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hierarchy, the unscriptural creeds, the gross doctrines, the irrational mysteries, thrust upon Christianity in its infancy, without at the same time throwing off Christianity itself. The simile of the ark floating alone on the waters of the Deluge has been already, we know, well worn, and has been used for the illustration of many different subjects ; but one more use of it will be justified by its especial appositeness to the Institution which, for so many centuries, rode alone on the deluge of barbarism and ignorance that had submerged the ancient world, bearing in its bosom whatever was most precious of ancient learning, genius, refinement, piety, and faith.
It must be acknowledged, that the great services we have recounted are set off by great extravagances and mischiefs. It was monasticism that bred the bands of fierce zealots, who, in the fourth century and after, played so important a part in the religious quarrels and commotions of the East. It is to monkish fanaticism that we owe the terrors of the Inquisition and the hideous persecutions of the Middle Age. That in later times it has been the nursery of many vices and the source of great social degradation, even its defenders must admit. It is largely responsible for the gloomy and forbidding appearance, and the selfish and ceremonial character, which have been too generally given to religion.
The efforts making at the present time to revive and propagate the institution are out of season, and must come to naught. With the development of modern order and civilization, its period of usefulness has passed. Yet to condemn it as evil only, or to refuse the honor due for its admirable service in the past, is like contemning moonlight or starlight because of its paleness and dimness, the illusions and deep shadows that accompany it, and its uselessness now that it is day; forgetting, that, without that light, the night would have been wrapped in unrelieved and fatal gloom.
ART. VI. – JESUS AS PROPHET AND MESSIAH.
1. The Veil Partly Lifted, and Jesus Becoming Visible. By W. H. FURNESS. Boston : Ticknor & Fields.
1864. 2. The Character of Jesus Portrayed. By Dr. DANIEL SCHENKEL.
Translated by W. H. FURNESS. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co.
1866. 3. Der Geschichtliche Christus. Von A. KEIM. Zürich: 1866.
The old painters, it is said, used to paint their portraits of Jesus on their knees. So far as this typifies the reverence due to so lofty a character, it truly represents the attitude in which all attempts to portray the plan and purpose of Jesus should be made. But we are apt to imitate those mediæval painters in other and less commendable ways. How much, for example, is said and written about the life of Jesus, which is grounded upon nothing but a few loose rules collected, by a very confined induction, from the results of a narrow and partial criticism; just as the old artists fashioned their ideal of the features of Christ out of the meagre traditions of the Church.
We are free to confess the difficulty of constructing a proper human life from the mass of conflicting details which the seemingly exhaustless quarry of the gospel records has yielded to modern criticism. But it is a difficulty which besets all our attempts to construct biographies. “How little, in fact,” says Arthur Hallam, “does one creature know of another, even if he lives with him, sces him constantly, and, in popular language, knows all about him. We have but fragments of being at the best.” Surely it behooves us to be modest in our judgment of any life, — how much more modest when that life is the divinest the world has ever known ! until, hy the most careful study, the profoundest inquiry, and the most patient analysis, we have gained some knowledge of the grand organism of a soul from the fossil remains of its history.' With reverence such as bent the knees of the old
painters before an ideal which their canvas never caught, and with a modesty which shall tread
“With bare, hushed feet, the ground,"
where dogmatists of every school rush in with such amazing boldness, would we trace what, for want of better phrase, may be called the plan of Jesus; and show how naturally the purpose of his life grew out of his human development as Prophet and Messiah.
Dr. Furness, in entitling one of his most interesting works, “ The Veil Partly Listed, and Jesus Becoming Visible," has indicated a truth which is now finding utterance in many ways, - the fact, namely, that the humanity of Jesus has never been fully and fairly recognized. For the historic canvas, whereon Jesus is seen in close connection with the holiest prophets and wisest dreamers of his race,“ linking his mission with Moses and Elias, and claiming to hold of the ancient, sacred stock, we have had either the ideal Christ of the philosophers, - a vision of ghostly purity in the dim spaces of thought, or the sacrificial Christ of the creeds, who was "born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate," but the visage of whose pure humanity has been more disfigured by Christian speculation, than were his thorn-pierced head and broken body by Jewish madness.
" But we can know Jesus as an actual existence,” says Dr. Furness, “ only as he is scen to be one with the things which are.” Speculate as we may, by no jugglery of language can we remove any thing essentially human away from nature, without making it for us unnatural. The sequence of the new upon the old, in human history, must be taken everywhere and always as a sequence of natural growth, until divine interpolation is clearly seen. Unless, therefore, Hebrew prophetisin and Hebrew Messianism culminated in Jesus, as dawn leads into day and the beauty of spring into the summer's richer wealth of flowers, we can never study his life in any human relation to his age and the ages.
Our present study naturally begins with an examination of those prophetic and Messianic ideas by whichi, if Jesus
were very man,” he must have been very greatly influenced. The prophetic* consciousness of Jesus was undoubtedly awakened at an early period of his life. It matters little in this connection whether we accept as history, or receive as legend, the account given in the Gospel of Luke, of Jesus' questioning the Jewish doctors in his boyhood. A child's answer has often confuted the sophisms of the learned; and the heart of a boy sometimes yearns to be doing God's work with a longing that, alas ! does not always become more intense with increase in wisdom and stature. Of the next eighteen years of Jesus' life, no history has come down to us; but we are not therefore left in ignorance of the influences under which he grew up. It would be no conjecture to infer, from the Platonic coloring and tone of the philosophical writings of Coleridge, that he had studied Plato. The recorded discourses and sayings of Jesus are not only colored, but thoroughly imbued, with the spirit of the ancient Hebrew prophetism. Nay, more: many of the truths taught by Jesus are to be found in the Prophets. The grandest of all his teachings, love to God and man, is only a restatement of an ancient oracle of divine truth. Was it the supreme object of all his discourses to keep alive in men's minds the intimate connection between God and man, and to make this idea fruitful in men's feelings and conduct? This was the great
* It is hardly necessary to say that the words prophet, prophetic, and prophetism, as used in this article, are taken in their ancient and true sense, and not in their modern signification, which connects their meaning exclusively with predictions and the foretelling of future events. “ The prophetic office,” says Dr. Noyes, “ had its origin in the theocratic national constitution and theocratic national mind of the Hebrews. As God, their invisible sovereign, did not manifest himself to the multitude in an immediate and sensible manner, it became necessary that there should be a human representative of Jehovah to his people. To this office those regarded themselves as called, commissioned, or sent, whatever might be their tribe, occupation, or parentage, who felt with irresistible conviction that they possessed in their souls the will of Jehovah. ... They felt that their minds were illumined and moved by the Holy Spirit of God, and that the thoughts which they expressed in speech or writing, under this illumination and influence, were to be regarded as the word of God. Inspired speakers is their most common appellation.” – Translation of the Prophets, third edition, vol. i., Introduction, p. vi.
purpose of all the prophets. Did he make bold to denounce all evil-doers? Their denunciations of the wicked were unsparing. Did he threaten to deprive the Jews of the kingdom, and give it to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof? So, in the predictions of the prophets, it is the Gentiles to whom God will turn when his patience is exhausted with the rebellions of Israel. Is the kingdom which Jesus announced a universal kingdom ? So, in the clearest vision of ancient prophecy, “the mountain of the Lord's house is exalted above the hills, and all nations flow unto it."* Dr. Furness discovers an unapproached originality in the extraordinary clearness and power with which the teachings of Jesus distinguished the essential from the accidental. But to raise men to those primal truths which “ shine aloft as stars;" to distinguish the eternal laws of God from the temporary devices of men ; and to emphasize the Spirit as infinitely greater than the form, - was the grand object of the highest Hebrew prophetism. We are so accustomed to oppose Christianity to a degenerate Judaism, and we see the moral grandeur of Jesus so overtop the dry and barren waste about him, that we have come to lose sight of those truly Judaic influences coming from the ancient prophetism under which his nature was developed. Jesus was emphatically a child of the synagogue, related to it by natural descent; and so he entered upon its lieritage of truths by right of moral and spiritual birth. Thus the very fact which distinguishes Jesus from all his contemporaries, and exalts him far above their priests and rulers, places him at once in “ the goodly fellowship of the prophets," - though at their head, the latest-born of these true sons of God; heir of all the truths they had taught, as well as the new medium through which the Spirit could find a higher, even its complete, expression.
Viewed in this light, Jesus is not less, but more, the providential man, because so closely united with his providential race. From this point of view, also, we see no break in the divine education of humanity. We have no sun rising at mid
* Isaiah ii. 2.