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able of the fanciful conceits by which we moderns evaporate their meaning. Common sense requires us to believe that He intended His words to be interpreted by precisely those canons which are applied to the words of other men. Decent respect for Christ's good faith cannot admit that He used human words, addressed to human beings, in any other sense than a downright, plain, human one. He who is the Truth, speaking the truth, spoke the language of an honest man.
Beginning His teaching by the declaration that the poor in spirit are blessed, He bade His hearers rejoice and be exceeding glad when they were persecuted. He told them not to resist him that is evil; to love to love, not to tolerate, to love—their enemies; to turn the other cheek when one had been smitten; to give the coat when the cloak was
We are asked to believe that this is poetry. So it is. It is perfectly easy to see its metrical form; justifiable to delight in its literary beauty; on occasions, I have myself lectured on the art of Hebrew versification, and contended that this discourse
illustrates it. It is the highest type of poetry,—but it is that because it is the speech of truth, twin-born with the music in which it is uttered. Scan it, count its numbers, sing it, if you choose; there it is, nevertheless :: Ye have heard, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; but I say to you, that ye resist not him that is evil. Give to every man that asketh thee, and of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not back. From him that would borrow of thee, turn not thou away. If ye lend to sinners, to them from whom ye hope to receive, what thanks have ye? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. Love ye your enemies, and do them good, and lend to them, never despairing. (This is a hard saying; who can hear it ?) Bid to your feasts those who can make no return. Do not gather a fortune ; lay up no treasure on earth.
Take no thought for clothing, nor for food. Live from day to day; to-morrow will take thought for itself.
Now either this is lunacy, or it is divine wisdom. His friends of those days said, "He is beside Himself.” It is a favorite charge against men who are not satisfied with things as they find them. Festus was only one of many who thought St. Paul mad. No reformer has escaped the imputation. But especially it is not strange that the friends of Jesus questioned His sanity. No programme ever equalled His in boldness and apparent folly. Let us admit it. Coming from anyone else, these sayings would be suppressed as insane and dangerous. Coming from Christ, they are merely disregarded.
But we have by no means seen the worst of this madness. Consider the inducements which Christ holds out, the rewards He promises, to those who will follow Him. He certainly pledges that God will give them what is good for them, but He makes it plain that that will most often be what we esteem the most dreadful of ills. Guarding against any possible misapprehension about it, He is constantly telling His hearers that poverty, hatred from all men, enmity in their homes, persecutions, scourgings, and death in the world await them. Some of those who heard this, and believed Him, walked no more with Him, but went back. Some of us, if we believed it, would hasten to join the retreat. They called the Master Beelzebub, he reminded them; what would they not call the servants! Here
Here is one of the tests He gave them: “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you !
Warning them of persecution, He told them not to be anxious how they should make their defence before their judges, for it would be given them in that hour what they should speak.
One day He came in when they had been disputing as to who was the greatest. took a little child, and set him before them as a pattern, and told them that they must become like that; told them that he who is the least is truly great, and that he who would be first should be last of all. The night before the Crucifixion, He went to each, and solemnly washed his feet, and when He had finished, said, “If I then, the Lord and the Master, have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another's feet.” The rite is preserved by a part of Christendom, in its outward form; its practice as a rule of life,
—the practice of service even to humiliation,- does not seem to have commended itself to Christians generally.
Jesus took no account of money, either for His own use or for the extension of His Kingdom. He denounced the love of it. He forbade its accumulation. When the Pharisees, who, St. Luke says, were lovers of money, scoffed at Him because of this teaching, He told them that “that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” Jesus provided no fund for carrying on the work of His Church.
With equal audacity He declined to recognize payment as the proper reward of toil. If His utterances about laying up treasures are confusion to capitalists, the parable of the labourers who went at different hours into the vineyard, and yet received every man the same penny, upsets all human labour schemes. With perfect indifference, He once, at least, allowed a large sum to be wasted, as some thought, in a pleasant ointment for His feet.
As to His judgment concerning those possessed of wealth, we have to reckon with