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assembled here or across the Atlantic to hear an evangelical preacher, and let us listen as they sing :
“ Jesus, the Name high over all,
In hell, or earth, or sky," and remember that a modern thinker and writer no more fanatical than John Stuart Mill did not hesitate to pronounce Jesus higher in moral character than the Being who, presumably, created this world. If Mr. Moody happens to be the preacher, we may perchance hear a solo from his companion, Mr. Ira D. Sankey ; let us again listen :
“Sweetest note in seraph song,
Jesus, blessed Jesus." Of the early Christian heresies respecting Jesus, one there is which, though now extinct in Christendom, has yet survived outside its borders, viz. in Mohammedanism, for the Koran states that Jesus was not crucified, but that God, being “the best of those that devise stratagems," caused one of the enemies of Jesus to assume his appearance, and be crucified in his stead, taking Jesus up into heaven. It is often forgotten that the Mohammedans believe with Christians that Jesus was truly the Messiah, the Word of God. “For,” says the Koran (Sale's translation), “when God decreeth a thing that he desires to bring into existence he only saith unto it Be, and it is, and thus he created Jesus the son of Mary without a father.” Hence, the “Word.” The vital difference between
Christian and Moslem is, that the latter believes the connection of Jesus with the world is severed, that he no longer exercises his spiritual dominion by his own will, nor by the will of God, having been superseded by Mohammed.
Leaving now those who confess their faith by squadrons, according to the belief in which they have been brought up, let us note a few singularities of opinion, uttered by persons who do not so "readily range themselves under 'isms.”'
It has been said that the species of angels are innumerable, each individual constituting a distinct species; it has also been alleged against free inquiry that its tendency is so decidedly towards variety of opinion that in the end it may be expected there will be as many distinct beliefs, as there are persons to hold them, so that, as with the angels, each man will have to be placed in a category by himself.
But in respect of any further comparison with angels, there are multitudes who regard it as holding good only if the angels are such as issue from below, even as that “Survey of the Life and Work of Jesus Christ,” entitled “Ecce Homo," was compared to something foul vomited from the infernal pit. This, however, though uttered by a man whose goodness is deservedly honoured, is the language of excessive bigotry, inasmuch as the author of the work referred to was distinctly within the Christian pale, while some of those whose views we shall notice will not claim to be so regarded. Such narrowness as we have mentioned is (at least, among Protestants) rapidly becoming a thing of the past, and the high moral and intellectual qualities of many, who in belief are, like Goethe, “decidedly non-Christian," are freely admitted by the chief defenders of orthodox beliefs. For example, Dr. Farrar, in the twelfth page of his preface to the eighth edition of “The Life of Christ,” says, “I hope to use no single word of anger or denunciation against a scepticism which I know to be in many cases perfectly honest and self-sacrificingly noble.” And as to intellectual eminence, he writes as if unquestionably the men of greatest mental power in the present age were unbelievers in the supernatural elements of Christianity, for he deprecates the opinion that a belief in the New Testament as it is cannot be entertained in the present day by a man of the higher order of intellect.
And it is scarcely surprising that he should have fears for the intellectual status that will be conceded to orthodox believers, since the modern advocate of orthodoxy finds himself opposed on an important historical problem by the chief modern historians; on questions of Biblical criticism by the greatest Biblical critics; and on the question of the inviolability of the order of nature by the most eminent men of science ; -our Newtons and Faradays having been succeeded by men who rarely avow belief in the miracles attributed to Jesus in the Gospels.
This is perhaps the fittest place in which to introduce a passage from Dr. Cunningham Geikie's
“ Life and Words of Christ” (pp. 1–3), showing the reverence with which certain great men of the past regarded Jesus, being, too, mostly men of free
, thought. "We all know,” Dr. Geikie says, “ how lowly
“ a reverence is paid to him in passage after passage by Shakespeare, the greatest intellect known, in its wide, many-sided splendour. Men like Galileo, Kepler, Bacon, Newton, and Milton set the name of Jesus Christ above every other. To show that no other subject of study can claim an equal interest, Jean Paul Richter tells us that 'the life of Christ concerns him who, being the holiest among the mighty, the mightiest among the holy, lifted with his pierced hand empires off their hinges, and turned the stream of centuries out of its channel, and still governs the ages.' Spinoza calls Christ the symbol of Divine Wisdom; Kant and Jacobi hold him up as the symbol of ideal perfection, and Schelling and Hegel as that of the union of the Divine and the human. 'I esteem the Gospels,' says Goethe, “to be thoroughly genuine, for there shines forth from them the reflected splendour of a sublimity, proceeding from the person of Jesus Christ, of so divine a kind as only the Divine could ever have manifested upon earth.' 'How petty are the books of the philosophers, with all their pomp,' says Rousseau, 'compared with the Gospels !”
“ Jesus Christ,' says the exquisite genius Herder, ‘is, in the noblest and most perfect sense, the realized ideal of humanity.'
Thus we see that even to those who reject entirely his supernatural character, and care not to claim the appellation Christian (as e.g. Goethe)—even to these, with few exceptions, Jesus Christ is the “Best and Greatest” of mankind. There are, indeed, forming an intermediate class containing many names of eminence, those who still “profess and call themselves Christians," while avowing their disbelief that Jesus fulfilled the conditions requisite to constitute him the Messiah of Hebrew prophecy; who cannot admit that he wrought any miracle, nor believe in his bodily resurrection from the dead, yet state their belief that he lived a life perfectly sinless, even during the period of youth. The late George Dawson (e.g.) takes his place here, and one of the most recent biographers of Jesus—the late Dr. Theodore Keim—seems to be of this class. He says,* “This true and living image of the human Christ can never again be reconciled with its directly mysterious and superhuman attributes ;' and on p. 15, “For ourselves, no conviction has become more certain, in the contemplation of this life, than that there where dwelt the truest and noblest humanity, not only a religious genius, but a miracle of God and his presence on earth, was at the same time revealed; himself the person and in no other sense the miracle, the human nature allied with the divine, the corporeal temple of God. That the religious genius will not suffice is most clearly shown by this, that the manner in which Jesus is singled