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this same teaching of Jesus, and finds its central quality to be “A Gospel for an Age of Doubt.” 1 Does this divergence of impression mean that each age and each scholar creates a new Christ, and that what seems to be a historical figure is in reality only the reflection of the inquirer's mind thrown upon the screen of the past? Is it only the pious imaginations of successive students which make of Jesus now the source of a theology and now the founder of a church, now peasant, now king, now the deliverer from doubt? On the contrary, the life of Jesus has, in fact, all these aspects, and indeed many more ; and it is not as false interpreters, but as partial witnesses, that men stand in their own place and report that view of the gospel which presents itself to their minds. This extraordinary capacity for new adaptations, this quality of comprehensiveness in the teaching of Jesus, which so many evidences of the past illustrate, prepares us in our turn for its fresh applicability to the question which most concerns the present age. As it has happened a thousand times before, so it is likely to happen again, that the gospel, examined afresh with a new problem in mind, will seem again to have been written in large part to meet the needs of the new age. Words and deeds which other generations have found perplexing or obscure may be illuminated with meaning, as one now sees them in the light of the new social agitation and hope. It will seem, perhaps, as it has

1 Henry Van Dyke, “The Gospel for an Age of Doubt,” 1896.

seemed so often before, that no other age could have adequately appreciated the teaching of Jesus; as if his prophetic mind must have looked across the centuries and discerned the distant coming of social conflicts and aspirations which in his own time were insignificant, but which are now universal and profound.

Such is the comprehensiveness of the teaching of Jesus. A great modern preacher has described this power of adaptation in the parable of the fairy tent. Set in the king's palace, this magic enclosure was not too large for the smallest room; placed in the court-yard, it was large enough to shelter all the nobles; brought out upon the plain, it grew to cover the whole army of the king; there was "infinite flexibility, infinite expansiveness.” Jesus himself, according to the fourth gospel, with still greater suggestiveness, repeatedly describes his mission through the parable of the light. “I am,” he says, "the light of the world ” ;2 “I am come a light into the world"; 3 “Yet a little while is the light among you; walk while ye have the light.” 4 Light is by its very nature comprehensive, transmissible, ubiquitous. There is not too much for each man's need, and yet there is enough for all. Each separate chamber seems to have all the sunshine, while the unexhausted light radiates into a million other homes. It is the same with the influence of Jesus Christ. Each new age or movement or personal desire seems to itself to receive with a peculiar fulness its special teaching, and it is quite true that a direct ray of communication and illumination enters that chamber of the mind which reaches no other point. It is as if one stood at night watching the moon rise from the sea, and saw the glittering band of light which leads straight to him, as though the moon were shining for one life alone; while in fact he knows that its comprehensive radiation is for him, and for the joy and guidance of a world besides. So the unexhausted gospel of Jesus touches each new problem and new need with its illuminating power, while there yet remain myriads of other ways of radiation toward other souls and other ages, for that Life which is the light of men.

1 Stopford Brooke, “ Religion in Modern Life,” first sermon. John viii. 12. 8 John xii. 46. * John xii. 35.

CHAPTER II

THE SOCIAL PRINCIPLES OF THE TEACHING OF JESUS

For their sakes I sanctify myself.

WE turn to the story of the gospels, inquiring for the relation of the teaching of Jesus to various social questions of the present age. Before entering, however, into the details of such an inquiry, it may be of advantage to survey the story as a whole, and to consider whether there are any general characteristics or principles which lie plainly on the face of the gospels, and which indicate the habitual attitude of the mind of Jesus toward such problems of social reform.

On opening the gospels with this general purpose in mind, one is immediately impressed by the abundance of material presented. Jesus was no recluse or ascetic. He lived in a world of social intimacies, problems and companionships. The first act of his ministry was to gather about him an intimate group of friends through whose associated activity his teaching was to be perpetuated. He entered with unaffected and equal sympathy into the joys and the sorrows of social life. He was familiar with the most various social types,

1 John ii. 1-11 ; xi. 1-44.

fishermen 1 and Pharisees,a tax-gatherers 3 and beggars,4 Jews 5 and Romans,6 saints 7 and sinners.8 Almost every social question known to his age was in some form brought before him, either to receive his judgment or to make a snare for his teaching. The integrity of the family, the relations of rich and poor, the responsibilities of the prosperous, — all these, which seem to be modern questions, receive from Jesus reiterated and often stern consideration, so that it would seem to be a matter of slight difficulty to determine from such ample material the character of his social teaching

There are, however, several aspects of his ministry which must be clearly recognized before this teaching can be interpreted in its full significance or scope. In the first place, as one sums up his general impression of the gospels, it becomes obvious that, whatever social teaching there may be in them, and however weighty it may be, the mind of the Teacher was primarily turned another way. The supreme concern of Jesus throughout his ministry was, - it may be unhesitatingly asserted, — not the reorganization of human society, but the disclosure to the human soul of its relation to God. Jesus was, first of all, not a reformer but a revealer; he was not primarily an agitator

1 Matt. iv, 18.
2 Acts xxiii. 6.
8 Matt. ix. 9; Luke v. 27.
4 Mark X. 46; John ix. I.

5 John iii. 1.
6 Matt. viii. 5.
7 Luke x. 42.
8 Luke xix. 7 ; vii. 37.

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