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.„ Cornell University Library 


^n£uniil?i[y,.,?t "'^ resurrection of Christ 

3 1924 031 270 493 

Cornell University 

The original of tliis book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

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the United States on the use of the text. 924031 270493 










(Cte ^iaexgiitt J^wee, Camiriiise 


Copyright, 1884, 








It is now more than fifty years ago that, in 
reading the accounts of the most extraordinary 
Event in the history of Christ, the Event upon 
which the Apostles laid the greatest stress, the 
corner-stone of primitive Christianity: the Re- 
appearance of Christ alive after death, it came 
to me that what the guard at the Sepulchre 
mistook for a figure alighting from heaven, and 
the women believed to be an angel, was no 
other than Jesus himself 

What suggested this thought was a particular 
in the Story, slight indeed, but it struck me as 
very significant : the special mention of Peter in 
the message sent to the disciples by the sup- 
posed angel, " Go tell his disciples and Peter 
that Jesus is risen." I seemed to hear the voice 

■ of Jesus in this singling out of that disciple, 

1* 5 


whose last act had been to swear that he did 
not know him. Although thus shamefully dis- 
owned by his cowardly friend, Jesus made haste 
to assure him that the past was not remem- 
bered against him, that he was not disowned 
in return as he might well fear that he would 
be. To the fact that Jesus had risen, no angel 
could testify so impressively, it seemed to me, 
as this message to Peter, in such keeping is it 
with the greatness of mind that characterized 

Once possessed with the idea that it was not 
an angel but Jesus himself whom the guard and 
the women saw, I seemed to have found the key 
which opened the whole Story to the light, the 
light of Truth and ISTature illumining it to its 
minutest details, all unconsciously, on the part 
of the narrators. As I read it now, overflowing 
as it is with evidence of its truth which no one 
thought of furnishing, it seems to have written 

The more I have pondered it, the more deeply 
have I been impressed by its wonderful internal 
evidence. If the actual Re-appearance of Jesus 
alive in the flesh to Mary is not proved, then 


nothing in the Gospels is proved, nothing in 
all the world. All is an illusion. 

From time to time, in various publications, I 
have told the Story as I read it. I am going to 
tell it once more, not only because there are cer- 
tain new lights to throw upon it, but mainly be- 
cause I cannot resist its inexhaustible attraction. 
Is it only a fancy that I am gratifying ? or is it a 
conviction of truth ? 

There are certain preliminary considerations 
to be attended to. 

1. I assume the entire honesty of the narra- 
tors. That they may have been mistaken as to 
what was seen and heard, I readily concede. 
But that they meant to deceive, or to tell what 
they did not believe to be true, I find no shadow 
of a reason for suspecting. 

2. It is equally certain that between the four 
different accounts of the first Appearance of 
Jesus there is no collusion. Their glaring dis- 
crepancies show on the very face of them that 
they are four independent reports. 

3. Although I consider it very remarkable 


that Jesus is never described as appearing in 
the glory with which I cannot but think he 
would have been represented as arrayed, were 
his re-appearances the creations of the imagi- 
nation inspired by the love of the marvellous, I 
am free to say that I do not find in the accounts 
of the subsequent appearances of the risen 
Christ, the same striking evidence of truth that 
I find in the accounts of his first appearance. 
This first appearance, however, being estab- 
lished, a presumption is created in favor of the 
truth of the after-appearances. 

4. Believing in the actual Resurrection of 
Christ, I freely admit that questions may be asked 
which I cannot answer. But what one thing is 
there in nature, which, even when set forth in 
the full blaze of the most advanced Science, does 
not suggest questions for which we have no solu- 
tion ? Have we got so far in understanding 
everything that we have a right to make it the 
condition of our acceptance of any extraordinary 
fact, however well attested, that it shall leave 
nothing unexplained? Where was Jesus after 
death when he did not appear to his disciples ? 
What was the mode of his existence then? I 


cannot even conjecture. "WTiat finally became 
of him ? The common belief is that he ascended 
visibly into the sky. But there is not in the 
four Gospels a word that necessitates this idea. 
Neither in the first Gospel, nor in the fourth, 
and these happen to be the only ones ascribed 
to personal disciples of Christ, is anything said 
of a final disappearance. The second Gospel, 
in the closing verses, which, by the way, are of 
questionable genuineness, states briefly that 
Jesus was received up into heaven, and sate at 
the right hand of God. Such was evidently the 
belief. We are not required to understand this 
brief statement as meaning to say that he was 
seen taken up into the sky and seated at the 
right hand of God. The third Gospel says that 
he " led his disciples out as far as Bethany, and 
he lifted up his hands and blest them, and while 
he blest them, he was parted from them, and 
carried up into heaven." In the book of the 
Acts we read that " a cloud hid him from sight, 
and he was taken up into heaven." N"either of 
these accounts necessarily signifies that he as- 
cended visibly. "When he disappeared the nat- 
ural conclusion was that he had gone to heaven. 


The language of these histories on this point 
is significant. It tells us what was believed. 
But there is not a word going to show that they 
undertake to localize the place of the departed. 
They state only a popular belief. 

5. "Whatever difficulties are involved in any 
event, however extraordinary it may be, we are 
bound to accept it, when it rests upon irrefraga- 
ble evidence. Such is the case with the Eesur- 
rection of Christ. I cannot tell what his con- 
dition was after he rose from the dead, or where 
he was when not seen, or whither he went. It 
is an article of the popular creed, by the way, 
that he descended into hell. It has no founda- 
tion in the Gospels. If I were under the neces- 
sity of believing either that he ascended or de- 
scended, I should rather incline to think that he 
went down to save the lost ; it would be much 
more like him than to go up into heaven to be 
seated on a throne with a crown of gold upon 
his head. The crown of thorns becomes him 
better. But be that as it may, that he re-ap- 
peared alive after death, and was seen and 
spoken with, the evidence has put it out of my 
power to doubt. To borrow words ascribed to 


an eminent scientist in relation to some new 
phenomenon, " I do not say it is possible, I say 
it is true." 

And now, as I relate what took place, on the 
early morning of the third day after the cruci- 
fixion of Jesus, in the garden where his body 
has been buried, it will be seen with what in- 
imitable signatures of truth the original narra- 
tives are written all over, not by mortal hand, 
but by truth and nature. 

I introduce here the passages in the Gospels 
from which the Story is gathered : 

Matthew xxviii, 1-10. 

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn 
toward the first day of the week, came Mary 
Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepul- 

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: 
for the angel of the Lord descended from 
heaven, and came and rolled back the stone 
from the door, and sat upon it. 


His countenance was like lightning, and his 
raiment white as snow : 

And for fear of him the keepers did shake, 
and became as dead men. 

And the angel answered and said unto the 
women, Fear not ye ; for I know that ye seek 
Jesus, who was crucified. 

He is not here : for he is risen, as he said. 
Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 

And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he 
is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth 
before you into Galilee ; there shall ye see him : 
lo, I have told you. 

And they departed quickly from the sepul- 
chre with fear and great joy; and did run to 
bring his disciples word. 

And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, 

Jesus met them, saying. All hail. And they 

came and held him by the feet, and worshipped 


Mark xvi, 1-10. 

And when the sabbath was past, Mary Mag- 
dalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Sa- 


lome, liad bought sweet spices, that they might 
come and anoint him. 

And very early in the morning the first day 
of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at 
the rising of the sun. 

And they said among themselves, Who shall 
roll us away the stone from the door of the sep- 
ulchre ? 

And when they looked, they saw that the 
stone was rolled away : for it was very great. 

And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a 
young man sitting on the right side, clothed in 
a long white garment ; and they were affrighted. 

And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted : 
Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified : 
he is risen ; he is not here : behold the place 
where they laid him. 

But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter 
that he goeth before you into Galilee : there 
shall ye see him, as he said unto you. 

And they went out quickly, and fled from the 
sepulchre ; for they trembled and were amazed : 


neither said they any thing to any man ; for they 
were afraid. 

Now when Jesus was risen early the first day 
of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magda- 
lene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. 

And she went and told them that had been 
with him, as they mourned and wept. 

Luke xxiv, 1-12. 

l^ow upon the first day of the week, very 
early in the morning, they came unto the sep- 
ulchre, bringing the spices which they had pre- 
pared, and certain others with them. 

And they found the stone rolled away from 
the sepulchre. 

And they entered in, and found not the body 
of the Lord Jesus. 

And it came to pass, as they were much per- 
plexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by 
them in shining garments : 

And as they were afraid, and bowed down 
their faces to the earth, they said unto them, 
Why seek ye the living among the dead ? 


He is not here, but is risen : remember how 
he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 

Saying, The Son of man must be delivered 
into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, 
and the third day rise again. 

And they remembered his words, 

And returned from the sepulchre, and told all 
these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. 

It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and 
Mary the mother of James, and other women 
that were with them, who told these things unto 
the apostles. 

And their words seemed to them as idle tales, 
and they believed them not. 

Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepul- 
chre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen 
clothes laid by themselves, and departed, won- 
dering in himself at that which was come to 

John XX, 1-18. 
The first day of the week cometh Mary Mag- 
dalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the 


sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from 
the sepulchre. 

Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon 
Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus 
loved, and saith unto them. They have taken 
away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we 
know not where they have laid him. 

Peter therefore went forth, and that other dis- 
ciple, and came to the sepulchre. 

So they ran hoth together : and the other dis- 
ciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the 

And he stooping down, and looking in, saw 
the linen clothes lying ; yet went he not in. 

Then cometh Simon Peter following him, 
and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen 
clothes lie. 

And the napkin, that was about his head, not 
lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped to- 
gether in a place by itself. 

Then went in also that other disciple, which 
came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and be- 


For as yet they knew not the scripture, that 
he must rise again from the dead. 

Then the disciples went away again unto their 
own home. 

But Mary stood without at the sepulchre 
weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, 
and looked into the sepulchre, 

And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one 
at the head, and the other at the feet, where the 
body of Jesus had lain. 

And they say unto her. Woman, why weepest 
thou ? She saith unto them, Because they have 
taken away my Lord, and I know not where 
they have laid him. 

And when she had thus said, she turned her- 
self back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not 
that it was Jesus. 

Jesus saith unto her, "Woman, why weepest 

thou ? whom seekest thou ? She, supposing him 

to be the gardener, saith unto him. Sir, if thou 

have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast 

laid him, and I will take him away. 



Jesus saitli unto her, Mary. She turned her- 
self, and saith unto him, Eabboni ; which is to 
say, Master. 

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not ; for I am 
not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my 
brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto 
my Father, and your Father; and to my God, 
and your God. 

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples 
that she had seen the Lord, and that he had 
spoken these things unto her. 

It was on the sixth day of the week, the day 
before the Jewish Sabbath, that the crucifixion 
of Jesus took place. Towards the close of the 
day, certain friends of his, not of the number of 
his personal disciples, with the permission of the 
Roman governor, took down the body from the 
Cross, and, wrapping it, according to Jewish 
custom, in a white shroud of linen, laid it in a 
new tomb, in which no one had been laid be- 
fore, in a neighboring garden. 

The sun of that darkened day of blood set and 
the night passed, and the sun rose again, and the 


Sabbath stillness of the seventh day rested over 
the sepulchre, and the garden, and the city. 

The disciples of the Crucified, plunged in de- 
spair, mourned, and wept. Overwhelmed by the 
one inexorable fact that he was dead, for whom 
they had forsaken their homes, and from whom 
they had fondly expected to receive a hundred- 
fold in return, they were lost in thick darkness. 
What heart had they to turn for light to the 
future, or to the past? He whom they had 
looked up to as about to appear in all the mag- 
nificence of the Messiah and to make them 
judges in Israel, had suddenly vanished, covered 
with public shame, — dead, buried. What cared 
they, — it could only aggravate the anguish of 
their ruined hopes, — to recall anything he had 
specially said or promised ? The great Promise, 
upon which they had been depending so im- 
plicitly, lay crushed in the sepulchre. All was 
over. There was nothing lefb for them but to 
go heart-broken home to Galilee. Only some 
women, who had come with Jesus to the great 
city, agreed to go early the next morning to his 
tomb and pay a last poor tribute of afifection to 
the dead. 


While the disciples were thus stunned, stupe- 
fied by grief, the Priests, having compassed the 
destruction of Jesus, as they believed, under 
every circumstance of shame and horror, exulted 
in their triumph. Now they breathed freely. The 
man who had been such a terror to them, whose 
bold speech had lashed them into a frenzy of 
fear and hatred, was no more. They trusted 
that they had heard the last of him. To make 
all sure, however, and that there might be no 
possibility of any further imposture, they ob- 
tained from Pilate a guard to keep watch at the 
tomb. Certain things said by Jesus, as we may 
suppose, had come to their ears, through Judas 
possibly, — he had sold himself to them; — or, as 
Jesus had been rumored to have called the dead 
to life, and as they regarded him as one of the 
pretended Messiahs likely to appear at that time 
of excited popular expectation, they naturally 
conceived the suspicion that his adherents might 
plot some further imposition, — steal the body, 
and then give out that he had come to life. So 
they took the precaution of having the sepulchre 

Thus the Sabbath passed undisturbed by the 


tumultuous crowds that had gathered around 
the man from Galilee wherever and whenever 
he appeared in public. 

But, as the morning of the first day of the 
week was breaking, what strange story was that 
which came startling the Chief Priests? Into 
the city and to the house of the High Priest 
rushed the guard who had been stationed at the 
tomb, with wild, afirighted looks, in breathless 
accents declaring that there had been a great 
earthquake, and that the stone that closed the 
tomb had been rolled away by a figure that 
came down from heaven with eyes like light- 
ning and raiment white as snow. 

I pause here for a moment over this report 
of the guard. Strauss rejects the whole story 
of a watch set over the sepulchre as a fabrica- 
tion designed to help prove the Eesurrection of 

That there may be mistakes, great mistakes, 
indeed, and exaggerations in the Grospels, I con- 
cede. It would be strange if there were not, 
since events so exciting as those are which they 
record could hardly fail to excite the imagina- 
tion and interfere with the power of accurate 


observation. Indeed, mistakes and exaggerations 
are not only to be looked for, they are important 
witnesses to the substantial truth of the narra- 
tive. "When extraordinary events occur, they 
are always accompanied by false rumors and ex- 
aggerated statements. But the obviously artless 
character of the Gospels forbids us to charge 
them with such deliberate fabrications as Strauss 
and Renan do not hesitate to attribute to them. 

"Was the story told by the watch invented in 
order to help prove the Resurrection of Jesus ? 
It makes no mention of him. It does not say 
that any one was seen to come from the tomb. 
Thus at the very point at which it should fulfil 
the purpose for which it is alleged that it was 
invented, it falls silent and entirely fails. If in- 
vented to support the Resurrection of Jesus, it 
should have made the guard report that some 
one entered the sepulchre or came out of it. As 
it is, if invented with a fraudulent design, it 
would really seem to have been fabricated in 
the interest of the Priests rather than of the 
disciples of Jesus. It certainly gave plausibility 
to the explanation which the Priests found of 
the afiair, an explanation so plausible that it 
long gained currency among the Jews. 


The report of the guard evidently struck the 
Priests as monstrous and incredible. Had it 
been ever so convincing of the fact that Jesus 
had returned to life, they would not have cred- 
ited it. They had gone too far ; they were com- 
mitted to the denial of its truth. As it was, the 
men who told this strange story were plainly 
under the exaggerating influence of mortal ter- 
ror. Their looks, their accents, and the story 
itself bore every mark of extreme fright. Had 
there been " a great earthquake," it would surely 
have been felt in the city. The natural and 
strong suspicion was that a trick had been 
played upon these men. Holding Jesus to be 
an impostor, having no faith in him, or in his 
adherents, the Priests soon found a solution of 
the matter: There had been a plot to steal the 
body, and the watch had been scared away that 
it might be carried off, and it could be given out 
that Jesus had come to life again. The guard, 
the Priests had no doubt, had fallen asleep. 
They may have done so, but it does not seem to 
me likely. Ignorant and superstitious, as they, 
doubtless, were, they were discharging the un- 
accustomed office of watching by night, at a 


grave, and at the grave of a man rumored to 
have possessed mysterious powers; there was 
everything to keep them awake. To the Priests 
it seemed certain that the men must have slum- 
bered, and that a trick had been played upon 
them to scare them away from the spot. 

Such was the Priests' solution of what had 
occurred. And this, substantially, was the story 
which they bribed the guard to tell, promising 
them immunity from punishment for sleeping 
on their watch, a promise which the Priests were 
confident they could fulfil, as they would make 
no complaint of the men to Pilate, and it was 
not a military duty the men had been set to dis- 
charge, nor had their alleged negligence had 
any result of any consequence in the eyes of the 
Roman authorities. Of course they were not 
required to say that they had been frightened 
away from the sepulchre. Strauss says it is in- 
credible that the Sanhedrim should all agree to 
induce the guard to tell a falsehood. And it 
certainly is incredible. But it was not what 
the Priests regarded as a falsehood, but what, 
from their point of view, they honestly believed 
to be the truth, that they are reported to have 
urged the men to tell. 


The question now comes : What was it that 
actually happened at the sepulchre ? Something 
must have occurred to terrify the guard and 
cause them to flee from the spot with such an 
extraordinary story. 

One circumstance, which the guard reported, 
we may credit without hesitation, namely, that 
the stone was removed from the sepulchre. So 
it was found by the women who came to the 
spot shortly afterwards. 

As for the rest, the report of the guard be- 
trays the magnifying influence of extreme terror. 
When men are frightened out of their senses, 
imagination rules the hour, and the simplest in- 
cidents are exaggerated into preternatural phe- 
nomena. Had there been a great earthquake, 
the women, who were on their way to the place, 
would have felt it, and so would the Priests in 
the neighboring city. But neither of these ap- 
pear to have been aware of it. 

It is worthy of note that the first particular 
that is mentioned is the earthquake. This it 
was that threw the guard into a paroxysm of 
aiFright. At that dark, still, lonely hour, as the 
guard naturally would be standing, sitting, or 


reclining, with their backs to the tomb, watching 
the approaches to the spot, they as naturally 
would be greatly startled by even a slight, sudden 
agitation of the ground. It could seem to them 
nothing less than the shock of an earthquake. I 
cannot avoid the conclusion that this jarring of 
the ground was caused by the removal of the 
stone.* The stone, used as a rude door to the 
sepulchre, was, I imagine, more or less of a slab- 
like description. As it fell away from its place, 
it caused a more or less violent concussion of the 
ground. If the stone were removed by some one 
standing outside of the tomb, he would have 
been seen by the guard, before the stone fell 
down. I believe, therefore, it was pushed away 
from within the sepulchre, which, obviously, could 
be done far more easily than it could be moved 
from without. The guard, startled by the jar 
thus caused, turned instinctively to the sepul- 

* Dr. K. von Pritsch, of Halle, expresses the opinion that 
the causes of earthquakes are often much slighter than is 
commonly supposed, and supports it by facts. He states that 
quite feeble forces may produce agitations of the ground 
that will be felt at considerable distances. — Popular Science 
Monthly, No. 1, vol. xxi, p. 144. 


ctire. And there ! a figure all in white appeared ! 
The apparition, caught sight of as suddenly as 
the agitation of the earth was felt, completed 
their fright, and was nothing less, to eyes dilated 
by mortal terror, than a preternatural figure sud- 
denly descended from heaven. What else could 
it be but Jesus himself in his long, white shroud ? 

As it was Jesus who removed the stone, we 
see why the earthquake is first mentioned. The 
jarring of the earth was felt before the figure 
appeared. Had the stone been moved by any 
one outside of the sepulchre, he would have been 
seen before the earthquake was felt, and then, 
it may be a question whether the guard would 
have felt the jarring of the ground caused by the 
stone, and then too there would have been no 
mention of an earthquake. As it was, it was 
the fright, caused by the agitation of the ground, 
that invested the figure that appeared with un- 
earthly attributes. 

The guard reported that the figure from 
heaven, having removed the stone, "sat upon 
it." If, instead of an angel, it was Jesus who 
removed the stone, to seat himself was a natural 
position after the confinement in the sepul- 


chre and the exertion of pushing away the 

The marvels that attended his previous career 
are marked by a severe simplicity strikingly in 
contrast with the exaggerations of fictions born 
of the imagination. There was nothing done 
by him merely to gratify the love of the wonder- 
ful. There never was any more power put forth 
than was absolutely necessary. "When he recalled 
to life the young daughter of Jairus, she was not at 
once restored to perfect strength, as would have 
been represented were the story the creation of 
the imagination, which, once under the influ- 
ence of the passion for the wonderful, scorns all 
limitations. Jesus directed that food should 
immediately be given her. Lazarus also needed 
instant assistance. Once, when the case of a 
blind man appealed to his compassion, as the 
man's infirmity prevented his being influenced 
by the commanding eye and air of Jesus, the 
restoration of his sight was, at the first word of 
Jesus, only partial. He was able to distinguish 
men, only by their walking, from trees. Then, 
as is related, Jesus spat on the ground and made 
clay with his saliva and applied it to the eyes of 


the blind man, not because there was any medi- 
cinal virtue in the application, but because it 
established a communication between the will 
of Jesus and the faith of the man which it stim- 
ulated into sanative action. Again, the demo- 
niac of Gadara did not at once become sane at 
the bidding of Jesus. He became calm, but he 
still had the insane idea that a troop of foul 
spirits had possession of him, and he wanted 
ocular proof that they had left him ; hence his 
insane request that the spirits should be sent 
into the swine. "We read tbat at Nazareth, where 
he was brought up, Jesus did not many mighty 
works, " because of their unbelief." Had not 
faith been an essential factor in the marvels that 
he wrought, the unbelief of the JS'azarenes was a 
reason why he should, not why he should not, 
have done mighty works there. But, faith being 
indispensable, he could work no wonders in a 
community that looked with contempt, born of 
familiarity, upon the son of the carpenter Jo- 
seph. They could not believe that he was, or 
could do, anything extraordinary. 

That Jesus, then, should rest after the exer- 
tion of pushing away the stone from the sepul- 



clire is a supposition not so fanciful as it may at 
first sight seem ; it is thus in keeping with other 
incidents of the history. 

About the same hour on that eventful morn- 
ing that this extraordinary report was made to 
the Priests, intelligence of a like startling char- 
acter broke with like suddenness upon the dis- 
ciples of Jesus. 

Mary of Magdalene came running, breathless 
with alarm, to Peter and John, telling, in hur- 
ried accents, how she and some others had gone 
out very early, before daybreak, to the sepulchre, 
taking spices with them to lay out the body of 
Jesus with more care and decency than the hur- 
ried burial on the eve of the Sabbath had al- 
lowed, and how, when they came in sight of 
the tomb, it was open ! — the stone was removed ! 
— the tomb had been rifled! — the body was 
gone ! 

This last particular, Mary's hasty inference 
from the fact that the tomb was open, shows that 
no shadow of a suspicion had crossed her mind 
that Jesus had risen. Her one engrossing thought 
was that he was lying dead, the victim of the bit- 
terest hatred ; and she rushed to the conclusion 


that Ms cruel enemies had pursued him even in 
death, and violated the sanctity of the grave, not 
suffering his poor mangled remains to rest in 
peace where friendly hands had laid them. 

At this strange report, Peter and John, fol- 
lowed by Mary, ran to the sepulchre to see if it 
were indeed so. 

Hardly had they gone, when the women, 
whom Mary had left at the sepulchre, came 
rushing in, in a transport of wonder and joy, 
telling that, after she left them, they went into 
the tomb, and there, to their unutterable amaze- 
ment, was "a young man in a long white gar- 
ment." So he appeared to them at first sight. 
But when he spoke to them, and showed that 
he knew what they came for, to see the dead 
body of Jesus, and told them it was not there, 
that he had risen, and when he bade them go 
and tell his disciples and Peter that Jesus was 
living again, they bowed down before him with 
wonder and great joy, believing him to be no 
less than an angel from heaven. 

Who could this person in "« long white gar- 
ment" be but Jesus, wrapt in his shroud, who, 
upon becoming aware of the approach of the 


women, had, after the departure of the guard, 
retired into the tomb, not being prepared then 
to make himself known ? 

That it was he and no other is indicated by 
one of those slight microscopic particulars that 
reveal the inimitable hand of truth.* 

One of the Gospels states that the women 
found two angels in the sepulchre. Now if it 
was Jesus whom they saw and who spoke to 
them, then he must have taken off the white 
linen that had been wrapt around his head, and 
it lay apart, near where his head had rested. 

* " When there is a detail of many minute particulars, and 
when to these we apply a close, and, as it may be said, micro- 
scopic examination, the contrast between truth and fiction 
will generally be very striking. Something like this is the 
difference between the works of nature and art. An arti- 
ficial fiower may be so skilfully made as at first sight to 
deceive the eye, even of a botanist ; but when that and a 
natural flower are both exposed to the solar microscope, we 
at once perceive the contrast. The petals of the natural 
flower, when viewed with the microscope, appear more deli- 
cately veined even than when viewed by the naked eye, 
while those of the artificial flower look like coarse canvas." 
— Miscellaneous Remains from the Commonplace Book of 
Richard Whately, D.D. Londun, 1865. 


This white cloth it was, that one or more of the 
women, with eyes dilated with overwhelming 
amazement, mistook, in the dim light of the 
sepulchre, for another angel in white. " Objects 
imperfectly seen," as Dr. Johnson has remarked, 
" take form from the imagination." 

Had there really been two angels in the sep- 
ulchre, would not the one who spoke have 
spoken for the other and said, " Lo ! we have 
told you," and not " Lo ! I have told you," as 
is reported ? 

The first and second Gospels vary but very 
slightly in their reports of what the person, 
whom the women found in the sepulchre, said 
to them. The third Gospel reports him as say- 
ing further, " Hemember how he spake unto you 
when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of 
man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men 
and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And 
they remembered his words." As there is nothing 
in the Gospels that evinces any studied accuracy 
of statement, that these words are not found in 
the other Gospels is no decisive evidence that 
they were not uttered. Suppose the person in 
the sepulchre was Jesus himself, he might, nat- 


urally enough, remind the women of what he 
had once said. But as he desired them to go 
away and to go ^^ quickly " and therefore would 
not be likely to delay them, save by the brief- 
est word or two, my own impression is that, 
upon being told that Jesus had risen, one or 
more of the women, before they reached the 
city, suddenly recollected that Jesus had said 
that he would rise again, and then when they 
told his disciples that he had risen, and the 
startling intelligence was received as an ' idle 
tale,' they reminded the disciples of what Jesus 
had once said, that he would rise again, and, in 
their hurry and eagerness, they told all in a 
breath, what the alleged angel said and what 
they remembered that Jesus had said, mixing 
the words of the angels that they had heard, and 
the saying of Jesus that they recollected, so that 
the latter became mixed up with the former, 
and all together were understood by some to 
have been said by the supposed angel. 

Upon the departure of the women, Jesus 
quitted the sepulchre. There was no one there, 
when, shortly after, Peter and John reached the 


The women had hardly ended their wonderful 
story, when Peter and John returned to the city 
and mournfully reported that they had found 
it even so as Mary had said: the sepulchre 
was empty, the body was not there. They had 
seen no angels. The only strange thing was 
that the grave-clothes were still there, part in 
one place, part in another, a circumstance easily 
accounted for upon the supposition that it was 
Jesus himself whom the women had seen. He 
did not put off all the grave-clothes at once, and 
consequently they were not left lying all to- 
gether. His body, I imagine, had been placed 
with his head farthest into the interior of the 
tomb. "When he awoke to life, he divested him- 
self first, as I have just had occasion to note, of 
the cloth that was wound around his head,* and 
it lay by itself, apart from the remainder of the 
shroud, which was not put off until after an in- 

What other clothes Jesus found, we can only 

* That it was the custom to wind a separate piece of cloth 
around the head of the dead appears from the account of the 
Kaising of Lazarus, whose face it is said "was bound about 
with a napkin." 


conjecture. The loose, flowing garments of those 
times needed no special fitting. It may be that 
the gardener, or some of the persons who had 
assisted at the burial of Jesus, had provided 
themselves for that office with garments, which, 
becoming ceremonially unclean by contact with 
a dead body, and unfit to be worn on the Sab- 
bath then at hand, were left in the sepulchre or 
near it. Or, did the watch, in their hasty flight, 
leave some garments behind them ? But this is, 
perhaps, inquiring too curiously, where all must 
needs be conjecture. 

When Peter and John left the place, they said 
nothing to Mary. Their silence intimated as 
plainly as any words that they had found it as 
she had said. The body was not there. 

They left her standing at the entrance of the 
tomb weeping. She stooped down and looked 
into it. As Peter and John had been surprised 
at finding the grave-clothes, part in one place 
and part in another, so Mary, who had not 
so near a view of them as they had, caught 
sight but only dimly, through her tears and the 
darkness of the sepulchre, of two white objects. 
They surprised her, but before she had time to 


make out what they were, there came a voice 
asking why she wept. Knowing not, for an in- 
stant, whence it came, she answered it, but be- 
fore she finished speaking, she became aware of 
some one approaching behind her. She turned 
only partly round, and saw through her tear- 
bedimmed eyes a man whom she took for the 
gardener. I think her impression at that in- 
stant was, and it was correct, that it was he who 
had just asked her why she was weeping, for, 
upon his repeating the question, and not hav- 
ing heard her answer, adding (how naturally !) a 
further question, " Whom are you seeking?" she 
replied as if she thought that he must have 
heard what she had just said. She begged him, 
if he had removed the body, to tell her where it 
was. Whereupon this person, whom, supposing 
him to be the gardener, she only glanced at 
through eyes suffused with tears, called her by 
name, "Mary!" Then she "turned herself" 
round, — ^there was that in the simple utterance 
of her name that went like lightning to her in- 
most soul, transporting her out of herself. N"o 
voice but one could have so thrilled her whole 

being. She gazed at him as if she would look 



him through and through, — the whole life of her 
in her eyes. It was He ! It was the adored Mas- 
ter himself! She gasped out, "Rahboni!" and 
threw herself at his feet, grasping them in a 
convulsive, rapturous embrace. 

It was not until she returned to the city and 
heard that the other women had seen, as they 
declared, two angels in the sepulchre, that, with 
characteristic precipitancy, she rushed to the 
confident conclusion that she too had seen those 
angels, that the two white appearances that she 
caught sight of when she stooped down and 
looked into the sepulchre, and did not know 
what to make of at the time, were those very 
angels whom the other women had seen, and that 
they it was who put to her that first question 
which came she knew not at the moment whence, 
although at the time she did not dream of their 
being angels, for she turned her back upon them 
to talk with a common man. Never would she 
have done so, had she then thought that there 
were angels in the sepulchre. 

And here I pause over the perfect simplicity, 
I might almost say, the homeliness, of this most 
wonderful Event, the Re-appearance of Jesus 


alive to Mary. There was no sudden apparition, 
no sudden vanishing. He stood before her in 
the simple garb of an ordinary man. She saw 
him before she recognized him. She clasped his 
knees and knew that it was he, in flesh and blood. 

We have seen how, in the case of the guard 
and of the women, imagination was on the alert 
to glorify the simplest things and transfigure 
them with its exaggerating accidents. Mary was 
as ready as they to become the dupe of the coin- 
age of her brain, as is evident from her rushing 
to the belief that the white objects that she 
dimly caught sight of in the sepulchre were 
angels, ifever would she have represented so 
great a personage as the Messiah was held to be, 
as returning from the invisible world of the dead 
in so humble a form that she mistook him for a 
gardener, had her imagination, quick as it was, 
had the slightest opportunity to act. Her recog- 
nition of him in this lowly garb was too instan- 
taneous, too overwhelming. At the very in- 
stant that she was weeping over him as dead, 
he stands directly before her, calls her by name, 
and she falls at his feet. 

Read any accounts, such as the Roman Cath- 


olic Church abounds in, of alleged visions of the 
Virgin or of this or that saint. Are not those 
apparitions always arrayed in the glorified cos- 
tume of preconceived ideas of visitants from the 
world of spirits, decorated with the symbols of 
the Church ? And thus, in depicting this very 
event of the Resurrection, Art portrays Christ as 
ascending from the sepulchre radiating light, and 
surrounded by clouds of glory. And thus also, 
were the Gospel narratives pure fabrications, the 
offspring of the love of the marvellous, would 
they have represented his E,e-appearance alive. 

There is a peculiarity in the account of Mary's 
recognition of Jesus which strikes me as not 
without significance. I have remarked upon it 
before. I cannot refrain from a notice of it here. 
I refer to her exclamation, " Eabboni !" "Why 
was this Hebrew word preserved? It is per- 
fectly translatable, and is immediately trans- 
lated. There must have been a reason for it. 
And the reason was, I conceive, that this iden- 
tical articulation, being the only audible sign of 
her overpowering transport, bursting involun- 
tarily from her inmost heart, had an emphasis, a 
world of feeling in it, which no word of a for- 


eign tongue could convey. Any other word 

would have sounded cold and expressionless, 

wholly unequal to the occasion. This original 

exclamation is like the " Et iu, Brute!" of Csesar, 

which Shakespeare, with the intuition of genius, 

does not translate. 

There are other instances in the Gospels, in 

which the very words uttered are preserved, and 

for similar reasons. " Taliiha cumi!" said Jesus 

to the child that, at this command, instantly 

awoke to life. " Ephphatha !" was his word in 

restoring a blind man to sight. These words 

are immediately translated, but, followed as they 

were by the most wonderful effects, they sounded 

in the ears of those present like powerful magical 

formulas. They had a ring of power which 

could belong to no other articulations. Those 

who heard them and witnessed the effects that 

followed upon their utterance must needs report 

the identical words that came from the lips of 

Jesus. So the Apostle Paul uses, more than 

once, the word "Abba," as in Eom. viii, 15, 

" We have received the spirit of adoption, 

whereby we cry, Abba, Father !" No word of 

any other language, though it had precisely the 



same meaning, could have for the Apostle the 
tender, endearing significance of this hrief word 
in his mother tongue. 

Upon recognizing Jesus, Mary, as we have 
seen, held him by his feet. She clung to them 
as if she would never let him go; so we may 
infer from what he is reported to have said to 
her : " Touch me not, for I have not yet ascended to 
my Father ; hut go to my brothers and tell them I 
ascend unto my Father and their Father, and to my 
God and their God." 

It seems to be thought that there is some 
mysterious meaning in these words of his, as if 
they forbade Mary to come near him, or so 
much as to touch him. But as she afterwards, 
in all probability, appealed to the fact of having 
held him by his feet, and as this fact was dwelt 
upon as proof positive of the sense of touch that 
it was no spectre that she had seen, but real 
flesh and blood, may we not surmise that this 
circumstance has caused what Jesus said to 
Mary to be reported, not in his exact words, but 
in the form in which we now have them, and 
that what he said, and all that he meant to say, 
was that she was not to stop to embrace him 


then, — ^there would be other opportunities of 
seeing him, — she was to go and tell his brothers 
that he was still living and about to go to his 
Father and theirs ? 

It is not necessary to understand from his 
manner of expressing himself on this occasion 
that he intended to say that he was about to go 
up literally into the sky. It was his purpose to 
tell, not how he was going, but only that he was 
about to go to the Father, and he used the pop- 
ular mode of speaking in which departure from 
the present state of being is described. 

The passage in the fourth Gospel which re- 
lates the first appearance of Jesus tells how John 
outran Peter and waited for him at the sepul- 
chre. This minuteness of detail respecting the 
movements of Peter and John on that occasion 
is readily explained when we take the narrative 
as coming directly from John himself, upon 
whose mind the slightest incidents of that event- 
ful morning were stamped indelibly. It is not 
necessary, however, to suppose that he wrote it 
with his own hand. I do .not think that he did. 
Throughout all the Gospels, the disciples are 


always spoken of in the third person. This is 
one great reason why I incline to helieve that 
the Gospels, composed of records previously 
existing from the earliest time, had for their au- 
thors, persons outside of the circle of the imme- 
diate disciples of Christ, persons who were either 
eye and ear witnesses of the things they relate, 
or obtained their information, as Luke states 
(Luke i, 1), from "eye-witnesses and ministers 
of the word." Cultivated writers, like Julius 
Caesar, for example, may write about themselves 
in the third person. But this is an art of liter- 
ary composition quite beyond such unlettered 
men as the first disciples were. The opinion 
which I entertain, for my own satisfaction, con- 
cerning the fourth Gospel is, that it is the work 
of a highly spiritually-minded friend of John's, 
much younger than he, who held John in the 
greatest veneration, and obtained from him the 
materials of this Gospel, not always restricting 
himself closely to John's communications, but 
sometimes amplifying them to bring out more 
fully what he conceived to be their meaning,* 

* A striking instance of the freedom with which the author 
of the fourth Gospel introduces his own comments and ampli- 


but still confining himself substantially to wbat 
he received from the venerable Apostle, and 
very closely in the case of facts, and ending by 
giving the whole credit of his work to John, not 
to obtain for it an authority which it would not 
otherwise possess, but because he felt he had 
derived it all from his aged friend. 

Certain discrepancies with the Story of the 
first Ee-appearance of Christ, as it has now been 
told, remain to be noticed. They are found in 
the first Gospel. 

While the three other Gospels agree in stating 
that the stone was removed from the sepulchre 
before the women reached the place, the first 
Gospel gives us to understand that the women 
were present when the stone was rolled away. 

The apparent contradiction vanishes when we 
consider how natural it is, when anything ex- 

fications may be found in John iii, 11-21, incl. In the im- 
mortal chapters of this Gospel, beginning with the fourteenth 
and ending with the seventeenth, I recognize, not the precise 
words of Christ, but the inspiration of his Spirit, which, in 
its expression, is colored and freely amplified in passing 
through a mind eminently fitted to receive it. 


traordinary happens, for the first excited reporters 
of it, in the eager and hurried state of mind 
which it causes, to crowd together all the most 
wonderful particulars without regard to the order 
of time, so that things are represented as occur- 
ring coincidently that occurred successively and 
at intervals. The story, as it is told in the first 
Gospel, is an instance of this precipitation. It 
reads like a first oral report written down. The 
chief startling incidents are told all at once, in a 

Thus viewed, the credibility of what is related 
to have taken place is not impaired, it is cor- 
roborated, as there is undesignedly exhibited the 
excited state of mind which the extraordinary 
event related must have produced. 

Again. The first Gospel states that Jesus first 
appeared to all the women who went together to 
the sepulchre, and who, it says, met him as they 
were returning to the city. We need have no 
hesitation in pronouncing this a mistake, since 
it is easy to see how naturally it was fallen into. 
As Mary and the women all went together to 
the sepulchre, and as all but Mary rushed back, 
declaring that Jesus was alive, and were quickly 


followed by Mary affirming that she had seen 
Mm and held him by his feet, could anything 
be more natural than that, in the intense excite- 
ment of the hour, the impression should be re- 
ceived by some that all the women had seen him 
and held him by his feet ? 

In the foregoing exposition of the Accounts 
of the E.e-appearance of Christ alive in the gar- 
den where his body had been laid, I am not 
aware of having had recourse, for the sake of 
harmonising them, to any forced or far-fetched 
considerations. I have sought to read them by 
the light of familiar principles and well-known 
experiences of our nature. 

That the dead body of Christ had disappeared, 
that a living person was found there, in and near 
the sepulchre, and that that person was no other 
than Jesus, I hold to be established by evidence 
hardly less extraordinary than the great Event 
itself. It is evidence entirely undesigned, evi- 
dence that he was seen by a number of persons 
without being recognized, and seen by the 
woman, to whom he made himself known be- 
fore she recognized him; the evidence, not of 


men, but of God himself speaking through the 
natural emotions of the persons present on the 
spot, all unconsciously on their part. Stronger 
evidence I can neither desire nor imagine. 

Holding the Resurrection of Christ to be an 
actual fact, must we pronounce it a miracle ? A 
miracle it is in the original sense of the word, 
which is simply " a wonder." It is a great mir- 
acle in this understanding of the term. But 
was it a miracle in the popular sense ? Was it 
an event out of the established course of na- 
ture ? As, with all our boasted knowledge, we 
are acquainted only with the surfaces of things, 
and cannot pretend to know all the ways of na- 
ture, what authority have we for pronouncing it 
a miracle in the sense of a violation of those 
ways? Are we not rather bound to conclude 
that it took place in perfect consistency with the 
Divine ways, in obedience to some law of nature 
unknown ? And yet not unknown. Has not 
Christ himself, in the mighty power which he 
ascribed to Faith in terms the most emphatic, 
revealed the law, of the operation of which, the 
marvels that he wrought and his own return to 


life after death are decisive instances : the law of 
the supremacy of Spirit over Matter? Accept- 
ing this view of the case, we can hardly fail to 
see that all the ado that has heen made about 
miracles is out of place. On that score, we have 
afflicted our souls in vain. 

Living, dying, and rising from the dead in 
profoundest harmony with the Divine Will and 
order, through a faith, identified with his inmost 
personal consciousness, in the Infinite One dwell- 
ing in him, and in all things, animate and in- 
animate, Christ is our fullest Eevelation of God, 
and of the Divine life in the soul of man. 

His Eesurrection was justified by the power 
with which it wrought. To change those poor 
men, who first put faith in him, into saints and 
martyrs, through whom the world was to be 
revolutionised, it was worth while for the great- 
est of the sons of men to awake from the deep 
slumber of death, and show himself to them and 
inspire them with a faith in things unseen such 
as was never felt before. Had he not done so, 
his memory would have faded away from the 

world into an insubstantial dream of the Past, 



casting no light of sanctity upon the Present, nor 
of hope upon the Future. His disciples would 
have gone mourning back to their boats and 
nets on the Sea of Galilee. But as it was, as- 
sured beyond the shadow of a misgiving that he 
who had been all in all to them, for whom they 
had forsaken all else, was still living, with a 
courage that princes and all the powers of 
Church and State could not daunt, those humble 
men went forth and published their faith in the 
Eisen Christ, sealing that faith with their blood. 
This was the one Fact, upon the truth of which 
they staked life and all that makes life dear: 
that Christ had risen from the dead, and was 
still living. "If," said the Pharisee, who was 
early converted to their faith, and who became 
the foremost of them, " if thou shalt confess with 
thy mouth," that is, speak boldly out and at the 
peril of thy life avow thy faith in Christ as a 
man from God, " and shalt believe in thine heart 
that God hath raised him from the dead, thou 
shalt be saved," — saved from the fear of man 
and the fear of death. And this is salvation in 
the fullest sense of the word. 

But it was not only at the first, in one gener- 


ation only, that the fact of the Resurrection of 
Christ was of this vital importance. Its power 
was not then exhausted. Never has it been of 
deeper interest than at this hour, when Science 
has become invested, in the popular mind, with 
extraordinary authority, and would fain bring 
the world to the worship of matter and uncon- 
scious physical force. Thank Heaven for him 
who appeared in all the might of the Spirit, for 
" the power of his Resurrection," the crowning 
evidence of the supremacy of mind over matter ! 







In the preceding pages I have told again the 
Story of the First Ee-appearance of Christ after 
death. I do not know that the same view of it 
has ever heen taken by any one else. I have no 
expectation that it will meet with any extensive 
acceptance. It is the exceeding interest of the 
Story that has moved me to this repetition. I 
am betraying perhaps the infirmity of Age. As 
in our first childhood we love to hear, so in our 
second, we love to tell, the same stories over and 
over again. 


If, in regard to studies of this class, there is, 

among the liberally disposed, one characteristic 

of the present time more marked than another, 

it is the Decline of Faith, not only in the great 

Christian fact of the Resurrection of Christ, but 



in the historical authority of the Gospels alto- 

Theodore Parker — all honor to his memory! 
— said long ago in his first and chief work, " A 
Discourse of Religion," a work that has had great 
influence in setting the present fashion of think- 
ing, that we have no warrant for the truth of any 
incident related in the Grospels beyond the fact 
that Jesus was persecuted and suffered a violent 
death, which, although Mr Parker says it lay 
in the nature of the case, would now in these 
sceptical times, I suspect, be called in question, 
were there not on record the explicit testimony 
of the Roman historian to the crucifixion of 

That faith in historical Christianity is on the 
decline among us needs no special proof. The 
fact is patent. It is in all the air. The appear- 
ance of a denomination called Free Religionists 
is evidence sufficient. Those, who are ranked 
under this title, are understood to relinquish the 
Christian name, and to hold that, for the superi- 
ority claimed for Christianity over all other re- 
ligions, there is no historical foundation, that it 
has the same legendary origin with the other re- 


ligions tliat have sprung up in the far East. As 
historical records, the Gospels are accounted of 
very little value. Having thus fallen, histori- 
cally, into disrepute, regarded as collections of 
mere fahles or myths, they are ceasing to he 
studied, or even referred to, apart from their 
moral precepts, with any particular interest. 

As such ways of thinking are becoming com- 
mon, I cannot but see and lament that the true 
character and contents of these "Writings are 
very imperfectly understood. Even Mr Parker, 
who pronounced so decisively upon their credi- 
bility, does not seem to have given them any 
thorough study. Why, should he, if he believed 
them to be fables ? In the work already referred 
to, he says that Christ taught the reprobation of 
the majority of mankind, and, in proof thereof, 
refers to the passage in the Sermon on the 
Mount, which says that " broad is the way that 
leads to destruction, etc.," a simple picture of 
human life, not first given by Christ, equivalent 
to, " Folly leads to ruin and has her thousands 
to follow her, while the way of "Wisdom is nar- 
row, and only the few pursue it," a saying all 
but proverbial. Again, Mr Parker objects, if 


my memory serves me, that Christ promised his 
disciples, when they should be arraigned before 
magistrates, miraculous assistance. The lan- 
guage of Christ does not necessarily bear any 
such construction. He simply assured them, 
that, when they found themselves in that posi- 
tion, it would be given them, — a form of speaking 
synonymous with, they would be able, — to speak 
and bear themselves as they should ; with the 
occasion would come the true spirit to meet it. 
Once, some time before his death, my venerated 
friend, "Waldo Emerson, was telling me of the 
fidelity of a man who had been long in his ser- 
vice. I quoted, partly to myself, " Whosoever 
would be great, let him serve." " "WTio said that?" 
exclaimed my friend : " say it again." While he 
betrayed his lack of familiarity with the New 
Testament, he was struck, as he well might be, 
with the wisdom of a saying that fell from the 
lips of Jesus by the wayside, in familiar inter- 
course with a little company of poor fishermen ; 
a saying identical with that, but of far deeper 
significance, which the father of modern philos- 
ophy is renowned for announcing from his li- 
brary : " To command Nature, you must obey 


her." The comparison, by the way, suggests 
the contrast. How great the diflFerence between 
the two ! The poor peasant of Judea exempli- 
fied in life and in death the grander truth that 
he uttered. The philosopher, with all his learn- 
ing, failed, in the lower domain of physical 
science, to be true to his own precept. 

To return. It seems to me sometimes as if 
to the wisest and most enlightened the Gospels 
are sealed books. How indeed can it be other- 
wise ? For long years they have been read dili- 
gently enough, Heaven knows ! but always by 
the light of the theological systems, in the inter- 
est of which they have been interpreted so long 
that it is all but impossible to dissociate their 
phraseology from the dogmatic " hoar of ages" 
which cleaves to it. 

"When here among us, in New England, the 
heavy fetters of the old theology began to fall 
away, and a freer mode of thinking to prevail, 
it was the aim of the liberal denominations to 
relieve the Scriptures from orthodox interpre- 
tations and to show that they give no counte- 
nance to the old dogmas, to declare, in fine, 
what they do aot mean rather than what they 


do. Consequently those who forsook the old 
faith, could only tell what they did not helieve. 
Beyond that, we had no positive, clearly-defined 
faith; and so, in the eyes of many, there was 
but little difference to see to, between the non- 
orthodox and downright unbelievers. 

I suppose that, in the progress of thought, 
this state of things had to be. But a conse- 
quence of it is, that, as the Gospels were no 
longer believed to be preternaturally inspired, 
or to sanction the old doctrines, they ceased to be 
studied with particular interest. It was enough 
that they were found to be not Calvinistic docu- 


Furthermore, and here is a fact that demands 
most serious attention : Our Christian Theol- 
ogy stands insurmountably in the way of a due 
appreciation of the historical character of the 

It is held by all denominations of Christians, 
orthodox and liberal, without exception, as a 
fundamental article of the Christian Faith, that 
the Revelation contained in the Gospels is pre- 


ternatural, and that only as they are so re- 
garded have they any special authority, it being 
affirmed as a first principle of our Theology that 
only by miracles, that is, only by suspensions of 
the established laws of nature, can a Revelation 
be proved to come from God. 

Now if he, of whom the Gospels tell us, has 
really brought to mankind a Divine Revelation, 
then must all that he said and did be of supreme 
interest to all, who are seeking to learn the 
Divine ways. A Revelation from the Author 
of all things must harmonize with and illumine 
all else that has come from the same Source, 
and prove our greatest guiding light in the study 
of nature. "What is the end and aim of natural 
science but the discovery of the Ultimate Power, 
a seeking after God through the study of his 

But when Christ is represented, in his being, 
or only in his working, as above nature, he is 
put outside of nature, and consequently outside 
of the sphere of scientific inquiry. And it may 
be said, as it has been said by the most eminent 
student of nature in our day, that Science has 
nothing to do with him. Accordingly, left to 


itself, wtat else is to be expected but just what 
we see : Science making, indeed, wonderful dis- 
coveries and inventions, employing forces of 
the nature of wMcb it bas no idea, but finding 
nothing to believe in, nothing to appeal to our 
deepest sentiments but unintelligent, unconscious 
matter and blind physical force ? 

It is no wonder that our scientific inquirers, 
searching in the dark among atoms and monads, 
and I know not what creations of the scientific 
imagination, after the Ultimate Cause, can find 
no Creative Intelligent Power present in the 
Universe. Laborious and acute as they are, 
what else can they do, since they get no help 
from the great light that would guide their in- 
vestigations ? Sad is it to find that "star-eyed 
Science" returns from ranging through the Uni- 
verse to bring us back " a message of despair." 
It has, however, this great excuse for the pov- 
erty of its results : it has been warned ofi" from 
the quarter whence the guiding light comes. 
The advocates of Christianity, insisting upon a 
representation of Christ that puts him beyond 
the range of inquiry, have virtually forbidden 
Science to look for aid in this direction, A 


false theology it is, I repeat, that is responsible 
for the materialistic modes of thought now so 

Supernatural Christ was, taking this word as 
synonymous with superphysical, hut when he is 
represented as working preternaturally, he is 
not only outside of the range of Science, but 
beyond the reach of rational belief. If his works 
are outside of the natural order of things, how 
are they to be distinguished from creations of 
the human imagination, since the demonstration 
of the truth of any fact consists in its being 
shown to be, actually or presumably, in har- 
mony with all else that is known to be true? 
Omne verum consonat vero. 

As far as the eye has penetrated, there every- 
where reigns throughout the Universe a con- 
summate order, which is one grand character- 
istic of the Creator. The laws of nature, that 
we talk about, what are they but the Divine 
ways under another name? To affirm of any 
event that it is an interruption of the laws of 
nature is the same as saying that God contra- 
dicts himself, which is incredible. 

Here we are confronted with the chief ob- 


staele to tlie recognition and treatment of the 
Q-ospels as genuine histories. By the insistence 
of those who profess to believe them, they 
abound in accounts of so-called miracles. 

In an earlier publication, " Jesus and his Bi- 
ographers" (1838), taking for granted the uni- 
versally received theology, I assumed that the 
miracles were actual suspensions of the laws of 
nature, and that Christ was specially gifted with 
preternatural power for the express purpose of 
proving his Divine authority. And what I 
chiefly sought to do was to show how fdlly in 
accordance with the dignity of his personal char- 
acter and with the simplicity of nature he is 
represented as using his peculiar gift. 

I have since been led to the conclusion that 
the alleged miracles were not miracles in the 
commonly received sense of the word, but ex- 
traordinary natural facts, and that there is no 
reason nor necessity for supposing that Christ 
had any power to suspend the action of the laws 
of nature. I find nothing in the Gospels that 
authorises this supposition. 

The definition of a miracle as a suspension of 
the laws of nature is of modern origin, unknown 


to the Scriptures, both Old and New, which I 
found I had, with all the world, been reading 
from a mistaken point of view, a point of view 
based upon the mechanical theory of nature, an 
offspring of modern Science. Ifature being con- 
ceived of as a vast mechanism, whatever appears 
to be a departure from its settled order is to be 
pronounced a miracle, a break in the natural 
course of things. Such is the common belief. 

Not so, not so, did the authors of the Bible 
look upon the world. The Hebrew word, and 
the Greek word also, translated in our Scrip- 
tures' " miracle," means simply "sign" or "prod- 
igy," and all that our English word " miracle" 
signifies, in its etymological sense, is " a won- 

The writers of the Bible saw everywhere, 
not the working of blind physical forces, but 
intelligent, spiritual agencies. It was God who 
did all things, directly, or through the ministry 
of angels or demons. Such is the Bible view 
of the economy of the world, with which there 
were no signs or wonders that were not in har- 
mony, and of which they were not a part. 

Moreover, in respect of the alleged miracles 


in the New Testament, I do not find that Jesus 
ever claimed any preternatural power. He af- 
firmed, indeed, that the wonders that were wit- 
nessed were wrought by God, but as emphat- 
ically did he declare that they were wrought 
through faith, a natural, spiritual, God-given 
force, planted deep in human nature. 

The view of the miracles, therefore, which, 
after all these years, I have come finally to rest 
in, is, that, marvels as they are, they were facts 
as natural as the rising and shining of the sun ; 
and, indeed, of all facts, the most natural, since 
they occurred in obedience to the highest, or 
deepest, law of nature, the law of the supremacy 
of Spirit. 

"Were this view of the so-called miraculous 
relations accepted, the air of incredibility which 
now invests the Gospels would disappear, and 
their claim to be treated no longer as fables, 
but as possibly true histories, would be seen to 
be not wholly groundless. 

And not only so, upon a careful and candid 
examination of their contents, it might be dis- 
covered that the so-called miracles which they 
relate, instead of being suspensions of natural 


laws, are revelations thereof, revelations, in 
fact, of the very highest of the laws of Nature, 
the law of the Supremacy of mind over matter. 
Then, in direct opposition to the representations 
of Materialism, Christ would be seen to be the 
Revealer of Spirit, of an immaterial Power as 
the creative, all-animating Cause and Soul of 
the physical world. No longer should we find 
ourselves cabined, cribbed, confined in the midst 
of a vast machine, worked by brute forces that 
sweep us away like dust, but in the mansion of 
an Infinite Spirit of Life, of "Wisdom, and of 
Love, and in as many as are led by the Spirit 
we should behold beings partaking of the Su- 
preme nature, and of whose high position and 
destiny their lofty powers and graces would be 
more significant than the white robes and wings 
of angels. 

As I have just said, Christ never pretended to 
possess any preternatural gift. That his was a 
finely organized nature, that he was inspired by 
a peerless religious genius, and was endowed 
with a keen and searching moral insight, the 
most orthodox, whatever else and more they 
believe him to be, will not question. (" Perfect 


man" as well as " perfect God" is the language 
of the old creed.) While he differed from all 
other men greatly, the difference was not in 
kind, hut in degree. He was no other wise 
made than all men are. Of all human heings, 
he was the most human. In him the greatest 
and best in our nature was most fully devel- 

It is, then, in the completeness of his nature 
as a human being, not in any superaddition 
thereto, that his Godlikeness is shown, his Di- 
vine Sonship. In all the good of every age, in 
every good deed, we have hints, more or less 
significant, of the same sacred relationship to 
the Highest. But in Christ shines the great 
Revelation, full-orbed, the sun amidst the lesser 
lights of the firmament. High beyond all stands 
that wondrous Hebrew youth. In him we have 
the fullest vision of the Infinite Spirit, the 
Father. Through him also we behold in all 
men, by virtue of the nature which they share 
with him, children of God, — rebellious, lost, chil- 
dren, but still children of God. 

This Idea of Christ, bringing him within the 


embrace of our most sacred sympathies, of our 
faith, and our veneration, creates a new faith 
in the transcendent possibilities of our nature. 
Does it not give us, for example, a new sense 
of the height to which man may rise above Self, 
as we contemplate Jesus, in the midst of multi- 
tudes rending the air with their acclamations, 
and behold him working the greatest marvels, 
as if, so far as he was concerned, they were the 
commonest human offices, seeing in them no 
glory of his own, but only the glory of God in 
the power of Faith ? 

As he was one with all nature, all nature 
bears witness to him, and is, in return, illu- 
mined and consecrated by the light that radi- 
ates from him up to the throne of God and down 
to the humblest of mankind, to the meanest 
creature that breathes. 

If we are ever to have a true philosophy of 
the Universe and of man's position therein, 
Christ must be the corner-stone thereof. It can- 
not be that such a revelation as he is of the 
Greatest and Best will not shed light far and 
wide over the whole sphere of human know- 


ledge, since the Universe, seen and unseen, is 
One. Even upon the old orthodox ideas of the 
Christian Revelation, it has its theology, or phi- 
losophy of the world. But what a philosophy ! 
Not the light of the knowledge of the glory of 
God shining into the heart from the person of 
Christ, but a theology that shows us the Uni- 
verse reddened by the glare of an ever-burning 
hell, into which, age after age, are driven by 
Almighty Wrath, for the sin of their first pro- 
genitor, myriads of human souls : a sight which 
high orthodox authorities have taught, enhances 
the bliss of the saints in heaven. 


In addition to erroneous views of the nature 
of Christ and of the marvels related in the Gos- 
pels, the mythical theory of their origin, with 
which Strauss has made us familiar, has helped 
to undermine the faith of many in the historical 
claims of these Writings. That theory has been 
accepted as fully accounting for their existence. 

Strauss does not appear to have taken care to 
ascertain the real meaning of the Gospels be- 
fore applying his theory to them. Like all 


those who deny their historical character, he 
argues, not against the most rational construc- 
tion of which they admit, but against the com- 
monly received mistaken interpretations of them. 
It was obviously for the interest of his theory, 
as it is of all theories unfavorable to their his- 
torical claims, that they should be made to 
appear as improbable as possible. 


The difficulty of determining the date of the 
Gospels — ^the fact that, as scholars affirm, there 
is no historical evidence of their existence be- 
fore the second century— has, doubtless, gone far 
to create unbelief in their value as histories. 

I am at a loss to understand why so much 
stress is laid upon the external argument for 
their truth. Unquestionably, it would be inter- 
esting to know when precisely and by whom 
they were written ; and were it proved that they 
were written by the persons whose names they 
bear, it would help to confirm our faith in them. 
But even if we had the most satisfactory ex- 
ternal evidence on this point, there would still 
remain the question whether their authors were 


not, more or less, mistaken. And this question 
would depend for settlement upon their intrinsic 
character and upon no extrinsic considerations. 
In determining what they are, whether legends 
or true narratives, it is not necessary that we 
should know when or by whom they were writ- 
ten. They are to be interrogated. They must 
speak for themselves. A lapidary does not need 
to know the history of a diamond in order to 
decide whether it be a diamond or not. 

Admitting that there is no historical evidence 
of their having been in existence before the 
second century, nevertheless, since in all ages 
men are prompted, as by an irresistible in- 
stinct, to express and perpetuate the impression 
which events at all remarkable make on them, 
it is, under the circumstances, very unlikely, to 
say the least, that nothing was put in a written 
form about Christ until a hundred years after 
his time. 

We must not forget the vast revolution which 
the Printing Press has made in the means of 
publication. In that old time, the manufacture 
and multiplication of copies of a written work 
must have proceeded very slowly, and it may 


have been in existence for a considerable period 
before it became so multiplied and so widely 
known as to be said, properly speaking, to be 
published. Publication now is the work of a 
day. Then it was the work of years. 

Such being the case, that the Gospels are not 
mentioned by any writer before the second cen- 
tury does not preclude the possibility of their 
being compilations of written narratives that 
came into existence and had been passing from 
hand to hand and slowly multiplied long before. 
The third Gospel (Luke i, 1) states that there 
were "many" such in circulation before that 
was written. 

That the Gospels really are of this descrip- 
tion, mostly compiled of narratives that were in 
existence at a very early period, is, to my mind, 
abundantly clear from their internal character. 
Even considered as legends, they show by their 
lack of connection, by the difficulty of reducing 
them to a continuous narrative or to any satis- 
factory order of time, that they are composed of 
different pieces put together with no particular 

That they are not mere legends, however, or, 



if legendary, only so in a few passages, the whole 
tenor, of the first three Gospels especially, shows. 
They hear numerous, inimitable marks of being 
true histories ; and not only so, but of histories 
that existed, in some form or other, wellnigh con- 
temporaneously with the events narrated. They 
have all the freshness of first reports. They 
are warm with the life and with the impress of 
the facts which they relate. So strongly do I 
find them thus marked, that, for my own part, 
I need no external evidence to reinforce their 
credibility. Like all true things, they are their 
own credentials. 

Alexander the Great, at the tomb of Achilles, 
wished that he might have such a herald of his 
exploits as that hero had in Homer. "Wisely 
has it been said, "Do great deeds and they 
will sing themselves." * Great things, said and 
done, strike all who hear and behold them, and 
hearers and beholders there always are, who 
must publish what they have heard and seen, 
or die. They are driven by the overpowering 
force of truth and nature, the inspiration of God, 

* Emerson. 


to proclaim it in all possible ways. This is what 
is meant by great deeds singing themselves. 

And this is what the Gospels are most striking 
instances of. The incidents of the life of Jesus 
could no more fail to be told by every means 
then known than the sun could fail to give 
light. Written reports of them did not wait 
to appear till there was a demand for them. 
They created the demand. As I have paused 
over the different scenes of that wonderful Life, 
and have been touched to the heart by the God- 
like bearing, at once so original and so natural, 
of this Man of men, it has seemed to me that, 
if men had held their peace, the very stones in 
the streets, over which walked those blessed 
feet, would have cried aloud. But men did not 
hold their peace. They could not. And conse- 
quently, by word of mouth and by written 
words as well, the world instantly began to ring 
with the immortal Story. 


In addition to the causes, which I have men- 
tioned, of the Decline of Faith in our Christian 
Eecords, there remains one to be briefly no- 


ticed. "We are all conscious of its effect. A 
common proverb states it. Familiarity with the 
Bible has bred, not contempt, but indifference 
and despair of ever finding it interesting. It 
has fared with it as Hamlet's soliloquy fared 
with Charles Lamb. He had heard that piece 
of Shakespeare so often from the mouths of 
declamatory boys and men, that he could not 
tell, he said, whether it is good, bad, or indif- 
ferent. Put into our hands when we were too 
young to understand them, the Scriptures must 
needs have become wearisome, associated per- 
haps with the hard labor of learning to read. 
We have been required to con them verse by 
verse, chapter by chapter, as a religious task, 
sometimes as a punishment, for mischief or filial 
disobedience. "We have got them by heart, but 
only the words, to which, regardless of their 
meaning, we have attached a superstitious sanc- 
tity. How irksome it has all been, who is not 
ready to confess? "Who has not wished that 
he could read the Bible now for the first time ? 
Old Thomas Fuller, pious man that he was, able 
to draw spiritual nourishment from the gene- 
alogies, and even perhaps, I should not wonder. 


" from the unedifying tenth of Ifehemiah," be- 
trays his weariness of this Bible-reading routine, 
when he tells us how his conscience pricked 
him, as he caught himself turning over the leaf 
to see whether the daily chapter that he was 
bound to read was long. 


And yet, after all, the Gospels have been 
studied and commented upon, letter by letter, 
laboriously enough. How vast the literature 
they have created ! The hundred and sixty 
miles of shelves in the British Museum could 
hardly contain the volumes that have been 
written about them. 

But all this labor has been spent, as I have 
said, mainly in the interest of this or that 
system of theology, and all upon the fatal as- 
sumption that these writings are the history of 
a Life out of the natural order of things. The 
consequence is that, as the old theology is shorn 
of its prestige, and the general mind is becoming 
familiarised with the universality of law, all faith 
in the historical truth of Christianity is going to 




This faitli destroyed, — ^what does it import? 
Nothing less than this : the loss of the noblest 
Realised Ideal of human nature that has ever 
yet appeared in the history of mankind, a loss 
we can poorly afford to bear, especially, now 
when Science, with its powerful instruments, re- 
vealing to us the awful mystery of Being, and 
crushing us under a sense of our apparent insig- 
nificance, in the pride of her dazzling triumphs, 
is making popular speculations that are at war, 
I say not, with Christianity, but with all but 
" the ghost" of a Religion.* In losing Christ, 

* " He tried to give her yet another idea of the size of the 
Universe. . . . 'There is a size at which dignity begins,' 
he exclaimed : ' further on, there is a size at which grandeur 
begins ; further on, there is a size at which solemnity begins ; 
further on, a size at which awfulness begins ; further on, » 
size at which ghastliness begins. That size faintly approaches 
the size of the stellar universe. So am I not right in saying 
that those who exert their imaginative powers to bury them- 
selves in the depths of that universe merely strain their fac- 
ulties to gain a new horror ? ... If you are cheerful, and 
wish to remain so, leave the study of astronomy alone. Of 
all sciences, it alone deserves the character of the terrible. 
Then, if, on the other hand, you are restless, worried by your 
worldly affairs, and anxious about the future, study astronomy 


we lose a priceless pledge of the transcendent 
powers and destiny of human nature, an all- 
comforting, all-inspiring Revelation of the Son- 
ship of man, of the Fatherhood of God, and 
a great light is extinguished whereby Science 
might be led from the downward path which it 
is pursuing up to the life and power of Spirit. 
This is the unspeakable pity of it. 

It cannot be too deeply impressed upon our 
minds that it is not the teachings of Christ, 
taken apart from him, but it is he himself, his 
perfected personal being, that is the great 
Revelation, the essential life and power of 
Christianity. " The highest cannot be expressed 
in words," but only in Life. Life is the lan- 
guage in which God communicates with man. 

at once. Tour troubles will tie reduced amazingly. But your 
study will reduce them in a singular way, — ^by reducing tlie 
importance of everything. So that the science is still terrible 
even as a panacea.' " — [Two in a Tower. A Novel, by Thomas 
Hardy.) If ant man be in Chkist, thekb is a new crea- 
tion. With Christ in the heart, with the faith in God and 
man that rests on him as on a Kock, the dread Mystery may 
be affronted with unshaken faith and triumphant hope. 


Happy he who translates it into his own life, 
be his creed what it may ! 

What exalts Christ, to my mind, high above 
all other great leaders of mankind, and deepens 
inexpressibly my sense of his most original per- 
sonal greatness, is the fact that, not only was he 
far greater than his word, great as his word was, 
and of what other can this be said ? but that, so 
far as human sympathy was concerned, he lived 
and died Alone, Alone with God. 

Other great leaders have very soon gathered 
around themselves a greater or less number of 
adherents, who have caught their spirit, appre- 
ciated their aims, entered into their work, and, 
continuing faithful to the end, have been to them 
a world of encouragement and support. But, 
from the first to the last, Christ had not a soul 
on earth that understood his purpose. 

The little company of ignorant men who at- 
tended him were drawn to him with a force of 
which neither he nor they were conscious, by 
his commanding personal qualities expressed in 
his whole bearing, in every glance of his eye, 
beaming with kindness, or flashing with indig- 


nation, in every accent of his voice, thrilling 
them with its tone of perfect sincerity. But 
they were following him with very mercenary 
views. They were depending upon his making 
them princes in Israel. The more they felt the 
power of his character, the more they trusted 
in him, and the more confident were they that 
he would fulfil their expectations. The kingdom 
which they implicitly believed that he would 
establish was a kingdom of national wealth 
and splendor. But as to what filled his whole 
heart, and for which he lived and was to die, 
they were, as he more than once called them, 
children. In that regard they were as ignorant 
as the dumb brute that follows its master. In 
his extremest agony they fell asleep. And when 
at last the crisis came, and an awful death con- 
fronted him, they fled and left him alone with 
the grim horror. 

iN'ot only was he thus without a friend, who, 
entering into his mind, and understanding his 
high purpose, could lighten his burden by sharing 
it, but he was beset at every step by mortal foes, 
who, urged by bigotry and hate, were bent upon 
his destruction, accounting it a God-service. 


And he, who thus lived and died, solitary and 
alone among men, to whom he yearned with a 
brother's heart, was not a person of an austere 
temperament, such as would be best able to en- 
dure so lonely a lot. He was distinguished for 
his tenderness. It is evident from the style of 
his discourse that he cherished companionship 
with Nature in its various forms, with the birds 
of the air and the flowers of the field. So gentle- 
natured was he that Art, in its endeavor to por- 
tray him, overlooks his extraordinary strength 
of character, and depicts him as a person of 
feminine softness. Oh no, there was nothing 
repellent in his appearance. When those around 
him would fain drive children away as intruders 
into his presence, he was much displeased ; he 
called the children to him, took them in his 
arms and pronounced his immortal benediction 
upon childhood. And children it was who wel- 
comed him to the great city vsdth their shrill 
hosannas. "Women sat at his feet, ministered 
to his wants, and poured their fragrant oint- 
ments on his person in token of their rever- 
ence, and one wretched creature fell at his feet 
and covered them with her kisses, and bathed 


them with her tears and wiped them with her 

"With a heart ever open to all human sorrows 
and going in his youth straight to a baptism of 
blood, with no friend in sympathy with what was 
dearest to him, how profound was the solitude of 
the soul in which he lived and died ! "What ele- 
vation of mind, nothing less than sublime, does 
it betoken, that, in the absence of all human 
sympathy, he bore himself with a fraternal con- 
sideration for others and a forgetfulness of him- 
self as habitual and as perfect as if life was for 
him, from first to last, a triumphal progress, at- 
tended at every step by the welcoming acclama- 
tions of a world ! Who shall fathom the great 
deep of his Faith, of his faith in God, of his faith 
in man ? Only once, for a passing moment, in 
his sharpest agony, did his mind misgive him. 
He might well have feared that he was the dupe 
of a delusion, that there was no God in heaven 
to have pity on him, that all truth and virtue had 
fled the earth, when he stood before Pilate, for- 
saken by every friend, with the demoniac yell, 
" Crucify him ! Crucify him !" ringing in his 
ears, and all that the world accounted respecta- 


ble and religious arrayed against him. " Art 
thou a king?" asked his judge. "Thou sayest 
it," he replied, " I am a King, For this end I 
was born, and for this cause came I into the 
world, to bear witness to the truth ; and every 
true man hearkens to my voice." Let the dark- 
ness, hiding from him both heaven and earth, 
gather around him as thickly as it might, it 
could not shake his faith in Truth and in the 
existence and loyalty of good men and true. 

In contrast with Christ, how poor is the out- 
come of our vaunted superior enlightenment! 
How poverty-stricken looks our boasted Science 
in the appearance, among our so-called most ad- 
vanced thinkers, of a denomination professing 
as its distinction, in relation to questions of the 
deepest interest, an utter inability to affirm or to 
deny ! We are measuring the heights, sounding 
the depths, of the material Universe, and re- 
ducing its mightiest forces to our daily service, 
but around the Divine in N^ature and in the 
human soul, clouds and darkness, exhaled from 
the broad fields of our Science, are gathering 
thick and fast. 


Jesus, alone, and in an ignorant age, affirmed 
the Fatlierliood of God and the Sonship of man. 
He lived and died, resting in immovable faith on 
these affirmations. And their truth ? — behold the 
God-given warrant of it in the peerless charac- 
ter which they fashioned, and in the life which 
has gone forth therefrom through generations 
and is still, in countless unacknowledged ways, 
re-creating the world. Where is the wise? 
Where is the scribe ? Where is the disputer of 
the present age to answer our deepest questions ? 
Is not God again making foolish the wisdom of 
this world? Why should we care for proto- 
plasms and molecules, if all is to end in the 
annihilation of God and of man ? 

"I'd rather be 
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn" 

than have the whole world of things laid bare to 
me in the light of Science, only to find at last 
that there is no God in heaven, and no hope for 
man on this earth, groaning and travailing to- 
gether in pain as it is. 

The result of what has now been said of Christ, 
the reason why we cannot afford to lose him, but 


must cherish him as our dearest treasure, as the 
cardinal fact in human history, is briefly this : 
His character, being the creation of a theory of 
human nature, if you please so to call it, I prefer 
to say, of an Ideal, which represents man as 
standing in a relation to the Highest, best sym- 
bolized, though inadequately, by that of a child 
to a father, — this Realized Ideal in Christ, ap- 
pealing directly as it does to the most powerful 
sentiments of our nature, is an all-sufficient wit- 
ness to the truth of this Ideal. He was no pre- 
ternatural apparition. He was no myth. He was 
a Solid Fact, at once human and divine, in the 
fullest harmony with the Divine order of the 
world, a living demonstration of the Sonship of 
man and the Fatherhood of God. 


Far otherwise than what I have now represented 
him must he be conceived of when the accounts of 
him that have come down to us are treated as mere 
fables that had their origin years after his time. 
Then he appears, as M. Henan says he appeared 
to him before he went to Syria, as a dim person- 
age of doubtful existence. 'No longer revered as 


the creative centre of all that is good and hope- 
ful in our modern life, to be cherished with the 
deepest reverence and the liveliest faith, he he- 
comes a vague vision which we must take care 
that we do not unduly magnify, as he is held re- 
sponsible for all the errors, and they are many 
and great, of which he has been the innocent oc- 
casion, and which have claimed the authority of 
his name. As well, by the way, may the mag- 
nificent spectacle of Creation that lies all around 
us be charged with the monstrous superstitions 
engendered by the ignorance and fear with which 
it has been contemplated. 

Although regarded as a legendary personage, 
he yet may be acknowledged as an eminent moral 
teacher. But apart from him, his sayings might 
as well have come down to us anonymously for 
any peculiar power they possess. It is a mistake, 
I conceive, to magnify him merely as a moral 
Instructor, as if this were his chief claim upon 
our reverence. The Man was a great deal greater 
than the Speaker. ISo sounds of the lips, though 
such as angels use, could express the unsearch- 
able riches of his faith and truth. It is his per- 
sonal character, not any novelty of doctrine, but 


his very life, poured into every word and work, 
that has made him great among men beyond 
compare. He dealt in no hearsays, spoke from no 
external dictation, but from the profound convic- 
tions of his own soul, upon which he planted him- 
self as a king upon his throne, making a crown 
of thorns outshine all earthly diadems, and "the 
world come round to him." If the words of 
Luther were half battles, the words of Christ 
were victories. In fine, it is the unrivalled force 
of his character, the divine humanity of his life, 
Gl-od within him, that clothes him with an author- 
ity before which " the human soul of universal 
earth" must bow in veneration and love. 


It is difficult, I know, to approach the Grospels 
unbiassed by any theories of belief or unbelief 
whatever. We look to find in them the confirma- 
tion of our preconceived ideas ; and what we seek 
we are pretty sure to find. It is, indeed, quite 
impossible to read them without some hypothesis, 
more or less pronounced, of their character and 
contents, nor is it desirable. In the pursuit 
of truth in any department of inquiry, previous 


suppositions, or divinations, are indispensable. 
We must have some thread to string our facts 
upon, some idea to verify. Only we must be on 
our guard and take great care that our theories 
do not run away with us, as they are very apt to do, 
out of sight of everything that contradicts them. 

My own supposition, suggested by certain ob- 
vious characteristics of these Writings, is simply 
this : They are neither theological documents 
nor fabulous compositions, but, substantially, 
genuine histories, not perfect (what history is ?), 
but accounts of things that were actually said 
and done. 

Accordingly, what I have endeavored to keep 
in view as my sole aim has been to ascertain how 
much there is in them, which, being consistent 
in itself, with all the actual and probable circum- 
stances of the case, and with all that is known to 
be true, carries in itself the evidence of its truth. 

That no bias of preconceived notions has im- 
paired the singleness of my purpose, I cannot 
pretend. It is quite impossible to project one's self 
out of the sphere of inherited modes of thought, 
and, without going too far, take the right stand 

beyond the reach of their influence. I have done 



what I could to read the Gospels as if they were 
just put into my hands, excluding from view the 
peculiar theological and official representations 
of him whose acts and sayings they record. , 

As they abound in references to times, places, 
and persons, and are obviously and eminently 
circumstantial, that a faithful and candid exam- 
ination will make it appear, beyond all question, 
whether they are true or fabulous, or, if a mix- 
ture of both, to what extent, I have no doubt. 

This confidence has been amply repaid by 
signs and marks of an unmistakable signifi- 
cance, which have disclosed themselves at every 
step. I make no boastful claim. But I am free 
to say that many of the inimitable undesigned 
evidences of truth and nature, which I have in- 
dicated from time to time in the Gospel narra- 
tives, have never that I know of been observed 
before. They would have been found long ago, 
I doubt not, had they been looked for. Erro- 
neous ideas of the character of the Gospels, and 
of him of whom they tell, have prevented a 
search in the direction that would have led to 
the discovery of these internal evidences of their 


That these internal evidences have been so 
long overlooked, — does it not show how truly 
undesigned they were? Had they been in- 
tended to create an air of truth, they would 
have been made more conspicuous. 

That I have in no instance mistaken fancies 
for facts, I cannot venture to affirm. Wherever 
I may have done so, a keener critical faculty 
than I possess will make it manifest. I am far 
from thinking that I have left nothing undis- 
covered in this most interesting field of inquiry. 
I have hardly gone beyond its borders, but I 
have gone far enough to be convinced of its 
inexhaustible richness. 


I have said more than once, in previous pub- 
lications, that, in order to be rightly understood, 
the Grospels must be read between the lines. In 
truth they have already been read a great deal 
in this way; and the diverse interlineal mean- 
ings that they are made to yield, who can num- 
ber ? But they have been thus read mostly by 
the highly colored light of theological dogmas 
and metaphysical systems founded upon mis- 


interpretations of the written word. I have en- 
deavored to discover what is legible between 
the lines by the pure, white light of the undis- 
puted truth of nature. What I have thus read, 
I submit to the judgment of the reader in the 
following instances. 

The Baptism of Jesus. 

I begin with a passage that I have dwelt upon 
often before, the passage that relates to the Bap- 
tism of Jesus. 

It impresses me deeply, in the first place, 
because I find that it is an account of a great 
moment, of an era indeed, in his spiritual devel- 
opment ; and then because of the perfect truth 
to nature, to the laws of the human mind, with 
which the experience which he then had is de- 

"When it is stated (in the second Grospel) that, 
after his baptism, '■immediately the Spirit driveth 
him into the wilderness," I read between the lines 
that his baptism was no cold formality, but that 
he was so profoundly moved by it that he could 
not rest in his old familiar relations. Up to that 
hour he had lived his ordinary retired life, cher- 


ishing in the secrecy of his own bosom his 
high aspirations, meditating the work to which 
he felt himself ever more and more urgently 
called. How thoroughly acquainted he was with 
the spirit of the time, with the corruption and 
savage bigotry of the ruling classes especially, 
his subsequent utterances abundantly attest. 
Consequently he saw with ever-growing clear- 
ness that it would be certain death if he dared 
to obey the inward call, and go forth and faith- 
fully declare the truth concerning God and man 
then buried out of sight under formalities and 
traditions which were hardening the heart and 
perverting the conscience. 

At last the hour came when he could delay 
no longer. He must obey the sacred impulse of 
the Spirit. A time of great religious excitement 
was causing multitudes from far and wide to 
flock to the Voice and the Baptism in the Desert 
on the banks of the Jordan. Jesus quitted his 
home and went with the throng, deliberately 
and formally, to be cleansed of all hesitation and 
delay, and to devote himself to a work that had 
but one end, a violent death. 

It was his first public step, the step that costs, 


an act by which he virtually pronounced Ben- 
tence of death on himself. With this devotion 
of himself to the Supreme Will when it willed 
for him so appalling a fate, there came a new 
and overpowering consciousness of the ineffable 
blessedness of a perfect unity with the Highest 
and Best. So new and deep was this experience 
that he could not rest in his old surroundings. 
He must flee, driven from within, by the Spirit, 
to the silence and solitude of the Desert, there 
to ponder his exalted relationship, which was 
now impressed upon him as never before, and 
prepare himself for the fatal career in which he 
had now taken the first irrevocable step. 

Now, as never before, and as it never could 
have been until he " converted conviction into 
act," his faith was deepened beyond the possi- 
bility of being shaken or disobeyed. In the deep 
peace that overflowed his soul, he had the wit- 
ness of the Spirit of the Most High that it was 
no hallucination, but the voice of God in his 
heart, that he was obeying. 

Bearing in mind this faith which now knew 
no misgiving, and the power of which his fleeing 
to the Wilderness reveals, and considering also 


how natural it is for the boldest figures of the 
imagination, in moments of intense excitement, 
to rise before the mind as representative of the 
emotion that overpowers us, we cannot fail to 
see how true it is to nature that Jesus should 
describe that new and beatific consciousness of 
oneness with the All-Perfect as a vision of 
heaven, as heaven thrown open to him. " The 
moment," says Emerson, " our discourse is in- 
flamed with passion or exalted by thought, it 
clothes itself in images." 

And is it not with equal truth to nature that 
a dove, the common symbol of love and peace, 
happening to hover within the rapt vision of 
Jesus, as he came up out of the water, " in bodily 
shape" only an ordinary dove, was instantly glo- 
rified by his raised imagination, and transfigured 
into a heaven-sent messenger? What is more 
common, in moments of deep emotion, than for 
the most familiar incidents and appearances to 
be invested with the significance of omens or 
portents ? 

And is it not in accordance with no un- 
common experience that the words of ancient 
Scripture, " Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I 


am well 'pleased," coming suddenly, involuntarily, 
to the mind of Jesus as expressive of Ms new- 
born consciousness of tlie approbation of the 
Highest, should seem to him as though sounded 
in his ears by an articulate voice, and should be 
so described ? 

Does this interpretation of the Baptism of 
Jesus, which I read, in the very handwriting of 
truth and nature, between the lines, seem 
strained? Ah! if we had ever had an expe- 
rience in the remotest degree akin to his at 
that great moment, these figures of the imagi- 
nation would be felt to be all inadequate to de- 
scribe his unutterable peace of mind, the natural 
accompaniment and consequence of the divine 
consciousness then created within him. 

In the Desert. 

In the account of what passed in the Wilder- 
ness in those temptations with which he con- 
tended, and which, according to the usual modes 
of thought and speech of that time, are repre- 
sented as suggested by an evil spirit, — in the 
repetition of, " If thou he the Son of God" I read 
between the lines how deeply a new and over- 


powering sense of his Divine Sonship had been 
impressed upon his mind. And in the repeated 
mention of stones in the same account I read 
also how, in his self-communings, his thoughts 
were suggested by surrounding objects, and took 
shape therefrom. (" Command these stones to 
become bread," and " He will give his angels 
charge concerning thee, . . . lest at any time 
thou dash thy foot against a stone.") 

The Gi-ospels tell us only of those things which 
struck their authors as extraordinary. There are 
many little particulars which we should like now 
to know, of which they give us no information, 
as they were not thought to be worth mentioning. 
Thus, they have not told us how the experiences 
of Jesus at his baptism and in the Desert came 
to be known. That they were told by him to 
his disciples, I doubt not. 


The first public appearance of Christ as a 
teacher caused a sudden and great sensation, so 
new and commanding was the air of authority 
vsdth which he bore himself. An insane man, 
who chanced to be present in the synagogue. 


supposed, according to the popular belief of the 
time, to be possessed by an evil spirit, was so 
excited by the whole appearance and discourse of 
Jesus that, unable to control himself, and break- 
ing in upon the decorum of the place, he cried 
out in the character of the demon by whom he 
believed himself to be prompted, calling Jesus 
the Holy one of God. Jesus instantly turned 
upon the man his word and eye of command, 
and bade the evil spirit depart. Whereupon the 
man, under that influence, shrieked out and fell 
into convulsions, and shortly became calm and 
composed. The people present could have but 
one thought: Jesus was a powerful exorcist. 
From the synagogue Jesus, followed by an ex- 
cited crowd, as I cannot but imagine, went to 
Peter's house, whither, doubtless, the rumor of 
the startling incident in the synagogue preceded 
him. Peter's mother-in-law was lying ill of a 
fever. At his appearance at her bedside, at the 
thrilling touch of his hand, so stimulated by the 
excitement of the moment were her vital forces, 
that she threw off her fever and was able to leave 
her bed and assist in the offices of hospitality. 
At sundown, when the Sabbath was past, a great 


crowd, " the whole city," one Gospel says, were 
gathered round the house. 

Then we are told that the next morning Jesus 
" rose a great while before day, and went out, and de- 
parted into a solitary place, and there prayed." I 
read between the lines that he was so disturbed 
by what had happened the day before that he 
could not sleep, and was again "driven of the 
Spirit" into solitude, there to prepare himself 
by meditation and prayer for the unlooked-for 
turn which things had taken; and when his 
disciples went in search of him and found him 
and told him that every one was inquiring for 
him, in his refusal to return to Capernaum, 
where such a sensation existed, I read still fur- 
ther that he had a far higher purpose than the 
healing of bodily diseases. 

Thus reading this passage, I find myself at a 
point of view from which all the difficulty about 
the miracles of Christ vanishes in the flood of new 
light shed upon those sudden and extraordinary 
effects which are so named. I see that they 
never were of his seeking, that he wrought 
them never for the sake 'of exhibiting his power, 
but only as he was moved by compassion, that 


they occurred wellnigh involuntarily on his part. 
He never went out of his way — he rather avoided 
occasions — ^for those marvels. He was at times 
impatient of them, seeing that they fed only a 
barren wonder. "Except you see signs and 
wonders," he once exclaimed, " you will not be- 
lieve." They had not been contemplated by him 
when, previously to his appearance in public, 
he had meditated on his future. His thoughts 
and aspirations had, I repeat, far higher aims 
than the cure of bodily diseases, even the cure 
of souls. 

And as these cures were mostly of a descrip- 
tion susceptible of mental influence, I perceive 
with equal clearness that they admit of being 
referred to the unconscious power, the all-sub- 
duing charm, of the person of Jesus, signified in 
his whole bearing, in the expression of his coun- 
tenance, in the thrilling tones of his voice, in the 
air of authority with which he spoke, and which 
was born of his profound conviction of truth, 
and was so striking that it is expressly men- 
tioned as unlike anything that the people were 
accustomed to. " He taught as one having author- 
ity, and not as the Scribes," — the only passage, I 


believe, approacHng a description of Mm in all 
the Gospels. 

InTow, what we have all been taught is, that 
these remarkable effects were miracles in the 
sense of suspensions of the laws of nature, 
which Jesus was expressly empowered to work 
in order to prove that he was from God. 

They certainly do attest that God was with 
him. But not because they were departures 
from the natural course of things, but for the 
very reverse. They show that, in conformity 
with the ^reat law, the Divine way, in the 
spiritual world as in the physical, Jesus com- 
manded !N"ature by obeying her. So true was 
he, in his whole bearing and being, to the highest 
and best in human nature, that, without design 
on his part, and to his own surprise, in the first 
instance, his simple appearance, the whole air of 
him, instantly inspired all, whose hearts were not 
turned into stone by spiritual pride and preju- 
dice, with a boundless confidence. As the needle 
turns to the pole, so all that was true in the heart 
of man turned to him, even as he himself said : 
" Every true man hearkens to my voice." Even 

his judge, weak, unprincipled as that magistrate 



was, had that in him which was so touched by 
the appearance and behavior of Jesus that, call- 
ing all the people to witness, he cried, " I am 
guiltless of the blood of this innocent man !" 

When this extraordinary, personal power, na- 
tive to Christ as a man, is given full weight, it 
will be seen that there is no need of the supposi- 
tion that he was preternaturally gifted. It abun- 
dantly suffices to account for the extraordinary 
impression that he made. This it was that called 
forth into all-conquering activity, in the sick and 
suffering especially, the most powerful principle 
in the constitution of man. Faith. 

What is there more natural to man than Faith ? 
He was created, born, to believe as surely as he 
was made to see with eyes. The Scripture saith. 
The just shall live by Faith. In truth, the un- 
just, we all, live by Faith. Upon what else does 
the world-embracing system of trade and com- 
merce rest? It is Faith that is treading the 
mountains under foot, that summons the light- 
ning to our service and it obeys. It is Faith that 
is preparing the highway of the Lord, making 
the paths straight for civilization and human 
brotherhood, and for all the great interests of 


mankind over all the land and through the deep 
places of the sea. To Faith we owe all discov- 
eries, all progress. All things are possible to it, 
said Jesus. It commands all nature. To this 
mighty agent directly he ascribed the sudden 
and extraordinary effects which we call miracles. 
It restored health to the sick, sight to the blind, 
life to the dead. 

Between the lines that report the emphatic 
and unqualified terms in which he described the 
power of Faith, in his declaration that, when it 
existed only as a grain of mustard-seed, it could 
uproot trees and toss mountains into the sea, I 
read farther, and it breaks upon me as a revela- 
tion, that, greatly as the people were moved by 
the wonders wrought, no one was so profoundly 
impressed by them as Jesus himself. So deep 
was the impression that they made on him — and 
herein the peerless strength of his character is 
seen — ^that, as unconscious of the power in him 
which produced them as he was of his breath- 
ing, so far from feeling one throb of self-elation, 
he no more thought of taking credit to himself 
for them, than of priding himself upon the ac- 
tion of his lungs. They simply brought him a 


new and all-inspiring experience, deepening his 
own faith mightily. The multitudes who wit- 
nessed them were filled with amazement. In- 
sensible to their acclamations as though he heard 
them not, he had a vision of God in that wonder- 
working Faith, the presence of that Supreme 
Power, whose ways — the laws of nature we call 
them — are in the great deep of the human soul 
as they are everywhere throughout the Universe. 
It was in the conscious power of his own faith, 
quickened by what he witnessed, that he de- 
scribed faith in the strongest possible language. 
His own faith became one with his personal 
consciousness. Accordingly, he is never repre- 
sented as appealing to any power external to 
himself. He uttered no adjurations. On no 
occasions did he speak in a more commanding 
tone of personal authority than when he healed 
the sick and summoned the dead back to life. 

It is most interesting to note that his personal 
consciousness was not lost in the consciousness 
of the power of God within, but was rendered 
all the deeper by being identified therewith. He 
did not lose himself, he found himself, in God. 
When at last he cried, " Not my wUl, but thine, be 


dam !" the apparent surrender of Ms own will 
was, in truth, the exaltation of it into perfect 
unity with the Divine Will. 

Young and without any previous similar ex- 
periences, upon his first appearance in public, 
incidents, wholly unlooked for, occurred which 
called forth the wildest demonstratious of popu- 
lar favor, and he instantly became the object of 
all men's wonder. The rumor of his acts and 
words ran far and wide, losing, we may be sure, 
nothing of the marvellous as it spread. Crowds 
flocked to him from all quarters. At one time, 
we are told, there was such "a coming and 
going" that he and those who attended him had 
not time " so much as to eat." Again the multi- 
tude was so great that they trampled upon one 
another. He had to keep a boat in waiting upon 
the shore of the Galilean lake, where he first 
appeared, that he might escape the press of the 
multitude. The whole country, wild with the 
sensation he was causing, heaved under his steps. 
He saw deranged minds, through the confidence 
reposed in him, restored to sanity, and withered 
limbs, and limbs swollen with leprosy, and sight- 
less eyes, recover their soundness. 


How could it be otherwise with him than I 
have said ? Such an extraordinary state of things 
must have affected him deeply, — how deeply, 
we discover, I repeat, as we read between the 
lines that report the unqualified language in 
which he spoke of Faith. 

His own faith in Faith being quickened, as I 
have described, there was created in him such a 
consciousness of power as only such a person, 
with such an extraordinary experience, could 
have. It was, I conceive, in the unparalleled 
energy of this faith that he called back the dead 
to life and awoke himself from the deep slumber. 

It is comparatively easy to appreciate the great- 
ness of mind which the last hours of his life illus- 
trate, and which has transfigured the vile Cross 
into our most sacred symbol. But, in truth, the 
very beginning of his public life, when, in his 
youth and inexperience, he was confronted with 
such startling and unexpected incidents, mani- 
fests no less impressively the same Godlike char- 
acter. He was alike unmoved by the horrors of 
a lonely and terrible death and by the blandish- 
ments of the most enthusiastic popular favor. 
The acclamations of multitudes made no impres- 


sion on him. They passed by him as the idle wind. 
He was as deaf to those seducing voices at the first 
as he was to the imprecations of his priestly per- 
secutors at the last. Both the one and the other 
serve only to illustrate his utter unconsciousness 
of the severe ordeal to which he was subjected. 
They illumined, but they could not embarrass, his 
perfect self-possession. As in the storm on the 
lake, he was alike unmoved by the wild war of 
the elements and by its sudden cessation, so that 
his terrified disciples rushed to the belief that 
there was an understanding between him and 
the winds and waves, and that they subsided at 
his rebuke, so always, from the first to the last, 
he shows a royal authority over the most trying 
circumstances, making them his obedient min- 
isters, which if we fail to be struck with, it is 
because it was as naturally and uniformly sus- 
tained as if it were the merest matter of course, 
and nothing else were possible. "We are insen- 
sible to it even as he himself was unconscious of 
it. iN'ot until we recollect his temptations in the 
wilderness at the first and his agony in the gar- 
den at the last, are we made to see how entirely 
native to him his greatness was, and how the 


regal dignity of Ms mind was due to no phleg- 
matic insensibility, but to a character no less 
tender than strong. 

On the Lake. 

Where it is related that he was in a vessel on 
the lake, and that he was asleep, and that there 
were other boats out on the lake at the same 
time, we may read between the lines that, ex- 
hausted by the fatigue which drove him there to 
escape the crowds, he had instantly fallen asleep, 
and that, when he left the land, those other 
boats had pushed off, filled with people deter- 
mined not to lose sight of him. These particu- 
lars are not mentioned, but are they not just as 
legible as the written characters ? 

Jems and his Mother. 

On a certain occasion, when Jesus was sur- 
rounded by a large crowd in a state of great 
excitement caused by a sudden cure that had 
just been wrought, and certain Pharisees pres- 
ent, stung to madness by hearing the people 
pronounce this base Galilean the son of David ! 
the Messiah ! charged him with being in league 


with the very devil of devils, upon some one's 
calling out to him that his mother was there 
wanting to speak with him, he exclaimed, " Who 
is my mother f" an exclamation apparently so 
unfilial that M. lienan infers from it that he 
was wanting in natural affection, — He ! he who, 
in the sharp agony of a terrible death, forgot 
himself in solicitude for her who bore him ! 

[That divinely human incident, by the way, 
at the Crucifixion M. lienan regards as a fabri- 
cation designed to intimate what a favorite of 
Jesus John was. This way of disposing of 
whatever in the history happens to strike us as 
unlikely is very easy, but, as I have said, the 
perfectly artless character of the Gospels per- 
emptorily forbids recourse to any such sus- 
picions. To return :] 

Between the lines I read that his mother, 
alarmed at the stir which her sou was causing, and 
fearing, from the malignant things said against 
him, that he would get himself into trouble, had 
come to persuade him to go home with her. 

I read further that, shocked to the last degree 

at the depravity of ascribing to the devil an act 

of humanity, he was so carried away by his in- 



dignation in exposing the base charge, that it 
was not in human nature to regard the abrupt 
introduction, even of his dearest personal ties, 
otherwise than as an intolerable intrusion. I 
read in his exclamation, not that he loved his 
mother less than he should, but that he loved 
God and truth the most. "We can love no mor- 
tal friend truly until we love God supremely. 

In the third Gospel, where the same occurrence 
is related, there is nothing said of the mother 
of Jesus' wanting to see him, but it is written, 
that a woman in the crowd cried aloud, " Blessed 
is she who bore thee, and the breast thai gave thee 
nourishment." Between the lines I read that it 
was hearing the mother of Jesus mentioned (as 
stated in the first Gospel) that suggested this 
woman's exclamation. And I read also in his 
reply to her, "Blessed are they who hear the word 
of God and keep it," the same state of mind that 
a moment before led him to exclaim, " Who is 
my mother?" Any allusions to himself or to 
his private relations he could not then bear, so 
absorbed was he in exposing the blasphemy of 
attributing to an evil spirit the manifest work 
of God. Such allusions, diverting attention from 


the truths that he was then declaring, and that 
filled his whole mind, he felt to be ill-timed, 
utterly out of place. 

"When the scene ended by his pointing to his 
disciples, and saying, "Behold my mother and 
my brothers ! Whosoever will do the will of my 
Father in heaven, the same is my mother, and 
sister, and brother," — in this introduction of the 
sisterly relation is there not visible between the 
lines a reference to the woman who had just 
broken forth in blessing his mother ? Do I fancy, 
or do I not read, that the woman, with the char- 
acteristic disposition of her sex, took his reply, 
" Blessed are they who hear the word of God and 
keep it," although expressed in general terms, 
directly to herself, as a personal rebuff, as if he 
had said, " Blessed art thou if thou hear the word 
of God and keep it," and that it was because he 
saw her and marked her discomfiture, or felt 
that she was wounded, that he introduced the 
sisterly allusion ? 

Jesiis and the Sich Youth. 

The narrative of the rich young man who 
came to Jesus, asking what he should do to in- 


herit eternal life, abounds in exquisite touches, 
written between the lines, not by the hand of 
man, but by truth and nature. 

To perceive the full significance of this pas- 
sage, we must keep distinctly in mind the wide 
difference between Christ's idea of the King- 
dom of Heaven, and the idea that his disciples 
had of it. To them it was a kingdom like all 
other kingdoms, only far excelling all others 
in wealth and power. To him it was the reign 
of Truth and Righteousness, which could be es- 
tablished, such were the corruptions of the world, 
such the savage passions that bore sway, only 
through the fire and blood of merciless perse- 
cutions. 1^0 one could engage in its service, who 
was not prepared to give up everything for its 

The appearance of the rich youth was so pre- 
possessing that it is said, in the simple style 
of the Gospels, that " Jesus loved him." His re- 
spectful address, " Good Master !" uttered in no 
hollow, conventional tone, but with that air of 
earnest sincerity that carries with it a certain 
authority, prompted Jesus to repel the winning 
flattery, to disclaim the title of " Good," and to 


remind the youth that only to One did that title 

In answer to the question put to him, Jesus 
bade the young man keep the Commandments. 
" I have always kept them ; what more am I to 
do ?" was the further inquiry. " If thou wilt he 
perfect," said Jesus, "dispose of your riches, 
give them to the poor, and come with me." 

It has been inferred from these words that 
Jesus required a vow of perpetual poverty as 
an essential condition of Christian discipleship. 
But he spoke for the hour. Now that he has not 
lived and died wholly in vain, the world is so far 
advanced, that wealth may be made a powerful 
means of aiding in the establishment of the Di- 
vine Kingdom. But at such a time as that in 
which Christ lived, no wiser counsel could be 
given than he gave to any one who proposed to 
devote himself to the advancement of Truth and 
Right ; for the certain loss, not of property only, 
but of life would be incurred in that service. 
Upon no other condition at that time could the 
true Kingdom of God come. 

The young man, accustomed to a life of luxury, 

was utterly unequal to so great a sacrifice. Give 


up all his riches! it was impossible. He had 
come running to Jesus with all the ardent con- 
fidence of youth, unconscious of ever having 
transgressed the law, ready, he flattered himself, 
to do whatever might be required of him for the 
sake of the life eternal. He turned crestfallen 
and went slowly away. 

And then broke from the lips of Jesus the 
exclamation, " How hardly shall they who have 
riches enter into the Kingdom of God!" As if 
he had said, " Since this young man, blameless 
of any transgression, lovable as he is, cannot 
resign his riches for the Kingdom of Heaven's 
sake, no rich man can. A camel can pass 
through the eye of a needle sooner." 

Jesus is greatly misunderstood when he is 
here taken to the letter. He spoke as he was 
moved. He was touched to the heart by the 
case of this interesting youth. It was deep feel- 
ing to which he thus gave expression ; and deep 
feeling never limits itself to measured terms. It 
never stops to make exceptions, or to qualify 
its utterances. Not the absolute impossibility, 
but the extreme difficulty, of the entrance of the 
rich into the Kingdom of God, that is, into the 


self-sacrificing service of Truth at that hour, is 
the lesson we are to learn from these words of 

At this exclamation of his, his disciples were 
exceedingly astonished, as well they might be, see- 
ing what their views were, and they cried, " "Who 
then can be saved ?" "To enter the Kingdom of 
Heaven" and " to be saved" were, in their minds, 
equivalent expressions. And salvation meant with 
them, first of all, salvation from poverty ; it was 
to be made rich. They were, of course, amazed 
above measure at this declaration of their Mas- 
ter's. If the rich could not enter the glorious 
kingdom, could not be saved, such was their 
thought, how could there be any saved ? Simple- 
minded men that they were ! How transparently 
did they betray the childish dreams they were 
cherishing ! Fixing his eyes upon them (with a 
look which they never forgot, — it is expressly 
recorded in two of the Gosf)els, — as if he were 
reading all that was in their hearts, and saw the 
whole extent of their delusion), well did he call 
them " Children," and, in answer to their looks 
and exclamations of wonder, assure them that it 
might be impossible to them that there should be 


any salvation without rich men, but that it was 
possible with God. 

"Wisely did he forbear, for their sakes, to go 
any further. Time and the progress of events, 
he well knew, would enlighten them, and bring 
them riches surpassing far their present worldly 
expectations. Any further explanation, at that 
moment, they could not bear. It would have 
been sure to shock them and peril their fidelity 
to the Truth, 

Reading on between the lines, we have a still 
fuller revelation of their hopes, when Peter, ever 
forward to take the lead and speak for the 
others, thinking it high time to come to an un- 
derstanding, immediately inquired, " What are 
we going to have, we who have left all and fol- 
lowed thee ?" " Verily, I say unto you" answered 
their Master, " there is no man who has left house, 
or parents, or brothers, or sisters, or wife, or children, 
for the Kingdom, of God's sake, who will not receive 
manifold more in this present time, and in the world 
to come life everlasting." An eternal truth. An 
emphatic announcement of the law of compensa- 
tion. Whatever a man sacrifices for God and the 
Right, Truth will do manifold more for him than 


he can do for the Truth. That will reward him 
in full measure, pressed down and running over. 

The disciples of Jesus, however, could not 
then have caught so much as an inkling of his 
meaning. Of " the peace and joy in believing" 
which they afterwards came to know, they had 
as yet no experience. They were confidently 
expecting to be rewarded for their devotion to 
their Master with riches and honors. They had 
no thought of the possibility of any different com- 
pensation. Accordingly, in the first Gospel we 
find Jesus reported as saying, not what he said, 
but what, in their simplicity, they honestly be- 
lieved that he meant, namely, that they should 
" sit on twelve thrones, jvdging the twelve tribes of 
Israel." With their expectations, they could put 
no other construction upon "the manifold more" 
which he promised, a construction which I can- 
not for a moment imagine that he dreamed of 
authorising. It contradicts the whole tenor of 
his teaching, the whole spirit of his life. And, 
besides, it is directly at variance with the warn- 
ing that he immediately gave them, that though 
they were the first they might be the last. 

Since Peter and his fellow-disciples, as may be 


read between the lines, were flattering them- 
selves with the expectation that as they were the 
first to follow Christ, they would have an advan- 
tage over those who came after them, he went 
on to say that many, who were first, would be 
last, and the last would be first. And in illus- 
tration of this saying he told the story of the 
owner of a vineyard, who went out at different 
hours of the day to hire laborers, and at the end 
of the day paid those whom he had engaged at 
the eleventh hour equally with the first ; a para- 
ble that has been held to teach the efficacy of a 
death-bed repentance. It has no such reference. 
The eleventh hour laborers had not refused to 
work before. They had had no opportunity. No 
man had hired them. "What the story was in- 
tended to teach is that those who should, in the 
Providence of Heaven, come late into the service 
of the Divine Kingdom, would share in the 
rewards of that service equally with those who 
came earlier. Had the disciples perceived the 
drift of the parable, they would not have ex- 
pected a reward for being the first. 

Let us pause here to observe with what fidelity 
to nature the spiritual growth of the personal 


disciples of Christ went on. Much of what he 
said, they scarcely, if at all, understood. It was 
utterly irreconcilable with all their fondly cher- 
ished views. It found no place in minds full of 
very diifferent things. lifevertheless, his personal 
influence, acting upon them every instant, un- 
consciously on his part and on theirs, through 
every glance of his eye and every tone of his 
voice, was steadily creating in them a growing 
trust, a respect that deepened into awe, and they 
learned to confide in him more than in them- 
selves. In contradiction of a common proverb, 
the more familiar and intimate their intercourse 
with him, the profounder grew their rever- 
ence. But the more they trusted in him, the 
more passionately did they cherish their Mes- 
sianic visions. Thus the tares and the wheat 
grew together in their minds, and for a while, 
instead of either's choking the other, they pro- 
moted each the other's growth. As their worldly 
hopes grew, so grew the faith of his disciples in 
Christ. It became necessary for their sakes, as 
he is recorded to have told them, that he should 
leave them, that the right spirit might gain the 
ascendency. Although they never formally re- 


nounced their Jewish expectations, and though 
to the last they looked for their Master to come 
again and reign in great glory, yet the vision re- 
treated into the background, and the vile Cross 
became more glorious in their eyes than any 
throne. The wheat outgrew the tares. 

Jesus at Bethany. 

"What a truth to nature, what a depth of 
pathos, do we miss when we read only what is 
written, and discern not what is legible between 
the lines in the account of what passed in the 
house of Simon at Bethany, where Mary, in 
token of her reverence, poured the precious oint- 
ment on the head of Jesus ! 

There may seem at first sight an inconsistency 
between his ready acceptance of that costly act 
of personal homage and his disclaiming expres- 
sions of personal respect as he did, once, when, 
as we have seen, he was accosted by the title of 
" Good Master," and again when a woman broke 
forth in a benediction on his mother. But all 
appearance of inconsistency vanishes when we 
note the peculiar circumstances of the occasion 
in Simon's house. 


The incident at Bethany occurred only a short 
time before the death of Jesus, when the black 
shadow of his awful fate was upon him. Aware 
that his powerful enemies were busy conspiring 
against him and that he might be arrested at 
any moment and dragged away to death, was 
it not in exquisite accord with human nature 
that he should be struck by the connection 
of this act of Mary with his near death? The 
perfume of the ointment, associated by the cus- 
tom of bis people with the offices for the dead, 
filled his sense with the odor of death and of 
the grave. Had a thought of the construction 
which he put upon this act of hers crossed the 
mind of Mary, how would she have shrunk from 
thus hastening to discharge so painful an office ! 
She thought only of doing him honor. It was 
because she did not dream of what she was 
doing that he was so struck with the connec- 
tion of her act with his near death, that he 
declared it would be told all the world over. 
She was performing a more sacred office than 
she knew. She was embalming him. "Dis- 
turb her not !" he exclaimed. 

As he had lived, so was he about to die for 


the poor, for the poor of all ages and all climes. 
But, at that moment, the claims of the poor 
were to be set aside. A purpose of affection, 
sacred in itself, and doubly sacred in that it was 
undesignedly a solemn funeral office, was not to 
be frustrated. The poor could always be min- 
istered to; but the fragrance, that then filled 
one humble dwelling, was to fill all the world, 
and the pathos of that act of Mary, that never 
could be repeated, was to touch the hearts of 
generations of men. 

At the Last Supper. 

In the thirteenth chapter of the fourth Gospel 
it is written that Jesus "rose from supper, and laid 
aside his garments, and took a towel, and girded him- 
self. After that he poured water into a basin," etc. 
Here is a detail of apparently insignificant par- 
ticulars, curiously minute. "We read between 
the lines that the wonder of what followed began 
with his rising from the table. All eyes were 
instantly turned to him. "What is he going 
to do ?" was written on every face. Every move- 
ment that he made, increasing the wonder and 
curiosity with which it was watched, stamped 


itself on the minds of all present as an insepa- 
rable part of the menial office which he ended 
with discharging, and at which all but one 
were struck dumb. 

Upon the same memorable evening, how 
manifest, as we read on between the lines, is 
the reluctance with which he discloses his know- 
ledge of the meditated treachery of one of their 
number ! That their faith in him might not be 
shaken, that they might know that he was not 
going to be taken by surprise, that he was pre- 
pared for what was to befall, he deemed it neces- 
sary that he should tell them that there was a 
traitor among them. Twice he alluded to it, 
more pointedly the second time ttan the first. 
At last, in agitation and distress of mind, he 
said outright that one of them was about to 
prove false to him. He mentioned no name. 
Only in a whisper to John, who leaned on his 
bosom, did he point out the traitor, but not 
then by name, but by a sign, lest the others, 
who were watching him, might catch the name 
from the motion of his lips. 

Again. What a world of faith and reverence 
is revealed in the cry, " Lwd, is it If" that broke 


forth all around the table, when he made this 
communication ! Innocent of any thought of 
treachery as all but one of them were conscious 
of being, their instant conviction was that their 
Master knew them better than they knew them- 
selves, and that they might be guilty of the 
black crime sooner than he could bring against 
them a groundless accusation. 

The Raising of Lazarus. 

In the narrative of the Raising of Lazarus, 
there is nothing said of the immediate effect of 
the wonder upon the spectators. But when it 
is stated that at the appearance of the man 
alive at the entrance of the sepulchre, Jesus 
said, " Loosen him, that he may walk," we read 
between the lines that all present were stand- 
ing, transfixed with amazement, motionless as 
statues, staring with eyes starting from their 
sockets at the blindfolded apparition staggering 
in the voluminous folds of the shroud, till Jesus 
broke the spell by bidding them go to the assist- 
ance of his risen friend. 

In the same wonderful narrative, wonderful 
not only for the extraordinary event which it 


relates, but for the inimitable marks of truth 
and of nature with which it is inlaid, when it is 
said that Jesus called with a loud voice to the 
dead man to come forth, I read as plainly as if 
it were written in visible characters, that Jesus 
called thus aloud in perfect faith, that is, he 
called with a loud voice, believing, knowing, 
that the dead would hear him. 

As in death all signs of life cognizable to our 
limited vision, which perceives only the surfaces 
of things, disappear, we rashly assume that death 
is absolute extinction. But we do not know 
either what death is or life, or to what extent 
the one is affected by the other. IS'either do we 
know what hidden sympathies there may be be- 
tween the living and the dead, especially when 
the living and the dead are bound together by 
the ties of such a friendship as united Jesus and 

Were we only penetrated with a due sense of 
our very limited knowledge, we might be ready 
to confess that death is an unsolved secret, and 
be in no haste to pronounce incredible the in- 
stances of the dead recalled to life recorded in 

the Gospels. We might be induced to ponder 


them thoughtfully. "We could hardly fail to be 
impressed by the simple, direct manner of Jesus 
in working these wonders, in consummate har- 
mony as it is with the perfect dignity of his 
character, and with the inimitable simplicity of 
nature as well. 

I cannot but think that, if the story of the 
Raising of Lazarus were a fiction, the creation 
of the love of the wonderful, he who recalled the 
dead to life would hardly have been represented 
as requiring the aid of human hands to remove 
the stone from the sepulchre, nor would the dead 
man have been described as instantly needing 
assistance upon his appearance alive. 

Duly appreciating the internal evidences of 
the truth of these narratives of the dead restored 
to life by Christ, we might obtain some insight 
into what death is, and accept these facts as de- 
cisive proof that there is a life hidden in the 
mortal body, which that mysterious change can- 
not harm, and which, under the conditions that 
existed in the cases recorded in the Gospels, can, 
for a period more or less limited, regain its com- 
mand over the body and revive it. 

The notices of the sisters of Lazarus, Martha 


and Mary, in the narrative of their brother's 
restoration, are wonderfully in harmony with 
what is related of them elsewhere in the Gospels. 
They are nowhere described. It is nowhere 
said what manner of persons they were. Only 
one or two slight incidents, in which they are 
the actors, are related. And yet, reading be- 
tween the lines, we get from those incidents 
ideas of the respective characters of these two 
women as distinct as if we were personally ac- 
quainted with them. 

And here I must repeat what I have said 
about them more than once before. The interest 
of the subject is my apology. 

Martha was the first to go and meet Jesus 
when she heard he was coming, because, " cum- 
bered with much serving," she was in that part 
of the house where the intelligence of his ap- 
proach would be first received. Mary was in a 
retired room indulging her grief, as her charac- 
teristic sensibility prompted, and the custom of 
the time allowed. Martha could not have for- 
gotten her sister, but she neither went nor sent 
to let Mary know that Jesus was at hand. She 
started oS by herself to meet him. And it is so 


in character with the jealousy of her sister shown 
on the only other occasion in which she appears 
in the history, that we may naturally surmise 
that she went off by herself without a word to 
her sister, whose reverence for Jesus she well 
knew, that she might have him all to herself 
without Mary by. "When Jesus was with them 
and Mary was present, conversing with him as 
Martha could not, the practical, matter-of-fact 
character of Martha authorises the suspicion that 
she had an uncomfortable feeling of inferiority, 
especially if she were the elder. Whether older 
than Mary or not, she was probably accustomed, 
by virtue of her practical temperament, and 
Mary's indifference to household cares, to take 
the lead in domestic concerns, and, therefore, 
it was not agreeable to her, especially when 
guests were in the house, to appear to occupy 
a subordinate position. She had not liked to 
see Mary sitting still at the feet of Jesus while 
she had her hands full of work, preparing, as 
he told her, more than enough, for the table. I 
suppose if Mary had been bidden by Jesus to 
help Martha, Martha would only have found her 
in the way. 

MARTHA. 129 

When Martha met Jesus, how plainly is it writ 
between the lines that she was wholly unable to 
sustain any conversation with him ! Everything 
he said staggered her. She could not take in 
what he said. When he told her her brother 
would rise again, she shrank from the idea, and 
sought relief from so great a thought in her tra- 
ditional faith in the final resurrection. And when 
he went on to say (in those profoundly significant 
words) that he was the resurrection and the life, 
and, virtually, that her brother, though dead, yet 
having had faith in him, still lived, and that she 
herself, living and believing in him, would never 
die, and then demanded of her whether she be- 
lieved this, again, confounded by the new, great 
thoughts that he presented, she took refuge in a 
general confession of faith in him as the Mes- 
siah, — and retreated. Do we not read, though 
it is not written in so many words, that he 
startled and overpowered her? He was too 
much for her. She could not talk with him. 
She left his presence, and went and told Mary 
that Jesus had come, and that she was wanted. 
Mary would understand him, she could not. So 
she was forced to feel; and the virtual confes- 


sion of her incompetency which she had to make 
in having to call Mary, could not, chagrined 
as she was, be uttered aloud. And therefore 
it was that she spoke to Mary " secretly" in a 

Again we read Martha's nature in the objec- 
tion she interposed to the removal of the stone 
from the tomb, — as if Jesus did not know what 
he was doing. Mary's silence speaks, and tells 
us more significantly than any words what man- 
ner of person she was. 

Wever, in any work of fiction, with strokes so 
few and delicate, has personal character been so 
exquisitely and yet incidentally portrayed. In 
the same way the distinctive features of Peter 
and Pilate are rendered as recognizable as those 
of familiar personal acquaintances. 

The friendship subsisting between Jesus and 
the family of Lazarus is a fact of no slight in- 
terest, bearing witness as it does to the large and 
liberal spirit of Jesus. Devoted heart and soul 
to his great work, naturally eager as he must 
have been to obtain fellow-workers, he was no 
zealot, insisting upon adhesion to himself as the 
indispensable condition of his personal friend- 


ship. He warned all who would join him to 
count the cost. He had friends, it appears, in 
private life who took no public part with him. 
He was not blind to the fact that it was not given 
to every one to share in his labors and sacrifices. 

The Silence of Jesus. 

In the silence which Jesus preserved when 
arraigned before the Roman governor, and the 
Priests were clamoring for his crucifixion, when 
not a word of fear, not an ejaculation for mercy, 
not a syllable of self-exculpation was breathed 
from his lips, — in his demeanor in those awful 
circumstances I read a great deal more than a 
lamb-like submission to slaughter. I behold a 
conscious rectitude, a pride of virtue, a royal 
greatness of mind, with which the annals of 
mankind may be challenged to produce a par- 

Alone, with not a soul in all the world that un- 
derstood him, defamed, ridiculed, denounced as 
the enemy of God and of man, with savage big- 
otry and hate raging against him, he stood there, 
wrapt around in the robes of angelic innocence 
and truth. He could not descend to bandy words 


with those, whom if words could have moved 
from their fell purpose, those words had al- 
ready been uttered. "Whatever he could have 
said then would only exasperate their malice. 
His blood was the only answer that remained to 
be given to their calumnies, and that answer 
centuries were to accept as his triumphant vin- 
dication. For that supreme moment, silent com- 
munion with himself and with the Infinite Father 
was alone fitted. 

Oh, it is not for any words that he spoke, sur- 
passingly wise as these are, it is for his bearing, 
more divinely glorious than any aureole could 
symbolize, then, and always, that we are moved 
to exclaim, in revering admiration, " Truly, this 
is the Son of God !" 

Baptism and the Lord's Supper. 

Reading always, not only what is written, but 
what is plainly legible between the lines, we 
gather from the Gospels that Christ instituted 
no peculiar forms of doctrine or of observance, 
neither a creed nor a ritual. 

"W"e have, it is true, our so-called Christian 
Institutions, accepted as resting upon his ex- 


plicit authority by all denominations, except the 
Friends ? Baptism and the Lord's Supper. 

Baptism was a rite familiar to the countrymen 
of Jesus before he appeared. He observed it him- 
self, but he never baptised any one (John iv, 2). 
Had he designed it to be what it is now accounted, 
a necessary, initiatory ceremony, it is incredible 
that there should be no mention of any such pur- 
pose either in the third or the fourth Gospel, and 
that in the first and second Gospels he is said only 
once in each to have enjoined its observance, 
and that briefly and at the very last. His disci- 
ples baptised, but it does not appear that it was 
in obedience to any injunction of his. In the 
particular instructions (Matth. x,) which he gave 
them when he sent them forth to herald the glad 
tidings, there is no word about Baptism. 

These things being considered, it is much more 
probable that the command to baptise, recorded 
only once in the final verses of Matthew and 
Mark, crept into the text from the margin of 
some early copy of those Gospels, than that it 
should have been really given by Christ. 

It should be remembered that before the manu- 
facture of copies of the Gospel narratives passed 



into the hands of professional and paid tran- 
scribers, the first copies that were made were made 
in all probability by individuals for themselves or 
for their friends (as Luke wrote his Gospel for 
his friend Theophilus), not mechanically, but with 
the liveliest interest in their contents, prompt- 
ing them occasionally to put a word or two, here 
and there, in the margin, by way of comment or 
explanation; and then, when other copies were 
made from theirs, these marginal notes would be 
apt to be transferred into the text, with no ill de- 
sign, but under the impression that they belonged 
there and had been omitted through carelessness. 
This is one of the ways in which Biblical critics 
account for certain probable corruptions of the 
text. Indeed, the last twelve verses of the sec- 
ond Gospel, which include the mention of Bap- 
tism, are of doubtful genuineness, and they are 
so indicated in the Revised Version of the New 

If, however, Christ enjoined Baptism, it may 
be questioned whether, in the passages where 
alone it is mentioned, he is to be taken to the 
letter, or figuratively, that is, as he used the 
word when he said he had a baptism to suffer, 


and again, when he asked James and John if 
they were prepared, with him, for the same bap- 
tism. It was in the same figurative sense that his 
Precursor, the Baptist, used the word when he 
said to the people that he baptised them with 
water, but that there was one coming mightier 
than he, who would baptise them with the holy 
spirit and with fire. "Water, that cleanses only 
outwardly, was the symbol of the Baptist's influ- 
ence. But the power of him who was about to 
appear would be signified by more searching 
elements, spirit and fire. [It is impossible to 
convey in any one English word the full mean- 
ing of the Greek word meufia, here translated 
spirii. It is expressive of the power as well as 
of the subtilty of Air. In one and the same 
verse (John iii, 8) it is translated both wind and 
spirit : " The wind bloweth where it listeth . . . 
so is every one that is born of the ^irifl The 
Baptist, who held Jesus in the deepest rever- 
ence, as appears from his not thinking himself 
worthy to baptise him, spoke, I doubt not, from 
personal experience when he said that Jesus 
would baptise with the spirit and with fije. To 
Jesus, I believe, he referred when he spoke of 

136 THE lord's supper. 

him wlio was coming. He had felt the power of 
Jesus. In previous communings with his great 
kinsman he had experience of a spiritual and 
kindling baptism. Such and no outward rite 
was the Baptism that Jesus sent forth his Apos- 
tles to administer. Certain it is that Paul did 
not consider himself required to baptise with 
water, although commissioned directly by Christ 
himself. He thanked God that he had baptised 
only two or three persons in Corintb (1 Cor. 

h 17). 

Of the Lord's Supper so called, no mention 
is made in the fourth Gospel; and this Gospel 
is ascribed to the beloved disciple. In the first 
and second Gospels, there is not a syllable inti- 
mating a thought on Christ's part of instituting 
a commemorative rite. In Luke only we have 
the words, "Do this in remembrance of me." Were 
the observance of the essential importance as- 
cribed to it, it is not credible that so slight a 
ground should exist for it. Considering the 
silence of the other Gospels on this point, and 
how needless any express injunction to a special 
remembrance of him was subsequently proved 
to be, since a commemorative observance sprang 

THE lord's suppbe. 137 

up by the pure force of nature, of itself, as it 
were, and took form from the striking incident 
of his last supper with his disciples, we may well 
conclude that, arising so naturally, it was taken 
for granted that the observance must have been 
expressly enjoined by Christ; and thus the words 
in Luke, written first, probably, in the margin 
of some copy, passed into the text of subsequent 

After the disappearance of their Master, when- 
ever the disciples met to eat and drink together, 
they could not fail to recall those remarkable 
words of his about the bread and wine on the 
occasion of their last meal with him. Thus, 
not by convention nor by formal institution, but 
like all observances that have life in them, " out 
from the heart of Ifature" sprang our Memorial 

So, in the same way, the first day of the week 
grew to be commemorative of the greatest event 
in the history of Christ, his Resurrection, and 
became a formal service, instituted by Nature, 
and entitled the Master's or Lord's day. 

Jesus himself, I conceive, had as little thought 

of instituting the Lord's Supper as he had of 


making the first day of the week a day to be set 
apart and formally observed. The occasion of his 
last supper with his humble friends was an occa- 
sion of the deepest emotion to him. He knew 
that it was the last. His awful fate was on the 
eve of its consummation. Images of the near 
horror rose with appalling effect before his mind. 
So vividly did the broken bread and the flowing 
red wine call up before him his lacerated body 
and streaming blood, that the signs vanished 
from his sight before the things signified, and, 
shocked to the last degree, he exclaimed, " It is 
my body!" "It is my blood!" He could not 
drink of the wine, nor eat of the bread. It 
would be drinking his own blood, eating his 
own flesh. His was no state of mind for the 
institution of a formal ceremony. 

I am misunderstood if it is inferred from what 
I say that I would abolish our Christian Com- 
memorative Service. On the contrary, I would 
have it seen that it rests, not on the ground of 
formal institution, but upon the strongest pos- 
sible ground of Nature. 

As to the manner in which, and the frequency 
with which, it should be kept, these are open 


questions to be decided by the spirit of the time. 
It appears that at the first, the disciples made 
every occasion when they met to eat and drink 
together, commemorative of their last supper 
with him. 

As he instituted no set forms, it is equally 
important to observe, neither did he forbid any. 
He neither commanded nor forbade his disciples 
to baptise. If at any time the observance of 
a baptismal form tends to deepen the sense of 
personal duty, then is Baptism a Christian ob- 

Religious institutions, creeds, and ceremonials, 
mankind always have had, and always will have, 
so long as a sense of religion is an essential ele- 
ment of human nature. If there are any wear- 
ing the human shape who acknowledge no 
Power above them, and are conscious of no sen- 
timent of religious faith or fear, they are, as 
Hume long ago said, on a level with the brutes. 
The philosophers of our day, who are sounding 
the deeps of human knowledge and who seem to 
imagine that they have struck bottom, no less 
than the most devout of worshippers, would fain 


have, as it now appears, their ceremonials and 
commemorative services, rivalling the Roman 
Catholic Church in the multitude of their Saints' 

Since these things are so, since such is the 
constitution of man, and there will forever be 
forms of religion, it may be said that Christ 
left all such things to take care of themselves. 
He neither created nor forbade any peculiar 
religious institutions. It was no purpose of his 
to do away with such as existed. 

A Religion, however, sprang from him, no 
creation of the wisdom of man, but rooted deep 
in nature, born of God. Its conception was im- 
maculate. It is clothed with the highest possible 
authority. It is not a form, but a life, a spirit, a 
spirit of Love, of Liberty, of Power. Countless 
are the errors that have usurped its name and 
clogged its progress. But it lives, pure and un- 
defiled, in Christ, its most luminous illustration. 
He came, as he said, not to destroy, but to fulfil, 
not to build a new religion upon the destruction 
of the old, but to breathe into the existing re- 
ligion of his country and through that into all 
the world the spirit of his own broad humanity. 


He threw the whole power of his great life and 
death into the supreme love of the Highest and 
Best and the fraternal love of man. "Wherever 
these are the all-commanding affections, be the 
outward forms of Religion what they may, 
Christ and Christianity do not condemn those 
forms. Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and what- 
ever observances minister to enlarge the heart 
towards G-od and man, are all Christian institu- 

Forms of theology and worship that educate 
the highest and best in our nature will be as 
diverse as the minds of men. When all are 
striving to give expression to one and the same 
religious sense, and by expressing to strengthen 
it, such are the constitutional differences among 
men, they must needs adopt different modes 
of thought and worship. Were it otherwise, 
it would not be in harmony with the infinite 
variety so dear to the Creator. 

There is then the peace and joy of a divine 
charity in the faith in which we may rest, that 
the various forms of religion do all at least keep 
the religious sentiment alive. But there is a 
deeper peace still, a greater joy in the faith that 


there is a power in the world, the spirit, of which 
Christ is our divinest symbol, ever present as 
the oxygen of the atmosphere, which is pene- 
trating and moulding them all in various de- 
grees, and that every religion outside of Chris- 
tendom as well as within its pale has its saints. 
The growing intercourse of Christian and non- 
Christian peoples, which there is now so much 
to facilitate, the treaties made between them in 
the interests of civilisation, abolishing slavery, 
for example, bear witness to the spirit of Christ, 
breathing a deeper life into the world. 

It is only when creeds and rituals are exalted 
above the two great Commandments, or put on 
a level with them, that Christ condemns them. 
Then we hear his voice reiterating the ancient 
immortal word, " I will have humanity and not 

I HAVE given in the preceding pages some 
instances of the way in which the Gospel narra- 
tives are to be read, I claim no novelty for the 
method I have observed. They are read in the 
same way by all who endeavor to read them 
understandingly and not by rote. 


It has been objected tbat I interpret tbem arbi- 
trarily, according to my liking, without reference 
to any sound principles of criticism. I can only 
repeat that I am not aware of having resorted to 
any far-fetched or fanciful suggestions. By the 
same way that I have followed in exhibiting the 
truth contained in these "Writings, certain pas- 
sages are found to be legendary, or exaggera- 
tions of ordinary events, such as, for instance, 
the story of the Nativity, the Transfiguration, and 
the Storm on the Lake. 

If there is anything peculiar in the expositions 
which I have given, it is that I bring more fully 
into view than is commonly done, that Christ 
was a human being, a man, susceptible of human 
emotions, actuated by human feelings. This 
simple fact, when once it is taken fully into 
account, will make the history as luminous in 
its self-evidence as the sun, which needs no 
argument of its reality. 

I do not profess to be able to set forth all the 
internal evidence, whether of fact or of fable, 
in the Gospels. That vsdll require a keener eye 
than mine. But so far as I have come to know 
their real character, I have found them most 


original and wonderful in this, that they are as 
pure pieces of nature as any things in nature, as 
natural as the trees and the flowers. They are 
not a manufacture, but a growth. There breathes 
through them the same Divine Life that animates 
the whole creation. 

Nature abounds in marvels. Among them, I 
hold the New Testament histories to be not the 
least, marvels of simplicity. It is a great mis- 
take to think it would have been better had the 
accounts of Christ been written by educated per- 
sons. The more simple-natured, the more un- 
sophisticated their authors, the easier is it to 
divine what it was that they actually saw and 
felt. No arts of literary composition color or 
refract the pure light of human nature shining 
through these simple narratives. 

"Were they mere human fabrications, they 
never would admit of being harmonised with 
the truth of nature. That man can mix artificial 
flowers with natural ones, — interpolate the crude 
creations of his ignorant love of the marvellous 
into the Divine Order of the world, so that no 
eye shall be able to see the difference between 
the two, is, to my mind, utterly beyond belief. 



We must set no limits to the Infinite Grace of 
God. The prophecy of the Apostle will be ful- 
filled. As God lives, the time must come when 
the spirit of Christ shall have subdued all that is 
hostile to it, and God will be all in all. l^o eye 
hath seen, no ear heard, no heart conceived, what 
is prepared in the counsels of the Infinite Father 
for his human family, what fuller revelations 
will be made, what loftier angels will appear 
with the messages of his Love, and do greater 
works than yet have been done or imagined. 
Science, as well as Scripture, inspires the faith 
that ever higher forms of life and good are to be 

The time is not yet. Hardly does its coming 
shine even from afar. Only to the eye of faith 
is it visible. For the redemption of a world 
still lying in ignorance and sin, we look to Him 
who lived and died and rose again from the dead 
for the re-creation of mankind. Already has 
his influence been realised in countless redeem- 
ing agencies. But not only thus indirectly, but 
by his own personal power, shall he yet move the 



world. That power Ib far from being spent. He 
shall come again, not visibly to mortal eyes, not 
in the clouds of heaven, but, emerging from the 
blinding mists of theological and legendary the- 
ories, he will come, in the all-subduing power 
of his personal character, to create a new faith 
in God and in man. 

In the mean while, everywhere now sectarian 
distinctions are magnified, and creeds and rituals 
usurp supremacy, engendering mutual contempt 
and hatred, and obstructing the genial circulation 
of the spirit of Christ. The Church, the most 
venerable for its age, the most imposing for the 
grandeur of its organization, for the multitudes 
of its members, and for the illustrious and saintly 
characters that appear within its pale, takes the 
lead in exalting forms and traditions above 
humanity and the love of God, sanctifying the 
sprinkling of a few drops of water, for example, 
with an efficacy so sacred that only by the ante- 
natal administration of the rite of Baptism are 
unborn babes to be saved from everlasting per- 

In this state of things can we consent to suffer 
the personality of Christ, at the first so powerful, 

coNCLtrsioN. 147 

to fade away into a fable ? For ages his human 
person has been all but lost, through the distort- 
ing medium of dogmas so bewildering to the 
understanding, so powerless to reach the heart, 
that, save through the Crucifix and the Madonna 
with the infant Jesus, hardly a glimpse of his 
divine humanity could be caught; and the heart 
has turned to the Virgin Mother to slake its 
thirst for an object of veneration and trust, 
that appeals to those sentiments at once the 
most universal and the most powerful principles 
of human nature. Now that, by the G-race of 
God, we have been brought to reject as alike ir- 
rational and unscriptural the metaphysical repre- 
sentations of Christ which have so long and so 
widely prevailed, now, in fine, that we see what 
he was not, shall we be content to rest in this 
negative conclusion and never care to inquire 
what he positively was ? Shall we be willing to 
remain in doubt whether his existence be not lost 
in a cloud of fable ? 

If there were no other inducement, simple cu- 
riosity, one would think, should prevent us from 
allowing to pass into neglect and oblivion the 
memory of one whose appearance in the world 


has determined the whole subsequent course of 
the world's history, and from the date of whose 
birth the most advanced nations count the years, 
as if all that preceded that event passed for noth- 
ing. Surely it could have been no fabulous per- 
sonage — or all that is, is a delusion — whose pres- 
ence in the world has had these consequences, 
no ordinary man, the representation of whom as 
no less a person than Almighty God himself has 
been and still is received as credible. 

But the endeavor to ascertain who and what 
Christ was has a far higher motive than the grati- 
fication of mere curiosity. In the name of all 
that is just, generous, honorable, for God's sake 
and for man's, let us not forget the sacred debt 
that we owe to Christ himself. Before we con- 
sent that the divine Idea of him shall fade away 
from the minds of men, now that we are suffi- 
ciently enlightened to perceive how mournfully 
his person has for long ages been misunder- 
stood, we are bound to see to it that justice be 
done to him. 

When this is done, when he shall be known 
as he truly was, in the beauty of his Life, as 
human as it is Godlike, blessed will be the re- 


suit. The world shall be like him when it sees 
him as he is. Eevered as the realisation of the 
highest idea of human nature, the veneration, 
the faith in God and man, the love, the hope, 
that he will inspire, will prove to be, far more 
effectually than they ever yet have been since 
the Apostolic age, most powerful ministers of 
Heaven in cleansing and renovating mankind. 

As these sentiments are awakened, as men are 
brought to see in him the Divinity of the nature 
which they share with him and to cherish self- 
respect and the sacred feeling of human respect, 
the more plainly will it appear that, however 
numerous and strongly marked are our differ- 
ences of language, of customs and manners, and 
of religion, men everywhere, after all, are more 
alike than different, that their differences strike 
us as great because they are on the surface, — ^in 
fine, that as face answers to face in a mirror, so 
does the inmost heart of man to man. 

And the means of human intercourse, now in 
ceaseless and increasing activity, and powerful 
beyond the dreams of the boldest imagination 
less than a century ago, are bringing men face 
to face, every man to see himself in his brother, 


and to labor together for the common welfare 
of mankind. 

As mutual knowledge and respect increase, 
differences, now unduly magnified, and which 
only generate ill blood, — all, in short, that is not 
rooted in truth and nature, will wither away. It 
will not be plucked up by violence, by hands 
bathed in blood, as some madly dream, neither 
will it be out-argued. It will be outgrown. As 
in the case of the personal disciples of Christ, 
the wheat. Heaven-sown and fostered by the 
fruitful influences of Providence and of Nature, 
will choke the tares. 

Of this, the Divine method in the regenera- 
tion alike of the individual and of the world at 
large, what an impressive instance have we had 
in the history, in this country, of the sacred 
Cause of Justice and Humanity, in which the 
well-being, not of one race or class, but of all 
mankind, was involved, as, for thirty years, it 
was steadily winning its way till the crisis came ! 
As individuals of different religious names be- 
came interested in it, how soon were religious 
differences ignored, and with what mutual con- 
fidence did believers and unbelievers, so called, 


work together as brothers ! Thus it has always 
been when any great vital issues were in ques- 
tion, when any deep feeling has stirred the 
minds of men. At the height of the great 
plague in the seventeenth century in London, 
the flood of one common fear submerged all 
sectarian distinctions, and the people rushed to 
implore the mercy of Heaven into the churches, 
regardless of the religious names the churches 
bore. So here, all thoughts of religious differ- 
ences were swept away when the Spirit of Free- 
dom and Humanity began to overflow the land. 
As it has been, so will it be. All hearts are 
fashioned alike, and, notwithstanding all differ- 
ences of forms of faith and worship, all shall 
become one in Christ. What is the chaff to 
the wheat ? saith the Lord.