« ÎnapoiContinuă »
of Galilee, since we do not see our way to the decision of any doubtful point respecting either the moral or intellectual rank of Jesus or the supernatural position claimed for him by the method of counting votes, nor by accepting the dictum of any writer, however notable or with whatever authority he may claim to speak.
It may, however, be interesting to append an account of the state of feeling respecting Jesus which recently existed (and probably does still) amongst some of our Asiatic fellow-subjects, who have emancipated themselves from their inherited faith, and who have adopted that of pure theism. We quote from an article in the Contemporary Review for February, 1870, by Sophia Dobson Collett. She says
"The present state of feeling on this subject is thus epitomized in an article (avowedly by Keshub) onThe Spirit of Christ,' in the Indian Mirror, April 30, 1869: There is an infinite diversity of feeling among Brahmos respecting Jesus of Nazareth, ranging from intense hatred on the one hand, to profound reverence and personal attachment on the other. Many there are, especially among the old Brahmos, who look upon him with almost the same spirit of sectarian antipathy and abhorrence as Hindus, and even go the length of calling him an impostor. Such ideas are happily dying out. The vast majority of our brethren of the progressive school cherish respect and gratitude towards Christ, and some
even accept him as a guide and master. . . . Surely it is our interest and duty to receive from him that practical moral influence which he is appointed in God's economy to exercise on our souls, to love him, and revere him, and follow his teachings and example.""
For ourselves, we shall not think it necessary to prove that Jesus was both morally and intellectually far above the average of men; we shall assume that each of our readers is sufficiently familiar with the New Testament, and has enough soundness of judgment to conclude, without going further, that the great Nazarene was not, if we know anything of him, in any respect below the average human being; a fair subject of inquiry being-how high above that standard he may be placed, if, indeed, the height be not infinite.
JESUS IMPORTANCE OF THE INQUIRY.
WE have seen how differently men think of Jesus, and what various beliefs and opinions have found expression concerning him. Is it, then, worth our while to consider the questions hereby raised, and to endeavour to follow the rule, "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good," in the present instance, by trying and searching what knowledge is possible for us respecting the prophet of Galilee? And if even no knowledge, yet what evidence of probabilities? Is the subject important to us? We are told on all sides that it is, and that the question, "What think ye of the Christ?" is, even in this our day, perhaps the most weighty that can by any possibility engage our attention.
That word "Christendom" is very suggestive-the dominion of Christ. It reminds us what mighty influences, emanating either directly or indirectly from Nazareth, have been at work in building up our modern civilization, such as it is. Influences, if not always the direct result of Jesus' teaching and life,
yet of men's faith in him-of what has been taught respecting him. Hence, what other historical subject can compare with this in importance, affecting, as it does, the whole community of nationalities constituting Christendom?
And, apart from its interest as a historical question, and looked at merely as one of general human interest, the fact that Jesus has occupied some of the most gifted minds from his own age down to the present day might well arouse our curiosity, so that we also may be excused for desiring to look into the circle of ideas and sentiments revolving around him as a centre. The questions connected with Jesus of Nazareth are, then, important, if we only knew as much as this. But we know also that these questions personally concern us much more intimately. Looking at the estimate of Jesus given above by those who do not acknowledge him as the Hebrew Messiah— the King anointed of God, if even the lowest estimate of those we deemed it worth while to quote be found correct, still Jesus is one of the souls specially noteworthy for their kindling power, and surely we need all influences for good that we can readily have access to, to restrain our native selfishness and to fan into a flame, even if intermittent and but faintly burning, any spark susceptible of enthusiasm for humanity. Better than nothing if love of the Nazarene constrain us but thus far-or, if not love, say admiration of or sympathy with him. "Look on our divinest symbolJesus of Nazareth," says Carlyle, "a symbol whose
significance will ever demand to be anew inquired into." If it prove a veritable symbol of salvation from sin, shall it not be welcome? Yea, if the name of Jesus prove itself a talisman, operating, we know not how, to surround us with a pure atmosphere of thought, and to stir our languid souls with impulses to good, with yearning towards "the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” then we shall not have sought acquaintance with him in vain.
But we will remember that perhaps the most vital element of righteousness is-Truth. It is the whole of the theory, and no small part of the practice. For Truth comprehends the whole of knowledge, which if not of facts, is but sham knowledge. We will, then, try to come to "the knowledge of the truth," "as it is in Jesus," or, at any rate, to such knowledge of the facts about him as is possible for us.
If we see reason to believe he has been commissioned by God "to lead men to truth and virtue," we shall do well to follow his guidance. If we find him worthy to be "a universal Model," we shall be improved by being moulded, to some extent, after his image.
But now, what does the Church say of the importance of learning all that she professes herself able to teach of Jesus? Let us hear the words which she has transmitted to us as being the words of Jesus himself. "Every one, therefore, who heareth these words of mine and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock." "Come unto