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which can be quoted in support of this doctrine, says: "It is hard to imagine that there can be any truer expression of the Gospel than the words of Christ Himself, or that any truth omitted by Him is essential to the Gospel. “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant greater than his lord.' The philosophy of Plato was not better understood by his followers than by himself, nor can we allow that the Gospel is to be interpreted by the Epistles, or that the Sermon on the Mount is only half Christian, and needs the fuller inspiration or revelation of St. Paul, or the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews." I I will not stay to insist on the fundamental error involved in the suggestion that our Lord's relation to His Apostles has even the remotest analogy to the relation between Plato and his followers. What Plato taught contained nearly everything that Plato contributed to the development of the intellectual and moral life of mankind; but whatever may be our theory of the Death of Christ, the larger part of what Christ revealed of God is contained in His personal character, in the relations which He sustained to various descriptions of men, in the sufferings to which He Himself submitted, and in the miracles by which He relieved the sufferings of others. But Dr. Jowett's reference to the relation between Plato and his followers suggests the relation between Plato and his master.
We have two representations of the teaching of Socrates - one in the Memorabilia of Xenophon, the
I The Epistles of St. Paul, ii. 555. 2 See Lect. ii. pp. 37-49.
other in the Platonic Dialogues - and the differences between them are not altogether unlike those which are alleged to exist between the teaching of the historical Christ, as it may be ascertained from the Gospels,' and the theological theories developed in the Apostolic Epistles. Now, if in the Memorabilia it had been recorded that Socrates referred to his approaching martyrdom in terms at all like those in which it appears that our Lord spoke of His Death ; if—forgive me if the hypothesis appears strained and forced-we had learnt from Xenophon that when Socrates was beginning to discuss philosophy with the sophists and young men of Athens, he had accepted testimony which implied that he was to be sacrificed to the gods for the sins of the Athenians; if we learnt that his mind was oppressed from the very first by the anticipation of the sorrows of his last hours; is to those who came to him inquiring about the Supreme Good he had said that he must die in order that the Supreme Good might be theirs ; if he had spoken again and again of laying down his life for others; if he had said that his life was not to be taken from him by the power of his enemies, but that he would lay it down of himself; if he had declared that the daiuwv, to whose voice he always listened,
1 The differences between the Synoptists and St. John are of inconsiderable importance in relation to this argument. The statement of the case would have been only slightly enfeebled if all allusions to the Fourth Gospel were cancelled. Further, the characteristic theology of the Fourth Gospel is not of a kind to create distrust of any testimony it may contain to the Doctrine of Expiation.
had revealed to him that the very purpose for which he had been born was that he might give his life a ransom for many; if he had deliberately connected the idea of his own death with expiatory sacrifices which his countrymen were accustomed to offer to the gods; if he had declared that the lines of an ancient poet, predicting that the sins of the Athenians were to be laid upon the head of one of the greatest of Athenian citizens, were to be fulfilled in himself; and if during his last day in prison, and just before the slave brought him the hemlock, instead of discoursing on immortality, he had instituted a religious rite to be celebrated by his friends in commemoration of his death, and said that he was about to die that his disciples and his fellow-citizens might receive the remission of sins; if, I say, all these things had been told us of Socrates by Xenophon, and if we believed that they were the true expression of his own conception of his martyrdom, Xenophon's testimony alone would have been sufficient to assure us that Socrates himself believed that his death was an atonement, a satisfaction, a sacrifice for the crimes of Athens. Plato might then have written another dialogue; under the lofty and beautiful cypresses of the woods consecrated to Jupiter, he might have assembled Phædo, Apollodorus, Crito, Critobulus, Hermogenes, and the other friends of Socrates who were with him on the day of his martyrdom; and he might have developed a theory of the expiatory power of the death of Socrates even more elaborate than that which Christian theviogians have found of the Death of Christ in the Epistles of St. Paul and the Epistle to the Hebrews; and we might have claimed the authority of Socrates for the theory of Plato without incurring the reproach which Dr Jowett directs against evangelical theology, when he reminds us that "the disciple is not above his master, nor the servant greater than his lord.”
Let the Gospels stand alone, let the testimony of the Epistles be completely suppressed, and the strong foundations of that conception of the Death of Christ which has been the refuge of penitents and the joy of saints for eighteen hundred years will remain unshaken. The words of Christ, and the words of Christ alone, are a sufficient vindication of the ancient faith of the Church.