Charles F. (Charles Force) Deems.

Who was Jesus? online

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This copy is the basis of Dr. Deems' work, and will account to the reader for any
verbal difference from the common version in quoting the words of Jesus which
occur in this volume. It shows the fruits of an extensive scholarly knowledge
pertaining to the subject. The bock contains a map of Palestine and 65 engrav-
ings, by Linton and Filmer, from the sketches of A. L. Rawson, the artist traveler.
The engraving by Jackman, after Cuercino's " Ecce Homo," which is the frontis-



piece, is inserted by the publishers, Dr. Deems' judgment not being responsible
for ideal sketches in a work which claims to any historic value. In regard to the
other illustrations Dr. Deems absolutely refused to have any picture in the book
not originally taken on the spot, or which was not an exact likeness of the place
which it- is designed to represent. This trait is as conscientious as it is unusual,
and adds to the permanent value of this class ol literature. — Philadelphia Ledger.
— Dec. 24, 1880..

[The following is from the pen of Rev, Dr. Parker, of City Temple London,
and appeared in "The Fountain," London, December, 1880, It shows the estimate
in which Dr. Deems, is held by the famous author of "Ecce Deus."J

We remember that several months ago a gentleman who looked very much like
Mr. John B. Gough slightly ministerialised, called upon us after a Sunday morning
service, and made a very happy impression by his benignant face and sympathetic .
voice. He was then about to proceed to the East, but was kind enough to promise
that on his return- we should see him again. That same gentleman, in trying to
find his way to our private residence, inquired at the place called the Angel for the
omnibus to Highbury. Having been in the East, he brought with him a head
dress, something resembling a Turkish fez, which gave him an oriental look. The
person of whom he asked the question regarding the omnibus, paid Dr. Deems the
compliment of telling him that he spoke English well; evidently the person had
founded an inference as to the doctor's nationality upon the fez which signalized
the doctor's head, and hence his appreciation of the softly-spoken English in which
he had been addressed bv the inquiring stranger. We were not long in discover-
ing that Dr. Deems is a man of remarkable intelligence and peculiar devoutiu ss
of spirit ; he is, moreover, able to combine all that is most delightful in social re-„
lationship with the preservation of a deeply sacred feeling. We were struck with
this thought again and again, for though we often laughed heartily in reply to his
wit and humor, we were constantly reminded that he was an ordained and devoted
minister of the gospel. On the occasion of our last visit to New Yc rk we had the
honor of seeing the doctor at home, and then all our happiest impressions were
deepened and confirmed. Dr. Deems is the pastor of the Church of the Strangers,
which stands a litde way back from the great thoroughfare of Broadway. It has
all the appearance of a" venerable building in every respect well cared for, and
bearing evident marks of that hospitality which is appropriate to so distinctive a
name as it bears. On every side of the church we discovered arrangements for
the comfort of its visitors. It must — such, at least, was our feeling as we sat on
the roomy platform — be most agreeable to attend a service conducted in so home-
like an edifice. No doubt thousands of persons lave realized the sensation which
we then felt for the chnrch is one of the best attended in the city of New York, and
not the least distinctive feature of its service is to be found in the fact that it is
crowded in the summer months, when most of the New York churches are desert-
ed. Dr. Deems indeed lays himself out expressly for this summer work. He
feels, and justly so, that at a time when all the pastors properly run away for a
holiday, it is fitting that some one or more should remain behind to take care of
strangers. We found th it the church does not only use the name of Strangers, but
that in many practical ways it attends to their wants.

Dr. Deems has distinguished himself not only as an earnest and successful
preacher, but as a vigorous and instructive writer. He is the author of a work
bearing the simple title, "Jesus." We confess we looked into this bulky volume
with very little hope of finding anything that had not already been told in the best
possible manner. We came to it fresh from the perusal of the most recent Lives
of Christ. We are bound to say that, notwithstanding all that has been published
upon this transcendent theme, Dr. Deems has pursued a line of his own, and has
added many luminous and suggestive thoughts to the store we had already ac-
quired. The work is complete m its outline and most thorough in its execution,
It is quite learned enough to satisfj even intelligent inquirer, and is sufficient^
popular and dramatic to commend it to the attention ol the million. Any preachei
who has this book in his library will find that lie can consult it on nearly even



passage of the sacred narrative with distinct advantage. The man who can write
such a book well deserves position as one of the foremost evangelical preachers
in this country. We cannot but refer to a single sermon of Dr. Deems, entitled
" No Room for Jesus," which we have perused with the deepest interest. We do
not remember any belter use ever being made of the incident referred to. — That
sermon ought to be circulated by tens of thousands ; any rich man undertaking
this distribution may assure himself that he is engaged in a labor which God will
not allow to go without reward. -

Dr. Deems will always be heartily welcomed should he come to England.
His reputation is growing here, as it richly deserves to do, and his books are more
and more inquired for by our young men engaged in Christian service. Alas ! for
us, the good doctor is sixty years of age, so we cannot expect him to cross the
ocean very frequently, but we do hope he will come once more and occupy a dozen
of our foremost pulpits."

" This book was introduced to the English public when they felt that they had
enough, at least for a time, on the subject, overlooking the fact that Dr. Deems's
work is in many respects different from, and superior to, those which temporarily
eclipsed it. It is an honest, undogmatic attempt to answer the question which forms
its title. He does not begin by saying that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God.
He does not end by saying it He leaves his readers to say it. but he compels
them to say it by re-stating the facts of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, and His
sayings, as we find them recorded in the documents which we call the Gospels.
Considered as a commentary on the Gospels, this book will bear comparison
with the works of Canon Farrar and Dr. Geikie. Indeed, we much prefer it to
Canon Farrar's 'Life of Christ.' Equal in point of learning, really superior to it
in point of style, it is strong just where Canon Farrar's book is weak. Dr. Deems
has no lurking fear of the supernatural ; his aim is to explain the Gospels, or
rather let them explain themselves, never to explain them away. The difference
between Deems and Farrar comes out, for example, in their treatment of the diffi-
cult question of demoniacal possession. The learning and the intellectual power
displayed in the volume command our respect ; but that which has excited within
us warmer feelings for its author is the spirit in which it is»written. What that is
our readers may judge from two sentences we cannot forbear quoting: ' As far as
possible, I have laid aside all dogmatic prepossessions ; but in writing this book I
have been preparing a memoir of my dearest Friend ; and if, for that Friend's sake,
and in the spirit of that Friend, I have dealt with all the records most honestly, it
is also fair to state that I have treated them with the reverence of manly love ; and
whatever may be the final decision of my readers, I conclude this work with a lov*
for Jesus deeper and better than that which I feel for any other man, dead or liv-
ing ' " — Christian Age, London, England.

" Dr. Deems seems to have adequately read the immense literature of his
subject and to have tested conflicting theories with critical faculty and sober
judgment. His conclusions will generally commend themselves to those whose
orthodoxy is reasonable. His book is an industrious sensible, and sober state-
ment of the facts of the great biography."— British Quarterly Review.

"The language is that of one bent on being understood, accustomed to
make himself understood ; while the whole treatment of the subject shows a
thorough acquaintance with it, such as deep and earnest study alone can yield."
— Church and State, New York City.

" We have long wondered why Rev. Dr. Deems's admirable and able work
entitled ' Jesus,' had never attracted more of the attention of Southern scholars.
It is a work of remarkable interest, power and originality. It is with real pleas-
ure that we have met with a short review of it, from the pen of a distinguished
presbyterian, Rev. Dr. Ad^cr, of South Carolina, in the Southern Presbyterian
Review. He declares that 'Dr. Deems has achieved a highly creditable success'
that there are ' many, very many passages of singular beauty and sweetness ' that
{he critic is ' resolved to repair to it frequently for the solace of heart-sorrows and



5

for suggestive reviews of different passages in the Gospels,' and that he finds
' much less to say against Dr. Deems's work, and much more in its favor' than he
has found in ' several of what are called ' Lives of Christ.' " — The Morning Star,
Wilmington, N. C.

" I read, annotated, and carefully compared, several Lives of Christ, that by
Dr. Deems among them. Since then I have added to my list those of Farrar and
Geikie ; and still think now, as I did then, that his is the best of them all." —
Francis W. Upham, LL. D., author of " The Wise Men."

" It gives me pleasure to say that I regard Dr. Deems's Life of Christ, known
by its title ' Who was Jesus,' as one of the best ever written. Dr. Calhou::, tho
venerable missionary in Mount Lebanon, Syria, a man of learning, critical acun n,
and profound knowledge of the Bible, prepared a Life of Christ in Arabic before
his death, and while engaged in that work saw Dr. Deems's book in my library,
borrowed it, and made it his constant 'study while writing his valuable Arabic
book. He often alluded to Dr. Deems's book as original, suggestive, and learned,
and said that he regarded it and Dr. Hanna's as the two best books on the sub-
ject. In this I quite agreed with him."— Rev. Dr. Jessup, Beirut, Syria.

" I have read the whole book, and am prepared to express an opinion, i.
It is a learned book. In this regard I have read no life of Christ which surpasses
it. 2. It is a transparent book. 3. It is a perfectly candid book. 4. It is an
evangelical book. Take it altogether, it is a most valuable contribution to relig-
ious literature, and is worthy of being placed with the best biographies of Jesus."
— Rev. Dr. Rivers.

"In the main he is enviably successful. His book is readable and suggest-
ive. Its information is full, its use of modern researches and scholarship exten-
sive and conscientious. It presents the events of the gospel history in a very lifelike
manner. Its rendering of the words of Jesus is fresh, impartial, and courageous.
It is pervaded by a deep sense of their practicability, and the beauty and power of
a life shaped by them. The author's evident and earnest desire to get at their
first and inmost meaning is very stimulating. His spirit is refreshingly simple,
liberal, reverential, devout. . . As a whole, we cordially welcome the book. We
doubt if any lately issued Life of Jesus will exceed it in popular interest and
general usefulness." — Rev. Lyman Abbott, D.D.

"Perhaps no essay of the kind from the Christian side is more truly analytical
than this of Dr. Deems. Simply assuming the historical validity of the four
writers who furnish the earliest extant narratives, Dr. Deems's position is that of
a critical inquirer. The correct text, its true meaning, the order of the events, the
nature of the utterances, and the problems arising at every step, are all keenly
investigated. The discussions are often bold, clear, and complete.

The author's claims to freedom from- prepossession, it will be said, are nu-
gatory. If not his profession, yet his mental position, renders his conclusion fore-
gone. And it is doubtless true that none but an idiot's brain can approach a
subject blank of prepossession. Certianly Strauss and Renan commenced with
the primal pantheistic assumption, that all miracle and all supernatural are false-
hood. Dr. Deems, on *he contrary, assumes the reality of the supernatural, and
the possibility, and, under due conditions, the probability, of miracles. And
then, if the supernatural is, and the miracle may be, all our nature demands thai
they appear in the great life of Jesus. This volume is, thcrelore, a searching
inquiry whether the narrative contain any thing to invalidate that conclusion.
The thousands who have listened wi'h delight and profit to the writer's pulpit

performances will exp< 1 no disappointment in the perusal of these pages."

—Rav. D. 1). Whedon, LL, I).

" This work is among the ' 1 si portrayals "f tin- life and ministry "i Christ, li
is not an attempt at theology, not does it an] whei e a iproach dogmatism. It 1
sermonizes or s] It is the storv ol the Nazarene, simple and vet elo-

quently told, with an interei I which uses the prophecies, the psalms, the histories,
and the literature of the Old Testament, as well as the mountains, the rivers, the



vocations, and the times of the new dispensation, as lending significance to the
advent and work of the Saviour. It is a book which reveals Jesus as Deliverer;
establish the fact which is essential to all faith, that the same Jesus is the Christ.
It is an effectual answer to all the sceptical inquiries started by Renan and Strauss.
While it magnifies the manhood of Jesus as much as they, it also sees in him
what they could never see, and draws from him what they could never draw, — the
witnessing of the Spirit that he is the mighty Saviour. It is a book which honors
reason, uses philosophy, appeals to the intellect, and withal brings something for
the heart. The author has entered closely into communion with his subject, and
everywhere speaks as from an enlightened experience. The book has the vital
sympathy of an evangel ; the scenes, so familiar, seem to glow with new light ;
and the meaning of the divine words which fall from the Redeemer's lips kindle
with new power. The book is a masterpiece from beginning to end. and deserves
a place in every Christian home. It makes the life of the dear Lord Jesus more
manifest, more available, and more divine. It brings him in from the traditional
mists, and down from the doubtful mountains, and, lo, he stands like a brother
near, loving, tender, touched with a feeling of our infirmities, and able to save to
the uttermost." — Rev. Alexander Clark, D.D.

" The work comprehends a new translation of the words of the Losd Jesus,
with psychological and critical notes, and harmonistic vincula, and suggestive
observations, all concentrating upon the wonderful Person who is the subject of
this unique monotessaron. There is nothing like it in all our sacred literature. Pro-
lessor Seeby's ' Ecce Homo' suggests the scientific method of dealing with the
history of Jesus ; but the works and words of the great Master are not brought
out by him in full consecution as in this work, nor is the resultant impression on
the mind of the reader the same. As in this scientific age a Life of Jesus con-
cocted from the gospel history seems to be demanded, we are free to recommend
this work above all others of its class which have come under our notice." — Rev.
T. O. Summers, D.D. LL.D.

"I have delayed acknowledging the reception of Dr. Deems's valuable ' Life
of Jesus,' on the ground that I did not wish to do so until I had given it an examin-
ation. Allow me to say that I have enjoyed it very much, and have greatly
admired the research and investigation and taste everywhere apparent in the vol-
ume. The use made of the recent studies in the department of New Testament
exegesis and geography will co:nmend the work to scholarly minds ; while the
warmth, simplicity, and fidelity to the spirit of Christ and His word, will insure
it a hearty entrance in devout minds. I congratulate the author on the consum-
mation and success of an undertaking as difficult as it has been delicate." —
Bishop Hurst.

"Dr. Deems's volume entitled 'Jesus,' has qualities which I find in no other
life of our Lord, and which bring me back to the book for companionship and re-
freshment at times when other books written with a similar aim have ceased to be
attractive. I am pleased to hear that the volume is to appear in a new edition." —
Joseph Cook of Boston.

The late George Ripley, of the New York Tribune, in an elaborate review of
this book, closes as follows :

" Dr. Deems never fails to be impressive, and at times is truly forcible. His
book for the most part, is singularly readable, and well adapted to awaken a fresh
interest in the christian records, and the divine personage whom they portray."



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Online LibraryCharles F. (Charles Force) DeemsWho was Jesus? → online text (page 77 of 77)