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and loved Him, was a son of Abraham,” who, we are told, was Himself rich. And then again, to crown all, immediately on making the affirmation that the poor alone, according to the teaching of Jesus, are to be saved, in confirmation of it he quotes the passage, “ Then said He also to him that bade Him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours ; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind : and thou shalt be blessed ; for they cannot recompense thee : for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” 1 Here, in flagrant contradiction of the assertion he makes, is the case of a rich man who provides a sumptuous feast for the poor, assured by Jesus that he shall be rewarded at the resurrection of the just. How singular that M. Renan should thus confound himself by choosing so apt an illustration of the very truth that falsifies his position, blindly overlooking the fact that to provide a feast for the poor a man must be himself rich; and that, according to Christ's teaching, all who are thus charitable from Christian principles and motives, shall be recompensed in the world to
Christianity,” Renan says, “in spite of its failures still reaps
the results of its glorious origin. To renew itself it has but to return to the Gospel ”'2—that is, to the Gospel as we have seen it explained by M. Renan ! and which originated with Him of whom in company with St. Paul and other leading spirits, he says: “These mighty souls carried a surprising energy into action. They appear to us like the giants of an heroic age, which could not have been real.” But how does he account for their surprising energy and 1 Luke xiv. 12-14.
2 Page 302.
success? Why, because “the breath of God was free in them,” he says, while “with us it is restrained by the iron bonds of a mean society.' And, let us add, It was because the power of God was manifest in them.
There was something higher and more potential than the mere "ideal” about them : the Divinity was in them. Their energy and power were substantial, were real. “Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God," was the secret spring of their power, and of the mighty results which have followed their labours. It is because the Founder of our holy Christianity was the Son of God, claiming equality with Him, and was therefore God Himself, since there can be no equality with Deity without being God. Has not M. Renan himself stamped Him with the insignia of Divinity ? He has, for example, in many places written of Him such sentiments as the following: "He pronounced for the first time the sentence upon which will repose the edifice of eternal religion. He founded the pure worship of all ages and of all lands, that which all elevated souls will practise until the end of time. ? Not only was His religion on this day the best religion of humanity, it was the absolute religion, and if other planets have inhabitants gifted with reason and morality, their religion cannot be different from that which Jesus proclaimed near the well of Jacob."3 Very true, but saying so, you Deify its founder. It is the work, not of man, but of God.
This pure " Christianity,” which St. Paul declares came “not by man, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ,” Renan further remarks, "still preserves, after eighteen centuries, the character of a universal and eternal religion. Before Jesus,
Page 305. ? “ To the end of time.”—This, coming irom one who rejects the Divine authority of the Bible, is, of course, to be regarded as a mere flourish of rhetoric.
religious thought had passed through many revolutions ; since Jesus, it has made great conquests : but no one has improved, and no one will improve, upon the essential principle Jesus has created; He has fixed for ever the idea of pure worship."i Be it so; but all “confessions of faith." we may add, are not “travesties of the idea of Jesus," as Renan in this connection asserts, but interpretations and amplifications of it, compared with which his own “confession of faith”—for he certainly has one-is an impious caricature, and a burlesque on everything sacred and Divine as revealed to the prophets and apostles, and recorded in the Book of God.
Is it not more than a little strange that a man holding the foregoing views relative to the “universal and eternal religion " which Jesus has “created," and which "no one has improved and no one will improve upon," should nevertheless be found entertaining in connection therewith so many opposing and irreconcilable sentiments. As it came from Jesus, he tells us, it had the character of an eternal religion, pure worship, pure Christianity, &c.; but, notwithstanding this character of purity and perfection which he gives to the religion of Jesus, to a multitude of other irreconcilable sentiments, very many of which we have already noticed, he adds: “ The immense moral progress which we owe to the Gospel is the result of its exaggerations." Strange that there is no inherent power of a progressive nature to be found in the morality of the Gospel itself, but it must be indebted to “exaggerations, chimeras," and other principles wholly outside of itself, for the wonderful success that has everywhere attended its propagation. It surely speaks little for its Divine original, if truth itself (acknowledged to be such by M. Renan) is so impotent that it can
make no progress except as associated with the potency of error. If immorality is thus indispensably allied to morality, and truth so entirely dependent upon error for its progressive existence, why does M. Renan seek to dissolve the connection between them? Since they have worked so harmoniously and successfully together for so many centuries, why seek to bring about a disruption between them, and thus retard their anward progress? To be consistent with his own principles of moral philosophy, he had much better be silent, and let the twin sisters alone. Where consistency is wholly wanting, however, its exercise cannot be expected.
Whether, however, the “exaggerations” to which M. Renan refers were indispensable to the success of the Gospel or not, it is some satisfaction to know that M. Renan thinks he can discern some gleams of truth intermingled therewith, one of which he tells us is the right of liberty of conscience. “Jesus,” he says, was the founder of the rights of free conscience." To which, however, we would simply reply, that while conscience certainly has a right to civil freedom, Jesus did not make it so free but that it is still bound to be kept "void of offence toward God and man;" and to be kept thus void of offence toward God, it must, of course, be enlightened by God's Word, which cannot be with him who denies that God has given us a written Word. The relation of such a man with God is thus described by St. John : “ He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son."? And in his second Epistle he further describes the case of such a man by saying : “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doc1 Page 263.
i John v. 10.
trine of Christ, hath not God." Let M. Renan and others likeminded ponder well the concluding words of this passage.
“The day will come," Renan continues, " when the domain of things spiritual will cease to be called a "power,' that it may be called a ' liberty.'"1 This day has already come--the day has long since come in which "things spiritual” were called a liberty." So called by Christ when in the flesh, it has been echoed and re-echoed by His true followers from that day to the present. Nor will it cease to be the watchword of the Christian in connection with the truth and kingdom of Christ till time shall be no more. But as to "things spiritual” ceasing to be called a “power,” in a civil sense they certainly may, but in a spiritual and religious sense, never ; for “the kingdom of God,” the Apostle says, “is not in word, but in power.”? And again : “The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth,”: and is preached, he further says, “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”' 4
Speaking of the freedom allowed men in ancient times, as compared with the interferences and restrictions of the present, Renan says: "Jesus, during three years, could lead a life which in our societies would have brought Him twenty times before the magistrates. Our laws upon the illegal exercise of medicine would alone have sufficed to cut short His career." B It is well for the world, then, that He did not live in our day, or the “illegal exercise ” of His medical skill might have proved fatal to His divine mission, and the glorious results springing therefrom might never have been achieved, Had it pleased God to have chosen our day for the manifestation of Himself in the flesh, however, perhaps in the recorded history of His life there might still be found 1 Page 300. ? 1 Cor. iv. 20. 3 Rom. i. 16. 41 Cor. ii. 4. 5 Page 310.