페이지 이미지

tense feelings, existing only by the triumph of a few over a dead world of routine, in which there is no lifting of the soul at all.'

Of course, the true shortcomings among Christians, which render these strange phenomena possible, must be rather spiritual than intellectual; and the answer can be found in books at all only so far as the intellect reflects the deficiencies, and can therefore at times detect the deficiencies of our spiritual nature. But to this extent the author of Ecce Homo will give us, at least, a partial reply to our question. It is long since we have read any book that has treated the Christian faith in a more comprehensive and more truly Christian spirit, alike in relation to the claims of science, the wants of the great masses of the people, and to the more delicate graces and bloom of spiritual culture. We do not say that we think his point of view always as strong as it might be, or his adjustment of the many complex and difficult issues raised between the modern or 'relative' spirit, and the eternal revelation of God, always satisfactory. The book was not written to answer the questions we have asked, but to satisfy the writer's own mind as to what Christ claimed to do, how far He can be said to have accomplished it, and by what means ? But with the instinct of true culture, he has necessarily discussed this matter with all the hostile tendencies of the modern scepticism full in his mind; and where he has not precisely met them, he has given us the means of seeing how he would meet them in his modes of statement. We think that we can best convey our strong sense of the power and truthfulness of his book, by bringing out, with this able writer's help, the true attitude of Christian faith, so far as we can clearly determine it, in relation to the scepticism of science, which finds the Christian faith an illusion, the scepticism of secular industry, which finds the Christian faith practically inoperative to help it, and the scepticism of æsthetic refinement, which finds the Christian faith in 'the absolute' far too clumsy and unmanageable an instrument for the delicate discrimination of the modern relative spirit.'

There is no point more powerfully brought out in Ecce Homo than the absolutely regal character of Christ's spiritual legislation, the infinite height from which it descends upon the hearts of His disciples, searching their most secret motives, and yet, though with an entire absence of any visible machinery for frightening or bribing them into compliance, having an unparalleled success in revolutionizing the morality, and at least as completely the religion, of ages. Mahomet, indeed, as our author points out, established a faith quite as successful, and no doubt a faith not without grandeur and truth; but then he began by founding a dynasty,--that is, by the use of influences a thousand times more vulgar,----to rivet his hold on the imagination; and he attempted, even with this aid, infinitely less ; never putting forward any of Christ's imperious claims to purge the secret thoughts and hearts of His disciples, by spiritual principles the most subtle and the most universal. Christ commenced a reign infinitely more powerful in practical life than that of any dynasty of kings, or all the dynasties of all the kings of earthly empires, by the mere unsupported assertion of His authority during a year or two of obscure life. His word established itself, and this for centuries after His ignominious death. The question is to what to ascribe this wonderful reign of one, who, if the sceptics are right, without any pretence to supernatural power, proceeded on a false method, and asserted an illegitimate claim. The improver of natural knowledge,' says Professor Huxley, in the name of men of science, 'absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority as such. And he labours to show that all that is solid in our intellectual, moral, and spiritual life, is built up on a gradual experience of facts, and a temper that vehemently challenges authority (moral no less than intellectual), and will accept nothing which it has not proved for itself. In other words, Professor Huxley maintains that the method of the inductive sciences is the only method by which any human creature can arrive at any sort of truth. If he is right, there are but two alternatives for explaining the power of Christ's inward legislation. Either it must have been legislation only in name, and be really the result of a series of accurate moral experiments, which our Lord only appeals to other human beings' experience to confirm-experiments on the practical value of mercy, justice, purity of heart, the power of prayer, and the negation of these (for no inductive experiment can be of any force till it has tried both alternatives),-or it must have been a misleading power, succeeding by the inherent slavishness of human ignorance, and the undermining of which is the great desideratum of our day. Now, that Christ's legislation is not of the first kind, no one who has the faintest insight into it will dream of asserting,-assuredly no one who reads the delineation of it given in Ecce Homo :

'In defining as above the position which Christ assumed, we have not entered into controvertible matter. We have not rested upon single passages, nor drawn upon the fourth Gospel. To deny that Christ did undertake to found and to legislate for a new theocratic society, and that he did claim the office of Judge of mankind, is indeed possible, but only to those who altogether deny the credibility of the extant biographies of Christ. If those biographies be admitted to be generally trustworthy, then Christ undertook to be what we have described; if not, then of course this, but also every other, account of him falls to the ground.

When we contemplate this scheme as a whole, and glance at the execution and results of it, three things strike us with astonishment. First, its prodigious originality, if the expression may be used. What other man has had the courage or elevation of mind to say, “I will build up a state by the mere force of my will, without help from the kings of the world, without taking advantage of any of the secondary causes which unite men together-unity of interest or speech, or bloodrelationship. I will make laws for my state which shall never be repealed, and I will defy all the powers of destruction that are at work in the world to destroy what I build ?”.

'Secondly, we are astonished at the calm confidence with which the scheme was carried out. The reason why statesmen can seldom work on this vast scale is that it commonly requires a whole lifetime to gain that ascendency over their fellow-men which such schemes presuppose. Some of the leading organizers of the world have said, “I will work my way to supreme power, and then I will execute great plans.” But Christ overleaped the first stage altogether. He did not work his way to royalty, but simply said to all men, “I am your king.” He did not struggle forward to a position in which he could found a new state, but simply founded it.

Thirdly, we are astonished at the prodigious success of the scheme. It is not more certain that Christ presented himself to men as the founder, legislator, and judge of a divine society, than it is certain that men have accepted him in these characters, that the divine society has been founded, that it has lasted nearly two thousand years, that it has extended over a large and the most highly civilized portion of the earth's surface, and that it continues full of vigour at the present day.'

Nor is this method, whether true or false, unique. Certainly the application of it by our Lord is infinitely bolder and more successful than in any other era of human history; but it seems probable that all great constitutive and organizing influences spring into life in the same way, by the aid of an authority coming more or less from above; that nations are born out of the moral impulse given by a single commanding personality, instead of being joint-stock companies voluntarily associating for civil purposes ; that civilisations are crystallized, fixed, and broken up through the vibration of a single wave of moral conviction ; in a word, that societies are governed, as societies, not by scientific generalizations from particular experience, but by subduing moral principles, that, once uttered, seize upon the conscience, and inform the body politic with a living spirit. It seems nearly certain that all great past revolutions are traceable, not to correct inferences duly tested, but to discoveries of a higher life (whether human or superhuman), which is no sooner discerned than it brings the heart into captivity, and justifies itself, not by verification, but 'by faith.'

Now, compare this with Professor Huxley's teaching, and we may gain some glimpse into the true attitude of Christian faith towards the spirit of modern science. Mr. Huxley states his own view very clearly. All knowledge, he says, is of one sort, proceeding from the observation of natural facts to a study of their order, and breaking into what he calls religion at the point wherever (for the time, that is) the effort of the mind to pass the bounds set to natural knowledge fails :

'I cannot but think that the foundations of all natural knowledge were laid when the reason of man first came face to face with the facts of nature; when the savage first learned that the fingers of one hand are fewer than those of both; that it is shorter to cross a stream than to head it ; that a stone stops where it is unless it be moved, and that it drops from the hand which lets it go; that light and heat come and go with the sun; that sticks burn away in a fire; that plants and animals grow and die; that if he struck his fellow-savage a blow he would make him angry, and perhaps get a blow in return, while, if he offered him a fruit, he would please him, and perhaps receive a fish in exchange. When men had acquired this much knowledge, the outlines, rude though they were, of mathematics, of physics, of chemistry, of biology, of moral, economical, and political science, were sketched. Nor did the germ of religion fail when science began to bud. To use words which, though new, are yet three thousand years old :

"... When in heaven the stars about the moon
Look beautiful, when all the winds are laid,
And every height comes out, and jutting peak
And valley, and the immeasurable heavens
Break open to their highest, and all the stars

Shine, and the shepherd gladdens in his heart.” But if the half-savage Greek could share our feelings thus far, it is irrational to doubt that he went further, to find, as we do, that upon that brief gladness there follows a certain sorrow, the little light of awakened human intelligence shines so mere a spark amidst the abyss of the unknown and unknowable; seems so insufficient to do more than illuminate the imperfections that cannot be remedied, the aspirations that cannot be realized, of man's own nature. But in this sadness, this consciousness of the limitation of man, this sense of an open secret which he cannot penetrate, lies the essence of all religion ; and the attempt to embody it in the forms furnished by the intellect is the origin of all theology.

Here then we have the strongest possible contrast of methods. The historical student of Christ's life, entering on his work, as he tells us, without having formed any clear conception of the significance of the subject he was to study, cannot avoid seeing the assumption of an amazing legislative authority over the most secret attitudes of the wills and affections of men, enforced either by no visible power at all, or by no visible power that



the modern scientific man will admit; embodied in no written code, and proceeding from lips which had scarcely uttered the new law when they were closed in death; yet he sees that this legislative authority was not nominal, but real,—that it spread from conscience to conscience and heart to heart, till it undermined the Roman power, founded institutions which all over the West are potent still, and changed the secret motives and the spiritual beliefs even more than the outward actions of those on whom it laid its grasp. The scientific student, on the other hand, tells us that doubt--the rejection of this sort of authority -is in all cases, and every department of life, 'the highest of duties ;' the keenest scepticism the highest of virtues; that moral knowledge, like all other, is the product of a careful study of the consequences of different kinds of conduct; and that religious knowledge, properly so called, does not exist at all, religion being properly only a tone of feeling,-a name for the humility which wise men feel towards the Unknown and Unknowable.

The contrast seems to us as instructive as it is strongly marked: science reproaching history with being founded on a tissue of fable; history ignoring science through the necessity which obliges it to follow those great streams of organizing and constitutive social principles which always originate in sources above the analysis of the scientific understanding. Professor Huxley is committing the very same mistake, on behalf of the scientific principle, which Christians of all creeds, but most of all the Roman Catholic Church, have committed on behalf of the theological principle. Recognising the inherent divinity of the revelation which at once humiliates and elevates, refines and enlarges, saddens and rejoices, the heart of man, Christian theology has always been in danger of annexing to its province those accidentally connected fields of thought, by the aid of which its truths have been expressed and illustrated. As lawyers assume that a grant of land includes a grant of all the tower of space above it up to the very zenith, so theologians have assumed that the breadth of heaven measured by a Divine revelation must carry with it all the depths beneath, down to the very earth illumined by its light. And the Roman Church has gone further still, and maintained, with Dr. Newman, a principle of development which claims ' preservative additions, as bulwarks of the ground already won, until, as in our Indian Empire, State after State is annexed, to insure the safety of what had been annexed before; and the theological principle has exiled every other from the realm of human nature. The blunder which theologians have thus made, the men of science are now retorting upon them. They have established their

« 이전계속 »