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cannot know to judge: The last shall be first, and the first last. This is the vaguest suggestion which faith makes regarding those elements of human lots which it cannot understand. But the Gospel gives more definite assurance of discriminating justice: "And that bondservant which knew his lord's will, and made not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required."''
Christ's teaching does not stop with God's justice. He teaches the bountiful beneficence of God; which will give the full kingdom of heaven to those who enter, though they enter late; "it is my will to give unto this last, even as unto thee. And he declares the Father's yearning love, running to meet repentance while it is yet a long way off, making ready eternal life for every prodigal who will arise and go unto his Father.
These are answers which Christ's faith and teaching make to problems touching the lot of man. He sees man's mortalities and weaknesses, not as beneath the crushing wheel of fate, but as they shall be taken to an omniscient Father's love. And in order that man's answering endeavor might find and serve its God on earth, Christ showed how it might come to him in prison, visit him when sick, clothe him and give him shelter, feed and give him drink.'
Besides the question of its positive contents, if the teaching of Christ was to be final and universal, it must avoid organic joinder with transient conditions Render and views of life which suit a time, then change; it must, for instance, be independent of all forms of secular institutions which change with circumstances, must abstain from social rules which will not suit a different condition of society, and if it utter
1 See Luke xiii, 30; Mark x, 31; Matt. xx, 16.
▲ Ibid., xxv, 31-46.
precepts specially applicable to any social institution, those precepts must embody what is ideally best and fittest for all time.
Christ's life was a manifestation of a perfect relationship with God, his teachings were religious teachings. A complete relationship with God may be attained, a religious life may be led, under any circumstances; and, moreover, all circumstances, as well as all elements of life, may be brought to the completion of the religious life and made to fill out the scope of the supreme purpose of perfecting the whole man unto the service of God. Christ taught no special mode of living. According to circumstances, one man might be called on to surrender possessions in exchange for the kingdom of heaven; so there also might be some who should be eunuchs for that kingdom's sake. Christ himself came eating and drinking, living as those about him. His was the fulness of human life, whence the individualities of all men may perfect themselves. There is nothing in his teachings to hamper the development of the individualities of any man or woman, provided that development be unto righteousness and the kingdom of God. All types of men have been good Christians; for Christianity affords universal scope and opportunity of life; formulates no detail which would have impaired its elastic universality.
Likewise, Christ did not regard as essential either the observance or non-observance of any kind of form. was not an innovator of custom; but a renewer of life. If man was thoroughly good, modes of living were unessential. Not so, however, the principle of obedience to existing authority; that was involved in love and charitable regard for fellows; it was also involved in respect for ordinances which were not to pass away, but to be merged in their own fulfilment. So Christ tells the leper to show himself to the high priest and offer the gift commanded by Moses;' he himself pays the temple tax; and 1 Luke v, 14. Matt. xvii, 24.
to his own disciples as well as to the multitude he says: "The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat; all things therefore whatsoever they bid you, do and observe, but do not after their works, for they say and do not."'' Obey the law, as its ministers declare it; but be not hypocrites like them. He denounces those whitened sepulchres, not for fulfilling the law's minutiæ, but for leaving undone its weightier matters. More definitely Christ recognizes that the imperial government, which was secular and not representative of Moses' law, was outside his sphere as a religious teacher of man.
der unto Cæsar the things of Cæsar," was a word of final wisdom, for people situated like the Jews in the Empire. Christianity was to be a religion indifferent to forms of secular government, and to be occupied with rendering unto God the things of God; which indeed should be all man's life; and might mean open opposition to the government, as the early church was to find.
Even more positively, Christ refused to act in a matter where worldly interests clashed: “And one of the multitude said unto him, Master, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me. But he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?" This man's motive was not justice, but greed; and so the Master follows his refusal with warnings against covetousness. To have acted in such case would have been against the spirit of his own command not selfishly to insist on one's rights, not to resist the wrongful demand of him who would go to law to take your cloak; nor could he estimate the importance of possessions as this man would have had him.
That Christianity be universal and final it was necessary that every precept should be suited to the best in man forever. Christ's teachings answer this condition. He always speaks from the standpoint of his command, Be Cf. also Luke xi, 42.
1 Matt. xxiii, 1-3.
'Ibid., xii, 13, 14.
Be Ye Perfect.
ye perfect. Not that he expected perfection in men; but he always looks on life from the standpoint of the best, and his teachings never deflect from requiring it. Thus he would not look on marriage from the level of changing human lust and weakness: What God has joined together let not man put asunder,—a command comporting not only with the best in human nature when Christ lived, but with all sanctifying thought since then of two lives made one in God forever.'
Evil; Judge not.
In no respect has human nature passed beyond the absolute moral verity of Christ's commands. not mean that proper understanding of Christ's precepts calls for no consideration of the connection in which they stand and the circumstances under which they were spoken. The connection often shows the meaning. Each precept of Christ is set in elemental human life, as it is and by every man is felt to be. The Sermon on the Mount contains precepts which are impracticable if not rightly understood: Resist not evil; judge not that ye be not judged. These should be considered each in the connection in which it stands, and both under the larger illumination of the spirit of Christ's life and teachings. "Ye have heard that it was said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; but I say unto you, Resist not (him that is) evil; but whosoever smiteth thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man would go to law with thee, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also."'
Legally viewed, a man cannot be unjust to himself,
1 See Matt. v, 28.
2 Comparing Mark x, 2-12; Matt. v, 31-32 and Matt. xix, 3-12, it is clear that Christ forbade divorce except for adultery. It would seem from the account in Mark that he forbade divorce for any reason; at all events it is the clear sense of the passage in Mark, and not out of accord with the passages in Matthew, that any subsequent marriage of a divorced person is adulterous.
3 Matt. v, 38-40.
consequently wrongs no one by not insisting on his rights. Many precepts of the old law enjoined beneficence. Not to insist upon one's due, is giving, and a fulfilment of the law on its beneficent side. Christ's command, Resist not evil, was a complete fulfilment in the spirit of unselfishness and absolute beneficence, the spirit of love. The precept was uttered from the depths of his knowledge of the power of love, the power which loving giving up has on the violent claimant. Accordingly, and as is clear from the command which follows, Love your enemies, the command, Resist not evil, rests in the spirit of beneficent love and has therein its sanction. It is therefore not to be pressed to foolishness; the letter killeth and the spirit maketh to live; and the command, Resist not evil, may often in the very spirit of Christ be fulfilled by resisting it for the evil-doer's good.
"Judge not that ye be not judged." Again a phrase to be understood with reference to the context and to be taken in the spirit of Christ. "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye but considerest not the beam which is in thine own eye?''' This is Matthew. The connection in which Luke states the command makes its meaning even clearer: "Be ye merciful, even as your Father is merciful. And judge not, and ye shall not be judged, and condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; release, and ye shall be released; give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall they give into your bosom. For with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again." Thus this command is plain; it is another aspect of Resist not evil.' It clearly means that all shall judge in the spirit of Christian charity, and in the bounty of love act for the other's good. But it does not mean things opposed to beneficence, does not
1 Matt. vii, I. Luke vi, 36-38. Or of "do as ye would be done by."