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with His own.
writings of the illustrious thinker of Alexandria, are derived from common tendencies, inspired in lofty minds by the wants of that age. Hillel was more probably the master that Jesus followed, who fifty years in advance had uttered aphorisms bearing much analogy
It was from the Old Testament Scriptures, that Jesus drew his chief inspiration. He delighted in the allegorical interpretations s rife among the Jewish literati; but the poetry of those ancient writings had a charm for Him which was lost to them. His “ lyric soul,” was in marvellous accord with the Psalms, which became His life-long solace and support. The prophets were His true masters ; but Daniel more than all moved Him. From Daniel's pseudo-prophetic utterances, He learned to cherish those lofty hopes to the realization of which His subsequent life was devoted. Here was the source of His dreams of Messiahship and of His supernatural claims. "L'avènement du Messie avec ses gloires et ses terreurs, les nations s'écroulant les unes sur les autres, le cataclysme du ciel et de la terre furent l'aliment familier de son imagination, et comme ces révolutions étaient censées prochaines, qu'une foule de personnes cherchaient à en supputer les temps, l'ordre surnaturel où nous transportent de telles visions lui parut tout d'abord_parfaitement naturel et simple.” Beyond this He knew little of the Roman power or the luxuries of a Court, or the state of the world. “Ce qu'il rimait, c'étaient ses villages galiléens, mélanges confus de cabanes, l'aires et de pressoirs taillés dans le roc, de puits, de tombeaux, de iguiers, d'oliviers. Il resta toujours près de la nature." Like his ontemporaries, He was credulous; He believed in the devil, and hat sickness was the work of demons. He lived in the marvellous ; I was his normal state. He saw nothing extraordinary in a miracle, ince the course of human affairs was, in his judgment, only an ex\ression of the free will of God. Thus preoccupied, he held in mall respect the ties of blood. He cared little for His parents, or he playmates of his childhood, and His family, in return, showed lim but little affection.
Such is M. Renan's account of the youth and training of our word. We need not say in how few particulars it agrees with the arratives of the evangelists ; in how many, it distorts them ; por oint out the credulity, which accepts in preference the stories of he apocryphal book entitled, “ 'The Testament of the Twelve 'atriarchs," and the later tales of the Talmud.
We are romance, not a history. Space would fail us to race out in a similar manner the method of our author. A iography of Jesus, so constructed, may be a matter of curiosity ; it in be neither a work of authority, nor instruction. We cannot, owever, pass over the remarkable chapter in which M. Renan eats of the miracles attributed to Jesus. If, for a moment, we can
forget the blasphemous accusation of fraud which our author here ventures to bring against our Lord, nothing can be more vulgar in conception, or more irrational in statement.
M. Renan begins by assuring us, that Jesus Christ and his disciples employed miracles, and asserted the fulfilment of prophecy in himself, in perfect good faith, in order to convince their contemporaries of His supernatural mission. Jesus had for a long time been convinced that the prophets had written with Him in view. Moreover Messianic applications of the prophecies were very common, and constituted an artifice of style, rather than serious argumentation. It was assumed that the Messiah would work miracles. As Jesus was now fully persuaded that he was the Messiah, He must choose one of two things-He must either renounce his mission, or become a "thaumaturge," a worker of wonders. Jesus believed in miracles, and had not the least idea of a natural order, regulated by laws. One of His most deeply-rooted opinions was, that by faith and
prayer man could exercise all power over nature. Modern science has for us altered all that.
Any one now claiming to work a miracle, would be a charlatan; but then the power of working miracles was thought to exist through a licence regularly granted by God to men, and no one was surprised at it. Probably the companions of Jesus were more struck by His profound and divine discourses; but popular renown, both before and after His death, doubtless exaggerated enormously the number of facts of this kind.
After hinting that some of the circumstances attending the miracles of Jesus look like "juggling," but the historical truth of which it is now impossible to determine, M. Renan remarks that nearly all the miracles that Jesus was thought to have performed, appear to have been miracles of healing. But Jesus was no physician. He thought that as disease comes from sin, or from demoniac possession, the best medicine was of a moral kind—the prayers of a holy man, or the sympathy of a loving one. “Convaincu que l' attouchement de sa robe, l'imposition de ses mains, faisaient du bien aux malades, il aurait été dur, s'il avait refusé à ceux qui souffraient un soulagement qu'il était en son pouvoir de leur accorder."
A power that Jesus most frequently exercised was that of exorcism, or the casting out of devils
. A strange tendency to believe in demons dominated all minds. Epilepsy, mental, and nervous maladies, deafness, and dumbness, were all attributed to these maligo powers. Thus the profession of the exorcist became as common as that of medicine, and Jesus, beyond doubt, had the reputation of possessing the latest secrets of the art. He pitied the mad wanderers among the tombs ; other cases were extremely light; and a gentle word would often suffice to chase away the evil spirit. It was thus that Mary Magdalene was cured ; " Selon le langage du temps, elle avait
été, possédée de sept demons, c'est-à-dire qu'elle avait été affectée de maladies nerveuses et en apparence inexplicables. Jésus, par sa beauté, pure et douce, calma cette organization troublée."
Later, it would seem, Jesus became a thaumaturge contrary to his own will, and performed his miracles with a degree of bad humour that was a reproach to those who besought them. Annoyed by some admirers of prodigies, he wrought many of his wonders in privacy, and forbade their being made known. The part of the thaumaturge was disagreeable to Him. In fact, we may be permitied to believe that the reputation of a thaumaturge was forced upon Him, and that he did not like to offer much resistance to it, because of the renown it brought him ; nevertheless, in every case, he knew the vanity of the opinions held concerning him. From this moment he fell deeper and deeper into unworthy artifices, till the thaumaturge had well nigh extinguished the moralist and reformer. The resurrection of Lazarus was a trick of the discipies, at which Jesus winked, to renew his declining reputation.
Shocked as we are at the impious charge of falsehood and imposture so distinctly brought against Jesus by M. Renan, our wonder is scarcely less at the effrontery which can justify lying and fraud for religious ends, and speak of one whom he affirms to be guilty of actions so base, as that "sublime person who still presides over the destiny of the world, and whom we may be permitted to call divine, since He, of all men, has made the nearest steps to the Divine, and in Him is condensed all that is good and elevated in our nature."
If M. Renan's statement could, for a single moment, be believed to be true, then is the life of Jesus an apotheosis of falsehood, and not an incarnation of the divine,
Immoral as such a career appears to every modern mind, M. Renan excuses it by the different moral judgment which he would have us to believe existed in those days. Enthusiasm, partial views of truth, the presence of genuine sincerity, the greatness of the object to be attained, may each and all go far to extenuate the wrong done. Good faith and imposture are words which, to our rigid consciences, seem irreconcilable terms. Not so in the East; a thousand evasions and subterfuges come between. Actual truth is held cheap by the oriental; he sees everything through the mist of ideas, his interests, his passions. Great things can only be done by lending ourselves to the ideas of the people. Those who take humanity with its illusions, and seek to act upon it, and with it, must not be blamed. When we have done with our scruples what they have done with their lies, we shall have earned the right to be severe upon them, and not till then. There is nothing great which does not rest on a foundation of legend. The only guilty party in such a case is the humanity that wishes to be deceived. With this detestable justification of immorality, we must close the work of M. Renan. It would be far more creditable to the party of which he is the chief, to reject the narratives of the evangelists altogether; as, indeed, his reviewer in the "Revue de Deux Mondes," with more regard for honesty and truth suggests.
Nothing is so astonishing and repulsive in the writings of the rationalist and critical school, as the perpetual resort to fraud, to account for events which their demented criticism is pleased to reject. Colenso must needs make Samuel a liar, and Jeremiah a forger; and now Renan places Jesus in the same class. Nevertheless, we are to believe in these impostors, give them credit for the lofüiest aspirations, and accept their lives as the noblest and the best.
With far higher meaning can we adopt the words with which M. Renan closes his work, the truth of which, on his theory, is impossible while men possess a moral sense, and a conscience not wholly paralysed by a vain philosophy. That M. Renan should feel compelled to indite them, is a proof of his utter failure : such a future for the “ Jesus” of Renan, were impossible. “ Mais quels que puissent étre les phénomènes inattendus de l'avenir, Jésus ne sera pas surpassé. Son culte se rajeunira sans cesse ; sa légende proroquera des larmes sans fin ; ses souffrances attendriront les meilleurs cours, tous les siècles proclameront qu'entre les fils des hommes, il n'en est pas né de plus grand que Jésus.” The sceptic is compelled to echo the grand organ tones of the inspired Psalmist :
“ HIS NAME SHALL ENDURE FOR EVER: HIS NAME SHALL BE CONTINUED AS LONG AS THE SUN : AND MEN SHALL BE BLESSED IN HIM; ALL NATIONS SHALL CALL HIM BLESSED."
Verily, at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow ! U.
MISS INGELOW'S POEMS.*
There are probably few of our readers who have not already heard, perhaps with the half-scepticism which such an announcement always excites, that a new poet has appeared in England. For ourselves, we own to having become so much accustomed to the Lo here! and Lo there! of certain popular critics, as to take such intimations rather phlegmatically. It is enough for one lifetime to have been strongly and vainly excited in turn by “Festus" and “Within and without," by Life Dramas and “sensation" epics, by Sydney Yendys and Stanyan Bigg. In fact, we had nearly made
* Poems, by Jean Ingelow. Third Edition. Longman and Co.
up our minds, so far as the present generation is concerned, to restrict our faith to Tennyson and poor Thomas Hood, with Robert Browning and his sainted poet-wife
. The unknown lady whose modest title we quote below has compelled us, right gladly, to alter our views; and to own, with gratitude to the Giver of every good and perfect gift, the presence among us of a poetic power, hitherto concealed, yet most rare and exquisite. But we do not mean to deal in contrasts and parallels. Comparisons, on such a subject, are generally invidious: and they would be specially inappropriate in the case of so truly original a writer as Miss Ingelow. We must however say, as a fact beyond contradiction, that no first volume of richer gift and promise has ever been published by English poetess. We might even speak in a more unqualified tone; for sure we are that Elizabeth Barrett Browning herself would recognise the advent of a worthy rival, or rather would welcome a true compeer to her poetic throne. The
power of Miss Ingelow's writing is not so much in single expressions and images as in the rich feeling, the tenderness, the faithfulness to the highest truth, which pervade the whole. We feel as we read that we are looking at the world and at life from & higher point of view than our dull days afford. Our appreciation of external loveliness in Nature is quickened, while with a deeper insight than before we ever discern the “Something beyond.” Like other poets Miss Ingelow takes us to the fields and the flowers, describing them with such freshness as though they themselves were “ fresh from the hand of God,” or “made but yesterday.” It is easy to see what landscapes she knows most and loves best. The broad levels of Lincolnshire, bright with flowers-still pools fringed by water lilies, orchards rich in apple blossom, quiet scenes of English rural life, while for richer and more romantic pictures she seeks the Undercliff of the Isle of Wight with its chalky cliffs
, and chines bosky with moss and myrtle. What she would say to Grasmere and Borrowdale, to Loch Katrine or Glencoe, we know not. There is no shadow of the Mountain, or broad stillness of the Lake, all through : only calm rural beauty, and the resounding murmur, sometimes in its music, sometimes in its terror, of the Sea. But we may give a brief picture :
“ And I admired and took my part
With crowds of happy things the while:
From off their beds of camomile.
The blackcaps in an orchard met,
Before she joined them on the tree;