Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

and especially after his abrupt and violent were only a few years old ? And besides, death, the events of those few pregnant Irenæus had been in his youth a companion years threw themselves into the shapes for of Polycarp, the disciple of St. John. Is it which Judaism had prepared men's minds, credible than St. John's Gospel could have but which in fact had no reality, and for been received by him if it had been never which this preparation had been quite fortui- heard of till A.D. 150 ? Moreover, about tous. Need we point out, once more, the A.D. 150, Celsus quotes both the synoptical strange discovery which Strauss here makes gospels and St. John, and says, all this ! of his essential, though unconscious ortho- have taken out of your own Scriptures.' doxy? The slightest violence done to the About the same date, Theophilus and Tasurface of the philosopher reveals the doctor tian both constructed a Harmony of the of divinity within. For every word of this, Four Gospels; and ten years earlier still, so far as it is affirmative and not negative, Justin Martyr speaks of gospels written by is precisely the doctrine of the Catholic the Apostles and their companions ; meanChurch from the beginning. It is the denials ing, there can surely be little question, the only that she denies. It is the negations four as we now have them. Twenty years which she thinks are difficult to prove. Nor before that, Polycarp uses St. Matthew, and has Strauss succeeded in proving them, quotes the First Epistle of St. John, which unless, as before, Hegelianism be allowed to is allowed on all hands to be (under any have blotted out a conscious God from his- supposition) by the same author as the Gostory. All he has done is, to caricature the pel. And about the same period, Papias, a old church theory by a ludicrous exaggera- bishop in Asia Minor, who tells us he took tion; and to conjecture, among the Jews at particular pains to collect oral information that time, such an inflamed condition of the from survivors who had known the Aposfunction above described, as to transcend all tles, describes how Matthew wrote originallikelihood and all nature, and to generate ly in Hebrew, and how Mark drew his Christendom out of a nation of lunatics. materials from St. Peter. The passage is For what mental condition short of lunacy but a fragment preserved in Eusebius, so could have argued, as Strauss supposes the that no sound argument against St. John Apostles to have argued, • The Old Testa- can be drawn e silentio, any more than ment represents Christ as doing such and against St. Paul or St. Luke. Thus we are such things; therefore, although we neither brought down to about A.D. 100, without a heard nor saw anything of the sort, he did trace of any conciliar action, or of any conthem.'

troversy on the subject which cannot easily • But,' replies Strauss, "we have no no- be explained. The Church emerges from tion how the Apostles argued or what they the first century with the sacred book of the said ; for all our accounts are at second hand. four Gospels in her hand. The very earliest Mark and Luke are confessedly so; and apocryphal gospels only attempt to fill up Matthew is a translated and expanded work, the blanks in their narrative, and never on the basis of Matthew's genuine collection give a competing account. The most anof discourses; while John is a wholly ficti- cient of all was held by Jerome, who transtious gospel, due to some one well versed in lated it, to be the Hebrew original of St. the Alexandrian philosophy about the mid- Matthew. The Montanists, in their wildest dle of the second century.'

Now, without hatred of St. John's Gospel, could only atentering into all the perplexed detail of tribute it to his contemporary Cerinthus. gospel criticism, let the reader simply recol. And every recent discovery, such as the lect the following facts, and he will be in a missing end of the Clementine Homilies position to judge whether we can de containing a quotation from St. John), and pend upon the New Testament or not. Ire- the original Greek of Barnabas (giving St. næus and Tertullian were two writers in the Matthew's Gospel the honourable title of last quarter of the second century; the Scripture '), only tends to corroborate the former had spent his youth among the proof, that we have in the four Gospels the churches of Asia Minor, and had migrated primitive records of Christianity, and a among the Christians of Gaul; the latter trustworthy means for understanding what was a presbyter in the Latin Church of the mind and the preaching of the Apostles North Africa. Both were strong tradition- really were. * And if so, we repeat the supalists; and both distinctly appeal to the position that the liealthiest, simplest, and four canonical gospels by name. But would .churches so widely remote as those of Smyrna, Carthage, and Lyons, with one ac

* This argument is well drawn out in Tischen.

dorl's pamphlet, · Wann wurden unsere Evangecord receive as Scripture four books which lien verfusst ?"

sanest form of religion the world has ever firmation of the woman's heart,“ He is risen!' seen, should have taken its rise from such a has been the basis of the world's faith. Get hot bed of fatuity and insanity as Strauss thee gone then, impotent Reason! Presume would have us believe appears to us to make not to apply thy cold analysis to this mastergreater demands by far upon our credulity gives up the attempt to console this poor race

work of idealism and of love. If Philosophy than the hypothesis it is invented to super- of men, betrayed by fate, let madness approach sede; and to be fitly suspended upon the fol- and put her hand to the task. Where is the lowing sentence, written for a very different

sage who has ever given such joy to the world, purpose :

:-. There are things which do not, as the possessed woman — Mary of Magdala ?' indeed, like miracles, contravene the laws of (Apôtres, p. 13.) nature, but which contradict historical probability; that is, are easier to conceive of as If we had not the page lying open before imaginary than as true. (Strauss, p. 402.) us, it would seem positively incredible that

The second loopbole by which these wri- a man of such mental and moral qualities as ters, and especially M. Renan, endeavour to M. Renan possesses, should be so far the vicescape from the necessity or believing the tim of a foregone conclusion as to think this testimony of the Evangelists, belongs to the a rational explanation of the literary and saine class of arguments. The object, in historical phenomena of our Lord's Resurboth cases alike, is to maintain the Pan-rection. Yet after an interval of three years theistic against the Theistic view of for reflection, this expansion of the hint history; and to elude the recognition given in his earlier volume, this revived emof what Theology (in its popular lan- bodiment of the long-buried calumny of guage) calls the finger of God’in Chris- Celsus, * — still seems to this almost-Christianity, by showing that it can be accounted tian, who, unlike his own Magdalen, loves for by causes wbich are well within the nar- yet cannot believe in Christ, worth putting row horizon of our own experience. Little down on paper as a sufficient solution of the indeed would be gained by success. For problem! In Strauss, a person of colder a god Pan, who developed himself in such a and more masculine temperament, we are blundering and ridiculous way as is here prepared for anything.

The dissecting supposed, would quickly set people thinking knife is for ever in his hands. And he canwhether he were a god at all ; or did not need not even put together again for the Gersome better interpreters, at least, who would man people' the disjecta membra of their credit him with an honest walk and conver. Christ, without perpetually flourishing his sation along the highroad of Nature and favourite weapon, and making a surgical Health, instead of tracking his cloven foot- demonstration of every member in detail. steps among the devious by-ways of disease. The consequence is, they will not believe It would be an ill exchange, if we were to that a Christ so put together can be alive. M. give up the supernatural Christ for an infra- Renan, on the other hand, presents to his natural one; and, to retort Hume's argu- countrymen a thoroughly living and to them, ment upon himself, it is far more consonant it seems, conceivable Christ. "But, alas ! to probability that philosophers should err, we hope we shall be pardoned, for it cannot than that the world should have been re- be otherwise expressed – his Jesus is a generated by myth-bewildered fishermen French mesmerist, and bis Magdalens and and hysterical Magdalens, wbile God was Maries may be met with any day, in all (as it were) asleep, and suffered disease and their gushing and sentimental beauty, kn-elerror to steal a march upon Him, for the ing in Notre Dame, or walking on pilgrimendless benefit of the human race.

age to the wonder-working Lady of La Yet such is, in plain words, the theory of Salette. No wonder that such a fifth M. Renan. • The formation of Christendom,' Gospel, of sentiment and hallucination should says he is the greatest event in the reli- meet with little acceptance on this more gious history of the world.” But only a few prosaic side of the Channel! No wonder pages farther on we read,

ihat a drama, in which figures take their

part that have assuredly never lived in the * The glory of the Resurrection belongs then flesh, but only in French prints or in the to Mary Magdalene. Next to Jesus, it is she waxwork of a convent chapel, should be rewho has done the most for the founding of jected with disdain by the practical and sober Christendom. The shadow created by the deli-Englishman! No wonder that, in spite of cate senses of the Magdalen hovers still above the the fascination of its style, the candour anıl all others has known how to make her dream lucidity of its argumentation, and the extreme. a reality and to impose on all men the sacred vision of her impassioned i ou'. Her grand af

* Cf, Origen c. Celsum, ii. 56.

interest and value of its historical sketches of skirmishing polemics, and to arrive at especially from the twelfth chapter onwards, the heart of the question ; the same stern where the victory of Christianity over Pa- resolve to crush the shell of dogma and ganism is described — this second volume release the vital term of truth ; the same must be condemned as a greater theological earnest loyalty to Christ, and even to his failure even than the first ; to be pardoned Church, - which gave to Robertson such only for its important admissions of the wonderful power, and have spread his trag genuineness of St. John's Gospel, of St. mentary. Sermons' wherever the English Luke's two books, and of the seven main language is spoken. Perhaps our countryEpistles of St. Paul, and for its heartfelt men are, in theology as well as in other sympathy for all that is freest and noblest things, suspicious of an over-completeness. in the Christian ideas.

And therefore the fragmentary condition It is with feelings of great relief, there and tentitive attitude of . Ecce Homo,' too, fore, that we turn from Strauss and Renan may have contrbuted to its wide influence. and open the now celebrated work of our At any rate, we hold ourselves justified in own countryman, whoever he may be saying that in this book - incomplete, unthe author of Ecce Homo.' There are dramatic, and not very critical, as it confew, probably, of our readers who are not fessedly is – we have the English •Life of already well acquainted with the book. Jesas,' thoroughly adapted to, and characterFor not only has it passed through five or istic of, the country whence it sprang; and six editions, but it has been reviewed in not only worthy of comparison with the every periodical, been canvassed in every more scientific and more histrionic works social circle, and been carried by the angry which have proceeded from Germany and waves of controversy into unnumbered nooks France, but distinctly taking the lead of and corners, whither in calmer weather it them in point of successful handling of the would assuredly have never found its way. question. The controversy, indeed, which it has occa- That question is : What was the origin sioned, is quite as curious and interesting of Christianity ? Was it human or divine ? a phenomenon as the book itself, and highly Was Jesus Christ a great genius, or the Son instructive as to the present state of Eng- of God? Now, in the solution of this lish theological opinion. Nor could we question, everything depends -- as we said desire any plainer corroboration of the before - on the avenue by which it is statement laid down at the beginning of approached. Germany has chosen to apthis article, than is given by the exhibition proach it by the Reason; and entangled at that reviewers, quarterly or otherwise, seem the very outset in an infinite multitude of to have been compelled to make of their knotty critical details, has never been able true selves in presence of this graphic and to advance one step; till Strauss, with his admirable · Survey of the Person and Work rash sword of the Mytbical hypothesis,' of Jesus Christ. But on this subject we at length hewed the whole subject into shall have more to say by, and by. At pieces, and left it incoherent and useless for present we wish simply to draw attention all the practical wants of men. France, on to the salient features of the work, and to the other hand, has approached it on the show sufficient cause for our judgment that side of Imagination; and shrinking from it is, without any exception, the most impor- the infinitesimal detail of critical labour, has tant contribution towards a restoration of – perhaps with over-haste grasped at rebelief that our own generation has seen. sults, and arranged those results by the aid

Had not the grave closed over the once of a totally fallacious canon, viz. that speaking eye and toiling brain of Robertson beauty of form is some guarantee for truth of Brighton, there is little doubt that this of fact. It was reserved for England to anonymous book would have been ascribed make her approaches on the Morai side to him. For the calm and even march of and to show how, seizing the clue laid down its sentences and the balanced self-control by the Founder of Christianity himself, it of its bearing, even amid the hottest fire of was possible to advance at once into the controversy, does not wholly conceal the very centre of the labyrinth, to grasp there martial ardour which glows within; and at one view, not indeed all the details, but there are many passages which reveal the the broad grouping of those details and scorn of a manly soul for Pharisaism whether their relative importance to the question of the first or of the nineteenth century, and and to each other, and from thence, with which indicate abundant vigour to chas- the tranquil vigour which such a position tise it. There is, too, the same unflinching always inspires, to proceed at leisure and determination to push through all the cloud with perfect security to the gradual un

res.

V.

ravelling of the interesting matters that yond the reach of invention both by individual surround the main question in dispute. genius and still more by what is called the “conThus 'Ecce Homo' could hardly hope to sciousness of an age.” Now if the character de escape the charge of being an incomplete picted in the Gospels is in the main real and hiswork. Its incompleteness is its glory. It torical, they must be generally trustworthy, and, is not so much a new work as a new method. Christ. In this case the reality of the miracles And a new method is what mankind bave themselves depends in a great degree on the long been groaning for : not a mere negative opinion we form of Christs’s veracity, and this method, such as Strauss thinks good enough, opinion must arise gradually from the careful but a positive one which shall lead to a ra- examination of his whole life.' (Ecce Homo, tional tranquillity, and show them how to p. 41.) ride at anchor through the storms of modern doubt and disbelief.

In these last words we have the key to Accordingly the author of this book — the whole book. The author's plan is here seizing his clue — plunges at once in medias distinctly revealed. It is not his intention

His critical introduction occupies to begin by discussing miracles or the trusttwelve lines ; or rather, is no introduction at worthiness of the Gospels in detail, and so to all, for it occurs at the beginning of chapter hew his way (like a traveller through the

Whereas Strauss's • Einleitung'fills no less than 162 pages of closely-packed German est) to a conviction about Christ. Such a

tangled growths of a South American fortype ; and Renan's • Critique des documents course seems to him, as it does to us, and as originaux’ demands 64 octavo pages. this he makes no apology. It is part of his experience has abundantly proved it to be,

impossible. He chooses the reverse course. method, which he trusts his readers and re- Postulating only, in the broadest sense, the viewers will have wit enough to understand, general trustworthiness of the only record to take these questions last

, instead of first; we possess, he is prepared to evoke from that and therefore to delay them till the appear- record, fairly and sensibly handled, a moral ance of the second volume. He acknowl- conviction of the purity and grandeur of edges that. What is now published is a Christ's character, such as shall rise like dayfragment. No theological questions what- light upon the scene and flood the crannies ever are here discussed. Christ

, as the cre; and the crevices of groping criticism with ator of modern theology and religion, will heathful sunbeams. And nobly has he fulform the subject of another volume.' And

filled bis purpose. Limiting the area of his accordingly,

investigation strictly to the Ministry of Christ,

be describes in the first five chapters the 'In defining the position which Christ assumed, we have not entered into controvertible object and ideal of that ministry as it exWe have not rested upon single pas

isted in Christ's own mind; and proceeds in sages, nor drawn from the fourth Gospel. To his remaining chapters to show how that deny that Christ did undertake to found and to ideal became actually realised in historical legislate for a new theocratic society, and that fact by the consummate practical wisdom of he did claim the office of Judge of mankind, is that same incomparable mind. Chapter vi. indeed possible, but only to those who altogether opens thus : deny the credibility of the extant biographies of Christ. If those biographies be admitted to be generally trustworthy, then Christ under- . The first step in our investigation is now took to be what we have described ; if not, then taken. We have considered the Christian of course this, but also every other, account of Church in its idea, that is to say, as it existed him falls to the ground. The account we in the mind of its founder and before it was rehave of these miracles may be exaggerated ; it is alised. Our task will now become more historpossible that in some special cases stories have ical and will deal with the actual establishments been related which have no foundation what of the new Theocracy. . . The founder's plan ever ; but, on the whole, miracles play so im- was simply this, to renew in a form adapted to portant a part in Christ's scheme, that any the- the new time that divine Society of which the ory which would represent them as entirely due Old Testament contains the history. The essento the imagination of his followers, or of a later tial features of that ancient Theocracy were: age, destroys the credibility of the documents, (1) The Divine Call and Election of Abraham; not partially but wholly, and leaves Christ as (2) the Divine Legislation given to the nation mythical a personage as Hercules. Now the through Moses ; (3) the personal relation and present treatise aims to show that the Christ of responsibility of every individual member of the the Gospels is not mythical, by showing that Theocracy to its Invisible King. As the new the character these biographies portray is in all Theocracy was to be the counterpart of the old, its large features strikingly consistent, and at it was to be expected that these three features the same time so peculiar as to be altogether be. I would be reflected in it.' (P. 52.)

matter.

Yet -- strange, at first sight, to say - symbol of their union? Who can describe exwhile the first of these three features ocru- haustively the origin of Civil Society? He who pies our author during the four succeeding can do these things can explain the origin of chapters, and the second during the thirteen the Christian Church. For others it must be chapters that follow, just when our attention enough to say, “ The Holy Ghost fell on them and interest are raised to the highest pitch, the New Jerusalem, the workmen crowded to

No man saw the building of and we are preparing ourselves for a full gether, the unfinished walls and unpaved streets ; discussion of the third and most decisive no man heard the clink of trowel and pickaxo ; question of all — the book abruptly closes. it descended out of heaven from God.' (P. 330.) The nature of Christ's sovereignty and of bis personal relations to the Church has With this striking passage our author never received any discussion at all; though concludes the present instalment of his the fact of his making royal claims has been work. He has endeavoured to show, and often incidentally touched upon. How is we think he has succeeded in showing, that this ? Has the author forgotten his plan? taking the life of Jesus only in its broadest Or rather, have we not, in this abrupt frac- features, in the mass and not in detail, in ture, the intrinsic quality, not only of the those general outlines which must be allowed fragment which is now in our hands, but to belong to it, if we are supposed to know also of the whole work in its future complete anythir g about it at all, nothing more is ness, revealed ? It appears to us beyond required than a fearles mental freedom all reasonable doubt, that the alarms and and an unclouded moral appreciation, in lamentations which have so loudly resounded order to arrive at a profound and tranquil from the orthodox side over this book are conviction that he is our souls' rightful Lord wholly ill-timed and uncalled for. Every- and King, and — as we cannot hesitate to thing indicates that he has not rashly taken add by anticipation – in some true sense pen in band, before having made up his own · Divine.' And in following him step by mind. Everything points to the conclusion, step in this truly charitable work at a time that the inquiry which proved serviceable of doubt like our own, we pity -- far more to himself' proved so by convincing him that even than the robbed and half-dead travelthe faith of his childhood was a reasonable ler — the supercilious passer-by who sees one, and that the homage he had once paid no need of the oil or wine, has no heart to to Christ need not on farther investigation praise, no intelligence to understand, the of his claims, be withdrawn. We need saving efforts,

nay, spurns the very flask only call attention to such passages as the beneath his priestly feet because there is following:

something suspicious about its shape. Yet

what has the author done? He has sim"We have found Christ undertaking, to ply translated the dead formulæ of orthooccupy a personal relation of Judge and Master to every man, such as in the earlier Theocracy thought and of men of the world.

doxy into the living language of modern

That is had been occupied by Jehovah himself without representation.' (P. 52.) Within the whole cre to say, he has presented Christianity in the ation of God nothing more elevated or more attrac- only shape in which men will receive it at tive has yet been found than he,' (P. 52.) * This the present day, and in which alone it can enthusiasm, then, was shown to men in its most effect the redemption and conversion of consummate form in Jesus Christ. From him their souls. He has dared to call charity it flows as from a fountain. How it was kindled the enthusiasm of humanity;' he has dared in him who knows? The abysmal deeps, of to describe the regenerating mission of the personality hide this secret. It was the will of Christian Church as the improvement of God to beget no second son like him.? (P. 321.) morality;' he has ventured to change the • What comfort. Christ gave men ing to them new views of the Power by which salvation of souls into their restoration to the world is governed, by his own triumph over moral health ; ' to speak of the Holy Spirit death, and by his revelation of eternity, will be as the Spirit of Holiness,' and of the sacthe suhject of another treatise. (P. 323.) . The ramental means of grace as .sacred rites,' achievement of Christ, in founding by his sin- . essential conditions of membership,' symgle will and power a structure so durable and so bols of that intense personal devotion, universal

, is like no other achievement which that habitual feeding on the character of history records. If in the works of Nature Christ,' without which the health of the we can trace the indications of calculation, of soul" cannot be regained; and all this he a struggle with difficulties, of precaution, of ingenuity, then in Christ's work it may be that has done with imperfections, with occasionthe same indications occur. ...

Who can

al (though very slight) exaggerations, and describe that which unites men ? Who has en- with a few (though very glaring) defects of tered into the formation of speech which is the good taste. Yet when all has been said,

« ZurückWeiter »