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declaration before Pilate, that it was not of this world. Why should his
followers be ready to suffer social persecution, if his aim tended in
the direction regarded with social favor? What mean the non-resistant
exhortations, instructing his followers to waive their rights for the
sake of the higher interests they were living for, if he and his
adherents are charged with the political duty of driving the invader
from the sacred soil? The rise and progress of this kingdom, Jesus said,
on another occasion, could not be observed like those of an empire
founded by force: it would not "come with observation." It had already
come unobserved. It began to come with John the Baptist, until whose
work the law was in the ascendant; but since whom men had been pressing
into the kingdom of heaven, which was tending to supplant the law. And,
on still another occasion, if he expected his movement to leave the
Jewish ritual intact, how could he say, with pregnant significance, that
new wine must not be put into old wineskins, lest they break, and the
wine be lost. I know great stress is laid upon his saying, "Think not
that I have come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I have not come to
destroy, but to fulfil. For truly do I say to you, Till heaven and earth
pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall pass from the law, till all
be fulfilled." But, if taken literally, they prove too much; for,
according to other passages, his teaching on some points - as, for
instance, divorce, and, as many think, the Sabbath - directly conflicted
with that of Moses. He threw doubt directly upon the tradition that God
rested on the seventh day. God, he said, had been always working up to
that hour, and in his own acts of healing done on the Sabbath he had
been co-operating with God. We must therefore interpret freely this
language, and understand by it the everlasting law. The smallest
requirement of the true law, however overlooked and despised it may have
been in the popular exegesis, would have its emphasis in the new
teachings; and whoever slighted it would be the least in the kingdom of
heaven. There is not a word which can be fairly construed into
commendation of the Levitical priesthood. He gives to the Mosaic
precepts cited the most spiritual interpretation, or sets them aside
when they cannot be wrought into a more profound system of natural
morality. He implies his superiority to all preceding teachers,
including Moses. "It was said to the ancients, but _I_ say unto you."
Indeed, his tone in this discourse is any thing but that of a Jewish
Rabbi of his period. It is that of the most human and universal
teaching. It asserts, when we penetrate beyond the immediate occasion of
it to its principle, that which is true in all times and places. Those
affirmations with which it opens, what are they but declarations, the
substantial verity of which it is possible for every man, if he know not
now, yet sometime to know in himself. "Blessed are the poor in spirit:
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." The spirit of those who can set a
limit to their wants and curb ambition, who do not live blinded by
interests to the demands of a pure soul, - the spirit of such is always
blessed. Happy he who imbibes it from the circumstances of his life; and
happy he who, amidst the blandishments of riches, is taught it by the
discipline of Heaven. These are they to whom has come the kingdom of
heaven from Jesus' day until now. Then, "Blessed are the pure in heart:
for they shall see God." And is not a pure mind the very moral
atmosphere in which man sees God as he is, and rejoices in the sight? A
man's moral sentiments are the medium through which comes to him the
thought of God. Let those sentiments be perverted, and he imagines
either that God is not or that he is different from what he is. His
wrong mind either obstructs entirely the beam which darts from the
Divine essence, or scatters the spotless white of that Sun, the pure
aggregate of Divine perfections, into the particolored tints of the
earthly and sensual soul itself. Again, "Blessed are the merciful: for
they shall obtain mercy." It is even so. Those who sympathize with
human wants will feel the sympathy of God flowing into their souls, and
can never lack assurance of the Divine mercy so long as they keep in
themselves that pledge of it, - the merciful spirit. And so it is a grand
caution, which every one who has wantonly condemned others knows he
ought to keep in memory, - "Condemn not, lest ye be condemned." For the
undeserved, heavy sentence of condemnation which a man lifts high to
hurl with malignant intent at his brother is arrested by an interposing
law of Providence, and falls from his weak hand with its full weight
upon his own head. And at length we come to what might be thought a
studied satire upon the boasted maxims of human wisdom: "Blessed are ye
when men shall speak evil of you falsely for my sake." Is this the sober
truth? Is not Christ, so true elsewhere, mistaken here? It is a verity
as certain as the laws of God. Do not minds advance unequally in truth,
in all the successive phases of a soul's spiritual growth? Whoever goes
before others in thought and life will find men laying this to his
charge. But, if by following the command of Christian truth to his
conscience he has opened upon himself the battery of human
censoriousness, he may exult; for every unjust word or groundless
suspicion will but remind him of his unbribed devotion, and be changed
before it touches his deepest happiness into the benediction of God.

Were we to go through what was spoken on the Mount, we might show its
truth commanding unquestionably the assent of our moral natures. It all
takes hold of our mind and life. It comes to us to throw light on what
we do and suffer, and to borrow confirmation from it in turn. Though we
fall so far short of it, and could not have conceived it originally and
from ourselves, as Jesus did, it so accords with the laws of our being
as to seem to be the suggestion of our experience, some admonition
floating to us by intent of God on that ever-heaving sea of life, of
ambition, of passion, of mutual misunderstanding, of strong loves and
piercing griefs, of various mingling sympathies, on whose shore we do
now stand, and whose tide, for our few seconds here in time, laves our
feet and dashes upon us its spray.

We might turn over other pages of Jesus' instruction beyond that
introductory statement of the principles of the kingdom of God, and
evolve its sense in terms presenting an undeniable spiritual fact to all
our race. For instance, "To him who hath shall be given, and he shall
have abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken away, even
that which he seemeth to have." How true! It is verified in the mental
condition of every man at this moment. We only seem to have the faculty
we do not use. There is no long, healthy sleep to the mind and the moral
will any more than to the body; but the alternative is, live or die. And
thus Jesus was ever holding up the law of the spiritual life to the
light of that day which dawned with his advent. He dwelt on what is
inward. Although you cannot find that once, in his popular teaching, he
laid stress upon observances, times without number he studiously
distinguished between every thing of the nature of ceremonial and those
everlasting obligations of justice and humanity, of inward and outward
purity, which ought to be recognized in the home and in the state, in
all the intercourse of man with man, and in watching over the secret
heart. We may not infer that he was hostile to religious forms. He
observed them. He knew that man needed them, and that souls instinct
with life would perpetuate them and adapt them to their own wants. But
he saw in the spirit of the Scribes the evil of teaching that any
arbitrarily imposed outward act can in itself please God; and, in regard
to such, the whole emphasis of his teaching was, "These ought ye to have
done, and not to have left the other undone." He quoted from the
prophets habitually, "I will have mercy and not sacrifice."

Such is the genius of Christianity, - of Christianity as it came from its
Founder, - the religion which is said to have ripened into the mediæval
theology and the Roman hierarchy. Too little, indeed, has this genius of
Christianity been regarded! The old Judaic spirit which brought Jesus to
the cross has, among Protestants as well as Catholics, too often
crucified the Christianity of Christ. Human metaphysics have been put
into creeds and catechisms. Sects have been founded and built up on the
importance attached to the form of a rite as a part of essential
Christianity. Disputes have raged which the traditions of the Church and
the letter of Scripture have failed to settle, and about which Jesus, if
teaching among us, would not waste a minute's breath.

If further proof were wanting of the breadth and spirituality of Jesus'
view, it might be found in the fact that he was brought to the cross by
the pro-Judaism party. His friends would interpret him differently from
his enemies. The universality and spirituality of his aim were not at
once apprehended by his followers. Their very trust in him would make
them slow to perceive his radical meaning; for, to impute to him what
was in his mind, would seem to be distrust. They would put a limited
construction upon what he said. It would be otherwise with his enemies,
who would be sharp and quick to see the full extent to which his words
would carry him.

The movement of Jesus, then, may be called revolutionary, not in the
sense of aiming directly at political revolution, but in the sense of
his expecting to found a free, spiritual, and universal religion, which
would uproot and remove in time the partial religions, Judaism included.
Still he designed to connect himself with the Old Dispensation. He
recognized the Divine mission of Moses and the Providential office of
the prophets in preparing for him. In the expectations which they
fostered there was something true as well as something false. When they
depicted a glorious and happy political condition of the Jewish nation
under the Messiah as an earthly king, Jesus must have regarded them as
being in error. We find him pronouncing John the Baptist the greatest of
the prophets of the old order, and declaring that the least in the
kingdom of heaven was greater than he; and the reason is shown by the
context of the words (Matt. xi.) to be that John as a Jewish prophet
regarded the kingdom of God in part as a political kingdom. But the
fundamental idea of the Theocracy, that other nations would be united
with Israel under the dominion of the One True God, was one in harmony
with Jesus' thought.[34] This expectation Jesus regarded it as his
mission to realize and fulfil. He had only to separate from the
Theocratic predictions of the prophets the partial political element, to
bring them into unison with his universal aim. Whatever in the hitherto
prevailing ideas and hopes was capable of expansion he absorbed into
himself, that it might be given out in a wider and higher form, and
live for ever. A case somewhat parallel might be found in the changes
wrought by our late war. Those who took a radical view of the issue of
the contest were exposed to the charge of being revolutionary and
destroying the Constitution. They could reply, "Yes: the issue will be
revolutionary. There will be a new state of law, and of the relations of
the people in important respects, effected by carrying out fundamental
principles. But those principles were the essence of the Constitution;
and to carry them out is only fully to accomplish its purpose, by
annihilating transient provisions at war with liberty and social
justice, and giving scope to the principles of the Declaration of
Independence. We hold to the Constitution. We have come not to destroy,
but to fulfil." So Jesus Christ came not to destroy all that had gone
before, but to fulfil whatever in it was fundamental to the Divine
purpose in relation to man. In this feeling of a real connection between
his movement and the Hebrew ideas and hopes is to be found the principal
explanation of his confining his labors, and those of the apostles when
first sent forth, chiefly to Judea and Galilee. Not only must his own
work be limited in its local scope, - for he could not go
everywhere, - but the historical basis of his movement lay in the Hebrew
history. Among the Hebrew people only could he find suitably prepared
immediate disciples. Salvation was to be from the Jews. And, foreseeing
that the nation as such would reject him, he saw that it was essential
to the extension among the Gentiles of the truths and hopes he inherited
as a Jew, essential to the breaking down of the partition wall which now
kept out the true doctrine of God from the heathen world, that he should
come to a distinct issue with the Jewish authorities, and make it clear
and notorious that it was the narrow spirit of Pharisaism and legal
formality which crucified him. (If he were lifted up, he would draw all
men to him.) And from the first the ruling sect, with the acute instinct
of self-interest, discerned the revolutionary character of his
movement, - that it elevated man above the Jew, and struck at the root of
the idolized Hebrew pre-eminence.

[Footnote 34: See Noyes's Introduction to his Translation of the

I pass now to a more subtle hypothesis, that Jesus expected to establish
the Theocratic empire by angelic assistance on occasion of his return to
earth, which would occur at the same time with the great outward change
of the world. It is founded on such passages as this: "For the Son of
Man is to come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then he
will render to every one according to his works." (Matt. xvi. 27. Comp.
Matt. xiii. 41, and xxvi. 29-60.) It is thus stated by Strauss:[35] "He
waited for a signal from his heavenly Father, who alone knew the time of
this catastrophe; and he was not disconcerted when his end approached
without his having received the expected intimation." His Messianic hope
was not political or even earthly. He referred its fulfilment to a
supermundane theatre.

[Footnote 35: Life of Jesus, Part II. § 66. The charge of enthusiasm is
retained, but not discussed, in his Life of Christ for the German

Strauss speaks of Jesus' hope as corresponding with the Messianic ideas
of the Jews. It took its form from those ideas. Scherer also represents
Jesus' idea of the kingdom as wholly Apocalyptic. The _first_ criticism
to be made upon this hypothesis is, that a Theocratic idea arising out
of the Jewish expectations and conformed to them could not dispense with
all thought of earthly conflict. The struggle could not have been
altogether upon a supermundane theatre, nor the triumph of the Messiah
achieved without common warlike agencies. The common Jewish idea was
founded on the language of some Hebrew prophets, and appears in the
Apocalyptic writings of Christ's age; and his own mind in cherishing the
hope attributed to him must have quite surrendered itself to the popular
expectation. This expectation supposed some outward conflict as the
occasion of supernatural interference. Nor do I know any ground for
thinking that in Christ's time the Jews expected the Messiah to prevail
with angelic aid without a conflict of arms. Whoever will read Ezekiel
and Daniel will see that those prophets expected a contest on earth with
earthly weapons, as the occasion for the intervention of Jehovah. And
whoever will read the wars of the Maccabees will see how Jewish courage,
fired with the expectation of celestial assistance, never stopped to
compare the apparent strength of the respective forces. Nor did the
Apocalyptic seers dismiss this thought of earthly battle. The book of
Enoch speaks of the unconverted as delivered at the judgment into the
hands of the righteous, whose horses shall wade in the blood of sinners,
and whom the angels shall come to help.[36] The Apocalypse of the New
Testament presents the picture of the Messiah as mounted on a white
horse, and riding forth to judge and make war; and the comment of Dr.
Noyes on this and similar passages is that, in the mind of the writer,
there was to be war in heaven and upon earth, before Christ should reign
in final triumph.[37] This theory has no distinctive character without
supposing the angels acting on the stage of sense and time, and giving
the Hebrews the victory. With this expectation is probably connected the
"sign from heaven" demanded of Jesus by the Pharisees, a sign which
should stimulate Hebrew faith to irresistible warlike ardor. The
unconverted were to be vanquished by some mysterious exercise of
Messianic power. Hence many were not satisfied with Christ's miracles;
not that they disputed their reality, but as being not decisive of his
Messianic character. Now, if this had been the thought of Jesus, he
would have been disposed to seek an occasion for such interference from
on high. It is true, in saying this, we say he must have given himself
up to the enthusiasm which so often fanatically manifested itself in his
age, and was always ready to break forth. But the idea supposed, when
one's whole being was yielded to it, - as Jesus did yield his whole being
to the ideas which possessed him, - could not have stopped short of
practical action. He must have been prepared in his thought to act with
fanaticism. Strauss says, "He did not try to bring about all this by his
own will; but awaited a signal from his heavenly Father." The actual
Jesus did undoubtedly as Strauss says; but the supposed Jesus would have
at some time believed the signal to be given. The idea, and the sort of
faith in supernatural aid which accompanied it, would lead him to think
the moment had come for this demonstration. "If such were the ideal of
Jesus in fact, why did he not seek to realize it at once? Why did he
prefer the way of renunciation and self-sacrifice to the possession of
the kingdoms of the world? Why, in the place of the Son of Man, have we
not a Mahomet six hundred years in advance." The logical and necessary
result of belief in his Messiahship, and of faith in this sort of
supernatural aid in realizing it, was that he should bring about an
occasion for this demonstration. It was an encounter with the Romans, in
the hope that Jehovah and the angels would fight for God's people, and
be more than strong enough against all odds. "The Messianic Theocracy
could not exist as a Roman province."[38] But Jesus studiously avoids
conflict with Rome. Besides, the second part of the temptation of Christ
sets aside at once this ideal. His early consciousness of wonderful
power had not the effect of disposing his mind favorably toward such
Jewish Messianic ideas. That consciousness tended rather to spiritualize
his thought: we may say, it subdued him. It made his whole feeling
moderate, and his whole thought wise and temperate. This is a very
remarkable part of the representation of him by the evangelists.

[Footnote 36: Book of Enoch, Dillman, ch. 100.]

[Footnote 37: Rev. xix. 11; comp. Christian Examiner, May, 1860, p.

[Footnote 38: Hase's Life of Jesus.]

But, secondly, I will now suppose the expectation of Jesus to have been
purified from every notion of warlike action. The regeneration
(palingenesia) was to be not a political revolution, but a renovation of
the earth and the heavens, attended by a resurrection of the dead, of
whom the accepted were to dwell with Christ in the renovated world, - not
the present earth, but the earth restored, - and that his presence and
return were to be visible. This is his coming with the angels to set up
his kingdom and to reign.

I. The very language which this hypothesis is adopted to explain, taken
in its proper sense, proves too much. Jesus was to be a king on the
renewed earth, yet his kingdom was to be different from those of this
world. "It is not," he says, "of this world." It is a real kingdom as
much as that of David; but it is not to be a worldly rule on the one
hand, nor a purely spiritual rule on the other. It is political, and not
political. According to the writer of the Apocalypse, whose views are
supposed to have been sanctioned by Jesus, this king must reign until he
has put all enemies under his feet. When the kingdom is consummated, he
is to surrender it to his Father. The hypothesis under consideration
represents the kingdom as to be consummated at the time of the
world-catastrophe which, with the second or real coming of Jesus as
Messiah, will occur, according to the alleged words of Christ himself,
immediately after the destruction of the city. Why shall not the kingdom
be given up immediately to the Father? This king in "the proper sense,"
and in no purely spiritual sense, who comes visibly, will have no
occasion for a reign in the proper sense of the word. Strauss says,
"Jesus expected to restore the throne of David, and with his disciples
to govern a liberated people. But in no degree did he rest his hopes on
the sword of his adherents, but on the legions of angels which the
Father would send him. He was not disconcerted when his end approached
without the kingdom having come. It would come with his return." But how
when he returned was the throne of David to be restored, and a proper,
literal reign to exist, and not a mere spiritual reign? This king has no
business to perform: his work is all accomplished immediately by a
stupendous miracle. And he and his apostles have nothing to do but to
sit on idle thrones, or to feast at tables loaded with luxuries which
are at the same time mundane and supermundane; to enjoy a sensual
paradise, which differs from a Mohammedan paradise only in that it does
not consist of the coarsest forms of sensual life. They are to partake
of an actual wine, a fruit of the vine, - a new kind of wine; to observe
the passover with supermundane food, but food pleasurable to the taste.
This Jesus is thought to have expected and promised.[39] I sometimes
think this attempt to find a half-way doctrine of Jesus' expectation
concerning the future ascribes to him an apocalypticism more inept and
fatuous than that of the Jews themselves. It attempts to unite the
contradictory. It cannot be stated by Strauss in any thing like the
literal sense of the passages on which it is founded, without supposing
something of that political element which it is designed to exclude; or
else entirely dropping that relation to Jewish hopes to which it is
believed to owe its origin, and thus leaving it unexplained. For, if
Jesus gave up all expectation whatever of a kingdom of this world, we
have no occasion for a visible return.

[Footnote 39: See Renan's Life of Jesus, first edition.]

II. The second objection to this view is that it is incompatible with
the most important expressions and opinions of Jesus.

1. The kingdom is to come with the world-catastrophe; and the King is
then to come in some mysterious manner on the clouds of heaven. How,
then, could Jesus say the kingdom of God cometh not with _observation_?
Could any political kingdom arise in a more outwardly striking manner?
How does that saying of Christ comport with his promising a literal
miraculous light in the heaven (Matt. xxiv. 30) which shall betoken his
own coming and the great world-change? That form of coming with a
precursive sign in the heaven is just what he contradicted. Such a
kingdom would come with a sign which could be watched for, - a sign very
different from those signs of the time, the moral indications, which a
spiritual insight might discern. How could he say the kingdom of God was
among them _already_, if it were yet to come at the time of the great
world-change? How could he say to Caiaphas: "Yes, I am the Messiah; and
moreover _from this moment_ you shall see the Son of Man sitting on the
right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven"? It was
equivalent to saying, "You have arrested me, you have already doomed me
to death. But I am the Anointed of God to introduce the new spiritual
kingdom of Humanity; and, from this moment in which you decree my death,
my cause takes a Divine impulse, and my purpose strides on to the
triumph God has destined for it."

2. This expectation is incompatible with what he says on other topics
related to the kingdom, the resurrection, and the future life. This
expectation implies the Apocalyptic view of the resurrection. The
Messiah was to come to raise the dead. (The Christian world has
generally entertained the same view.) The visible return and the
resurrection coexisted, probably, in Jesus' mind. If he held the one, he

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