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Solomon the philosopher, was essentially a religious movement, using the word religion, as I now do, in its most restricted sense. Its main-spring was piety, the worship of God, not the weal of man; and its mission was to bring out the religious element of human nature, and to institute the worship of a spiritual Divinity. This was the end of that movement, and to this end was limited the mission of the Jewish people. To this mission, God, in his providence, had called the Jewish people; and this is wherefore they were denominated the chosen people of God. They were God's chosen people, in an especial sense, because it was their especial work to bring out the idea of God, of piety. This work, as far as, when taken exclusively, it can be accomplished, they did accomplish. When the time had come for religion to be transferred from the Jews to Humanity, to be brought out of the temple at Jerusalem and placed in the temple of the universal human heart, the Jewish nation died, as die all nations, and all individuals too, when their work is done, their mission fulfilled.
Had Jesus been sent merely to effect a religious movement, he would have been only the continuator of Abraham and Moses. In this case he would have had nothing original and peculiar in his character, nor in his mission. Christians would have been called merely to engage in the work which had been assigned to the Jews, which work was finished when the veil of the Temple was rent in twain, and the Holy of Holies laid open to the gaze of the profane. The Christian Movement would have had no aim peculiar to itself; it could only have tended to achieve a work already achieved.
So far as it concerns the religious element of human nature, taken as an exclusive element, I must needs believe the Jews had done all for its development that can be done. In respect to piety, Christians can make no advance on the Jews; nor do they essentially differ from the Jews. They and the Jews worship one and the same spiritual Divinity. The most religious of to-day find the Hebrew Odes, as I have said, the best interpreters of their religious feelings. Whoever would sing the praises of God, extol his providences, or speak forth his glory and majesty, might and dominion, strikes the harp of David and pours out his soul in a Hebrew song. On the religious side of our nature, Jews and Christians are the same. In a strictly religious sense, then, Christianity adds nothing to Judaism. The Christian Movement is not original and peculiar, under its religious aspect.
But however perfect Judaism may have been, as a development of the religious element of our nature, as it concerns a sense of man's duty to God, it is extremely deficient in relation to other essential elements of Humanity, and especially in relation to a sense of man's duty to man. The Jew was defective on what may be called the human side of his character. He had no love for man, as man, for the simple fact of his being a man. He held all nations but his own in abhorrence, and if he loved a single human being, it was because that human being superadded to his claims as a man, those of countryman or kindred, of a benefactor, or a dependent, a friend, a companion, or an acquaintance. He never conceived of the love of simple, naked Humanity. This was his great defect. This defect Christianity supplies. To the Jew's piety it adds philanthropy, the love of man, as man, for his human nature, without reference to anything else. It does not take from the Jew, it simply adds to what he had. Jesus did not come to destroy Judaism, but to fulfil, perfect, complete it, to supply its deficiencies. The tendency of the movement he commenced was not to make us love God less, but man more. This was its grand characteristic. By its philanthropic tendency it was distinguished by a broad line from Judaism, and became and should be considered something more than a continuation of Judaism.
The Christian Movement may also be as clearly
distinguished from the Greek Movement. Greece was the land of art and science, the home of the beautiful and the true. The Jews had no art, no science, and, properly speaking, no philosophy. But Greece had them all, and in a high degree of perfection. God called the Greeks to the work of developing art, science, philosophy, in like manner as he had called the Jews to that of developing religion. If Christianity were a movement in the direction of the arts and sciences, if its object were to realize the true and the beautiful, it would be merely a continuation of the Greek Movement, it would be identified with that movement, and would therefore have nothing original and peculiar to itself.
In point of fact, that element of human nature which creates Art, whether under the form of literature, poetry, eloquence, or under the form of music, painting, sculpture, and architecture, has received no extraordinary developments from the Christian Movement. We study most of the fine arts at Athens to-day, as we did before the coming of Jesus. The Greek historians, poets, tragedians, orators, sculptors, architects, are still our masters in their respective spheres, as the Jewish prophets are in what relates to the worship of God. Christianity has done something. It has embodied in its painting and in its Gothic architecture, the beauty of Sentiment, a species of beauty unknown to the ancient world, and which could be developed only by a religion of Love. The Greeks embodied in their works of art only the beauty of form and of idea. In science we have advanced on Greece, but always in the direction of Greece. We have continued and improved Greece. In philosophy we have agitated no questions which were not agitated at Athens, and we probably must continue to agitate the same problems for ages to come, without obtaining solutions which may be regarded as definitive. However much we may have surpassed the Greeks, either in art or science, in the cultivation of the true and the beautiful, we can claim little originality. We cannot say that the world is at all indebted to Christianity, or to the Christian Movement, for art, science, and philosophy, though it may be indebted to it in some degree for the progress they have made.
The Christian Movement is distinguished also from the Roman Movement. The Roman world is nothing but the complement of the Grecian world. It stands out for its contributions to patriotism and jurisprudence. Its mission was to found the State, and to teach the world to live under law. Law is truly a Roman element. Christianity has extended it, and contributed much to the improvement of legislation, both in its spirit and in its forms, but it is not the originator of law.
But there is one aspect under which the Christian world, by the side of Greece and Rome, must strike us as original and peculiar.
Neither Greece nor Rome, in any of their movements, in any of their creations, ever realized the love of man, as man. They give us no example of philanthropy. The word is indeed Greek, but the thing is purely of Christian origin and growth. Penetrate the Grecian and Roman city, you shall find there no institution that recognises, no law that reveals, a love for man, as
The duty of the citizen is in no case the duty of the philanthropist. You find men with philanthropic souls, with humane feelings, men who are chaste, continent, generous, brave, heroic, but the end prescribed them, by the order of civilization to which they belong, is never the welfare of Humanity, but always the glory of the City. To improve, enrich, and embellish the City, to extend its conquests and dominion, to preserve or confirm its empire, is the great end prescribed to the individual. For this he toils, studies, sings, creates, faces danger, meets the enemy and death in battle. He does not live for himself alone. Far from it. Selfishness is not the primum mobile. Sacrifice is enjoined. The individual must be ready to give up ease, wealth, reputation, life, and that too without a murmur— but for what? For the city, the state, not for Humanity.
Greek and Roman civilization advanced far beyond selfishness, and beyond the mere love of family and friends; but it attained only to love of country. It could obtain the sacrifice of all the tender affections of the heart, all the endearments of home, all the pleasures of life, and life itself, at the call of Duty, but merely at the call of duty to the city or state, not at the call of duty to man. The citizen rushed forth to battle, and left his bones at Thermopylæ, at Marathon, Platea, Sardis, Arbela, Memphis, Carthage, in Spain, Gallia, Germany, or the Isles of the Britons, but not at the voice of Humanity; it was always at the voice of Sparta, Athens, or Rome.
I say not that Humanity has gained nothing by Greek and Roman wars. The interests of the human race were in them all, and were debated at Thermopylæ, at Marathon, at Platea, at Salamis, on the Granicus and the Nile, at Arbela and Philippi, in Pontus, Parthia, Spain, Gallia, and the British Isles; but the motive which moved the Grecian phalanx, or the Roman legion, was not a sense of duty to man, as man, but to the Grecian or the Roman state. Man, as man, claimed as yet no regard, and never did in the Grecian and Roman civilization. To promote the interests and glory of the city, was the highest moral end ever imposed by that civilization. He who was conscious of fidelity to the state, was acquitted of all sin in the eyes of his conscience, and felt that he had done all that Gods or men could demand of him.
This civilization, therefore, did not repel slavery. It had no conception of human brotherhood, of man's equality to man. It recognised distinctions of class, and had its nobles, patricians, plebeians, its populace, its prolétaires, its helots and its slaves. Sparta kept a whole nation in servitude, and if they became too numerous, hunted them down as we do wild beasts. Athens had slaves in abundance, and Rome to several times the amount of her free population. This fact of itself proves that there was no recognition of the rights of man, no love of simple Humanity. For he VOL. I. NO. II.