Imagini ale paginilor

fulness, could she have gone forth from the presence of her beloved Lord, without one more word than Rabboni-Master ?

Primitive Christianity, therefore, rests on faith in the Resurrection, attested by nothing more than hearsay evidence.

And if the Messianic age had been postponed till the nineteenth century, men, who now mistake inherited superstition for rational conviction, would reject with absolute incredulity a Messiah said to have privately risen from the dead, according to the statements of his immediate followers.

Evangelists tell us that the Resurrection was carefully concealed from all but the most intimate friends of Jesus ; on what possible grounds could he, therefore, have denied the proofs of immortality to the millions whose salvation depends on the truth of the miracle ? Orthodoxy answers that thus our faith is tested by inscrutable wisdom. But this pious formula is equally applicable to the Eucharistic miracle, the Assumption of Mary, and the Trinitarian mystery. Who, therefore, shall determine the limits of faith, when we have parted with the evidence of our senses, the results of experience, and the conclusions of reason ?

In harmony with poetic justice, we would, doubtless, all rejoice at the restoration to life of this noble victim of superstition and intolerance. But, in the absence of a single shred of rational proof, to place against the overwhelming evidence of the ages, that the dead return no more, the fiction of Messianic resurrection is but an illusory dream ; and it remains for us to deplore the irreparable loss sustained by mankind through the premature death of the Son of Man, which robs us of

the higher wisdom to which he would have attained under the refining influence of maturer years. His brief career, depicted in no attested annals, has become the nucleus of protean systems, identifying his name with the follies, superstitions, and barbarism of the ages; but it has been reserved for this century of vaunted intelligence to witness the dishonour of his memory in the modern craze of martial evangelists, inviting men to join in the spiritual orgies of hysterical fanaticism through the vulgar attractions of flaunting banners and sacrilegious drums, whose sound might well recall the Son of Man to earth to denounce this tumultuous parody of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Had Peter, James, or John proposed to attract the congregation of the Mount with brazen trumpets, with what scathing wrath would not Jesus have rejected the mere thought of inviting candidates for the Kingdom of Heaven by the vulgar attractions immemorially associated with the cultus of heathen gods! And could he have foreseen, as he preached repentance and forgiveness on the Mount, that future generations would witness' converts ' hastening to the sound of martial music, to relate their experiences' to men, instead of whispering their sins to God, Jesus would have doubtless added the following exhortation to his discourse :- Take heed that ye do not confess your sins before men, to be

1 Extract from the “Times,' September 22, 1882:- A brass band accompanied the songs of the Army. Besides brass instruments, all diversities of stringed and other instruments served to swell the volume of sound. There were cymbals, tambourines, concertinas, and“ bones.” Among the incidents of the evening was the spirited rendering of a song descriptive of the army as the “Lord's Brigade," with the motto “ blood and fire.” The vocalist, who had been an acrobat, jumped as he sang.'

heard by them : otherwise ye have no forgiveness from your Father which is in heaven. Therefore, when thou wouldst confess thy transgressions, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men; but enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, confess thy faults to thy Father which is in secret ; and thy Father which seeth in secret will grant thee forgiveness.'

But the Son of Man believed too firmly in his second advent within a generation to anticipate future forms of human error; and all which he has left unsaid has given free scope to the fanciful creations of erratic piety, passing beyond the school of Galilee into the realms of superstition and fanaticism.




The Acts of the Apostles, purporting to be written by the author of the third gospel, is first heard of late in the second century. Its contents disclose the pious design of constructing a history of the earliest days of Christianity from legendary materials, which assumed, in a credulous age, the form of attested facts. Free handling was, doubtless, indispensable to a coherent narrative; but the author drifts into historical romance when he puts speeches into the mouths of Peter, Stephen, and Paul, so much alike in form and substance, that we inevitably detect his own imaginative version of what ought to have been said on each occasion.

The opening chapter records the assembly at Jerusalem of the Apostles, with Mary the mother of Jesus and her female companions. They had quite recently conversed with the second person in the Trinity, from whom they might have learned lessons of priceless wisdom; and yet we find them occupied with the old superstition of prophetic fatality, adapting ancient Scripture to the actions and fate of Judas. According to Peter it was inevitable that the doomed apostle should betray his Lord and Master, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled. Jesus had taught the duty, and set the example of compliance with the demands of pro

phecy. Was Judas, therefore, a pious man, imitating Jesus in blind obedience to the will of the Deity; or a mere automaton in the grasp of prophetic fatality, predestined to crime, and therefore irresponsible for his actions ?

It was necessary to nominate a successor to Judas; so these men who might have referred the question a few hours previously to the Second, or a few hours later, to the Third person in the Trinity, proceeded to elect an apostle by drawing lots !

The compiler of the Acts, in harmony with the previous statement of Luke, unauthenticated by any other Evangelist, records that Jesus instructed his Apostles to wait at Jerusalem until invested with power from on high ; but this mystical innovation has no affinity to the previous teaching of Jesus as recorded in the first two Gospels. When, according to Matthew, the twelve Apostles were sent forth to preach the Gospel, Jesus said to them :- But when they deliver you up take no thought how or what ye shall speak, for it is not ye that speak but the spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.'' Jesus, therefore, knew nothing of the mysterious Being introduced into the Godhead after his death ; and to him divine inspiration meant nothing more than the influence of the spirit of his Father on the minds of his disciples, possessed of the same divine efficacy during his lifetime as after his death.

The simplicity of Jesus could not, however, save his disciples from the superstitious delusions which corrupt all religions, when their founders have passed away from the scene of their labours. When the Day of

1 Matt. x. 19.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »