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conclude. Better inquire into our premises again. Or still better, instead of imagining God as we think He is, or as we think He should be, let us search Him out in His actual works, and so far find Him as He is. We may not accomplish much, but at least we shall reduce our margin of error.
75. Old ideas die hard, and this pagan view of the Deity still dominates a large part of mankind. More than any idea it tends to enslave the heathen mind and to make his life a misery. This is the experience of every missionary, and with their preaching of the God of Christ his happiness has been immeasurably increased. And the true story of Christianity, which has yet to be written, is the story of the inception, maturing and working out of this idea of the Deity as first taught by our Lord Himself. No doubt the fatherhood of God may be referred to in other writings of His period, maybe as a boy in Alexandria itself He may have heard its first discussion, but the thought is the very centre and keystone of the Christian arch in its entirety.
And it divides a present world from a past. From its enunciation many important corollaries are to be deduced. God is our Father, God is Love, and therefore we are all members of the same household. Neither Jew nor Greek, neither bond nor free—we are all brethren. This is the foundation concept of society to-day. We are one family. And this is enforced by experience. No one state in the body politic can be sick and all not suffer. Rich and poor we may have, but never bond and free. Slavery is repellant to the very idea of family life. On the other hand law, order, and authority are essentials of every household. Law alone, far from settles our relations together. Any good citizen would be ashamed to do for his fellow man only the minimum required by the law. Amongst all there is the growing consciousness that to some extent we all have a certain responsibility for one another's happiness. After all, whoever he may be, a man's life is all-precious to himself, and the feeling is general, every one should have his chance. This is
kind, ' was a growth mind asized, ethical ide past. It
no mere church proposition, and is found as much outside as in it. It is a part of that creedless Christian atmosphere to which we have already referred.
Then, again, slavery was the curse of the past. It conflicted with no then recognized ethical ideal. And it involved slavery of mind as well as of body. Possibly it was a growth, a necessity of the times. Mankind, ever in ferment, independence in action or thought was a danger and tolerance an impossible virtue. In fact, until a very late period in history it was intolerance that was so regarded. No man should have such jelly-fish opinions that he would not force them on every one else. Naturally, this thought was found in religion to the full, and with the tendency for all forms to become stereotyped, men had to belong to the herd or be slaughtered by it. But with God our Father all was changed. Why any form or ceremony as an essential? Why any fetish or shibboleth? Why anything but perfect liberty? God our Father, our only service was service of love. For children there was no law. This rings out again and again through the teaching of Christ and of His apostles. So amazing was this teaching that even to this day the religious world is unable to grasp the thought, and if Christ's words are too explicit to be arguable, at least it will insist that unless such love be shown in the exact way it approves, it cannot be love at all. But Christ looks into the heart, and love there, and He seeks no more; and love not there, of what value any outward show?
And God our Father, and we His children, above all He would have us happy children. He has given us a good gift in life-He would have us rejoice in His gift. Nor is any notion more abhorrent to Him than that we can please Him by subjecting ourselves to unnecessary suffering. The pagan deity may delight in sacrifice—and what sacrifice so potent as self torment?-but never the Deity of Christ.
Such in brief in doctrinal form the new ethical concept that the world owes to Christ in His teaching. What is astounding is that such theory of life should have been taught two thousand years ago, when wholly foreign to the then trend of human thought. But that it is thought of our land and our times who to-day will deny ?
76. Such then epitome of the Christian ideal. In its development it is not a little remarkable how fair an index it proves of the corresponding change and growth in our ethical conceptions. We see the birth of this new philosophy, we mark it in its maturity amongst ourselves. What of the intervening period? The amazing change from then to now is obvious. How of the steps by the way? To mark the advance, note but the close of the war of Rome with the Jews, and that of our great war. The Jews conquered, and we see Titus—Titus, famed and beloved for his magnanimity—carrying back with him to Italy prisoners by the thousand to grace his triumph, and that those at home, their senators and common folk, their high-born ladies and children, their philosophers and their priests, equally with the masses and the rabble of their untaught, might gloat over the scenes and agonies of war which they were only too realistic in reproducing. And what in these times of a circus advertisement which should tell us that five hundred German prisoners would be exhibited in battle scene, with a guarantee that not less than two hundred would be killed outright or at least wounded beyond hope of recovery. Altogether inconceivable. Or what of the reduced programme that merely one captive, in all the vitality of his youth, would be crucified or burnt or tortured on the stage. The very suggestion is appalling. Why, we are not quite satisfied that we are right to refuse them hospitality in a friendly tournament of chess. And as some would have it, is there no connection between then and now? Grant that in its inception the very philosophy of Christ was reaction and revolt from the horrors of His times, are we to wholly ignore a teaching which, preached so long ago, yet anticipates our highest thought to-day. Had it proved mere platitude it had been otherwise; but the philosophy of Christ finds a certain correspondence in the conduct of our time. Maybe in the story of its dogma, the story of Christianity has been a sad one; but, after all, that has been but a part of its story, and the part of least value. Men quarrelled over dogma, not because they were Christians but because they were men. Men were cruel, quarrelsome, vindictive, and hateful, not because of their faith but because in themselves they were about the most worthless creatures the world has known. Had they not quarrelled over their petty theological differences they would have quarrelled over everything else. When men are quarrelsome any cause will serve as occasion for difference. Of course, if theologians are out to claim that the progress of man is due to dogmatic Christianity, they must cast up both sides of the account. It is no fair bookkeeping to claim all the good associated with their squabbling and omit all the evil. But, on the other hand, to deny all influence to the beautiful philosophy of our Lord is as much to err on the other side. Nor has the Church been all theological, all quarrelling. It has numbered its myriads of sincere, honest, true, hard-working lovers of our Lord and of His teaching who have given their lives to doing His will. And they have filled a want in the world; and they still fill a want in the world. And as long as they try to live His life and teach others to do the same, they will continue to fill a want. No doubt, if every Church were swept out of existence tomorrow, the power of Christ would still be the power of the land, but for all that the world would be very much the poorer. Too much of the best of our lives is associated with our Churches, and no one could possibly view their destruction with equanimity. Yet, at the same time, it is very far from the fact that amongst them alone is Christianity to be found. And the day the Churches recognize this reality that day they will add immeasurably to their influence, their power, and, not least, to their numbers.
THE TEACHING OF CHRIST. 177. To realize how the religion of Christ had its first inception, we must try to understand how the truths He taught would then appeal to mankind. And it would rather be as a new philosophy than a new creed that it would impress itself on the people of His times. We have noted the basic difference between His teaching and thought then current, and that Christ was fully acquainted with it all is easily established by any slight inquiry into the comparative tenets of contemporary schools. Our Lord was a great cosmopolitan. As a boy He was probably educated in Alexandria, and then it is in Galilee of the Gentiles that we see Him, and Galilee was one of the great entrepots, marts, junctions, or clearing houses of the civilized empires of those days. Through it to the south is the only practicable road to Egypt; to the east is the route to the once great empire of Persia; and a little beyond to India and the extreme Orient generally. To the north was the once famous empire of the Hittites, with Darius's great road still leading to Smyrna, to the Dardanelles, and to Europe in general. At the time of our Lord Rome was the master power of the physical world, though the Greek still held sway in the realıns of art and thought. Of this Hellenized imperium, Galilee was a hub, with spokes radiating from it in every direction. It was impossible to find a better centre for receiving impressions, or for giving widest dissemination to any new or striking teaching. On the one hand we are not to be surprised that Christ's teaching does recall that of every other philosopher, nor on the other that along with the story of His foul murder we also find it making its way to the uttermost parts of the earth. Here He was in touch with all the known wisdom of His age. The lore of the Brahmin was His, the teaching of Buddha helped to make His own. Zoroaster finds echo in His