Page images

10; Rev. ii. 23). The warfare between God and the world was with him as the struggles of light with darkness” (John i. 5; viii. 12; xii. 46 ; Rom. xiii. 12; 2 Cor. iv. 6; vi. 14; Eph. v. 8; 1 Thess. v. 5; 1 John i. 5-7). “It is as impossible,” he declares, “that the love of the world can co-exist with the love of God, as for light and darkness to co-exist at the same time with one another” (John viii. 23; xv. 18, 19; xvi. 33 ; xvii. 14, 16, 25 ; xviii. 36; Gal. vi. 14 ; James iv. 4; 1 John ii. 15-17 ; iii. 1 ; v. 4, 5). The future state and its unknown glories were before him. He could speak of one who “dies as to this mortal life, but still lives, having received in exchange a life of immortality” (Rom. vii. 9; 1 Cor. xv. 22, 31; 2 Cor. v. 15; vi. 9 ; Phil. i. 21), wherein “perhaps he will see what he never saw before” (Rom. viii. 24, 25; 1 Cor. ii. 9; 2 Cor. iv. 18; Heb. xi. 1). He apprehended that it required a mediator to allow of God dealing with the material creation. “The things of creation are far removed from the uncreated God, even though they are brought into close proximity following the attractive mercies of the Saviour" (John i. 3; Eph. iii. 9; Col. i. 16; Heb. i. 2). Disallowing the efficacy of the Jewish ordinances, he exclaims, “ What can be a real sacrifice except the piety of a soul devoted to the love of God ?” (Rom. xii. 1; Heb. x. 5-7). “Since God," he concludes,“ penetrates invisibly in the region of the soul, let us prepare that region in the best manner that we are able to, or rather that it may be a habitation fit for God; otherwise, without our being aware of it, God will depart and remove to some other abode” (1 Cor. iii. 16, 17; vi. 19; 2 Cor. vi. 16; Eph. ii. 22).

Springing out of Judaism, it is natural to expect that the older system should have provided materials that might find their way into the new, and such certainly has been the case. The change wrought in the character of the Jews, after their return from the Babylonish captivity, introduced among them religious sentiments and aspirations which readily passed into the workings of the religious life aimed at by the Christians, so that the devotional elements of Christianity, fed from all sources to that time prevailing among the seriously disposed in the surrounding nations, found fixed aims and persuasions,

and peculiar methods of expression, in the forms current among their elder brethren the Jews.

“ From this period,” observes Dean Milman, “ the immortality of the soul, and the belief in another life, appear more distinctly in the popular creed. .... In the writings of the Babylonian prophets, in the vision of the dry bones in Ezekiel, and the last chapter of Daniel, these doctrines assume a more important place ; and from the later books, which are usually called the Apocrypha, these opinions appear to have entered fully into the general belief. They formed, as is well known, the distinction between the Pharisaic sect, the great body of the people, and the Sadducees, the higher order of freethinkers. In other respects, particularly in their notions of angels, who now appear under particular names, and forming a sort of hierarchy, Jewish opinions acquired a new and peculiar colouring from their intercourse with the Babylonians” (Hist. of the Jews, II. 14, 15). The prophets before the exile did not teach the doctrine of the resurrection and future reward, but it is clear that when Jesus appeared on earth, these persuasions were popularly current among the Jews. The belief in angels, good and bad, sprung up, especially in one who was the tempter and accuser of mankind, and this passed into the Christian creed. The doctrine of predestination, of the fall, of the introduction of death and of sin, and in fact the most of the great problems which were introduced in the Christian system occupied the Jews (Reuss, Hist. de la Theol. Chrèt. au siècle Apostolique, 67, 86-89). The doctrine of the resurrection had long been recognized by the Jews. It is, for the first time, dogmatically announced by Daniel. It occurs also in Hosea (xiii. 14)—"I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.” And in Isaiah (xxvi. 19)—“Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise” (Mackay, Rise and Progress of Christianity, 25, 26).

Mr Deutsch affords materials for tracing much that characterizes Christianity to the earlier source of the Talmud. Speaking of the time ensuing after the return from the captivity, he says :-“This period is the one in which Christianity arose ; and it may be as well to touch here upon the relation between Christianity and the Talmud—a subject much discussed of late. Were not the whole of our general views on the difference between Judaism and Christianity greatly confused, people would certainly not be so very much surprised at the striking parallels of dogma and parable, of allegory and proverb, exhibited by the Gospel and the Talmudical writings. The New Testament, written, as Lightfoot has it, among Jews, by Jews, for Jews,' cannot but speak the language of the time, both as to form and, broadly speaking, as to contents. There are many more vital points of contact between the New Testament and the Talmud than divines yet seem fully to realise ; for such terms as Redemption,' · Baptism,''Grace,' Faith,' Salvation,''Regeneration,' 'Son of Man,' 'Son of God, ‘Kingdom of Heaven,' were not, as we are apt to think, invented by Christianity, but were household words of Talmudical Judaism. No less loud and bitter, in the Talmud, are the protests against ‘lip-serving,' against ' making the law a burden to the people,' against ‘laws that hang on hairs,' against 'Priests and Pharisees.' The fundamental mysteries of the new Faith are matters totally apart; but the ethics in both are, in their broad outlines, identical.

That grand dictum, ‘Do unto others as thou wouldst be done by,' against which Kant declared himself energetically, from a philosophical point of view, is quoted by Hillel, the President, at whose death Jesus was ten years of age, not as anything new, but as an old and well-known dictum, “that comprised the whole law.”" Christianity has published abroad “that • Kingdom of Heaven, of which the Talmud is full, from the first page to the last.” “According to the Talmud, danger always supersedes the Sabbath ”--that is, the Sabbath rule places no restriction against performance of acts of mercy, and for the deliverance of others out of extremity. “The Resurrection is to take place by the mystic power of the · Dew of Life' in Jerusalem-on Mount Olivet, add the Targums” (the Mount of Olives, according to one of the accounts, being the place whence Christ ascended into heaven). “With regard to Paradise, the idea of something inconceivably glorious is conveyed at every step. The passage, ‘Eye has not seen, nor has ear heard,' is applied to its unspeakable bliss. “In the next world there will be no eating, no drinking, no love and no labour, no envy, no hatred, no contest. The righteous will sit with crowns on their heads, glorying in the splendour of God's Majesty.'” “The Holy Ghost, an expression of most common occurrence in the Haggadah, is thus summarily explained by the Talmud :—...With ten names,' says the Talmud, • is the Holy Ghost named in Scripture.'” “Thy will be done in heaven ; Grant peace to them that fear Thee on earth; and whatever pleaseth Thee, do; Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who hearest prayer'—is the formula suggested by the Talmud for the hours of mental distraction or peril” (Lit. Rem. of E. Deutsch, 26, 27, 30, 53, 54, 79, 91, note).

The Rev. John Gregorie, drawing from a Jewish source, gives us a fuller version of the Talmudical prayer, put into the lips of Jesus, as his special form of prayer. The corresponding phrases are distinguished by italics—Our Father which art in heaven, be gracious to us, O Lord our God; hallowed be thy name, and let the remembrance of thee be glorified in heaven above, and upon earth here below. Let thy kingdom reign over us, now and for ever. Thy holy men of old said, Remit and forgive unto all men whatsoever they have done against me. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil thing. For thine is the kingdom, and thou shalt reign in glory for ever and for evermore” (M.A. of Balliol, 177).

Mr Moncure Conway, in bis Sacred Anthology, affords us further means of instituting these comparisons. I draw from him the following passages from the Talmud, to which I have added the corresponding texts from the Christian scriptures. “Whoso looketh upon the wife of another with a lustful eye is considered as if he had committed adultery” (Matt. v. 28). “Let thy yea be just, and thy nay be likewise just” (Matt. V.37; James v. 12). “What thou wouldest not like to be done to you, do not to others; this is the fundamental law”. (Matt. vii. 12 ; Rom. xiii. 10). “Study not the law, that thou mayest be called a wise man, a Rabbi, and a teacher” (Matt. xxiii. 8 ; James iii. 1). “Judge not thy fellow-man until thou be similarly situated.” “ Judge all men with leniency.” “With the measure we mete we shall be measured again” (Matt. vii. 1, 2; Rom. ii. 1 ; xiv. 4,13; 1 Cor. iv. 5; Jam. iv. 11, 12). “It would greatly astonish me if there could be any one found in this age who would receive an admonition; if he be admonished to take the splinter out of his eye, he would answer,

Take the beam out of thine own'" (Matt. vii. 1, 3). “Love thy neighbour as thyself: this is a fundamental law in the Bible” (Matt. xix. 19; xxii. 39, 40; Rom. xiii, 9 ; Gal. v. 14; James ii. 8). “Imitate God in his goodness. Be towards thy fellow-creatures as he is towards the whole creation. Clothe the naked. Heal the sick. Comfort the afflicted. Be a brother to the children of thy Father” (Matt. v. 43-45 ; vi. 26-30; xxv. 35, 36; Mark xvi. 18; Luke iii. 11; Acts v. 15, 16 ; 2 Cor. i. 4 ; xi. 1 ; 1 Thess. i. 6 ; v. 14 ; James i. 27; ii. 15, 16 ; v. 14, 15; 1 John iii. 17). "A man who studies the law, and acts in accordance with its commandments, is likened to a man who builds a house, the foundation of which is made of freestone, and the superstructure of bricks. Storm and flood cannot injure the house. But he who studies the law, and is destitute of good actions, is likened unto the man who builds the foundation of his house of brick and mortar, and raises the upper storeys with solid stone. The flood will soon undermine and overturn the house” (Matt. vii. 24-27). (Sacred Anthology, 18, 19, 22-25).

“It is impossible,” observes Mr Deutsch,“ to read a page of the Talmud and of the New Testament, without coming upon innumerable instances of this kind, as indeed they constantly seem to supplement each other. We need not urge the priority of the Talmud to the New Testament, although the former was redacted at a later period. To assume that the Talmud has borrowed from the New Testament, would be like assuming that Sanskrit sprang from Latin, or that French was developed from the Norman words found in English ” (Lit. Rem., 54, 55, note).

Christianity, it is thus apparent, was not the result of a special revelation from above, but the growth of circumstances, and developed out of the materials, working in a natural manner, in the human mind, in the place and at the time that the movement occurred. The downfall of the Jewish expectations of temporal prosperity led to the projection of spiritual and eternal happiness as the goal really set before the intended children of the promises. The allegorical system of interpreting the scriptures then prevailing, aided such an adaptation of the prophecies affecting the Jewish

« PreviousContinue »