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hood — in the Christianity which recognizes these
things as part of the Christian ideal, however Uttle
as yet they form part of average Christian practice, we
may recognize that there has really been a return
to the spirit of the Master's teaching even when these
things involve much development of the letter. There
is more of the spirit of Christ in the modern ideal than
there was in the teaching of St. Augustine or of Thomas
k Kempis.

And here I should like to guard against two possible
misunderstandings of what I have said. In the first
place do not suppose for one moment that I am at-
tempting to represent that all the current modern
ideals are in harmony with a legitimate development
of Christ's own ideal. It is, indeed, an absurdity to
talk as though there was only one ideal of Morality in
existence at any one time or place. It is absurd to do
this in regard to the patristic age or the medieval period,
although at that time all the competing ideals pro-
fessed at least to be Christian. It is a still greater
absurdity at the present day to speak as though there
were one single ideal of life which we can call essentially
the modem view whether within the limits of professed



The Principle of Development 223

Christianity or outside it. And some of our modern
ideals I do not attempt to represent as Christian at all.
More and more in fact the real battleground between
the Church and its foes will turn, I believe, on this
question of the moral ideal : more and more the
theological differences themselves will be such as
directly flow from the ethical differences. Of those
who seriously accept the Christian ideal of self-sacrifice
for the common good and whose conception of that
good is not mere indulgence of the flesh, we can say
that, inasmuch as they are not against us they are for
us — even though they may not always follow with us
on theological matters. Nietzsche's ideal of pure
selfishness ; the ideals of Mr. H. G. Wells in the
matter of sexual relations ; the exaltation of aesthetic
culture above humanity and charity to which there is
at least a strong tendency in many quarters ; the
defence of unUmited, cruel, relentless competition
which sometimes (quite illogically I venture to think)
attempts to ground itself on the Darwinian survival
of the fittest — these and many other current morahties
or immoralities can never be " baptized into Christ." ^
There is a sense in which we may justly say that the
modern Christian ideal *' accepts " or ** affirms " the
world, but not the world just as it stands with all its
commonplace, conventional moralities and its still

^ I might add now the international Immoralism of Treitschke
and Bernhardi, more or less sanctioned by not a few German
Theologians, Roman Catholic, Liberal, and Orthodox Protestant.



224 Conscience and Christ

lower practice. There is still and always will be a
" world " which the Christian has got to renounce, as
remorselessly as ever.

Secondly, it must not be supposed that in what I
have said as to the return of the modem Church to the
ideal of Christ Himself, I am attempting to defend the
version of the Christian ideal which is often accepted
even in professedly religious communities and circles
as one which is really in accordance with the ideas of
Christ. The most that I have ventured to claim for
the ideal which modern Christians acknowledge is
that we have made a beginning towards a return to
the true spirit of Jesus. If there is one thing which can
be claimed as a definite discovery of modern Chris-
tianity, as a really new idea in Christian Ethics, it is
this — that we have got not merely to remedy social
evils when they have once arisen, but to take measures
against their arising. The great defect of the Chris-
tian ideal as it has commonly been understood in all
past times, whether we think of the ApostoUc Church,
of the patristic Church, of medieval Christendom, or
of modern Protestantism, is this — that Christian
Charity has contented itself far too much with curing
sin, with relieving suffering, with removing injustices,
with mitigating poverty, instead of trying so syste-
matically to organize human society that suffering and
injustice shall, as far as possible, not arise, and that
undeserved poverty shall altogether cease. We have
only just begun to recognize this as the true aim of



The Principle of Development 225

Christian morality : how much remains to be altered
in our ordinary manner of living, in our ordinary
standards of comfort and expenditure, in our ordinary
manner of doing business, in the manners and view of
life which are practically received and acted upon by
most religious people, I must forbear to estimate. I
will only insist that the change that seems to be called
for is very great and far-reaching. There may be many
different opinions as to the way in which human
society ought to be reorganized so as to realize the
closest possible approximation to Christ's ideal of a
society in which all men treat each other as brothers.
That such a reorganization is required, and that
Christians are bound to strive for it, is a matter about
which there ought to be no doubt or difference of
opinion among Christians. We have not the excuses
which Christians of past ages could plead for neglect-
ing this side of Christian Ethics. We do not believe
that in consequence of the first man's sin the world has
been given over to the dominion of the devil. We do
not believe that human nature has been so deeply
corrupted that no trace of the divine image is left in it ;
we do not beheve that the world is just on the point
of coming to an end, so that there is no use in trying
to make things better for those who come after us ;
we do not believe that in moderation the pleasure and
enjoyment in which rich people indulge — still less
their education and their intellectual activities — are
so hopelessly vile and contemptible that it would be
Q



226 Conscience and Christ

positively wrong to try and extend them in some
measure to the poor. And therefore, whatever the
spirit of Christ may have prescribed to those who did
entertain these beUefs, that same spirit prescribes a
very different course to ourselves. And, whatever
view we may hold as to the proper means of social
regeneration, one thing is certain. It is simply im-
possible that the poor can ever be made even a
little richer without the rich being made, whether
by legislation or by their own voluntary action, a good
deal poorer. And therefore it must not be supposed
that the modern interpretation of Christ's ideal will
ever cease to include the element of self-sacrifice. Self-
inflicted pain, pain for its own sake, is no part of
Christ's ideal : self-sacrifice for the sake of others — as
a means to social good — represents the very central
idea of all Morality ; and it is just because it does
assert the supreme value and necessity of this self-
sacrifice for the good of all in a way that no other
historical religion has done, that Christ's ideal main-
tains its identity through all the inevitable and legiti-
mate developments in detail which it has undergone ;
that it is still the ideal which the modern world wants,
and which all that is best in the modern world con-
sciously or unconsciously acknowledges.



ADDITIONAL NOTE ON CHRISTIAN ETHICS IN
THE APOSTOLIC WRITINGS

In a more extended course the natural sequel of Lecture V
would be a lecture, or several lectures, on the Ethics of the
New Testament outside the actual teaching of Christ, but
to attempt such a task with any thoroughness would carry
me beyond the limits prescribed by the scheme of these
lectures ; and if all the New Testament writings were to be
included, it would be difficult to avoid extending the
enquiry some way into the early history of the Church, for
the latest New Testament writings are possibly later than
some uncanonical writings. In lieu of any such systematic
treatment, I wiU endeavour to exhibit in very brief outline
the chief lines of development which Christian Ethics
underwent in the hands of the most important New
Testament writers.

(i) St. Paul was probably the first fully to grasp the
Universalism implied in the teaching of our Lord Himself,
and formally to proclaim that the Jewish ceremonial law
was not binding on Gentiles ; though the way for his work
was largely prepared for him by St. Stephen (Acts vii.), and
the men of Cyprus and Cyrene who for the first time
preached Christianity to Gentiles at Antioch (Acts viii. 4 ;
xi. 20). St. Paul seems personally to have observed the
Law, but to have done so rather as a matter of expediency
and national custom than as a matter of strict moral
obligation. He refused to observe the letter of the law,
or at least the rabbinical amplification of it, in so far as

227



228 Conscience and Christ

that forbade social and religious intercourse with Gentiles.
This principle is fully accepted by all the other New
Testament writings, where they exphcitly touch upon the
subject. This Universalism is especially prominent in the
Johannine writings, which (whoever was their author) are
assuredly not independent of Pauhne influence.

(2) The distinction thus effected between the moral and
the ceremonial law made it possible for the Apostles to
assert the essential principles of our Lord's teaching — the
inclusion of all Morality in the duty of brotherly love — in
an absolutely explicit way. " Owe no man anything, save
to love one another : for he that loveth his neighbour
hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit
adultery. Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal,
Thou shalt not covet, and if there be any other command-
ment, it is summed up in this word, namely. Thou shalt
love thy neighbour as thyself " (Rom. xiii. 8, 9 ; cf.
also Gal. v. 14). In the same spirit love is recognized
as superior in intrinsic value to all other personal qualities,
even to spiritual gifts of the highest value, even to Faith
and to Hope : " but the greatest of these is Charity "
(i Cor. xiii. 13). Completely consonant with this is the
teaching of the Johannine writings. " This is the message
which ye heard from the beginning, that we should love
one another " (i John iii. 11). " He that loveth not
knoweth not God ; for God is love " (i John iv. 8). The
whole of the first Epistle is a magnificent embodiment of
the inmost essence of Christ's own teaching. ^ The Epistle
of St. James has been supposed to have a Jewish tone
about it, but nowhere is the supremacy and all-inclusive-
ness of the command " Thou shalt love thy neighbour as

* The same may be said of many portions of the fourth Gospel,
even where the sayings cannot be treated as actual records of the
Master's teaching.



The Apostolic Teaching 229

thyself " more fully recognized (James ii.). Cf. i Peter
i. 22, iii. 8, iv. 8 ; Heb. xiii. i.

(3) Those special virtues and duties which, though they
may in a sense be regarded as all embraced in Love (since
they all contribute to the true good of Humanity) , are not
obviously coincident with mere kindness, are enforced
with more detail than in the teaching of our Lord. The
necessity for such enforcement naturally arose with the
growth of organized Christian communities, especially of
Gentile communities in which ordinary Jewish moral ideas
could not be taken for granted. In particular it became
necessary to insist emphatically on abstinence from various
sins of the flesh, from drunkenness and revelling, and from
" filthy talking" (Rom, xiii. 13 ; i Cor. v., vi. 9-20; Eph. iv.
19, 29 ; V. 3-12 ; I Thess. iv. 3-8 ; i Peter ii. 11, 12 ; iv.
1-7). There is for the most part nothing in this teaching
which goes beyond ordinary Jewish ideals, except that our
Lord's teaching about the permanence of marriage is pre-
supposed wherever the subject is touched upon. The
doctrine of love is further developed and apphed to the
details of personal conduct with far greater minuteness
than is the case in the teaching of Christ, who could pre-
suppose the ordinary Jewish Morahty, and who aimed
chiefly at arousing conscience and insisting upon a few
great principles, especially those not generally recognized.
Thus we get in St. Paul long hsts of virtues or quahties
which may be said to be closely akin to love, and of the
vices which are opposed to it. See Rom. i. 28-31 ; xii.
9-19 ; Gal. v. 16-26 ; Col. iii. 5-14.

Among the virtues specially insisted upon are Veracity
and Humihty. Both of these are based upon the principle
of Love. " Wherefore, putting away falsehood, speak ye
truth each one with his neighbour ; for we are members
one of another " (Eph. iv. 25 ; cf. Col. iii. 9). j" In love of



230 Conscience and Christ

the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another, in
honour preferring one another " (Rom. xii. lo ; cf. Phil,
ii. 3, 4 ; I Peter v. 5; James iv. 6). In various other
directions the duty of love is translated into distinct
precepts. In all the ApostoHc writings there is a strong
insistence upon the duty of Almsgiving, which was made
particularly necessary by the circumstances of the early
Christian Church at Jerusalem and by the prevalence of
petty persecution : the organization of Charity was one
main function of the Christian communities and their
leaders (Rom. xii. 8; i Cor. ix., xvi,; 2 Cor. viii., ix.,xi. 8,9).
The expectation of the Parousia and the reliance upon
extensive Charity from the Church made it necessary to
insist with peculiar emphasis on the duty of all to work for
the support of themselves and their families (Eph. iv. 28 ;
I Thess. iv. II ; 2 Thess. iii. 10-12).

(4) The circumstances of the early Church raised various
questions of Casuistry, which demanded exphcit solution
for the guidance both of individual Christians and of the
Christian Communities and their rulers. Of these the
most important were the question of meats offered to idols
(Rom. xiv. 14 ; i Cor. viii., x.) ; intermarriage with the
heathen (i Cor. vii. 12-17 '> 2 Cor. vi. 14-18) ; the marital
relations of Christians (i Cor. vii. 3-5) ; divorce (i Cor.
vii. 39). It will be generally admitted that the decisions
of St. Paul were on the whole entirely in accordance with
the dictates of Christian common sense. As to divorce
(i Cor. vii. 39) St. Paul seems to forbid remarriage on the
part of the wife, apparently even if divorced by her husband:
he does not deal with the parallel case of the husband, nor
explicitly with the question of divorce in the case of
adultery. In one matter he defines a point which his
Master had naturally not defined ; he allows a husband
or wife converted from heathenism, whose partner



The Apostolic Teaching 231

refuses to continue the co-habitation, freedom to de-
part, and apparently to marry again. And this is the
principle upon which the Christian Church has always
acted, so far as the dissolution of the heathen mar-
riage is recognized by the civil law of the country
(i Cor. vii. 15).

(5) The organization of the Christian Churches called
for the enforcement upon Christians of a number of new
duties — duties of attendance at pubHc worship and
perseverance in Christian devotion, pubhc and private
(Col. iii. 16) ; proper behaviour at the love-feasts and
other rehgious gatherings (i Cor. xi., xii., xiv.) ; good
government on the part of rulers, obedience to ecclesiastical
authority on the part of those ruled (i Cor. xvi. 15-18 ;
I Thess. v. 12) ; the promotion of internal harmony and
the avoidance of quarrelling or litigation among fellow-
Christians and of party spirit (Rom. xii. 17-19 ; i Cor. i.
10-12 ; vi. 1-8 ; 2 Cor. xii. 19-21 ; Phil. ii. 1-3 ; Col. iii. 12,
13) ; zealous performance of various functions in connexion
with the spiritual as well as the charitable work of the
community (Rom. xii. ; i Cor. xii., xiv.) ; a combination of
severity with mercy in the exercise of discipline by rulers
and communities (i Cor. v. ; 2 Cor. vii., xiii. ; 2 Thess.
iii. 6) ; hospitality to fellow-Christians (Rom. xii. 13) ;
the duty of supporting those who devote themselves to
ApostoHc work, though St. Paul personally decHned to
avail himself of such support (i Cor. ix.). The exact
degree of value — temporary or permanent — which we
ought to recognize in all these regulations would involve a
treatise upon the Church, its functions, and its organization.
Suffice it to say that anyone who recognizes the absolute
necessity of ecclesiastical organization for the carrying
out of Christ's work and the diffusion of His principles
throughout the world must admit the necessity of some



232 Conscience and Christ

such rules ; and few will be disposed to deny that on the
whole the precepts of St. Paul and the other Apostolic
writers on this head do represent a thoroughly legitimate
apphcation to the circumstances of the early Christian
communities of the fundamental ideas of our Lord's own
ethical teaching. The obhgation to obey such rules is
based upon the principle of mutual Love, which carries
with it the duty of co-operating with others, of sub-
ordinating individual interests and inclinations, and even
to some extent private judgement in matters of unessential
detail, for the good of the Christian community and the
extension of its work among " those that are without."
The chief point on which exception might be taken to St.
Paul's actual rulings is his treatment of the position of
women in the Church Association (i Cor. xiv. 34-36).
This is a point on which the Christian world is still divided ;
but few will dispute the wisdom for St. Paul and the Church
of his day in deferring to the general sentiment of their
time.

(6) Another department of duty which called for more
explicit treatment than was required in our Lord's own
teaching was that of obedience to the State. This is
enforced by St. Paul and by the author of i Peter in a
way which was no doubt demanded by the circumstances
of the time, however unfortunate the precedent they have
supplied for doctrines of " divine right " and absolute
non-resistance in later ages (Rom. xiii. 1-7). The principle
that the State, according to the true idea of it — even a
non-Christian State — is a minister of God for good to its
subjects, may be regarded as a new ethical principle of
enduring value (cf. i Peter ii. 13-17).

(7) Patient endurance of suffering is one of the duties
which the circumstances of the first Christians obviously
called upon their teachers to enforce. It is frequently



The Apostolic Teaching 233

insisted on in all the Epistles, and is the main subject of
the first Epistle ascribed to St. Peter. Since effective
resistance to the State was for the first Christians wholly
out of the question, and would have been absolutely
fatal to the progress of the Christian faith, it cannot be
said that there is undue insistence upon the idea of passive
submission. The prominence of such exhortations in the
Epistles has no doubt sometimes suggested a too passive
interpretation of the Christian ideal ; but this tendency
has been chiefly theoretical except when the abuse of
these passages suited the purpose of a pohtical or ecclesias-
tical party.

(8) Another kind of development is to be found in the
apphcation of general principles of Christian conduct to
the various special relations of life. St. Paul in particular
insists on the mutual obligations of husband and wife
(Eph. v. 22-33 ; Col. iii. 18, 19 ; i Peter iii. 1-7), of parents
and children (Eph. vi. 1-4 ; Col. iii. 20, 21) ; of master
and slave (i Cor. vii. 21-24 i Eph. vi. 5-9 ; Col. iii. 22-25 ;
I Peter ii. 18-20). The details of these duties are conceived
of in accordance with the best ideas of the time alike among
Jews and Gentiles ; but a new spirit is infused into them
by the prominence which Christian teaching gave to Love
and mutual goodwill in all the relations of life. This is
especially prominent in the case of the mutual obhgations
of slave and slave-master. There is of course no opposition
to the institution of slavery in itself. It required a thousand
or eighteen hundred years more of development before
anything of the kind became possible. But the principles
laid down by St. Paul contain in themselves, if duly carried
out, the condemnation of the whole institution. Doubtless
St. Paul never contemplated that they would have that
effect ; but, if he had done so, the course which he took
would still have been regarded by wise men as the only



234 Conscience and Christ

one immediately practicable — to lay down moral principles
and leave the political applications to the future. The only
point of immediate application on which a modern Christian
would be likely to differ from him would be in his adWce
to the slave to remain a slave if he had the opportunity of
being free ; but it is not certain that his " Use it rather "
{[laWov xp^ia-ai, I Cor. vii. 2i) does not mean " Avail
yourselves of the opportunity."

So far we may, I think, recognize the ethical teaching of
the Epistles as a legitimate development of our Lord's
actual teaching, and as supplying a type and pattern for
the kind of development which must always be going on
if the Christian spirit is to be applied to the needs of widely
different ages and countries, and if what is true and noble
in other ethical ideals and systems is to be accepted and
brought into its proper relation with those fundamental
Christian ideas. But it would be too much to say that the
spirit of the Apostolic and Sub-apostolic age was altogether
after the mind of Christ, or represents in every respect a
model for our own imitation. It may be well briefly to
notice the points on which some reservation is necessary :

(i) There is something in the spirit of the Apocalypse
which may be thought Jewish rather than Christian. The
book is probably based upon an old Jewish Apocalypse,
or rather many Apocalypses, edited by a Christian hand
or hands ; but the editing — whoever was responsible for it
—is hardly sufficient to warrant its use as an authority
for Christian conduct. It exhibits a certain ferocity
towards heathen persecutors, but it does not contain
much in the way of ethical precept. We know too little
of the errors denounced in the Epistles to the Churches
to be able to judge how far they were merely theological
mistakes or how far they involved a moral laxity which



The Apostolic Teaching 235

justified strong denunciation. To a considerable extent
it is probable that this last was the case.

(2) The expectation of the Parousia narrowed the
Christian outlook upon life. For the most part the
ethical deficiencies which it brought with it were negative.
Men expecting a catastrophic judgement of the world
in a few years' time were not hkely to attach their true
value to Art, Knowledge, schemes of widely expanded
and gradual social improvement (such a limitation, by the
way, is almost equally characteristic of the best philo-
sophic Ethics of the time). It involved almost inevitably
(though not perhaps logically) some tendency to other-
worldliness — though the extent of this may very easily
be exaggerated. The temptations which it brought with
it to idleness, undue religious excitement, neglect of
family obligations and the hke were fully appreciated
and corrected by the Apostolic leaders themselves (see
especially i Thess. iv. ii ; 2 Thess. iii. 6-15).

(3) There are few traces of excessive Asceticism in the
ApostoHc or Post-apostoHc ideals. Extreme asceticism,
and a disposition to rely upon it, was a characteristic of
the heresies with which they were engaged in combating.
Dogmatic prohibitions or scruples about particular kinds
of food or drink are severely condemned. Still, we cannot
quite positively say that even St. Paul actually adopted
our Lord's attitude towards fasting (see above, p. 160 sq.).
If we may rely upon Acts (x. 30 ; xiii. 3 ; xiv. 23), the
practice of fasting was kept up in the earhest Church.
But the allusion to fasting in i Corinthians vii. 5 is due
to a transcriber (rejected in R.V.) ; and it is doubtful
whether in 2 Corinthians vi. 5, xi. 27, St. Paul is referring
to ecclesiastical fasting or (as seems more probable) to
privations endured in the course of ApostoHc journeys.
I Cor. ix. 27 is too vague to be appealed to in this con-



236 Conscience and Christ

nexion ; all Christians recognize the duty of self-control
in the matter of bodily appetites.

(4) St. Paul's idealization of the married relation,
which he used to typify the relation between Christ and
His Church, began that spiritualization of the marriage


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