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and greets him on his return, that even a sparrow does not fall to the
earth without it. This teaching is sufficient for the spiritual
necessities of our nature. The spirit that has adopted these principles
into itself will live a strong and blessed life. They have been the
inspiration of the centuries ever since Christ uttered them. They
contain all that could be told of God in the age when Jesus lived. But
they do not exhaust the truth of God. They leave space for
misconception. Love may be universal, and yet be not without caprice.
Providence may watch over all, and yet in every case be only a special
providence. God may watch over every individual of the race, but over
each merely as an individual. If there may be the caprices of love, then
it is not a long step to the possibility of caprices which spring from
the lack of love. Love may alternate with hate. If each individual be
dealt with singly, as though he existed by himself, the step is not a
long one to the thought of discrimination between individuals. The
caprices of love may become favoritism, and the special favor shown to
one implies the neglect of another. All these things are foreign from
the spirit and the teaching of Christ. They contradict the fundamental
principles of his teaching. And yet, men's habits of thought being such
as they were, the teaching of Christ could not be absolutely fortified
against them. He told men that the love of God was like the sunshine
that visits all alike, but the words passed through their ears unheeded.
Thus Christianity all along has been corrupted by misrepresentations of
its truth in which the thought of love had suggested caprice, and the
thought of special love and special providence had suggested the thought
of favoritism, and favoritism had suggested discrimination and neglect.
All men were seen to stand in the presence of God as individuals, which
is true; and merely as individuals, which is false.

The truth that God is love needs to be supplemented by another truth;
namely this, that God is Law. The great truth of the absoluteness of law
cannot be taught in a single lesson. No man can tell it to another. It
must be demonstrated to be believed. It must be shown in its myriad and
unvarying applications to all forms of being before it can be felt as a
reality. One must see for one's self the grand march of the order of the
universe, the unfailing sequence of cause and effect, the mathematical
exactness of the correlation of all the forces of the world, before one
can have a sense of the truth which lies at the basis and forms the
culmination of scientific thought to-day. This truth has not been
reached suddenly. The ages have been groping after it. This age has
reached, by slow and patient thought, a comprehension of this truth
which is its inspiration. The ages to come will only add to it new
illustrations as they follow its mighty sweep. This truth is what seems
at times to put this age into antagonism with the spirit of Christ. It
is really the offering which the thought of the age brings to Christ.
The teaching of Christ needs, as we have seen, this truth as its
complement. The antithesis between the two shows the intimate
relationship between them. When we bring the two together in one
thought, we have the most sublime conception that ever dawned upon the
mind of man. The truth of Christ finds a body: the truth of the age
finds a soul. On the one side, all possibility of caprice is driven from
our thought of God. The love of God, as strong and tender as the lips
of Jesus could describe it, is seen to be as regular and as calm as the
movements of the heavens. This truth only adds to the strength and the
clearness of our thought of the love of God. We see demonstrated before
us how his care pursues all things, how not a sparrow falls to the earth
unfollowed by this watchful providence, how every grain of dust that
floats in the summer sun has its place and work in the great whole, not
a single mote forgotten. We learn in what direction to look for the
action and succor of this providence. We do not look for it to come to
us in weakness, but in strength. We see that this perfect order is the
truest providence, that the care of each is most perfect that recognizes
each in its relations to all the rest. So soon as we recognize the
divinity of law and the love that is enshrined in it, we feel the
omnipresent might of this divinity, the omnipotence of this love. The
restlessness and passion of our hearts are stilled. Trust in God takes
on the peace and the calmness of the heavens. Such is the offering which
the age brings to Christ. It brings a body in which his spirit may
incarnate itself afresh.

The result of the union of the thought of the age with the thought of
Christ may be seen in all the relations in which the soul stands to God.
Christ bade his followers preach his gospel to every creature. The age
has taught us the necessity of educating and civilizing the barbarian,
if we would christianize him. Christ taught us to love the sinner while
hating sin. This has seemed to some paradoxical; but the age has removed
some of the difficulty by showing how much of what we call character is
the result of inherited tendencies and outward circumstances. Jesus
taught the doctrine of immortality. Men have tended to look upon the
future life as something standing over against the present. The age
teaches us that such a break in life is impossible, that if there be an
immortality it must lie hidden in the present. It teaches, too, that the
judgments of God, if there be a God, are never arbitrary. He does not
hold blessing in one hand and cursing in another, and give each, by an
outward bestowal, as he may see that it is deserved. Men's acts drag
their consequences after them. Thus the old Scripture phrases are just
coming to their meaning. It is not an angry God that pursues the sinner:
it is his own sin that has found him out. Men do reap the fruit of their
own sowing. There is no scientific truth of the day that stands in any
stronger antagonism to the truth of Christ than is implied in such
antitheses as have been referred to. Even the theories of development,
so rife at present, do not stand in the way of Christ. Christ looks not
downward but upward, not backward but forward. Such theories, if
established, would only show the progressive power of spirit, the
omnipotence of life.

But if the thought of Jesus needs that of the present age, still more
does the thought of the age need that of Jesus. If the spirit needs a
body, still more does the body need a spirit. The laws, the forces on
which the thought of the age dwells, until this divineness is added to
them are hard and cold. The body, which could carry on all the functions
of its life, yet without life, would be a machine, perfect indeed and
wonderful, but a machine none the less. The thought of the age, taken by
itself, uninspired by Christian truth, tends to drag down the soul, to
imprison it in mere mechanism, to take from it its divine inspiration;
and while we need the thought of the present age to illustrate to us the
methods of God's dealings with the soul, none the less does the thought
of the age need the knowledge that there is a soul. Among all the forces
of the universe, the power of the soul, the culmination of them all, is
apt to be lost sight of. The thought of the age tends to look upon
things from without, and to lose that which is their essence. It needs
the voice that shall awaken its own inner life, and thus bring it to a
consciousness of the life that lies at the heart of all things.

Thus we see how the thought of Christ and the thought of the age need
and complement each other. The thought of Christ is spiritual, the
thought of the age tends to become material. In this world we are
neither wholly spiritual nor wholly material. And we must bear in mind
that the two elements should not exist over against one another in our
thought. We must not hold the two conceptions, however opposite they may
appear, as two. In life the spirit and the body do not exist as two but
as one. As soon as they exist as two, there is death. So must the truth
of Jesus and the truth of this present age be blended in one thought. We
must not say love and law, but love in law. We must not see the divine
power setting at work forces that by their natural operation shall
reward or punish the spirit. We must see the divine power working in and
through these forces. Then, as science makes us feel that we are
encompassed by law, the words will not need translating to us; for we
shall feel that we are encompassed by God.

The relation which we have found to exist between the intellectual
teaching of Christ and the thought of the age is no less marked between
the moral teaching of Christ and the life of the age. The moral teaching
of Christ is absolutely true. It is as true as his thought of God; yet
like that it needs its complemental truth. Further, the moral teaching
of Christ needs instrumentalities. Love, however strong, cannot work
without means. The heart needs the hands and the feet.

In both of these respects the age brings its offering to Christ. Christ
teaches love and self-sacrifice. He bids us do for others as we would
have them do for us. He bids us give to him that asks, and lend to him
that would borrow. These principles are the very life of society. They
are the very truth of God. But yet these principles carried out, without
explanation and qualification, would produce harm as well as good. The
church of every age, in striving to carry out these precepts, has done
much good; but it has done much harm also. It has done good by bringing
succor to the lives that needed it. It has done immeasurable good by
keeping alive on the earth the spirit of Christian love. Men have been
blest by the power of the spirit, even more than by its specific acts of
mercy. But, while it has relieved the poor, it has too often tended to
perpetuate poverty. Indiscriminate alms-giving, mere alms-giving, is the
very mother of pauperism. We see in some Catholic countries how the
alms-giving which the church has taught in the very words of Christ has
degraded whole populations, has taken from manhood its real dignity and
strength. We need, then, not only the principle of love, but also a
knowledge of all social laws. The science of political economy must be
understood; but this, like physical science, cannot be taught in a day.
Ages must teach the lesson. The present age has only half learned it.
But it has learned enough to bring a magnificent contribution to Christ.
Christ bids us help men: the age, in its poor blundering way, is just
beginning to tell us how to help them. It teaches that the best way to
help the poor is to strike at the root of poverty. No less does the age
furnish means for carrying out the principles of Jesus. It brings the
ends of the earth together. Christ bids us love our neighbor. This age
has made those from whom the sea parts us our neighbors. There is
famine, or some more sudden calamity, on the other side of our
continent, or in a foreign land. Christ bids us help those who need. How
shall we carry sudden help unless we hear at once the story? How shall
we send prompt help if there be no strong and swift messenger waiting at
our door? But now the lightning tells the story the moment in which
there is a story to be told, and the unwearied steam bears our gifts as
soon as they can be gathered. The commands of Jesus are absolute. The
power of the age to fulfil these commands is approaching absoluteness.
Thus does the age add to the teaching of Christ the completeness that it
needs.

But does not the age in turn need this teaching? Materialism and
mechanism in thought are bad enough: they are worse in life. The life of
the age has a tendency to materialism and mechanism. The science of
political economy tends to become a hard system of rules, in which the
spontaneous sympathy of the helper and the individuality of the helped
are lost together. The eagerness of the world after material prosperity
tends to a practical absorption in these ends. Thus we have the greed,
the excitement, the madness, the display, the corruption that to so
great an extent characterize the age. We have seen that there is a
deeper life beneath this superficial one; but these evils, however
superficial, need prompt and constant care lest they eat into the very
heart. The body needs the spirit, or it will sink into decay.

I have spoken of the two elements which we are considering as if they
stood simply over against one another. This is in some respects true.
The thought and life of the age are, indeed, largely indebted to the
stimulus of Christianity; but they are not, like the painting and
architecture of the Middle Ages, the direct outgrowth of it. The science
of the present day is self-developed and self-sustained. The machinery
of the world has been invented for the world's uses. Its political
economy has been thought out to facilitate its own ends.

But though the two elements, to some extent, stand over against one
another, yet each, by its natural development, is approaching the other,
and each is becoming penetrated by the other. On the one side, religion
is catching the spirit of the age, and is approaching the clearness and
accuracy of scientific thought. On the other side, science is becoming
conscious of truth which is unattainable by its methods, and which is to
it therefore the unknowable. Already does Herbert Spencer, who
represents the foremost thought of the time, feel the awe of this
mystery, and see gleaming through it something of the presence of the
infinite love. The life of the age, also, by bringing men near to one
another, tends to produce the sense of human brotherhood. Its vast
business enterprise, in some of its aspects, does more for the cause of
humanity than many a professed charity. Further, the age is, to some
extent at least, directly inspired by Christianity. Its zeal for
humanity, its sympathy with the oppressed and suffering everywhere, its
gigantic and unparalleled charities, show it to be more truly Christian
than any age that has preceded it.

If however, in spite of all this, we are sometimes tempted to doubt
whether the power of the truth which Christ represents is to win the
mastery, or whether it is destined to be lost in the great struggle, we
must remember that its authority is that of elements that are
fundamental in human nature. The spiritual instincts may be repressed:
they cannot be exterminated. As in every little creek and inlet along
the shore the water answers to the call of the ocean, and feels the
might of the outgoing and the incoming tide, so in human life deep
answers unto deep.

We must remember, too, that Christ is not a mere teacher. His power is
not alone that of the truth he utters. It is no mere accident of history
that the higher truth and life which we have been considering confront
the age as Christian truth and life. They receive a power from their
union with Christ which they could not have received, even had the
thought of men attained to them, without this. We have looked at the
external form of his life and at his teaching in their relation to the
age. There is yet another step to take. There is still an inner reality
to be unveiled. Behind the power of his teaching is the power of his
personality. In this is found the climax of the antithesis in which he
stands to the present. The tendency of the present age is, consciously
or unconsciously, to disown personality. The laws which make the
substance of its thought, the mechanism that makes the framework of its
life, both tend to assert themselves against the power of a free
personality. We may illustrate this by the modern method of warfare. In
ancient times the victory depended on the strength of the individual arm
and the courage of the individual heart. Now it depends more upon the
drill of the army and the clear head of the general.

This tendency of the thought of the age is not based on error. It brings
to our thought of personality the correction that it needs. The tendency
of the past has been to look upon personality as existing by and for
itself. It has recognized no limits to the power of freedom. Each
individual stood by and for himself in the universe. Now we see a common
element in all lives. All lives are entwined together. We see limits
which freedom cannot pass. We understand something of the limits of each
individual. We understand something of the laws of descent and of the
power of education. Even the personality of Jesus does not stand by
itself as it seemed to once. We see in him the power of the common
nature. We see in him the effect of forces which had been in operation
since the world was. He was no stranger upon the earth. He was the Son
of God, but he was no less the Son of man. He was the flowering of a
nation's history, the flowering of humanity. The flower is drawn forth
by the sun, but it is drawn out from the plant. Even the sun can kindle
the flame of no rose upon the bramble's stalk. While, however, the age
teaches us what is the background out from which the power of
personality stands forth, and what are the elements that are fused
together in it, personality itself remains too much unrecognized. But, I
repeat, the integrity of human nature can never be violated; and
personality is the culmination of human nature. The power of a modern
army, we have seen, depends largely on its drill; yet even here the
impetuous courage of a leader may infuse a life into this vast machine
that shall decide the victory. Mere signals, it is found, upon a ship
will not answer the purpose of communication between the captain and the
men. In times of peril, in the midst of the fury of the storm, the
sailor needs the inspiration of the captain's voice, ringing with a
force that is mightier than the tempest; namely, the force of human will
and courage. No matter how mechanical the age may become, no matter how
the idea of freedom may be eliminated from its thought, the great heart
of humanity beats still in its bosom, and the voice of a strong, free
personality will sooner or later arouse it to an answering
consciousness. The very bands which it sets about personality will make
its power more strongly felt when it is perceived. Its very knowledge of
the elements that are united in it will make it feel more really the
might of the force which can fuse these into one burning point.

Personality involves three elements. The first is freedom; the second, a
purpose freely chosen; the third, devotion to this purpose. There is no
slavery like sin. Absolute freedom, and thus absolute personality, can
be found only in a nature wholly pure and unselfish. Christ was thus
free. His purpose was the vastest that any human soul has grasped; and
he gave himself to it with all the power of his nature. Thus Christ
possessed the most intense personality ever felt upon the earth. His
teaching came forth glowing with its fire. We feel to-day the effect
which his personality produced upon those who came into direct contact
with it. This influence has propagated itself from age to age. The
Church grew out of it, and its influence is felt to-day far beyond the
limits of the Church. Besides this indirect power of the personality of
Jesus, we may feel its force directly, as we bring ourselves into
personal relation with him. It has not lost its original might. It still
tends to reproduce itself in the present.

The form in which truth first utters itself has a power which no
subsequent repetition can equal. There is a kind of work that can be
done only once. The first discoverer or announcer of any truth stands in
a relation to it which no other can ever fill. Many navigators have
crossed the sea, but there is only one Columbus. Many astronomers have
searched the heavens, but there has been no second Newton. This fact is
most noticeable in regard to truths that represent not merely the
intellect, but the whole moral and spiritual nature of him who first
uttered them in their fulness. There is a fact in science strange,
apparently illogical, but yet unquestionable. It is this: The power of
heat-bearing rays to pass through any resisting medium depends not upon
the temperature of the rays, but upon that of the body from which they
come. The heat-bearing rays of the sun that approach the earth hardly
differ in temperature from the rays that are reflected from it; but the
former pass almost unimpeded through the atmosphere by which the latter
are to a great extent imprisoned. The rays reach the earth without
difficulty, but are entrapped by the principle referred to, and remain
to bless the world. The first have this power to pass through the
atmosphere because they come direct from the burning body of the sun.
The reflected rays have lost this power, because they proceed from the
colder earth. This law is as true in the intellectual and spiritual as
it is in the physical world. The power of moral and spiritual truths to
penetrate to the hearts of men has this strange dependence upon the
moral and spiritual power of him who utters them. The very spontaneity
of this utterance is a revelation of this power. It is because the truth
that Jesus uttered came forth from his glowing heart of love, it is
because it sprang fresh and spontaneous from the intensity of his
spiritual life, that it has such power to-day to touch the hearts of
men. As the sun's rays preserve their penetrating force through all the
interplanetary spaces, so the teachings of Christ have preserved it
through all the reaches of history. No subsequent repetition of these
truths can ever have quite the power that their first complete utterance
still retains. And the power that they exercise is largely in this, that
they excite in the hearts of men a spiritual life akin to that from
which they originally sprang. Scientific truths are taught by
demonstration. Spiritual truths are taught chiefly by stimulating the
spiritual life. When we live merely in the contemplation of laws, in the
study of external relations, our intellect is stimulated, but our moral
and spiritual nature may be comparatively dormant. Our life is
stimulated as we are brought into living relationship with the universe.
As our inner nature is thus stimulated, as it rounds itself into
completeness, the moral and spiritual consciousness is awakened. This is
the reason why it so often happens that spiritual truths are so real in
moments of sorrow. In its sorrow the soul lives wholly in love, and it
receives the enlightenment of love. Our nation had almost forgotten God;
but in those terrible years of war, when every soul was full of life and
earnestness, the earth and the heavens were full of God. Our nation's
history became transparent to us, as the history of the Hebrews was
transparent to them, and we saw God's providence in it all. Theology has
wrestled vainly with science. In such a struggle it will always be the
loser. Christian theology can never conquer science. Christian life must
absorb science into itself.

The truths that Jesus uttered, as they have been absorbed into the
common thought of men, or as they are received directly from the record
of his life, have a mighty power to purify the thought and elevate the
hearts of men. But I think that the greatest power of Christ to-day is
that of imparting his life to the men and women who are now living in
the world. The power of the Church will depend upon its power to receive
this life and to impart it. It is well to have a true theology; but the
church that has the most of the life of Christ will accomplish the most
for men. It brings to this truth-seeking and law-investigating age the
pure personality which it needs. And it will at last possess the truest
theology, for now and evermore it is the life that is the light of men.




THE MYTHICAL ELEMENT

IN THE

NEW TESTAMENT.

By FREDERIC HENRY HEDGE.

"[Greek: Philosophôteron kai spoudaioteron poiêsis historias estin.]"

Aristotle.


When Dr. Strauss, thirty-five years ago, in his "Life of Jesus,"
advanced and applied to the narrative of the New Testament a theory of
interpretation, in principle the same with that which a Christian Father
of the third century had employed in his treatment of the Old, the
theological world was profoundly shocked by what seemed to be the last
impiety of criticism. A hundred champions rushed with drawn pen to the
rescue of the old interpretation of the text. The truth of Christianity


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