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earlier prophets, on a statesmanlike view of the international situation, but on hopes of supernatural intervention, had their roots in visions of a new and better world-order. This aspiration, which had to disentangle itself by degrees from the patriotic dreams of a stubborn and unfortunate race, was projected into the near future, and was mixed with less worthy political ambitions which had a different origin. The prophet always foreshortens his revelation, and generally blends the city of God with a vision of his own country transfigured. We see him doing this even to-day, in his Utopian dreams of social reconstruction.

And so it has always been. We remember Condorcet, foretelling a reign of truth and peace just before he was compelled to flee from the storm of calumny to die in a damp cell at Bourg la Reine; and Kant hailing the approach of a peaceful international republic while Napoleon was preparing to drown Europe in blood. Apocalyptism is a compromise between the religion of rewards and punishments and the religion of spiritual deliverance. It calls a new world into existence to redress the balance of the old; but its discontent with the old is mainly the result of a moral and spiritual valuation of life. Greek philosophy has really much in common with Hebrew prophecy, though the Greek envisaged his ideal world as the eternal background of reality, and not under the form of history. In its maturest form, it is a transvaluation of all values in accordance with an absolute ideal standard-that of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. This idealism appears in a still more drastic form in the religions of Asia, which preach deliverance by demonetising at a stroke all the world's currency. Spiritual values are alone accepted; man wins peace and freedom by renouncing in advance all of which fortune may deprive him.

We are apt to assume, in deference to our theories of human progress, that the evolution of religion is normally from a lower to a higher type. It would, indeed, be absurd to question that the religion of a civilised people is usually more spiritual and more rational than that of barbarians. But, none the less, the history of religions is generally a history of decline.

In Judaism the prophets came before the Scribes and the Pharisees. Brahmanism and Buddhism were both degraded by superstitious and unethical rites. Christianity, which began as a republication of the purest prophetic teaching, has suffered the same fate. In each case, when the revelation has lost its freshness, and the enthusiasm which it evoked has begun to cool, a reversion to older thought, older habits and customs takes place; and sometimes it may be said that the old religion has really conquered the new. The nomina and not the numina have been changed.

Christianity, as taught by its Founder, is based on a transvaluation of values even more complete than that of Stoicism and the later Platonism, because, while it regards the objects of ordinary ambition as a positive hindrance to the higher life, it accepts and gives value to those pains of sympathy which Greek thought dreaded, as detracting from the calm enjoyment of the philosophic life. This acceptance of the world's suffering, from which every other spiritual religion and philosophy promise a way of escape, is perhaps the most distinctive feature of Christian ethics. In practice, it thus achieves a more complete conquest of evil than any other system; and by bringing sorrow and sympathy into the divine life, it not only presents the character and nature of the Deity in a new light, but opens out a new ideal of moral perfection. This is not the place for a discussion of the main characteristics of the Gospel of Christ, and they are familiar to us all. But, since we are now considering the charge of failure brought against Christianity in connexion with the present world-war, it seems necessary to emphasise two points which are not always remembered.

The first is that there is no evidence that the historical Christ ever intended to found a new institutional religion. He neither attempted to make a schism in the Jewish Church, nor to substitute a new system for it. He placed Himself deliberately in the prophetic line, only claiming to sum up the series in Himself. The whole manner of His life and teaching was prophetic. The differences which undoubtedly may be found between His style and that of the older prophets do not remove Him from the company in which He clearly wished to

stand. He treated the institutional religion of His people with the independence and indifference of the prophet and mystic; and the hierarchy, which, like other hierarchies, had a sure instinct in discerning a dangerous enemy, was not slow to declare war to the knife against Him. Such, He reminded His enemies, was the treatment which all the prophets had met with from the class to which those enemies belonged. This, then, is the first fact to remember. Institutional Christianity may be a legitimate and necessary historical development from the original Gospel, but it is something alien to the Gospel itself. The first disciples believed that they had the Master's authority for expecting the end of the existing world-order in their own lifetime. They believed that He had come forward with the cry of 'Hora novissima!' Whether they misunderstood Him or not, they clearly could not have held this opinion if they had received instructions for the constitution of a Church.

The second point on which it is necessary to insist is that Christ never expected, or taught His disciples to expect, that His teaching would meet with wide acceptance, or exercise political influence. 'The world organised human society-was the enemy and was to continue the enemy. His message, He foresaw, would be scorned and rejected by the majority; and those who preached it were to expect persecution. This warning is repeated so often in the Gospels that it would be superfluous to give quotations. He made it quite plain that the big battalions are never likely to be gathered before the narrow gate. He declared that only false prophets are well spoken of by the majority. When we consider the revolutionary character of the Christian idealism, its indifference to nearly all that passes for ' religion' with the vulgar, and its reversal of all current valuations, it is plain that it is never likely to be a popular creed. As surely as the presence of high spiritual instincts in the human mind guarantees its indestructibility, so surely the deeply-rooted prejudices which keep the majority on a lower level must prevent the Gospel of Christ from dominating mundane politics or social life. Moreover, the actual extent of its influence cannot be estimated. The inwardness and individualism of its Vol. 229.-No. 454.


teaching make its apparent effectiveness smaller than its real power, which works secretly and unobserved. The vices which Christ regarded with abhorrence are perversions of character-hypocrisy, hard-heartedness, and worldliness or secularity; and who can say what degree of success the Gospel has achieved in combating these? The method of Christianity is alien to all externalism and machinery; it does not lend itself to those accommodations and compromises without which nothing can be done in politics. As Harnack says, the Gospel is not one of social improvement, but of spiritual redemption. Its influence upon social and political life is indirect and obscure, operating through a subtle modification of current valuations, and curbing the competitive and acquisitive instincts, which nearly correspond with what Christ called Mammon,' and St Paul 'the flesh.' Christianity is a spiritual dynamic, which has very little to do with the mechanism of social life.

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It is, therefore, certain that when we speak of Christianity as a factor in human life, we must not identify it with the opinions or actions of the multitudes who are nominally Christians. We must not even identify it, without qualification, with the types of character exhibited by those who try to frame their lives in accordance with its precepts. For these types are very largely determined by the ideals which belong to the stage through which the life of the race is passing; and these differ so widely in different ages and countries that the historian of religion might well despair if he was compelled to regard them all as typical manifestations of the same idea. There are times when the disciple of Christ seems to turn his back upon society; he is occupied solely with the relation of the individual soul to God. These are periods when the opportunities for social service are much restricted by a faulty structure of the body politic. Secular civilisation is so brutal, or so servile, that the religious life can only be led in seclusion from it. At another time the typical Christian seems to be the active and valiant soldier of a militant corporation. At another, again, he is a philanthropist, who devotes his life to the redress of some great wrong, such as slavery, or the promotion of a more righteous system of production and distribution. In all these types we

can trace the operation of the genius of Christianity, but they are partial manifestations of it, with much alien admixture. The spirit of the age, as well as the spirit of Christ, has moulded the various types of Christian piety.

If there has ever been a time when organised Christianity was a concrete embodiment of the pure principles of the Gospel, we must look for it in the era of the persecutions, when the Church had already gained coherence and discipline and a corporate self-consciousness, and was still preserved from the corrupting influence of secularity by the danger which attended the profession of an illicit creed. A vivid picture of the Christian communities at this period has been given by Dobschütz, whose learning and impartiality are unimpeachable. The Church at this time demanded from its followers an unreserved confession, even when this meant death. It was a brotherhood within which there was no privileged class. Men and women, the free and the slave, had an equal share in it. It abolished the fundamental Greek distinction of civilised and barbarian. It looked with contempt on none. Its great organisation was spread by purely voluntary means, till it gained a firm footing throughout the Empire and beyond it. To a large extent it was an association for mutual aid. Wherever any one was in need, help was at hand. The social advantages of belonging to such a guild were so great that the Church had to enforce labour on all who could work, as a condition of sharing in the benefits of membership. Social distinctions, such as those of rich and poor, master and slave, were not abolished, but they had lost their sting, because genuine affection, loyalty and sympathy neutralised these inequalities. Great importance was laid on truth, integrity in business, and sexual purity. A complete rupture with pagan standards of morality was insisted on from new members. The human body must be kept holy, as the temple of God. Revenge was forbidden, and injustice was endured with meekness and pardon. This is no imaginary picture. In that brief golden age of the Church, such were indeed the characteristics of the Christian society. In the opinion of Dobschütz the moral condition of the Church in the second century was much higher than among St Paul's

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