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HAT THINK YE OF CHRIST?" 




EWISH VIEW OF CHRISTIANITY 



ing a Lecture delivered 1886, at a Christian Literary 
Society in London, under the Chairmanship of 
Joseph Jacobs, M.A., Cambridge. 



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BY 



)SWALD JOHN SIMON, 

Balliol College, Oxford. 

Author of "The World and the Cloister," "Faith 
and Experience," Ac., <Cc. 



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"WHAT THINK YE OF CHRIST?" 
A JEWISH VIEW OF CHRISTIANITY 

Being a Lecture delivered 1886, at a Christian Literary 

Society in London, under the Chairmanship of 

Joseph Jacobs, M.A., Cambridge. 



OSWALD JOHN SIMON, 

Balliol College, Oxford. 

Author of " The World and the Cloister,'" " Faith 
and Experience," d-c., dc. 



PRICE ONE SHILLING. 



London : 

THE BIBLIOPHILE PRESS, 
149, Edgware Road, W. 



TO 

C. G. MONTEFIORE 

WHOSE SCHOLARLY COMMENTARY ON THE 

SYNOPTIC GOSPELS IS LARGELY IN ACCORD 

WITH THE VIEWS OF THIS PAMPHLET. 

WITH DEEP AFFECTION 

O. J. S. 
May, 1911. 



20970T 



"WHAT THINK YE OF CHRIST?" 

OB 

A JEWISH VIEW OF CHRISTIANITY. 

BY 

OSWALD JOHN SIMON 
(formerly of Balliol College, Oxford). 



In politics it is not always easy to perceive the 
exact cause of events, or the consequences of them. Few 
politicians are gifted with that breadth of view which is 
necessary to enable them to assign to their right causes 
the incidents in political history. Difficult, however, as 
this mental process is in the sphere of politics, it is more 
difficult in the domain of Philosophy and Religion. In 
the latter province of thought, greater prejudices impede 
investigation, and prejudices of a kind more subtle and 
deeply rooted than those which operate against true polit- 
ical insight. It is sometimes part of a creed to believe 
that a certain moral result was the issue of a given chain 
of events. And it is often a condition of a religious com- 
munion to deny to certain factors the place that might be 
assigned to them in the history of civilization. Thus it 
arises that two persons, of equal capacity and sincerity, 
will select different reasons for the development of civili- 



6 

zation, possibly the one insisting upon a circumstance as 
a mainspring which the other would find it part of his 
mental constitution to deny. This unfortunate condition 
of things, in the relations of one religious system to 
another, is pregnant with harm to the solution of problems 
that most concern human progress, as well as to the 
harmony of human intercourse. It is not uncommon, 
when two persons of different religious traditions are con- 
versing about the progress of human Society, for one to 
say to the other, " of course we have such different stand- 
points that it is impossible to proceed together beyond a 
certain reach." The great advantage which men of 
Science have over Moralists is that they start on their 
journey of research without let or hindrance. Is it too 
much to hope from the progress of culture that the time 
is not distant when persons of totally opposite training in 
religion may look into each other's experiences, with a 
vision as clear and unshaded as that which leads the 
student of natural science to discoveries which astonish 
and delight mankind ? We might suppose an examina- 
tion of this kind, conducted by a cultivated Bhuddist 
and a well read Parsee, surveying together, not only the 
antecedence of their own religious histories, but looking 
beyond into the depth of European culture, with the will 
and intention to find out what, in truth, are the principles 
known to any section of mankind which have done most 
for human good and which are, therefore, likely to accom- 
plish the greatest happiness for the greatest number. For 
purposes of illustration, it is invariably best to choose 
examples nearest home. An Englishman, writing in his own 
tongue, for readers of his own nationality, will best secure 
his illustrations by pointing to cases that are familiar to 
every educated Englishman. Few people, in this island 



of ours, profess to know very much about the ancient 
and picturesque religions of Asia, although Professor Max 
Miiller and Monier Williams have thrown much light 
upon the subject ; perhaps there are not fifty men in any 
English or Scotch University who could feel that they 
were capable exponents of the Asiatic religions. 

Whenever I employ the term Religion in the course 
of this Lecture, I would wish my readers to understand the 
exact meaning I intend it to convey, and in no instance to 
confound it with theology or ecclesiasticism. I use the 
word in a broad sense that may be understood by every 
race and system of thought. I mean by it no creed, but 
the simple idea, more or less developed in various systems ; 
that there is a parental relation of the Supreme Being to 
the human family. For my purpose I must regard re- 
ligion as a single principle in human thought, a single 
factor in human culture just like the words, logic, natural 
science or mathematics, it will be the same in every tongue 
and to every mind. As there is one logic, one mathe- 
matics, etc., so there is, in the sense in which I shall refer 
to it, one religion. Fully sensible of the multifarious forms 
in which it is presented, and the apparently opposing evi- 
dence on which it is said to rest ; I cannot conceive of a 
plurality of religions, any more that I can suppose that 
there are several logics. It is one thing by itself necessary 
to the happiness of mankind, just as logic is another neces- 
sary to the art of reasoning. These different factors were 
suggested by different members of the human race ; and 
particular groups of people seem to have had the special 
charge alloted to them of teaching the world the one and 
the other. Human development is gradual, and one set of 
truths after another has slowly crept in upon human 
thought. Many persons use words like these, with a dif- 



ferent meaning. Excellent people often say there is only 
one religion ; by which they mean that their particular 
theology is the only one that is true, or that it is the best, 
and the terms theology and religion are inconveniently 
confused. Seeing how common it is to say that, there is 
only one religion ; and that the statement conveys exactly 
what I do not mean when I say it, I have thought it 
necessary to state briefly my own definition of the term. 
If I allude to heathendom, I mean only such peoples who 
have not yet perceived the parental relation of the Supreme 
Being to the human family. But I wish to convey no 
more the idea of opprobrium than I would if I alluded to 
persons who were not yet acquainted with the principles of 
logic. A religious person means one who, by some means 
or other, is conscious of the parental relation of the Supreme 
Being to mankind. The degrees of religion relate to the 
measure of influence which that principle has obtained in 
the particular case. The reason why 1 presume to describe 
religion as the first principle in importance, in the structure 
of civilization, is because it is only one which has for its 
immediate logical outcome the doctrine of human brother- 
hood. Now as the antithesis to civilization is human 
discord, the chief test of a civilized commonwealth is the 
harmony of the social relations. The world has so far 
progressed in civilization as men and nations live in 
harmony. Inasmuch as there is less strife in the year 1886 
than in the years of previous epochs, we are more civilized 
now than we were then. Moreover, in so far as there is, 
at this moment, strife among nations, we are less civilized 
than we may become. Every measure, therefore, which 
secures the basis of liberty, and thus shatters the founda- 
tions of enmity, increases civilization. 

We all know what the world owes to those races 



9 

who first taught logic, mathematics and art. We can 
easily assign to them the place of honor in the history of 
human intellect, but what place shall we give to those to 
whom we owe this greatest of all factors in civilization ? 
And what personality in particular stands out as having 
contributed most to the setting of that corner-stone in 
human welfare ? The most devout men of all nations 
would naturally ascribe the blessings of the world to 
Divine Providence, and Christian men, if they wanted a 
name in particular, would mention the Founder of their 
religion, who, they would say, was the human aspect of 
the Divine. 

Such answers would not satisfy the strict inquiry 
which I have described, nor could they be valid, for in the 
one case it would be no answer to the question of men 
and race to mention God, and it would be no more correct 
to mention another name, if that other name is understood 
to be synonymous with the name of God. Besides, to 
have a satisfactory answer, it is desirable that it shall be 
one upon which there can be no difference of opinion ; no 
name suggested by the bias of race or creed would 
carry sufficient guarantee that it was the right one. Here 
comes the difficulty of a man stepping out, for a moment, 
from that cavern which, more or less, overshadows the 
best intellects, even in the world of letters, and of looking 
with an eye undimmed by prejudice or hereditary caste. 
We all have our favourite poets, our favourite painters, 
our greatest musicians and our ideal warriors. In one 
room, half a dozen different men of genius will be pro- 
nounced the greatest of all poets, the greatest of all 
painters and composers, the king of warriors. So, in this 
matter, a Bhuddist will name Bhudda ; a Parsee will say 
Zoroaster; a Mahommedan will say Mahomet ; a Christian 



10 

will say Jesus ; and a Jew will mention the author of the 
Pentateuch. But what value can there be to those 
answers ? One, or more than one of them, may be true, 
but it is probable that in each case the name is suggested 
by the traditions of the speaker. If they were perfectly 
free, they might answer otherwise, but the Bhuddist 
mentions his founder, because he was taught that he was 
the only begotten of God. The Mahommedan mentions 
Mahomet, because he has learnt that Mahomet was God's 
chief prophet. The Christian mentions Jesus, because 
his creed states that he was the only son of God, and the 
Hebrew refers to Moses, because all his life he has heard 
the words ' there was no prophet like unto Moses." The 
difficulty of impartial criticism is further enhanced by the 
fear in a man's soul of being falsely charged. If a 
Bhuddist were to say Mahomet, or a Jew mentioned 
Bhudda. and the Christian said Moses, it would be sup- 
posed that they had changed their faiths, and their own 
co-religionists might declare them, without further reason, 
to be renegades and apostates. These are grave charges, 
and very few intellects are so constituted as to be imper- 
vious to a charge of that nature. Hence some defence, 
must be given for the stereotyped replies, on the ground 
that a man may, pardonably, fear to utter a conviction 
which is calculated to attribute to him a conviction which 
he does not hold. There can be little doubt that the 
dread in men's minds of being misunderstood is so terrible 
that they will be silent rather than risk exposure to the 
charge of disloyalty and apostacy. If we can suppose the 
phenomenon of an earnest Christian and a devout Jew 
setting aside every trammel of hereditary preconception, 
we might hear an impartial answer to the familiar question, 
"What think ye of Christ ? " An answer that had no taint 



11 

of bias, undergoing as the question ought, an examination 
as a true man of science would conduct the operation of 
an anatomical examination. An Englishman whose mind 
is a blank in relation to Christian theology, but whose 
experience and study have made him intimate with the 
result of Christian teaching, in all its aspects what must 
he think of Christ ? Maintaining that the chief factor in 
civilization is the religious idea, that is, the parental 
relation of the Supreme being to mankind, first and fore- 
most he regards the sense of human brotherhood as the 
highest aim for civilized men, because it signifies perfect 
relations between man and man it implies the realization 
of the best hopes of political progress, namely, liberty, 
fraternity, and equality of opportunity ; it means the 
effacement of that one dread enemy which has betrayed 
our social institutions in every age ; human intolerance 
he regards the recognition of this doctrine of human 
brotherhood by mankind, as the consummation of all 
that is best and greatest in history, and, therefore, any 
name, which is more or less associated with that develop- 
ment, is more or less -great, in proportion to the force of 
its influence. 

Now there are two tastes of human character which 
may both arrive at the same result, but their difference lies 
in the source of their action. Two men are pursuing a 
course of life, equally noble and equally beneficial in effect, 
but the latter proceeds from the influence of another, and 
the former acts from abstract doctrine. This, perhaps, is 
a fairly exact description of the ethical difference between 
a good Jew and a good Christian. The Christian who is 
highly gifted with moral perception and whose life is 
blameless, owes his moral wealth and spiritual endowment 
to the direct and continued influence of a certain person- 



12 

ality without whom he would say that he could enjoy little 
moral possession and no spiritual treasure. Now the 
Jew whose moral constitution and spiritual training 
produces the self-same conduct and results, goes through 
life without a thought of any one of his side, or even 
a hero of history, to direct him. Whatever is best and 
purest in his composition is the direct and sole effect 
of an abstract teaching, which he calls his religion. But 
for the sparse population of professed Israelites on the face 
of Europe, we might be induced to believe that the pheno- 
menon of a completely religious life can only be the result 
of a personal influence ; and we may still infer that so far 
as Europe is concerned, barring the handful of Jewish 
people who make the exception, the phenomenon of a 
completely religious life does not exist, without the personal 
influence for its cause. We know of no instance in 
European Society of any group of men who exhibit a lofty 
religious tone and who, at the same time, are not, in some 
sense or another, the disciples of a great personal influence, 
except the case of the people professing the Jewish religion. 
For, if we examine the philosophy of such writers as are 
known to hold themselves outside the Communion of 
Christian churches, we still find in their writings and in 
their conversations, some words which support the pro- 
position that they are led in their moral endeavours by the 
recollection and the force of some one personality. The 
measure of moral and spiritual culture is only determined by 
the extent to which that personal influence is paramount, 
even with those whom Theologians call all kinds of names, 
who profess no theology at all. Frequently I have heard 
men,' in England and Germany, who consider themselves as 
far removed from the creeds of any Christian church, as a 
Bhuddist or Parsee, grasp the name of the one personality, 



18 

whenever they were attempting to illustrate the best side 
of human nature. Now, this extraordinary state of things, 
that none but Jews are free from personal direction in 
the matter of religion and morals, and that all Europeans 
who are not Jews and who hold vastly different views of 
life and philosophy, cling to the same influence, opens up 
two interesting questions : first, as to that one personality 
which, for so long and so profoundly holds this sway over 
human thought. "What think ye of Christ?" and again, as 
to the fact that only one group of people seem independent 
of his influence in religion, namely, the Jews : they being 
of the race and religion of that same personality. " What 
think ye of Judaism ? " When I venture to say that it is 
not possible to reply amply to the one question without 
asking the other, I am sensible that the reader may im- 
pulsively suspect that the writer of this Article, at least, is 
not in that fortunate state of freedom from creed or race 
influence to conduct the examination in the manner he 
prescribed. But I may here submit that, difficult as it is 
to secure a free critic, the difficulty is augmented by the 
necessity that a person of the race and religion of Christ is 
wanted to answer the question in all its breadth and signi- 
ficance, because it is doubtful whether, in all Europe, 
there is a thinker, not a Jew, who has at his command 
those instruments of inquiry which are needful, who knows 
from the interior experience the exact effect of a religion 
which the misfortunes of two thousand years have rendered 
the most exclusive, who can gain access to those avenues 
of reflection, upon a topic which has been debated, in 
closed doors and in a dead language, and from which the 
eye of cultured Gentiles has been more or less blindfolded 
since the gloomy days of Herod, and who, therefore, have 
been unable to inspect the advance, the refinement, the 



14 

growth of nineteen centuries, among a people so gifted 
with the genius of religious perception. The claim of the 
Hebrew race to take the first rank among the contributors 
to human progress, is established by the fact that to them 
it was pre-eminently given to teach mankind God, and 
give morality to the world, inasmuch as they first learned 
the doctrine of the parental relation of the Supreme Being 
to mankind, and that their literature and their history have 
placed that idea, above any other, and, moreover, that in 
their own sons they have produced the most powerful 
teachers of that doctrine, places beyond the province of 
discussion the truth declared in the Pentateuch, " Ye shall 
be unto Me a Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation." 
Ex. XIX., v. 6, or as expressed by the Second Isaiah, 
" Ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord." Isa. XLIIL, v. 10. 
We may leave the subject of the position of the Jews in 
relation to the world and pass on to consider the most re- 
nowned product of their race and doctrine, and thus debate 
the question, " "What think ye of Christ ? " 

In dealing with this name, I am deeply sensible of 
the sacred ground on which I touch, and, therefore, of the 
reverence and the delicacy which its treatment demands, 
for the simple reason that I know full well that, to the 
mass of my fellow-countrymen at least, that name holds a 
place unique for its sanctity and isolated for its veneration. 
Also because I am equally conscious that the exact point 
of view from which I regard it differs from that which my 
best friends hold, and differs in kind to their thinking, 
even more vitally than it might appear to my own mind. 
So far as it is impossible to cast off the influences of my 
own antecedents and which, for the purpose of this paper, 
it may be best that I cannot so I would venture to describe 
the two positions in these words. In the one case, that of 



15 

the vast Christian majority, the name stands forth as the 
single truth, with all that is greatest and holiest. To 
myself it presents itself as the one exponent of the Ancient 
Faith, who, from circumstances which I am about to 
explain, was the single Israelite who succeeded in delivering 
to the world at large that old faith of which his race was 
destined to be the missionaries. To Jews, who may differ 
from these definitions I would say that our Ten Com- 
mandments and our Psalms, which they all rejoice to see 
occupy a prominent place in Christian profession, do so 
only in consequence of their connection with the name of 
Christ, and because he reiterated them. And to Christians 
who take exception, I would reply that no Jew could 
remain within the pale of the Jewish religion who, did 
not admit that ' on these two great commandments hang 
the Law and the Prophets." "Thou shalt love the Lord 
thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all 
thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment 
and the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neigh- 
bour as thyself. On these two commandments hang the 
Law and the Prophets." Matthew XIII., verses 37, 38, 
39, 40. The rite of circumcision would not counteract the 
disqualification to be of the Jewish religion for any born 
Jew who denied that other definition of his old Faith, so con- 
spicuously imported into Gentile teaching, when in answer 
to the question, " What good thing shall I do, that I may 
have eternal life." Jesus said, "if thou wilt enter into life, 
keep the commandments." He said unto him, " which? " 
Jesus said, " Thou shalt do no murder. Thou shalt not 
commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not 
bear false witness. Honor thy father and thy mother, and 
thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. ' Matthew XIX, 
v. 16, 17, 18 and 19. These several citations of the 20th 



16 

Chap, of Exodus, the 19th Leviticus v. 18, and Deut. 6, v. 
5, recalling, as they do, to the Israelite of all ages and of 
every clime, the inmost sanctuary of his religion, words so 
familiar to him that they have been incorporated into his 
prayer-book and constitute, as it were, the very " canon " 
of his public worship and of his daily and dying confession, 
it must be to him the subject of solemn gratitude that, by 
what means so ever, these words have at last found their 
way and travelled outside the boundary of the synagogue 
and after 18 centuries become the corner-stone of Western 
civilization. The Jew, who does not recognize this, re- 
nounces, whether he knows it or not, his personal identity 
with the band of missionaries who carried the treasured 
Ark through the wilderness, he repudiates the charge given 
him through his ancestors, at the foot of Sinai, and misses 
the whole scheme of his racial history and the true genius 
of his Judaism.* 

Here again I am confronted with two kinds of 
antagonists, namely the Christian who renounces these 
statements of what Christ taught, asserting that they do 
not represent the completeness of Christianity, and the 
Jew who might refuse to recognize the identity of the 
teaching of Christ with the Jewish religion, contending 
that Christianity contains much else which is positively 
the denial of Judaism, and even hostile to it. It is un- 
necessary to consider here other objections which issue 

* " It is incumbent upon us throughout all generations, to consider, as if we, person- 
ally, had gone forth fiom Egypt, as it is written, " And thou shall show thy son in that day, 
saying, this is done, because of that which the Lord did for me, when I came forth from 
Egpyt." Not only did the Supreme Being deliver our fathers but also us as it is written. 

Thus, are we in duty bound to thank and praise Thee, O Lord our God, for having 
performed to our fathers and to us, all these miracles. Thou hast brought us from slavery 
to freedom, Thou hast changed our Sorrow into Joy, and our darkness into a great light. 
We will therefore sing before Thee, Hallelujah ! 

(Passover Service, 1st night.) 

This has no other meaning to the Jews of the present day except as the Statement of 
the Missionary character of their Race." 



17 

from the conviction on the part of Jews, that the very 
name, Christianity, represents and is the cause of 1800 
years of persecutions, stakes and massacres, and is, even at 
this very time, the actual tyrant of half the Jewish race. 
Whilst understanding that attitude towards the subject ; 
yet, for the purpose of a strictly philosophical inquiry, it is 
imperative that we should separate the class of criticism 
which is philosophical and calm, from that which is the 
consequence of a righteous indignation, but which has 
sometimes culminated in a passionate resentment. We 
have, in such instances, the illustration of harm done to a 
scientific investigation, by permitting it to be tampered 
with by political and social estrangements, or by the in- 
fluence of race, prejudice and ignorance. It is enough 
then to dispose of the two classes of objections, without 
considering others which dim the sight and mar the judg- 
ment. 

With regard then to the latter kind of antagonism, 
we must give much the same answer, as we should, to the 
former, and say that the history of the religion of Christ, 
with all its consequent events and revolutions, compels the 
conviction that a clear line of demarcation must be drawn 
between, what we may be disposed to call, two Christian- 
ities. In the face of statements from equally recognized 
spokesmen of " Christianity " which, to one, who is not a 
Christian, seem to convey the exact opposite of each other, 
and to those who are Christians, do literally precipitate 
open divergence and mutual protests, how is it possible to 
resist the belief that much that has grown up since the 
first century of the Christian era, and is taught in that 
name, is not the same as that which is read in the Gospels, 
nor, indeed, is it the natural consequence of that wondrous 
life and personality which is still held to be the central 



18 

figure, in both cases. When we read, on the one hand, 
that the condition of eternal life is to keep the command- 
ments and be charitable ; and on the other, we are told, 
not in that volume, but in the volumes of ecclesiastical 
superstructure, that mere morality will not get you to 
heaven, but that the hope rests on quite other conditions, 
that is mental assent to propositions which we do not even 
read in the New Testament or the Old, but which, at most, 
are interpretations of what is written there, there is no 
escape from the conclusion that the teaching of the Gospel 
is one thing, and the teaching of churches is another. I 
do not dispute that the teaching of the churches profess, 
and do recapitulate, something of the lesson of that great 
life ; but, a comparison between the life itself, as it was 
lived, and the words, as they were written, and the spec- 
tacle of ecclesiastical assumption and Church canons, shows 
a difference almost amounting to contradiction. It may 
be in place to give some illustrations of that difference. 
Now, in the matter of the immortality of the soul, which 
is an axiom in the Jewish religion, an inseparable part of 
the doctrine of the affinity between God and man, Genesis 
I. v. 27., " So God created man in his own image," as 
much assumed throughout the sacred writings as the very 
existence of the Deity, which, be it remembered, was never 
enunciated as a proposition in the Pentateuch, but always 
assumed as the foundation of every other proposition, 
Hence, " I am the Lord thy God which have brought thee 
out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, thou 
shalt have no other Gods before Me," Ex. XX. 2. 3. The 
Jews have ever held the first of the Ten Commandments to 
be the.declaration of the Providence of God, not the announce- 
cement of His being and No. 2, is the prohibition of idolatry, 
commencing with the words, "thou shalt have no other 



19 

Gods before Me." Christianity has proclaimed the immor- 
tality of the soul in a manner which, to those who are unac- 
quainted with Judaism, appears to be a new revelation, and 
all Christian teachers have used language respecting it, 
which makes it appear as the crucial test of the Christian 
religion. Yet, what are the conditions that guarantee 
eternal bliss according to the churches, and what are they 
according to the message of Jesus himself? The creeds 
of the Latin and Greek Churches and the Thirty-nine 
Articles of the modern English Church, and the preaching 
of the three Priesthoods, substitute acquiescence with 
certain dogmas, more or less metaphysical, for that simple 
and sublime consideration which is gathered from the me- 
morable parable, in the XXV. Chapter of Matthew, 
evidently inspired by the Founder himself. Here we read 
a minute description of perfect charity, holy unselfishness, 
human brotherhood, large sympathy and boundless care 
for others elevating the poorest and the greatest sufferers 
into the highest region of moral worth, and placing thereon 
a sanctity and a blessing which is to be the equivalent 
of serving God, " Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the 
least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me," 
Matthew XXV., v. 40. And again, "Inasmuch as ye did 
not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me." 45. 
And what was this doing? "I was an hungered and ye 
gave me meat, I was thirsty and ye gave me drink, I was 
a stranger and ye took me in, naked, and ye clothed me. 
I was sick and ye visited me, I was in prison and ye came 
unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, 
Lord, when saw we thee an hungered and fed thee ? When 
saw we thee a stranger and took thee in ? or naked, and 
clothed thee, or when saw we thee sick or in prison and came 
unto thee ? " Matthew XXV., 35, 36, 37, 38 and 39, and the 



20 

King shall answer and say unto them, " Verily I say unto 
you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least -of 
these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." v. 40. Not one 
word is found in the text about belief or observance, or con- 
formity to ritual ordinance. It is the plain and majestic 
description of a perfect social economy, based on the religion 
of the parental relation of the Supreme Being to the human 
family. 

There is an utter incompatibility between this 
Christianity and the Christianity which, age after age, 
has burnt heretics and denounced nonconformists. There 
is an incongruity between that divine philosophy and the 
more recent growth of human pride and sacerdotal assump- 
tion. The resemblance is as undiscernable as any affinity 
which could be discovered between black and white. How 
does that parable read to the Jew ? and how does it read 
to the Christian of this century ? To the Christian it is 
part of a grand revelation which is only unveiled when it 
is thought fit to raise the curtain, or indeed, after un- 
speakable mental struggle, the thinker has disclosed it 
for himself. To the Jew it is the old familiar expression 
which has rung in every note of his domestic life for 3000 
years and more, and which is the very essence of his 
traditional teaching and practice which is incorporated 
even into the ceremonial part of his hereditary observance* 

* " These are the feasts of the Lord, even holy convocations which ye shall proclaim 
in their seasons." Leviticus XXIII. v 4. " 1 hree times a year shall your males appear 
before the Lord in the Feast of Unleavened Bread Feast of Pentecost, and Feast of 
Tabernacles. And they shall not appear before the Lord empty, every man shall give as 
he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which He hath given thee." 
L>eut. XVI, 16, 17. " Thou shall rejoice before the Lord thy God, thou, thy son, daughter, 
man-servant, maid-servant and the Levite and the stranger, and the fatherless, the widow 
and the Levite because he hath no part with thee, and the stranger and the fatherless and 
the widow which are within thy gates shall come and shall eat and shall be satisfied, that 
the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest." Deut. 
XIV. 29. " If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy 
gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart nor 
shut thine hand from thy poor brother. 

Thou shalt not be grieved when thou givest. Thou shalt open thy hand wide unto thy 
brother, and to thy poor and to thy needy in thy land." Deut. XV. 7, 11. This is the 
portion of the Law read on the 8th day of Solemn Assembly in every Synagogue throughout 
the world. 



21 

" And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall 
not vex him, but the stranger that dwelleth with you shall 
be as one born among you and thou shalt love him as thy- 
self." Leviticus XIX, 33, 34, and again, Isaiah LV. 1. 
" Oh ! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and 
he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat, buy wine 
and milk without money and without price. For mine 
house shall be called a house of prayer for all people." 
Whoever is acquainted with the poor of the Jewish com- 
munity, will perceive that the self-denial and the giving of 
alms is practised to an extent that is sometimes startling, 
when we consider their worldly condition which is equiva- 
lent only to a class of the general community, just one 
stratum above the lowest, and they are people, who for the 
most part are strictly "orthodox" in all outward obser- 
vances and have never read the New Testament and know 
nothing of Christ, except that he was an illustrious Jew, 
and the founder of the Christian religion. There we see 
precisely the kind of unselfishness and tender consideration 
of others, without distinction of creed or race which in the 
remarkable chapter of Matthew is declared to determine 
eternal happiness. 

The limit of space forbids an exhaustive comparison 
between the words of Jesus which are found scattered in 
fragments throughout each Gospel, and those of the 
Hebrew prophets and the Rabbinical fathers. The only 
purpose of such comparison would be to show the kind of 
Israelite that Jesus was and the sort of influences which 
moulded his character. Unlike many schools of Hebrew 
thought, there was little attraction in hib mind in Rabbinical 
subtleties, except in so far as they bore directly and prac- 
tically upon the spiritual side of life. It was the higher 
Judaism, in preference to legal traditions and outward 



22 

observances and forms, with which his soul was saturated. 
It was because he saw in that higher Judaism the one 
religion for all men and because it presented to his view 
no essential barrier that should rail it off from the gaze of 
the outside world, that he was so well fitted to be the one 
of his race and faith who should hold up, to the outer 
world, those divine truths which made him a " light to the 
Gentiles " and, at the same time, " the glory of his own 
people Israel." (Nunc Dimitis) St. Luke. Can any 
student wonder that such a figure as this, whose character 
was of superb grandeur and ideal purity, whose work in 
history has been so precious in itself and so immeasurable 
in its consequences, should be misunderstood ? Aye ! mis- 
understood by those who have professed to follow him 
these 19 centuries, as well as by the ignorant mob who 
filled the passes before Calvary, and that arrogant priest- 
hood and Hebrew aristocracy he was there to reform. 
Looking at his life, at a distance of all these centuries, 
with the light of history turned upon him in all its blaze, 
he is yet misjudged, in a thousand ways, by Jew and 
Gentile alike. Successive generations may yet have to 
pass before even cultured Europe can make a true estimate 
of his life, or his worth. 

Nineteen hundred years ago, there was a small nation, 
having its own autonomy but subject to a powerful empire, 
with instincts of pride, on the one hand, arising from the 
consciousness of its innate, superiority over their pagan 
rulers. Unconsciously, perhaps, that national pulse was 
beating with emotion at its chequered career, seeing that 
it was charged with the weightiest mission to men that 
was ever a nation's lot, and yet falling short, from time to 
time, of its divine charge, jealous of its hereditary treasures, 
anxiously guarding the sacred trust and trembling before 



23 

the incalculable foes which stood in its near future. De- 
testing, from its very soul, the pagan idolatry around it, it 
was jealous of its greatest luminaries. Like all other 
histories, around its best th >ughts and highest gifts grew 
the arrogance of human pride and sacerdotal assumption, 
as well as its plague of class distinctions and exclusions. 
And it was, at that time, filled with sects and controver- 
sialists. The best of these was gifted with a leader who 
embodied the highest spiritual genius of his race and 
traditions, and the mast orthodox Jew may regard him as 
the hero of his race. 

Thrilled with enthusiasm for that one religious 
thought, the parental relation of the Supreme Being to the 
human family, seeing, as he did, the inevitable human 
brotherhood as its outcome, he was impatient at the slow 
progress of history and, in many cases, the deadness to the 
actual truths of Judaism. The best thinkers of this en- 
lightened age are often impatient from the same cause, 
how much more so a genius who would have been foremost 
in the ranks of men to-day, but whose career was set in 
the world, 1900 years ago. We often say of a great man, 
" he lives in advance of his time." It is not too much to 
say of Jesus, that if he lived now, he would still be in 
advance of the age, seeing how far from attainment is the 
essence of his teaching and the mission of his life, among 
those very nations whose political or social systems have 
been Christian in name for a thousand years. And if he 
could revisit the earth now, so far from unqualified satis- 
faction at the progress of his works, carried on after him, in 
his name, we can imagine his tearful disappointment and 
the sorrow of his great soul, to observe that political liberty 
is only a thing of yesterday, and that religious enmity is 
still rampant in the most Christian countries of Europe. 
He would find, indeed, among individuals, numerous dis- 



24 

ciples after his own heart, but it is impossible to resist the 
reflection that he would go to look for them first, in the 
hospitals of our great cities and in the slums of our crowded 
thoroughfares where, indeed, he might find many noble 
women and Christian men, " going about doing good," as 
he did ; but it is extremely doubtful whether it would occur 
to him to include, in his round, to the Gilded Chamber, in 
order to behold the successors of his apostles, He might 
certainly find his flock in the excellent work of many a 
well-ordered English diocese, but it would be rather at a 
Young Men's Christian Association, than in the Episcopal 
palace, and if he were told he could only find them in one 
Church, he would look aghast and would not be persuaded 
that they were not to be seen also in many a Gospel Hall 
and Mission House. In remote villages, he would be 
cheered to meet the toiler at the plough who, according to 
the light that is in him, spends his weekly holiday in 
seeking to spread as much truth as he knows. Painful as 
it was to him, in Judea, to listen to the Rabbinical hair- 
splitting and the controversies of the Pharisees, it is 
probable he would stand to-day much more aghast if he 
heard the language which one Christian uses of another ; 
and he might be tempted to repeat "they cast out devils in 
my name." (Mark and Luke.) Looking for the evidence 
of the progress of that religion which he taught, is it likely 
that he would be best pleased if he were shown as evidence 
that, whereas when he died, there was no creed on record, 
now there are three ; and that the latest development of 
these documents extends to a parchment roll, so long, that 
it contains no less than 39 Articles which very few people 
are able to understand ? Looking upon Jesus with wrapt 
admiration for the perfection of his moral power, the 
breadth and tenderness of his human sympathy and the 
genius of his spiritual nature and regarding him as dis- 



25 

tinctly the greatest figure in human history, not because of 
what the Churches say about him, but through what is 
open to every candid reader, it is possible to imagine 
something of the flash of just indignation and surprise that 
would thrill his very being, if a Jew told him that he had 
heard it preached in a Christian temple, " Hell is paved 
with unbaptized infants," and " no unbaptized child can be 
saved." If he heard of the eagerness with which many of 
the poor rush with their infants to the font, through having 
been told that the eternal peace of the helpless little one is 
determined by this act, he would recollect his own tender 
words which made no reference to fonts : " Suffer little 
children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such 
is the kingdom of Heaven." Matthew XIX., 14. 

We can imagine the amazement with which he 
would be told that one half of Christendom, at least, regard 
the remote descendants of his own kinsmen, of the very 
worst of whom he only said, " Father, forgive them for 
they know not what they do," with a hatred and treat 
with cruel bondage, for more bitter and actively wicked 
than that most ignorant mob ever perpetrated against 
himself, in the dark ages of Herod. If he were told that 
the vast Christian Empire, on the East side of Europe, 
oppressed and worried, with elaborate persecution, her 
millions of Jewish subjects -that other Christian States, 
in South Eastern Europe,* systematically violated treaties 
and disregarded the example and remonstrance of her 
better neighbours, in order to continue the most direful 
nvatment of her 250,000 Jews who were good and faithful 
citizens, and whose families for ages had been true to 
the country of their birth, that intellectual protestant 
Germany, indeed, the seat of "Christian" reform, made 
a cowardly " raid on a handful of men, instigated by a 

* Lately the Kingdom of Roumania. 



26 

Court preacher and abetted by University professors." With 
these facts before him, it is doubtful whether he would 
pronounce all Europe, Christian, and whether the evidence 
of great pageants and elaborate ceremonials, though offered 
in his name, would influence his view " one tittle or one jot." 
The question arises, how came it that, in spite of the pure 
teaching of Christ, so much sin and misery should have 
been offered to the world in his name ? The truthful answer 
seems to be this The task of introducing, into pagan 
societies, a religion which was eternal by reason of its 
permanent efficacy ; Divine, on account of its intrinsic 
value and universal because of its boundless applicability, 
required states of some civilization to receive it. The very 
race who originally owned it, had to pass through the long 
training of a rigorous law, in order to be sufficiently dis- 
ciplined to assimilate it, and the social soil into which, at 
the time of Christ, it was about to be sown, was not merely 
uncivilized, but it contained already, much that had to be up- 
rooted, in order to make way for the higher truths. Idola- 
try was deeply rooted in the Western world. Whatever 
culture there was in Greece and Borne at that time, par- 
took of the nature of those very subtleties of thought, which 
were discordant with the divine simplicity of the Hebrew 
Religion, a religion which appeared to be a miracle, because 
of its very purity. Whatever thoughts had so far crept 
in upon the human mind were all, more or less, mythical, 
and not within the easy apprehension of a child ; though 
they possessed many poetic features. But the great boon 
of Judaism was that it set forth the truth of the Divine Being 
which, if philosophers tripped over, a child could under- 
stand. It was necessary for the growth of human brother- 
hood, to have one religion which, unlike Greek mythology 
and Egyptian idolatry, presented itself in an aspect which 
all nations could ultimately assimilate. The author or 



27 

authors of the Pentateuch had the same kind of difficulty 
in their day, that Christ had in his. He, however, adopted 
a different plan. Instead of suddenly setting forth a code 
of religion and morals which was far in advance of the 
mental culture of those whom it was intended to be the 
depositories of the new religion, he made no social revolution 
whatever ; he took into his system the social institutions of 
the age, and thus we find, in the Levitical Law, what some 
people consider a divine sanction to the barbarous rites of 
that ancient sacrifice of blood, but which, in reality, it was 
only an appropriation for higher aims Hence Moses left it 
to subsequent generations to emancipate Israel and mankind 
under the training of his higher religion, from the practice 
of those sacrificial observances. History has proved the 
expediency of the method, because the Jews have long 
since outgrown the barbarities of thinking they could 
please God by slaying cattle. Associating those rites with 
the permanent truth, that which is permanent remains, 
and the rites which were temporary have passed away and 
left no trace behind them, on the Jewish mind. The Jewish 
religion was. therefore, the direct means of elevation 
above the superstition of sanguinary sacrifice. The pro- 
cess being gradual, the etfacement is lasting. So to-day, 
the mind of a Jew is as free from the thought of sacrificial 
rite, as if such rites had never entered into the system of 
the past, and he is left in a frame of mind which regards 
religion, entirely and only, upon its spiritual and its ethical 
basis. The nations who first became Christian had to pass 
through the same process of social regeneration which the 
Jews had undergone, but as they started 2000 years later, 
they are not yet rid of their crudities or superstitions or 
errors. However they have the advantage of living in later 
times and, therefore, the sacrificial idea does not take the 
grosser form which is described in Leviticus arid by Homer. 



28 

It assumes the more refined garb of a metaphysical dogma. 
This is how we can account for the fact that so many 
Christians, even in our own day, find it difficult to dissociate 
the idea of religion from the thought of a sacrifice. It is 
often curious to a Jew of modern times, to be asked, by an 
apparently educated Christian, with eager interest, some 
question about a lamb on the first night of the Passover. I 
have frequently experienced a strange interest in observing 
the astonishment it excites, when I inform my questioner 
that, for nearly 2000 years, such a phenomenon as killing a 
lamb, or having any notion of blood, in connection with re- 
ligious worship, has been unknown among Jews ; and that 
the tiny lamb bone, burnt in the fire and laid on a plate on 
the first night of Passover, is a mere historic memento and 
has no theological significance whatsoever. 

There is every reason to believe that just as progress 
among the Jews has delivered them from some extraordinary 
superstitions, so, among Christians, the day of sacrifices is 
just waning. We find, indeed, that now the most advanced 
Christians are already free from that thought. The Broad 
Church movement and Christian Unitarianism appear to 
be a progressive development from the Reformation of the 
16th Century, just as that was an advance on the earlier 
expressions of Christian theology. In the world of Letters, 
it is now an everyday occurrence to come in contact with 
persons of Christian birth, whose position in regard to Christ 
is, for all intents and purposes identical with that which I 
have ventured to indicate in this pamphlet. 

Thus we may account for one of the two differences 
between the Church and the Synagogue as they appear to- 
day. The Church binds up, with the religion of Christ, 
the two doctrines of a Sacrifice, and the Fall of Man. In 
the Synagogue, those ideas have no place, therefore, it is 
the ethical religion of Christ alone which is in common 



29 

between the orthodox Christian and the orthodox Jew. The 
second, i.e , the Fall of Man, or as it is called, the dogma 
of orignal sin, is of more vital difference than the former, 
because it must be admitted that, free as the Jew, for many 
centuries, has been from the notion of sacrificial rite, the 
idea did once have a place in Jewish theology, but there 
is no page in Jewish history, nor any word, escaped from 
the lips of a Hebrew theologian, to indicate the dogma of 
orignal sin. The story, in the book of Geneses, of Adam's 
disobedience, has never produced, upon the Jewish mind, 
any impression of significance (historical or otherwise) be- 
yond the simple lesson of obedience, as taught to children. 
That distinguished contemporary of Spinoza, the famous 
Rabbi, Isaac Orobio De Castro of Amsterdam, wrote the 
most powerful denunciation of that doctrine, in his Disserta- 
tion on the Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah. And he stakes 
the whole issue between Christianity and Judaism upon 
the one Christian hypothesis of the hereditary sin of Adam. 
Most of the Rabbins seem to have disclaimed to treat the 
subject of original sin, so remote has it ever been from the 
Hebrew imagination. And, with all the learned commen- 
taries, upon the text of Scripture which crowd Hebrew 
libraries in thousands of volumes, not one of them has in- 
terpreted a single passage in the Bible in a way to admit 
the idea, even as an hypothetical argument. One of the 
hardest problems for historical criticism is to account for 
the thought having entered at all into Christendom. One 
would have supposed that even those who believe in the 
verbal inspiration of the Scriptures would find it an im- 
possibility to formulate the dogma on scriptural authority, 
considering that the flood is said to have distroyed all tne 
wicked, and that all nations are descended from the three 
pure sons of one just man (Noah). Indeed, the sentence 
upon Adam did not embody a clause about hereditary 



3-2 

already solved and how little remains open ? 

In conclusion, slow as the search may be, the circum- 
stance that it is possible for Jew and Christian to hold 
the same view about Christ and about religion, shows the 
unity of the religious idea, and when all the philosophers 
will combine to seek for an agreement about that one 
principle the parental relation of the Supreme Being 
to the human family, it is certain that they will find it. 
We shall then have a common religion, attended by the 
infinite satisfaction that the huge and intricate struggle of 
the ages has taken place with the purpose of disentangling 
the simplest thread of human progress and the highest guar- 
antee of 'civilization.' For it is evident that when that 
one great principle which I call religion is fully understood, 
it will work the most beneficial revolution that we have ever 
had. To philosophy, it will give a patent key, and to poli- 
tics, it will inspire the highest motive. That statesman who 
works after the teaching of Christ will pursue a policy which 
will place patriotism and the rights of independent States 
in their proper relation to each other. In so far as we ob- 
serve that such a policy has been the governing principle 
of a politician, he is entitled to be considered a Christian 
statesman. That party in the State which gives more 
pre-eminence to the common rights of men and works 
hardest for the cause of human liberty, is the party which 
must command itself to the best Christian. The country 
which, on the whole, offers the best securities for free insti- 
tutions and the surest guarantee for the liberty of men, is 
the most Christian country. So that, with this practical 
view of the character of Christ, we can only consent to use 
the word Christian as an adjective when it can justly des- 
cribe a nation, a statesman, a policy, a community, or a 

private citizen. 

OSWALD JOHN SIMON, 

London, 1886. 



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