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shall send forth His angels," etc. (Matt. xiii. 41). This is found
in Matthew only, and the explanations of parables are less trust-
worthy than the parables themselves. If the saying as a whole
be genuine, it is quite conceivable that the role which is here
discharged by the Messiah was in Jesus' words attributed to
the Father, or, as in verse 49 of the same chapter, to the angels
(" the angels shall come forth," etc.). And after all this JNIatthean
parable (like the last) strongly suggests the circumstances of
the early Church. The absence of passages definitely implying
a judgement by Jesus Himself in Mark and (with one exception)
in Luke is very significant. The words about coming in the clouds
of heaven at the trial, if genuine, do not imply Judgement hy the
Messiah : it is more probable that Jesus should have spoken of
Himself as sitting on the right hand of the divine Judge, than that
He should claim to he the actual Judge. Luke xiii. 25, xxi. 36
hardly imply more than Assessorship, even if they are unaltered.



50 Conscience and Christ

well have applied to Himself some of the current
apocalyptic imagery — how much we cannot be sure.
If he were indeed the Messiah, as His sense of close
communion with God and His consciousness of a divine
mission suggested to Him, it would follow that His
heavenly Father would in some signal way manifest
His Son to the world, visibly interpose in His favour,
and set up the long-promised Kingdom in some visible
and conspicuous form. Jesus probably applied to the
coming of the Kingdom — whatever He may have said
about His own personal role in it — the accepted
Messianic symbols, and no doubt we cannot explain
such imagery in a wholly " spiritual " sense, if by that
is meant the entire absence of anything miraculous or
supernatural in the manner of its setting up. But
not all the sayings can with probability be attributed
to our Lord, nor need we take all this imagery (when
it is well attested) with the deadly hteralness which
the extreme Eschatologists demand. In view of the
ethical and spiritual tone which pervades His teaching
as a whole, it is unlikely that He thought of the
Messianic banquet as a banquet at which literal bread
would be eaten or literal wine drunk — the more so as
this was denied by some of the rabbis.^ We know

1 " The world to come is neither eating nor drinking, nor
increasing and multiplying, nor giving and receiving, nor jealousy,
nor hatred, nor strife ; but the righteous sit with crowns on their
heads, and enjoy the light of the Shechinah " (b. Ber. 17a, quoted
by Herford, Pharisaism, p. 274). Why should Jesus have been
less "spiritual" than the Rabbis, even if it be assumed that He
cannot have been more so ?



Ethics and Eschatology 51

that He thought there would be no marrying or giving
in marriage in that Kingdom. And, if He did apply to
Himself the traditional picture of the coming with the
clouds of heaven (which is by no means certain), we
need not suppose that He who certainly spiritualized
so much of the old prophetic teaching necessarily
conceived that the exact mode of supernatural mani-
festation had been revealed to Him.^

But (2) it is simply not true that the Kingdom of
Heaven is always represented as something to be set
up in the future by a sudden and catastrophic event.
Side by side with the passages in which this is the case,
there are, as has been well pointed out by Prof,
von Dobschiitz in his admirable little book on The
Eschatology of Jesus, other passages in which the
Kingdom is as definitely spoken of as already present,
or as destined to spread here upon earth in a moral,
spiritual, gradual way. "If I by the finger of God,
cast out devils, then is the Kingdom of God come
upon you '* — is already come {eipOaaev) .^ This
passage is found in Matthew and Luke, and doubtless

1 I doubt whether our Lord promised the disciples that they
should sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel
(Matt. xix. 28=Luke xxii. 30, not in Mark). How could He who
made such a promise have declared that to sit on His right hand
and on His left was not His to give ? (Mark x. 40=:Matt. xx. 23,
omitted by Luke as derogatory to the Apostles) . Whether genuine
or not, the "thrones" may have been suggested by Testaments of
the Twelve Patriarchs (Judah xxv. i).

2 Luke xi. 20. An attempt is made on the analogy of modern
Greek to make this mean "is just coming." Such a conjecture
might serve once, but the extreme eschatological position involves
explaining away so much.



52 Conscience and Christ

forms part of the oldest Gospel source which used to
be known as the Logia, and which it is now customary
to speak of as O. So is the passage : " from that time
the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and
every man entereth violently into i t . " ^ Another passage
is not quite so well attested, being found in Luke only,
but there is no reason for rejecting it. "The Kingdom
of God Cometh not with observation : neither shall they
say, Lo here or Lo there ! for behold the Kingdom of
God is within you."^ And, in the light of these two or
three pretty clear cases, there is no reason why we
should not interpret in their obvious and natural
sense those passages which can only by a forced
and tortuous exegesis be squeezed into conformity
with a purely futurist and catastrophic conception —
the parables of the grain of mustard-seed,^ of the

^ Luke xvi. iG. In Matt. xi. 12 the words are somewhat
different, but the essential part is the same : " The Kingdom of
Heaven suffereth violence and men of violence take it by force."
It would be out of place to discuss the meaning of this difficult
passage.

2 Luke xvii. 20, 21. {(^vTh% vfj-Qv). If we accept the translation
" among you," that will not affect the argument. (Luke probably
meant "within"; the meaning of the original Aramaic is more
doubtful, cf. below, p. 55 note.) Canon Streetcr gives good
reasons for attributing this saying to Q {Oxford Studies in the
Synoptic Problem, p. 201). It may have been omitted simply
because it was not understood. Matt. xxi. 31 (" the publicans
and the harlots go into the Kingdom of God before you "), cited
by Prof, von Dobschiitz, may be got rid of by the suggestion
that in the original Aramaic the tense used was the imperfect,
which admits of being translated either in present or future.

' Matt. xiii. 31 ; Mark iv. 31 ; Luke xiii. 19. The stress may
(as is contended by some) be on the contrast between the smallness
of the beginning and the greatness of the culmination, but still the
transition from the one to the other is by a process, not by a catas-



Ethics and Eschatology 53

leaven/ of the wheat and the tares, ^ of the seed growing
secretly.^ All such passages may be much more natur-
ally understood of the rapid spread of Christ's teaching
— not, indeed, in the Gentile world or in a distant future,
but now, during His earthly hfe among His own people,
before His very eyes. So again, while our Lord some-
times speaks of " entering " the Kingdom, He elsewhere
speaks of receiving the Kingdom of God ** as a little
child "* — which lends itself naturally to the present
and spiritual interpretation. He who receives the
good news of the Kingdom, and prepares himself for
its coming in the right spirit, is already in a sense
within the Kingdom, or the Kingdom may be said to
be already in him. ^ The transition from the one aspect
of the Kingdom to the other is not a difficult or a
violent one. Jesus certainly started with the con-
ception of the Kingdom as something future. But

trophe. It is suggested that the idea of development is modern,
but after all the ancients were quite familiar with the fact that
trees grow gradually.

1 Matt. xiii. 33 ; Luke xiii. 21.

2 Matt. xiii. 24. This parable may no doubt be coloured by a
reference to the state of the Church in the Evangelist's day.

3 Mark iv. 26.

* Mark x. 15; Luke xviii. 17. Matthew (xviii. 3) has "Except
ye turn and become as little children." The words that follow (" he
shall in no wise enter into the kingdom ") show that the full
coming of the Kingdom is future.

^ So the scribe who answered discreetly was not far from the
Kingdom. If the Kingdom was nothing but a future event, his
distance from it could not be affected by his moral condition. It
is implied that had he a little more completely lived up to the
spirit of his answer, he would be already within the Kingdom.
But as this occurs only in Mark xii. 34, it may possibly be regarded
as an addition of the Evangelists.



54 Conscience and Christ

when He saw before Him the spiritual effects of His
teaching, He may well have been impelled to exclaim
" The Kingdom is already come." " You need not
wait till the distant future for it," He suggests: " when-
ever the teaching about the Kingdom bears fruit in
human society, in men's hearts and in their lives,
wherever men are living as they will live who shall
hereafter live in the Kingdom that is to be, the King-
dom is theirs already : the essentials of the Kingdom
are already present." In such passages we get what
Prof, von Dobschiitz has called a " transmuted
Eschatology "^ — the old eschatological or apocalyptic

* The transition from the idea of the kingdom as something
future to the kingdom as something present is far easier than
it is sometimes assumed to be, and there are precedents for such
a transition in Jewish literature. The original meaning of the
Hebrew and Aramaic terms translated kingdom of God is simply,
we are told, " Sovereignty of God," though it does seem to imply
also the social system in which that sovereignty is exercised.
" The sovereignty of God belongs, in the first instance, to the
current age, and is as yet fully acknowledged only in Israel. The
future will, however, bring a fuller development " (Dalman, The
Words of Jesus, I, p. 98). " ' The sovereignty of God ' is for Jesus
invariably an eschatological entity, of which the present can be
predicated only because ' the end ' is already approaching " (I.e.
p. 135). " There was already in existence, prior to the time of
Jesus, a tendency which laid little stress on the Jewish national
element in the hope for the future. This aspect of the future
hope Jesus thrust still further into the background, placing the
purely religious element decisively in the foreground, and He
thereby extended the conception of the ' sovereignty of God ' so
as to include witliin it the blessings mediated by this sovereignty.
P^or Him the sovereignty of God meant the divine power, which,
from the present onwards with continuous progress, effectuates the
renovation of the world, but also the renovated world into whose
domain mankind will one day enter, which is even now being offered,
and therefore can be appropriated and received as a blessing " (I.e.
p. 137). "It is indubitable that He developed His own ideas in



Ethics and Eschatology 55

language applied or reinterpreted in a present, a
moral and a spiritual, sense.

And the very possibility of this transmutation
implies something further. It implies not merely
that the Kingdom is not wholly future, but that even
the Kingdom that is future is at bottom — in its
inmost essence — a moral and spiritual conception.
The Messianic idea and its spiritual significance lay
so near to each other in the mind of Jesus that He
probably passed from one aspect of the Kingdom to
the other quite naturally and almost unconsciously. *

(3) And this brings me to a third point which it is
important to insist upon as against those extreme
Eschatologists who can see in our Lord's teaching
nothing but a piece of tawdry apocalyptic romance of
no more present spiritual significance than the expecta-
tion of Nero's reappearance, or the vision in the book

regard to the sovereignty of God in conscious opposition to the
Zealot movement" (I.e. p. 138). From this point of view there
is no difficulty whatever in supposing that He might have said " The
kingdom of God is among you," or even " within you." Dalman
appears to have no doubt that He said one or the other : he inclines
to the view that the original Aramaic meant " within." The whole
treatment of the subject by Dalman is most instructive.

^ On the basis of Matt. xiii. 52 we might argue that Jesus
was not quite unaware that in His mind and His teaching the con-
ception of the Kingdom had undergone a " transmutation."
" Therefore every scribe which hath been made a disciple to the
kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, which
bringeth forth out of his trccLSure things new and old." If the
saying be genuine, it betrays a consciousness that the old Messianic
language was being invested with a new meaning. But the passage,
or the turn given to it, may possibly be due to the Evangelist,
though personally I see no reason why it should be so. Luke may
have omitted it because he could not understand it.



56 Conscience and Christ

of Enoch about the stars which became bulls and the
cows which gave birth to elephants.

The conception of the Kingdom throughout — whether
it is looked upon as future or as present, as to come
gradually or to come suddenly — is at bottom ethical
and spiritual. Doubtless the environment, the
accidents, the setting of the jewel are apocalyptic.
No doubt our Lord expected that the Kingdom was
to be established in a supernatural manner, just as
all believers in Immortality think of that immortal
life as involving a divine action which goes beyond
anything of which natural law as at present known to
Science can tell us. True, the belief in Immortality
does not necessarily involve a breach of natural law,
and the eschatological conception does : but that
difference does not make the one conception spiritual
and the other not. The essence of the Kingdom of
Heaven, as Jesus thought of it, was that it was a state
of closer union between God and man, a state of
things in which God's will was to be perfectly fulfilled.

How shall I establish this position in a way that will
convince those who do not see that it is implied in all
His sayings about it ? The best proof that can be
offered is perhaps the purely spiritual character of the
means by which it is to be entered. The proclamation
" Repent " is as undoubtedly part of the earliest
message of Jesus as " the Kingdom is at hand." And
all through His teaching it is insisted that nothing can
secure admission to the Kingdom but goodness. Not



Ethics and Eschatology 57

descent from Abraham, not circumcision, not the
observance of the ceremonial law, not the sacrifices or
any other external rite, not (as was sometimes taught
by the Jews of a later day^) the Day of Atonement
and its ritual could procure forgiveness of sins,
deliverance at the Judgement, and admission to the
Kingdom. About these not one word is said in any
part of our Lord's teaching. Admission to the King-
dom depends upon righteousness and upon nothing
else. " Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord,
shall enter into the Kingdom of heaven, but he that
doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."^
It is the righteous and they alone who will shine forth
as the Sun in the Kingdom of their Father. All the
parables of the Kingdom, whatever other aspects of
it they emphasize, imply this — that repentance and
righteousness, moral regeneration, lives devoted to
the good of their fellows, were the sole means of
entering it.^

^ This was not the only view. See Herford, Pharisaism, pp. 210-
215.

2 Matt. vii. 2i=Liike vi. 46-8. "Except your righteousness
shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall
in no case enter into the Kingdom of heaven " is in Matthew only
(Matt. V. 20), and therefore perhaps not in Q.

' If we could rely on it implicitly, we might especially point to
the parable of the marriage-feast (Matt. xxii. 11 ; cf. Luke xiv. 16).
It is arbitrary and extravagant to interpret the wedding-garment
by " election " (as is done by Schweitzer), and to quote it in proof
of the fact that Jesus was a " predestinarian " ; though after all
to be a predestinarian is not necessarily to be unethical. But
the passage about the wedding-garment is in Matthew only. It is
curious how uncritical an " Eschatologist " can become when he
finds anything to suit his purpose.



58 Conscience and Christ

No doubt Jeeus thought of the Kingdom as some-
thing more than an ethical condition : it was a state
of reward : it included, it may be assumed, happiness
and freedom from the cares and sufferings of human
life as we know it : and to be excluded from the
Kingdom meant punishment and suffering — of what
kind it is unnecessary now to ask. If this is to be
unethical, almost all teachers who have beUeved in
Immortality have been unethical, — Plato and Kant
and nearly all the most spiritual teachers of philo-
sophical Ethics no less than all the prophets of all the
Religions. Even with a negative Eschatology such as
Gautama's, freedom from pain is part of the promised
reward.^ In the teaching of Jesus this reward is
symbolized by the ordinary apocalyptic image of the
Messianic banquet. The rejected gnash their teeth
with shame, and remain in the darkness outside the
brilliantly lighted banqueting hall. But there is in
His teaching singularly little insistence upon the joys
of the Kingdom — still less is there anything about
carnal joys except what is implied in the imagery of
the banquet . A Kingdom which is entered by righteous-
ness and nothing else must surely be conceived of as
a Kingdom of righteousness: that much is after all
implied in the old prophetic conception of the King-

» Jesus never taught that the good deed was to be done only
for the sake of the reward. The Pharisees, says Mr. Herford,
" were emphatic in teaching that the ' Mitzvah ' [good deed] was
not to be done for the sake of the reward, as if to obtain thereby
some payment of what was due " {Pharisaism, p, 275).



Ethics and Eschatology 59

dom, and even in that of the more spiritual Apocalyp-
tists. 1 The bare fact that Jesus taught that a Messianic
Kingdom was to be set up involves no disparagement
of Ethics. Unless to promise a future reward for
righteousness is to be unethical, there is no antagonism,
as seems to be assumed in some quarters, between
Ethics and Eschatology. In the preaching of Jesus
the announcement that the Kingdom was to come
and the ethical appeal went together. But to be
eschatological is not necessarily to be unethical.
Everything depends upon the question where the
emphasis is laid. According to the ultra-eschatological
School, all the emphasis was upon the Eschatology.
I believe the exact opposite to be the case. In the
teaching of Jesus all the emphasis was on the Ethics,
and upon ReHgion of an intensely ethical type.

It is scarcely possible to emphasize Ethics more
than to urge men to devote their whole energies to
winning an entrance into the Kingdom of God, and
then to tell them that the only way of entering it is
to be righteous. And there is hardly anything said
about the Kingdom — if we put aside the " little Apoca-
lypse " — except in close connexion with exhortations to

^ This is well put by Mr. Montefiore who has assuredly no bias
in favour of Christian orthodoxy. "The essential feature of the
ordinary conception of the Messiah was that of a righteous King
ruling over a righteous people ; the Messianic era was indeed one of
prosperity, but far more was it one of peace and goodness and the
knowledge of God. So far as it was this, why should not Jesus have
wished to be the Jewish Messiah ? " [Syn. Gospels, p. xcvii). Of course
Mr. Montefiore would admit that out of the various and conflicting
Messianic ideals, Jesus picked the most spiritual.



6o Conscience and Christ

righteousness. By the simple process of counting verses,
it can be shown that the teaching is mostly religious or
ethical. And what the Gospels do not contain is as sig-
nificant as what they do contain. Compare our Lord's
sayings with the book of Daniel, or the Apocalypse of
St. John, or with any of the other avowedly eschatologi-
cal and apocalyptic writings. These are not entirely
wanting in ethical elements, but the ethical parts are
small in bulk compared with those which deal with
the details of the awful calamities coming on the
earth, of the historical or physical disasters which
would precede or follow it, of the rewards in store for
those who should be saved from the approaching
judgement. There is nothing therefore in the mere
fact that our Lord believed that the Kingdom of God
would be set up in the near future, and in a catas-
trophic manner, which proves that Ethics formed an
unimportant or subordinate part of His teaching ; or
that that teaching possesses no value for us. If this
is to be shown, it must be shown from the actual
character of His teaching. What the character of
that teaching was, we shall examine in our next
lecture.

But, it may be asked by some, " Does not the mere
fact that Jesus expected the coming of the Kingdom
and a general winding up of the present physical and
social order within a few months or a few years by
itself imply that His teaching cannot be suitable to
the moral needs of our times — that it must be merely



Ethics and Eschatology 6i

an ' Interimsethik * — a mere temporary makeshift,
a provisional code for a strictly transitional state of
things ? " I submit that this is not to be assumed a
priori. Why should we spend our time otherwise
because we are going to die, or to pass into some new
stage of existence, in six months than we should do if
we were to know we had twenty years of life before
us ? '* To live this day as if my last " — has not this
been at all times a familiar prayer among religious
people and a commonplace of religious exhortation ?
No doubt, when we come to details, the probable
duration of Ufe does become important. A wise man
who knows that he has only a year or so to live does
not set himself down to write a Lexicon or a Universal
History, Objects of pursuit that are really vain and
unimportant may seem doubly so in prospect of an
early death : but not the things that are best worth
doing. And the same principle will apply to the
duration of Society as to the duration of the individual
life. Here the difference in detail might be greater.
A good man who knew he was to die in six months'
time would go on ploughing his field because he knows
that, even if he will not be able to reap the harvest
and eat the bread, others will do so. He might well
devote himself to the founding of enterprises which
others will carry on. But, if he thought the world
was coming to an end, or that human Society as
at present constituted was to be wound up, in five
years' time, he would not begin to build a Cathedral



62 Conscience and Christ

or to found a new University. Still, these are matters
of detail, not of principle. In point of fact the moral
teaching of Jesus contains very Uttle detail. It deals
almost entirely with general principles. The im-
perative need for repentance, the supreme importance
of pure motive, the swallowing up of all the command-
ments in the command to love God and our neighbour
— these are its main ideas. There is no reason why
commands like these should not be equally valuable
for a society which believes itself destined to endure
till the sun waxes cold, and for a society which believes
that some world-transforming catastrophe is close at
hand. There is no a priori reason for treating the
Ethics of Jesus as useless to a modem society, because
He entertained certain eschatological expectations.
Once more, if we want to discover whether it is an
'* Interimsethik " or not, we must examine the
teaching itself, and say how it appeals to us.

And here let me remark that in answering this
question we are no longer obliged to adopt a meek
and deferential attitude towards the experts in
Synoptic criticism or in Apocalyptic literature. When
it is a question of spiritual values, such persons have
no particular claim to be heard. To say what is the
present value of our Lord's teaching is the business
of the Philosopher or of the Moralist ; and even they
of course have after all no data to go upon but the
deUverances of their own moral consciousness. Here
it is ethical or spiritual insight which counts rather thar\



Ethics and Eschatology 63

critical learning or acumen, though a certain amount
of philosophical training and acquaintance with the
general history of thought may be considered not
altogether irrelevant. And I will venture the further


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