JESUS CHRIST. The Christian religion, besides its natural and spiritual elements, has also an historical, element. It believes that, in accordance with a Divine purpose, prophesied at the very drawn of human life, God was manifest in the flesh in the man Christ Jesus. The actual life of Jesus on earth is but the central part of a scheme which, in the belief of Christians, extends through all the ages. Our present object is merely to furnish a brief sketch of that life as it appears in the full light of history, without entering into the numberless collateral questions which it offers for consideration, a task which in these limits is obviously impossible.
I. The word Jesus is the form assumed in Latin by the Greek Iesous, which is the transliterated form of the Hebrew Jehoshua, Jeshua, or Joshua, meaning, "Jehovah is salvation." In one or other of its forms the name is found in many passages of the Old Testament. It was not, however, borne by any person who rose to historic eminence between the days of Joshua the son of Nun and the high priest Joshua who was the colleague of Zerubbabel at the return form the exile. The prominent position held by Joshua in the later prophetic books seems to have made the name popular. We find frequent traces of it after the exile. During the Hellenizing period, which excited so deep an indignation among patriotic Jews, many of the bearers of the name preferred to adopt the purely Greek analogon Jason, and the name occurs in this form in the new Testament also. Later on it became one of the commonest Jewish names which we find in the News Testament, and again and again in Josephus. There is some reason for believing that the name of Bar Abbas was also "Jesus," although it may have disappeared from the chief manuscripts, partly from feelings of reverence, partly from the mistaken fancy of Origen that we find no sinner among all those who had borne the name. But the name, though common, was meant to be deeply significant of the work for which Jesus was born into the world-namely, to save His people from their sins; and for this reason, in the account of the Annunciation, as given by St Luke (i. 31), His mother is expressly bidden to call her babe by this name.
On the other hand, the word Christ was not originally a name but a title. In the Gospels we scarcely ever read of Christ, but always of "the Christ." It was only after the resurrection that the title gradually passed into a name, and "Jesus Christ," or later still "Christ Jesus," becomes one designation. The Greek word means "anointed," and is a translation of the Hebrew "Messiah." The coming Deliverer for whom the Jews had yearned for so many centuries was spoken of as the "anointed one," with special reference to the prophecies of Isaiah (lxi. 1) and Daniel (ix. 24-26), which again referred backward to the language of the Psalms (ii. 2, xx. 6, xlv. 7). The anointing of Jesus was the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Him, not only throughout His life (Acts x. 38), but specially at His baptism (John i. 32). Unction was the recognized mode of consecrating any one to the offices of priest (Ex. xxix. 29; Lev. Iv. 3) and king (1 Sam. X. 1, xxiv. 6); and prophets were supposed to be anointed by Gods grace for the fulfillment of their task (Isa. Lxi 1). The Messiah combined in His office the threehold dignity. He was a prophet to reveal (John vi. 14; Matt. xiii. 57; Luke xiii. 33, xxiv. 19), a king to reign and to judge (Kuje xxiii. 2; Acts xvii. 7; 1 Cor. Xv. 24; Rev., xv 3), and a high priest to offer up the sacrifice of Himself (Heb. Ii. 17 and passim).
Since these, however, were distinctively Jewish conceptions, it was natural that they should be but little understood by the Greeks and Romans. The word "anointed" conveyed to them no sacred conceptions, and it was restamped (surfrappe) by them into accordance with their own notions. They fancied that the real name of the founder of the new religion must be Chrestus or "excellent," and they constantly spoke of the Christians as "Chrestians." Suetonius says that the Jews were expelled from Rome by Claudius because they were raising seditions at the constant instigation of "Chrestus"; and he cared so little to inform himself on the subject that he made no distinction between Jews and Christians, and seems to have imagined that "Chrestus" was some leader of sedition then living at Rome. On the other hand the Christians in no wise objected to the mistaken designation. "If you call us Christians," said Tertullian, "you bear witness to the name of our master; if you call us "Chrestians, you testify to the blamelessness of our lives."
II. The designation of "the Christ" given to Jesus shows that His followers saw in Him the long-promised Messiah of Judaism; and the rapidity with which the title developed into a name proves the strength and permanence of this conviction. And this much at least is conceded by all, that Jesus more than fulfilled the conditions for which the Jews had hoped in the Deliverer of whom so many prophets had spoken, and that He fulfilled them in a manner transcendently wider, deeper, and more permanent than even the prophets had fully foreseen. Even the most advanced sceptic cannot deny that by His life and teaching He has altered the entire current of human history, and raised the standard of human morality. He was, says Renan, "the individual who had made the species take the greatest step towards the divine." But as His life was passed and His work accomplished, not in a corner, but on the open stage and under the full light of a civilized epoch, it becomes a matter of great importance to estimate the value of the sources from which our knowledge of His life is derived. Those sources are (1) heathen, (2) Jewish, and (3) Christian.
1.The knowledge derivable from heathen sources, if much smaller than we could have desired, or a priori expected, is not smaller than is fully accounted for in the simple and unsophisticated narratives preserved for us by the evangelists and apostles. They show us that Christianity began from the most humble origin, and was regarded by the whole non Christian world-alike Jewish and pagan- with unconcealed hatred, largely mingled with a contempt which ultimately passed into terror and exasperation. They faithfully record for us the obscure position, the extreme poverty, the persecuted lives, the unlearned training of the apostles, and the disdain to which they were on all sides subjected. The silence of contemporary Gentile and Jewish writers, which would be otherwise inexplicable, finds its undersigned explanation in the New Testament itself, which never attempts to conceal the contemptuous indignation of the Jewish aristocracy, and the lordly indifference of the higher gentile authorities.
Accordingly, from heathen writers we do not learn a single new fact respecting Jesus Christ, while yet all that they do tell us, even when expressed in language of calumny and abhorrence, proves the historical reality of the facts which the Gospels record. If it be true that napoleon once asked Herder whether Jesus ever lived at all, such a passing phase of incredulity is so perfectly unreasonable that it has long been abandoned even by the most destructive critics. Whether there ever existed any authentic census tables of Quirinius, or any official report of Pilate to the emperor Tiberius or not, Tacitus tells us with perfect accuracy that the founder of Christianity had been put to death in the reign of Tiberius by the procurator Pontius Pilate, and that his religion, which Tacitus calls a "deadly superstition," though crushed for a time, burst forth again, not only throughout Judea, in which it sprung up, but even in Rome, the common reservoir for all the streams of wickedness and infamy." He further tells us that Nero diverted from himself the odium of the burning of Rome by charging the crime upon the Christians; and, though he implies that their fate was not undeserved because of their universal misanthropy, he yet honestly admits that they were not guilty of this crime of incendiarism, on pretence of which they were subjected to the most awful forms of martyrdom. It is clear that Tacitus, in common with all his contemporaries, confounded the Christians with the Jews, only regarding the as being Jews whose belief was more than usually abject. How little information could be expected from this eminent historian appears from the credulity with which he accepted the most foolish legends and calumnies about the origin and early history even of the Jews. His contemporary Suetonius evidently held the same opinions. He seems to regard Nero as a public benefactor because he punished the Christians, "a class of men of a strange and pestilent superstition. In his life of Claudius, as we have already seen, he ignorantly confuses Christ with some Chrestus whom he supposes to have been at that time living at Rome. From the younger Pliny, who wrote to the emperor Trajan for advice how to deal with Christians, we learn the valuable fact that they lived lives confessedly innocent, since he was unable to establish against them any crime beyond that of the belief which, like his contemporaries, he regarded as a perverse and extravagant superstition. We learn also from this celebrated letter that nothing could shake the allegiance of Christians to Christ, and that they were accustomed to meet early in the morning to celebrate Him as God with hymns of praise. Later in the 2d century the scoffer, Lucian, in his Death of Peregrinus, and his Philopseudes, spoke with bitter sneers both of Christ and Christians. He alludes to the fact of the crucifixion of Christ, to His miracles, to the mutual love and help which prevailed among His followers, and their belief in Him as a divine person. Passing over the asserted allusions to Christ by Numerius, to His parables in Galerius, and to the earthquake at the crucifixion in Pulegon, we come to the "True Word" of Celsus the Platonist, towards the close of the second century. We only know his by the quotations and refutation of Origen, but it furnishes us with indisputable testimony that in his day the facts of the Gospels from first to last were current in the exact form in which we now possess them (see Celsus). Thus, from the scanty notices of heathens even, we can derive a confirmation of the main external facts in the life of Christ: - His miracles, His parables, His crucifixion, His claim to divine honor, the devotion, innocence, heroic constancy, and mutual affection of His followers, and the progressive victories won by His religion in despite of overwhelming opposition alike physical and intellectual.
2.from Jewish writers we can glean similar confirmation of the gospel story. Philo indeed is silent. The legends preserved by Eusebius that Philo had met St Peter in Rome during his mission to the emperor Caius, and that in his book on the contemplative life he is describing not the life of the Essenes and Therapeutae, but those of the Christian church in Alexandria founded by St Mark are valueless. It is extremely probable that Philo had scarcely heard either of Christ or of the Christians. He died after 40 A.D. but at that period Christianity had hardly emerged into the recognition claimed by prominent historical phenomena. The writings of Philo are valuable, not for any light which they throw on the gospel histories, but for the evidence which they afford of prevalent, modes of thought and phraseology, in which some even of the apostles shared. When, however, we turn to Josephus, we find in his writings, as no extant, no less than three allusions to events in the gospel history. It cannot be decided with certainty whether two of these passages are genuine as they now stand, but modern opinion tends to the view that in each of the actual allusions to Jesus there is a genuine basis with later Christian interpolations. The passage in which he speaks of the preaching and execution of John the Baptist is not disputed, and it is very important as showing that Josephus must have been perfectly well acquainted with the facts of Christs life, and that he has passed them over, in his usual unscrupulous way, with a reticence due only to dislike or perplexity. Forth in speaking of St Johns preaching he deliberately, and it must be feared dishonestly, excludes the Messianic element from which it derived its main power and significance. In another passage he mentions with strong disapproval the judicial murder by the younger Annas of James the Just, "the brother of Jesus, called the Christ." The passage was early tampered with by Christian interpolators who wished to make it a more emphatic testimony in favor of Christ, but in its present form its genuineness is undisputed. Respecting the third passage, in which Josephus speaks directly of Jesus, the only question is whether it be partly or entirely spurious. Placing in brackets the words which are undoubtedly interpolated, it runs as follows: -
At this time appeared a certain Jesus, a wise man (if indeed He may be called a man, for He was a worker of miracles, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with joy), and He drew to himself many Jews (and many also of the Greeks. This was the Christ). And when at the instigation of our chief men Pilate condemned Him to the cross, those who had first loved Him did not fall away. (For He appeared to them alive again on the third day, according as the holy prophets had declared this and countless other marvels of Him.) To this day the sect of Christians, called after Him, still exists."
That Josephus write the whole passage as it now stands no sane critic can believe. Vespasian, not Jesus, was the Messiah of the "ambiguous oracle" of that apostate Jew. There are, however, two reasons which are alone sufficient to prove that the whole passage is spurious, - one that it was unknown to Origen and the earlier fathers, the other that its place in the text is uncertain. It is now found after the historians notices of Pilate, but the remarks of Eusebius show that in his time it was found before them. we must conclude then that Josephus preserve a politic silence respecting Christ and the Christians, confining himself to remote allusions; and this was quite possible, because he was writing mainly for Greeks and Romans who were profoundly ignorant of the whole subject. That Josephus knew a great deal more than he chose to say is evident. There is reason to suspect that his account of his own juvenile precocity before the leading teachers of his nation is borrowed from the Gospels, and that his account of his shipwreck on the journey to Rome is not uncolored by the facts of St Pauls shipwreck about that very time. But the most striking indication of his hostile reticence is found in the chapter of his Antiquities which follows the supposed allusion to Jesus. He there breaks his narrative in the most arbitrary manner to drag in a disgusting story of a trick played by the priests of isis on a Roman lady; and no one who is acquainted with the Jewish calumnies about the incarnation can doubt that in this story we have an oblique and malignant anticipation of the falsehood which ultimately took form in the Talmud and the anti-Christian writings of the later Jews.
From other Jewish sources not a single fact about Jesus can be gleaned. In the unexpurgated editions of the Talmud there are about twenty allusions to Christ and the Christians characterized by intense hatred. He is usually spoken of indirectly as "that man," "the Nazarene," "the fool," "Absalom," "the hung," "the son of Stada," "the son of Pandera." Many allusions to Him are veiled in cryptographs of which the key in the possession of but few. All the grossest fictions respecting him- that He was a seducer (mesith) who had learned magic in Egypt, and had been excommunicated by Rabbi Joshua ben Perachia in the reign of Alexander Jannaeus (nearly a century before His birth), and that He was crucified at Lydda, because no one, during forty days, came forward to give any evidence in His favor-are collected in a miserable Jewish tract called the Toldoth Jeshu, which may be consigned to oblivion, because even the Jews now regard it with contempt and shame. It is however, remarkable that from these intensely embittered Jewish sources we derive an absolute confirmation of Christs stay in Egypt, of His Davidic descent, of His miracles, of His disciples, of His Davidic descent, of His miracles, of His disciples, of His excommunication by the Sanhedrin, of His crucifixion on the evening before the Passover, and even of His innocence, - for not a single crime but that of working miracles by magic, and claiming divine honor, is, even in these sources, laid to His charge. And thus even from pagan and Jewish enemies we derive all that we want and all that we could expect in the recognition of the historic personality of Christ, and of the chief facts in His outward life.
3.If we had nothing to help us but these allusions, the two great facts of Christianity and Christendom would be an inexplicable enigma. In the Christian sources of information all becomes intelligible. Of these we may dismiss for practical purposes all but the New Testament. From the fathers we derive surprisingly little. A few sayings of which some are very dubious, and of which the most valuable are only variations of those in the Gospels- and one or two highly uncertain incidents, are all that we can glean from them. The Apocryphal Gospels help us still less. They are for the most part heavy fictions, the inventions of an indiscriminate curiosity, often grossly heretical, abounding in coarsely-conceived and even pernicious miracles, and dwelling chiefly on imaginary details of the nativity, the infancy, or the last scenes. Their chief value is to set forth by contrast the immeasurable superiority of the canonical Gospels, by showing us what these also might have been if they had been the products of human invention. But it is not the Gospels alone on which we have to depend. We have four works of which the authenticity has never even been assailed by any serious writer, namely, St Pauls four epistles to the Galatians, Romans, and Corinthians. These may truly be regarded as a fifth Gospel, of which the testimony is all the more valuable because it is undersigned and incidental. It is also earlier than that of any Gospel, and is the testimony of one whose personality stands forth with absolute clearness in the light of history. Further than this, it is the testimony of a man of commanding intellect, and of the highest Jewish culture, who, after the death of Christ, was converted from the most bitter hostility to the most intense devotion, and who bears his witness within twenty five years of the events respecting which he speaks. And yet, if we had the epistles of St Paul alone, we could find a contemporary testimony to almost every single fact of primary importance in the life of Christ, - His birth of the seed of David, His poverty, His Messiahship, His moral teaching, His proclamation of the kingdom of God, His calling of the apostles, His supernatural power, His divine claims, His betrayal, His founding of the Last Supper, His passion, crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and repeated appearances. If we add the testimony of the other epistle, we have further testimonies to almost every fact of importance in the Gospels, as we have also in the catholic epistles and in the Revelation of St John.
It is, however, from the Gospels that our fullest light is derived. They are not, and do not profess to be, full biographies written for the gratification of curiosity, but they preserve for us all that is necessary to explain the origin of Christianity in the life of its Founder. In the first three Gospels, called Synoptic, we have sketches of the life and teaching of Christ of which the latest was probably written within forty years of the crucifixion. No one has ever denied that the representation of Christ in these three Gospels is essentially the same. The view of Him presented in the Fourth Gospel, which was not published till towards the close of the 1st century, is more subjective. It is the spiritual Gospel, the Gospel for the church, and even those critics who deny its Johannine authorship admit its value as a very ancient document written by a Jewish Christian of extraordinary genius who had access to the most valuable sources of contemporary informations.
III. Since, then, it may be regarded as a truth for which the close investigations of historical criticism have only secured more universal admission that the life of Jesus was a life of which the main outlines are historically certain, we must now glance at its chronology and duration.
It must be admitted that we cannot demonstrate the exact year of the nativity, but critics of all schools are verging more and more towards the acceptance of 4 B.C. as the probable year of Christs birth. Our present era was fixed (525 A.D.) by a learned Scythian, Dionysius Exiguus, who was an abbot at Rome, and died about 550; but it is now admitted to be erroneous by at least four years. Many methods have been adopted to arrive at the true date; but all attempts to fix it by the enrolment of Quirinius, the order of the Jewish courses of priests, the consulships mentioned by Tertullian, and the extremely remarkable astronomical conjunction of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in Pisces in the spring of A.U.G. 748, have led to nothing but highly dubious results. We are left with two data which furnish us with an approximation to the accurate date. One of these is the death of Herod the Great. Josephus tells us that he died thirty-seven years after he had been declared king by the Romans. Now this took place A.U..C 714, and therefore-by the Jewish mode of reckoning the year from Nisan to Nisan, and counting fractional parts of a year as a whole year he must have died between 4 B.C. and 3 B.C. Further, we know that there was an eclipse of the moon on March 12, 4 B.C. on which night Herod ordered some Jewish rabbis to be burnt for urging their pupils to destroy his golden eagle, and that he was dead before the Passover which took place on April 12, 4 B.C. Christ must therefore have been born before February, 4 B.C. Again, St Luke tells us that John the Baptist began to preach in the fifteenth year of Tiberius, and as the reign of Tiberius was usually reckoned in the provinces from the date of his association with Augustus in the empire, this gives us A.U.G. 780 for the baptism of John, at which period Jesus was about thirty years old. As to the day and month of the nativity it is certain that they can never be recovered; they were absolutely unknown to the early fathers, and there is scarcely one month in the year which has not been fixed upon as probable by modern critics. The date now observed December 25 cannot be traced further back than the middle of the 4th century, but was adopted by St Jerome, St Augustine, Orosius, and Sulpicius Severus, and in the East by St Chrysostom and St Gregory of Nyssa. If 4 B.C. be accepted as the date for the nativity, which has most probability in its favor, the question of the date of the crucifixion depends mainly on that of the duration of the ministry. Now on this point the data of the evangelists have been disturbed by a prevalent early tradition that Christs public ministry only lasted one year, and by another tradition that Jesus did not die till the age of fifty. The first of these notions is a mistaken inference drawn by Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and other fathers, as also by the Valentinians, from Luke iv. 15; and it was by no means universal even in early days, for Irenaeus says that Christ taught for three years. The other notion was a mistaken inference from John viii 57. That both views are mistaken appears from the positive testimony of St Luke that Jesus was about thirty years old when he began His ministry, and from the clear indications given by St John (ii. 13, vi. 4, xi. 55) that there were at least three Passovers during the public ministry. On other grounds it is probable that there was one Passover during the ministry which our Lord did not attend; and if so, we see the grounds for the ancient tradition that His public preaching lasted upwards of three years, and that Jesus died at the age of thirty-three. He died during the reign of Tiberius, the procurator ship of Pontius Pilate, the tetrachate of Antipas, and the high priesthood of Joseph Caiaphas. Now Tiberius died on March 16, 36 A.D., and Pilate ceased to be procurator before, and Caiaphas to be high priest immediately after, the Passover of 36 A.D.; the date therefore cannot be later than 35 A.D. We may set aside dubious considerations derived from the allusion to an eclipse and earthquake by the pagan historian Phlegon, and may regard it as highly probable that the crucifixion took place at the Passover of March 30 A.D.
IV. The circumstance of the nativity are only related by St Matthew and St Luke, and by each of them in a manner so absolutely independent that facts known to the one may have been unknown to the other. There is no difficulty in reconciling their fragmentary intimations if we suppose that Nazareth was the native place of Joseph and Mary, and that there the coming nativity was announced to the Virgin, but that the exigencies of the enrolment undertaken by Quirinius for imperial purposes required Joseph to register his name at Bethlehem, the native town of David, from whom both he and, probably, his espoused wife were descended.
Assuming that there was an enrolment of Quirinious in 4 B.C., the difficulties which have been raised about the registration taking place at the home of the family and not at the place of residence are a priori objections which have but little weight against testimony. The Jews clung to their genealogies and tribal relations, and in consequence of the settled habits of Oriental life most families would be naturally resident at their native place. the inconvenience to those who were not resident would be but slight in comparison with the danger of exciting tumults by needlessly forcing the Roman methods of registration on a reluctant people. The smallness of Palestine, and the regular custom of attending a yearly Passover, would tend to minimize any inconvenience; and, if the attendance of Mary was not obligatory (which is uncertain), nothing is more natural than that at such a time of trial and danger she should have accompanied the only person who could protect her. Those who charge St Luke with a gross chronological error in antedating by ten years the registration of Quirinius should remember that in every other instance in which his statements have been challenged on grounds open to historic decision his accuracy has been triumphantly vindicated. And since the celebrated treatise of A.W. Zumpt (Das Geburtsjahs Christi, 1869) it has been all but demonstrated that Quirinius although the fact is not distinctly mentioned by any ancient author was twice legate of Syria, viz., A.U.C. 750-753 and again AU.C. 760-765. Neither the sneers nor the attacks of critics have in the slightest degree shaken this probability; and, since Justin Martyr appeals to the census table of Quirinius, and Tertullian to those of Sentius Saturninus, there is no critical unlikelihood in the conjecture that the census may have been ordered by Sentuis Saturninus, begun by Pabl. Sulpic. Quirinius during his first term of office as legate of Syria, and completed during his second.
V. It is not of course our object to narrate or even to touch upon all the events and teachings which occupy the four Gospels, but only to glance at their general bearing. The life of Jesus naturally falls into five epochs: - (1) the infancy and childhood; (2) the youth and early manhood; (2) the youth and early manhood; (3) the public ministry, including (4) the closing scenes and crucifixion, and (5) the resurrection and ascension. These epochs are well marked in the Gospels.
1.The two who alone preserve for us any details of the infancy and childhood are St Matthew and St Luke, and they relate four events. Of these the circumcision and the presentation in the temple present no difficulties. The circumcision, at which the name was always publicly given, took place on the eighth day after the birth, and was performed in the presence of the nearest friends. It illustrated the truths that Christ was "born under the law" which he came" not to destroy but to fulfill." Thirty-three days after the circumcision was the purification in the temple, and St Luke tells us how the aged Simeon and Anna welcomed the infant Savior with words of prophecy. The third event, the visit of the Magi, is known as the Epiphany or manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.
It rests on the sole authority of St Matthew, but there is no feature in his account which is out of keeping with known events and possibilities. The Magi, Persian or Chaldaean astrologers, were a class extremely common at that epoch, and under different names are repeatedly mentioned by the contemporary historians and satirists. That they were accustomed to wander to various countries, and to interest themselves in horoscopes, we know from the story of Diogenes laertius that a Syrian magus had foretold his death to Socrates, and from Senecas statement that magi, "who then chanced to be at Athens," had visited the tomb of Plato and offered incense to him as to a divine being. That they should have been deeply interested in any sidereal phenomenon is in accordance with what we know of their studies, and that a sidereal phenomenon of the rarest kind, and one which by the recognized rules of astrology was of stupendous significance, actually did occur at this very epoch we know by the independent and, so to speak, accidental investigations of the great Kepler. The conjunction of planets which occurred on December 17, 1613, was followed the next year by the appearance of a new evanescent star of the first magnitude in the foot of Ophiuchus, which first attracted the notice of Keplers pupil Brunowski, and continued to shine for a whole year. Such a phenomenon may have some bearing on the "star of the wise men," although taken alone it will not minutely correspond with the language of St Matthew. But that such an astrological event would naturally turn the thoughts of these Chaldaeans to some great birth, and that its occurrence in the sign of the zodiac which astrology connected with the fortunes of Judaea should turn their inquiries thitherward, is again in accordance with the tension of Messianic expectations in those days, which especially affected the east, but which has left deep traces even on the pages of Roman writers. Again, the answer of the Jewish rabbis to these inquirers is in exact accordance with their own anticipations.
The sequel of the story Herods jealousy and the massacre of the innocents- has been mainly doubted because it is not mentioned in Josephus. But there must have been hundreds of events of that day of which the Jewish historian has taken no notice, though they were far more sanguinary than the murder of a handful of infants in a little village. The act corresponds to the jealousy and cruelty which were the master passions of the Idumaean usurper, and, if Josephus here follows Nicolaus of Damascus, we may be quite sure that he would not have mentioned a fact so damaging to the character of his patron. There are, however, two allusions in Josephus, which, if they do not specifically indicate this event, yet may well allude to it, or at least show how consonant it was with herods impulses. Further, Macrobius speaks of "the boys under two years of age (comp. Matt. ii. 16) whom Herod ordered to be slain in Syria" and, although he confuses this with the sentence upon Herods sons, of whom Antipater was executed within five days of Herods death, his words may well point to the murder of the children of Bethlehem. Thus, while this event is not recognizable in other histories, it meets with unexpected confirmations of its possibility from many quarters. That Joseph should have fled with Mary and the child into Egypt was exactly what would have been done by every Jew similarly circumstanced. Three days journey, as far as the Wady Rhinocolura, would have placed the fugitives beyond the reach of Herods jurisdiction.
The sojourn of the holy family in Egypt was probably very short6, nor indeed would there have been any temptation to stay a day longer than was necessary. Josephs first intention was to return to Bethlehem when the news that Herod the Great was dead seemed to open the prospect of happier times. But when he was met on the way by the intelligence that Judea had fallen by his fathers will to the share of the cruel Archelaus he was afraid, to establish himself so near to the palace of that jealous tyrant, and "retired" to the mountain seclusion of remote and despised Nazareth. How deep of seclusion remote and despised Nazareth. How deep was the impression which these events had made on the memory of the people, and how little likely it was that a contemporary evangelist could fall into a mistake about them, is shown by the fact, which has only recently been noticed, that fully thirty years afterwards Jesus made the events which happened at the succession of Archelaus even in minute particulars the groundwork of a striking parable.
2.At Nazareth He who, even as a mere matter of history, was to influence for ever the entire development of human civilization grew up in extreme seclusion. A single anecdote and two or three incidental expressions comprise every glimpse of Him which we can obtain. We learn that "He was subject to His parents" at Nazareth; that "He grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him", that "He gradually advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." We further learn that He was not subjected to the training of any of the rabbinic schools. He had never learned that complicated system of oral tradition which was known by the Jews as "letters." It is doubtful whether the schools which afterwards became common existed at this early period in country villages. Schools for infants are said to have been first founded by the son of Gamaliel, but possibly by this time the custom had begun of employing the scribes and lower officers of the synagogue to teach the boys of each village. We can trace proofs that Jesus was wonderfully familiar with the sights and sounds of nature, as well as with the habits of men of all classes for He drew His illustrations in abundance from both sources. It is also certain that He knew both Greek and Aramiac, which were at that time universally spoken throughout Palestine; and there are slight indications that He was acquainted with Latin and with Hebrew, though the latter had now become a dead and learned language. We also find that He was acquainted with the then by no means common art of writing. It is certain that in His home He must, like other Jewish children, have learned first the Shema (deut vi. 4), then the Hallel (psalms cxiv. To cxviii.), and then the Scriptures generally, to all parts of which, and especially to the Psalms and prophetic books, He constantly referred. The certainty that He never passed through the ordinary training of the learned classes nullifies the suggestion that any part of His wisdom was borrowed from such writers as Philo and such rabbis as Hillel and Shammai. His methods and His whole moral conception differ fundamentally from those of the Alexandrian philosopher and the Jerusalem Pharisees. His teachers, humanly speaking, were the books of Gods, - the books of Scripture, of nature , and of life, - and the voice of God within His soul.
At the age of twelve a Jewish boy was held to have finished the elementary stages of his education, and became a "son of the law." At this age He was presented by His father in the synagogue, began to wear the phylacteries, learnt a trade for His own support, and "advanced," as the Jews phrased it, from the study of the Scriptures to that of the oral law. At this age Joseph and Mary took Jesus for the first time to Jerusalem, and there occurred the memorable incident of the temporary loss of Him by His mother and Joseph, and their discovery of Him in the Temple seated among the doctors, "both hearing, and asking them questions." His answer to the astonished inquiry "Why dost thou treat us thus?" was, "Why is it that ye looked for me?". "Did ye not know that I must be in my Fathers house?" These are His first recorded words, and their beauty and simplicity give them such a stamp of truthfulness as no art could imitate. They are the first gleam of that character and personality which has transcended anything of which the world has had any experience during all the former or subsequent ages. The evangelists record no further particulars of these early years.
Of the remaining life of Jesus during the period between this visit to Jerusalem and His baptism one word alone remains to us. It is the question, "Is not this the carpenter?" in Mark. Vi. 3. It shows us that these eighteen years of youth and opening manhood were spent, not only in the obscurity of a despised provincial village, but also in the manual toils of a humble trade. It shows us that Jesus worked with His hands for His own support, and that of His mother and brethren. The fact is so entirely unlike anything which we should a priori have expected in the life of Him whom Christian adore as the Son of God and the Savior of the world, that we once more see the faithfulness of the narrators, who do not attempt to break by authorized inventions the deep silence of those long unknown years in which He consecrated the common lot of toil and poverty, and thereby showed the inherent dignity of manhood and the intrinsic sacredness of human life.
3.Before entering on the third epoch of the life of Jesus, - the baptism and public ministry, - we must pause for a moment to touch on the political and religious aspect of the world during the brief period of His Messianic activity.
Politically the world was passing through a bad epoch. Rome under the emperors, as the attained the zenith of her apparent power and splendor, sank almost to the nadir of her real degradation. The genius of Julius Caesar, the astute policy of Augustus, could not delay the ever deepening degeneracy which revealed itself in its worst colors ion the reign of Tiberius. The condition of the Roman world during the later years of Tiberius, when he was hiding at Capreae, the infamies of his sanguinary lust, was that condition of terror and despair which Tacitus has portrayed with such unequalled power. The words in which he describes the characteristics of a somewhat later period apply also to this; it was "rich in disasters, terrible in battles, rent by seditions, savage even in its peace." The murder of princes, the outbreaks of rebellion and civil war, the prevalence of alarming rumors, the decimation of the noblest families by means of spies and informers, the conflagrations of temples and cities, the oppression of provinces by the greed and cruelty of legates and procurators, the horrible degradation of private morals, the awful tragedies of impurity and bloodshed which were enacted in various courts, the multiplications of banishments, even the terror of famines, storms, and earthquakes, combined to render the early years of the Christian era period of gloom and anguish throughout large portions of the Roman empire. Judaea was the scene of special miseries, because it groaned under the ruthless and hypocritic tyranny of Idumaean usurpers.
Meanwhile the religious condition of the world and of the nation was no less unsatisfactory. Throughout the Roman empire the belief in the popular mythology had died away, and, while a few of the noblest spirits took refuge in the hard and despairing dogmas of Stoicism, the mass of the people was plunged in practical atheism or abject superstition. Such religion as there was among the people usually took the form of Egyptian and Phrygian worship, which were often connected with the vilest immorality. In Judaea the dominant religion consisted in scrupulous devotion to the petty external ordinances of the oral law.
Thus at the epoch of Christs birth the heathen world had sunk into practical atheism, and the Jewish world was deeply corroded by formalism and hypocrisy. In the heathen world religion had almost ceased to exist; in the Jewish world it was tainted at its source.
It was no doubt due to the darkness of the religious and political horizon, and to the sense of despair and weariness which was prevalent in the hearts alike of Jews and gentiles, that the Messianic hope, fostered by generations of prophets, gained a powerful hold on the hearts of all sincere Israelites, and even found its expression in secular literature. Virgil, Tacitus, Suetonius, no less than Josephus, show that the thoughts of the civilized world were turned to the East in expectation of some great deliverer. But the character of their hope was utterly mistaken. Overlooking the prophetic passages which told of a suffering Messiah, a servant of Jehovah, who should bear the sorrows of His people, the Jews were anticipating the advent of some temporal sovereign who would rule their enemies with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potters vessel, while He raised Israel to the summit of earthly prosperity and luxury. The Messiah, the son of David, was to be conquering warrior, which accounts for the grossly unspiritual conceptions which induced one party to represent Herod as the promised Messiah, and which enabled Josephus to pretend that he found a fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies in the elevation to the empire of Vespasian, the bourgeois soldier who had crushed his country under the iron heel of the Roman legionaries.
At this time of extreme trouble and expectation the Baptist began his preaching. It was confessedly preparatory. The coming of the Messiah was always declared to depend on the "righteousness" of the nation, that is in ordinary Jewish phraseology their rigid observance of the Mosiac law. But John saw that what was needful was morality, not legalism, and his cry "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," was explained to each of the great classes which applied to him for advice by practical directions as to their daily duties. John created an intense though transitory impression by his dress and appearance, which recalled the memory of ancient prophets, and specially of Elijah, and still more by the burning sincerity and reality of a style of teaching which presented so strong a contrast to the ordinary teaching of the scribes. He adopted the rigid seclusion and asceticism of the Essenes, and his language rang with denunciations clothed in the imagery of the desert. Refusing all the titles which the people wished to force upon his, he described himself as "a voice of one crying in the wilderness," and announced the coming of one greater than himself, who would found the kingdom which he only announced. The submission to the simple rite of baptism, a rite already familiar to the Jews in the admission of proselytes, was the only sign of the acceptance of his mission which he required; and the multitudes were so deeply moved by his preaching that they thronged to be baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. It was in order to receive this baptism, and to ratify the mission of the great forerunner, that Jesus left the deep provincial seclusion in which He had hitherto lived. The stainless personality of his Kinsman overawed the bold and mighty spirit of the desert preacher. He shrank from baptizing one in whom he at once recognized that "royalty of in war happiness," and purity of sinless life, which he could not himself claim. Jesus however though He had no sins to confess, bade John to baptize Him, "for thus it becometh us," He said, "to fulfill all righteousness." He received the baptism, as a representative of the people whom He came to save, as a beautiful symbol of moral purification, and as the fit inauguration of a ministry which came not to destroy the law but to fulfill. And during the baptism John saw the overshadowing radiance and heard the voice from heaven which revealed to him that the promised Messiah had now come, and that this Messiah was the Son of God.
After this great crisis, which finally closed the private period of the life of Jesus, he was "driven" by the spirit into the wilderness for His mysterious temptation. The details of what occurred could of course only have been derived from what He Himself made known to His apostles. What is clear is that in the region of Quarantania, in the desert of Jericho, He was divinely strengthened for this mission by victoriously wrestling with every suggestion of the powers of evil which could have altered the character of His work. Although this was not His only temptation, it was evidently the most deadly. The first temptation appealed subtly and powerfully to the exhaustion of His physical nature; the second to spiritual pride, as it would have been manifested by an unwarranted challenge of the providence of God; the third to unhallowed personal ambition. In the two greatest temptations of His life- in the wilderness and at Gethsemane He was tempted both positively and negatively, - positively by allurements to a lower line of action, and negatively by the seductive pleas which would have drawn Him aside from the path of suffering. But He won the perfect victory because temptation never passed into even the thought of sin, but was so wrestled with and overcome that it made no determining impression upon His heart.
After this victory over the power of evil, Jesus returned to the fords of Jordan. It will not of course be possible or needful of dwell on the narratives of His ministry in all their details; but, since these narratives are confessedly fragmentary, we shall endeavor to furnish from the four Gospels in rapid outline a sketch of the general events of His ministry before touching upon its eternal significance. The events described in the Gospels are often grouped together by subjective considerations, and it was the evident object of St John to dwell preponderantly on the Judaean ministry, and on those discourses which brought out the deeper and more mysterious side of the being of Christ, while the Synoptists chiefly describe the work in Galilee, and preserve what may be called the more exoteric discourses. The combination of these is integrated records into one harmonious and consecutive whole is a task which can never be accomplished with absolute certainty; but it is possible, without a single arbitrary conjecture, to construct a continuous narrative which shall simply follow the indication of our authorities without doing violence to them in any instance. In this scheme the ministry of Christ falls into the following epochs: - (1) the early scenes, narrated by St John alone, until the beginning of the public preaching in Galilee; (2) the Galilaean ministry till the murder of the Baptist; (3) the period of decided opposition; (4) the period of flight and peril until the final farewell to Galilee; (5) from the great journey to Jerusalem till the retirement to Ephraim; (6) from this retirement to the Passover; (7) the last supper, passion, trial, and crucifixion; (8) the resurrection and ascension.
(1)The scenes of the first period are related by St John with a beauty and simplicity which can only be called idyllic. He tells us how the Baptist, on the banks of the Jordan, saw Jesus pass by, and exclaimed, in language of deep significance, "Behold the lam of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!" Whether the prominent thought in the Baptists mind was the paschal lamb, or the lamb of morning and evening sacrifice, or the lamb which Isaiah and Heremiah had used as an emblem of patient and suffering innocence, it is clear that in the spirit of prophecy he saw in Jesus one who was predestined to a life of sorrows which should be for the salvation of the world. The next day the Baptist repeated the same emphatic testimony in the presence of two Galilaean youths, St Andrew and St John, who were so deeply impressed by it that they followed Jesus, saw Him in the place where He was then dwelling, and became His first disciples. Andrew then brought to Jesus his brother Simon, who also recognized in Him the promised Messiah. Three days afterwards, Jesus called Philip, another young fisherman of Galilee, who in his turn brought to Jesus his friend Nathaneal, the guileless Israelite who is known in the Gospels as Bartholomew, or the son of Tholmai. Accompanied by these pure and warmhearted young men, and also by His mother, Jesus was a guest at the simple wedding feast of Cana in Galilee, at which He first displayed His possession of supernatural power by turning the water into wine. Then, after a brief stay at Capernaum, He went to the Passover at Jerusalem. His first visit to the temple as a recognized teacher was signalized by an authoritative Messianic act. He cleansed the temple of its mean and desecrating traffic, although neither priests nor Pharisees nor the Roman authorities had ever taken a step in that direction. When His right to act thus was challenged, He answered in mysterious words, of which the meaning was not thoroughly understood till long afterwards, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" speaking of the spiritual temple of His body. The words created so deep an impression that after being distorted both in form and meaning they formed one of the chief charges against Him at His trial. Even at this early phase of His work Jesus touched the heart and won the secret allegiance of Nicoldemus, with whom He held at night the memorable discourse on the new birth. But He was met from the first by such signs of opposition that He went with His disciples into Judaea, and there allowed them to baptize. The work of the Baptist was not yet over, and, until it was, Jesus both permitted the disciples to adopt the symbol of purification which had been used by His forerunner, and Himself similarly preached "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Some Jew raised a discussion with the disciples of John about purification, and they in their perplexity and jealousy applied to their great master with the complaint that his ministry was being eclipsed by that of Him whom he had baptized beyond Jordan. John, with noble self-suppression, pointed out that he must thenceforth decrease; and shortly after this time he was thrown into prison by Herod Antipas. In consequence of this event Jesus withdrew into Galilee. He chose the route through Samaria, and it was to a poor frail woman by Jacobs well that He seems first to have distinctly revealed His Messiahship. His acceptance of the invitation of the Samaritans to stay a few days with them was a rebuke to the spirit of fanatical hatred and exclusiveness, which in that day so filled the minds of His countrymen that they regarded any intercourse with Samaritans as involving pollution.
(2)Although Jesus was aware that a prophet is often least know in his own country and among his own kindred, He made His way, preaching as He went in various synagogues, direct to Nazareth. There, in the synagogue, He read aloud part of Isaiah lxi, and amid deep silence applied it to Himself. But he had not proceeded far when the spell of His divine teaching was broken by the pride and ignorance of the Nazarenes, who began to murmur among themselves about His humble birth and occupation, and to demand that He should do some deed of power among them. It was on His reminding them that Elijah and Elisha had wrought their miracles of healing upon strangers that they rose in fury, and dragged Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built. Something, however, in the majesty of His bearing seems to have created in their minds a supernatural awe so that, as on later occasions, He was able "to pass through the midst of them, and go on His way." To the place of His birth He seems never to have returned.
From this time His home, so far as He could in any sense he said to have a home, was at the bright little city of Capernaum on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, to which, perhaps in consequence of the churlishness of the Nazarenes, His mother and brethren also migrated. At this point begins the period of His brightest activity, the year which was in a pre-eminent sense "the acceptable year of the Lord." The scene of that ministry was mainly the beautiful and populous plain of Gennesaret through which passed "the way of the sea," the great caravan road which led to Damascus. It was the manufacturing district of Palestine, thronged by men of all nationalities, and therefore pre-eminently suited for the proclamation of the kingdom. At the same time it was a scene of infinite charm, and the opportunities of sailing from place to place, and of earning a livelihood, which were afforded by the inland lake, rendered it specially appropriate. On the way to Capernaum Jesus healed by His word the son of the courtier of Herod, who in consequence believed with his whole house. Much of the brief story of the Gospels is made up of the records of single days which stood out with marked prominence. One such day was the first Sabbath at Capernaum. Christ began with a sermon in the synagogue, during which He wrought one of His great exorcisms on a raving demoniac who was present in the audience. Retiring to the house of Peter, He healed Peters mother-in-law of a fever, and at sunset, when the Sabbath ended, wrought many cures upon a multitude of sufferers. The fame of this day rang even to Syria, and, finding that even temporary seclusion was now impossible, Jesus went from village to village preaching the kingdom of God. It was at this time that He preached to the multitude from Peters boat, and after the miraculous draught if fishes called Andrew, Peter, and the sons of Zebedee to a closer and more unremitting discipleship. Matthew the publican was the next to "leave all" and follow Christ. The choice of the full number of twelve to be apostles took place just before the sermon on the mount, and nothing can more decisively show the wisdom and insight of Jesus than the fact that among the twelve were characters so opposite as a zealot and publican. Judas, the "man of Kerioth," was probably the only Judaean in the little band of Galilaeans. The great discourse known as the Sermon on the Mount was delivered primarily to the disciples, but was intended also for the multitude. The hill by the Galilaean lake was the Sinai of the new dispensation, but it was a mount not of terrors but of beatitudes. The sermon first sketched the character of the citizens of the new kingdom both absolutely and relatively. It proceeded to sketch the new law in contrast, both general and special with the old. The last great section of it was occupied with the characteristics of the new life-its devotion, its duties, and its dangers. It ended with the contrast between doers and mere hearers. The grandeur, originality, independence, and authoritative tone of the sermon, with its vivid illustrations and divine idealism, produced a very deep and wide impression. The inauguration of the doctrine was followed by deeds of mercy and power. From this time He was constantly surrounded by thronging multitudes, and was constantly appealed to for miracles of compassion. We are told in quick succession of the healing of a leper by a touch, of the centurions servant by a word, and the raising from the dead of the widows son at Nain; and so incessant was His activity that His mother and His brethren began to be alarmed. Soon after the miracle at nain He received the deputation from John the Baptist, then in his gloomy prison at Machaerus, to ask whether He were indeed the Messiah. He bade the messengers take back no other answer than the works which they had witnessed the gospel to the poor. It was after their departure that He pronounced the unequaled eulogy on John as the greatest of the prophets, while yet "the least in the kingdom of heaven" was, in spiritual privileges, greater than He. It was in this discourse that He contrasted the glad and natural geniality of His own example as one who came "eating and drinking" with the asceticism and gloom of the Baptist. He never refused the invitations even of the Pharisees, and it was at the banquet of a Pharisee named Simon that He accepted the pathetic devotion of the "woman that was a sinner" (whom Christian tradition persistently identifies with Mary of Magdala), and rebuked the haughty and untender formalism of His host. His life during this period, as He wandered about Gennesaret and its vicinity, preaching to rejoicing crowds, was a life of poverty, toil, and simplicity, but it was also a life of exalted joy from the rapturous gratitude of the people and the faith which enabled Him to work many deeds of mercy among them. of one episode of the period many details are preserved. After one of the missionary tours in Galilee, Jesus, finding Himself surrounded by a vast throng, began for the first time to preach to them in those parables which were the most characteristic form of His subsequent teaching, and which had the additional advantage of testing the moral and spiritual qualities of His hearers. He began with the parable of the sower, and this method of instruction naturally stimulated to such an extent the eagerness of His hearers that He was kept teaching till evening came. A second ill-judged attempt of His mother and brethren to control His proceedings probably combined with the sense of deep weariness to create a desire for brief rest and retirement, and He urged His disciples to a hasty departure to the lonelier eastern shores of the lake. During the sail of about 6 miles there rose one of the violent sudden storms to which the Sea of Galilee is specially liable. He was sleeping on the leather cushion of the steersman the deep sleep of fatigue, which not even the waves now dashing into the boat could disturb. The disciples woke Him in wild alarm, and the calm majesty with which He hushed the storm made an indelible impression on their minds. No sooner had they landed on the other side than they were met by a naked and raving maniac, whose dwelling was in the tombs which are still visible on the neighboring hillsides. Jesus healed him, and (as we are told in a narrative which evidently touches on things entirely beyond our cognizance) suffered the demons to enter into a herd of swine hard by, which immediately rushed violently over a steep place into the sea. The semi-heathen inhabitants of the district, alarmed by His presence, and vexed at the loss of their swine, entreated Him to depart out of their coasts. He granted their evil petition, but left the healed demoniac to lead them to a better frame of mind. The people on the other side recognized the sail of His returning vessel, and were waiting in multitudes to meet Him. While preaching to them in a house at Capernaum, the friends of a paralytic, who had been unable to get near Him for the press, let down the sick man through the roof in front of Him, and He healed him, exciting some murmurs from the Scribes, who had already begun to watch Him with suspicion, by first using the formula "Thy sins are forgiven thee." From the house He adjourned to the shore, and after another brief time of teaching there went to the farewell feast which Matthew gave to the "publicans and sinners" who had been his friends. The Pharisees, afraid as yet to find fault with Him directly, asked the disciples in great displeasure why their Master ate with publicans and sinners, whose very touch they regarded as a pollution. The answer of Jesus was given in the memorable quotation, to which He more than once referred, "Go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice." He answered the inquiry of St Johns disciples about fasting by pointing out to them that the glad initiation of the marriage feast of the kingdom of heaven was no time for fasting, and that the embodiment of a new spirit in old form was like putting new wine in worn skins, or a new patch on an old garment. It seems to have been immediately after the banquet that He received the heartrending appeal of Jairus that He would come and heal his little daughter. On the way He healed the woman with the issue who secretly touched the fringe of His garment. By the time He reached the house of Jairus the little maid was dead, and His three most chosen disciples Peter, James, and John were alone admitted with the father and mother to witness this second instance in which He recalled the dead to life.
It was probably at this point of the ministry that there occurred the visit to that unnamed feast at Jerusalem, which was almost certainly the Feast of Purim. Perhaps with a view to this absence from Galilee he sent out the twelve, two and to, to preach and perform works of mercy in His name, sending them "like lambs among wolves," and bidding them set the example of the most absolute contentment and simplicity. During His visit to Jerusalem, where as we learn from St John, whose facts are incidentally confirmed by allusions in the Synoptists He had many friends and followers, He healed the impotent man at the Pool of Bethesda, and excited the butter enmity of the Jews by deliberately ignoring the exaggerated minutiae of the traditional law which made them regard it as a heinous crime to carry even the smallest burden on the Sabbath. The simple command to the healed man to take up the mat on which he lay and walk aroused the Jews to fury; and from that incident, as St John expressly tells us, the overt persecution of Jesus began. He seems to have been summoned before some committee of the Sanhedrin, but on this occasion they did not dare to punish His violation of their traditions, and on the contrary had to listen in unavailing wrath, not only to His irresistible defence of what He had done on the Sabbath, but to Divine claims which they declared to be blasphemy. They did not dare to touch Him, knowing His power with the people, but from that day the leading authorities of Jerusalem seem to have determined on His death, and their hostility was so bitter and persistent that He left Jerusalem without waiting for the approaching Passover.
(3)It was from this moment that the period of determined opposition began. Hitherto the local Pharisees and Scribes of Galilee might disapprove and murmur, but they had not dared to set themselves in distinct and public antagonism against Him. They were now encouraged to do so by the fact that the leading authorities of the capital had repudiated His claims. The high priests and Pharisees even sent some of their number to act as spies upon His words and actions, and see how they might contrive occasions for His ruin. He returned to Galilee with the full knowledge that His human day was beginning to fade into evening, and that the sentence of violent death hung over Him. It was at this solemn time that the murder of John thrilled mens hearts with horror. Jesus retired with the disciples to a desert plain near the town at the northern end of the lake known as Bethsaida Julias, which was in the dominion of the milder Philip, and beyond the jurisdiction of the blood-stained Antipas. Even to this retirement, however, the multitude followed Him, and her it was that, moved with deep compassion, He fed the five thousand with five barley loaves and two small fishes. Then urging the departure of His disciples by boat to Capernaum, He dismissed the multitude in the gathering dusk, and at last fled from thence to the top of a neighboring hill where He spent the night in prayer. During the night a terrible storm arose, and He came to His disciples walking upon the sea, and rescued St Peter as with as with a half faith he endeavored to meet Him on the water. The next day at Capernaum He uttered that memorable discourse about Himself as the bread of life, and the necessity of "eating the flesh of the Son of Man and drinking His blood," which was expressly designed to dissipate idle chiliastic and material delusions, and to test the sincerity of a spiritual faith. The discourse created deep discontent, and from that time many forsook Him. He even foresaw that one of His chosen apostles was "a devil"; but Peter spoke the conviction of the rest in the noble words, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life."
But henceforth opposition became more marked and more fearless. It had already been stirred up in the hearts of all Jewish formalists by His claiming to forgive sins, by His disapproval of asceticism, by His intercourse with publicans and sinners. It gathered force from His consistent depreciation of the petty traditional superstitions which had degraded the Sabbath from a delight and a blessing into a mere fetish of servitude. When the incident at Bethesda had attracted the notice of the Sanhedrin, the Pharisaic spies from Jerusalem especially watched His Sabbath proceedings. Again and again their hatred was kindled on this point. Now they indignantly challenged the conduct of the hungry disciples for plucking ears of corn and rubbing them in their hands on the Sabbath day; on another occasion they attacked Him for healing on the Sabbath day the man with the withered hand, and later on for healing the bowed woman, and the blind man at Jerusalem. On each of these occasions He exposed with irresistible demonstration their inconsistency and hypocrisy, but thereby only deepened their anger against Him. On other occasions He came into violent collision with their whole system of traditional ceremonialism by pouring con tempt on their superfluous and meaningless ablutions, by showing how comparatively meaningless was their scrupulosity about clean and unclean meats, and generally by denouncing the spirit which had led them to place the cumbrous pettinesses of their oral law above the word of God and the inmost spirit of all true religion. The rage of His Pharisaic opponents culminated on one day of open and final rupture between Himself and the spies of the Sanhedrin. Finding Him standing in silent prayer, the disciples had asked Him to teach them to pray, and in reply He had taught them "the Lords a prayer," and told them in such accents as man had never heard before, about the fatherhood of God, and the consequent efficacy of prayer. Shortly afterwards He had wrought one of His most marvelous cures upon a poor wretch who was at once blind, dumb, and mad. The Pharisees felt bound to check the astonished admiration which this act had once more excited, and with impotent and stupid malignity had tried to teach their followers that He cast out devils by Beelsebub the prince of the devils. This blasphemous folly drawn down upon their heads words of rebuke more intense and stern than they had ever heard. Such words, addressed to men accustomed to unbounded admiration as infallible teachers, aroused them to the deadliest hostility, and they soon found a weapon of annoyance and injury by demanding on every possible occasion that "sign from heaven" which Jesus always refused to give. Their exacerbation seems to have alarmed His mother and brethren into the third of their ill-timed interferences, which Jesus had once more to check by declaring that the day had now come on which human relationships were as nothing compared to the spiritual. The time for the mid-day meal had now arrived, and Jesus accepted, though it seems to have been given in no good spirit, the invitation of a Pharisee to break bread in his house. on entering He at once sat down at table, since it was but a brief and trivial, meal, perhaps of bread and fruits, and the multitude were waiting outside to hear the word of God. Instantly He recognized that He was alone in the midst of enemies, and, moved to deep indignation by their hypocrisy and baseness, He delivered a terrible denunciation of the whole system and religion of the legalists and Pharisees. The feast broke up in confusion, and the guests began to surround Jesus with vehement, taunting, and threatening demonstrations. Passing from amongst them He found the multitude actually treading on each other in their haste and eagerness, and perhaps it was to their presence that He owed His safety. He preached to them a sermon, characterized throughout by the deep emotions by which His spirit had been agitated, of which the main topic was the awful peril of hypocrisy and greed; and then as though some solemn agony had passed over His spirit He warned them of the signs of the times, and of the awful consequences of rejecting His teaching.
(4)With that day of conflict ended the second and darker stage of His work in Galilee. The remainder of His life was mainly passed in flight, in peril, and in concealment, only broken by brief occasional appearances in Galilee and Jerusalem. He departed from Capernaum, and went into the heathen region of Tyre and Sidon. But few particulars of this period are recorded. Somewhere in those regions He tested the strong faith of the Syro-Phoenician woman, and healed her demoniac daughter. From Tyre and Sidon He wandered southwards again, keeping mainly to the eastward and less inhabited region, only now and then healing a sufferer, but gradually attracting crowds once more. Somewhere on the Peraean side of the lake He fed the four thousand. After this period of wandering and absence He once more sailed to Magdala, but was met immediately by the ominous conjunction of Herodians and Pharisees with their hostile demand for a sign. Turning away from them. He uttered His last sad farewell and prophecy to the cities in which he had labored, and once more journeyed northwards. During this journey they came near to Caesarea Philippi, and, after standing in silent prayer, He asked His disciples "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" The sorrowful confession had to be made that, though they recognized Him as a prophet, they had not recognized Him as the Messiah. Then came the momentous question, which was to test how much of His task was accomplished in the hearts of those apostles whose training had now for some time been His principal work, "But whom say ye that I am?" Then it was that Peter won the immortal glory of giving that which has thenceforth been the answer of all the Christian world, "Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God." That answer is the inauguration, in human convictions, of Christianity and of Christendom; and it was rewarded by the promise of the power of the keys, and the power to bind and loose, and the foundation of the Christian church upon a rock. Whatever may be the difficulties of the passage, we see that Jesus meant to confer on His church the teaching power of which they key was the symbol, the power of legislative action indicated by binding and loosing, and the prophetic insight on which depended the ability to absolve in Gods name. But to obviate all delusions He at once revealed to them the dark abyss of suffering down which He had first to tread; and, as though to prove how little claim His words gave to sacerdotal usurpations, He proceeded to rebuke in the sternest words the presumption of Peter, who ventured to set aside His predictions as to His coming sufferings and death. It was six days after this that He took the three most chosen apostles with Him up the snowy slopes of Hermon, where they witnessed the transfiguration, as though to strengthen their faith in the dark hours to come. On descending the hill, He healed the demoniac boy whom the apostles had vainly tried to help, and built on this exorcism the lesson of faith which He was never weary of inculcating on His followers. Having now reached the northern limit of the Holy Land, He turned His footsteps southwards by the most secluded paths, omitting no opportunity to train the apostles, now teaching them humility by the example of a little child, and now warning them by significant parables of the need of self-sacrifice and of the spirit of forgiveness.
(5)At the ensuing Feast of Tabernacles we find Him once more at Jerusalem, where He appeared suddenly in the temple. St John records His teachings, drawn from the various incidents of the feast, and also the divided opinions of the people, and the almost unanimous opposition of the ruling classes. This visit to the Holy City was marked by the incident of the woman taken in adultery, in which He showed such sovereign wisdom and tenderness, and by the Sabbatarian disputes which arose from the healing of the blind man. On one occasion Jesus had to leave the temple amid a burst of fury in which the Jews threatened to stone Him, and when He left Jerusalem it was under the direct ban of excommunication. Under these circumstances He returned for one more brief visit to Galilee. The news which He received of the murder of some Galilaeans in the temple by Pilate, and of Herods designs against His safety, show how surrounded by perils was His human life. But He now calmly ended His work in Galilee by the mission of seventy disciples to prepare for His great last journey southwards. His words of farewell to the cities which had rejected Him were full of sadness and solemnity, as He started from the land which had refused His mission to the city in which He was to be crucified.
We now enter on the last great phase of His work, the incidents of His final journey and the close of His ministry. First He was refused shelter by the rude villagers of Engannim, and had to change his route. Next came the healing of the ten lepers, of whom but one showed gratitude, and he was a Samaritan. The Sabbath healings of the bowed woman and of the man with the dropsy are the two chief miracles of the journey, during which He also delivered many most memorable discourses, and some of His divinest parables- such as those of the good Samaritan and the prodigal son. So we trace His steps to the house of Martha and Mary at Bethany, and to Jerusalem, which He visited at the Feast of the Dedication. His appearance in the temple was always the signal for the fiercest opposition of Sadducees and Pharisees, who watched with jealousy and hatred the eagerness of the multitude to hear Him. After serious conflicts He retired to the other Bethany, beyond Jordan. Among the few recorded incidents of His stay in Peraea are the attempts to entangle Him with Herod and the Jewish schools by questions about divorce, the beautiful scene of blessing the little children, and the discourse about riches on the occasion of the test which He applied to the rich young ruler who "made the great refusal." The death of Lazarus summoned Him to Bethany, and the mot signal miracle which He there wrought by raising Lazarus from the dead excited such notice that the Sanhedrin now met under the presidency of Cajaphas, and came to the deliberate conclusion that they must put Him to death, lest the populace should raise tumults on His behalf which might precipitate the final intervention of Rome in the affairs of their nation. But, as His time was not yet come, Jesus avoided the peril of public arrest or private assassination by retiring to an obscure village called Ephraim, on the edge of the wilderness .
(6)He did not leave Ephraim till He could join the great Caravan of Galilaean pilgrims with whom He could proceed in safety to His last Passover. His apostles, both from His own warnings and from the visible grandeur of His transfiguration of self-sacrifice, were well aware that a crisis of His career had now arrived; and nothing can show more clearly the mistaken character of their Messianic hopes than the fact that, though he now distinctly told them the crowning horror that He should be crucified, the sons of Zebedee came with their mother Salome to beg for places at His right hand and His left in His kingdom. Jesus made their ambitious request a theme for rich and solemn teachings on the beatitude of suffering for the cause of God and man. As they approached Jericho, accompanied by excited multitudes, He healed the blind Bartimaeus, and in Jericho He excited the murmurs of the crowd by accepting the hospitality of the publican Zacchaeus. On the road between Jericho and Bethany He delivered the parable of the pounds. He arrived at Bethanny probably on Friday, Nisan 8, A.U.C. (March 31, 30 A.D.), six days before the Passover, and before the sunset had begun the Sabbath hours. The Sabbath was spent in quiet. In the evening Martha and Mary gave him a banquet in the house of Simon the leper, at which Mary, in her devotion and gratitude, broke the alabaster of precious ointment over His head and feet, and so awoke the deadly avarice of Judas that he seems on that very evening to have communed with the Jewish priests for the paltry blood-money of thirty pieces of silver (less than 4 pounds) for which he was willing to betray him. On the morning of Palm Sunday Jesus made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem amid the palm-waving throngs, who shouted "Hosanna to the son of David," and at the point of the road where the city first bursts upon the view He paused to weep over it and prophesy its doom. After once more cleansing the temple, and protecting from the anger of the priests and Pharisees the children who still shouted Hosanna, He spoke to Philip about the Greeks (probably from Edessa) who wished to see Him, and, strengthened by a voice from heaven, spent the rest of the day in teaching. At evening He retired for safety with the twelve outside the city walls in the direction of Bethany. On the Monday morning, as He went to Jerusalem. He pronounced the symbolic doom upon the fig-tree which had only leaves. On entering the temple He was met by a formidable deputation of priests, scribes, and rabbis, who demanded "by what authority He was acting," a question which He declined to answer until they proved their right to ask it, by giving a definite opinion respecting the baptism of John. Their confession of inability to do this was so marked a proof of their incompetence to claim the function of religious teachers, that He refused to meet their challenge. The day may be called "a day of parables," for during His teaching He spoke the parables of the two sons, the rebellions husbandmen, the builders an the corner stone, and the marriage of the kings son. These parables were so obviously aimed at the hypocrisy, malevolence, and presumption of the Jewish authorities that fear alone restrained them from immediately seizing Him. At evening He again retired from the city. The next day, the Tuesday in Passion week, may be called the day of temptations, for it was marked by three deliberate attempts to undermine His authority by involving Him in some difficulty either with the rulers or the people. In the morning walk to Jerusalem He taught to His disciples a lesson of faith from the withered fig-tree. In the temple He was first met by the plot of the Herodians and Pharisees to embroil Him either with the Romans or the populace by a question as to the lawfulness of paying tribute, then by a piece of poor casuistry on the part of the Sadducees concerning the resurrection, then by the question of a Scribe as to the great commandment of the law. In each instance the divine and ready wisdom of His answers not only entirely defeated the stratagems of the Sanhedrists, but showed His immeasurable superiority to them in knowledge and insight. Then, to prove how easily He might have turned the tables on them, had He desired their humiliation, He exposed their complete ignorance respecting the very subject on which they claimed the fullest knowledge by reducing them to a confession of their inability to explain why David in the spirit had given the name of Lord to the Messiah who was to be his son. And hen, knowing that the time had come when their degradation of religion into a mere tyranny and semblance should be set forth, He delivered the terrible denunciation which, with its eightfold "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites," was intended to leave them utterly inexcusable. The Jewish authorities felt that this was a final rupture, that they must now, at all costs, bring about His immediate death.
Before he left the temple for ever He taught the lesson of true charity as illustrated by the widows mite, and then went and sat on the green slopes of the Mount of Olives. There He pronounced to His disciples that great eschatological discourse which was suggested by their admiration of the temple buildings, destined so soon to sink in blood and ashes. In the cool of evening they walked to Bethany, perhaps at the very time that Judas was arranging with the priests the final details of His betrayal and arrest. The Wednesday was spent in deep retirement at Bethany, and not a single word or incident is recorded on that day. On the Thursday morning He woke never to sleep again.
(7)On the evening of Thursday Jesus went with His disciples to Jerusalem to keep that quasi-paschal feast at which He instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist. Even then the apostles had jealousies about precedence, and it was to cure them of their fatal tendency to selfish pride and ambition that He washed the disciples feet. During the supper He first indicated to John, and through him to Peter, that He knew who the traitor was. He clearly told them that this was the last meal which He should eat with them, and bade them henceforth "eat bread and drink wine "in sacramental memory of Him. It was after Judas had gone forth into the night that He began those last discourses preserved for us by St John alone, which are so "rarely mixed of sadness and joys, and studded with mysteries as with emeralds." There is a matchless beauty and tenderness in the records of His gentle words of warning and help to Peter, Thomas, Philip, and Jude, and of that familiar intercourse with his dearest followers, whose sinking spirits He sustained by the promise of the Comforter. Then they sang a hymn, probably the psalm known to the Jews as the Great Hallel, and in the darkness walked to the olive garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus passed through His hour of mysterious agony and passion, while even His most beloved apostles could not watch with Him. Then torches suddenly flashed upon the night as the traitor, accompanied by priests and their servants, and Levites of the temple guard, and Roman soldiers, made their way across the valley of the Kidron to the slope of Olivet on which the garden lay. There Judas betrayed Him with a kiss; and, in spite of the supernatural awe which His presence inspired even into His enemies, He resigned Himself into their hands, rebuked the rash blow of Peter, and by one last act of mercy healed the slight wound of Malchus. "Then all His disciples forsook Him and fled."
(a)He was taken first to the astute and aged Annas, who was regarded as high priest de jure, though not de facto. From this time forward it was the priestly party the Sadducess, not the Pharisees who were almost exclusively responsible for His death. On His refusal to plead before this disorderly midnight tribunal, He was struck on the mouth; and, failing to extor anything from Him, Annas sent Him bound across the courtyard to his son-in-law Caiaphas, the de facto high priest.
(B)It was still night, and here took place the second irregular and illegal trial, before His worst enemies among the priests and Sadducees. The false witnesses who endeavored to convict Him of having threatened to destroy the temple failed, and He preserved unbroken silence until Caiaphas adjured Him by the living God to tell them whether He was the Messiah, the Son of God. in answer to this appeal He said "I am," and told them that they should see His hereafter in the clouds. Then Caiaphas rent his robes with the cry of blasphemy, and this committee of the Sanhedrin declared Him "guilty of death."
(y)After this second examinations Jesus was remanded to the guardroom until break of day, before which time the whole Sanhedrin could not meet. As He was led past the brazier in the courtyard, His one glance broke into penitence the heart of His backsliding apostle, who has just denied Him with oaths. As He waited, He was insulted by the coarse derision and brutal violence of the priestly menials. When the Sanhedrin met, they one more entirely failed to fix any charge upon Him, until He renewed in their presence His claim to be the Son of God. He was then formally condemned to death, and underwent a second derision at the hands of the assembled elders. It was after this condemnation that remorse seized the dark soul of Judas. He flung down the blood-money before his tempters, and with an agonized confession of guilt rushed out to his terrible suicide.
At this period the Jews had lost all legal right to put any one to death, and they were further anxious to avoid personal responsibility, and danger of vengeance from the followers of Jesus, by handing Him over for execution to the Roman procurator. Accordingly they led Him bound to Pilate in imposing procession. They were, however, mistaken in supposing that Pilate would crucify Jesus at their bare word without seeing whether He was guilty; and, as they could not enter the Herodian palace, in which the Gentile ruler lived, without pollution, which would have prevented them from partaking in the Passover that evening, Pilate went out to them. In every line of the brief colloquy which ensued we trace the haughty contempt of the Roman, and the burning hatred of the Jews. Failing to arrive at any definite charge, Pilate questioned Jesus alone inside the praetorium, and after a brief examination came out to the Jews with the declaration of complete acquittal.
In the wild clamor which ensued he caught the word Galilee, and, understanding that Jesus had chiefly taught in Galilee, eagerly seized the opportunity of getting rid of the matter by sending Him to Herod. But before Herod as before Pilate Jesus retained His majestic silence, and, unable to condemn Him, Herod contented himself with arraying Him in a white festive robe, setting Him at nought with his myrmidous, and sending Him back with a second practical acquittal to the procurator.
Then, in three stages, began the third and most agonizing phase of the public trial. Pilate, seated on his bema upon the marble pavement, declared that, as His innocence was now certain, He would merely scourge and dismiss Him. It was a disgraceful proposal, due partly to his desire to save the life of one whom he saw to be innocent, but dictated by fear of a new riot. Further than this, the warning of his wife, and the awful majesty of the sufferer, had created a strong presentiment in Pilates mind. But his actions were practically controlled by the past guilt which made him tremble at the thought of the thought of the complaints which Jews, Samaritans, and Galilaeans could alike prefer against him. He did not therefore venture to refuse the cry of the mob hounded on as they were by the priests and Sanherists for the Passover boon of having a prisoner liberated to them; and he vainly tried to induce them to ask for the liberated of Jesus. They demanded the rebel and murderer Bar Abbas, and began to shout for the crucifixion of Jesus. Bar Abbas as set free, and Jesus underwent the horrible Roman scourging, which was followed by the ruthless mockery of the soldiers, who arrayed Him in an old crimson robe and placed a crown of thorns on His head, and a reed in his hand as a sceptre, and so pai Him mock homage as a king of the Jews.
When He came forth after this hour of agony, Pilate made one more appeal to their compassion in the words "Behold the man!" and on hearing that He claimed to be "a Son of God" for since the charge of treason had broken down, the priests now substituted for it a charge of blasphemy- he became still more alarmed, and once more questioned Jesus in a private interview. For some time Jesus would not speak. When He did, it was to say that He regarded Pilate as less guilty than the Jews. As Pilate led Him forth, and saw Him stand before that shameful yelling multitude in His majesty of solemn woe, he broke forth into the involuntary exclamation, "Behold your King!" That word raised among the multitude some very ominous allusions to Caesar, and Pilate, after publicly washing his hands, in token that he was innocent of this death, pronounced the fatal order for His crucifixion.
Jesus was then clad in His own garments and led forth with two robbers to be crucified. As He was unable to bear the weight of His cross, Simon of Cyrene was impressed for that service. On His was Jesus gently consoled the weeping daughters of Jerusalem, and, when they reached the fatal spot of Golgotha, He refused the stupefying potion which was offered to Him, and prayed for His murderers even as they drove the nails through His hands. Pilate managed to insult the Jews by putting over the cross the title "The King of the Jews," in three languages, which thus in the presence of the vast Passover multitude testified to the truth. On the cross Jesus hung for three hours in agony. The soldiers parted His garments, and cast lots for His seamless robe. The mob, the priests, even the crucified malefactors, joined in taunting Him. But He answered not. After His prayer for His murderers He only spoke to promise paradise to the penitent robber; to assign His mother to the care of the beloved disciple; to quote in the lowest depth of His agony the first words of the 22d Psalm; to give vent to the sole expression of physical anguish which He uttered, "I thirst"; to commend His spirit into His Fathers hands; and lastly, in the one victorious word, "it is finished," to end His work on earth. The bearing of Jesus on the cross, together with the circumstances which accompanied the crucifixion the darkness, earthquake, and rending of the temple veil produced a deep impression even on the mind of the heathen centurion. They so powerfully affected the multitude that they returned to Jerusalem wailing and beating on their breast, as once with a feeling of guilt and a presentiment of future retribution.
(8)At evening the soldiers dispatched the two crucified robbers by breaking their legs, in order that their bodies might be removed before the Passover. But they found Jesus already dead, and the certainty of His death was assured by one of the soldiers driving his spear into the region of the heart, whence came out blood and water. as very little time was left before the sunset marked the beginning of the Sabbath, and rendered labor impossible, the body of Jesus was hastily buried by Nicodemus and by Joseph of Arimathaea, who had obtained the requisite permission. They wrapped it in fine linen and spices, and laid it in the rockhewn garden-grave of Joseph, rolling a great stone to the aperture, which was further guarded by soldiers sent by the Jews to prevent its removal for purposes of fraud. This was on Friday evening. Very early on the morning of Sunday, while it was yet dark, the two Marys were met at the sepulcher by a vision of angels which announced His resurrection. Of that resurrection, in spite of their original doubts and misgivings, the whole body of the disciples became unalterably convinced, and on their unalterable conviction, and the subsequent witness of history to the blessed truth of their doctrines, has rested in great measure the belief of the Christian church. Uniting the contemporary testimony of St Paul who must have been in personal communication with many of the five hundred to whose evidence he appeals, with those of the Gospels, we find ten recorded appearances: - (1) to Mary Magdalene (John xx. 17); (2) to other women (Matt. xxviii. 9, 10); (3) to Peter (Luke xxiv. 34; 1 Cor. Xv. 5); (4) to the two disciples on their way to Emmaus (Luke xxiv 13-32); (5) to the ten apostles. All these appearances occurred on the first Easter day. On the following Sunday Jesus appeared (6) to the eleven apostles, Thomas having been absent on the previous occasion. He further appeared (7) to seven apostles by the Sea of Galilee (John xxi. 1-24); (8) to more than five hundred at once on a mountain in Galilee; (9) to James (1 Cor. Xv. 3,8); and (10) at the ascension. These appearances continued for forty days. On the last occasion Jesus led His disciples towards Bethany, gave them His last command, blessed them, and as He blessed them passed away, and "a cloud received Him out of their sight."
VI.Such, in briefest outline, are the main recorded events of the life of Jesus Christ on earth. It only remains to say a dew words concerning His person and His work, regarded here in their historical rather than in their theological aspect.
As regards His person, Christians who accept the New Testament as the record of inspired teaching, and who believe it to be evidenced, not only by inward and supernatural revelation, but also by the subsequent history of the church and the world, believe that Jesus Christ was (in the words of what is probably a very ancient Christian hymn quoted by St Paul) the only begotten Son of God, "manifest in the flesh, justified by the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory", and as a part of this belief they hold that, just as Adam the first man was not born but created, so the second Adam, who cam to redeem our nature, was not born by ordinary generation but was "incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary." But even those who do no accept this faith see in Jesus a unique and sinless personality, one with whom no other human being can even distantly be composed, either in His character, His teaching, or the results which He accomplished by His brief ministry. He taught but for three years, and not continuously even during them. He accepted the most ordinary customs of the teachers of His day. He wore no broad phylacteries like the Pharisees; He was not emaciated with asceticism like the Essences; He preached the kingdom of God, not, as John had done, between the gloomy precipices of the wilderness, but from the homely platform of the synagogue, to give the Midrash when the Torah had been read. He appeared before the people, not in the hairy mantle of a prophet, but "in the ordinary dress of a Jewish man, at the four ends of which the customary tassels were not wanting. He came "eating and drinking"; He had no human learning; His rank was but that of a village carpenter; He checked all political excitement; He directed that respect should be paid to all the recognized rulers, whether heathen or Jewish, and even to the religious teachers of the nation; He was obedient to the Mosaic law; His followers were "unlearned and ignorant men" chosen from the humblers of the people. Yet He has, as a simple matter of fact, altered the whole current of the stream of history; He closed all the history of the past, and inaugurated all the history of the future, and all the most brilliant and civilized nations of the world worship Him as God. Kant testifies to His ideal perfection. Hegel saw in Him the union of the human and the divine. Even the most advanced of skeptics do Him homage. Spinoza spoke of Him as the truest symbol of heavenly wisdom. The beauty and grandeur of His life overawed even the flippant soul of Voltaire. "Between Him and whoever else in the world," said Napoleon I. at St Helena, "there is no possible term of comparison." "If the lifer and death of Socrates are those of a sage," said Rousseau, "the life and death of Jesus are those of a God." "He is," says Strauss, "the highest object we can possibly imagine with respect to religion, the Being without whose presence in the mind perfect piety is impossible." "The Christ of the Gospels," says Renan, "is the most beautiful incarnation of God in the most beautiful of forms. His beauty is eternal; His reign will never end." John Stuart Mill spoke of Him as "a man charged with a special, express, and unique commission from God to lead mankind to truth and virtue."
The transcendent power of His personality, which is betokened in such expression as those quoted above, is due, not only to His devotion and self-sacrifice, but to His absolute sinlessness. This constitutes the unique character of His individuality. He alone of mankind has claimed to be sinless, and has had the claim granted by unanimous consent both in His lifetime and in subsequent ages. He alone among men has never even been assailed by the breath of moral calumny, and never even in His most sacred utterance and prayers betrayed the faintest consciousness of any evil as present in His soul. He therefore alone has furnished mankind with a perfect ideal; and, though no saint has ever even distantly attained to the perfectness of that ideal; yet those who have done so in greatest measure have always said that they have done so solely by the aid of His grace, and the imitation of His example.
Nor was His teaching less unique than His personality. It was marked by a tone of sovereign authority; "Ye have heard that it was said but I say unto you." In this it was the very opposite to the teaching of His own day and of centuries afterwards, which relief exclusively upon precedent. It was also marked absolute originality. The test of its originality is the worlds acceptance of it as specifically His. Isolated fragments of it may be compared with truths uttered by others; but it stands alone in its breadth and in its power, in its absence of narrow exclusiveness and scholastic system and abstract speculation. It was fresh, simple, natural, abounding in illustrations at once the most intelligible, drawn from all the common sights and sounds of nature, and all the daily incidents and objects of social and domestic life. It flowed forth without reserve to all and on every fitting occasion, - on the road, on the hillside, on the lake, or by the lonely well, or at the banquet whether of the Pharisee or the publican. Expressed in the form of parables, it has seized the imagination of mankind with a force and tenacity which is not distantly approached even by the sacred writers, and even when not directly parabolic it was so full of picturesqueness and directness that there is not one recorded sentence of it which has not been treasured up in the memory of mankind. His utterances not only rival and surpass all that preceded and all that has followed them, but "they complement all beginnings." Sometimes they consist of short suggestive sayings (gnomes), full of depth, yet free from all affectation or obscurity, which make even what is most mysterious and spiritual humanly perceptible, throwing over it the glamour both of poetry and of a longing presentiment, and incessantly enticing man towards something yet higher. There is never in them a lurking fallacy nor a superfluous word, but all is "vivacity, nature, intelligibility, directly enlightening grace," intended only to convince and to save. And while such was the incomparable form of His teaching, its force was even more remarkable. It is all centered in the two great truths of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man; from the former springs every truth of theology, from the latter every application of morals. Judaism had sunk into a religion of hatreds; the one message of Jesus was love. In this He differs even from John the Baptist and the prophets. "Their emblem is the storms, His the sun."
Once more, - as regards the work of Jesus, the Christian believe contemplates it in that aspect in which it is presented St Paul as a work of atonement, the redemption of a guilty race, but even apart from this the mere historical student must admit that Christ elevated both the individual and the race as none have ever done before or since. His doctrine purified the world from the loathly degradation of lust and luxury into which society had fallen. By convincing men of the inherent dignity of manhood. He added to the value of human life. He made holiness a common possession. Heathen morality had reached its loftiest point in the Stoic philosophy; but Stoicism was scornful, ineffectual, despairing, and Christ gave a moral system infinitely more perfect, more hopeful, and more tender to all mankind. To Him is alone the due the Christian significance of such words as charity, humility, and humanity. He first taught the sacredness of the body as a temple of the Holy Ghost. He has inspired the aims of the noblest culture, while at the same time He has restored the souls of men, and made the care of the moral and spiritual being the supreme end of life. The gradual emancipation of the world from the tyrannies of sensuality, cruelty, and serfdom has been won step after step from His principles. The supremacy of the spiritual, the solidarity of nations, the universality of Gods love, the essential equality of all men in His sight, are but a few of the great and fruitful conceptions which have sprung directly from His teaching, and which still have an unexhausted force, to bring about, in ever-increasing measure, the amelioration of the world.
VII. It only remains to touch on the growth and progress of Christian doctrine relative to the Person of Christ. It would have been impossible for the Christian world to have drawn from the teaching of the apostles and evangelists any other conclusion respecting Jesus that that He was more than man, - that He was "God manifest in the flesh." The Gospels spoke of His incarnation, His sinlessness, His miraculous power, His claims far loftier than would have been possible to simple man, His fearless conjunction of His own name with that of the Rternal Creater. Alike the Gospels and the Epistles testify to His pre-existence (John i. 15, vi 52, viii. 58), His eternal existence (1 Pet iii. 18-20; Phil. ii. 6,7; Rev. i. II), His part in the creation of the world (Heb. I. 11), His miracles of power; and they speak of Him in terms incompatible with simple humanity. It is indisputable that no Christian, who accepted as divine revelations the writings of St John and of St Paul, could possibly suppose that the Savior, in whom he was taught to trust, and into whose name he was baptized, was a mere human being like himself. And yet, that Jesus was perfectly human, as well as divine, they could not for a single moment doubt. He was born of a woman. He grew like other children. He suffered hunger, and thirst, and weariness, and pain, and wounds, and death. He had flesh and bones like all other men, and passed through the stages of life as others do. And His soul was a human soul no less than His body was a human body, for He increased gradually in wisdom no less than in statute; and felt sorrow and sympathy, and was subject to temptation, and was liable to the common emotions of our mortal nature.
With these facts the earliest teachers of the church were content. When they had asserted that Christ was both human and divine, "born and unborn, God in flesh, life in death, born of Mary and born of God" (Iren., Ep. Ad Ephes., 7), they entered into no speculations respecting the mode and definition of that union of natures. But such reticence soon became impossible. The doctrine of a God-man was openly assailed or secretly undermined by twofold forms of heresy- partly by Jewish Ebionites partly by Gentile Docetae. The Ebionites, the Nazarenes, the followers of Artemon, the Alogi, and many sects allied to them in their main principle, denied the true divinity of Christ. In the opposite direction many of the Gnostic sects entirely explained away His humanity, either with the Basilidians supposing that He only became divine at His baptism, or holding with the Valentinians that Mary was only the channel by which He entered the world. To both these conflicting fancies the orthodox fathers opposed the simple statement of St John that "the logos became flesh." But, as was natural, their opinions were as yet vague and even in some instances erroneous . Thus Justin Martyr thought that in Christ the Logos took the place of the human intelligence (Apol. Min., ch. X). Clement of Alexandria thought that the human needs and sufferings were only apparent, or by way of "accommodation" (Paed., i. 5, p. 112; Strom., vi 9, p. 775 ed. Sylb.). Origen had clearer views, and was the first to use the term God-man as well as to guard against the double error of excluding the Logos from Christ, or of confounding the Logos with the existence of the human Christ (Hom. In Ezek. Iii 3; C. Cels. Iii.29). It is, however, important to observe that the existence of technical errors of theology in the modes of expressing this doctrine adopted by the Ante-Nicene fathers was freely admitted, and was not regarded as formal heresy. Their individual insight was not sufficient to enable them to arrive at those careful scholastic definitions to which the church was only guided by the collective wisdom of oecumenical councils after periods of long and painful conflict. The remarks of St Jerome on the real orthodoxy of the early fathers are both charitable and explicit. "It may be," he says, "that they erred in simplicity, and that they wrote in another sense, or that their writings were gradually corrupted by unskillful transcribers; and, certainly, before Arius like the destruction that wasteth at noonday was born in Alexandria, they made statements incautiously which are open to the misinterpretation of the perverse." We find a remarkable illustration of the extent to which the terminology was as yet unsettled in the fact that the council at Antioc which condemned Paul of Samosata in 269 also condemned the expression homousios ("consubstantial"), which a century afterwards became the very watchword of Nicene orthodoxy.
By the 3d century the Ebionizing heresies were practically dead, but the Docetic were still flourishing in various forms. Two sects had arisen; one was that of the Patripassians, who so completely obliterated all real distinction between the first and second person of the Trinity as to lay themselves open to the charge of teaching that the Supreme Father had been crucified. Thus Praxeas taught that the same God is at once the Father and Son. Neotus of Smyrna, when banished from Ephesus, taught these notion at Rome, and even the Popes Zephyrinus and Callistus to have been imbued with them. Sabellius, a presbyter, of Ptolemais, elaborated these opinions into a system in which Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were only three modes of manifestation, three names, three aspects of the divine monad revealing itself under the three different forms (Greg. Nyss, Orat c. Arian. Et Sabell.). The Monarchians, on the other hand, in their equal anxiety to avoid all danger of Ditheism and Tritheism, admitted the supernatural birth of Christ, but only saw in Him the hgoliest of the prophets; these views were expounded at Rome by Theodotus of Byzantium, who was consequently expelled from the church by Pope Victor. The heresies of Paul of Samosata, the vain and brilliant patriarch of Antioch, seem to have originated in an unhappy attempt to reconcile the views of these Monarchian sects by teaching that not the whole divine substance was manifested in Christ, but only one single divine power. He thus distinguished between the Logos and the human Son of God. He was banished and died in obscurity, but the sect, which was generally called Patripassian in the West and Sabellian in the east, continued to linger on for a time.
All these controversies were but preludes to the great struggle of the church against Arianism. Hitherto she had condemned the Noetians and Sabellians for denying the hypostasis of the Son as distinct from the Father, and the Theodotians and Ebionites for denying His divinity. Arius, a presbyter of Alexandria, admitted both the divine and the human nature of Christ, but by making Him subordinate to God denied His divinity in its highest sense. He was led to this error by the reaction against Sabellianism, and he ranked the Son among created beings, saying that "there was (a time) when He was not." Arius was deposed and excommunicated by a council at Alexandria, but since many bishops, and among them the distinguished Eusebius of Caesarea, and Eusebius of Nicomedia, interceded in his favor, the dispute assumed such wide proportions that Constantine was compelled to intervene by summoning in 325 the first oecumenical council of Nice. By this council the doctrine of Arius was condemned, and it was declared to be a matter of the catholic faith that the Son was not only of like essence (homoiousios) but of the same essence (homoousios) with the Father.
It was long, however, before the voice of controversy was silenced. Many bishops still continued to be on the one hand Arian or Semi-Arian, while on the other hand men of great power and enlightenment, like Marcellus of Ancyra and Photinus of Sirmium, slid back into dangerous affinity to Sabellianism. It was in consequence of a similar reaction that Apollinaris, hisbop of Laodicea, in the desire to maintain the glory of Christ, fell into a heresy and revived an old error, by arguing that in Jesus the Logos supplied the place of the reasonable soul. It is obvious that such a view undermined the doctrine of the example and atonement of Christ, and it was condemned in 381 at the council of Constantinople.
The next great controversy arose from the refusal of Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, to apply to the Virgin Mary the term Theotokos or mother of God. In his endeavor to avoid the extremes which had already been condemned, he spoke of the union of the two natures in Christ as a connection or indwelling, but denied that there was any communication of attributes. He maintained, in fact, a mechanical rather than a supernatural union of the two natures. He was condemned in the council of Ephesus, 431, and died in exile; but the schools of Edessa and Nisibis still maintained the Nestorian doctrine, which has continued in the East even till the present day.
The last great controversy on the two natures was raise dby Eutyches, archimandrite of Constantinople, who confounded together the two natures which Nestorius had separated, thus inaugurating what is known as the Monophysite heresy, which was condemned in the council of Chalcedon, 451. It is needless to explain the obscure heresies of Theopaschites, Phthartolatri, Aphthartodocetae, or to do more than name the views of the Monothelites, who strove to put an end to controversy by maintaining that though there were two natures in Christ there was only one will. The main results at which the church arrived cannot be better summed up than they are in an admirable passage of Hooker (Eccl. Pol., v. 54, 10); "There are but four things which concur to make complete the whole state of our Lord Jesus Christ. His deity, His manhood, the conjunction of both, and the distinction of the one from the other being joined in one. Four principal heresies there are which have in those things withstood the truth: Arians by bending themselves against the deity of Christ; Apollinarians by maiming and misinterpreting that which belongeth to His human nature; Nestorians by rending Christ asunder and dividing Him into two persons; the followers of Eutyches by confounding in His person those natures which they could distinguish. Against these there have been four most ancient general councils: the council of Nice to define against Arians; against Apollinarians the council of Constantinople; the council of Ephesus against Nestorians; against Eutychians the Chalcedoin council. In four words, truly, perfectly, indivisibly, distinctly the first applies to His being God, the second to His being man, the third to His being of both One, and the fourth to His still continuing of that one Both-we may fully, by way of abridgement, comprise whatever antiquity hath at large handled either in declaration of Christian belief, or in refutation of the fore said heresies." The result of these centuries of controversy was enshrined in the so-called Nicene creed. "the holy symbol declared at Nice, established at Constantinople, strengthened at Ephesus, sealed at Chalcedon."
When the church had thus rigidly defined the limits of Catholic orthodoxy, the decisions of the four oecumenical councils were accepted, and no further controversies rose on these subjects for about 800 years. The disputes between the Nominalists and the Realists, and the speculations of the Schoolmen generally as regards this subject, turned rather on the proofs or illustrations of the doctrine of the trinity than on theories respecting the two natures of Christ. There are remarks and illustrations not only in the Schoolmen but even in the Reformers which might be regarded as questionable, but none of them were intended to diverge from the Catholic verity. Passing over the crude system, of Serventus, we hear of Unitarian communities in Poland as early as 1563. In 1544 Laelius Socinus had been obliged to leave Italy because his opinions were known to be unfavorable to the divinity of Christ. On his death at Zurich in 1562 his nephew Faustus Socinus openly taught the opinions which he had learnt from his uncles papers, and acquired a considerable following in Poland. The exegetic methods of Socinianism were so weak, and its rupture with Christian history so absolute, that the special views of the Socini- which were that Christ, though miraculously born, was only the highest of men, and was deified after His death as a reward for His virtue have had an indirect rather a direct influence. In 1611 three men were burnt in England for denying the doctrine of the Trinity, but in the middle of the 17th century we find John Biddle recognized as a leader of the Unitarians, and the spread of Unitarian doctrines led Zbull to write his celebrated Defensio Fideo Nicenae in 1685. The first Unitarian church in England was founded in 1773 by Lindsay. The writings of Spinoza and of the English deists Herbert, Toland, Shafdtersbury, Chubb. Bolingbroke helped largely to weaken the orthodox, faith. But in later periods it has been rather undermined than denied. While nominally accepted it has been understood and explained in a manner of which the ancient church never so much as dreamt. Kant used all the traditional formulae, but they do not appear to have been more to him than symbolic expressions. Similarly Schelling spoke of the Three Persons of the creeds as three Momentums, for which he substituted in later years the word Potenzen, and the language of Ficthe and Hegel practically sublimates to nothing the doctrine of Christs divinity.
But this "dispersive analysis" of the later centuries has shown itself most markedly in some of the Lives of Jesus, and these prove very conclusively that many Christians have not preserved the Nicene faith, but find an insuperable stumbling block in the miracles. Even in the treatment of the life of Jesus by Hess (1768) there is a spirit of concession to modern doubt which becomes still more marked in the similar sketches of Herder (1796), who leans, wherever he can, to the natural or the symbolic view of miracles. The Leben Jesus of Paulus was written with the avowed object of explaining away the supernatural elements in the Gospels while yet the evangelists themselves were accepted as faithful witnesses, - an attempt which at once fell to the ground under the weight of its own absurdity. Far different was the line adopted by Schleiermacher in his Lectures on the Life of Jesus (published from notes by Rutenik in 1864). Schleiermacher wished to steer between the Ebionitic and the Docetic views of Christ, but while maintaining the divinity he systematically endeavors to reduce the miracles within the scope of natural laws, and treats even the resurrection in a rationalizing manner, as though Jesus had not really died. Hase, in his Leben Jesus (1829), leans in the same direction, supposing that Jesus possessed some unknown power and a sort of sanative magnetism. None of these writers have, however, produced so deep an impression as Strauss and Renan. Strauss, instead of endeavoring to eliminate the supernatural, or to invest it in some sort with a natural appearance, treated the Gospel narratives as myths from which it was hardly possible to understand the historic personality of Christ. In his Leben Jesus (1835) he rejected the Fourth Gospel altogether, in his second edition, in deference to Neander, he left the question neutral. In this earlier phase he regarded Jesus as merely "the idea of the identity of God and man, and the mission of humanity" built up on Messianic prophecy; but he afterwards, as in his Life of Christ for the People (1864), attached more importance to the tendency-theory of Baur, and in his later writings (The Old Faith and the New, 1873), treated the existence of Christianity in as disdainful a tone as though it were hardly worthy of any explanation at all. Renan (Vie de Jesus 1863), entirely abandoned all faith in Christs divinity, and, while speaking of Him as one "whom His death had made divine," treated Him from the point of view of an amiable rabbi who, beginning as an innocent enthusiast, developed into something hardly if at all removed from conscious imposture. Meanwhile these negations had provoked a strong reaction; and writers like Neander (1837), Ebrard (1842), Lange (1843), Olshausen (1853), Weisse (1856), Riggenbach (1858), and above all Ewald (1855), maintained with abundant learning the truth of the Gospel narratives, though the works of all of them betray, in a greater or less degree, the signs, to which Neander so touchingly alludes, that they were produced "in an age of crisis, of isolation, of pain, and of throes." The most important recent contribution to the literature of this subject is the Jesus von Nazara of Keim (1867). He writes in a reverent spirit and a powerful style, with abundant learning and patient research. He takes his stand on the sinlessness of Jesus, and presents Him as human indeed but still divine in the exaltation of His humanity. Keim attributes the Fourth Gospel to a late and post-apostolic author, and when he gives it as his conclusion that "in the life of Jesus, where the most genuine and unadulterated humanity dwelt, was revealed at the same time not only a religious genius, but the miracle of God and His presence upon earth," and that "the person itself and nothing else is the miracle," he shows by how vast a space modern opinion has receded from the views of the Catholic church. The English works on the Life of Christ have been very numerous of late years, and have been marked with few exceptions by their fidelity to Christian faith.
Literature. The bibliography of the life of Christ is immense, and the monographs on isolated questions which bear upon it may be counted by hundreds. The reader will find a fairly adequate account of the results of a comprehensive critical survey of the whole field in Hases Geschichte Jesus, 1875. So far as the patristic and mediaeval periods are concerned, the gospel harmonies of Tatian, Ammonius of Alexandria, Victor of Capua, Gerson, and the poetical composition based upon the Gospel narratives by Prudentius, Sedulius, Nonnus, Caedmon, the author of the Heliand, otfried of Weissenburg, and others, may be dismissed with a mere reference. Of greater importance as early examples of a large class of works, designed for religious edification rather than for historical portraiture, are the Vita Christi of Bonaventura (first printed in 1480, and often since, the latest English translation bearing so recent a date as 1880), and the Vita Jesu Christi of Ludolphus Saxo. (F. W. F.)
The above article was written by the Very Rev. Frederic William Farrar, D.D., F.R.S.; Den of Canterbury; Hulsean Lecturer, Cambridge, 1870; Bampton Lecturer, Oxford, 1885; Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, 1890-95; author of The Life of Christ, The Life of St. Paul, The Early Days of Christianity, Darkness and Dawn, The Bible, its Meaning and Supremacy, etc.