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the future Judgment, He referred continually
to the awful responsibility of a present Judg-
ment. One can easily understand how the
revelation of Jesus* moral Glory on the other
side will raise to the highest power both His
attraction and His repulsion, and suddenly
crystallise into permanence the fluid principles
of a man's life. The stream will be frozen in
the fall. But this will only be the consumma-
tion of a process which is now in action. Je-
sus has not to wait for His Throne to command
attention or affect the soul. He is the most
dominant and exacting Personality in human
experience, from whose magical circle of influ-
ence none can tear himself. Can any one follow
Jesus' life from Nazareth to Calvary, and stand
face to face with Jesus' Cross, and be neither


better nor worse? Incredible and impossible.
Certain minds may hesitate over the Nicene
Creed, but it is trifling to treat Jesus as a name
in history, or a character in a book. He is the
Man whom Plato once imagined, whom Isaiah
prophesied, whom the most spiritual desire, who
exhausts Grace and Truth. Beyond all ques-
tion, and apart from all theories, Jesus is the
Revelation of the Divine goodness : the incar-
nate Law of God : the objective conscience of
Humanity. As soon as we enter the presence
of Jesus we lose the liberty of moral indiffer-
ence. One Person we cannot avoid — the in-
evitable Christ ; one dilemma we must face,
* What shall I do with Jesus which is called
Christ?* The spiritual majesty of this Man
arraigns us at His bar from which we cannot
depart till we become His disciples or His
critics, His friends or His enemies. With cer-
tain consequences. Belief in Jesus is justifica-
tion, for it is loyalty to the best; disbelief in
Jesus is condemnation, it is enmity to the best.
Jesus stated the position in a classical passage,
' He that believeth on Him is not condemned :
but he that believeth not is condemned already,
because he hath not believed in the name of


the only begotten Son of God. And this is
the condemnation, that light is come into the
world, and men loved darkness rather than
light, because their deeds were evil.'

As the mere presence of a good man in a
room will compel the silent opinion of every
other person, and be their judgment, so Jesus
was for three years, from His public appearance
at Nazareth to His crucifixion on Calvary, a
criterion of character and a factor of division.
He was the problem burdening every man's
intellect, the law stimulating every man's con-
science, the life exciting every man's imagina-
tion, the figure by which all kinds of men ad-
justed themselves. According to the Gospels,
every one was sensitive to Jesus. As soon as
He was born wise men came from far to wor-
ship Him, and Herod sent soldiers to slay Him.
When He was presented in the Temple, Simeon
took the infant in his arms and spake by th^
Holy Ghost, ' Behold, this child is set for the
fall and rising again of many in Israel.' If H^
preached in the synagogue of His boyhood, the
people, under the irresistible influence of Jesus'
Personality, * wondered at the gracious words
which proceeded out of His mouth,' so strong


was His power of attraction, and then would
have ' cast Him down headlong,* so great was
His power of repulsion. If He visited a coun-
try town in Galilee, a Pharisee would invite
Him to a feast in order to insult Him, and a
publican would make a * great feast in his own
house,' in order to honour Him. The people
were divided over Jesus, * for some said, He is
a good man,* others said, ' Nay, but He de-
ceiveth the people,' and the very Council was
torn with controversy, the majority sending
officers to arrest Him, but Nicodemus breaking
silence in His defence. If two men disputed
in those days, it was about Jesus ; if they
talked together by the way, it was of Jesus ;
the atmosphere was electrical with Jesus.
* Whom do men say that I, the Son of man,
am ? ' asked Jesus of His disciples, for He knew
they could not ignore Him. It was a day of
judgment — searching and conclusive. To so
many Jesus was the ' Son of the living God,'
to so many, * a man gluttonous and a wine-
bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.* He
was either the Rock on which wise men built,
or the stone which would grind wicked men to
powder. Jesus was much impressed by the


spectacle of this unconscious but decisive judg-
ment. * The Father judgeth no man, but hath
committed all judgment unto the Son. . . .
Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is com-
ing, and now is, when the dead shall hear the
voice of the Son of God, and they that hear
shall live. . . . And (the Father) hath given
Him authority to execute judgment also, be-
cause He is the Son of man.*

Jesus compared Himself to the Light be-
cause it bringeth to the birth everything that is
good in the world, and as Jesus fulfilled His
course, elect souls were drawn to Him. Simeon
saw Him only in His weakness, and was ready
to ' depart in peace ' ; John Baptist recognised
Him of a sudden, and laid down his ministry
at Jesus' feet ; St. John spent one night with
Him, and followed Him unto old age ; St.
Matthew heard one word from Him, and left
all he had ; a dying robber had the good for-
tune to be crucified beside Him, and acknowl-
edged Him King of Paradise. There was a
latent affinity between these men and Jesus.
He was the Good Shepherd, and they were
' His own sheep.' ' He calleth His own sheep
by name . . . and the sheep follow Him.*


Jesus also compared Himself to Light because
it layeth bare every evil thing, and the light of
Jesus raised sin to its height. The Sadducean
priests accomplished His crucifixion, lest He
should diminish their Temple gains ; the Phari-
sees hated Him to death because He had ex-
posed their hypocrisy ; the foolish people
turned against Him because He would not feed
them with bread ; Herod Antipas set Him at
nought because Jesus did not play the conjuror
for his amusement ; Pilate sent Jesus to the
cross in order to save his office ; Judas Iscariot
betrayed Him because he could now make no
other gain of Him. There was a latent antipa-
thy between these men and Jesus. ' If God
were your Father,' Jesus said to such men once,
• ye would love me : for I proceeded forth
and came from God. ... Ye are of your
father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye
will do.*

It was a drama of judgments, conducted in
the face of the world for three years, with an
evident justification and an evident condemna-
tion, but the former did not of necessity imply
a visible goodness, nor the latter a visible
badness on the part of the judged. Those who


approximated to the John type were not at all
saintly : St. Matthew was a publican, and St.
Mary Magdalene was a sinner. There was
simply one point in their favour, they hated
their evil selves and welcomed Jesus' cross.
Those who approximated to the Judas type were
not all evil livers: The Pharisees were careful
about the works of the Law, and devoted to
the cause of Judaism. There was only one
point against them, they were satisfied with
themselves, and were determined to have noth-
ing to do with Jesus' cross. The children of
Light are not so much those who have walked
in the Light as those who love the Light. The
children of darkness are not so much those who
walked in darkness as those who love darkness.
There were men ready for Jesus because they
had ' an honest and good heart.' There were
men alien to Jesus because they were sensual
and hyprocrites. It is a question not so much
of action as of bias.

Jesus knew that it was not possible to divide
men into two classes by the foliage of the outer
life, as it is seen from the highway. Few people
are saints or devils in their daily conduct : most
are a mixture of good and bad. Below the


variety of action lies tlic unity of principle.
Some people have grave faults and yet we
believe they arc good ; some are paragons of
respectability and yet we are sure they are bad.
No one would refuse St, Peter a place with
Jesus, although he denied Him once with
curses ; none propose a place with Jesus for Ju-
das, although he only committed himself once
in public. An instinct tells us the direction of
the soul ; the trend of character. We concur
with the judgment of Jesus, who said of Judas,
' One of you is a devil * ; but of St. Peter,
' Satan hath desired to have you, that he may
sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for thee.'

When Jesus judges by type, our Christ
approximation, or our Christ alienation, one is
struck by Plis absolute fairness. We are esti-
mated not by what we have done but by what we
desire to be. With Jesus the purpose of the
soul is as the soul's achievement, and He will
not be disappointed. If one surrender himself
to Jesus, and is crucified on His cross, there is
no sin he will not overcome, no service he will
not render, no virtue to which he will not attain.
He has made a good beginning, he has a long
time. If one refuse the appeal of Jesus, and


cling to his lower self, there is no degradation
to which he may not descend. He has made a
bad beginning, and he also has a long time.
Both have eternity. We choose our type, and
with God it is fulfilled ; so that St. Mary
Magdalene in her penitence was saved, and
Simon in his self-righteousness lost already.

* All instincts immature,
All purposes unsure,
That weighed not as his work, yet swelled the man's

account ;
Thoughts hardly to be packed
Into a narrow act,

Fancies that broke through language and escaped ;
All I could never be,
All men ignored in me,
This I was worth to God whose wheel the pitcher shaped.*

Judgment by type sets the future in a new
and solemn light. We can no longer think of
Heaven as a state of certain happiness, and
Hell as a state of certain misery, for every man
whatever may be his ideal. They are now
relative terms, so that one man's Heaven might
be another man's Hell. If one hunger and
thirst for God, then for him is prepared the
beatific vision and the eternal service. He has
his heaven, and is satisfied. If one seek nothing


beyond himself and his own gratification, then
he will be left to himself, and taste the fulness
of his lusts. He has his hell and is satisfied.
St. John was already in Heaven with his head
on Jesus' bosom. Judas was in Hell as he went
into the outer darkness. Each was at home,
the one with Jesus, the other away from Jesus.
None need be afraid that he who has followed
Jesus will miss Heaven, or that he who has
made the ' great refusal ' will be thrust mto
Heaven. One is afraid that some will inherit
Hell and be contend




Professor Orr opens his admirable Kerr
Lectures on the * Christian View of God and the
World,* with an exposition of the German idea,
* Weltansicht,' and pleads with much force for
a Christian theory of the world. It is an in-
teresting coincidence that the two eminent men
who delivered the last Gifford Lectures have
both addressed themselves to the same subject
in their treatment of religion. The Master of
Balliol, in his Evolution of Religion, and Professor
Pfleiderer, in his PJiilosopJiy of Religion, have
felt it necessary to embrace * Optimism and
Pessimism.* It is a sign of the times : it is also
a reflection on the past. Philosophy for more
than a century has realised the situation, and
has faced the problem of the Race with energy
and tenacity. * What is the meaning of Life?*
and 'What is its drift? * this kind of question


lay heavy on the mind of thinkers, and they
did their best to answer it. Unfortunately the
apparatus at their command was defective, for
the philosophers were not able to avail them-
selves of the two chief factors in the situation —
the revelation of the Will of God in sacred his-
tory, and the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus
Christ. They worked with the postulates of
reason and the visible facts of history. Some-
times they came to a conclusion of hope, some-
times of despair : but they wrestled to the end
with unshaken courage. Whether philosophy
has failed or succeeded, it deserves the credit of
an honourable attempt. Philosophy was not
blind to the world out-look, nor indifferent to
the world-sorrow.

While the problem has taken shape within a
century, it has existed since the beginning of
ordered thought, and the pendulum has swung
with regular beat between two extremes. The
Homeric age with its frank joy in nature — the
brightness of the sky and the glory of a man's
strength — which is the fresh youth of the world
• — was followed by the age of ^schylus with its
sense of the tragedy of life — Its shameful falls, its
irresistible hindrances, its inevitable woes —


which is the haggard manhood of the world.
The splendid idealism of the greater Hebrew
prophets who saw the dawn breaking afar on
the Person of the Messiah gave way to the
bitter cynicism of the author of Ecclesiastes.
Judaism, if you accept the Prophets as its most
characteristic interpreters, raised optimism to a
creed and embodied it as a people. Buddhism,
if you judge it by the example of its illustrious
founder, disparaged even existence, and has
clouded the horizon of the East. At the be-
ginning of last century Leibnitz declared this
the best of all possible worlds, and towards its
close Rousseau preached a state of nature as
Paradise, but after this century had been born
in blood and fire, Schopenhauer considered that
life was less than gain, and Leopardi hungered
for death. In our own day we have heard
Emerson lift up his voice in perpetual sun-
shine, and have gone with Carlyle when he
walked in darkness and saw no light ; and if
Pippa smgs, —

God's in His heaven,
All's right with the world,*

Thomson has written the ' City of Dreadful


Night/ It is a long action and reaction — an
antithesis that, outside Religion, has no syn-
thesis, and one is driven to the conclusion thai
optimism and pessimism are only half truths.
They are the offspring of moods of thought,
and carried to an extreme include their own
Nemesis. The shallow optimism of Leibnitz
was the preparation for Schopenhauer, and the
morbid pessimism of Hartmann is a prophecy
of optimism.

The controversies of philosophy have often
been metaphysical — in the regions beyond life,
but no one can deny that this long strife has
been practical — in the midst of life's hurly-burly.
No human being can escape it unless he be dead
to the passion of Humanity, or unless he had
never realised the distinction between what is
and what ought to be — the Real and the Ideal.
The unspeakable agony of human life, which
has been a long Gethsemane, and the unintel-
ligible condition of the lower animals, which is
a very carnival of slaughter, beat on the doors
of reason and heart. It is not wonderful that
some have tried to shelter themselves in a fool's
Paradise from the groans they could not still,
or that others, feeling the hideous facts, judged


it better to die than to live, — that some have
imagined no other God than a bhnd and cruel
Necessity, or that others have conceived two
contending forces of good and evil. Nothing
is wonderful in speculation or action save in-
difference to the enigma of life.

One recognises the limitations of Philosophy,
and turns with expectation to Theology, which
is fully equipped for the solution of this prob-
lem. Theology is the science of religion,
whose work it is to collect and analyse the facts
of the spiritual consciousness, and it is rich in
treasures. It has, for instance, a doctrine of
God, with profound conceptions of His right-
eousness and love. His wisdom and power.
Correlate the character of God and the destiny
of the Race. Should not this illuminate the
darkness? Theology has a doctrine of the In-
carnation, which implies the union of humanity
with Himself in the Eternal Son of God. Is
this high alliance to have no influence on the
future of the Race? Theology has also a
doctrine of the Holy Ghost, which asserts the
Presence of God in this world and His con-
tinual operation. Will not the immanence of
God carry great issues ? From her standpoint


Theology commands the situation in its length
and breadth, and can speak with a solitary-
authority on the mystery of life and the goal
of the Race. It suddenly occurs to one as
amazing that Philosophy should undertake a
subject for which Theology alone can be

It is much more amazing to discover that on
this burning question Theology up till quite a
recent date has been silent, and still delays her
deliverance. Christian Theology has nothing
to say to the Race ; her concern has been
wholly with the individual. The Race has
been the subject of a huge catastrophe, and is
left out of account. It is on the individual
Theology expends all her labour, and her most
elaborate doctrines are the explanation how he
is to be saved from the general wreckage. Her
outlook for him is an unqualified optimism so
far as he is separated from his Race. He will
be sustained and trained in this life as in a
penitentiary, and then will begin to live in
heaven — his real home. No single doctrine of
Theology, with the doubtful exception of
original sin, has, till recently, been applied to
the Race. The realisation of the Fatherhood,


and the expansion of the Incarnation, are of
yesterday. Theology will now explore the
consecjuences of the Incarnation, and tell us
soon what it means that the Son of God is also
the Son of Man. Hitherto pessimism or
optimism lay outside Theology because the
Race had been abandoned.

When one consults the supreme Book of
Religion, the result is at first a perplexity and
then an encouragement. Any one might take
a brief for the pessimism of the Bible, and
prove his case to the hilt. The irresistible
assaults of evil, the loathsome taint of sin, the
inevitable entail of punishment, the wrong of
the innocent, the martyrdom of the righteous,
the slavery of labour, the futility of life, the
moan of sorrow, are all in this Book, through
which the current of human life rushes to the
eternal sea. But if one should choose to take
a brief for the optimism of the Bible, he could
as easily win his case. The beauty of peni-
tence, the passion for God, the struggle after
righteousness, the joy of forgiveness, the attain-
ments in character, the examples of patience,
the victory over this world, invest human life
in the Bible with undying beauty. It is natural


that both pessimists and optimists should claim
the sanction of the Hebrew Scriptures : that
any intelligent reader might lay down the book
with the vision of the Race carrying its bitter
cross along the Via Dolorosa or crowned with
glory in the heavenly places. It seems a con-
tradiction : it points to a solution. No one
would dare to say that there is no ground for
the alternation of moods of hope and despair
that have lifted and cast down the seers of our
Race. Within one connected and consistent
literature both moods find their strongest and
sanest utterance — a pessimism that, even in
Ecclesiastes, still clings to God and morals, an
optimism that is never shallow or material.
Within the same book we look for the recon-
ciliation of this long antinomy and the revela-
tion of a deeper unity. We are not disap-
pointed ; it is found in Jesus.

No one has seriously denied that Jesus was
an optimist, although it has been hinted that
He was a dreamer, and no one can object to
the optimism of Jesus, for it was in spite of cir-
cumstances. He was born of a peasant
woman : in early age He worked for His
bread : as a Prophet He depended on alms ;


during the great three years He knew not
where to lay His head. But the bareness and
hardship of His life never embittered His soul,
neither do they stiffen Him into Stoicism. A
sweet contentment possesses Him, and He
lives as a child in His Father's house. This
poorest of men warns His disciples against
carking care and vain anxiety ; He persuades
them to a simple faith in the Divine Providence.
They are to ' take no thought for the morrow,
for the morrow will take thought for the things
of itself.' ' Sufficient unto the day is the evil
thereof.* They are to * behold the fowls of
the air,' and to 'take no thought for meat or
drink,' to ' consider the lilies of the field,' and
to ' take no thought for raiment.' Jesus met
the grinding poverty of a Galilean peasant's
life with one inexhaustible consolation, —
* Your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have
need of all these things.'

The severity of Jesus' circumstances was
added to their poverty, since this Man, who
lived only for others, was the victim of the most
varied injury. He was exiled as soon as He
was born ; His townsmen would have killed Him ;
His brethren counted Him mad ; the city of His


mighty works did not believe ; the multitudes
He had helped forsook Him ; the professional
representatives of religion set themselves against
Jesus, and pursued this holiest of men with in-
genious slanders ; He was a * Samaritan' (or
heretic), and ' had a devil * ; He was a ' glutton-
ous man and a winebibber,' and kept disreputa-
ble company ; He was a blasphemer and de-
ceiver. A huge conspiracy encompassed Him,
and laboured for His death ; one of His inti-
mates betrayed Him ; the priests of God pro-
duced false witnesses against Him ; the people
He loved clamoured for His death ; the Roman
power He had respected denied Him justice ;
He was sent to the vilest death. During this
long ordeal His serenity was never disturbed ;
He was never angry save with sin. He never
lost control of Himself or became the slave of
circumstances. His bequest to the disciples was
Peace, and He spake of Joy in the upper room.
He was so lifted above the turmoil of this life,
that Pilate was amazed ; and, amid the agony of
the Cross, He prayed for His enemies. Nothing
has so embittered men as utter poverty or
social injustice. Jesus endured both, and
maint^Jncd the radiant brightness of His soul.


His was optimism set in the very environment
of pessimism.

Jesus saw the Race into which He had been
born in the Hght that illuminated His own life,
and held out to them the Hope which sustained
His own soul. Pagan poets had placed the age
of gold in the far past ; Hebrew prophets re-
ferred it to the distant future. Jesus dared to
say it might be now and here. It was the glory
of Isaiah to imagine a Kingdom of Righteous-
ness that would yet be established, with outward
sanctions of authority, on earth. It was the
achievement of Jesus to set up the Kingdom of
Righteousness within the heart with the eternal
sanctions of Love. He was the first to insist
that the one bondage a man need fear was sin ;
that no man need be the slave of sin unless he
willed ; that freedom from sin was perfect
liberty, and that any man could enter into
heaven by retiring within a clean and loving soul.
The highest reaches of optimism have conceived
a state of physical comfort and placed it far away.
Jesus preached a Kingdom of Holiness, and
placed it in the soul. He had the faith to de-
liver this Gospel where the Jewish world was a
hollow unreality, and the Pagan world one cor-


ruption. It was the very extravagance of oj>-

The attitude of Jesus was amazing in the
wideness of His vision, in the assurance of His
hope. His kingdom might be as a grain of
mustard seed: in its branches the souls of men
would yet take refuge. It might be only a
morsel of leaven hidden in the mass of society :
the world would be regenerated by its influence.
He prepared twelve men with immense care
that they might carry His kingdom to the ends
of the world. Although He never passed beyond
the borders of Syria in His mission, He grasped
the nations in His faith, and saw them * come
from the east, and from the west, and from the
north, and from the south,* and * sit down in the

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Online LibraryIan MaclarenThe mind of the Master → online text (page 10 of 15)