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he taught and toiled without law or order, it really results from the very clearness and greatness of his aims. When, in any department, whether of art, literature, politics, or religion, an individual formally announces a theory, and keeps it industriously in sight, there is always produced the impression of something circumscribed, narrow. Whereas the highest achievements of man-the productions of genius seem always at first sight, erratic and lawless. But when closely studied, they exhibit the greatest perfection of purpose, illustrate the most comprehensive laws of nature, and show that, either consciously or unconsciously, there has been the finest observance of method. The wildness of genius, as it has been termed, has turned out to be the purest wisdom. What has appeared a random impulse has in the end tended to demonstrate consummate policy. "Where the true poet seems most to recede from humanity, he will be found the truest to it. From beyond the scope of nature if he summon possible existences, he subjugates them to the law of her consistency. He is beautifully loyal to that sovereign directress even when he appears most to betray and desert her."

It proves nothing against the divine authority of Christ on the contrary it directly attests the perfection and unity of his purpose, that he proposed no system, carefully framed and set forth with logical precision. Were there any appearance of this kind, it would be impossible to avoid an impression of narrowness, let the terms in which his scheme might be announced, be ever so general and unqualified. We should see the difference and the contrast between a plan thus conceived and followed and "the infinite complexities of real life," between his system and the boundless system of nature, and an air of artificialness would be more or less discernible in the former. The

NO APPEARANCE OF SYSTEM.

HIS PURPOSE, STATED GENERALLY.

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very idea of a scheme, as I have said, implies something mapped out and bounded. But as the case actually stands, we see no traces of system in the ministry of Jesus; to the ever-changing details and relations of life, to the unnumbered occasions of Providence, he adjusted himself, his words and works, without a moment's hesitation, and with the most admirable effect. The coincidence between his spirit and the great laws of life and providence is an impressive attestation to the truth of his purpose. It shows that his life and work were conducted upon a method so perfectly identical with the grand method of nature, that he was scarcely conscious of it. He laid down no formal and elaborate plan of benevolence, but his whole being lived, moved, and wrought, in a sphere of universal love. This was his element, in which his affections flourished with that silent and unconscious ease which accompanies all genuine and healthy vitality. His design is no where minutely defined or laboriously developed; not because he had no definite object, but because it exceeded the power of the understanding to comprehend, and the resources of language to describe it. Still the heart may feel its greatness and consistency; and, although it cannot be fully set forth in words, like the great system of nature, it may be partially penetrated.

It may be stated generally that he came to awaken the world to its deepest wants and to supply them; in other words, to communicate the knowledge of the only Living and the True, the unsleeping Witness, the swift and just Judge, and to make this knowledge an active principle in the heart of man, the hope and fountain of eternal life. His purpose may be defined by an endless variety of terms, according to the ever

188 HE DID NOT DECLARE HIMSELF THE CHRIST.

changing modes of human thought and speech. In his day and in the place where he uttered himself there. existed a deep and wide expectation of an approaching, heaven-founded empire-of a deliverer and guide to be raised up and consecrated by God. This form of thought modified the speech of Jesus, as, in whatever age he had appeared, his mode of expressing the messages he was sent to deliver, would have been affected by the prevalent modes of that age. Accordingly, appearing as he did among the Jews, among a people cherishing certain fixed ideas, he spake in terms corresponding thereto, and represented the infinite good, which he was sent to impart, under the image of a heaven-anointed king and a divine kingdom, then close at hand. It is the aim of the present chapter to explain this mode of speech, what is meant by the coming of the kingdom, or, which is the same thing, of the Son of Man.

Conscious of the fulness and authority of divine grace and truth, knowing himself to be born and qualified to answer not only the expectation of his country but the desire of all nations, the Man of Nazareth yet did not declare himself formally and in words as the expected Christ. On the contrary he took special care to avoid a verbal avowal of his office. His conduct in this respect was very remarkable. When the disciples of John came and put the question directly to him, Art thou he that should come or must we look for another?" he did not return a direct answer, but bade them go and tell John what they had seen and heard. When, upon questioning his disciples, he discovered that they believed him to be the Christ, he charged them to keep their faith to themselves, to speak to no one of him as Jesus the Messiah. Again, when possessed or deranged persons met him surrounded by throngs of people, the

HIS FEARLESSNESS.

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object of universal wonder, and accosted him at once as the Christ, thus expressing outright what the people generally were beginning to surmise, he commanded them to keep silence.

That no personal considerations, no apprehensions for his own safety, prompted this course, is impressively manifest. His fearlessness is not less conspicuous than his benevolence, and appears most strikingly in his bearing towards the false teachers and priests who ruled the people as with a rod of iron, and whose malignity it was most perilous to provoke. He spake out publicly in terms of stern condemnation, exposing their hypocrisy. He threw wide open those whited sepulchres, fearless of the demons that haunted them, and that were already plotting there to confound his pure light. At the very beginning of his career, he placed himself in open and uncompromising opposition to those who pretended to be the sole interpreters of the Law and examples of its influence, when he declared that the hollow, formal righteousness which the Scribes and Pharisees enjoined and practised was utterly worthless, that a far different righteousness was indispensable to admission into the divine kingdom. It is needless to adduce instances of his fearlessness. His whole life and death show that he was never trammelled by personal apprehensions. He went and sat down with men of the lowest character, and of no character, and shrunk not from the opprobrium of such company. There is one incident that shows so strikingly how little he regarded opinion that I may be justified in making a particular reference to it.

Once as he was on his way to Jerusalem, attended by a vast and constantly increasing crowd, he passed through Jericho. In this city there dwelt a man, Zaccheus by name, who held the odious office of a tax

190 JESUS, NOT THE CHRIST LOOKED FOR BY THE JEWS.

gatherer. Diminutive in person, he was unable on account of the throng to obtain a sight of Jesus, the object of universal curiosity, and he ran on in advance of the multitude and climbed into a tree. Probably Jesus had heard something of him, or his attention may have been attracted to the tax gatherer by the people who accompanied him. But however this may have been, when he reached the foot of the tree into which Zaccheus had climbed, he stopped, and, looking up, bade him come down, for he was going to visit him at his house, and the publican descended with joyful alacrity. How impressive is the disregard of popular impressions and judgments manifested by Jesus in thus publicly selecting for particular notice out of all that crowd, not the wealthiest and most respectable, but a person disliked, despised, one, it may be, whose diminutive appearance suggested mean thoughts and the ridicule of people! Cannot the reader enter into the feelings of those, who, on witnessing this incident, exclaimed with contemptuous wonder, "He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner!" He was the last man to be restrained from speaking or acting by personal considerations. The care, then, with which he avoided a public declaration of himself as the Christ, even if we should be at a loss to explain it, is not to be imputed to fear. But it does admit of a full and satisfactory explanation.

He would not announce himself, nor suffer others to announce him as the Christ, because he was not the Christ that his countrymen were looking for. The personage they were expecting under this title was to be distinguished principally for the splendour of his outward appearance, for the political power he was to obtain and exercise. Jesus pretended to no character of this kind, and he saw that it would produce a false

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