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out and distinguished from all others as the sinless one, does not belong to the conception of a genius, in which there is a relative and no absolute greatness. With this sinlessness not merely the dogmatic, but also the historical Jesus must stand or fall.” And in vol. ii. p. 67 Keim further says, “We may
, hazard the conclusion . . , that the tireless wrestling of God after a representation of a perfect, yes, a godlike veing, a beloved Godlike image in earthly form” ... has “been crowned with a success worthy of God
in the person of Jesus himself.”
A belief mainly similar to the above has been defended by Dr. Martineau, and is held by many Unitarians; see, for example, “The Soul's Way to God,” by Rev. Charles Beard, pp. 30, 31. This work is published by the British and Foreign Unitarian Association; and from another publication of the same society, "Conscience and Faith," a translation from the French of the late Athanase Coquerel Fils, a noted liberal Protestant, we extract the following, see p. 110:-“When I read again and again his sublime and powerful words, I mark his vast immeasurable superiority to all that surrounded him: to the Jews of his age, to the sages of Greece, to the Roman masters of the world, to his own disciples—even the greatest of them, St. John and St. Paul—to all his successors, even the most eminent and most saintly. I find him so superior to modern wisdom, to the morality of our time, to existing religious systems, including those which take their origin from him ; I see him so closely
and so really in union with God; I see him so great, so simple, so good, so pure, so human, that it pains me to hear him called my equal or yours, and I recognize in him with rapture the Head and Master of humanity, the Redeemer or Liberator, the Elder Brother, the King of men, the Son of God par excellence. I cannot help admitting that, while still most truly man, he is as perfectly divine as it is possible to be on earth, and infinitely beyond anything we could ever have imagined.”
To Dr. S. Davidson, also, Jesus is “a person such as the world never saw before—the living type of an ideal humanity, pure and perfect.”*
Lastly, we presume that the Rev. Stopford Brooke also belongs to the same class—of those, namely, who have ceased to affirm the physically miraculous, yet who regard Jesus as possessing a really supernatural elevation of character.
Descending from these altitudes, we come to many persons who do not commit themselves to an expression of belief in the absolute sinlessness of Jesus throughout his whole career, yet who employ superlatives in stating his relative height as a man.
The author of the well-known work, "Supernatural Religion," says, in effect, that Jesus never has been and never can be surpassed, while hitherto he has excelled all others. Thus: “The teaching of Jesus carried morality to the sublimest point attained or even attainable by humanity. The influence of his spiritual religion has been rendered doubly great by the unparalleled purity and elevation of his character. Surpassing in his sublime simplicity and earnestness, the moral grandeur of Chakya-Mouni, and putting to the blush the sometimes sullied, though generally admirable, teaching of Socrates and Plato, and the whole round of Greek philosophers, he presented the rare spectacle of a life, so far as we can estimate it, uniformly noble and consistent with his own lofty principles, so that the ‘imitation of Christ'has become almost the final word in the preaching of his religion, and must continue to be one of the most powerful elements of its permanence.” And in p. 489 this author remarks of the teaching of Jesus," It is too divine in its morality to require the aid of miraculous attributes. No supernatural halo can heighten its spiritual beauty, and no mysticism deepen its holiness. In its perfect simplicity it is sublime, and in its profound wisdom it is eternal.”
* Introduction to “ Study of New Testament,” p. 463. + See vol. ii. p. 487.
Mr. Matthew Arnold views him who preached from the Galilean Mount as "the Only ;" for he tells us that "Nothing is righteousness but the method and secret and sweet reasonableness of Jesus Christ." *
Sometimes, in estimating the qualities of Jesus, superlatives are employed only in reference to other great ones of the past and present, and without pronouncing on the future. Thus, the hero of “Sartor Resartus,” and vehicle of Carlyle's utterances therein,
* “God and the Bible," p. 9.
says (p. 243), “Look on our divinest symbol : on
· Jesus of Nazareth, and his life, and his biography, and what followed therefrom. Higher has the human thought not yet reached : this is Christianity and Christendom; a symbol of quite perennial infinite character, whose significance will ever demand to be anew inquired into, and anew made manifest.”
Mr. J. A. Froude also says, “The most perfect being who ever trod the soil of this planet was called the Man of Sorrows.'"*
Miss F. P. Cobbe, too, speaks of “The virtuous life and martyr-death of Christ—the most perfect of sacrifices ever made by man." †
A “Beneficed Clergyman of the Church of England," who thinks that if that Church wishes to continue long in existence she must completely abandon her dogmas and traditions, and whom therefore we class with the opponents of the miraculous, speaks, in p. 36, of a tractate entitled the “Gospel of the Kingdom,” of “the religious consciousness of Jesus as the highest form of spiritual apprehension, the moral teaching of Jesus as the most perfect rule of life and conduct, and the example of Jesus as the purest type of active and disinterested goodness hitherto presented to the progressive imitation of mankind.”
Mr. K. Chunder Sen, without comparing Jesus with any other, says of him, “ The complete abnega
* From article “Calvinism," in the second series of “Short Studies on Great Subjects,” p. 45. † “Religious Duty,” p. 320.
tion of self he taught and lived, for the glory of God's name and the salvation of mankind. He wholly surrendered himself to God, and dedicated his will to the Divine."
The late Thomas Scott, in his “ English Life of Jesus," after condemning each of the Gospels as either wholly or partly unhistorical, says in conclusion (pp. 348, 349), “Our aim has been simply to test the historical character of the Gospel narratives, and the process has drawn out the image of one, of the facts of whose life we know indeed but little, but who stands out in himself pure, loving, gentle, and merciful to all men. We see before us one who embraced all the suffering and heavy-laden in the wide circle of his love, and who spoke of his mission specially as a charge to seek out and save that which was lost."
The late John Stuart Mill, towards the close of the posthumous volume “ Essays on Religion,” though, as might have been expected, he uses a qualifying "perhaps,” yet testifies to the nobility of the character of Jesus. Speaking of the Jesus of the Synoptics, he says, “Who among his disciples, or among their proselytes, was capable of inventing the sayings ascribed to Jesus, or of imagining the life and character revealed in the Gospels ? " Mill attributes to him “profundity of insight," and places “the prophet of Nazareth ... in the very first rank of the men of sublime genius of whom our species can boast. When this pre-eminent genius is combined with the qualities
* “Inspiration,” p. 20. An Anniversary Lecture : Calcutta, 1873.