religion, by im- 
porting into it a so-called science with which it has 
nothing to do. Jewish theological learning, the 
system of divinity of the Jewish hierarchy, who did 
not know how simple a thing righteousness really 
was, and who, when simple souls saw it in Jesus 
Christ and were drawn to it, cried out : " This people 
that Jcnoweth not the law are cursed/" 1 it was at these, 
and at whatever resembles these, that Jesus Christ 
aimed the words about receiving the kingdom of 
God as a little child. 

And the " marvellous work and wonder " about 
the saving truth which the simple receive is, not that, 
being difficult to the reason, it is yet got hold of by 
the unlettered and not by the wise ; but that, being so 
simple, it should yet be so immense, important, indis- 
pensable ; and that, being so immense, important, 
indispensable, it should yet" so often be followed by 
quite unlettered people, and neglected by such very 
clever ones. The clever are attending to other 
things, things which do task the reason and intelli- 
gence, and in which the unlettered have no skill and 
no voice; these things however are, at most, only 
one-fourth of life. And this absurdity, for such it 
really is, we see every day ; people attending to the 
difficult science of matters where the plain practice they 
quite let slip. How many people will be now 2 busy 
1 John vii. 49. 2 Written in 1872. 


with Mr. Darwin's new book, so admirably ingenious, 
on the natural history of the emotions, who yet are 
always using their own emotions in the worst possible 
manner ! They are eager to know how their emotions 
arose, how these came to express themselves as they 
do ; yet there the emotions now are, and have for a 
long time been, and the first thing for any sane man 
to do is to make a proper use of them, and to know 
how to make a proper use is not difficult; but all 
this we never think of, but investigate zealously how 
they arose ! Such persons are just like those learned 
inquirers the Cynic laughed at, who were so busy 
about the strayings of Ulysses, so inattentive to their 

And Israel's greatness was that he was so impatient 
of trifling of this kind, of being busy with one-fourth 
of life while the three-fourths, conduct, was forgotten. 
And Israel boldly said : " They that seek the Eternal 
understand all things;" 1 that is, they are occupied 
with conduct, righteousness, which truly is, as we 
have seen, at least three -fourths of life, and which 
Israel thought the whole of it. They have a hold on 
three-fourths of life, while it may be that their great, 
clever, and accomplished neighbours have a hold on 
only one-fourth, or part of one-fourth, of life. Which 
is the solid and sensible man, which understands 
most, which lives most? Compare a Methodist day- 
labourer with some dissolute, gifted, brilliant grandee, 
who thinks nothing of him ! but the first deals suc- 
cessfully with nearly the whole of life, while the 
1 Proverbs xxviii. 5. 


second is all abroad in it. Compare some simple and 
pious monk, at Rome, with one of those frivolous 
men of taste whom we have all seen there ! each 
knows nothing of what interests the other; but 
which is the more vital concern for a man : conduct, 
or arts and antiquities ? 

Nay, and however false his science and Biblical 
criticism, the believer who applies the method and 
secret of Jesus has a width of range and sureness of 
foothold in life, which even the best scientific and 
literary critic of the Bible, who applies them not, is 
without; because the first is right in what affects 
three-fourths of life, and the second in what affects 
but one-fourth, or even but one-eighth. Each has a 
secret of which the other, who has no experience of 
it, does not know the value; but the value of the 
learned man's secret is ridiculously least. This, I say, 
is the very glory and marvel of the religion of the 
true Israel, and what makes this religion, as Jesus 
called it, "the good news to the poor;" 1 that it 
covers nearly the whole of life, and yet is so simple. 

The only right contrast, therefore, to set up be- 
tween faith and reason is, not that faith grasps what 
is too hard for reason, but that reason does not, like 
faith, attend to what is at once so great and so simple. 
The difficulty about faith is, to attend to what is very 
simple and very important, but liable to be pushed 
by more showy or tempting matters out of sight 
The marvel about faith is, that what is so simple 
should be so all -sufficing, so necessary, and so often 
i Luke iv. 18. 


neglected. And faith is neither the submission of the 
reason, nor is it the acceptance simply and absolutely 
upon testimony of what reason cannot reach. Faith 
is : the being able to deave to a power of goodness appeal- 
ing to our higher and real self, not to our lower and 
apparent self. 


So we see how unlike is Jesus Christ's own doc- 
trine of his being the Son of God to the difficult 
doctrine of the Godhead of the Eternal Son, as the 
Athanasian Creed "arranges it, sentence after sen- 
tence," and in the form in which our bishops want to 
"do something" for it; as unlike as the original 
revelation to Israel of the Eternal that loveth righteous- 
ness is to " the blessed doctrine that the God of the 
universe is a PERSON." And we see how the clergy- 
men who write to the Guardian deceive themselves, 
when they imagine that it is to these doctrines of our 
bishops that Jesus Christ "unquestionably attaches 
eternal life," and how they are led into this error by 
having more of turn for abstruse reasoning than of 
literary experience. They are not conversant enough 
with the many different ways in which men think 
and speak, so as to be able to distinguish rightly 
between them, and to perceive that the Bible is 
literature ; and that its words are used, like the 
words of common life and of poetry and eloquence, 
approximately, and not like the terms of science, 

And if they fall into mistakes about words applied 


to the Father and the Son, by thus making them 
scientific, how much more do they fall into mistakes 
when they extend this treatment to words applied to 
the Holy Ghost. We have seen how the word 
Pneuma, just by reason of its inward and infinite 
character, was much employed by Jesus for his 
method of inwardness and of deliverance from binding 
traditions and formulas; and how, since Holy Ghost 
has become to us a formula, just as God and righteous- 
ness were to the Jews, to get the force of Christ's 
use of the word "Pneuma," we ought to retranslate 
the word for ourselves, and to call it, for a time 
at any rate, rather influence, intuition, or some such 

For it was thus that Jesus himself used it. When 
Jesus was going away, above all, and his disciples 
were to be thrown on themselves and left to use his 
method of inwardness more deeply and thoroughly, 
not having him to go to, then thej f would find, he 
said, a new power come to their help; a power of 
insight such as they had never had before, and which 
was none of their making, but came from God as 
Jesus did, and said nothing of itself, but only what 
God said or Jesus said ; a " Paraclete," or reinforce- 
ment working in aid of God and Jesus : even the Spirit 
of Truth. 1 While Jesus was with them, the disciples 
had lived in contact with aletheia, or reality ; and 
they were promised now an intuition of reality within 

Now, will it be believed, that the Athanasian 
1 John xiv. 16, 17, 26 ; xvi 7-14. 


Creed, and our bishops, and the clergymen who 
write to the Guardian, and dogmatic theology in 
general, should have imagined that Jesus Christ here 
meant to convey to us the "blessed doctrine" that 
this Spirit of truth, too, "is a PERSON"? The force 
of metaphysical talent outrunning literary experience 
could really, we say, no farther go ! The Muse, who 
visited Hesiod when he was tending his sheep on the 
side of Helicon, and "breathed into him a divine 
voice, and taught him the things to come and the 
former things," might every bit as well be made, 
with much display of metaphysical apparatus, "a 
PERSON." The influence which visited Hesiod was 
a real one, that is as much metaphysics as we can 
without error, in a case of this sort, apply. Who- 
ever applies more, falls into absurdity. 

The spiritual visitant, indeed, which rejoiced the 
wise poet of Ascra, was not the Paraclete of Jesus. 
No, it was the Muse of art and science, the Muse of 
the gifted few, the Muse who brings to the ingenious 
and learned among mankind "a forgetfulness," as 
Hesiod sings, "of evils and a truce from cares." 
The Paraclete that Jesus promised, on the other 
hand, was the Muse of righteousness; the Muse of 
the work-day, care -crossed, toil -stained millions of 
men, the Muse of humanity. To all who live, for 
all that concerns three -fourths of life, this divine 
Muse offers "a forgetfulness of evils and a truce from 
cares." That is why it is far more real, and far 
greater, than the Muse of Hesiod; not from any 
metaphysical personality- 



But the whole centre of gravity of the Christian 
religion, in the popular as well as in the so-called 
orthodox notion of it, is placed in Christ's having, by 
his death in satisfaction for man's sins, performed the 
contract originally passed in the Council of the Trinity, 
and having thus enabled the magnified and non-natural 
Man in heaven, who is the God of theology and of the 
multitude alike, to consider his justice satisfied, and 
to allow his mercy to go forth on all who heartily 
believe that Jesus Christ has paid their debt for 
them. Now we have seen how that whole structure of 
materialising mythology, which the Bible is supposed 
to deliver, and in which this conception of the Atone- 
ment, as it is called, holds the central place, drops 
away and disappears as the Bible comes to be better 
known. The true centre of gravity of the Christian 
religion is in the method and the secret of Jesus, 
approximating, in their application, ever closer to 
the epieikeia, the sweet reasonableness and unerring 
sureness of Jesus himself. But, as the method of Jesus 
led up to his secret, and his secret was dying to " the 
life in this world " and living to " the eternal life," both 
his method and his secret culminated in his "perfecting" 
on the cross, which he himself foresaw and foretold. 

The miracle of the corporeal resurrection ruled the 
minds of those who have reported Christ's sayings for 
us; and their report, how he foretold his death, cannot 
always be entirely accepted. One of them alleges him 


to have foretold it by pointing to his body and saying : 
Destroy this temple, and in three days I mil raise it up 7 1 
Now, here is certainly an instance of the retrospective 
pressure exercised on words of Jesus by the established 
belief in the resurrection. He had said of the Temple 
at Jerusalem : TJiere shall not be left of it one stone upon 
another? He had said of himself and this much- 
reverenced Temple : There standeth liere One greater than 
tJie Temple. 3 He had said he should be put to death, 
and the death of the worst malefactors, crucifixion. 4 
This death he had also called his glorification, his 
perfection. 5 He had said, using a Hebrew form of 
expression, that this his perfection or glorification 
should come in three days (that is, very shortly) : / do 
cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be per- 
fected. 6 Nothing more was needed. All the elements 
for a simply miraculous prediction by Jesus of his 
own death and bodily resurrection were ready to the 
miracle-maker's hand! Jesus had not only said: They 
shall crucify me, and the third day I mil rise again." 1 
He had also said, pointing to his own body : Destroy 
this temple and in three days I urill raise itwp/ 

In sayings of this kind, the internal evidence is 
all-important. Now, the sure clue of internal evidence 
to follow, in tracing any words of Jesus about his death 
and rising again, is the clue given by the ideal of the 

1 John ii. 19. 2 Matt. xxiv. 2. 3 Matt. xii. 6. 

4 Matt. xx. 18, 19. 6 John xii. 23. 

6 Luke xiii. 32 ; Hosea vi. 3. See also God and the Bible, 
pp. 265-268. 

* Matt. xvi. 21 ; xx. 19; Mark x. 34; Luke xviii. 33. 


stricken Servant of God in the fifty -third chapter of 
Isaiah. This ideal, as we have seen, Jesus had adopted 
and elevated as the true ideal of Israel's Saviour ; he 
had corrected by it the favourite popular ideals he 
found regnant. And in this ideal of the stricken 
Servant of God, the notion of sacrifice is, that this 
lover of righteousness falls because of a state of 
iniquity and wickedness which he has had no share 
in making, and as the only remedy for it. The 
notion of redemption is, that by endurance to the end, 
and by his death crowning his life, he establishes all 
seekers after good in their allegiance to good, enables 
them to follow it and to reach true life through it. 
Finally, the notion of resurrection is, that his death 
makes an epoch of victory for him and his cause, 
which thenceforward live and reign indestructibly. 
He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his 
mouth; he was bruised for our iniquities, the Eternal hath 
laid on him the iniquity of us all; 1 there is the sacri- 
fice. With his stripes we are healed;* there is the 
redemption. But : When he hath made his life an 
offering for sin, he shall see His seed, he shall prolong his 
days, and the pleasure of the Eternal shall prosper in his 
hand; 3 there, to crown all, is the resurrection. 

And just these stages we find again in Jesus, 
Which of you convicteth me of sin?* he asked the Jews; 
nevertheless : The Son of Man must suffer many things 
and be rejected of this generation, 5 the Son of Man must 
le lifted up / 6 there is the sacrifice. Except a grain oj 

1 Is. liii. 9, 6, 6. 2 Is. liiL 6. 3 Is. liii. 10. 

4 John viii. 46. 6 Luke xvii. 25. John iii. 14. 


corn fall to the ground and die, it abideth alone ; l the Son 
of Man came to give his life a ransom for many ; 2 there 
is the redemption. But : If the grain of corn die, it 
bringeth forth much fruit ; I, if I be lifted up from the 
earth, mil draw all men unto me; 3 If I go not away 
the Spirit of truth will not come unto you, but if I de- 
part I will send him unto you, and when he is come he 
will convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of 
judgment; 4 there, there is the resurrection and 
triumph ! 

The use by Jesus of the words life and death must 
on no account, however, be limited to this his cruci- 
fixion and after-triumph, though in these, no doubt, 
his dying and living culminated. Yet both here, and 
always in his use of them, they are properly to be 
referred to his secret : " He that loveth his life shall lose 
it, and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it 
unto life eternal; 5 renounce thyself, and take up thy 
cross daily, and follow Me/" 6 Long before his signal 
Crucifixion Jesus had died, by taking up daily that 
cross which his disciples, after his daily example, were 
to take up also. "Therefore doth my Father love 
me," he says, " because I lay down my life that I may 
take it again"** He had risen to life long before his 
crowning Resurrection, risen to life in what he calls 
"my joy," s which he desired to see fulfilled in his 
disciples also ; " my joy, to have kept my Father's 
commandment and abide in his love." 9 

1 John xii 24. 2 Matthew xx. 28. 3 John xii. 24, 32. 
John xvi 7, 8. 5 John xii. 25. 8 Luke ix. 23. 

7 John x. 17. 8 John xvii. 13. 9 John xv. 10, 11. 


Nay, and there is no more powerful testimony to 
Jesus Christ's real use of the words life and death, 
than a famous text, borrowed from Jewish Aberglaube, 
which popular Christianity has wrested in support of 
its tenet of a physical resurrection at the Messiah's 
second advent. Whatever we may think of the 
narrative of the raising of Lazarus, we need have no 
difficulty in believing that Jesus really did say to the 
brother or sister of a dead disciple : " Thy brother 
shall rise again ! " and that the mourner replied : " I 
know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at 
the last day." 1 For the answer which follows has 
the certain stamp of Jesus : " I am the resurrection and 
the life ; he that believeth on me, though he die, shall live, 
and whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die." 2 
Now, Martha believed already in the resurrection of 
Jewish and Christian Aberglaube, the resurrection 
according to the Book of Daniel and the Book of 
Enoch, the resurrection of the last day, when "they 
that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some 
to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting 
contempt." 3 But Jesus corrects her Aberglaube, by 
telling her that her brother is not dead at all ; and 
his words, out of which the story of the miracle very 
likely grew, do really make the miracle quite unneces- 
sary. "He that has believed on me and had my 
secret," says Jesus, " though his body die to the life 
of this world, still lives ; for such an one had died to 
the life of this world already, and found true life, 

1 John xi. 23, 24. 2 Ibid. 25, 26. 

3 Daniel xii. 2. 


life out of himself, life in the Eternal that loveth 
righteousness, by doing so." 1 

Just in the same way, moreover, in his promise to 
see his disciples again after his crucifixion and to take 
up his abode with them, Jesus corrects, for those who 
have eyes to read, he corrects in the clearest and most 
decisive way those very errors, with which our com- 
mon material conceptions of life and death have made 
us invest his death and resurrection. "Yet a little 
while," he says, "and the world seeth me no more; 
but ye see me, because I live, and ye shall live too. 
He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, 
he it is that loveth me; and him that loveth me I will 
love, and will manifest myself to him" Jude naturally 
objects : " How is it that thou wilt manifest thyself 
to us and not to the world V And Jesus answers : 
" If a man love me, he will keep my word, and my 
Father will love him, and we will come unto him and 
make our abode with him" 2 Therefore the manifesta- 
tion of himself he speaks of is nothing external and 
material It is, like the manifestation of God to 
him that ordereth his conversation right, the internal 
life and joy in keeping the commandments. It is the 
life for the disciples of Christ, in and with Christ, in 
keeping the commandments of God ; those command- 
ments, which had at last in their true scope been 
made known to men, but solely through Jesus Christ's 
method and through his secret. 

1 For additional remarks on this miracle ol the raising ol 
Lazarus, see God and the Bible, pp. 310, 311. 

2 John xiv. 19-23. See also God and the Bible, pp. 258-270. 


Thus, then, did Jesus seek to transform the im 
mense materialising Aberglaube into which the religion 
of Israel had fallen, and to spiritualise it at all points; 
while in his method and secret he supplied a sure 
basis for practice. But to follow him entirely there 
was needed an epieikeia, an unfailing sweetness and 
unerring perception, like his own. It was much if 
his disciples got firm hold on his method and his 
secret ; and if they transmitted fragments enough of 
his lofty spiritualism to make it in the fulness of time 
discernible, and to make it at once and from the first 
in a large degree serviceable. Who can read in the 
Gospels the comments preserved to us, both of 
disciples and of others, on what he said, and not 
feel that Jesus must have known, while he neverthe- 
less persevered in saying them, how things like : 
"Before Abraham was, I am," 1 or: "I mil not leave 
you comfortless, I will come unto you," 2 would be mis- 
apprehended by those who .heard them? 

But, indeed, Jesus himself tells us that he knew 
and foresaw this. With the promise of the Spirit of 
truth which should, after his departure, work in his 
disciples first, then in the world, and which should 
convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of 
judgment, and finally transform it, we are all familiar. 
But we do not enough remark the impressive words, 
uttered to the crowd around him only a little while 
1 John viii. 58. 2 John xiv. 18 


before, and of far wider application than the reporter 
imagined. " Yet a little while is the light with you; 
walk while ye have the light, lest the darkness overtake you 
unawares!" 1 The real application cannot have been 
to the unconverted only ; a call to the unconverted 
to make haste because their chance of conversion 
would soon, with Christ's departure, be gone. No, 
converts came in far thicker after Christ's departure 
than in his life. The words are for the converted 
also. It is as if Jesus foresaw the want of his sweet 
reasonableness, which he could not leave, to help his 
method and his secret, which he could leave ; as if 
he foresaw his words misconstrued, his rising to 
eternal life turned into a physical miracle, the advent 
of the Spirit of truth turned into a scene of thauma- 
turgy, Peter proving his Master's Messiahship from a 
Psalm that does not prove it, the great Apostle of 
the Gentiles word-splitting like a pedantic Rabbi, the 
most beautiful soul among his own reporters saddling 
him with metaphysics; foresaw the growth of creeds, 
the growth of dogma, and so through all the confusion 
worse confounded of councils, schoolmen, and confes- 
sions of faith, down to our own two bishops bent on 
" doing something " for the honour of the Godhead of 
the Eternal Son ! 

1 John xii 35. 

VOL. V. 



OUR object in this essay has never been to argue against 
miracles. Even with Lourdes and La Salette before 
our eyes, we may yet say that miracles are doomed ; 
they will drop out, like fairies or witchcraft, from 
among the matters which serious people believe. Our 
one object is to save the revelation in the Bible from 
being made solidary, as our Comtist friends say, with 
miracles ; from being attended to or held cheap just in 
proportion as miracles are attended to or are held cheap. 

In like manner, nay far more, our object is not, and 
never can be, to pick holes in the apostles and re- 
porters of Jesus. But much which they say cannot 
stand; our one object is to" hinder people from making 
Jesus solidary with this, and with his reporters' and 
apostles' character for infallibility. To this extent, 
and to this only, we are brought at moments into 
collision with miracles, into collision with the disciples 
of Jesus and with the writers of the New Testament 
We have to show that, the men being what and when 
and whence they were, the miracles would certainly 
grow up for them around and in the wake of Jesus. 

How did Jesus Christ's words : " / will see you 


again, I go to prepare a place /or you ! " l grow into the 
legend, so beautiful, and round which have for 
centuries gathered such sacred feelings and aspirations, 
yet a legend, of his corporeal resurrection and 
ascension ? How ? Why, Herod's first words, when 
after the execution of John the Baptist he heard of 
Jesus, were : "It is John the Baptist; he is risen from 
the dead ! " 2 In such an atmosphere of belief were the 
disciples living, when their loss of Jesus, the greatest 
loss that ever befel men, happened. All his discourse, 
when he was with them, had run on life and death, 
apparent death, enduring life ; and how many are 
the stories of the survivors, in an atmosphere of 
belief like that of those Palestine times, refusing to 
believe in the death of a leader even far less precious 
to them, full of reports of his reappearance in this 
place and that place, feeding themselves on the promise 
of his triumphant return ! How many thousands at 
this moment, in Persia, refuse to credit the death of 
the Bab, their Gate of life, executed some years ago ; 
assert that he will return, that he has been seen, that 
they have seen him ! 

But the reporters of Jesus were not as others ; they 
were infallible ? So infallible, that they report them- 
selves, when Jesus reappeared, after all his labours to 
transform and spiritualise for them the old Jewish 
ideal, they report themselves to have met him with 
the inquiry : Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom 
to Israel ? 3 But the Holy Ghost had not then been 
given ? And after the Holy Ghost was given, we find 
1 John xvi. 22 ; xiv. 2, 3. 2 Matt. xiv. 2. 3 Acts i 6. 


them with one voice asserting that in the lifetime of that 
generation should come Christ's second advent and the 
end of the world ; Peter falling back into Judaism, so 
that Paul had to withstand him to the face because 
he was to be blamed, and Paul himself proving salva- 
tion to be by Jesus, from seed, in the promise to 
Abraham, being used in the singular! That it is 
impossible the disciples of Jesus should have been, 
alone of all the disciples in the world, infallible, that it 
is begging the question to say they were infallible, 
need not be made out It is conspicuous, on the face 
of their own showing of themselves, that they were 
not infallible. And well it is that it should be so. 
For this favourite Protestant Doctrine of the infalli- 
bility of the Bible-writers, inherited, indeed, from the 
Fathers along with that of the infallibility of the 
Church, but kept and extolled by Protestants as the 
true single anchor to ride at, whereas the other was 
rotten, this doctrine involves Christianity in dangers 
quite as serious as its discarded rival does. 

But it was not for nothing that the Apostles had 
lived with Jesus; or even," in the case of a great 
religious spirit like Paul, lived in his time, lived in 
his country, had his presence and words near and 
fresh to them. And, untrue and dangerous as is the 
popular Protestant doctrine of the plenary inspiration 
of the Apostles, an inspiration making them infallible, 
but vouchsafed no more to any one after the Apostles 
were gone, yet it rests on a true perception of the vast 
distance which separates them from after -writers on 
Christianity, from the Fathers as from Luther and 


Calvin, all alike. This they owe to their contact with 
Jesus ; or, in Paul's case, to their nearness to him. The 
impression of him was too fresh and vivid, his method 
and secret still had too firmly the prominence he had 
given them, the atmosphere of his sweet reasonableness 
still hung round his disciples too much, to permit of the 
deep confusions and misunderstandings of after-times. 
There is no pleasure in proving that the Apostles 
sometimes made mistakes ; but to trace in the Apostles 
the reproduction of the method and secret of Jesus, is 
one of the most delightful of tasks. And since to 
show such reproduction of Jesus in his followers 
throws light on what we have said of Jesus himself, 
and confirms it, we will permit ourselves to do this 
very briefly. And we will show it, first and above all, 
in the case of the three great witnesses to him in the 
New Testament, St. Peter, St. Paul, and the writer 
who is called, properly or improperly, St. John. 


To begin with St. Peter. The First Epistle of St. 
Peter commends itself as much, one may say, as the 
genuine work of the author whose name it bears, as 
the Second Epistle bespeaks itself the contrary. And, 
except for the one strange passage about the spirits in 
prison and Noah's flood, at the end of the third chapter, 
where the meaning which was in the writer's mind 
is probably now irrecoverable for us, there is shed 
over this whole production more, perhaps, of the 
epieikeia, or what we call the sweet reasonableness, of 


Christ, than over any other epistle we possess. Very 
much this is due to its simplicity, to the unambitious 
nature of its topics and of its treatment of them ; 
because, clearly, the application of prophecy, the 
adjustment of the old ideal of Israel to the new, the 
management of the ideas of life and death, of justifi- 
cation and the like, in all of which the epieikeia of 
Jesus himself shone forth so matchlessly, are much 
harder to treat with the winning simplicity and limpid 
intuitiveness which make the charm of epieikeia, than 
conduct itself is. 

And conduct is what this epistle is concerned with, 
almost from the first line to the last. "Your good 
conversation in Christ ; " l " As He who called you is 
holy, be ye also holy in all your conversation ; " 2 this is 
the head and front of the matter with the writer. 
Holiness is but, as we have said, a deep and finished 
righteousness. And the method for it is the method 
of Jesus : the inward man awakened, conscience. 
" Born again through the word of God that liveth and 
abideth ;" 3 " The hidden man of the heart ; " * " Having 
a good conscience;" 5 again and again this word 
" conscience," so strange to the Old Testament, 
appears. And the two great groups of faults which, 
in a rough way, do sufficiently comprehend all conduct, 
are again, as they were by Jesus, marked as the 
matter to be dealt with : faults of temper and faults 
of sensuality. " Not conformed to the former lusts of 
your time of ignorance ; " 6 " The time past may 

1 1 Peter iii. 16. 2 Ibid. i. 15. 3 Ibid. i. 23. 
4 Ibid, ill 4. B Ibid. iii. 16. 6 Ibid. L 14 


suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, 
having walked in dissoluteness, lusts, excess of wine, 
revellings ; " l " Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war 
against the soul ; " 2 "Be temperate, be sober ; " 3 this 
is for faults of sensuality. " Putting away all malice, 
and all deceit, and insincerities, and envies, and all evil- 
speakings;"* " Be of one mind, feel ivith one another, love 
as brethren;" "Be tender-hearted, humble -minded /" 5 
"The incorruptible of that mild and quiet spirit which 
is, in the sight of God, of great price;" this is for 
the faults of temper. 

So far the " method " of Jesus ; and next for his 
" secret " of self -renouncement, of dying to our appar- 
ent self, to our "life in this world." "Even though 
ye suffer for righteousness, happy are ye!" 7 "For 
to suffering ye are called, because Christ also suffered 
for our sakes, leaving us an ensample that we should 
follow his steps:" 8 "As Christ suffered in the flesh, 
arm yourselves likewise with the same mind, for he 
that suffers in the flesh is freed from sin ;'' 9 " Elected of 
God unto obedience and sprinkling ivith the blood of 
Christ." 10 And nowhere does the joy, which with 
Jesus is the great test and sanction of his method 
and secret, come out fuller and stronger than in this 
epistle. "But ye are a chosen race, a royal priest- 
hood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, to tell forth 
the excellences of Him wJw called you out of darkness 
into his marvellous light/" 11 

1 1 Peter iv. 3. 2 Ibid. iv. 11. * Ibid. iv. 7. 

4 Ibid. ii. 1. 5 Ibid. iii. 8. Ibid. iii. 4. 

7 Ibid. iii. 14. 8 Ibid. ii. 21. Ibid. iv. 1. 

10 Ibid. i. 2. " Ibid. ii. 9. 


The belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and 
the expectation of his second advent in the lifetime 
of the generation then living, are signal supports to 
the writer's mind. But our popular notion of the 
Atonement, Christ's death represented as a satisfac- 
tion of God's offended justice, does not yet appear. 
The governing idea of the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, 
adopted by Jesus himself, is still faithfully preserved. 
Jesus Christ died for his people "to redeem them 
from their vain conversation delivered by tradition ; " 
Jesus Christ suffered, " in order that we, dying to 
sins, might live to righteousness." 1 


Next we come to St. Paul ; but elsewhere 2 we 
have spoken so fully of St. Paul's theology that we 
shall be very brief here. Need we say that righteous- 
ness is its ground -thought, real righteousness dis- 
cerned to be such by means of a change of the inner 
man 1 " Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision 
is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments oj 
God." s Eighteousness is the end and aim. This to 
begin with ; then, in the words : " I exercise myself 
to have a conscience void of offence towards God and 
men continually," 4 we find ourselves in the method 
of Jesus. "Let every man prove by experience his 
own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himselj 
alone and not in another ; " 5 " Prove all things by 

i 1 Peter i. 18 ; ii. 24. - See St. Paul and Protestantism. 
3 1 Cor. vii. 19. 4 Acts xxiv. 18. s GaL vi 4. 


experience, keep what is good ; " l " Prove by experience 
what things are excellent ; " 2 " Able to prove by experif 
ence what is that good and perfect and acceptable will 
of God." 3 "All this points to inward appraisal, the 
method of inwardness, the individual conscience. 
Jesus has given a new faculty of judging things, light: 
"All things that are convicted as wrong are shown to 
be what they really are by the light; for whatever 
shows things to be what they really are, is light. 
Wherefore he saith : Awake thou that sleepest, and 
arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light/* 
This is the new power of the method of Jesus, of 
conscience. And no one has so well described as St 
Paul the working of conscience as first set going by 
Christianity. " Commending ourselves, by the mani- 
festing of the reality, to every human conscience/" 5 
" The hidden things of a man's lieart are made manifest" 
he says; "all that he hears convicts him, sifts him to the 
bottom: he falls on his face and worships, declaring 
that God is indeed here ! " 6 Nor does St. Paul fail 
to specify again and again the matter wherewith 
conscience deals : "the works of the flesh," as he calls 
them ; " fornication, uncleanness, dissoluteness, idol- 
worship, witchcraft, hatreds, strife, jealousy, angers, 
contentions, divisions, sects, envies, drunkennesses, 
revellings, and such like." 7 They are manifest, says 

1 1 Thess. v. 21. 2 Philipp. i. 10. 3 Romans xii. 2. 

4 Eph. v. 13, 14. The Epistle to the Ephesians cannot well 
be altogether Paul's, but it is full of Pauline things, and this is 
certainly among them. B 2 Cor. iv. 2. 

6 1 Cor. xiv. 24, 25. 7 Gal. v. 19, 20. 


he, and so they are ; for they roughly cover what all 
the Galatians, to whom he wrote, understood by 
conduct, the whole body of faults connected with 
our two great primary instincts, faults of temper and 
faults of sensuality. Elsewhere, to the Colossians, he 
even seems to follow, but still in an informal, 
approximative manner, such as one uses when one 
speaks of matters so familiar that to be precise is 
pedantic, he even seems to actually follow this 
division, and to throw faults of conduct into two 
groups which nearly correspond to it. 1 Finally, to 
the works of the flesh, which are thus evidently 
conduct wrong, he opposes the fruits of the Spirit, 
which are as evidently conduct 'right: "Love, joy, 
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, 
self-control." 2 By following the inward method of 
Jesus, he tells us, we perceive that here is the subject 
matter of righteousness, that this is what keeping the 
commandments of God really is. 

And that the "secret" of Jesus was applied to 
this subject-matter by Paul, who can doubt when 
that secret is the very heart of Paul's theology, and 
he came to view the crucifixion and resurrection of 
Christ altogether in connection Avith it 1 In elevating 
as his sum of knowledge "Jesus Christ crucified," 3 
his first thought was to insist on " the scandal of the 
cross " 4 as the strength, not the weakness, of Chris- 
tianity ; to enthrone resolutely Jesus Christ's new 
Messias-ideal of the suffering servant, in opposition to 

' Colossians iii. 5, 8. 2 Gal. v. 22, 23. 

3 1 Cor. L 23. 4 Gal. v. 11. 


the Jews' old Messias-ideal of a triumphing conqueror 
His second thought was the "secret" It is to be 
noted that the secret of Jesus takes a twofold form in 
Paul's wri tings, a simple and a mystic one. The 
simple form is given in such a passage as this : "If 
ye live after the flesh ye shall die, but if through 
the spirit ye mortify the doings of the body, ye 
shall live. 1 Here is the same easily intelligible play 
on the ideas of life and death which Jesus himself 
used. But Paul's favourite form for the secret was 
a more mystic one, in which Christ's death upon 
the cross stood for death in general, and his resur- 
rection for life in general. "If we correspond to 
his death," says Paul, " into which our baptism 
buries us with him, we shall correspond also to 
his resurrection;" 2 that is, in his other and simpler 
phrase, " we shall live." But of all this we have 
spoken elsewhere ; let us at present content ourselves 
with quoting, as Paul's general witness to the secret 
of Jesus, these three texts, so strong and plain that 
they may well stand as the great signal-marks point- 
ing to it : " I am crucified with Christ ;" 3 " If ye die 
with him, ye shall also live with him ; " 4 " Always 
bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that 
the life also of Jqsus may be manifestd in our body." 6 
The loord of the cross, 6 as he calls it, is his pole-star. 
By the method and example of Jesus he has become 
aware of a new principle of choosing and refusing, of 
going after things and retiring from them. Thia 

1 Rom. viii 13. 2 Rom. vi. 4, 5. 3 Gal. ii. 19. 
* 2 Tim. ii. 11. 6 2 Cor. iv. 10. 1 Cor. L 18. 


principle acts always in view of a new creature,^ the 
higher or real self, agreeing with the " will of God," 
conflicting with the lower or apparent self, or the 
"wishes of the flesh and of the current thoughts." 
With this new principle, a man's great aim is now 
" to put off, as regards our former way of life, the old 
man that perishes by compliance with the misleading 
lusts ,- 2 and to put on the new man that after God is 
created in righteousness" And the secret for this is, 
says Paul, being crucified with Christ, or, being conformed 
to Christ's death, or, always bearing about in the body 
the dying of Jesus. z Paul told his converts he was "in 
travail of them till Christ be fashioned in them," 4 
the entire Christ, with his method, secret, and sweet 
reasonableness; but the great stress is laid on the 
"secret," on dying, because this was Christ's secret, 
because the heart of the matter is indeed here. And 
as we shall do well to have always the " secret " 
in our minds when Jesus talks of " the living water," 
" the bread of life," so it is of the possession of this 
same secret that Paul is. specially thinking when he 
talks of " counting all things but loss for the excellency 
of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my .Lord ; " 5 or when 
he says : " God forbid that I should glory, save in the 
cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby the world is 
crucified unto me, and I unto the world /" 6 

And the evidence of joy which testifies to the 
1 2 Cor. v. 17. 

2 Thy ira\a.ibv 8.v6puirov, rbv <f>6eip6/jievov Kara rets eiriOvfjia.^ rfy 

. Eph. iv. 22. 

3 Gal. ii. 19 ; Philipp. iii. 10 ; 2 Cor. iv. 10. 

4 GaL iv. 19. B Philipp. iii. 8. 6 Gal. vi. 14. 


salvation there is in Jesus and in his secret, and the 
sense of " not ourselves " which fills this joy with awe 
and gratitude, and makes it religious to the core, who 
has rendered them like Paul? "Rejoice evermore!" 
"Rejoice in the Lord alway; again I say, rejoice/" 
" Sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing!" "As the sufferings 
of Christ abound with us, so through Christ abounds 
also the consolation." "The unsearchable riches of 
Christ!" " IHw shall separate us from tlie love of 
Christ?" "0 the depth of the riches both of the 
wisdom and knowledge of God !" " It is God that 
worketh in you, both to will and to do, of his good 
pleasure." "He that glorieth, let him glory in the 
Eternal/" 1 

All this is in Paul. And there is, besides, the 
Aberglaube, or extra-belief, of the bodily resurrection, 
of Christ's second advent during the lifetime of men 
then living; 2 there is the Calvinistical God "willing to 
show his wrath and to make his power known by 
vessels of wrath fitted to destruction ; " 3 there is the 
Rabbinical logic, and the unsound use of prophecy and 
of the Old Testament. For popular theology the 
writings of Paul are a fatal rock ; because they are 
the products of a mind that was constantly growing, 
and because they affect the forms of logic and science 
which a complete notional system adopts, while their 
true character and force is that of an approximative 
experience. So the mechanical theory of inspiration 

1 1 Thess. v. 16 ; Philipp. iv. 4 ; 2 Cor. vi. 10 ; Ibid. i. 5 ; 
Eph. iii. 8 ; Rom. viii. 35 ; Ibid. xi. 33 ; Philipp. ii 13 ; 1 
Cor. i 31. a 1 Thess. iv. 15. 3 Rom. ix. 22. 


makes strange work indeed with Paul's writings. 
They are, however, to those who can use them 
aright, inexhaustible, not only in their power of 
animation and edification, but also in their illustra- 
tion of the genuine doctrine of Jesus. 


The author of the Fourth Gospel passes for the 
author of the epistle which we call the First Epistle of 
St. John ; at any rate, the Epistle is written by one 
who had the ideas of this Gospel moving his mind. 
We of course, therefore, might expect that the Epistle 
should tally with the Gospel. And so it does ; only 
it upholds, one may say, in a certain very important 
respect, the doctrine of Jesus against the Fourth 
Gospel itself. 

We have seen how the author of this Gospel had 
a leaning to metaphysics ; so that he delights M. 
Burnouf by showing a quite Indo-European turn for 
making God into a metaphysical source of things, 
such as is not unworthy, perhaps, of being called a 
cosmic unity ; and Jesus into the Logos, necessarily 
related, by some lofty metaphysical law or other, to 
this cosmic unity. But presently came the Gnostics, 
still more full of the Aryan genius, and still more 
admired by M. Burnouf ; full of religion's being a 
knowing rather than a doing, a metaphysical conception 
rather than righteousness. And, in fact, as we have 
said already, it may well seem wonderful that so 
great a thing as religion should be taken up with so 


simple a thing as conduct ; or that Jesus Christ should 
say, that he who receives the kingdom of God as a little 
child, that is, who simply receives it as concerned 
with this simple matter, the same is the greatest in 
that kingdom. 1 Jesus Christ does say so, however; 
and no one who had lived with him, and felt his 
influence, could doubt that so it was. But the 
Gnostics, who had not lived with him, did not think 
thus ; and they naturally imagined that a man who 
was right about such grand things as the cosmic unity, 
and the pleroma, and emanation, and personality, and 
consubstantiality, and the like, must have true reli- 
gion and be the perfect man. And they naturally 
imagined, too, that the Christ, the Saviour of the 
world, could not have been anything so unmetaphy- 
sical, so unworthy of the cosmic unity, as a mere man 
with flesh and blood ; and the Docetce, or Appari- 
tionists, taught accordingly that Jesus had been an 
apparition or phantom, not a man at all The writings 
of the Apostles can hardly be understood unless we 
know that very often they are alluding to these 
Gnostics and their productions, which had even at 
that early time their successful beginnings. 

Now, the author of the Fourth Gospel had a turn, 
as we have seen, for metaphysics, and the author of 
the First Epistle of St. John shows a conversance 
with the ideas of the Fourth Gospel. But a man in 
vital contact with Jesus and cdetheia, knew what 
reality was, the reality of Jesus, too well, to carry Ilia 
play of metaphysics into the domain of that reality. 
1 Matthew xviii. 3, 4. 


And by a sort of compensation, glorious indeed to the 
writer, still more glorious to the power of Jesua 
Christ's word, the two great points of that close 
cousin of the Fourth Gospel, that document which we 
call the First Epistle of St. John, are these : Jesus 
Christ come in the flesh ! and : He that- doeth righteous- 
ness is righteous/ l Jesus is no metaphysical phantom, 
but a living man having to do with conduct. Eeligion 
is no intellectualism, but righteousness. Here we 
have the substratum as Jesus laid it : righteousness. 

And we have also the "method" of conscience, 
which tells us what righteousness is, and how great it 
is, and that it is indeed the substratum. " Ye have 
an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all 
things; the unction which ye received from him 
abideth in you, and ye need not that any one should 
teach you, but his unction teacheth you of all things, 
and is true and is no lie, and as he taught you, abide 
ye in him!" 2 

It is characteristic of this beautiful soul, the source 
of our Epistle, that he does not go into detail and give 
lists of faults. He has fixed the method, conscience, 
and the subject-matter of the method, righteousness; 
and that is enough. It is characteristic, in like 
manner, that he states and restates the " secret " of 
Jesus by its positive and loveliest side. The " method" 
gives us light, and the "secret" gives us the power of 
"walking in the light;" and, "If we walk in the light, 
we have fellowship one with another." 3 For to live by 

1 1 John iv. 2 ; iii. 7. 
* Ibid. ii. 20, 27. 3 Ibid. i. 7- 


dying to our life in this world is to transfer the 
natural love of life from the personal self to the 
impersonal self, the self that we share with all other 
men ; so that to die to oneself is to love the brethren^ 
and by this side is the secret of Jesus always in our 
Epistle presented. "Let us love one another f" "We 
know that we have passed from death to life because 
we love the brethren." 1 

And it agrees with what we have seen in the 
Fourth Gospel of the author's ear for Christ's pro- 
founder teaching, that in the Epistle, too, we find the 
proof of God, of Christ, and of eternal life, made 
experimental, rested on internal evidence. "No man 
hath ever yet seen God ; if we love one another, God 
dwelleth in us." 2 Therefore we must not attempt to 
define God adequately, or in a way that goes beyond 
our experience, to say, like our theologians : God is 
a person/ but we define God approximately, according 
to our actual experience of him. And as Jesus had 
said of this infinite not ourselves, " God is an influence," 
so our Epistler says, "God is love." 3 And he says 
indifferently, " He that loveth is born of God," and, 
" He that believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born 
of God," 4 because believing that Jesus is the Christ 
means, mainly, admitting the authority of his message 
or secret, and his secret is : Love one another I And 
God's evidence for his Son is this : " The eternal life 
which God gives us, this life is in his Son." 5 That is : 
in righteousness we have the sense of being truly 

1 1 John, iv. 7 ; iii. 14. ' Ibid. iv. 12. 

3 Ibid. iv. 16. 4 Ibid. iy. 7 ; v. I. 5 Ibid. v. 11. 
VOL. V. R 


alive, and through the method, secret, and sweet 
reasonableness of Jesus, and only through these, we 
get at righteousness. 

As in the Fourth Gospel, and indeed in all the 
Gospels, the joy, which is the signal accompaniment 
of life, is in our Epistle strongly marked : " These 
things write I unto you, that your joy may be full." 1 
And the not ourselves, that element wherein religion 
has its being : " Herein is love, not that we loved God, 
but that he loved us ; we love, because he first loved 
us ! " 2 As we did not make the law of righteousness, 
so we did not, the writer means, make " the fulfilling 
of the law," which is love. It arises in us from the 
way the not ourselves affects us. 

In our Epistle, the Aberglaube of the approaching 
second advent appears, of course, prominently ; not 
so that of Christ's physical resurrection. On the 
other hand, there are here launched phrases destined 
to rank one day as foremost texts for the doctrine 
of the Atonement : " The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses 
us from all sin ;" " He is the propitiation for our sins." 3 
No development is given to them. How much in 
them is figure, how much is tenet or the commence- 
ments of tenet, we cannot say ; but there they are, 
they are launched, and the hint is given to popular 
religion to materialise and blunder with. 


The Epistle attributed to St. James, and the 
Epistle to the Hebrews, though not of equal import 
1 1 John L 4. 2 Ibid. iv. 10, 19. s Ibid. i. 7 ; ii 2, 


ance with the documents we have been reviewing, 
suggest, nevertheless, two or three remarks. The 
zeal of St James for works carries us back to Jesus 
Christ's sentence : " If thou wouldst enter into life, 
keep the commandments/" 1 It is the voice of the 
indestructible sense in the writer that with Jesus 
righteousness was always the end and aim. The 
opposition to St. Paul, of which so much has been 
said, does not really exist; with both Apostles the 
aim is identical, righteousness. Only Paul observed 
righteousness to be in danger from men using the 
Jewish law as a kind of spell which they could con- 
jure mechanically with, and therefore he elevated the 
faith by which we get hold of the " secret " of Jesus, 
of the "doctrine of the cross." James, in his turn, 
observed righteousness being in danger from men 
using faith, as it may easily be used, as a spell or 
charm to conjure mechanically with; and therefore 
he elevated works, the being a doer, not an idle hearer 
and talker. But his noble expression, "If a man 
offend in one point, he is guilty of all ! " and his calling 
the law which he had in view, "the law of liberty," 2 
proves sufficiently that in no unsound sense did he 
elevate works, as Paul in no unsound sense elevated 

The matter whereon the " secret " of Jesus finds 
exercise, " the wishes of the flesh and of the current 
thoughts," is well called by St. James : " Our pleasures 
which war in our members." 3 And when he goes on 
and says : " Being in with the world is being out with 
1 Matt. xix. 17. 2 James ii. 10 ; L 25. 3 James iv. 1. 


God ! " l he has on his lips, and in his thoughts too, 
the very words of the " secret " : " He that hateth his 
life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." For 
he means, not as many readers suppose : " He that 
stands well with the world stands ill with God ; " he 
means : "He that is in with the pleasures which war 
in our members, is out with God." 

But we must not dwell at length on this writer, 
instructive as he is, and ill as he has been often judged. 
In fineness or richness of spiritual perception his 
Epistle may be inferior to other Epistles; without 
undue disparagement of him we can own this. All 
the more remarkable, as a testimony to what was 
chiefly striking in Jesus Christ, is his signalling and 
extolling that character in Christianity into which 
fineness of perception enters most : epieikeia. " The 
wisdom from above," says St. James, "is sweetly 
reasonable." 2 

It is more difficult to limit ourselves in speaking of 
the Epistle to the Hebrews. Almost alone in the 
Bible, it is, like later theology, a notional work as 
distinguished from an experimental work. That is, 
instead of being found to run up, at last, into an 
experience of the Eternal that makes for righteousness, 
it will be found to run up into a notion of Jesus 
being the Logos, with the characters of the Logos as 
they are stated, for instance, in Philo; and of this 
being provable from Scripture and putting an end to 
the old Jewish dispensation. And because of this 

1 'H <f>i\la rov K6ffnov txOpa rod Qeov iarlv. James iv. 4. 
a James iii. 17. 


notional character, later theology has so much used 
the Epistle to the Hebrews, and is really in great part 
built on it. For later theology is notional, too ; " the 
blessed truth that the God of the Universe is a 
PERSON," is just such a notion as the ground-thesis of 
the Epistle to the Hebrews, that Jesus is the Logos of 
Jewish-Alexandrian philosophy. Eeligion has nothing 
really to do with either thesis, and that is fortunate ; 
for neither thesis is demonstrable, and the demonstra- 
tions attempted are often palpably hollow. For 
instance, the whole of the first chapter of the Epistle 
to the Hebrews is an allegation of text after text 
as meaning Jesus, and as therefore establishing the 
writer's thesis, not one of which texts does really 
mean Jesus. The seventh chapter, again, is one tissue 
of clever, learned trifling, all based on the false 
assumption that " Thou art a priest for ever after the 
order of Melchisedek ! " was really said to Jesus, 
whereas it was not. 

Now, just because of this notional character, the 
Epistle to the Hebrews could not have been St. 
Paul's; for St. Paul goes upon experience, not notion. 
And such a work can never have the value and inter- 
est of Paul's writings, for it is, in truth, all in the air. 
But a man who puts a hollow notion as the basis of 
his theology, may yet in treating it give us all kinds 
of real and valuable experience; of this we have 
abundant examples in the writings of theologians. 
And so the Epistle to the Hebrews is full of beautiful 
things, and things of real religious experience ; but 
they are independent of the ground -thesis of the 


Epistle, their value has another source than the value 
of the writer's main design, and indeed is often marred 
by it. Their value is as reminiscences of Jesus, and 
their witness to Jesus is the more striking because of 
the medium where they appear. To have survived 
and appear in such a medium, they must have been 
originally very strong. 

The sense that in righteousness religion begins 
and ends, the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews 
has not. He talks of " not laying again the founda- 
tions," by which he means righteousness, but " going 
on unto perfection ;" 1 by which he means such things 
as the doctrine that Jesus Christ is, like the Logos of 
theosophy, High Priest, and as the demonstration 
about Melchisedek. All this is of the same order 
with the " blessed truth that the God of the universe 
is a PERSON," which our bishops imagine to be the 
marrow of religion, whereas in truth it is not religion 
at all. But it is remarkable how frequently the 
writer of our Epistle has the word of the "method," 
conscience. Again and again it recurs with him ; 
nowhere in the Bible does it appear, within equal 
limits of space, so often. The word has evidently 
established itself and become a power. 

But most remarkable is the testimony of this 
writer to the "secret." His view of the sacrifice of 
Christ as replacing the sacrifices of the Jewish law is 
all notional, and is really quite independent of Christ's 
sacrifice as the "secret." Yet the "secret" appears; 
and in phrases so striking and so much profounder 
1 Hebrews vi. 1. 


than the strain of this writer's argument, that one is 
tempted to see in them a tradition of words, not 
otherwise preserved, of Jesus himself. " It behoved 
God, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the leader 
of their salvation perfect through suffering" 1 Christ 
" learned obedience from the things that he suffered, and, 
being perfected, became the author of eternal salvation 
to all who obey him." 2 Christ, like mankind, partook 
of flesh and blood, " in order that by death he might 
deliver them wJw through fear of death were all their life 
subject to bondage." 3 This is precisely the "secret." 
The pain and fear and gloom of dying to our appar- 
ent self, to " the wishes of the flesh and the current 
thoughts" are so great, that only Jesus and his 
" secret," lighting the process up with joy by show- 
ing it to be really life not death, could overcome 
them, and could enable mankind to overcome them. 
In like manner the noble phrase, " without shedding of 
blood is no remission," 4 notional and unfruitful as is its 
use in the connection where our author employs it, 
is in itself, perhaps, a reminiscence of actual words of 
Jesus ; certainly it is a reminiscence of his " secret." 
In itself it ranks with the beautiful and profound 
phrase of St. Peter : "He that suffers in the flesh hath 
ceased from sin." 


Finally, in the ardour for martyrdom which followed 
in the Christian Church a little later, in the passion 

1 Heb. ii. 10 * Heb< iv ^ 9 

3 Heb. ii. 14, 15. Heb. ix. 22. 


for seeking out this kind of death, courting it, pro 
yoking it by every means discoverable, we shall not 
err if we believe that there is again visible the trace 
of the "secret." Assuredly many martyrs, in the 
temper with which they provoked their death, were 
false to the epieikeia, the sweet reasonableness," of 
Jesus, and laid themselves open to that sentence of 
Paul, the sentence which will be the final verdict of 
religious history on Puritanism also, Puritanism 
glorying in its resistances : " Though I give my body 
to be burned, and have not chanty, it profiteth me 
nothing." 1 And there was nothing to command or 
advise the repetition, upon every disciple, of the actual 
bodily execution of Jesus. But Jesus had enjoined 
dying, taking up the cross, the "secret;" a long 
inward travail, other, and often much harder, than 
being once for all executed. Paul still understood 
what Jesus meant by dying. But the apostolic age 
passed ; and now the Christian community took the 
word literally, and Christians vied with each other 
which should run fastest to the place of execution. 
The wonderful spectacle accelerated Christianity's 
conquest of the world; but it was already an evi- 
dence of failure, in some sort, to follow the mind of 
Jesus and the teaching of his greatest apostles. Yet 
a little while is the light with you! walk while ye Jiave the 
light, lest the darkness overtake you unawares 1 2 

1 Cor. xiii. 3 John xii. 35. 



So spoke the men who had had the Light with them 
or near them. Mistakes they made and could not 
but make. But they still knew, that to believe Jesus 
to be the Son of God, meant to receive and apply the 
method and secret of Jesus ; and therefore their word 
is the Christian's greatest source of instruction and 
inspiration after the word of Jesus Christ himself. 

But miracles, and the crowning miracles of the 
Resurrection and Ascension to be followed by the 
second Advent, were from the first firmly fixed as 
parts of the disciples' belief, " Behold, he cometh with 
clouds ; and every eye shall see him, and they also which 
pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail 
because of him / !>1 As time went on, and Christianity 
spread wider and wider among the multitudes, and 
with less and less of control from the personal influ- 
ence of Jesus, Christianity developed more and more 
its side of miracle and legend ; until to believe Jesus 
to be the Son of God meant to believe the points of 
the legend, his preternatural conception and birth, 
1 Revelation i. 7. 


his miracles, his descent into hell, his bodily resurrec- 
tion, his ascent into heaven, and his future triumphant 
return to judgment. And these and like matters are 
what popular religion drew forth from the records of 
Jesus as the essentials of belief. These essentials got 
embodied in a short formulary; and so the creed 
which is called the Apostles' Creed came together. 

It is not the apostles' creed, for it took more than 
five hundred years to grow to maturity. It was not 
the creed of any single doctor or body of doctors, but 
it was a sort of summary of Christianity which the 
people, the church at large, would naturally develop: 
it is the popular science of Christianity. Given the 
alleged charge : " Go ye and teach all nations, baptiz- 
ing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the 
Holy Spirit," 1 and the candidate for baptism would 
naturally come to have a profession of faith to make 
respecting that whereinto he was baptized ; this pro- 
fession of faith would naturally become just such a 
summary as the Apostles' Creed. It contains no 
mention of either the "method" or the "secret," it is 
occupied entirely with external facts ; and it may be 
safely said, not only that such a summary of religious 
faith could never have been delivered by Jesus, but it 
could never have been adopted as adequate by any of 
his principal apostles, by Peter, or Paul, or John. But 
it is, as we have said, the popular science of Christianity. 

Years proceeded. The world came in to Christian- 
ity ; the world, and the world's educated people, and 
the educated people's Aryan genius with its turn for 
1 Matthew xxviii. 19- 


making religion a metaphysical conception ; and all 
this in a time of declining criticism, a time when the 
possibility of true scientific criticism, in any direction 
whatever, was lessening rather than increasing. The 
popular science was found not elaborate enough to 
satisfy. Ingenious men took its terms and its data, 
and applied to them, not an historical criticism show- 
ing how they arose, but abstruse metaphysical con- 
ceptions. And so we have the so-called Nicene 
Creed, which is the learned science of Christianity, as 
the Apostles' Creed is the popular science. 

Now, how this learned science is related to the 
Bible we shall feel, if we compare the religious 
utterances of its doctors with the religious utterances 
of the Bible. Suppose, for instance, we compare with 
the Psalms the Soliloquies of St. Augustine, a truly 
great and religious man ; and of St. Augustine, not 
in school and controversy, but in religious soliloquy. 
St. Augustine prays : " Come to my help, thou one 
God, one eternal true substance, where is no discre- 
. pancy, no confusion, no transience, no indigency, no 
death ; where is supreme concord, supreme evidence, 
supreme constancy, supreme plenitude, supreme life; 
where nothing is lacking, nothing is over and above ; 
where he who begets and he who is begotten of him 
are one ; God, above whom is nothing, outside whom 
is nothing, without whom is nothing; God, beneath 
whom is the whole, in whom is the whole, with whom 
is the whole . . . hearken, hearken, hearken unto 
me, my God, my Lord ; open thy door unto me 
that knock !" And a further Book of Soliloquies, 


popularly ascribed to St Augustine and printed with 
his works, but probably of a later date and author, 
shows the full-blown development of all this, showa 
the inevitable results of bringing to the idea of God 
this play of the intellectual fancy so alien to the 
Bible. The passages we will quote take evidently 
their inspiration from the words of St. Augustine 
just given, and retain even in some degree his very 
forms of expression : " Holy Trinity, superadmirable 
Trinity, and superinenarrable, and superinscrutable, 
and superinaccessible, super-incomprehensible, super- 
intelligible, superessential, superessentially surpassing 
all sense, all reason, all intellect, all intelligence, all 
essence of supercelestial minds ; which can neither be 
said, nor thought, nor understood, nor known, even 
by the eyes of angels !" And again, more practically, 
but still in the same style : "0 three co-equal and 
co-eternal Persons, one and true God, Father and Son 
and Holy Ghost, whb by thyself inhabitest eternity 
and light inaccessible, who hast founded the earth in 
thy power, and rulest the world by thy prudence, 
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth, terrible and 
strong, just and merciful, admirable, laudable, amiable, 
one God, three persons, one essence, power, wisdom, 
goodness, one and undivided Trinity, open unto me 
that cry unto Thee the gates of righteousness !" 

And now compare this with the Bible : " Teach 
me to do the thing that pleaseth thee, for thou art my God! 
let thy loving spirit lead me forth into the land of righteous- 
ness / " J That is Israel's way of praying ! that is how 
1 Psalm cxliii. 10. 


a poor ill-endowed Semite, belonging to the occipital 
races, unhelped by the Aryan genius and ignorant 
that religion is a metaphysical conception, talks reli- 
gion ! and we see what a different thing he makes 
of it. 

But, finally, the original Semite fell more and more 
into the shade. The Aryans came to the front, the 
notion of religion being a metaphysical conception 
prevailed. But the doctors differed in their meta- 
physics ; and the doctors who conquered enshrined 
their victorious form of metaphysics in a creed, the 
so-called Creed of St. Athanasius, which is learned 
science like the Nicene Creed, but learned science 
which has fought and got ruffled by fighting, and is 
fiercely dictatorial now that it has won ; learned 
science with a strong dash of violent and vindictive temper. 
Thus we have the three creeds : the so-called Apostles' 
Creed, popular science; the Nicene Creed, learned 
science; the Athanasian Creed, learned science with 
a strong dash of temper. And the two latter are 
founded on the first, taking its data just as they 
stand, but dressing them metaphysically. 

Now this first Creed is founded on a supposed 
final charge from Jesus to his apostles : " Go ye and 
teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the 
Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost I" 1 It explains 
and expands what Jesus here told his apostles to 
baptize the world into. But we have already re- 
marked the difference in character between the 
narrative in the Gospels, of what happened before 
1 Matthew xxviii. 19. 


Christ's death and the narrative of what happened 
after it. For all words of Jesus placed after his 
death, the internal evidence becomes pre-eminently 
important. He may well have said words attributed 
to him, but not then. So the speech to Thomas : 
" Because thou hast seen me thou hast believed ; 
blessed are they who have not seen and yet have 
believed!" 1 may quite well have been a speech of 
Jesus uttered on some occasion during his life, and 
then transferred to the story of the days after his 
resurrection and made the centre of this incident of 
the doubt of Thomas. On the other hand, again, 
the prophecy of the details of Peter's death 2 is 
almost certainly an addition after the event, because 
it is not at all in the manner of Jesus. What is in 
his manner, and what he had probably said, are the 
words given elsewhere : " Whither I go thou canst 
not follow me now, but thou shalt follow me after- 
wards." 3 So, too, it is extremely improbable that 
Jesus should have ever charged his apostles to "baptize 
all nations in the name of. the Father, the Son, and 
the Holy Ghost." There is no improbability in his 
investing them with a very high commission. He 
may perfectly well have said : " Whosesoever sins ye 
remit, they are remitted ; whosesoever sins ye retain, 
they are retained." 4 But it is almost impossible he 
can have given this charge to baptize in the name of 
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost ; it is by 
far too systematic, and what people are fond of calling 

1 John xx. 29. 2 John xxi. 18. 

John xiii. 36, 4 John xx. 23. 


an anachronism. It is not the least like what Jesus 
was in the habit of saying, and it is just like what 
would be attributed to him as baptism and its formula 
grew in importance. The genuine charge of Jesus to 
his apostles was, almost certainly : " As my Father 
sent me, even so send I you," 1 and not this. So 
that our three creeds, and with them the whole of 
our so-called orthodox theology, are founded upon 
words which Jesus in all probability never uttered. 


We may leave all questions about the Church, its 
rise, and its organisation, out of sight altogether. 
Much as is made of them, they are comparatively 
unimportant Jesus never troubled himself with 
what are called Church matters at all ; his attention 
was fixed solely upon the individual. His apostles 
did what was necessary, as such matters came to 
require a practical notice and arrangement ; but to 
the apostles, too, they were still quite secondary. The 
Church grew into something quite different from what 
they or Jesus had, or could have had, any thought 
of. But this was of no importance in itself ; and how 
believers should organise their society as circumstances 
changed, circumstances themselves might very well 

The one important question was and is, how 
believers laid and kept hold on the revelations con- 
tained in the Bible ; because for the sake of these it 
1 John xx. 22. 


confessedly is, that every church exists. Even the 
apostles, we have seen, did not lay hold on them 
perfectly. In their attachment to miracles, in the 
prominence they gave to the crowning miracles of 
Christ's bodily resurrection and second advent, they 
went aside from the saving doctrine of Jesus them- 
selves, and were sure, which was worse, to make 
others go aside from it ten thousand times more. 
But they were too near to Jesus not to have been 
able to preserve the main lines of his teaching, to 
preserve his way of using words ; and they did, as 
we have shown, preserve them. 

But at their death the immediate remembrance of 
Jesus faded away, and whatever Aberglaube the 
apostles themselves had had and sanctioned was left 
to work without check. And, at the same time, the 
world and society presented conditions constantly less 
and less favourable to sane criticism. And it was 
then, and under these conditions, that the dogma 
which is now called orthodox, and which our dogmatic 
friends imagine to be purqly a methodical arrange- 
ment of the admitted facts of Christianity, grew up. 
We have shown from the thing itself, by putting the 
dogma in comparison with the genuine teaching of 
Jesus, how little it is this; but it is well to make 
clear to oneself also (for one can) from the circum- 
stances of the case, that it could not be this. 

For dogmatic theology is, in fact, an attempt at 
both literary and scientific criticism of the highest 
order ; and the age which developed dogma had 
neither the resources nor the faculty for such a 


criticism. It is idle to talk of the theological in- 
stinct, the analogy of faith, as if by the mere occupa- 
tion with a limited subject-matter one could reach 
the truth about it. It is as if one imagined that by 
the mere study of Greek we could reach the truth 
about the origin of Greek words, and dogmatise 
about them ; and could appeal to our supposed 
possession, through our labours, of the philological 
instinct, the analogy of language, to make our dog- 
matism go down. In general such an instinct, 
whether theological or philological, will mean merely, 
that, having accustomed ourselves to look at things 
through a glass of a certain colour, we see them always 
of that colour. What the science of Bible-criticism, 
like all other science, needs, is a very wide experience 
from comparative observation in many directions, and 
a very slowly acquired habit of mind. All studies 
have the benefit of these guides, when they exist, and 
one isolated study can never have the benefit of them 
by itself. There is a common order, a general level, 
an uniform possibility, for these things. As were 
the geography, history, physiology, cosmology, of 
the men who developed dogma, so was also their 
faculty for a scientific Bible-criticism, such as dogma 
pretends to be. Now we know what their geography, 
history, physiology, cosmology, were. Cosmas Indico- 
pleustes, a Christian navigator of Justinian's time, 
denies that the earth is spherical, and asserts it to be 
a flat surface with the sky put over it like a dish- 
cover. The Christian metaphysics of the same age, 
applying the ideas of substance and identity to what 
VOL. V. S 


the Bible says about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, 
are on a par with this natural philosophy. 

And again, as one part of their scientific Bible- 
criticism, so the rest. We have seen in the Bible- 
writers themselves a quite uncritical use of the Old 
Testament and of prophecy. Now, does this become 
less in the authors of our dogmatic theology, a far 
more pretentious effort of criticism than the Bible- 
writers ever made, or does it become greater? It 
becomes a thousand times greater. Not only are 
definite predictions found where they do not exist, 
as, for example, in Isaiah's / will restore thy judges as 
at the first, 1 is found a definite foretelling of the 
Apostles, but in the whole Bible a secret allegorical 
^ense is supposed, higher than the natural sense ; so 
that Jerome calls tracing the natural sense an eating 
dust like the serpent, in modum serpentis terram come- 
dere. Therefore, for one expounder, Isaiah's prophecy 
against Egypt : The Eternal rideth upon a light cloud, 
and shall come into Egypt, 2 is the flight into Egypt of 
the Holy Family, and tha light cloud is the virgin-born 
body of Jesus; for another, The government sJiall be 
upon his shoulder, 3 is Christ's carrying upon his shoulder 
the cross ; for another, The lion shall eat straw like the 
ox,* is the faithful and the wicked alike receiving the 
body of Christ in the Eucharist. 

These are the men, this is the critical faculty, from 
which our so-called orthodox dogma proceeded. The 
worth of all the productions of such a critical faculty 

1 Isaiah i. 26. 
2 Isaiah xix. 1. 3 Isaiah ix. 6. 4 Isaiah Ixv. 25. 


is easy to estimate, for the worth is nearly uniform. 
When the Babbinical expounders interpret : Woe unto 
them tJiat lay field to field ! l as a prophetic curse on 
the accumulation of Church property, or : Woe unto 
them that rise up early in the morning that they may follow 
strong drink / 2 as a prediction of the profligacy of the 
Church clergy, or : Woe unto them that draw iniquity 
with cords of vanity ! 3 as God's malediction on Church 
bells, we say at once that such critics thus give their 
measure as interpreters of the true sense of the 
Bible. The moment we think seriously and fairly, 
we must see that the Patristic interpretations of 
prophecy give, in like manner, their author's measure 
as interpreters of the true sense of the Bible. Yet 
this is what the dogma of the Nicene and Athanasian 
Creeds professes to be, and must be if it is to be 
worth anything, the true sense extracted from the Bible ; 
for, " the Bible is the record of the whole revealed 
faith," says Dr. Newman. But we see how impos- 
sible it is that this true sense the dogma of these 
creeds should be. 

Therefore it is, that it is useful to give signal 
instances of the futility of patristic and mediaeval 
criticism ; not to raise an idle laugh, but because our 
whole dogmatic theology has a patristic and mediaeval 
source, and from the nullity of the deliverances of 
this criticism, where it can be brought manifestly to 
book, may be inferred the nullity of its deliverances, 
where, from the impalpable and incognisable character 
of the subjects treated, to bring it manifestly to book 
1 Isaiah v. 8. a Isaiah v. 11. 3 Isaiah v. 18. 


is impossible. In the account of the Creation, in the 
first chapter of Genesis, " the greater light to rule 
the day " is the priesthood ; " the lesser light to rule 
the night," 1 borrowing its beams from the greater, 
is the Holy Eoman Empire. When the disciples of 
Jesus produced two swords, and Jesus said : "It is 
enough," 2 he meant, we are told, the temporal and 
the spiritual power, and that both were necessary 
and both at the disposal of the Church ; but by 
saying afterwards to Peter, after he had cut off the 
ear of Malchus : "Put up thy sword into the sheath," 3 
he meant that the Church was not to wield the 
temporal power itself, but to employ the secular 
government to wield it. Now, this is the very same 
force of criticism which in the Athanasian Creed 
" arranged sentence after sentence," that doctrine of 
the Godhead of the Eternal Son for which the Bishops 
of Winchester and Gloucester are so anxious to " do 

The Schoolmen themselves are but the same false 
criticism developed, and clad in an apparatus of logic 
and system. In that grand and instructive repertory 
founded by the Benedictines, the Histoire Littdraire de 
la France, we read that in the theological faculty of 
the University of Paris, the leading mediaeval univer- 
sity, it was seriously discussed Avhether Jesus at his 
ascension had his clothes on or not. If he had not, 
did he appear before his apostles naked 1 if he had, 
what became of the clothes ? Monstrous ! every one 

1 Genesis i. 16. 2 Luke xxii. 38. 

3 John xviiL 11. 


will say. 1 Yes, but the very same criticism, only 
full-blown, which produced: "Neither confounding 
the Persons nor dividing the Substance." The very 
same criticism, which originally treated terms as 
scientific which were not scientific ; which, instead of 
applying literary and historical criticism to the data 
of popular Aberglaube, took these data just as they 
stood and merely dressed them scientifically. 

Catholic dogma itself is true, urges, however, Dr. 
Newman, because intelligent Catholics have dropped 
errors and absurdities like the False Decretals or the 
works of the pretended Dionysius the Areopagite, but 
have not dropped dogma. This is only saying that 
men drop the more palpable blunder before the less 
palpable. The adequate criticism of the Bible is 
extremely difficult, and slowly does the " Zeit-Geist " 
unveil it. Meanwhile, of the premature and false 
criticism to which we are accustomed, we drop the 
evidently weak parts first ; we retain the rest, to 
drop it gradually and piece by piece as it loosens and 
breaks up. But it is all of one order, and in time it 
will all go. Not the Athanasian Creed's damnatory 
clauses only, but the whole Creed ; not this one Creed 
only, but the three Creeds, our whole received 
application of science, popular or learned, to the Bible. 
For it was an inadequate and false science, and could 
not, from the nature of the case, be otherwise. 

1 Be it observed, however, that there is an honest scientific 
effort in the Schoolmen, and that to this sort of thing one 
really does come, when one fairly sets oneself to treat miracles 
litnrally and exactly ; but most of us are content to leave them 
in a half light. 



And now we see how much that clergyman deceives 
himself, who writes to the Guardian : " The objectors 
to the Athanasian Creed at any rate admit, that its 
doctrinal portions are truly the carefully distilled 
essence of the scattered intimations of Holy Scripture 
on the deep mysteries in question, priceless dis- 
coveries made in that field." When one has travelled 
to the Athanasian Creed along the gradual line of 
the historical development of Christianity, instead of 
living stationary all one's life with this Creed blocking 
up the view, one is really tempted to say, when one 
reads a deliverance like that of this clergyman : 
Sancta simplidtas ! It is just because the Athanasian 
Creed pretends to be, in its doctrine, " the carefully 
distilled essence of the scattered intimations of Holy 
Scripture," and is so very far from it, that it is worth- 
less. It is "the carefully distilled essence of the 
scattered intimations of Holy Scripture " just as that 
allegory of the two swords Was. It is really a mixture, 
for true criticism, as it ripens, it is even a grotesque 
mixture, of learned pseudo- science with popular 

But it cannot be too carefully borne in mind that 
the real "essence of Holy Scripture," its saving truth, 
is no such criticism at all as the so-called orthodox 
dogma attempts, and attempts unsuccessfully. No, 
the real essence of Scripture is a much simpler matter. 
It is, for the Old Testament : To him that ordereth hi" 


.conversation right shall be shown the salvation of God ! 
and, for the New Testament : Follow Jesus I This is 
Bible -dogma, as opposed to the dogma of our for- 
mularies. On this Bible -dogma if Churches were 
founded, and to preach this Bible-dogma if ministers 
were ordained, Churches and ministers would have 
all the dogma to which the Bible attaches eternal life. 
Plain and precise enough it is, in all conscience ; with 
the advantage of being precisely right, whereas the 
dogma of our formularies is precisely wrong. And if 
any one finds it too simple, let him remember that its 
hardness is practical, not speculative. It is a rule of 
conduct; let him act it, and he will find it hard 
enough. Utinam per unum diem bene essemus conversati 
in hoc mundo ! But as a matter of mere knowledge it 
is very simple, it lies on the surface of the Bible and 
cannot be missed. 

And the holders of ecclesiastical dogma have 
always, we must repeat and remember, held and 
professed this Bible-dogma too. Their ecclesiastical 
dogma may have prevented their attending closely 
enough to the Bible-dogma, may have led them often 
to act false to it ; but they have always held it. The 
method and the secret of Jesus have been always 
prized. The Catholic Church from the first held aloft 
the secret of Jesus ; the monastic orders were founded, 
we may say, in homage to it. And from time to 
time, through the course of ages, there have arisen 
men who threw themselves on the method and secret 
of Jesus with extraordinary force, with intuitive sense 
that here was salvation; and who really cared for 


nothing else, though ecclesiastical dogma, too, they 
professed to believe, and sincerely thought they did 
believe, but their heart was elsewhere. These are 
they who "received the kingdom of God as a little 
child," who perceived how simple a thing Christianity 
was, though so inexhaustible, and who are therefore 
" the greatest in the kingdom of God." And they, 
not the theological doctors, are the true lights of the 
Christian Church; not Augustine, Luther, Bossuet, 
Butler, but the nameless author of the Imitation, but 
Tauler, but St. Francis of Sales, Wilson of Sodor and 
Man. Yet not only these men, but the whole body of 
Christian churches and sects always, have all at least 
professed the method and secret of Jesus, and to some 
extent used them. And whenever these were used, 
they have borne their natural fruits of joy and life ; 
and this joy and this life have been taken to flow 
from the ecclesiastical dogma held along with them, 
and to sanction and prove it. And people, eager to 
praise the bridge which carried them over from death 
to life, have taken this dogma for the bridge, or part 
of the bridge, that carried them over, and have eagerly 
praised it. Thus religion has been made to stand on 
its apex instead of its base. Eighteousness is sup- 
ported on ecclesiastical dogma, instead of ecclesiastical 
dogma being supported on righteousness. 

But in the beginning it was not so. Because 
righteousness is eternal, necessary, life-giving, therefore 
the mighty " not ourselves which makes for righteous- 
ness " was the Eternal, Israel's God ; was all-powerful, 
all-merciful; sends his . Messiah, elects his people. 


establishes his kingdom, receives into everlasting 
habitations. But gradually this petrifies, gradually 
it is more and more added to ; until at last, because 
righteousness was originally perceived to be eternal, 
necessary, life-giving, we find ourselves " worshipping 
One God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither 
confounding the Persons nor dividing the Substance." 
And then the original order is reversed. Because 
there is One God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, 
who receives into everlasting habitations, establishes 
his kingdom, elects his people, sends his Messiah, is 
all-merciful, all-powerful, Israel's God, the Eternal, 
therefore righteousness is eternal, necessary, life-giving. 
And shake the belief in the One God in Trinity and 
Trinity in Unity, the belief in righteousness is shaken, 
it is thought, also. Whereas righteousness and the 
God of righteousness, the God of the Bible, are in 
truth quite independent of the God of ecclesiastical 
dogma, the work of critics of the Bible, critics 
understanding neither what they say nor whereof 
they affirm 


Nor did the Reformation and Protestantism much 
mend the work of these critics ; the time was not yet 
ripe for it. Protestantism, nevertheless, was a stren- 
uous and noble effort at improvement ; for it was an 
effort of return to the "method" of Jesus, that 
leaven which never, since he set it in the world, has 
ceased or can cease to work Catholicism, we have 
said, laid hold on the " secret " of Jesus, and stren 


uously, however blindly, employed it; this is the 
grandeur and the glory of Catholicism. In like 
manner Protestantism laid hold on his "method," 
and strenuously, however blindly, employed it; and 
herein is the greatness of Protestantism. The pre- 
liminary labour of inwardness and sincerity in the 
conscience of each individual man, which was the 
method of Jesus and his indispensable discipline for 
learning to employ his secret aright, had fallen too 
much out of view ; obedience had in a manner super- 
seded it. Protestantism drew it into light and 
prominence again ; was even, one may say, over- 
absorbed by it, so as to leave too much out of view 
the "secret." This, if one would be just both to 
Catholicism and to Protestantism, is the thing to bear 
in mind : Protestantism had hold of Jesus Christ's 
" method" of inwardness and sincerity, Catholicism had 
hold of his " secret " of self -renouncement. The chief 
word with Protestantism is the word of the method : 
repentance, conversion ; the chief word with Catholicism 
is the word of the secret : peace, joy. 

And since, though the method and the secret are 
equally indispensable, the secret may be said to have 
in it more of practice and conduct, Catholicism may 
claim perhaps to have more of religion. On the 
other hand, Protestantism has more light; and, as 
the method of inwardness and sincerity, once gained, 
is of general application, and a power for all the 
purposes of life, Protestantism, we can see, has been 
accompanied by most prosperity. And here is the 
answer to Mr. Buckle's famous parallel between Spain 


and Scotland, that parallel which every one feels to be 
a sophism. Scotland has had, to make her different 
from Spain, the " method " of Jesus ; and though, in 
theology, Scotland may have turned it to no great 
account, she has found her account in it in almost 
everything else. Catholicism, again, has had, perhaps, 
most happiness. When one thinks of the bitter and 
contentious temper of Puritanism, temper being, 
nevertheless, such a vast part of conduct, and then 
thinks of St. Theresa and her sweetness, her never- 
sleeping hatred of " detraction," one is tempted almost 
to say, that there was more of Jesus in St. Theresa's 
little finger than in John Knox's whole body. Pro- 
testantism has the method of Jesus with his secret 
too much left out of mind ; Catholicism has his secret 
with his method too much left out of mind. Neither 
has his unerring balance, his intuition, his sweet 
reasonableness. But both have hold of a great truth, 
and get from it a great power. 

And many of the reproaches cast by one on the 
other are idle. If Catholicism is reproached with 
being indifferent to much that is called civilisation, it 
must be answered : So was Jesus. If Protestantism, 
with its private judgment, is accused of opening a 
wide field for individual fancies and mistakes, it must 
be answered : So did Jesus when he introduced his 
method. Private judgment, " the fundamental and in- 
sensate doctrine of Protestantism," as Joseph de Maistre 
calls it, is in truth but the necessary " method," the 
eternally incumbent duty, imposed by Jesus himself, 
when he said : " Judge not according to the appear- 


ance, but judge righteous judgment." 1 "Judge 
righteous judgment" is, however, the duty imposed; 
and the duty is not, whatever many Protestants may 
seem to think, fulfilled if the judgment be wrong. 
But the duty of inwardly judging is the very entrance 
into the way and walk of Jesus. 

Luther, then, made an inward verifying move- 
ment, the individual conscience, once more the base 
of operations ; and he was right. But he did so to 
the following extent only. When he found the 
priest coming between the individual believer and his 
conscience, standing to him in the stead of conscience, 
he pushed the priest aside and brought the believer 
face to face with his conscience again. This explains, 
of course, his battle against the sale of indulgences 
and other abuses of the like kind; but it explains 
also his treatment of that cardinal point in the 
Catholic religious system, the mass. He substituted 
for it, as the cardinal point in the Protestant system, 
justification by faith. The miracle of Jesus Christ's 
atoning sacrifice, satisfying God's wrath, and taking 
off the curse from mankind, is the foundation both of 
the mass and of the famous Lutheran tenet. But, in 
the mass, the priest makes the miracle over again and 
applies its benefits to the believer. In the tenet of 
justification, the believer is himself in contact with 
the miracle of Christ's atonement, and applies Christ's 
merits to himself. The conscience is thus brought 
into direct communication with Christ's saving act ; 
but this saving act is still taken, just as popular 
1 John vii. 24. 


religion conceived it, and as formal theology adopted 
it from popular religion, as a miracle, the miracle oi 
the Atonement. This popular and imperfect con- 
ception of the sense of Christ's death, and in general 
the whole inadequate criticism of the Bible involved 
in the Creeds, underwent at the Eeformation no 
scrutiny and no change. Luther's actual application, 
therefore, of the "method" of Jesus to the inner 
body of dogma, developed as we have seen, which he 
found regnant, proceeded no farther than this. 

And. justification by faith, our being saved by "giving 
our hearty consent to Christ's atoning work on our be- 
half," by " pleading simply the blood of the covenant," 
Luther made the essential matter not only of his own 
religious system but of the entire New Testament. 
We must be enabled, he said, and we are enabled, to 
distinguish among the books of the Bible those which 
are the best; now, those are the best which show 
Christ, and teach what would be enough for us to 
know even if no other parts of the Bible existed. 
And this evangelical element, as it has been called, this 
fundamental thought of the Gospel, is, for Luther, our 
"being justified by the alone merits of Christ." This 
is the doctrine of "passive or Christian righteous- 
ness," as Luther is fond of naming it, which consists 
in " doing nothing, but simply knowing and believing 
that Christ is gone to the Father and we see him no 
more ; that he sits in Heaven at the right hand of the 
Father, not as our judge, but made unto us by God 
wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption ; 3 
1 1 Corinthians i. 30. 


in sum, that he is our high-priest making intercession 
for us." Every one will recognise the consecrated 
watchwords of Protestant theology. 

Such is Luther's criticism of the New Testament, 
of its fundamental thought. And he picks out, as 
the kernel and marrow of the New Testament, the 
Fourth Gospel and the First Epistle by the author of 
this Gospel, St. Paul's Epistles, in especial those to 
the Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians, and the First 
Epistle of St. Peter. Now, the common complaint 
against Luther is on the score of his audacity in thus 
venturing to make a table of precedence for the 
equally inspired books of the New Testament. Yet 
in this he was quite right, and was but following the 
method of Jesus, if the good news conveyed in the 
whole New Testament is, as it is, something definite, 
and all parts do not convey it equally. Where he 
was wrong, was in his delineation of this fundamental 
thought of the New Testament, in his description of 
the good news; and few, probably, who have followed 
us thus far, will have difficulty in admitting that he 
was wrong here, and quite wrong. And this has 
been the fault of Protestantism generally : not its 
presumption in interpreting Scripture for itself, for 
the Church interpreted it no better, and Jesus has 
thrown on each individual the duty of interpreting it 
for himself, but that it has interpreted it wrong, and 
no better than the Church. "Calvinism has borne 
ever an inflexible front to illusion and mendacity," 
says Mr. Froude. Surely this is but a nourish of 
rhetoric ; for the Calvinistic doctrine is in itself, like 


the Lutheran doctrine, and like Catholic dogma, a 
false criticism of the Bible, an illusion. And the 
Calvinistic and Lutheran doctrines both of them sin 
in the same way ; not by using a method which, after 
all, is the method of Jesus, but by not using the 
method enough, by not applying it to the Bible 
thoroughly, by keeping too much of what the tradi- 
tions of men chose to tell them. 


The time was not then ripe for doing more ; and 
we, if we can do more, have the fulness of time to 
thank for it, not ourselves. Yet it needs all one's 
sense of the not ourselves in these things, to make us 
understand how doctrines, supposed to be the essence 
of the Bible by great Catholics and by great Pro- 
testants, should ever have been supposed to be so, 
and by such men. 

To take that chief stronghold of ecclesiasticism 
and sacerdotalism, the institution of the Eucharist. 
As Catholics present it, it makes the Church indis- 
pensable, with all her apparatus of an apostolical 
succession, an authorised priesthood, a power of 
absolution. Yet, as Jesus founded it, it is the most 
anti-ecclesiastical of institutions, pulverising alike the 
historic churches in their beauty and the dissenting 
sects in their unloveliness ; it is the consecration of 
absolute individualism. " This cup is the new covenant 
in my blood which is shed for you." 1 When Jesus 
1 Luke xxii. 20. 


so spoke, what did he mean, what was in his mind ! 
Undoubtedly these words of the prophet Jeremiah : 
" Behold the days come, saith the Eternal, that I will 
make a new covenant with the house of Israel, not 
according to the covenant that I made with their 
fathers, which covenant they brake ; but this shall be 
the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel : 
After those days, saith the Eternal, I will put my law 
in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and 
they shall teach no more every man his neighbour and 
every man his brother, saying : Know the Eternal ! for 
they shall all knoiv me, from the least to the greatest." 1 
No more scribes, no more doctors, no more priests ! 
the crowning act in the " secret " of Jesus seals at the 
same time his " method," his method of pure inward- 
ness, individual responsibility, personal religion. 

Take, again, the Protestant doctrine of Justification ; 
of trusting in the alone merits of Christ, pleading the 
Blood of the Covenant, imputed righteousness. In 
our railway stations are hung up, as every one knows, 
sheets of Bible-texts to catch the passer's, eye; and 
very profitable admonitions to him they in general 
are. It is said that the thought of thus exhibiting 
them occurred to Dr. Marsh, a venerable leader of 
the so-called Evangelical party in our Church, the 
party which specially clings to the special Protestant 
doctrine of justification ; and that he arranged the 
texts we daily see. And there is one which we may 
all remember to have often seen. Dr. Marsh asks 
the prophet Micah's question : " Wherewith shall I 
1 Jeremiah xxxi. 31. 


come before the Lord, and bow myself before the 
high God I" 1 and he answers it with one short sen- 
tence from the New Testament : " With the precious 
blood of Christ." This is precisely the popular 
Protestant notion of the Gospel; and we are all so 
used to it that Dr. Marsh's application of the text has 
probably surprised no one. And yet, if one thinks of 
it, how astonishing an application it is ! For even the 
Hebrew Micah, some seven or eight centuries before 
Christ, had seen that this sort of gospel, or good news, 
was none at all ; for even he suggests this always 
popular notion of atoning blood only to reject it, and 
ends : "He hath showed thee, man, what is good ; 
and what doth the Eternal require of thee, but to do 
justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with 
thy God V So that the Hebrew Micah, nearly three 
thousand years ago, under the old dispensation, was far 
in advance of this venerable and amiable coryphaeus 
of our Evangelical party now, under the Christian 
dispensation ! 

Dr. Marsh and his school go wrong, it will be said, 
through their false criticism of the New Testament, 
and we have ourselves admitted that the perfect 
criticism of the New Testament is extremely difficult. 
True, the perfect criticism; but not such an elementary 
criticism of it as shows the gospel of Dr. Marsh and 
of our so-called Evangelical Protestants to be a false 
one. For great as their literary inexperience is, and 
unpractised as is their tact for perceiving the manner 
in which men use words and what they mean by 

i Micah vL 6. 
VOL. V. T 


them, one would think they could understand such a 
plain caution against mistaking Christ's death for a 
miraculous atonement as St. Paul has actually given 
them. For St. Paul, who so admirably seized the 
secret of Jesus, who preached Christ crucified, 1 but 
who placed salvation in being able to say, / am 
crucified with Christ / 2 St. Paul warns us clearly, that 
this word of the cross, as he calls it, is so simple, being 
neither miracle nor metaphysics, that it would be 
thought foolishness. The Jews want miracle, he 
says, and the Greeks want metaphysics, but I preach 
Christ crucified/ 3 that is, the "secret" of Jesus, as we 
call it. The Jews want miracle/ that is a warning 
against Dr. Marsh's or Mr. Spurgeon's doctrine, 
against Evangelical Protestantism's phantasmagories 
of the "Contract in the Council of the Trinity," the 
"Atoning Blood," and "Imputed Eighteousness. " 
The Greeks want metaphysics! that is a warning 
against the Bishops of Winchester and Gloucester, 
with their Aryan genius (if so ill-sounding a word as 
Aryan, spell it how one may, can ever be properly 
applied to our bishops, and one ought not rather to 
say Indo-European), dressing the popular doctrine 
out with fine speculations about the Godhead of the 
Eternal Son, his Consubstantiality with the Father, 
and so on. But we preach, says St. Paul, Christ 
crucified/ to Mr. Spurgeon and to popular religion 
a stumbling-block, to the bishops and to learned 
religion foolishness; but to them that are called, Christ 
the power of God and the wisdom of God. That is, 
1 J Cor. i. 23. a Gal. ii. 20. 8 1 Cor. i. 23. 


we preach a doctrine, not thaumaturgical and not 
speculative, but practical and experimental ; a doctrine 
which has no meaning except in positive application 
to conduct, but in this application is inexhaustible. 


So false, so astoundingly false (thus one is inclined 
to say by the light which the " Zeit-Geist " is begin- 
ning to hold out over them) are both popular and 
learned science in their criticism of the Bible. And 
for the learned science one feels no tenderness, be- 
cause it has gone wrong with a great parade of 
exactitude and philosophy ; whereas all it really did 
was to take the magnified and non- natural Man of 
popular religion as God, and to take Jesus as his 
son, and then to state the relations between them 
metaphysically. No difficulties suggested by the 
popular science of religion has this learned science 
ever removed, and it has created plenty of its own. 

But for the popular science of religion one has, or 
ought to have, an infinite tenderness. It is the 
spontaneous work of nature. It is the travail of the 
human mind to adapt to its grasp and employment 
great ideas of which it feels the attraction, but for 
which, except as given to it by this travail, it would 
have been immature. The imperfect science of the 
Bible, formulated in the so-called Apostles' Creed, 
was the only vehicle by which, to generation after 
generation of men, the method and secret of Jesus 
could gain any access; and in this sense we may 


even call it, taking the point of view of popular 
theology, Providential. And this rude criticism is 
full of poetry, and in this poetry we have been all 
nursed. To call it, as many of our philosophical 
Liberal friends are fond of calling it, "a degrading 
superstition," is as untrue as it is a poor compliment 
to human nature, which produced this criticism and 
used it. It is an Aberglaube, or extra-belief and fairy- 
tale, produced by taking certain great names and great 
promises too literally and materially ; but it is not a 
degrading superstition. 

Protestants, on their part, have no difficulty in 
calling the Catholic doctrine of the mass " a degrad- 
ing superstition." It is indeed a rude and blind 
criticism of Jesus Christ's words : He that eateth me 
shall live by me. But once admit the miracle of the 
" atoning sacrifice," once move in this order of ideas, 
and what can be more natural and beautiful than to 
imagine this miracle every day repeated, Christ 
offered in thousands of places, everywhere the be- 
liever enabled to enact the work of redemption and 
unite himself with the Body whose sacrifice saves 
him 1 And the effect of this belief has been no more 
degrading than the belief itself. The fourth book of 
the Imitation, which treats of The Sacrament of the 
Altar, is of later date and lesser merit than the three 
books which precede it ; but it is worth while to 
quote from it a few words for the sake of the testi- 
mony they bear to the practical operation, in man) 
cases at any rate, of this belief. " To us in our weak- 
ness thou hast given, for the refreshment of mind 


and body, thy sacred Body. The devout communi- 
cant thou, my God, raisest from the depth of his 
own dejection to the hope of thy protection, and 
with a hitherto unknown grace renewest him and 
enlightenest him within ; so that they who at first, 
before this Communion, had felt themselves distressed 
and affectionless, after the refreshment of this meat 
and drink from heaven find themselves changed to a 
new and better man. For this most high and worthy 
Sacrament is the saving health of soul and body, the 
medicine of all spiritual languor; by it my vices are 
cured, my passions bridled, temptations are conquered or 
diminished, a larger grace is infused, the beginnings of 
virtue are made to grow, faith is confirmed, hope strength- 
ened, and charity takes fire and dilates into flame." So 
little is the doctrine of the mass to be hastily called 
" a degrading superstition," either in its character or 
in its working. 

But it is false ! sternly breaks in the Evangelical 
Protestant. Evangelical Protestant, is thine own 
doctrine, then, so true? As the Eomish doctrine of 
the mass, the Eeal Presence, is a rude and blind 
criticism of : He that eateth me shall live by me; 1 so 
the Protestant tenet of justification, "pleading the 
blood of the Covenant," is a rude and blind criticism 
of : The Son of Man came to give his life a ransom for 
many. 2 It is a taking of the words of Scripture 
literally and unintelligently. And our friends, the 
philosophical Liberals, are not slow to call this, too, 
a degrading superstition, just as Protestants call the 
1 John vi. 67. 2 Matthew xx. 28- 


doctrine of the mass a degrading superstition. We 
say, on the contrary, that a degrading superstition 
neither the one nor the other is. In imagining a sort 
of infinitely magnified and improved Lord Shaftes- 
bury, with a race of vile offenders to deal with, whom 
his natural goodness would incline him to let off, only 
his sense of justice will not allow it ; then a younger 
Lord Shaftesbury, on the scale of his father and very 
dear to him, who might live in grandeur and splendour 
if he liked, but who prefers to leave his home, to go 
and live among the race of offenders, and to be put 
to an ignominious death, on condition that his merits 
shall be counted against their demerits, and that his 
father's goodness shall be restrained no longer from 
taking effect, but any offender shall be admitted to 
the benefit of it on simply pleading the satisfaction 
made by the son; and then, finally, a third Lord 
Shaftesbury, still on the same high scale, who keeps 
very much in the background, and works in a very 
occult manner, but very efficaciously nevertheless, 
and who is busy in applying everywhere the benefits 
of the son's satisfaction, and the father's goodness ; 
in an imagination, I say, such as this, there is nothing 
degrading, and this is precisely the Protestant story 
of Justification. And how awe of the first Lord 
Shaftesbury, gratitude and love towards the second, 
and earnest co-operation with the third, may fill and 
rule men's hearts so as to transform their conduct, we 
need not go about to show, for we have all seen it 
with our eyes. Therefore in the practical working of 
this tenet there is nothing degrading ; any more than 


there is anything degrading in the tenet as an ima- 
ginative conception. And looking to the infinite 
importance of getting right conduct, three-fourths 
of human life, established, and to the inevitable 
anthropomorphism and extra-belief of men in dealing 
with ideas, one might well hesitate to attack an 
anthropomorphism or an extra-belief by which men 
helped themselves in conduct, merely because an 
anthropomorphism or an extra -belief it is, so long 
as it served its purpose, so long as it was firmly and 
undoubtingly held, and almost universally prevailing. 

But, after all, the question sooner or later arises 
in respect to a matter taken for granted, like the 
Catholic doctrine of the Mass or the Protestant 
doctrine of Justification : Is it sure 1 can what is here 
assumed be verified ? And this is the real objection 
both to the Catholic and to the Protestant doctrine 
as a basis for conduct ; not that it is a degrading 
superstition, but that it is not sure; that it assumes 
what cannot be verified. 

For a long time this objection occurred to scarcely 
anybody. And there are still, and for a long time 
yet there will be, many to whom it does not occur. 
In particular, on those " devout women " who in the 
history of religion have at all times played a part in 
many respects so beautiful but in some respects so 
mischievous, on them, and on a certain number of 
men like them, it has and can as yet have, so far as 
one can see, no effect at all. Who that watches the 
energumens during the celebration of the Communion 
in some Ritualistic church, their gestures and be- 


haviour, the floor of the church strewn with what 
seem to be the dying and the dead, progress to the 
altar almost barred by forms suddenly dropping as 
if they were shot in battle, who that observes this 
delighted adoption of vehement rites, till yesterday 
unknown, adopted and practised now with all that 
absence of tact, measure, and correct perception in 
things of form and manner, all that slowness to see 
when they are making themselves ridiculous, which 
belongs to the people of our English race, who, I 
say, that marks this can doubt, that for a not small 
portion of the religious community, a difficulty to 
the intelligence will for a long time yet be no diffi- 
culty at all ? With their mental condition and 
habits, given a story to which their religious emotions 
can attach themselves, and the famous Credo quia 
ineptum will hold good with them still. To think 
they know what passed in the Council of the Trinity 
is not hard to them ; they could easily think they 
even knew what were the hangings of the Trinity's 

Arbitrary and unsupported, however, as the story 
they have taken up with may be, yet it puts them in 
connection with the Bible and the religion of the 
Bible, that is, with righteousness and with the 
method and secret of Jesus. These are so clear in 
the Bible that no one who uses it can help seeing 
them there ; and of these they do take for their use 
something, though on a wrong ground. But these, 
so far as they are taken into use, are saving. 



MANY, however, and of a much stronger and more 
important sort, there now are, who will not thus 
take on trust the story which is made the reason for 
putting ourselves in connection with the Bible and 
learning to use its religion; be it the story of the 
divine authority of the Church, as in Catholic countries, 
or, as generally with us, the story of the three 
Lord Shaftesburys standing on its own merits. Is 
what this story asserts true, they are beginning to 
ask; can it be verified? since experience proves, 
they add, that whatever for man is true, man can 
verify. And certainly the fairy-tale of the three 
Lord Shaftesburys no man can verify. They find 
this to be so, and then they say : The Bible takes for 
granted this story and depends on the truth of it; 
what, then, can rational people have to do with the 
Bible 1 So they get rid, to be sure, of a false ground 
for using the Bible, but they at the same time lose 
the Bible itself, and the true religion of the Bible : 
righteousness, and the method and secret of Jesus. 
And those who lose this are the masses, as they are 


called; or rather they are what is most strenuous, 
intelligent, and alive among the masses, and what 
will give the signal for the rest to follow. 

This is what every one sees to constitute the special 
moral feature of our times : the masses are losing the 
Bible and its religion. At the Eenascence, many 
cultivated wits lost it ; but the great solid mass of the 
common people kept it, and brought the world back to 
it after a start had seemed to be made in quite another 
direction. But now it is the people which is getting 
detached from the Bible. The masses can no longer 
be relied on to counteract what the cultivated wits 
are doing, and stubbornly to make clever men's ex- 
travagances and aberrations, if about the Bible they 
commit them, of no avail. When our philosophical 
Liberal friends say, that by universal suffrage, public 
meetings, Church-disestablishment, marrying one's de- 
ceased wife's sister, secular schools, industrial develop- 
ment, man can very well live ; and that if he studies 
the writings, say, of Mr. Herbert Spencer into the 
bargain, he will be perfect, he will have " in modern 
and congenial language the truisms common to all 
systems of morality," and the Bible is become quite 
old-fashioned and superfluous for him; when our 
philosophical friends now say this, the masses, far 
from checking them, are disposed to applaud them to 
the echo. Yet assuredly, of conduct, which is more 
than three-fourths of human life, the Bible, whatever 
people may thus think and say, is the great inspirer ; 
so that from the great inspirer of more than three- 
fourths of human life the masses of our society seem 


now to be cutting themselves off. This promises, 
certainly, if it does not already constitute, a very un- 
settled condition of things. And the cause of it lies 
in the Bible being made to depend on a story, or set of 
asserted facts, which it is impossible to verify; and which 
hard-headed people, therefore, treat as either an impos- 
ture, or a fairy-tale that discredits all which is found in 
connection with it. 


Now if we look attentively at the story, or set of 
asserted but unverified and unverifiable facts, which 
we have summarised in popular language above, and 
which is alleged as the basis of the Bible, we shall find 
that the difficulty really lies all in one point. The 
whole difficulty is with the elder Lord Shaftesbury. 
If he could be verified, the data we have are, possibly, 
enough to warrant our admitting the truth of the rest 
of the story. It is singular how few people seem to 
see this, though it is really quite clear. The Bible is 
supposed to assume a great Personal First Cause, who 
thinks and loves, the moral and intelligent Governor 
of the Universe ; a sort of elder Lord Shaftesbury, as 
we call him, infinitely magnified. This is the God, 
also, of natural religion, as people call it ; and this 
supposed certainty learned reasoners take, and render 
it more certain still by considerations of causality, 
identity, existence, and so on. These, however, are 
not found to help the certainty much ; but a certainty 
in itself the Great Personal First Cause, the God of 
both natural and revealed religion, is supposed to be. 


Then, to this given beginning, all that the Bible 
delivers has to fit itself on. And so arises the account 
of the God of the Old Testament, and of Christ and of 
the Holy Ghost, and of the incarnation and atonement, 
and of the sacraments, and of inspiration, and of the 
church, and of eternal punishment and eternal bliss, 
as theology presents them. But difficulties strike 
people in this or that of these doctrines. The incar- 
nation seems incredible to one, the vicarious atonement 
to another, the real presence to a third, inspiration to 
a fourth, eternal punishment to a fifth, and so on. And 
they set to work to make religion more pure and 
rational, as they suppose, by pointing out that this or 
that of these doctrines is false, that it must be a 
mistake of theologians ; and by interpreting the Bible 
so as to show that the doctrine is not really there. 
The Unitarians are, perhaps, the great people for this 
sort of partial and local rationalising of religion ; for 
taking what here and there on the surface seems to 
conflict most with common sense, arguing that it 
cannot be in the Bible and getting rid of it, and pro- 
fessing to have thus relieved religion of its difficulties. 
And now, when there is much loosening of authority 
and tradition, much impatience of what conflicts with 
common sense, the Unitarians are beginning confi- 
dently to give themselves out as the Church of the 

But in all this there is in reality a good deal of 
what we must call intellectual shallowness. For, 
granted that there are things in a system which are 
puzzling, yet they belong to a system; and it is childish 


to pick them out by themselves and reproach them 
with error, when you leave untouched the basis of the 
system where they occur, and indeed admit it for 
sound yourself. The Unitarians are very loud about 
the unreasonableness and unscripturalness of the 
common doctrine of the Atonement. But in the 
Socinian Catechism it stands written: " It is necessary 
for salvation to know that God is ; and to know that 
God is, is to be firmly persuaded that there exists in 
reality some One, who has supreme dominion over all 
things." Presently afterwards it stands written, that 
among the testimonies to Christ are "miracles very 
great and immense," miracula admodum magna et 
immensa. Now, with the One Supreme Governor, and 
miracles, given to start with, it may fairly be urged 
that that construction put by common theology on the 
Bible-data, which we call the story of the three Lord 
Shaftesburys, and in which the Atonement fills a 
prominent place, is the natural and legitimate con- 
struction to put on them, and not unscriptural at 
all. Neither is it unreasonable ; in a system of things, 
that is, where the Supreme Governor and miracles, or 
even where the Supreme Governor without miracles, 
are already given. 

And this is Butler's great argument in the Analogy. 
You all concede, he says to his deistical adversaries, a 
Supreme Personal First Cause, the moral and intelli- 
gent Governor of the universe ; this, you and I both 
agree, is the order of nature. But you are offended 
at certain things in revelation ; that is, at things, 
Butler means, like the story of the three Lord Shaftes- 


burys as theology collects it from the Bible. Well, 
I will show you, he says, that in your and my admitted 
system of nature there are just as great difficulties as 
in the system of revelation. And he does show it : 
and by adversaries such as his, who grant what the 
Deist or Socinian grants, he never has been answered, 
he never can be answered. The spear of Butler's 
reasoning will even follow and transfix the Duke of 
Somerset, who finds so much to condemn in the Bible, 
but " retires into one unassailable fortress, faith in 

The only question, perhaps, is, whether Butler, as 
an Anglican bishop, puts an adequate construction 
upon what Bible-revelation, this basis of the Supreme 
Governor being supposed, may be allowed to be ; 
whether Catholic dogma is not the truer construction 
to put upon it. Dr. Newman urges, fairly enough : 
Butler admits, analogy is in some sort violated by the 
fact of revelation ; only, with the precedent of natural 
religion given, we have to own that the difficulties 
against revelation are not greater than against this 
precedent, and therefore the admission of this prece- 
dent of natural religion may well be taken to clear 
them. And must we not go farther in the same way, 
says Dr. Newman, and own that the precedent of 
revelation, too, may be taken to cover more than 
itself ; and that as, the Supreme Governor being given, 
it is credible that the Incarnation is true, so, the 
Incarnation being true, it is credible that God should 
not have left the world to itself after Christ and his 
Apostles disappeared, but should have lodged divine 


insight in the Church and its visible head 1 So pleads 
Dr. Newman ; and if it be said that facts are against 
the infallibility of the Church, or that Scripture is 
against it, yet to wide, immense things like facts and 
Scripture, a turn may easily be given which makes 
them favour it ; and so an endless field for discussion 
is opened, and no certain conclusion is possible. For, 
once launched on this line of hypothesis and inference, 
with a Supreme Governor assumed, and the task 
thrown upon us of making out what he means us to 
infer and what we may suppose him to do and to 
intend, one of us may infer one thing and another of 
us another, and neither can possibly prove himself to 
be right or his adversary to be wrong. 

Only, there may come some one, who says that the 
basis of all our inference, the Supreme Governor, is 
not the order of nature, is an assumption, and not a 
fact ; and then, if this is so, our whole superstructure 
falls to pieces like a house of cards. And this is just 
what is happening at present. The masses, with their 
rude practical instinct, go straight to the heart of the 
matter. They are told there is a great Personal First 
Cause, who thinks and loves, the moral and intelligent 
Author and Governor of the universe ; and that the 
Bible and Bible -righteousness come to us from him. 
Now, they do not begin by asking, with the intelligent 
Unitarian, whether the doctrine of the Atonement is 
worthy of this moral and intelligent Ruler ; they begin 
by asking what proof we have of him at all. More- 
over, they require plain experimental proof, such aa 
that fire burns them if they touch it. If they are to 


study and obey the Bible because it comes from the 
Personal First Cause who is Governor of the universe, 
they require to be able to ascertain that there is this 
Governor, just as they are able to ascertain that fire 
burns. And if they cannot ascertain it, they will let 
the intelligent Unitarian perorate for ever about the 
Atonement if he likes, but they themselves pitch the 
whole Bible to the winds. 

Now, it is remarkable what a resting on mere 
probabilities, or even on less than probabilities, the 
proof for religion comes, in the hands of its great 
apologist, Butler, to be, even after he has started with 
the assumption of his moral and intelligent Governor. 
And no wonder ; for in the primary assumption itself 
there is and can be nothing experimental and clearly 
known. So that of Christianity, as Butler grounds 
it, the natural criticism would really be in these words 
of his own : " Suppositions are not to be looked upon 
as true, because not incredible." However, Butler 
maintains that in matters of practice, such as religion, 
this is not so. In them it is prudent, he says, to act 
on even a supposition, if ft is not incredible. Even 
the doubting about religion implies, he argues, that it 
may be true. Now, in matters of practice, we are 
bound in prudence, he says, to act upon what may be 
a low degree of evidence ; yes, " even though it be so 
low as to leave the mind in very great doubt what is the 

Was there ever such a way of establishing righteous- 
ness heard of 1 And suppose we tried this with rude, 
hard, downright people, with the masses, who for what 


is told them want a plain experimental proof, such as 
that fire will burn you if you touch it. Whether in 
prudence they ought to take the Bible and religion on 
a low degree of evidence or not, it is quite certain 
that on this ground they never will take them. And 
it is quite certain, moreover, that never on this ground 
did Israel, from whom we derive our religion, take it 
himself or recommend it. He did not take it in 
prudence, because he found at any rate a low degree 
of evidence for it ; he took it in rapture, because he 
found for it an evidence irresistible. But his own 
words are the best : " Thou, Eternal, art the thing 
that I long for, thou art my hope even from my youth ; 
through thee have I been holden up ever since I was 
born. 1 The statutes of the Eternal rejoice the heart ; 
more desirable they are than gold, sweeter than honey ; 
in keeping of them there is great reward? The Eternal 
is my strength, my heart hath trusted in him and I am 
helped; therefore my heart danceth for joy, and in 
my song will I praise him." 3 That is why Israel took 
his religion. 


But if Israel spoke of the Eternal thus, it was, we 
say, because he had a plain experimental proof of him. 
God was to Israel neither an assumption nor a meta- 
physical idea ; he was a power that can be verified as 
much as the power of fire to burn or of bread to 
nourish : the power, 'not ourselves, that makes for righteous- 
ness. And the greatness of Israel in religion, the 

1 Ps. Ixxi. 5, 6. 2 Ps. xix. 8, 10, 11. 3 Ps. xxviii. 7. 
VOL. V. U 


reason why he is said to have had religion revealed 
to him, to have been entrusted with the oracles of 
God, is because he had in such extraordinary force 
and vividness the perception of this power. And he 
communicates it irresistibly because he feels it irre- 
sistibly ; that is why the Bible is not as other books 
that inculcate righteousness. Israel speaks of his 
intuition as still feeling it to be an intuition, an 
experience ; not as something which others have 
delivered to him, nor yet as a piece of metaphysical 
notion-building. Anthropomorphic he is, for all men 
are, and especially men not endowed with the Aryan 
genius for abstraction ; but he does not make arbitrary 
assertions which can never be verified, like our 
popular religion, nor is he ever pseudo-scientific, like 
our learned religion. 

He is credited with the metaphysical ideas of the 
personality of God, of the unity of God, and of 
creation as opposed to evolution : ideas depending, 
the first two of them, on notions of essence, existence, 
and identity, the last of them on the notion of cause 
and design. But he is credited with them falsely. 
All the countenance he gives to the metaphysical idea 
of the personality of God is given by his anthropo- 
morphic language, in which, being a man himself, he 
naturally speaks of the Power, with which he is con- 
cerned, as a man also. So he says that Moses saw 
God's hinder parts; 1 and he gives just as much 
countenance to the scientific assertion that God has 
hinder parts, as to the scientific assertion of God'a 
1 Exodus xxxiii. 23. 


personality. That is, he gives no countenance at all 
to either. As to his asserting the unity of God the 
case is the same. He would give, indeed, his heart 
and his worship to no manifestation of power, except 
of the power which makes for righteousness ; but he 
affords to the metaphysical idea of the unity of God 
no more countenance than this, and this is none at 
all. Then, lastly, as to the idea of creation. He 
viewed, indeed, all order as depending on the supreme 
order of righteousness, and all the fulness and beauty 
of the world as a boon added to that holder of the 
greatest of all boons already, the righteous. This, 
however, is as much countenance as he gives to the 
famous argument from design, or to the doctrine of 
creation as opposed to evolution. And it is none 
at all. 

Free as is his use of anthropomorphic language, 
Israel had far too keen a sense of reality not to shrink, 
when he comes anywhere near to the notion of exact 
speaking about God, from affirmation, from professing 
to know a whit more than he does know. " Lo, these 
are parts of his ways," he says of what he has ex- 
perienced, " but hmo little a portion is known of him/" 1 
And again : " The secret things belong unto the Eternal 
our God ; but the revealed things belong unto us and 
to our children for ever : that we may do all the 
words of this law." 2 How different from our licence 
of full and particular statement : "A Personal First 
Cause, who thinks and loves, the moral and intelligent 
Governor of the Universe ! " Israel knew, concerning 
1 Job xxvi. 14. 2 Deut. xxix. 29. 


the eternal not ourselves, that it was "a power that 
made for righteousness." This was revealed to Israel 
and his children, and through them to the world ; all 
the rest about the eternal not ourselves was this power's 
own secret. And all Israel's language about this 
power, except that it makes for righteousness, is approxi- 
mate language, the language of poetry and eloquence, 
thrown out at a vast object of our consciousness not 
fully apprehended by it, but extending infinitely 
beyond it 

This, however, was " a revealed thing," Israel said, 
to him and to his children : " the Eternal not ourselves 
that makes for righteousness." And now, then, let 
us go to the masses with what Israel really did say, 
instead of what our popular and our learned religion 
may choose to make him say. Let us announce, not : 
" There rules a Great Personal First Cause, who 
thinks and loves, the moral and intelligent Governor 
of the Universe, and therefore study your Bible and 
learn to obey this!" No; but let us announce: 
" There rules an enduring.Power, not ourselves, which 
makes for righteousness, and therefore study your 
Bible and learn to obey this." For if we announce 
the other instead, and they reply: "First let us verify 
that there rules a Great Personal First Cause, who 
thinks and loves, the moral and intelligent Governor 
of the universe," what are we to answer? We 
cannot answer. 

But if, on the other hand, they ask : " How are 
we to verify that there rules an enduring Power, not 
ourselves, which makes for righteousness?" we may 


answer at once : " How ? why as you verify that fire 
burns, by experience / It is so ; try it ! you can try 
it ; every case of conduct, of that which is more than 
three-fourths of your own life and of the life of all 
mankind, will prove it to you ! Disbelieve it, and 
you will find out your mistake, as sure as, if you dis- 
believe that fire burns and put your hand into the 
fire, you will find out your mistake ! Believe it, and 
you will find the benefit of it!" This is the first 

But then they may go on, and say : " Why, how- 
ever, even if there is an enduring Power, not ourselves, 
that makes for righteousness, should we study the 
Bible that we may learn to obey him ? will not other 
teachers or books do as well ? " And here again the 
answer is: "Why? why, because this Power is 
revealed in Israel and the Bible, and not by other 
teachers and books ! that is, there is infinitely more 
of him there, he is plainer and easier to come at, and 
incomparably more impressive. If you want to know 
plastic art, you go to the Greeks; if you want to 
know science, you go to the Aryan genius. And why ? 
Because they have the specialty for these things; 
for making us feel what they are and giving us an 
enthusiasm for them. Well, and so have Israel and 
the Bible a specialty for righteousness, for making us 
feel what it is and giving us an enthusiasm for it. 
And here again it is experience that we invoke: try 
it ! Having convinced yourself that there is an 
enduring Power, not ourselves, that makes for right- 
eousness, set yourself next to try to learn more 


about this Power, and to feel an enthusiasm for it. 
And to this end, take a course of the Bible first, and 
j "then a course of Benjamin Franklin, Horace Greeley, 
Jeremy Bentham, and Mr. Herbert Spencer; see which 
] I -~yi T'Okas most effect, which satisfies you most, which gives 
rZySJL most moral force. Why, the Bible is of such 
* a yX" f r teaching righteousness, that even to those 
who come to it with all sorts of false notions about 
the God of the Bible, it yet does teach righteousness, 
and fills them with the love of it ; how much more 
those who come to it with a true notion about the 
God of the Bible ! And this is the second experience. 


Now here, at the beginning of things, is the point, 
we say, where to apply correction to our current 
theology, if we are to bring the religion of the Bible 
home to the masses. It is of no use beginning lower 
down, and amending this or that ramification, such 
as the Atonement, or the Real Presence, or Eternal 
Punishment, when the root from which all springs is 
unsound. Those whom it most concerns us to teach 
will never interest themselves at all in our amended 
religion, so long as the whole thing appears to them 
unsupported and in the air. 

Yet that original conception of God, on which all 
our religion is and must be grounded, has been very 
little examined, and very few of the controversies 
which arise in religion go near it. Religious people 
say solemnly, as if we doubted it, that " he that 


cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He 
is a rewarder of them that seek Him ; " 1 and that " a 
man who preaches that Jesus Christ is not God is 
virtually out of the pale of Christian communion." 
We entirely agree with them ; but we want to know 
what they mean by God. Now on this matter the 
state of their thoughts is, to say the truth, extremely 
vague ; but what they really do at bottom mean by 
God is, in general : the best one knows. And this is 
the soundest definition they will ever attain; yet 
scientifically it is not a satisfying definition, for clearly 
the best one knows differs for everybody. So they have 
to be more precise ; and when they collect themselves 
a little, they find that they mean by God a magnified 
and non-natural man. But this, again, they can hardly 
say in so many words ; therefore at last, when they 
are pressed, they collect themselves all they can, and 
make a great effort, and out they come with their 
piece of science : God is a Great Personal First Cause, 
who thinks and loves, the moral and intelligent Governor 
of the universe. But this piece of science of theirs we 
will have nothing to say to, for we account it quite 
hollow ; and we say, and have shown (we think), 
that the Bible, rightly read, will have nothing to say 
to it either. Yet the whole pinch of the matter is 
here ; and till we are agreed as to what we mean by 
God, we can never, in discussing religious questions, 
understand one another or discuss seriously. Yet, as 
we have said, hardly any of the discussions which 
arise in religion turn upon this cardinal point. This 
1 Hebrews xi 6. 


is what cannot but strike one in that torrent of 
petitiones principii (for so one really must call them) 
in the shape of theological letters from clergymen, 
which pours itself every week through the columns of 
the Guardian. They all employ the word God with 
such extraordinary confidence ! as if " a Great Per- 
sonal First Cause, who thinks and loves, the moral 
and intelligent Governor of the Universe," were a 
verifiable fact given beyond all question ; and we had 
now only to disciiss what such a Being would naturally 
think about Church vestments and the use of the 
Athanasian Creed. But everything people say, under 
these conditions, is in truth quite in the air. 

Even those who have treated Israel and his religion 
the most philosophically, seem not to have enough 
considered that so wonderful an effect must have had 
some cause to account for it, other than any which 
they assign. Professor Kuenen, whose excellent 
History of the Religion of Israel 1 ought to find an 
English translator, suggests that the Hebrew religion 
was so unlike that of any other Semitic people 
because of the simple and austere life led by the 
Beni-Israel as nomads of the desert ; or because they 
did not, like other Semitic people, put a feminine 
divinity alongside of their masculine divinity, and 
thus open the way to all sorts of immorality. But 
many other tribes have had the simple and austere 

1 De Godsdiensi van Israel tot den Ondergang -van den 
Joodschen Stoat (The Religion of Israel till the Downfall of the 
Jewish State) ; Haarlem. An English translation has now 


life of nomads of the desert, without its bringing 
them to the religion of Israel. And, if the Hebrews 
did not put a feminine divinity alongside of theii 
masculine divinity, while other Semitic people did, 
surely there must have been something to cause this 
difference ! and what we want to know is this some- 

And to this something, we say, the "Zeit-Geist" 
and a prolonged and large experience of men's expres- 
sions, and how they employ them, leads us. It was 
because, while other people, in the operation of that 
mighty not ourselves which is in us and around us, 
saw this thing and that thing and man}' things, Israel 
saw in it one thing only : that it made for conduct, 
for righteousness. And it does ; and conduct is nearly 
the whole of human life. And hence, therefore, the 
extraordinary reality and power of Israel's God and 
of Israel's religion. And the more we strictly limit 
ourselves, in attempting to give a scientific account of 
God, to Israel's authentic intuition of him, and say 
that he is "the Eternal Power, not ourselves, that 
makes for righteousness," the more real and profound 
will Israel's words about God become to us, for we 
can then verify his words as we use them. 

Eternal, thou hast been our refuge from one generation 
to another ! l If we define the Eternal to ourselves, 
" a Great Personal First Cause, who thinks and loves, 
the moral and intelligent Governor of the universe," 
we can never verify that this has from age to age 
been a refuge to men. But if we define the Eternal, 
1 Psalm xc. 1. 


"the enduring power, not ourselves, that makes for 
righteousness," then we can know and feel the truth 
of what we say when we declare : Eternal, thou hast 
been our refuge from one generation to another ! For in 
all the history of man we can verify it. Righteous- 
ness has been salvation; and to verify the God of 
Israel in man's long history is the most animating, 
the most exalting, and the most pure of delights. 
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Eternal/ 1 is a 
text, indeed, of which the world offers to us the 
most inexhaustible and the most marvellous illustra- 

Nor is the change here proposed, in itself, any 
difficult or startling change in our habits of religious 
thought, but a very simple one. However, simple 
as may be this change which is to be made high up 
and at the outset, it undeniably governs everything 
farther down. Jesus is the Son of God; the Holy 
Spirit is the Spirit of truth that proceeds from God. 
What God? "A Great Personal First Cause, who 
thinks and loves, the moral and intelligent Governor 
of the Universe?" to whom Jesus and the Holy 
Spirit are related in the way described in the Atha- 
nasian Creed, so that the operations of the three 
together produce what the Westminster divines call 
" the Contract passed in the Council of the Trinity," 
and what we, for plainness, describe as the fairy-tale 
of the three Lord Shaftesburys ? This is all in the 
air, but in the air it all hangs together. There stand 
the Bible words ! how you construe them depends 
1 Psalm xxxiii. 12. 


entirely on what definition of God you start with 
If Jesus is the Son of " a Great Personal First Cause,' 
then the words of the Bible, literally taken, may well 
enough lend themselves to a story like that of the 
three Lord Shaftesburys. The story can never be 
verified ; but it may nevertheless be what the Bible 
means to say, if the Bible have started, as theology 
starts, with the " Great Personal First Cause." And 
the story may, when it comes to be examined, have 
many minor difficulties, have things to baffle us, 
things to shock us; but still it may be what the 
Bible means to say. However, the masses will get 
rid of all minor difficulties in the simplest manner, 
by rejecting the Bible altogether on account of the 
major difficulty, its starting with an assumption 
which cannot possibly be verified. 

But suppose the Bible is discovered, when its 
expressions are rightly understood, to start with an 
assertion which can be verified : the assertion, namely, 
not of " a Great Personal First Cause," but of " an 
enduring Power, not ourselves, that makes for right- 
eousness." Then by the light of this discovery we 
read and understand all the expressions that follow. 
Jesus comes forth from this enduring Power that 
makes for righteousness, is sent by this power, is this 
Power's son ; the Holy Spirit proceeds from this same 
Power, and so on. 

Now, from the innumerable minor difficulties 
which attend the story of the three Lord Shaftes- 
burys, this right construction, put on what the Bible 
says of Jesus, of the Father, and of the Holy Spirit, 


is free. But it is free from the major difficulty also ; 
for it neither depends upon what is unverifiable, nor 
is it unverifiable itself. That Jesus is the Son of a 
Great Personal First Cause is itself unverifiable ; and 
that there is a Great Personal First Cause is unverifi- 
able too. But that there is an enduring power, not 
ourselves, which makes for righteousness, is verifiable, 
as we have seen, by experience ; and that Jesus is 
the offspring of this power is verifiable from experi- 
ence also. For God is the author of righteousness ; 
now, Jesus is the son of God because he gives the 
method and secret by which alone is righteousness 
possible. And that he does give this, we can verify, 
again, from experience. It is so ! try, and you will 
find it to be so ! Try all the ways to righteousness 
you can think of, and you will find that no way 
brings you to it except the way of Jesus, but that 
this way does bring you to it ! And, therefore, as we 
found we could say to the masses : " Attempt to do 
without Israel's God that makes for righteousness, 
and you will find out your mistake !" so we find we 
can now proceed farther, and say: "Attempt to 
reach righteousness by any way except that of Jesus, 
and you will find out your mistake ! " This is a 
thing that can prove itself, if it is so; and it will 
prove itself, because it is so. 

Thus we have the authority of both Old and New 
Testament placed on just the same solid basis as the 
authority of the injunction to take food and rest : 
namely, that experience proves we cannot do without 
them. And we have neglect of the Bible punished 


just as putting one's hand into the fire is punished : 
namely, by finding we are the worse for it. Only, to 
attend to this experience about the Bible, needs more 
steadiness than to attend to the momentary impres- 
sions of hunger, fatigue, and pain ; therefore it is 
called faith, and counted a virtue. But the appeal is 
to experience in this case just as much as in the 
other ; only to experience of a far deeper and greater 


So there is no doubt that we get a much firmer, 
nay an impregnable, ground for the Bible, and for 
recommending it to the world, if we put the construc- 
tion on it we propose. The only question is : Is this the 
light construction to put on it ? is it the construction 
which properly belongs to the Bible? And here, 
again, our appeal is to the same test which we have 
employed throughout, the only possible test for man 
to employ, the test of reason and experience. Given 
the Bible-documents, what, it is inquired, is the right 
construction to put upon them? Is it the construc- 
tion we propose? or is it the construction of the 
theologians, according to which the dogmas of the 
Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, and so on, 
are presupposed all through the Bible, are sometimes 
latent, sometimes come more visibly to the surface, 
but are always there ; and to them every word in the 
Bible has reference, plain or figured 1 

Now, the Bible does not and cannot tell us itself, 
in black and white, what is the right construction to 


put upon it ; we have to make this out And the 
only possible way to make it out, for the dogmatists 
to make out their construction, or for us to make 
out ours, is by reason and experience. "Even such 
as are readiest," says Hooker very well, " to cite for 
one thing five hundred sentences of Scripture, what 
warrant have they that any one of them doth mean 
the thing for which it is alleged ?" They can have 
none, he replies, but reasoning and collection ; and 
to the same effect Butler says of reason, that "it is 
indeed the only faculty we have wherewith to judge 
concerning anything, even revelation itself." Now it 
is simply from experience of the human spirit and its 
productions, from observing as widely as we can the 
manner in which men have thought, their way of 
using words and what they mean by them, and from 
reasoning upon this observation and experience, 
that we conclude the construction theologians put 
upon the Bible to be false, and ours to be the truer 

In the first place, from -Israel's master-feeling, the 
feeling for righteousness, the predominant sense that 
men are, as St. Paul says, " created unto good works 
which God hath prepared beforehand that we should 
walk in them," 1 we collect the origin of Israel's 
conception of God, of that mighty " not ourselves " 
which more or less engages all men's attention, as 
the Eternal Power that makes for righteousness. This 
we do, because the more we come to know how ideas 
and terms arise, and what is their character, the more 
1 Ephesians ii. 10. 


this explanation of Israel's use of the word " God " 
seems the true and natural one. Again, the construc- 
tion we put upon the doctrine and work of Jesus is 
collected in the same way. From the data we have, 
and from comparison of these data with what we have 
besides of the history of ideas and expressions, this 
construction seems to us the true and natural one. 
The Gospel-narratives are just that sort of account of 
such a work and teaching as the work and teaching 
of Jesus Christ, according to our construction of it, 
was, which would naturally have been given by devoted 
followers who did not fully understand it. And under- 
stand it fully they then could not, it was so very new, 
great, and profound ; only time gradually brings its 
lines out more clear. 

On the other hand, the theologians' notion of 
dogmas presupposed in the Bible, and of a constant 
latent reference to them, we reject, because experience 
is against it. The more we know of the history of 
ideas and expressions, the more we are convinced that 
this account is not and cannot be the true one ; that 
the theologians have credited the Bible with this pre- 
supposition of dogmas and this constant latent refer- 
ence to them, but that they are not really there. 
" The Fathers recognised," says Dr. Newman, " a 
certain truth lying hid under the tenor of the sacred 
text as a whole, and showing itself more or less in 
this verse or that, as it might be. The Fathers might 
have traditionary information of the general drift of the 
inspired text which we have not." Born into the 
world twenty years later, and touched with the breath 


of the " Zeit-Geist," how would this exquisite and 
delicate genius have been himself the first to feel the 
unsoundness of all this ! that we have heard the like 
about other books before, and that it always turns out 
to be not so, that the right interpretation of a docu- 
ment, such as the Bible, is not in this fashion. Homer's 
poetry was the Bible of the Greeks, however strange 
a one ; and just in the same way there grew up the 
notion of a mystical and inner sense in the poetry of 
Homer, underlying the apparent sense, but brought 
to fight by the commentators ; perhaps, even, they 
might have traditionary information of the drift of 
the Homeric poetry which we have not; who knows 1 
But, once for all, as our literary experience widens, 
this notion of a secret sense in Homer proves to be a 
mere dream. So, too, is the notion of a secret sense 
in the Bible, and of the Fathers' disengagement of it. 
Demonstration in these matters is impossible. It 
is a maintainable thesis that the allegorising of the 
Fathers is right, and that this is the true sense of the 
Bible. It is a maintainable thesis that the theological 
dogmas of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Atone- 
ment, underlie the whole Bible. It is a maintainable 
thesis, on the other hand, that Jesus was himself 
immersed in the Aberglaule of his nation and time, 
and that his disciples have reported him with absolute 
fidelity ; in this case we should have, in our estimate 
of Jesus, to make deductions for his Aberglaube, and 
to admire him for the insight he displayed in spite of it. 
This thesis, we repeat, or that thesis, or another thesis, 
is maintainable as to the construction to be put on such 


a document as the Bible. Absolute demonstration is 
impossible, and the only question is : Does experience, 
as it widens and deepens, make for this or that thesis, 
or make against it ? And the great thing against any 
such thesis as either of the two we have just mentioned 
is, that the more we know of the history of the human 
spirit and its deliverances, the more we have reason 
to think such a thesis improbable, and it loses hold 
on our assent more and more. On the other hand, 
the great thing, as we believe, in favour of such a 
construction as we put upon the Bible is, that experi- 
ence, as it increases, constantly confirms it ; and that, 
though it cannot command assent, it will be found to 
win assent more and more. 

VOL. V. 



WIN assent in the end the new construction will, but 
not at once ; and there will be a passage-time of con- 
fusion first It is not for nothing, as we have said, 
that people take short cuts and tell themselves fairy- 
tales, because the immense scale of the history of 
" bringing in everlasting righteousness " is too much 
for their narrow minds. It is not for nothing ; they 
pay far it. It is not for nothing that they found 
religion on prediction and miracle, guarantee it by 
preternatural interventions and the coming of the Son 
of Man in the clouds, consummate it by a banquet 
with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in a city shining 
with gold and precious stones. They are like people 
who have fed their minds on novels or their stomachs 
on opium ; the reality of things is flat and insipid to 
them, although it is in truth far grander than the 
phantasmagorical world of novels and of opium. But it 
is long before the novel-reader or the opium-eater can 
rid himself of his bad habits, and brace his nerves, and 
recover the tone of his mind enough to perceive it. 
Distress and despair at the loss of his accustomed 
stimulant are his first sensations. 


Miracles, the mainstay of popular religion, are -^. 
touched by Ithuriel's.^ spear. They are beginning to 2 
dissolve ; but what are we to expect during the 
process? Probably, amongst many religious people, 
vehement efforts at reaction, a recrudescence of super- 
stition -, the passionate resolve to keep hold on what 
is slipping away from them by giving up more and 
more the use of reason in religion, and by resting 
more and more on authority. The Church of Rome 
is the great upholder of authority as against reason 
in religion ; and it will be strange if in the coming 
time of transition the Church of Rome does not gain. 

But for many more than those whom Rome attracts, 
there will be an interval, between the time when men 
take the religion of the Bible to be a thaumaturgy and 
the time when they perceive it to be something 
different, in which they will be prone to throw aside 
the religion of the Bible altogether as a delusion. 
And this, again, will be mainly the fault, if fault 
that can be called which was an inevitable error, of 
the religious people themselves, who, from the time 
of the Apostles downwards, have insisted upon it that 
religion shall be a thaumaturgy or nothing. For very 
many, therefore, when it cannot be a thaumaturgy, it 
will be nothing. And very likely there will come a 
day when there will be less religion than even now. 
For the religion of the Bible is so simple and powerful 
that even those who make the Bible a thaumaturgy 
get hold of the religion, because they read the Bible ; 
but, if men do not read the Bible, they cannot get hold 
of it And then will be fulfilled the saying of the 


prophet Amos : " Behold, the days come, saith the 
Eternal, that I will send a famine in the land, not a 
famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing 
the words of the Eternal ; and they shall wander from 
sea to sea, and from the north even to the east they 
shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Eternal, 
and shall not find it." l 

Nevertheless, as after this mournful prophecy the 
herdsman of Tekoah goes on to say : " There shall yet 
not the least grain of Israel fall to the earth !" 2 To the 
Bible men will return ; and why ? Because they 
cannot do without it. Because happiness is our being's 
end and aim, and happiness belongs to righteousness, 
and righteousness is revealed in the Bible. For this 
simple reason men will return to the Bible, just as a man 
who tried to give up food, thinking it was a vain thing 
and he could do without it, would return to food ; or 
a man who tried to give up sleep, thinking it was a 
vain thing and he could do without it, would return 
to sleep. Then there will come a time of reconstruc- 
tion ; and then, perhaps," will be the moment for 
labours, like this attempt of ours, to be found useful. 
For though every one must read the Bible for himself, 
and the perfect criticism of it is an immense matter, 
and it may be possible to go much beyond what we 
here achieve or can achieve, yet the method for reading 
the Bible we, as we hope and believe, here give. And 
although, in this or that detail, the construction we 
put upon the Bible may be wrong, yet the main lines 
of the construction will be found, we hope and believe, 
1 Amoa viii. 11, 12. a Amos ix. 9. 


right ; and the reader who has the main lines may 
easily amend the details for himself. 


Meanwhile to popular Christianity, from those who 
can see its errors, is due an indulgence inexhaustible, 
except where limits are required to it for the good of 
religion itself. Two considerations make this indul- 
gence right. One is, that the language of the Bible 
being, which is the great point a sound criticism 
establishes against dogmatic theology, approximate, 
not scientific, in all expressions of religious feeling 
approximate language is lawful, and indeed is all we 
can attain to. It cannot be adequate, more or less 
proper it can be; but, in general, approximate language 
consecrated by use and religious feeling acquires there- 
from a propriety of its own. This is the first con- 
sideration. The second is, that on both the "method" 
and the " secret " of Jesus popular Christianity in no 
contemptible measure both can and does, as we have 
said, lay hold, in spite of its inadequate criticism of 
the Bible. Now, to lay hold on the method and 
secret of Jesus is a very great thing ; an inadequate 
criticism of the Bible is a comparatively small one. 

Certainly this consideration should govern our way 
of regarding many things in popular Christianity ; 
its missions, for instance. The non-Christian religions 
are not to the wise man mere monsters ; he knows 
they have much good and truth in them. He knows 
that Mahometanism, and Brahminism, and Buddhism, 


are hot what the missionaries call them j and he 
knows, too, how really unfit the missionaries are to 
cope with them. For any one who weighs the matter 
well, the missionary in clerical coat and gaiters whom 
one sees in wood-cuts preaching to a group of pictur- 
esque Orientals, is, from the inadequacy of his criticism 
both of his hearers' religion and of his own, and his 
signal misunderstanding of the very Volume he holds 
in his hand, a hardly less grotesque object in his 
intellectual equipment for his task than in his outward 
attire. Yet every one allows that this strange figure 
carries something of what is called European civilisa- 
tion with him, and a good part of this is due to 
Christianity. But even the Christianity itself that he 
preaches, imbedded in a false theology though it be, 
cannot but contain, in a greater or lesser measure as it 
may happen, these three things : the all-importance 
of righteousness, the 'method of Jesus, the secret of Jesus. 
No Christianity that is ever preached but manages to 
cai-ry something of these aLong with it 

And if it carries them to Mahometanism, they are 
carried where of the all-importance of righteousness 
there is a knowledge, but of the method and secret 
of Jesus, by which alone is righteousness possible, 
hardly any sense at all. If it carries them to Brah- 
minism, they are carried where of the all-importance 
of righteousness, the foundation of the whole matter, 
there is a wholly insufficient sense ; and where religion 
is, above all, that metaphysical conception, or meta- 
physical play, so dear to the Aryan genius and to M. 
Emile Burnouf. If it carries them to Buddhism, they 


are carried to a religion to be saluted with respect, 
indeed ; for it has not only the sense for righteous- 
ness, it has, even, it has the secret of Jesus. But it 
employs the secret ill, because greatly wanting in the 
method, because utterly wanting in the sweet reason- 
ableness, the unerring balance, the epieikeia. There- 
fore to all whom it visits, the Christianity of our 
missions, inadequate as may be its criticism of the 
Bible, brings what may do them good. And if it 
brings the Bible itself, it brings what may not only 
help the good preached, but may also with time dis- 
sipate the erroneous criticism which accompanies this 
and impairs it. All this is to be said for popular 
religion; and it all makes in favour of treating 
popular religion tenderly, of sparing it as much as 
possible, of trusting to time and indirect means to 
transform it, rather than to sudden, violent changes. 


Learned religion, however, the pseudo-science of 
dogmatic theology, merits no such indulgence. It is 
a separable accretion, which never had any business 
to be attached to Christianity, never did it any good, 
and now does it great harm, and thickens an hun- 
dredfold the religious confusion in which we live. 
Attempts to adopt it, to put a new sense into it, to 
make it plausible, are the most misspent labour in 
the world. Certainly no religious reformer who tries 
it, or has tried it, will find his work live. 

Nothing is more common, indeed, than for religious 


writers, who have a strong sense of the genuine and 
moral side of Christianity, and who much enlarge on 
the pre-eminence of this, to put themselves right, as 
it were, with dogmatic theology, by a passing sentence 
expressing profound belief in its dogmas, though in 
discussing them, it is implied, there is little profit. 
So Mr. Erskine of Linlathen, that unwearying and 
much-revered exponent of the moral side of the Bible : 
" It seems difficult," he says, " to conceive that any 
man should read through the New Testament candidly 
and attentively, without being convinced that the 
doctrine of the Trinity is essential to and implied in 
every part of the system." Even already many 
readers of Mr. Erskine feel, when they come across 
such a sentence as that, as if they had suddenly taken 
gravel or sand into their mouth. Twenty years hence 
this feeling will be far stronger ; the reader will drop 
the book, saying that certainly it can avail him no- 
thing. So, also, Bunsen was fond of maintaining, 
putting some peculiar meaning of his own into the 
words, that the whole of. Christianity was in the 
Lutheran doctrine of justification by faith. Thus, 
too, the Bishop of Exeter chooses to say that his 
main objection to keeping the Athanasian Creed is, 
that it endangers the doctrine of the Trinity, which 
is so important. Mr. Maurice, again, that pure and 
devout spirit, of whom, however, the truth must at 
last be told, that in theology he passed his life beat- 
ing the bush with deep emotion and never starting 
the hare, Mr. Maurice declared that by reading 
between the lines he saw in the Thirty-nine Articles 


and the Athanasian Creed the altogether perfect 
expression of the Christian faith. 

But all this is mischievous as well as vain. It is 
vain, because it is meant to conciliate the so-called 
orthodox, and it does not conciliate them. Of his 
attachment to the doctrine of the Trinity the Bishop 
of Exeter may make what protestations he will, Arch- 
deacon Denison will still smell a rat in them; and 
the time has passed when Bunsen's Evangelical 
phrases could fascinate the Evangelicals. Such lan- 
guage, however, does also actual harm, because it 
proceeds from a misunderstanding and prolongs it. 
For it may be well to read between the lines of a 
man labouring with an experience he cannot utter ; 
but to read between the lines of a notion-work is 
absurd, for it is of the essence of a notion-work not 
to need it And the Athanasian Creed is a notion- 
work, of which the fault is that its basis is a chimsera. 
It is an application of the forms of Greek -logic to a 
chimaera, its own notion of the Trinity, a notion unestab- 
lished, not resting on observation and experience, but 
assumed to be given in Scripture, yet not really given 
there. Indeed the very expression, tlie Trinity, jars 
with the whole idea and character of Bible-religion. 
But, lest the Unitarian should be unduly elated at 
hearing this, let us hasten to add that so too, and 
just as much, does the expression, a, Great Personal 
First Cause. 

Learned pseudo-science applied to the data of the 
Bible is best called plainly what it is, utter blunder; 
criticism of the same order, and of which the futility 


will one day be just as visible, as that criticism about 
the two swords which some way back we quoted 
To try to tinker such criticism only makeb matters 
worse. The best way is to throw it aside altogether, 
and forget it as fast as possible. This is what the 
good of religion demands, and what all the enemies 
of religion would most deprecate. The hour for 
softening down, and explaining away, is passed ; the 
whole false notion-work has to go. Mild defences of 
it leave on the mind a sense of the defender's hope- 
less inability to perceive our actual situation ; violent 
defences read, alas ! only like " a tale told by an idiot, 
full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." 

But the great work to be done for the better time 
which will arrive, and for the time of transition which 
will precede it, is not a work of destruction, but to 
show that the truth is really, as it is, incomparably 
higher, grander, more wide and deep-reaching, than 
the Aberglaube and false science which it displaces. 

The propounders of " The Great Personal First 
Cause, who thinks and loves," are too modest when 
they sometimes say, taking their lesson from the 
Bible, that, after all, man can know next to nothing 
of the Divine nature. They do themselves signal 
injustice ; they themselves know a great deal, far too 
much. They know so much, that they make of God 
a magnified and non-natural man, a sort, as we have 
said, of infinitely extended Lord Shaftesbury ; and 


when this leads them into difficulties, and they think 
to escape from these by saying that God's ways are 
not man's ways, they do not succeed in making their 
God cease to resemble a man, they only make him re- 
semble a man puzzled. But the truth is, that one may 
have a great respect for Lord Shaftesbury, and yet be 
permitted, even however much he be magnified, to 
imagine something far beyond him. And this is the 
good of such an unpretending definition of God as 
ours : the Eternal Power, not ourselves, that makes for 
righteousness; it leaves the infinite to the imagina- 
tion, and to the gradual efforts of countless ages of 
men, slowly feeling after more of it and finding it. 
Ages and ages hence, no such adequate definition of 
the infinite not ourselves will yet be possible, as any 
sciolist of a theologian will now pretend to rattle you 
off in a moment. But on one point of the operation 
of this not ourselves we are clear : that it makes for 
conduct, righteousness. So far we know God, that 
he is " the Eternal that loveth righteousness ; " and the 
farther we go in righteousness, the more we shall 
know him. 

And as this true and authentic God of Israel is far 
grander than the God of popular religion, so is his 
real affirmation of himself in human affairs far grander 
than that poor machinery of prediction and miracle, 
by which popular religion imagines that he affirms 
himself. The greatness of the scale on which he 
operates makes it hard for men to follow him ; but 
the greatness of the scale, too, makes the grandeur of 
the operation. Take the Scripture-promises and their 


accomplishment As the whirlwind passeth, so is the 
wicked no more ; but the righteous is an everlasting founda- 
tion. 1 And again : They slwll call Jerusalem the throne 
of the Eternal, and all the nations shall be gatJiered unto 
it. 2 It is objected that this is not fulfilled. It is not 
fulfilled yet, because the whole career of the human 
race has to bring out its fulfilment, and this career is 
still going forward. "Men are impatient, and for 
precipitating things," says Butler ; and Davison, 
whom on a former occasion we quoted to differ from 
him, Davison, not the least memorable of that Oriel 
group, whose reputation I, above most people, am 
bound to cherish, says with a weighty and noble 
simplicity worthy of Butler : " Conscience and the 
present constitution of things are not corresponding 
terms ; it is conscience and the issue of things which go 
together. " It is so ; and this is what makes the 
spectacle of human affairs so edifying and so sublime. 
Give time enough for the experience, and experi- 
mentally and demonstrably it is true, that " the path 
of the just is as the shining light which shineth more 
and more unto the perfect day." 3 Only the limits 
for the experience are wider than people think. " Yet 
a little while, and the ungodly shall be clean gone ! " 4 
but "a little while" according to the scope and working 
of that mighty Power to which a thousand years are 
as one day. The world goes on, nations and men 
arrive and depart, with varying fortune, as it appears, 
with time and chance happening unto all. Look a 

1 Prov. x. 25. 2 Jer. iii. 17. 

8 Prov. iv. 18. * Ps. xxxvii. 10 


little deeper, and you will see that one strain runs 
through it all : nations and men, whoever is ship- 
wrecked, is shipwrecked on conduct. It is the God of 
Israel steadily and irresistibly asserting himself ; the 
Eternal that loveth righteousness. 

In this sense we should read the Hebrew prophets. 
They did not foresee and foretell curious coincidences, 
but they foresaw and foretold this inevitable triumph 
of righteousness. First, they foretold it for all the 
men and nations of their own day, and especially for 
those colossal unrighteous kingdoms of the heathen 
world, which looked everlasting; then, for all time. 
"As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no 
more;" sooner or later it is, it must be, so. Hebrew 
prophecy is never read aright until it is read in this 
sense, which indeed of itself it cries out for ; it is, as 
Davison, again, finely says, impatient for the larger scope. 
How often, throughout the ages, how often, even, by 
the Hebrew prophets themselves, has some immediate 
visible interposition been looked for ! "I looked," 
they make God say, "and there was no man to help, 
and I wondered that there was none to uphold ; 
therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me. 
The day of vengeance is in mine heart, the year of 
my redeemed is come." 1 long -delaying arm of 
might, will the Eternal never put thee forth, to smite 
these sinners who go on as if righteousness mattered 
nothing ? There is no need; they are smitten. Down 
they come, one after another ; Assyria falls, Babylon, 
Greece, Home; they all fall for want of conduct, 
1 Isaiah Ixiii. 4, 5. 


righteousness. "The heathen make much ado, and 
the kingdoms are moved ; but God hath showed his 
voice, and the earth doth melt away." 1 Nay, but 
Judaea itself, the Holy Land, the land of God's Israel, 
perishes too, and perishes for want of righteousness. 

Yes, Israel's visible Jerusalem is in ruins ; and 
how, then, shall men "call Jerusalem the throne of 
the Eternal, and all the nations shall be gathered 
unto it ?" But the true Israel was Israel the bringer- 
in and defender of the idea of conduct, Israel the 
lifter-up to the nations of the banner of righteousness. 
The true Jerusalem was the city of this ideal Israel. 
And this ideal Israel could not and cannot perish, so 
long as its idea, righteousness and its necessity, does 
not perish, but prevails. Now, that it does prevail, 
the whole course of the world proves, and the fall of 
the actual Israel is of itself witness. Thus, therefore, 
the ideal Israel for ever lives and prospers ; and its 
city is the city whereto all nations and languages, 
after endless trials of everything else except conduct, 
after incessantly attempting to do without righteous- 
ness and failing, are slowly but surely gathered. 

To this Israel are the promises, and to this Israel 
they are fulfilled. "The nation and kingdom that 
will not serve thee shall perish, yea, those nations 
shall be utterly wasted." 2 It is so; since all history 
is an accumulation of experiences that what men and 
nations fall by is want of conduct. To call it by this 
plain name is often not amiss, for the thing is never 
more great than when it is looked at in its simplicity 
1 Psalm xlvi. 6. 2 Isaiah Ix. 12. 


and reality. Yet the true name to touch the soul is 
the name Israel gave : Righteousness. And to Israel, 
as the representative of this imperishable and saving 
idea of righteousness, all the promises come true, and 
the language of none of them is pitched too high. 
TJie Eternal, Israel says truly, is on my side. 1 "Fear 
not, thou worm Jacob, and thou handful Israel ! I 
will help thee, saith the Eternal. Behold, I have 
graven thee upon the palms of my hands, thy walls 
are continually before me. The Eternal hath chosen 
Zion ; pray for the peace of Jerusalem ! they shall 
prosper that love thee. Men shall call Jerusalem 
the throne of the Eternal, and all the nations shall be 
gathered unto it. And he will destroy in this moun- 
tain the face of the covering cast over all people, and 
the veil that is spread over all nations; he will swallow 
up death in victory. And it shall be said in that 
day : Lo, this is our God ! this is the Eternal, we 
have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in 
his salvation." 2 


And if Assyria and Babylon seem too remote, let 
us look nearer home for testimonies to the inexhaust- 
ible grandeur and significance of the Old Testament 
revelation, according to that construction which we 
here put upon it. Every educated man loves Greece, 
owes gratitude to Greece. Greece was the lifter-up to 
the nations of the banner of art and science, as Israel 

1 Psalm cxviii. 6. 

2 Is. xli. 14; xlix. 16; Ps. cxxxii 13; cxxii.6; Jer. iii. 17} 
Is. KV. 7, 8, 9. 


was the lifter -up of the banner of righteousness. 
Now. the world cannot do without art and science. 
And the lifter-up of the banner of art and science 
was naturally much occupied with them, and conduct 
was a homely plain matter. Not enough heed, there- 
fore, was given by him to conduct. But conduct, 
plain matter as it is, is six-eighths of life, while art 
and science are only two-eighths. And this brilliant 
Greece perished for lack of attention enough to 
conduct; for want of conduct, steadiness, character. 
And there is this difference between Greece and 
Judaea : both were custodians of a revelation, and 
both perished ; but Greece perished of otw-fidelity to 
her revelation, and Judaea perished of under-frdelity to 
hers. Nay, and the victorious revelation now, even 
now, in this age when more of beauty and more of 
knowledge are so much needed, and knowledge, at 
any rate, is so highly esteemed, the revelation which 
rules the world even now, is not Greece's revelation, 
but Judaea's ; not the pre-eminence of art and science, 
but the pre-eminence of righteousness. 

It reminds one of what is recorded of Abraham, 
before the true inheritor of the promises, the humble 
and homely Isaac, was born. Abraham looked upon 
the vigorous, bold, brilliant young Ishmael, and said 
appealingly to God : " Oh that Ishmael might live 
before thee!" 1 But it cannot be; the promises are 
to conduct, conduct only. And so, again, we in like 
manner behold, long after Greece has perished, a 
brilliant successor of Greece, the Renascence, present 
1 Genesis xvii. 18. 


herself with high hopes. The preachers of righteous- 
ness, blunderers as they often were, had for centuries 
had it all their own way. Art and science had been 
forgotten, men's minds had been enslaved, their bodies 
macerated. . But the gloomy, oppressive dream is now 
over. "Let us return to Nature/" And all the world 
salutes with pride and joy the Renascence, and prays 
to Heaven : " Oh that Ishmael might live before thee ! " 
Surely the future belongs to this brilliant new-comer, 
with his animating maxim : Let us return to Nature ! 
Ah, what pitfalls are in that word Nature ! Let us 
return to art and science, which are a part of 
Nature; yes. Let us return to a proper conception 
of righteousness, to a true use of the method and 
secret of Jesus, which have been all denaturalised; 
yes. But, "Let us return to Nature ;" do you mean 
that we are to give full swing to our inclinations, to 
throw the reins on the neck of our senses, of those 
sirens whom Paul the Israelite called " the deceitful 
lusts," 1 and of following whom he said "Let no man 
beguile you with vain words, for because of these 
things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of 
disobedience?" 2 Do you mean that conduct is not 
three-fourths of life, and that the secret of Jesus has 
no use ? And the Renascence did mean this, or half- 
meant this ; so disgusted was it with the cowled and 
tonsured Middle Age. And it died of it, this brilliant 
Ishmael died of it! it died of provoking a collision 
with the homely Isaac, righteousness. On the Conti- 
nent came the Catholic reaction ; in England, as we 

1 Eph. iv. 22. 2 Eph. v. 6. 

VOL. V. Y 


have said elsewhere, "the great middle class, the 
kernel of the nation, entered the prison of Puri- 
tanism, and had the key turned upon its spirit there 
for two hundred years." After too much glorification 
of art, science, and culture, too little ; after Rabelais, 
George Fox. 

France, again, how often and how impetuously for 
France has the prayer gone up to Heaven : " Oh that 
Ishmael might live before thee!" It is not enough 
perceived what it is which gives to France her attrac- 
tiveness for everybody, and her success, and her 
repeated disasters. France is I'homme sensuel moyen, 
the average sensual man ; Paris is the city of I'homme 
sensuel moyen. This has an attraction for all of us. 
We all have in us this homme sensuel, the man of the 
"wishes of the flesh and of the current thoughts;" 
but we develop him under checks and doubts, and 
unsystematically and often grossly. France, on the 
other hand, develops him confidently and harmon- 
iously. She makes the most of him, because she 
knows what she is about and keeps in a mean, as her 
climate is in a mean, and her situation. She does not 
develop him with madness, into a monstrosity, as the 
Italy of the Eenascence did; she develops him equably 
and systematically. And hence she does not shock 
people with him but attracts them, she names herself 
the France of tact and measure, good sense, logic. In 
a way, this is true. As she develops the senses, the 
apparent self, all round, in good faith, without mis- 
givings, without violence, she has much reasonableness 
and clearness in all her notions and arrangements , a 


sort of balance even in conduct; as much art and 
science, and it is not a little, as goes with the ideal of 
Vhomme sensuel moyen. And from her ideal of the 
average sensual man France has deduced her famous 
gospel of the Eights of Man, which she preaches with 
such an infinite crowing and self-admiration. France 
takes "the wishes of the flesh and of the current 
thoughts " for a man's rights; and human happiness, 
and the perfection of society, she places in everybody's 
being enabled to gratify these wishes, to get these 
rights, as equally as possible and as much as possible. 
In Italy, as in ancient Greece, the satisfying develop- 
ment of this ideal of the average sensual man is broken 
by the imperious ideal of art and science disparaging 
it ; in the Germanic nations, by the ideal of morality 
disparaging it. Still, whenever, as often happens, the 
pursuers of these higher ideals are a little weary of 
them or unsuccessful with them, they turn with a sort 
of envy and admiration to the ideal set up by France, 
so positive, intelligible, and up to a certain point 
satisfying. They are inclined to try it instead of 
their own, although they can never bring themselves 
to try it thoroughly, and therefore well But this 
explains the great attraction France exercises upon 
the world. All of us feel, at some time or other in 
our lives, a hankering after the French ideal, a dis- 
position to try it. More particularly is this true of 
the Latin nations ; and therefore everywhere, among 
these nations, you see the old indigenous type of city 
disappearing, and the type of modern Paris, the city 
of I'homme sensuel moyen, replacing it La BoMme, the 


ideal, free, pleasurable life of Paris, is a kind of 
Paradise of Ishmaels. And all this assent from every 
quarter, and the clearness and apparent reasonableness 
of their ideal besides, fill the French with a kind of 
ecstatic faith in it, a zeal almost fanatical for pro- 
pagating what they call French civilisation everywhere, 
for establishing its predominance, and their own pre- 
dominance along with it, as of the people entrusted 
with an oracle so showy and taking. Oh that Ishmael 
might live before thee ! Since everybody has something 
which conspires with this Ishmael, his success, again 
and again, seems to be certain. Again and again he 
seems drawing near to a worldwide success, nay, to 
have succeeded ; but always, at this point, disaster 
overtakes him, he signally breaks down. At this 
crowning moment, when all seems triumphant with 
him, comes what the Bible calls a crisis, or judgment. 
Now is the judgment of this world ! now shall the prince 
of this world be cast out/ 1 Cast out he is, and always 
must be, because his ideal, which is also that of France 
in general, however she. may have noble spirits who 
contend against it and seek a better, is after all a 
false one. Plausible and attractive as it may be, the 
constitution of things turns out to be somehow or 
other against it. And why ? Because the free 
development of our senses all round, of our apparent 
self, has to undergo a profound modification from the 
law of our higher real self, the law of righteousness ; 
because he, whose ideal is the free development of the 
senses all round, serves the senses, is a servant. But : 
1 John xii. 31. 


The servant abideth not in the house for ever ; the son 
abideth for ever. 1 

Is it possible to imagine a grander testimony to 
the truth of the revelation committed to Israeli 
What miracle of making an iron axe-head float on 
water, what successful prediction that a thing should 
happen just so many years and months and days 
hence, could be really half so impressive ? 


So that the whole history of the world to this day 
is in truth one continual establishing of the Old 
Testament revelation : "0 ye tliat love the Eternal, see 
that ye hate the thing that is evil/ to him that orderethhis 
conversation right, shall be shown the salvation of God." z 
And whether we consider this revelation in respect to 
human affairs at large, or in respect to individual 
happiness, in either case its importance is so immense, 
that the people to whom it was given, and whose 
record is in the Bible, deserve fully to be singled out 
as the Bible singles them. " Behold, darkness doth 
cover the earth, and gross darkness the nations ; but 
the Eternal shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall 
be seen upon thee ! " 3 For, while other nations had the 
misleading idea that this or that, other than righteous- 
ness, is saving, and it is not ; that this or that, other 
than conduct, brings happiness, and it does not; 
Israel had the true idea that righteousness is saving, 
that to wndud belongs happiness. 

1 John viit 35. a Ps. xcviL 10 ; 1. 23. 3 Is. Ix. 2. 


Nor let it be said that other nations, too, had at 
least something of this idea. They had, but they 
were not possessed with it ; and to feel it enough to 
make the world feel it, it was necessary to be possessed 
with it. It is not sufficient to have been visited by 
such an idea at times, to have had it forced occasion- 
ally on one's mind by the teaching of experience. 
No : he that hath the bride is the bridegroom; 1 the idea 
belongs to him who has most loved it Common 
prudence can say : Honesty is the best policy ; 
morality can say: To conduct belongs happiness. But 
Israel and the Bible are filled with religious joy, and 
rise higher and say: "Righteousness is salvation/" 
and this is what is inspiring. " I have stuck unto thy 
testimonies ! Eternal, what love have I unto thy law ! 
all the day long is my study in it. Thy testimonies 
have I claimed as mine heritage for ever, and why 1 
they are the very joy of my heart!" 2 This is why the 
testimonies of righteousness are Israel's heritage for 
ever, because they were the very joy of his heart. 
Herein Israel stood alone, "the friend and elect of the 
Eternal " He showeth his word unto Jacob, his 
statutes and ordinances unto Israel. He hath not 
dealt so with any nation, neither have the heathen 
knowledge of his laws." 3 

Poor Israel ! poor ancient people / 4 It was revealed 
to thee that righteousness is salvation ; the question, 
what righteousness is, was thy stumbling-stone. Seer 
of the vision of peace, that yet couldst not see the 

1 John iii. 29. 2 Ps. cxix. 31, 97, 111. 

1 Ps. cxlvii. 19, 20. * Is. xliv. 7. 


things which belong unto thy peace ! with that blind- 
ness thy solitary pre-eminence ended, and the new 
Israel, made up out of all nations and languages, took 
thy room. But, thy visitation complete, thy temple 
in ruins, thy reign over, thine office done, thy children 
dispersed, thy teeth drawn, thy shekels of silver and 
gold plundered, did there yet stay with thee any 
remembrance of thy primitive intuition, simple and 
sublime, of the Eternal that loveth righteousness ? 
Perhaps not ; the Talmudists were fully as well able 
to efface it as the Fathers. But if there did, what 
punishment can have been to thee like the punishment 
of watching the performances of the Aryan genius 
upon the foundation which thou hadst given to it ? 
to behold this terrible and triumphant philosopher, 
with his monotheistic idea and his metaphysical 
Trinity, " neither confounding the Persons nor 
dividing the Substance ?" Like the torture for a poet 
to hear people laying down the law about poetry who 
have not the sense what poetry is, a sense with 
which he was born ! like the affliction to a man of 
science to hear people talk of things as proved who 
do not even know what constitutes a fact ! From the 
Council of Nicsea down to Convocation and our two 
bishops "doing something" for the Godhead of the 
Eternal Son, what must thou have had to suffer I 



No ; the mystery hidden from ages and generations, 1 
which none of the rulers of this world knew, 2 the 
mystery revealed finally by Jesus Christ and rejected 
by the Jews, was not the doctrine of the Trinity, nor 
anything speculative. It was the method and the 
secret of Jesus. Jesus did not change the object for 
men, righteousness. He made clear what it was, 
and that it was this : his method and his secret. 

This was the mystery, and the Apostles had still the 
consciousness that it was. To " learn Christ," to "be 
taught the truth as it is in Jesus," was not, with them, 
to acquire certain tenets about One God in Trinity 
and Trinity in Unity. It was, " to be renewed in the 
spirit of your mind, and to put on the new man which 
after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. " 3 
And this exactly amounts to the method and secret 
of Jesus. 

For Catholic and for Protestant theology alike, this 
consciousness, which the Apostles had still preserved, 
was lost. For Catholic and Protestant theology alike. 

1 Col. i. 26. 2 1 Cor. ii. 8. 3 Eph. iv. 23, 24. 


the truth as it is in Jesus, the mystery revealed in 
Christ, meant something totally different from his 
method and secret. But they recognised, and indeed 
the thing was so plain that they could not well miss 
it, they recognised that on all Christians the method 
and secret of Jesus were enjoined. So to this extent 
the method and secret of Jesus were preached and 
had their effect. To this extent true Christianity has 
been known, and to the extent before stated it has 
been neglected. Now, as we say that the truth and 
grandeur of the Old Testament most comes out 
experimentally, that is, by the whole course of the 
world establishing it, and confuting what is opposed 
to it so it is with Christianity. Its grandeur and 
truth are far best brought out experimentally; and the 
thing is, to make people see this. 

But there is this difference between the religion of 
the Old Testament and Christianity. Of the religion 
of the Old Testament we can pretty well see to the 
end, we can trace fully enough the experimental proof 
of it in history. But of Christianity the future is as yet 
almost unknown. For that the world cannot get on 
without righteousness we have the clear experience, 
and a grand and admirable experience it is. But 
what the world will become by the thorough use of 
that which is really righteousness, the method and 
the secret and the sweet reasonableness of Jesus, we 
have as yet hardly any experience at all. Therefore 
we, who in this essay limit ourselves to experience, 
shall speak here of Christianity and of its greatness 
very soberly. Yet Christianity is really all the 


grander for that very reason which makes us speak 
about it in this sober manner, that it has such an 
immense development still before it, and that it has 
as yet so little shown all it contains, all it can do. 
Indeed, that Christianity has already done so much 
as it has, is a witness to it ; and that it has not yet 
done more, is a witness to it too. Let us observe how 
this is so. 


Few things are more melancholy than to observe 
Christian apologists taunting the Jews with the failure 
of Hebraism to fulfil the splendid promises of prophecy, 
and Jewish apologists taunting Christendom with the 
like failure on the part of Christianity. Neither has 
yet fulfilled them, or could yet have fulfilled them. 
Certainly the restoration by Cyrus, the Second Temple, 
the Maccabean victories, are hardly more than the 
shadows of a fulfilment of the magnificent words : 
" The sons of them that .afflicted thee shall come 
bending unto thee, and all they that despised thee 
shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet ; 
thy gates shall not be shut day nor night, that men 
may bring unto thee the treasures of the Gentiles, 
and that their kings may be brought." l The Chris- 
tian isation of all the leading nations of the world is, 
it is said, a much better fulfilment of that promise. 
Be it so. Yet does Christendom, let us ask, offer 
more than a shadow of the fulfilment of this: "Violence 
shall no more be heard in thy land ; the vile person 
1 Is. lx. 14, 11. 


shall no more be called liberal, nor the churl bountiful ; 
thy people shall be all righteous ; they shall all know 
me, from the least to the greatest ; I will put my law 
in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts ; 
the Eternal shall be thine everlasting light, and the 
days of thy mourning shall be ended V l Manifestly 
it does not. Yet the two promises hang together; 
one of them is not truly fulfilled unless the other is. 

The promises were made to righteousness, with all 
which the idea of righteousness involves. And it 
involves Christianity. They were made on the imme- 
diate prospect of a small triumph for righteousness, 
the restoration of the Jews after the captivity in 
Babylon ; but they are not satisfied by that triumph. 
The prevalence of the profession of Christianity is a 
larger triumph ; yet in itself it hardly satisfies them 
any better. What satisfies them is the prevailing of 
that which righteousness really is, and nothing else 
satisfies them. Now, Christianity is that which 
righteousness really is. Therefore, if something called 
Christianity prevails, and yet the promises are not 
satisfied, the inference is that this something is not 
that which righteousness really is, and therefore not 
really Christianity. And as the course of the world 
is perpetually establishing the pre-eminence of right- 
eousness, and confounding whatever denies this pre- 
eminence, so, too, the course of the world is for ever 
establishing what righteousness really is, that is to 
say, true Christianity, and confounding whatever 
pretends to be true Christianity and is not. 
1 Is. lx. 18 ; xxxii 5 ; lx. 21 ; Jer. xxxi. 33, 34 ; Is. lx. 20. 


Now, just as the constitution of things turned out 
to be against the great unrighteous kingdoms of the 
heathen world, and against all the brilliant Ishmaels 
we have seen since, so the constitution of things turns 
out to be against all false presentations of Christianity, 
such as the theology of the Fathers or Protestant 
theology. They do not work successfully, they do 
not reach the aim, they do not bring the world to the 
fruition of the promises made to righteousness. And 
the reason is, because they substitute for what is 
really righteousness something else. Catholic dogma 
or Lutheran justification by faith they substitute for 
the method and secret of Jesus. 

Nevertheless, as all Christian Churches do recom- 
mend the method and the secret of Jesus, though not 
in the right way or in the right eminency, still the 
world is made partially acquainted with what right- 
eousness really is, and the doctrine produces some 
effect, although the full effect is much thwarted and 
deadened by the false way in which the doctrine is 
presented. Still, the effect produced is great. For 
instance, the sum of individual happiness that has 
been caused by Christianity is, any one can see, enor- 
mous. But let us take the effect of Christianity on 
the world. And if we look at the thing closely, we 
shall find that its effect has been this : Christianity 
has brought the world, or at any rate all the leading 
part of the world, to regard righteousness as only the Jews 
regarded it before the coming of Christ. The world has 
accepted, so far as profession goes, that original 
revelation made to Israel : the pre-eminence of righteous- 


ness. The infinite truth and attractiveness of the 
method and secret and character of Jesus, however 
falsely surrounded, have prevailed with the world so 
far as this. And this is an immense gain, and a signal 
witness to Christianity. The world does homage to 
the pre-eminence of righteousness ; and here we have 
one of those fulfilments of prophecy which are so real 
and so glorious. " Glorious things are spoken of thee, 
City of God ! I will make mention of Rahab and 
Babylon as of them that know me ! behold, the 
Philistines also, and Tyre, with the Ethiopians, 
these were born there ! And of Zion it shall be 
reported : This and that man was born in her ! and 
the Most High shall stablish her. The Eternal shall 
count, when he writeth up the people : This man was 
born there !" 1 That prophecy is at the present day 
abundantly fulfilled. The world's chief nations have 
now all come, we see, to reckon and profess themselves 
born in Zion, born, that is, in the religion of Zion, 
the dty of righteousness. 

But there remains the question : what righteousness 
really is. The method and secret and sweet reason- 
ableness of Jesus. But the world does not see this ; 
for it puts, as righteousness, something else first and 
this second. So that here, too, as to seeing what 
righteousness really is, the world now is much in the 
same position in which the Jews, when Jesus Christ 
came. were. It is often said : If Jesus Christ came 
now, his religion would be rejected. And this is only 
another way of saying that the world now, as the 
1 Psalm Ixxxvii. 3-6. 


Jewish people formerly, has something which thwarts 
and confuses its perception of what righteousness 
really is. It is so ; and the thwarting cause is the 
same now as then : the dogmatic system current, the 
so-called orthodox theology. This prevents now, as 
it did then, that which righteousness really is, the 
method and secret of Jesus, from being rightly received, 
from operating fully, and from accomplishing its due 

So true is this, that we have only to look at our 
own community to see the almost precise parallel, so 
far as religion is concerned, to the state of things 
presented in Judaea when Jesus Christ came. The 
multitudes are the same everywhere. The chief priests 
and elders of the people, and the scribes, are our 
bishops and dogmatists, with their pseudo-science of 
learned theology blinding their eyes, and always, 
whenever simple souls are disposed to think that the 
method and secret of Jesus is true religion, and that 
the Great Personal First Cause and the Godhead of 
the Eternal Son have nothing to do with it, eager to 
cry out : This people that knoweth not the law are cursed ! l 
The Pharisees, with their genuine concern for religion, 
but total want of perception of what religion really is, 
and by their temper, attitude, and aims doing their 
best to make religion impossible, are the Protestant 
Dissenters. The Sadducees are our friends the philo- 
sophical Liberals, who believe neither in angel nor 
spirit but in Mr. Herbert Spencer. Even the Koman 
governor has his close parallel in our celebrated 
1 John vii. 49. 


aristocracy, with its superficial good sense and good 
nature, its complete inaptitude for ideas, its profound 
helplessness in presence of all great spiritual move- 
ments. And the result is, that the splendid promises 
to righteousness made by the Hebrew prophets, claimed 
by the Jews as the property of Judaism, claimed by 
us as the property of Christianity, are almost as 
ludicrously inapplicable to our religious state now, as 
to theirs then. 

And this, we say, is again a signal witness to Chris- 
tianity. Jesus Christ came to reveal what righteousness, 
to which the promises belong, really is ; and so long 
as this, though shown by Jesus, is not recognised by 
us, we may call ourselves Christendom as much as we 
please, the true character of a Christendom will be 
wanting to us, because the great promises of prophecy 
will be still without their fulfilment. Nothing will 
do except righteousness ; and no other conception of 
righteousness will do, except Jesus Christ's conception 
of it : his method and his secret. 


Yes, the grandeur of Christianity and the impos- 
ing and impressive attestation of it, if we could but 
worthily bring the thing out, is here : in that 
immense experimental proof of the necessity of it, 
which the whole course of the world has steadily 
accumulated, and indicates to us as still continuing 
and extending. Men will not admit assumptions, 
the popular legend they call a fairy-tale, the meta- 


physical demonstrations do not demonstrate, nothing 
but experimental proof will go down ; and here is an 
experimental proof which never fails, and which at 
the same time is infinitely grander, by the vastness 
of its scale, the scope of its duration, the gravity of 
its results, than the machinery of the popular fairy- 
tale. Walking on the water, multiplying loaves, 
raising corpses, a heavenly judge appearing with 
trumpets in the clouds while we are yet alive, what 
is this compared to the real experience offered as 
witness to us by Christianity 1 It is like the differ- 
ence between the grandeur of an extravaganza and 
the grandeur of the sea or the sky, immense objects 
which dwarf us, but where we are in contact with 
reality, and a reality of which we can gradually, 
though very slowly, trace the laws. 

The more we trace the real law of Christianity's 
action, the grander it will seem. Certainly in the 
Gospels there is plenty of matter to call out our feel- 
ings. But perhaps this has been somewhat over-used 
and mis-used, applied, as it has been, chiefly so as to 
be subservient to what we call the fairy-tale of the 
three Lord Shaftesburys, a story which we do not 
deny to have, like other products of the popular 
imagination, its pathos and power, but which we 
have seen to be no solid foundation to rest our faith 
in the Bible on. And perhaps, too, we do wrong, 
and inevitably fall into what is artificial and unnatural, 
in labouring so much to produce in ourselves now, as 
the one impulse determining us to use the method 
and secret of Jesus, that conscious ardent sensation of 


personal love to him, which we find the first genera- 
tion of Christians feeling and professing, and which 
was the natural motor for those who were with him 
or near him, and, so to speak, touched him ; and in 
making this our first object. At any rate, misem- 
ployed as this motor has often been, it might be well 
to forego or at least suspend its use for ourselves and 
others for a time, and to fix our minds exclusively on 
the recommendation given to the method and secret 
of Jesus by their being true, and by the whole course 
of things proving this. 

Now, just as the best recommendation of the oracle 
committed to Israel, Righteousness is salvation, is found 
in our more and more discovering, in our own history 
and in the whole history of the world, that it is so, so 
we shall find it to be with the method and secret of 
Jesus. That this is the righteousness which is salva- 
tion, that the method and secret of Jesus, that is to 
say, conscience and self-renouncement, are righteous- 
ness, bring about the kingdonToftrod or the reign of 
righteousness, this, which is the Christian revelation 
and what Jesus came to establish, is best impressed, 
for the present at any rate, by experiencing and 
showing again and again, in ourselves and in the 
course of the world, that it is so ; that this is the 
righteousness which is saving, and that there is none 
other. Let us but well observe what comes, in our- 
selves or the world, of trying any other, of not being 
convinced that this is righteousness, and this only; 
and we shall find ourselves more and more, as by 
irresistible viewless hands, caught and drawn towards 
VOL. V. % 


the Christian revelation, and made to desire more 
and more to serve it. No proof can be so solid as 
this experimental proof; and none again, can be so 
grand, so fitted to fill us with awe, admiration, and 
gratitude. So that feeling and emotion will now well 
come in after it, though not before it. For the whole 
course of human things is really, according to this 
experience, leading up to the fulfilment of Jesus 
Christ's promise to his disciples : Fear not, little flock ! 
for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the king- 
dom. 1 And thus that comes out, after all, to be true, 
which St. Paul announced prematurely to the first 
generation of Christians : When Christ, who is our life, 
shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. , 2 
And the author of the Apocalypse, in like manner, 
foretold : TJie kingdom of the world is become the kingdom 
of our Lord and his Christ. 3 The kingdom of the Lord 
the world is already become, by its chief nations 
professing the religion of righteousness. The kingdom 
of Christ the world will have to become, it is on its 
way to become, because the profession of righteous- 
ness, except as Jesus Christ interpreted righteousness, 
is vain. We can see the process, we are ourselves 
part of it, and can in our measure help forward or 
keep back its completion. 

When the prophet, indeed, says to Israel, on the 
point of being restored by Cyrus : " The nation and 
kingdom that mil not serve thee shall perish/"* the 

1 Luke xii. 32. 3 Col. iii. 4. 

* Rev. xL 15. The Alexandrian manuscript is followed. 

* Isaiah Ix. 12. 


promise, applied literally, fails. But extended to 
that idea of righteousness, of which Israel was the 
depositary and in which the real life of Israel lay, the 
promise is true, and we can see it fulfilled. In like 
manner, when the Apostle says to the Corinthians or 
to the Colossians, instructed that the second advent 
would come in their own generation : " We must all 
appear before the Judgment-seat of Christ!"* " When 
Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also 
appear with him in glory ! " 2 the promise, applied liter- 
ally as the Apostle meant it and his converts under- 
stood it, fails. But divested of this Aberglaube or 
extra -belief, it is true; if indeed the world can be 
shown, and it can, to be moving necessarily 
towards the triumph of that Christ in whom the 
Corinthian and Colossian disciples lived, and whose 
triumph is the triumph of all his disciples also. 


Let us keep hold of this same experimental process 
in dealing with the promise of immortality ; although 
here, if anywhere, Aberglaube, extra-belief, hope, 
inticipation, may well be permitted to come in. Still, 
Rrhat we need for our foundation is not Aberglaube, 
but Glaube; not extra-belief in what is beyond the 
range of possible experience, but belief in what can 
and should be known to be true. 

By what futilities the demonstration of our im- 
mortality may be attempted, is to be seen in Plato's 
1 2 Cor. v. 10. 2 Col. iii. 4. 


Phcedo. Man's natural desire for continuance, how- 
ever little it may be worth as a scientific proof of our 
immortality, is at least a proof a thousand times 
stronger than any such demonstration. The want of 
solidity in such argument is so palpable, that one 
scarcely cares to turn a steady regard upon it at all. 
And even of the common Christian conception of 
immortality the want of solidity is, perhaps, most 
conclusively shown, by the impossibility of so framing 
it as that it will at all support a steady regard turned 
upon it. In our English popular religion, for in- 
stance, the common conception of a future state of 
bliss is just that of the Vision of Mirza : " Persons 
dressed in glorious habits with garlands on their 
heads, passing among the trees, lying down by the 
fountains, or resting on beds of flowers, amid a con- 
fused harmony of singing birds, falling waters, human 
voices, and musical instruments." Or, even, with 
many, it is that of a kind of perfected middle-class 
home, with labour ended, the table spread, goodness 
all around, the lost ones restored, hymnody incessant. 
" Poor fragments all of this low earth ! " Keble might 
well say. That this conception of immortality cannot 
possibly be true, we feel, the moment we consider it 
seriously. And yet who can devise any conception 
of a future state of bliss, which shall bear close 
examination better ? 

Here, again, it is far best to take what is experi- 
mentally true, and nothing else, as our foundation, 
and afterwards to let hope and aspiration grow, if so 
it may be, out of this. Israel had said : "In the 


way of righteousness is life, and in the pathway 
thereof there is no death." 1 He had said: "The 
righteous hath hope in his death." 2 He had cried to 
his Eternal that loveth righteousness: "Thou wilt not 
leave my soul in the grave, neither wilt thou suffer 
thy faithful servant to see corruption ! thou wilt show 
me the path of life ! " 3 And by a kind of short cut 
to the conclusion thus laid down, the Jews constructed 
their fairy-tale of an advent, judgment, and resurrec- 
tion, as we find it in the Book of Daniel Jesus, 
again, had said : "If a man keep my word, he shall 
never see death." 4 And by a kind of short cut to 
the conclusion thus laid down, Christians constructed 
their fairy-tale of the second advent, the resurrection 
of the body, the New Jerusalem. But instead of 
fairy-tales, let us begin, at least, with certainties. 

And a certainty is the sense of life, of being truly 
alive, which accompanies righteousness. If this ex- 
perimental sense does not rise to be stronger in us, 
does not rise to the sense of being inextinguishable, 
that is probably because our experience of righteous- 
ness is really so very small. Here, therefore, we 
may well permit ourselves to trust Jesus, whose 
practice and intuition both of them went, in these 
matters, so far deeper than ours. At any rate, we 
have in our experience this strong sense of life from 
righteousness to start with ; capable of being developed, 
apparently, by progress in righteousness into something 
immeasurably stronger. Here is the true basis for 

1 Prov. xii. 28. 2 Prov. xiv. 32. 

8 Psalm xvi. 10, 11. 4 John viii. 51. 


all religious aspiration after immortality. And it is 
an experimental basis ; and therefore, as to grandeur, 
it is again, when compared with the popular Aberglaube, 
grand with all the superior grandeur, on a subject of 
the highest seriousness, of reality over fantasy. 

At present, the fantasy hides the grandeur of the 
reality. But when all the Aberglaube of the second 
advent, with its signs in the sky, sounding trumpets 
and opening graves, is cleared away, then and not 
till then will come out the profound truth and 
grandeur of words of Jesus like these : " The hour is 
coming, when they that are in the graves shall hear 
the voice of the Son of God ; and they that hear shall 
live." l 


Finally, and above all As, for the right inculca- 
tion of righteousness, we need the inspiring words of 
Israel's love for it, that is, we need the Bible; so, for the 
right inculcation of the method and secret of Jesus, 
we need the epieikeia, the sweet reasonableness, of 
Jesus. That is, in other words again, we need the 
Bible; for only through the Bible -records of Jesus 
can we get at his epieikeia. Even in these records, it 
is and can be presented but imperfectly; but only 
by reading and re-reading the Bible can we get at it 
at all. 

Now, greatly as the failure, from the stress laid 
upon the pseudo- science of Church -dogma, to lay 
enough stress upon the method and secret of Jesus, 
1 John V. 25. 


has kept Christianity back from showing itself in its 
full power, it is probable that the failure to apply to 
the method and secret of Jesus, so far as these have 
at any rate been used, his sweet reasonableness or 
epieikeia, has kept it back even more. And the 
infinite of the religion of Jesus, its immense capacity 
for ceaseless progress and farther development, lies 
principally, perhaps, in the line of extricating more 
and more his sweet reasonableness, and applying it 
to his method and secret. For it is obvious from 
experience, how much our use of Christ's method 
and secret requires to be guided and governed by his 
epieikeia. Indeed, without this, his method and secret 
seem often of no use at all The Flagellants imagined 
that they were employing his secret; and the Dis- 
senters, with their " spirit of watchful jealousy," 
imagine that they are employing his method. To be 
sure, Mr. Bradlaugh imagines that the method and 
the secret of Jesus, nay, and Jesus himself too, are 
all baneful, and that the sooner we get rid of them 
all, the better. So far, then, the Flagellants and the 
Dissenters are in advance of Mr. Bradlaugh : they 
value Christianity, and they profess the method and 
secret of Jesus. But they employ them so ill, that 
one is tempted to say they might nearly as well be 
without them. And this is because they are wholly 
without his sweet reasonableness, or epieikeia. Now 
this can only be got, first, by knowing that it is in 
the Bible, and looking for it there; and then, by 
reading and re-reading the Gospels continually, until 
we catch something of it. 


This, again, is an experimental process. That the 
epieikeia or sweet reasonableness of Jesus may be 
brought to govern our use of his method and secret, 
and that it can and will make our use of his method 
and secret quite a different thing, is proved by our 
actually finding this to be so when we try. So that the 
culmination of Christian righteousness in the applying, 
to guide our use of the method and secret of Jesus, 
his sweet reasonableness or epieikeia, is proved from 
experience. We end, therefore, as we began, by 
experience. And the whole series of experiences, of 
which the survey is thus completed, rests, primarily, 
upon one fundamental fact, itself, eminently, a fact 
of experience : the necessity of righteousness. 


BUT now, after all we have been saying of the pre- 
eminency of righteousness, we remember what we have 
said formerly in praise of culture and of Hellenism, 
and against too much Hebraism, too exclusive a 
pursuit of the " one thing needful," as people call it. 
And we cannot help wondering whether we shall not 
be reproached with inconsistency, and told that we 
ought at least to sing, as the Greeks said, & palinode; and 
whether it may not really be so, and we ought. 
And, certainly, if we had ever said that Hellenism 
was three -fourths of human life, and conduct or 
righteousness but one -fourth, a palinode, us well as 
an unmusical man may, we would sing. But we 
have never said it. In praising culture, we have 
never denied that conduct, not culture, is three-fourths 
of human life. 

Only it certainly appears, when the thing is 
examined, that conduct comes to have relations of a 
very close kind with culture. And the reason seems 
to be given by some words of our Bible, which, 
though they may not be exactly the right rendering 
of the original in that place, yet in themselves they 
explain the connection of culture with conduct very 


well. " I have seen the travail," says the Preacher, 
"which God hath given to the sons of men to be 
exercised in it ; he hath made everything beautiful in 
his time ; also, he hath set the world in their heart." 1 
He hath set the world in their heart ! that is why art 
and science, and what we call culture, are necessary. 
They may be only one-fourth of man's life, but they 
are there, as well as the three-fourths which conduct 
occupies. "He hath set the world in their heart." 
And, really, the reason which we hence gather for 
the close connection between culture and conduct, is 
so simple and natural that we are almost ashamed to 
give it; but we have offered so many simple and 
natural explanations in place of the abstruse ones 
which are current, that our hesitation is foolish. 

Let us suggest then, that, having this one -fourth 
of their nature concerned with art and science, men 
cannot but somehow employ it. If they think that 
the three-fourths of their nature concerned with 
conduct are the whole of their nature, and that this 
is all they have to attend to, still the neglected one- 
fourth is there, it ferments, it breaks wildly out, it 
employs itself all at random and amiss. And hence, no 
doubt, our hymns and our dogmatic theology. Of our 
hymns we shall say a word presently; but what is 
our dogmatic theology, except the mis-attribution to 
the Bible, the Book of conduct, of a science and 
an abstruse metaphysic which is not there, because 
our theologians have in themselves a faculty for 
science, for it makes one-eighth of them ? But they 
1 Ecclesiastes iii. 10, 11. 


do not employ it on its proper objects ; so it invades 
the Bible, and tries to make the Bible what it is not, 
and to put into it what is not there. And this 
prevents their attending enough to what is in the 
Bible, and makes them battle for what is not in the 
Bible, but they have put it there ; battle for it in a 
manner clean contrary, often, to the teaching of the 
Bible. So has arisen, for instance, all religious 
persecution. And thus, we say, has conduct itself 
become impaired. 

So that conduct is impaired by the want of science 
and culture; and our theologians really suffer, not 
from having too much science, but from having too 
little. Whereas, if they had turned their faculty for 
abstruse reasoning towards the proper objects, and 
had given themselves, in addition, a wide and large 
acquaintance with the productions of the human 
spirit and with men's way of thinking and of using 
words, then, on the one hand, they would not have 
been tempted to mis-employ on the Bible their faculty 
for abstruse reasoning, for they would have had plenty 
of other exercise for it; and, on the other hand, 
they would have escaped that literary inexperience 
which now makes them fancy that the Bible-lan- 
guage is scientific, and fit matter for the application 
of their powers of abstruse reasoning to it, when it 
is no such thing. Then they would have seen the 
fallacy of confounding the obscurity attaching to the 
idea of God, that vast not ourselves which transcends 
us, with the obscurity attaching to the idea of their 
Trinity, a confused metaphysical speculation which 


puzzles us. The one, they would have perceived, is 
the obscurity of the immeasurable depth of air, the 
other is the obscurity of a fog. And fog, they would 
have known, has no proper place in our conceptions 
of God ; since whatever our minds can possess of 
God they know clearly, for no man, as Goethe says, 
possesses what he does not understand ; but they 
can possess of Him but a very little. All this our 
dogmatic theologians would have known, if they 
had had more science and more literature. And 
therefore, simple as the Bible and conduct are, still 
culture seems to be required for them, required to 
prevent our mis-handling and sophisticating them. 


Culture, then, and literature are required, even in 
the interest of religion itself, and when, taking nothing 
but conduct into account, we make God, as Israel made 
him, to be simply and solely. "the Eternal Power, not 
ourselves, that makes for righteousness." But we are 
not to forget, that, grand as this conception of God is, 
and well as it meets the wants of far the largest part 
of our being, of three-fourths of it, yet there is one- 
fourth of our being of which it does not strictly meet the 
wants, the part which is concerned with art and science ; 
or, in other words, with beauty and exact knowledge. 

For the total man, therefore, the truer conception 
of God is as " the Eternal Power, not ourselves, by 
which all things fulfil the law of their being;" by 
which, therefore, we fulfil the law of our being so fai 


as our being is aesthetic and intellective, as well as so 
far as it is moral. And it is evident, as we have before 
now remarked, that in this wider sense God is dis- 
pleased and disserved by many things which cannot 
be said, except by putting a strain upon words, to 
displease and disserve him as the God of righteousness. 
He is displeased and disserved by men uttering such 
doggerel hymns as : Sing glory, glory, glory to the great 
God Triune I and : Out of my stony griefs Bethels I'll 
raise I and : My Jesus to know, and feel Ms blood flow t 
'tis life everlasting, 'tis heaven below ! or by theologians 
uttering such pseudo-science as their blessed truth that 
the God of the universe is a PERSON. But it would be 
harsh to give, at present, this turn to our employment 
of the phrases, pleasing God, displeasing God. 

And yet, as man makes progress, we shall surely 
come to doing this. For, the clearer our conceptions 
in science and art become, the more will they assimi- 
late themselves to the conceptions of duty in conduct, 
will become practically stringent like rules of conduct, 
and will invite the same sort of language in dealing 
with them. And so far let us venture to poach on 
M. Emile Burnouf's manor, and to talk about the 
Aryan genius, as to say, that the love of science, and 
the energy and honesty in the pursuit of science, in 
the best of the Aryan races, do seem to correspond in 
a remarkable way to the love of conduct, and the energy 
and honesty in the pursuit of conduct, in the best of 
the Semitic. To treat science with the same kind of 
seriousness as conduct, does seem, therefore, to be a 
not impossible thing for the Aryan genius to come to. 


But for all this, however, man is hardly yet ripe. 
For our race, as we see it now and as ourselves we 
form a part of it, the true God is and must be pre- 
eminently the God of the Bible, the Eternal who makes 
for righteousness, from whom Jesus came forth, and 
whose Spirit governs the course of humanity. Only, 
we see that even for apprehending this God of the 
Bible rightly and not wrongly, letters, which so many 
people now disparage, and what we call, in general, 
culture, seem to be necessary. 

And meanwhile, to prevent our at all pluming our- 
selves on having apprehended what so much baffles 
our dogmatic friends (although indeed it is not so 
much we who apprehend it as the " Zeit-Geist " who 
discovers it to us), what a chastening and wholesome 
reflection for us it is, that it is only to our natural 
inferiority to these ingenious men that we are indebted 
for our advantage over them ! For while they were 
born with talents for metaphysical speculation and 
abstruse reasoning, we are so notoriously deficient in 
everything of that kind, that our adversaries often 
taunt us with it, and have held us up to public ridicule 
as being " without a system of philosophy based on 
principles interdependent, subordinate, and coherent." 
And so we were thrown on letters ; thrown upon read- 
ing this and that, which anybody can do, and thus 
gradually getting a notion of the history of the human 
mind, which enables us (the " Zeit-Geist " favouring) 
to correct, in reading the Bible, some of the mistakes 
into which men of more metaphysical talents than 
literary experience have fallen. Cripples in like 


manner have been known, now and then, to be cast 
by their very infirmity upon some mental pursuit 
which has turned out happily for them ; and a good 
fortune of this kind has perhaps been ours. 

But we do not forget that this good fortune we 
owe to our weakness, and that the natural superiority 
remains with our adversaries. And some day, perhaps, 
the nature of God may be as well known as the nature 
of a cone or a triangle ; and then our two bishops may 
deduce its properties with success, and make their 
brilliant logical play about it, rightly, instead of as 
now, wrongly ; and will resume all their advantage. 
But this will hardly be in our time. So that the 
superiority of this pair of distinguished metaphysicians 
will never perhaps, after all, be of any real advantage 
to them, but they will be deluded and bemocked by 
it until they die. 


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