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as a Regeneration of man, and therefore Jesus
declares that if any man be His disciple he
must carry it daily. Theology has one terri-
tory, which is theory ; Religion has another,
which is life, and the Cross belongs to Re-
ligion, The Gospels do not represent the
Cross as a judicial transaction between Jesus
and God, on which He throws not the slightest
light, but as a new force which Jesus has in-
troduced into life, and which He prophesies
will be its redemption. The Cross may be
made into a doctrine ; it was prepared by Jesus
as a discipline.

There are two methods of healing for the
body, and they are not on the same moral
level. One physician prescribes a medicine
whose ingredients are unknown, and whose
operation is instantaneous, which is certain for
all and the same for all. The patient swallows
it and is cured without understanding and with-
out co-operation. This is cure by magic, and
is very suspicious. Another physician makes


his diagnosis and estimates the symptoms, se-
lects his remedy in correspondence with the
disease, and takes his patient into his confi-
dence. He enhsts one's intelligence, saying,
You must have this medicine, because you
have that disease. There is no secrecy, for
there is nothing to hide : there is no boasting,
for so much depends on the patient. This is
cure by science. There are two kinds of Relig-
ion for the relief of man. One offers a formu-
la to be accepted and swallowed. It may be
in the form of a sacrament, or of a text, or of a
view. But as soon as the person receives it
without doubt, he is saved. If he wishes to
understand the How of the operation, he is as-
sured that it is an incomprehensible mystery.
Here there is no connection with reason, no
action of the Will. It is salvation by magic.
The other religion makes a careful analysis of
sin, and proposes a course of treatment which a
man can understand and apply. It is an anti-
dote to the poison acting directly and gradu-
ally, in perfect harmony with the laws of hu-
man nature. Is one willing to make a trial ?
then he can enter into its meaning and test its
success. This is salvation by science, and it is


not the least of the excellences in Jesus' method
that it is grounded on reason and can be tried
by experience. The action of the Cross on sin
is as simple in its higher sphere as the reduction
of fever by antipyrine or of inflammation by a
counter-irritant in physical disease.

Jesus does not appeal to authority for the
sanction of His method — always a hazardous
resort. He rests on facts which lie to every
one's hands. Self-examination is the vindica-
tion of the Cross. Is not every man con-
scious of a strange duality, so that he seems
two men ? There is the self who is proud,
envious, jealous — a lower self. There is the
self which is modest, generous, ungrudging — a
higher self. Just as the lower self is repressed
the higher lives ; just as the lower is pampered
the higher dies. We are conscious of this con-
flict and desire that the evil self be crushed,
mortified, killed ; that the better self be liberat-
ed, fed, developed. It goes without saying that
the victory of the evil self would be destruction,
that the victory of the better self would be
salvation. It is at this point Jesus comes in
with His principle of self-renunciation. If any
man will place himself under my direction, says


Jesus, and take the rule from me, * let him
deny himself, and take up his cross and follow
me.* As Peter would thrice deny his Lord, so
must Jesus' disciple at all times deny his old
self and refuse to know it. The habit of self-
renunciation is the crucifixion of sin.

It were, however, a depreciation of the Cross
to limit it to a remedy for sin : it is also, in
Jesus' mind, a discipline of perfection for the
soul. It is more than a deliverance, it is an
entrance into the life of God. The Cross is not
only the symbol for the life of man, it is equal-
ly the symbol for the life of God, and it may
indeed be said that the Cross is in the heart of
God. Jesus has taught us that the equivalent
of life is sacrifice, and it is with God that sacri-
fice begins. ' God so loved the world that He
gave His only begotten Son,* said Jesus with
profound significance, for His coming was the
revelation of the Divine nature. The Incarna-
tion was an act of sacrifice, so patent and so
brilliant that it has arrested every mind. It
was sacrifice unto the lowest and therefore life
in the highest, an outburst and climax of Life.
But Creation is also Sacrifice, since it is God
giving Himself; and Providence is Sacrifice,


since it is God revealing Himself. Grace is
Sacrifice, since it is God girding Himself and
serving. With God, as Jesus declares Him,
Life is an eternal procession of gifts, a costly-
outpouring of Himself, an unwearied suffering
of Love. To live is to love, to love is to suffer,
and to suffer is to rejoice with a joy that fills
the heart of God from age to age. The mystery
of Life, Divine and human, possibly the mystery
of the Holy Trinity, is contained in these words
of Jesus : * Verily, verily, I say unto you, except
a corn of wheat fall into the ground it abideth
alone, but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit.
He that loveth his life shall lose it ; and he that
hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto
life eternal.* The development of the soul is
along the way of the Cross to the heights of
life. As one of the mystics has it, * A life of
carelessness is to nature and the self and the
Me the sweetest and pleasantest, but it is not
the best, and to some men may become the
worst. Though Christ's life be the most bitter
of all, yet it is to be preferred above all.* * What,'
asks Herder, * has close fellowship with God
ever proved to man but a costly, self-sacrificing
service?' What else could it be if Love is


the law of spiritual Life throughout the uni-
verse ?

Progress by suffering is one of Jesus' most
characteristic ideas, and, like every other, is
embodied in the economy of human nature and
confirmed by the sweep of human history.
The Cross marks every departure : the Cross is
the condition of every achievement. Modern
Europe has emerged from the Middle Ages,
Christianity from Judaism, Judaism from Egypt,
Egypt from barbarism, with throes of agony.
Humanity has fought its way upwards at the
point of the bayonet, torn and bleeding, yet
hopeful and triumphant. As each nation
suffers, it prospers ; as it ceases to suffer, it
decays. Our England was begotten in the sore
travail of Elizabeth's day. The American
nation sprang from the sons of martyrs.
United Germany was baptized in blood. The
pioneers of science have lived hardly. The
most original philosopher of modern times
ground glasses for a living, and was the victim
of incurable disease. The master poem of
English speech was written by a blind and for-
saken Puritan. The New World was found in
spite of a hostile court and treacherous friends.


Some have imagined an earthly paradise for
the race, where it would have remained igno-
rant of good and evil, without exertion, without
hardship. Jejus saw with clearer eyes. He
made no moan over a lost Eden, He knew
that it is a steep road that leads to the stars.
Jesus believed that the price of all real life is
suffering, and that a man must sell all that he
has to buy the pearl of great price. Twice at
least He lifted this experience into a law. * En-
ter ye in at the strait gate . . . because
strait is the gate and narrow is the way which
leadeth unto life.* And again, after His glow-
ing eulogy on John in his intensity : ' From
the days of John the Baptist until now the
kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the
violent take it by force.*

Jesus Himself remains for ever the convinc-
ing illustration of this severe culture. His
rejection by a wicked generation and the out-
rages heaped upon Him seemed an unredeemed
calamity to the disciples. His undeserved and
accumulated trials were at times a burden
almost too great for Jesus* own soul. But He
entered into their meaning before the end,
because they were bringing His Humanity to


the fulness of perfection. Without His Cross
Jesus had been poorer in the world this day
and might have been unloved. It was suffer-
ing that wrought in Him that beauty of holi-
ness, sweetness of patience, wealth of sympathy,
and grace of compassion, which constitute His
divine attraction, and are seating Him on His
throne. Once when the cloud fell on Him, He
cried, * Father, save me from this hour * ; when
the cloud lifted, Jesus saw of the travail of His
soul — * I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will
draw all men unto me.* In the upper room
Jesus was cast down for an instant ; then
Iscariot went out to arrange for the arrest, and
Jesus revived at the sight of the Cross : * Now
is the Son of Man glorified.* Two disciples are
speaking of the great tragedy as they walk to
Emmaus, when the risen Lord joins them and
reads the riddle of His Life. It was not a dis-
aster : it was a design. * Ought not Christ to
have suffered these things, and to enter into
His glory? * The Perfection of Jesus was the
fruit of the Cross.

* Thou must go without, go without — that is
the everlasting song which every hour all our
life through hoarsely sings to us * — is the pro-


found utterance of a great teacher ; but Jesus has
said it better in His commandment of self-abne-
gation and His offer of the Cross. It has been
the custom to make a contrast between John
the Baptist with his stern regime and Jesus with
His gentle Gospel, but the difference was in
spirit not in method. If the religion of John
was strenuous, so was the religion of Jesus. It is
a necessity of the spiritual world Jesus Himself
could not break. Hardness is of the essence of
Religion, like the iron band within the golden
crown. Jesus was willing to undertake the
culture of every man's soul, but He knew no
other way than the Cross. If His disciples
wished to sit on His throne, they must drink
His cup and be baptized with His baptism.
Jesus did not walk one way Himself and pro-
pose another for the disciples, but invited them
to His experience if they desired His attain-
ment. His method was not the materialistic
cross of Munkacsy, it was the mystical cross of
Perugino. Jesus nowhere commanded that one
cling to His Cross, He everywhere commanded
that one carry His Cross, and out of this daily
crucifixion has been born the most beautiful


sainthood from St. Paul to St. Francis, from
A Kempis to George Herbert. For * there is
no salvation of the soul nor hope of everlasting
life but in the Cross.'




Religion is recognised not only as a univer-
sal factor in human history, but also as an es-
sential element of human nature, so that if any
person with a sense of responsibility proposes
to remove the supernatural Religion of the
past, he feels himself bound to replace it with a
natural Religion for the future. It is one thing
however to do homage to a ruler, it is another
to identify his throne, and, apart from Jesus, it
were hardly possible to determine the seat of
Religion. Some have argued that Religion is
the fulfilment of duty ; this is to settle Religion
in the conscience and to reduce it to morality.
Some have insisted that Religion is the accept-
ance of revealed truth ; this is to settle Religion
in the reason, and to resolve Religion into
knowledge. Some have pleaded that Religion
is a state of feeling ; this is to settle Religion in


the heart and to dissolve it into emotion. The
philosopher, the theologian, the mystic can each
make out a good case, for each has without
doubt represented a side of Religion. None of
the three can exclude the other two ; all three
cannot include Religion. Piety, knowledge,
emotion are only prolegomena to Religion — '
its favourite forms and customs. Localise Re-
ligion in any of those spheres, and you have a
provincial notion ; what we want is an imperial
idea of our greatest experience. As usual, we
owe it to Jesus.

Jesus recognised the variety of the religious
spirit and gave His direct sanction to its choice
fruits. Religion is obedience to the highest
law : * Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I
command you.* Religion is knowledge : ' that
they might know Thee, the only true God, and
Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.' Religion
is a sublime emotion : * She hath washed my
feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs
of her head.' But religion with Jesus is not
merely an influence diffused through our spirit-
ual nature like heat through iron ; it has a sep-
arate existence. Religion is not a nomad that
has to receive hospitality in some foreign de-


partment of the soul ; it has its own home and
habitation. It is a faculty of our constitution
as much as Conscience or Reason, with its own
sphere of operations and peculiar function.
When some exuberant writer refers to Religion
as a fungoid growth or a decaying superstition,
one is amazed at his belated state of mind.
Science discovers that Religion has shaped the
past of the Race, and concludes that it will
always be a factor in its evolution. Jesus did
not create Religion, it is a human instinct. He
defined it, and Jesus' synonym for the faculty of
Religion is Faith.

Jesus as the Prophet of Religion was ready
to submit every word of His teaching to
Conscience and Reason. He never suggested
that what would have been immoral in man
might be moral in God. His argument was
ever from the good in man to the best in God.
Human fatherhood was a faint suggestion of
Divine Fatherhood. ^What man is there of
you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give
him a stone? ... If ye then, being evil, know
how to give good gifts unto your children, how
much more shall your Father which is in heaven
give good things to them that ask Him ? ' He


never insisted that what was absolutely in-
credible to man was therefore all the more
likely to be true with God, but used the human
as the shadow of the divine. Common sense in
man was Grace in God. * What man of you,
having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them,
doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wil-
derness, and go after that which is lost till he
find it?* Jesus claimed no exemption for His
doctrine from the Law of Righteousness or the
Law of Fitness, but it was in another Court He
chose to state His case for decision.

When Jesus made His chief appeal to the in-
dividual He addressed Himself to Faith. He
asked many things of men, but the first and last
duty was to believe. Faith lay behind life ; it
formed character, it inspired discipline. * What
shall we do,' said captious Jews, ' that we might
work the works of God ? * Jesus answered and
said unto them, * This is the work of God, that
ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.* Before
the soul came to perfection it would have to
suffer, but it must begin by believing, else there
could be no Religion. Jesus' mind was con-
tinually fixed on Faith ; the word was ever on
His lips. It was the recurring decimal of His


thinking, the keynote of His preaching. His
custom was to divide men into classes from the
standpoint of ReHgion, not morals — those who
believed, those who believed not. He marvelled
twice : once at men's unbelief, once at a Roman
centurion's faith. When any one sought His
help He demanded faith. When He rebuked
His disciples it was usually because they had
little faith. Understand what Jesus meant by
Faith, and you understand what Jesus meant by

Just as a ship is kept in the waterway by the
buoys on either side, so does one arrive at
Jesus' idea of Faith by grasping the startling
fact that it was quite different from the idea of
His own day. The contemporary believer of
Jesus was a Pharisee, and his faith stood in the
passionate acceptance of a national tradition.
He believed that the Jewish nation was the
exclusive people of God, and that Jerusalem
would yet be the metropolis of the world, with
a thousand inferences and regulations that had
grown like fungi on the trunk of this stately
hope. It was contrary to fact to say a Pharisee
believed in God : it came out that he did not
know God when he saw Him. It is correct to


say that he believed in a dogma which, in an-
other age, might have been that of the Holy
Trinity, but in his age happened to be that of the
national destiny. The dogma of the monopoly
of God was difficult to hold, being vulnerable
both from the side of God and man. Jesus Him-
self showed that it did not correspond with the
nature of God, whose mercy was not a matter of
ethnology: ' I tell you of a truth . . . many lepers
were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet,
and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman
the Syrian.* He pointed out that it was con-
tradicted by the nature of man, whose piety
was not a matter of geography: * I say unto
you. That many shall come from the east and
west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.* While
this dogma had the advantage of being patriotic,
it had the misfortune of being incredible to any
fair-minded and reasonable person. You could
only believe it by shutting your eyes to facts,
and making the most intolerable assumptions.
Faith with a Pharisee was the opposite of

Jesus also had a contrast in the background
of His mind, and it throws His idea of Faith


into bold relief. ' Master,' said certain of the
Scribes and Pharisees to Jesus, 'we would see a
sign from Thee.' It was dangerous, they con-
sidered, to let truth stand on her merits : for a
prophet to rest his claim on his character. It
was safer to shift from truth to miracles and to
depend on the intervention of the supernatural.
Jesus was angry because this wanton demand
for a sign was the tacit denial of Faith, and the
open confession of an irreligious heart. ' An
evil and adulterous generation,' He said, * seek-
eth after a sign.' A nobleman was impressed
by the spiritual power of Jesus, and besought
Him to heal his sick son. His faith was strong
enough to believe that Jesus could do this good
work ; it was too weak to believe that Jesus
could work at a distance. Faith in this man's
mind was fettered by conditions of sight, and so
was less than faith. ' Except,' said Jesus, ' ye
see signs and wonders ye will not believe.'
When Jesus rose from the dead He found that
one of His apostles had not kept Easter Day,
and would not accept His Resurrection unless
Jesus afforded him physical proof of the most
humble and elementary kind. Jesus conceded
to Love what could not be given to faith, and


St. Thomas, who had lost faith in Jesus'
humanity, rose to the faith of His divinity.
But Jesus reproached him, and rated his faith
at a low value. It was only a bastard faith that
had not freed itself of sight. ' Because thou
hast seen Me, thou hast believed : blessed are
they that have not seen and yet have believed.*
* What,* said St. Augustine, ' is Faith, but to
believe what you do not see?* It was a happy
epitome of the teaching of Jesus. With Jesus
Faith is the opposite of sight.

Jesus crystallised the idea of Faith which is
held in solution throughout the Bible, and rests
on the assumption of two worlds. There is the
physical world which lies round us on every
side, and of which our bodies are a part. This
is one environment, and the instrument of
knowledge here is sight. There is the spiritual
world which is hidden by the veil of the physical,
and of which our souls are a part. This is
another environment, and the instrument of
knowledge here is faith. There is an order in
the education of Humanity, and the first lesson
is not faith but sight. The race, and each
individual in his turn, begins with the ex-
perience of the physical : seeing visible objects,


handling material possessions, hearing audible
voices, looking at flesh-and-blood people. It is
a new and hard lesson to realise the spiritual :
to enter into the immaterial, inaudible, invisible,
intangible life of the soul ; to catch a voice that
only calls within, to follow a mystical presence
through a trackless wilderness, to wait for an
inheritance that eye hath not seen, to store our
treasure on the other side of the grave. This is
to leave our kindred and our father's house, and
to go into a land which God will show us. It
is to emerge from the physical, it is to enter
into the spiritual sphere. It is an immense
advance ; it is a tremendous risk. Any one
who shifts the centre of his life from the world
which is seen to the world which is unseen
deserves to be called a believer. Abraham was
the first man in history who dared to make this
venture and to cast himself on God. He dis-
covered the new world of the soul, and is to
this day the father of the faithful.

Jesus insisted on Faith for the same reason
that a mathematician relies on the sense of
numbers, or an artist on the sense of beauty :
it was the one means of knowledge in His
department. He was the Prophet of God and


must address the God-faculty In man. Between
Faith and God there was the same correspond-
ence as between the eye and light. Faith
proves God : God demands Faith. When any
one ignored Faith and fell back on sight in the
quest for God, Jesus was in despair. Before
such wilful stupidity He was amazed and help-
less. You want to see, was His constant
complaint, when in the nature of things you
must believe. There is one sphere where sight
is the instrument of knowledge : use it there —
it is not my sphere. There is another where
faith is the instrument ; usf? it there — that
is my sphere. But do not exchange your
instruments. You cannot see what is spiritual;
you might as well expect to hear a picture.
What you see you do not believe ; it is a mis-
nomer ; you see it. What you believe you
cannot see ; it would be an absurdity ; you
believ^e it. Faith is the instinct of the spirituaf
world : it is the sixth sense — the sense of the
unseen. Its perfection may be the next step
in the evolution of the Race.

Jesus continually offered Himself as the
object of Faith because He was the Revelation
of the unseen world. ' Believe on me,* He said


with authority, not on the ground that He was
God, whom no man could see, but because He
was sent b}' God, whom He declared. 'Shew
us the Father and it sufficeth us,' was the con-
fused cry of Faith. * He that hath seen me
hath seen the Father,' was Jesus* answer. To
see Jesus was not sight: it was Faith. Sight
only showed a Jewish peasant, and therefore
Jesus said once to the Jews, * Ye also have seen
me and believe not.' Faith detected His veiled
glory ; therefore Jesus said to St. Peter on his
great confession, * Flesh and blood hath not
revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is
in heaven.* Jesus did not depend on His
metaphysical equality with the Father, but on
His moral likeness to the Father — not on His
eternal generation, but on His spiritual charac-
ter. Reason must decide whether Jesus be God
and Man in two distinct natures and one per-
son : it is the function of faith to respond to
His Divine excellence, who was

• Fulfilled with God-head as a cup
Filled with a precious essence.'

God was made visible and beautiful to Faith
as Jesus spoke and worked, and the denial of
Jesus was the denial of God. * The Father


Himself, which hath sent me, hath borne wit-
ness of me. Ye have neither heard His voice at
any time nor seen His shape ; and ye have not
His word abiding in you, for whom He hath
sent, Him ye beHeve not.' Faith fulfils itself in
the discovery and acceptance of Jesus ; beyond
Him nothing is to be desired, no one to be im-
agined. As Mr. T. H. Green says, ' Faith is
the communication of the Divine Spirit by
which Christ as the revealed God dwells in our
heart. It is the awakening of the Spirit of
Adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father.'

Two questions which harass the religious
mind in our day were never anticipated by

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Online LibraryIan MaclarenThe mind of the Master → online text (page 6 of 15)