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in himself that rare and remarkable combination of sweetness and light, of all that goes to make divinity of character, which soothes, attracts, subdues, overawes, and uplifts the wayward, the fretful, the disheartened, the distracted, the passion-torn, the guilt-tortured. He knew the wants of the times. He saw that, however effectively the impetuous John might awaken the masses, there must be something further. John's exhortations excited a deep yearning which they left unsatisfied. New impulses, however grand, must have guidance, training into habit, before they bloom into character and fructify into reliable conduct.
What a gigantic work! His thoughtful spirit has taken him into desert solitude. He surveys the whole ground. The audacious John must fall a victim of the profligate, foxy, rapacious Herod. What can one man do then toward revolutionizing permanently the currupt theocracy or lifting the iron yoke of Rome? He must stand alone against the world, must pass sentence on all its religious wisdom, must create a new world of spiritual thought. Long he ponders. He becomes worn out with hunger. “If," questions he, “the Eternal wants this work done, will he keep his chosen agent spending all his time and energies earning bread at the carpenter's bench? There is a sacred legend that he miraculously supplied Israel with manna. If victuals cost the Almighty no more than stones, why should not the task of reform be compensated by at least the reformer's board and keeping ? Conscious of possessing extraordinary powers, why not experiment upon the Creator's peculiar favor, why not verify whether those powers be not miraculous ? But, then, why conceive the Almighty to be restricted to a single means of sustenance ? No: I will wait until my heavenly Father gives me what he chooses and in whatever way pleases him.” Many a person in Jesus' place would not have been so free from morbid fancies as not to have, moreover, a momentary temptation to test his own immunity from the consequence of some natural law, as, for instance, of grav. itation. But that this was the fact in the case of Jesus seems to many reverential reasoners extremely improbable.
Otherwise as to the whisper of ambition. How magnificent the splendor of the Roman Empire ! How can he utilize the grand power within him in obtaining preferment, and perhaps finally becoming an emancipating prince? But Rome worships idols. This had always been the line of sharp demarcation that separated the self-reputed chosen people from heathendom. Shall he turn traitor to the law of his ancestors ? “No!” resolves he, “ Jahveh alone shall be my God! Jahveh
stripped of the monstrosities of prodigy-loving chroniclers, shall be my ideal of the True, the Beautiful, and the Good, forevermore. I will be his son. He shall be my father. My allegiance, as between the two opposite masteries, is chosen. Henceforth, the redemption of the world from infernal tumult and woe by the salvation of single souls from selfishness shall be my life-work. Come hunger, come privation, come toil, come torture, come death! To the very last in myself will I exemplify the sole method, self-renunciation,-dying to live,the subordination of the lower self to the higher, of the ephemeral to the eternal. To John's watchword, Repentance, here, and now do I add Regeneration.
“But how that Sanhedrim? How those priests, frozen and fossil-bound between two tables of stone? How if their desperate bigotry, jealousy, and rage shall have soon compassed my death? Stalwart successors I must have,- sturdy Simon first and foremost, and his good brother, Andrew. Noble Nathanael and other docile ones must be joined, and all be indoctrinated. I must move circumspectly at first, -away from impatient, precipitate John, and away from Jerusalem and the stung hierarchy. Busy Capernaum, seated in the world's highway, will have to be the starting-point whence the light and warmth shall radiate. Thence around shall circulate the leaven. Thus must begin the domain of good-will, and thus only I be the Messiah to a kingdom of heaven on earth.”
And with this resolve of Jesus came peace,- came sweet thoughts, and ministered unto him like welcome, consoling messengers from some never failing Friend. In that travail
- that conjuncture of inspiration and exaltation - was born the Sermon erelong to be uttered on the Mount that overlooked the budding blooms of Genesareth. And so with Milton define we the Temptation:
And make persuasion do the work of fear. Not substantially differing from the foregoing is another view of the workings of the mind of Jesus at another period :
In the second part of Isaiah (chap. xl. to lxvi.), which we know to have been written by some prophet of the captivity, about 536 B.C., but which Jesus, like all his contemporaries, ascribed to the true Isaiah of the eighth century B.C., in this wonderful fragment, the
cap-sheaf of Old Testament prophecy, there figures prominently " the servant of God," who is represented as a teacher or prophet, thus : “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth. I have put my spirit upon him : he shall declare judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive nor cry. He shall declare judgment with truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged till he set judgment in the earth : far lands wait for his law.” We may be sure, I think, that, so far as the Messianic self-consciousness of Jesus nourished itself upon Scriptural food, it found it in these and other similar passages of the Deutero-Isaiah. Jesus was here less critical than the rabbis of his time, for they understood the “servant of God” in these passages to mean the Jewish people, or the body of faithful Tews: and modern criticism has almost unanimously corroborated their opinion. Now, in the same fragment (chap. liii.), the Servant of Jehovah is represented as debased and suffering, while at the same time his ultimate triumph is portended. “He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” In the oratorio of “The Messiah," the tenderest passage in the music is that which corresponds to these words. This is as it should be, for we may well believe that no other passage in the Old Testament was so central to the thought of Jesus. I do not mean that his anticipation of a catastrophe ending to his ministry was entirely derived from this text and its context. His observation of the spirit of the Pharisees, as he saw them in Galilee, led him to expect the worst when he should meet them in Jerusalem, as he meant to meet them with a gesture of defiance; but what was predicated in Isaiah liii. of the Servant of Jehovah tallied almost exactly with his natural anticipation. “Surely,” the prophet says, “ he hath borne our griefs; ... yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him.” The contemporaries of Jesus did not apply these words to the Messiah ; but Jesus did, and therefore to himself. Even before the announcement at Cæsarea Philippi, he must often have brooded over them. The future which they pictured for him was very different from that which his own hopeful and loving heart had pictured at the beginning of his ministry, only ten months ago; but there had been no break in the development of his ideas. Now, the conviction of impending shame and death would haunt him more and more. Meantime, the idea of a suffering Messiah would shock the zealots and the Pharisees, and excite their animosity. Nor was it strange that it should do so. For one man to set up his idea of the Messiah in opposition to the entire community, an idea diametrically opposed to the popular idea, was certainly audacious, and could hardly meet with anything but fierce resentment. ... We have recently been told that, to appreciate the sufferings of Jesus, we must apprehend him as a suffering God. What an absurdity is this! Who could not suffer anything with the resources of an infinite nature to fall back upon ? The glory of Jesus is that as a man, and so considering himself,- for being the Messiah did not unman him,- he went to meet a miserable doom with an unquestioning submission to the logic of events.-J. W. Chadwick (The Man Jesus, pp. 147, 154).
Wherein are Introspection and Self-renunciation, as exempli
fied by Jesus, effective toward harmonizing the Lower Human Tendencies with the Higher and resisting Temptation to Sin?
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.". The question involves a definition of " sin.” Sin is the voluntary violation of the law of one's being. This law demands such harmonious exercise of the function of any one faculty of the human organization that the proper function — the being - of another faculty shall not be overborne. Moralists and legislators declare that conduct resulting from intellectual and emotional inaction, causing passivity or absence of volition, is often as ruinous and wrong as actively wilful misdoing. In the plain, terse parlance of the prayer-meeting, “a realizing sense of the exceeding sinfulness of sin ” must include “sins of omission as well as of commission."
So the categories of sin interact in a circle. Misuse of the intellect, or of the sensibilities, or of the will, or of the body, is abuse of the whole. When a man fails to comply with the corporal command for food, inadequacy of replenishment of blood, sinew, nerve, and brain, enfeebles intellectual forecast. “No man,” says George Eliot, “can be wise on an empty stomach.” Conversely, want of forecast imports want of provision: by popular synecdoche, subject and object are one. So also as to the other correlations. Want of clear thinking imports want of resolution ; and, conversely, irresolution imports uncertainty of determination. Want of attention to the pros and contras of the exercise of the motive, the executive, the procreative, or any other power, instinctive, emotional, or semi-intellectual,- reacts in paralysis and disorder of the entire circuit. “Modesty," says Mirabeau, “has its sins, and a kiss its innocence.” In phrenological nomenclature, there are possible both uses and abuses of every talent,- of combativeness, destructiveness, amativeness, firmness, nay, even of conscientiousness, veneration, and self-respect. Indeed, the liability extends to the action of the ratiocinative and ästhetic faculties. Even in the perception of incongruities and the exposure of errors is there opportunity to operate the choosing of “the middle extreme.”
More and more, all along down the centuries, do sages confirm Izaak Walton's prefatory observation, disallowing a "severe, sour-complexioned man” to be a competent judge in discerning the value of genial pabulum to the soul.
Give me an honest laugher.— Sir Walter Scott.
God smiled when he put humor into the human disposition, and said, “That is good.”— Henry Ward Beecher.
Mildly commingled, mimicry and mirthfulness make good medicine for many minds' maladies.- Thomas Jefferson Burnham.
Alas for him who never sees
John G. Whittier.
John Milton. Asceticism,— "that way madness lies.” Of this fault of John the Baptist, Jesus might be said to have taken warning, if need of warning were at all predicable in the premises,and to have been convivial whenever duty so demanded. And, as to the methods of truth against sham and show, satire is often considered a legitimate pulpit weapon. But he who holds the mirror up to the foibles and idiosyncrasies of some public speakers must have a care against the sin of “scoffing." And so on through Paul's entire list of “things which are not convenient.” To shun sin is to avoid everything abnormal,symmetrically to develop a sound mind in a sound body.*
* See Swedenborg's N. J. D., n. 196.