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3 3433 07954764 6






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The Mind of the Master



By

jfohn IVatson, D.D.




t16th STREET BRANCH :^/mV^^
201 West tISjh STREET ' * ''^' '



NEW YORK
DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY

1908



THE i:iiW YOKK
PUBLIC LIBRARY
741580

A8TOR, LENOX AND
TIt-DfcN FOUNDATIONS

R 1916 L



Copyright, i89«;, 1896
Bt Dodd, Mead & Compans



j4U rights reserved



1H^



TO MY PEOPLE

m GRATEFUL RECOGNITION

OF THEIR

CHARITY, LOYALTY, AND

PATIENCE



\ao



CONTENTS

PAGE

I. JESUS OUR SUPREME TEACHER , , 3

II. THE DEVELOPMENT OF TRUTH . . 2$

III. THE SOVEREIGNTY OF CHARACTER , 49

IV. AGELESS LIFE 67

V. SIN AN ACT OF SELF-WILL , , » Sj

VI. THE CULTURE OF THE CROSS . . I07

VII. FAITH THE SIXTH SENSE . , . I3I

VIII. THE LAW OF SPIRITUAL GRAVITATION 157

IX. DEVOTION TO A PERSON THE DYNAMIC

OF RELIGION 177



viii THE MIND OF THE MASTER

PAOB

X. JUDGMENT ACCORDING TO TYPE . . 20I

XI. OPTIMISM THE ATTITUDE OF FAITH . 22$

XII. FATHERHOOD THE FINAL IDEA OF GOD 249

XIII. THE FORESIGHT OF FAITH . . , 2/3

XIV. THE CONTINUITY OF LIFE . , . 295
XV. THE KINGDOM OF GOD . . • • 317



JESUS OUR SUPREME TEACHER



PROPERTY OF THt
CITY OF NEW YORK" :-



JESUS OUR SUPREME TEACHER

When Jesus on one occasion strictly en-
joined His disciples that they should not
allow any of their number to usurp master-
ship over his brethren, and commanded them
to acknowledge Him as the alone Lord of
the conscience, it is evident that He had in
His mind the intolerable bondage of thought
into which the religious people of His day had
fallen. His own disheartening experience as
the chief of God's prophets lent a keen edge
to His words, and is a complete illustration of
their meaning.

No teacher ever gave such pledges of
Divine authority as Jesus ; no people could
have been better prepared for His Evangel
than the Jews. They had been set apart
as in a cloister that they might hear the
Divine voice, and a succession of prophets had



4 TIfE MIND OF THE MASTER

come ftbm the presence of God to declare the
Divine Wilh A nation had been trained in the
hope of' the Messiah to wait for the dayspring
from ^ba high and the fulness of God's king-
d6nVv\lt 'might have been expected that this
:Well-tilied field would have been open soil for
Jesus* words, and one dares to believe that
there might have been an auspicious seedtime
had the Jews passed, say, from Isaiah to Jesus,
or had Jesus come while the glow of Daniel's
visions was still fresh.

Unfortunately between the last of the great
prophets and the advent of Jesus there came
in one of the secondary periods which follow
on an age of inspiration, when the intellectual
consciousness of a people, hitherto running full
and free, comes to a standstill and stagnates.
No teacher of the first order arose to continue
the stream of revelation, but in his place ap-
peared that lower order of mind to which the
letter is everything, on which the spirit never
breathes. The scribes sat in the seat of the
prophets, and revelation was succeeded by ex-
position. Under the hand of rabbis without
insight or imagination the life departed from
Hebrew thought, and nothing was left but



JESUS OUR SUPREME TEACHER 5

empty bloodless forms, as when a flower is
plucked and dried. Theological pedantry had
done its work in the days of Jesus, and had re-
duced the sublime ethics of the Old Testament
to a wearisome absurdity. The beneficent law
of rest, so full of sympathy with struggling
people, was translated into a series of regula-
tions of peddling detail and incredible childish-
ness. The * clean heart ' of the prophets sank
into an endless washing of hands, and filial
piety was wantonly outraged that the temple
taxes might be swollen. Jewish faith had be«.
come a painted show, a husk in which the ker
nel had withered.

It is, on first thoughts, inexplicable that any
body of religious people — and one must admit
that the Jews were the most religious people
on the face of the earth — should have refused
the luminous and winsome teaching of "Jesus,
and actually sent Him to the Crost Tor '-His
Evangel. When one thinks a little Idngfer, and
puts himself in the place of the contemporaries
of Jesus, it comes home to him that they were
not really able to receive the ti'uth! and that he
himself might, in the same' c?rc\imstances,
have condemned Jesus as a blasphemer. For



6 THE MIND OF THE MASTER

the irresistible attraction of Jesus, as it now
seems to us, was His reasonableness, and
that was shown by His appeal at every turn to
reality. * This is what I say, and you will see
that this is what ought to be,* was ever Jesus*
argument ; and to an honest mind, without bias
or preoccupation, such a plea was unanswer-
able. But if the mind had long lost touch
with truth at first-hand, and was possessed by
traditions about truth, then Jesus could have
no access, and indeed might be only offensive.
Jesus and the Jews were ever at cross purposes
in this matter. He made His appeal past
tradition to truth, and they disallowed this ap-
peal and judged Him by tradition ; and by this
standard there can be no doubt He was a
heretic.

Jesus* attitude to tradition was quite clear
a^id consistent. It is not to be supposed that
H-e denied the right or propriety of Jewish
scholars' s-tudying and theorising about the Old
Testament Scriptures, for this were to cramp
the just exercise of human reason. He would
no doubt c6'nsAder it a fitting tribute to revela-
tion that eJ^rnest and able men should reason
truth out imo.her furthest conclusions and les-



JESUS OUR SUPREME TEACHER 7

sons, for the guidance both of conscience and
intellect. As it happened, the work of a sterile
age did not yield much, either of light or
strength, to generations following. But that
was its misfortune, not its crime ; the rabbis so
far were within their rights and their duty.
Theology, either in the department of dogma
or ethics, requires no justification ; it only calls
for limitation. As soon as they proposed to
bind their results upon their fellow-men with
authority, the scribes passed beyond their prov-
ince and were guilty of treason against the free
commonwealth of God's children. As dicta-
tors of faith and manners, Jesus resisted them
without reserve or compromise, and forbade His
followers to follow in their steps. The spiritual
arrogance of the rabbis had been a blight on
Judaism, and Jesus desired that His new re-
ligion should retain a perennial freshness.
There was only one guarantee that Christianity
would not share the same fate, and that was
the continual return to Jesus.

When Jesus laid this injunction on His
Apostles, He surely anticipated the history of
His faith; and circumstances have justified His
foresight. It is a necessity of the human mind



8 THE MIND OF THE MASTER

to theorise about truth ; it is a calamity to sub-
stitute theories for truth. One almost despairs
at times because we seem the victims of an
irresistible tendency to ignore the real, and to
be content with the artificial. No sooner has
some man of genius painted a picture or con-
ceived a poem, or even made a speech with
moral intention, than people set themselves to
invent amazing meanings and applications, and
raise such a dust of controversy that the orig-
inal effect is utterly lost. We are amused by
the societies which are the custodians of Rus-
kin and Browning, but none can be indifferent
to the manipulation of Jesus* words. If Jesus*
delicate poetry be reduced to prose, and the
fair, carved work of His parables be used for
the building of prisons, and His lovely portrait
of God be * restored ' with grotesque colour-
ing, and His lucid principles of life be twisted
into harassing regulations, then Jesus has been
much wronged, and the world has suffered irrep-
arable loss. This is the disaster Jesus dread-
ed, and no one will deny that it has, in some
degree at least, come to pass.

The footsteps of the holy Apostles had
not died away — concerning whose relation



JESUS OUR SUPREME TEACHER 9

to Jesus something will be said — before the
Fathers arose, and became, with the lapse of
time, lords of the Christian conscience. Great
theologians of the Middle Ages gradually took
rank with the Fathers, while council after coun-
cil, from Nice to Trent, saddled their accumu-
lated dogmas on the Church. Chief Reform-
ers almost literally dictated creeds to nations,
and the pragmatical seventeenth century forged
a yoke of doctrines so minute, tedious, and un-
reasonable that it became too irksome even for
our more patient fathers. Every side of truth
and every rite of Jesus was turned into a test
by which honest-minded and simple-hearted
disciples of Jesus were tried, condemned, cast
out, burned. Unity was as much wanting as
charity, for Christians in the matter of creed
agreed in nothing except in ignoring the Gos-
pels and persecuting one another. Romans
rest on the councils down to the one that af-
firmed the infallibility of the Pope ; an An-
glican goes back to the early councils and the
Fathers ; a Lutheran measures his faith by the
Confession of Augsburg ; and the Scottish
Church seems to suppose that Christianity was
only once thoroughly understood, when an as-



lo THE MIND OF THE MASTER

sembly of English divines met at Westminster.
Bodies of Christian folk have also ignored
Jesus' warning against Rabbinism, and have
surrendered their birthright by allowing them-
selves to be called by the names of men, and
so we have Socinians, Wesleyans, Cameronians,
Morisonians, and what not. One denomina-
tion is called, with surely some slight want of
humour, if not of reverence, * Lady Hunting-
don's Connection ;' and so it is made evident
that a masterful woman can actually found a
Church and lay down a creed. It comes as a
shock on one to attend some heresy trial, and
hear the prosecution quoting a foreign divine
of almost miraculous woodenness and the de-
fendant taking refuge in a second-rate com-
mentator. If you were to ask, as is very natu-
ral, why neither will refer at once and finally
to the words of Jesus, who can hardly have
been silent on any point of importance, it would
be at once explained that such a reference is an
irrelevancy and a subterfuge ; and one must ad-
mit that it would be an attempt to get behind
the rabbis to Jesus. But does it matter much
what any rabbi says ? and is not the only vital
question, What saith the Master?



JESUS OUR SUPREME TEACHER ii

There are certain rights which are legal ;
there are certain rights which are natural. No
law can take away the latter, nor can a man
divest himself of them by any form of engage-
ment ; and among the inherent rights of a Chris-
tian man is his appeal to Jesus as the one Judge
of truth. It has often lain dormant in the
Church ; it has at times been powerfully exer-
cised. Some one discovers that the water of
life is clearer and sweeter from the spring than
in a cistern, and shows the grass-grown path to
the spring. Perhaps there has been no long
period without some voice summoning Chris-
tians to break away from the tyranny of tradi-
tion and return to the liberty of Jesus. This
has been the work of all Reformers from Tau-
ler to Luther, from Luther to Wesley — to un-
earth the Evangel of Jesus from the mass of
dogmas and rites which have overlaid it. Two
parties have been in recurring conflict — the
Traditionalists, who insist, * This is what our
fathers have said, and what you must believe ;'
and the Evangelists, who declare, * This is what
Jesus has said, and this only will we believe.*
When Traditionalism has the upper hand, it
burns its opponents, as the Roman Church did



12 THE MIND OF THE MASTER

John Huss ; or annoys them, as the Church of
England did Robertson of Brighton ; when Evan-
gelism is strong, it clears an open space where
men can breathe and see Jesus. By-and-bye
each evangelical movement loses its free spirit,
and settles down into a new form of tradition-
alism. Brave hands clear away the covering
from the ancient temple of truth, and then the
generation following allow the sand-drift to
cover its columns once more. It is a long bat-
tle between a handful of faithful men and
the desert, and too often the desert has
won.

The spirit of our day is so resentful of tra-
ditionalism as to be even impatient of theology,
which is foolish ; and to threaten faith, which
would be ruin. No one, however, need be
alarmed, for there is good reason to believe
that the end will be the toleration ot a noble
science and the re-establishment of faith.
When workmen come with pickaxe and shovel,
it is either to destroy or to discover, and the
aim of present thought is discovery. Were
earnest men rebelling against ancient dogmas
because they were an integral part of Jesus*
teaching, this would be a very serious matter.



JESUS OUR SUPREME TEACHER 13

This would be nothing short of a deHberate
attack on Jesus. If they be only endeavouring
to correct the results of theological science by
the actual teaching of Jesus, then surely noth-
ing could be more hopeful. This must issue
in the revival of Christianity. There is no
question that for sometime dogmatic theology
has been at a discount. They say that both
the Fathers and the Puritans are unsaleable,
and this is to be regretted. But there can be
little question that Biblical theology is at a
premium, and this is of far more importance.
Never have there been so many Lives of Jesus ;
never have His words been so anxiously studied.
This is as it ought to be, and every Protestant
may well lift up his head. For what did the
Reformers of the sixteenth century contend,
but the right of Christian men to build their
faith at first hand on the words of Holy Scrip-
ture ? We are living in a second Reformation,
and it were an immense blunder for us to go
back on the principle of all Reformations, and
insist directly or indirectly that Protestant
councils should come in between Christians
and Christ. ' When I say the religion of Prot-
estants,* wrote Chillingworth, * I do not un-



14 THE MIND OF THE MASTER

derstand the doctrines of Luther, or Calvin, or
Melanchthon, nor the Confession of Augsburg
or Geneva, nor the Catechism of Heidelberg,
nor the Articles of the Church of England ;
no, nor the harmony of all Protestant Confes-
sions, but that wherein they all agree and
which they subscribe with a greater harmony
as the perfect rule of their faith and actions,
that is, the Bible/ Perhaps the ground princi-
ple of one Reformation was never more admir-
ably stated : the principle of our Reformation
is an advance along the same line. The re-
ligion of Protestants, or let us say Christians, is
not the Bible in all its parts, but first of all that
portion which is its soul, by which the teach-
ing of Prophets and Apostles must itself be
judged — the very words of Jesus.

As soon as any body of men band themselves
together for a common object — whether it be
making a railway or regenerating a world —
they must come to an understanding, and
promise loyalty. This is their covenant, which
no man need accept unless he please, but
which, after acceptance, he must keep. When
Jesus founded that unique society which He
called the Kingdom of God, and we prefer to



JESUS OUR SUPREME TEACHER 15

call the Church, it was necessary He should
lay down its basis, and this is what He did in
the Sermon on the Mount. For we ought not
to think of that sermon as a mere detailed re-
port of one of His numerous addresses, which
often sprang from unexpected circumstances.
It was not a defence against the Pharisee, like
the 15th chapter of St. Luke, or an explanation
to the disciples, like the 13th of St. Matthew.
It was an elaborate and deliberate utterance,
made by arrangement, and to a select audience.
It was Christ's manifesto, and the constitution
of Christianity. When Jesus opened His
mouth, His new society was in the air. When
He ceased, every one knew its nature, and also
on what terms a man might belong to it. It
would be very difficult to say which is the
latest creed of Christianity — there is always
some new one in formation, but there can be
no question which is the oldest. Am^ong all
the creeds of Christendom the only one which
has the authority of Christ Himself is the Ser-
mon on the Mount. When one reads the Creed
which was given by Jesus, and the Creeds
which have been made by Christians, he cannot
fail to detect an immense difference, and it does



i6 THE MIND OF THE MASTER

not matter whether he selects the Nicene
Creed or the Westminster Confession. They
all have a family likeness to each other, and a
family unlikeness to the Sermon on the Mount.
They deal with different subjects, they move in
a different atmosphere. Were the Athanasian
Creed and the Beatitudes printed in parallel
columns, one would find it hard to believe that
both documents were virtually intended to
serve the same end, to be abasisof discipleship.
It is not that they vary in details, insist-
ing on different points of one consistent cove-
nant, but that they are constructed on different
principles. When one asks, ' What is a Chris-
tian?* the Creeds and the Sermon not only do
not give the same answer, but models so
contradictory that from the successive speci-
fications he could create two types with-
out any apparent resemblance. We all must
know many persons who would pass as
good Christians by the Sermon, and be cast
out by the Creeds, and many to whom the
Creeds are a broad way and the Sermon is a very
strait gate. Since there is nothing we ought
to be more anxious about than being true
Christians, there is nothing we ought to think



JESUS OUR SUPREME TEACHER 17

out more carefully than this startling va-
riety.

What must strike every person about Jesus*
sermon is that it is not metaphysical but ethi-
cal. What He lays stress upon are such points
as these : the Fatherhood of God over the
human family ; His perpetual and beneficent
providence for all His children ; the excellence
of simple trust in God over the earthly care of
this world ; the obligation of God's children to
be like their Father in heaven ; the paramount
importance of true and holy motives ; the
worthlessness of a merely formal righteous-
ness ; the inestimable value of heart righteous-
ness ; forgiveness of sins dependent on our for-
giving our neighbour ; the fulfilling of the law,
and the play of the tender and passive virtues.
Upon the man who desired to be His disciple
and a member of God's Kingdom were laid
the conditions of a pure heart, of a forgiving
spirit, of a helpful hand, of a heavenly purpose,
of an unworldly mind. Christ did not ground
His Christianity in thinking, or in doing, but,
first of all, in being. It consisted in a certain
type of soul — a spiritual shape of the inner self.
Was a man satisfied with this type, and would
B



i8 THE MIND OF THE MASTER

he aim at it in his own life? Would he put
his name to the Sermon on the Mount, and
place himself under Jesus' charge for its accom-
plishment ? Then he was a Christian accord-
ing to the conditions laid down by Jesus in the
fresh daybreak of His religion.

When one turns to the Creeds, the situation
has changed, and he finds himself in another
world. They have nothing to do with char-
acter ; they do not afford an idea of char-
acter ; they do not ask pledges of character ;
they have no place in their construction for
character. From their first word to the last
they are physical or metaphysical, not ethical.
They dwell on the relation of the three Per-
sons in the Holy Trinity ; the Divine and
human natures in the Person of Jesus ; His
miraculous birth through the power of the
Holy Ghost ; the connection between His
sacrifice and the Divine law ; the nature of the
penalty He paid, and its reference to His Atone-
ment ; the purposes of God regarding the salva-
tion of individuals, and the collision between
human Will and Divine ; the means by which
grace is conveyed to the soul ; the mystery
of the sacraments, and of the intermediate state.



JESUS OUR SUPREME TEACHER 19

From time to time those problems have been
discussed, and the conclusions of the majority
have been formed into dogmas which have been
made the test of Christianity. If any person
should decline assent to one or all of those prop-
ositions, as the case may be, — on the ground that
he does not understand them, for instance, — and
offers instead adherence to Jesus' Creed in the
Sermon on the Mount, it would be thought to
be beside the question ; just as if any one had
declined obedience to Jesus' commandments,
and offered instead acceptance of some theory
of His Person, the Master would have refused
His discipleship with grave emphasis.

It may, of course, be urged that Jesus said
many things afterwards which must be added
to the Sermon on the Mount, to form the com-
plete basis of Christian discipleship, and that
great discourse is sometimes belittled as an ele-
mentary utterance, to which comparatively
slight importance should now be attached. Cer-
tainly Jesus did expound and amplify the prin-
ciples of His first deliverance, but there is no
evidence that He altered the constitution of His
Kingdom either by imposing fresh conditions
or omitting the old. Did He not teach, on to



20 THE MIND OF THE MASTER

the Cross, that we stood to God as children to
a Father, and must do His wilh that for no sin
was there or could there be forgiveness till it
was abandoned ; that the state of the soul and
not the mere outside life was everything ; that
the sacrifice of self, and not self-aggrandisement
was His method of salvation ; that love was life ?
and when He said, — ' Believe in me ' ; ' carry my
Cross,* was He not calling men to fulfil His Gos-
pel? If one had come to Christ at Capernaum
or Jerusalem, and said, * Master, there is noth-
ing I so desire as to keep Thy sayings. Wilt
Thou have me, weak and ignorant although I
be, as Thy disciple ? ' can you imagine Christ
then, or now, or at any time interposing with
a series of doctrinal tests regarding either the
being of God or the history of man ? It is im-
possible, because it would be incongruous. In-
deed if Christ did revise and improve the con-
ditions of discipleship, we should learn that
from the last address in the upper room. But
what was the obligation He then laid on the
disciples* conscience, as with His dying breath?
* This is my commandment, that ye love one
another as I have loved you.* It is the Sermon
on the Mount in brief.



JESUS OUR SUPREME TEACHER 21

No church since the early centuries has had
the courage to formulate an ethical creed, for
even those bodies of Christians which have no
written theological creeds, yet have implicit
affirmations or denials of doctrine as their basis.
Imagine a body of Christians who should take
their stand on the Sermon of Jesus, and con-
ceive their creed on His lines. Imagine how
it would read, ' I believe in the Father-
hood of God ; I believe in the words of Jesus ;
I believe in the clean heart ; I believe in the
service of love ; I believe in the unworldly life ;
I believe in the Beatitudes; I promise to trust
God and follow Christ, to forgive my enemies
and to seek after the righteousness of God.'
Could any form of words be more elevated,
more persuasive, more alluring? Do they not
thrill the heart and strengthen the conscience?
Liberty of thought is allowed ; liberty of sin-
ning is alone denied. Who would refuse to
sign this creed ? They would come from the
east and the west, and the north and the south,
to its call, and even they who would hesitate
to bind themselves to a crusade so arduous
would admire it, and long to be worthy. Does
one say this is too ideal, too unpractical, too



22 THE MIND OF THE MASTER

quixotic ? That no church could stand and
work on such a basis ? For three too short years
the Church of Christ had none else, and it was
by holy living, and not by any metaphysical
subtleties, the Primitive Church lived, and
suffered, and conquered.



THE DEVELOPMENT OF TRUTH



II

THE DEVELOPMENT OF TRUTH

Certain ancient and mystical theologians
used to divide the history of revelation into
three dispensations. One lasted from Abraham
to John Baptist, the dispensation of the Father;
another from Christ's Baptism to His Ascen-
sion, the dispensation of the Son ; from Pente-
cost to Christ's Second Coming, the dispensa-
tion of the Holy Ghost. Beneath this fantastic


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