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spurious, it is also done; this requires only a few strokes more. But taking what is accepted by the biographer as authentic, do we find even then everything made so very simple? Jesus, we are told, was the Light of the world; his character and vocation were altogether peculiar; from the nature of the case such a phenomenon as his life cannot be repeated. Here is a mystery which, if we admit no special divine interposition, is vastly more incomprehensible than the miracles which Schenkel finds it so hard to comprehend. How is it explained? Not daring to say that Jesus had a clear consciousness of being the incarnate Word, Schenkel hopes to make the case comprehensible by representing Christ's consciousness as dim, and gradually growing in clearness. The peculiar dignity of his person and work, it is said, "passed before his soul." He had a "presentiment" that he was to be the Redeemer of men. His commission seemed to come to him "like a gleam of silver light from above." He came at last "to recognize himself as the Mediator between God and man..... as the peculiar Son of the heavenly Father." He learned this from "the mysterious depths of his own consciousness." During the progress of events "it had become to him an incontrovertible certainty that he would have to undergo anguish, pain, and death, as an offering for the oppressed and abused portion of humanity." "The tyranny of the letter had to kill Jesus, in order to die with him." "With his death he paid to the ordinances their last debt." This death was a propitiation for the sins of the world, "because in its blessed consequences the condemnatory effect of the [Jewish] ordinances was abolished." Such are some of the vague expressions by which Schenkel tries to smooth over the difficulty of reconciling the actual narratives of Christ with his own assumption of Christ's simple humanity. They may satisfy those who already hold substantially the same views; they will scarcely convince any real believers or real unbelievers.
There is in the book a certain moral earnestness, which deserves recognition. Though not entirely free from a
polemic tinge, it can hardly, like Renan's, make the impres sion that the author is using clandestine means to gain his end. He has certainly a thorough belief in the superiority of Jesus to all other men, and in Christianity as the one perfect religion. He professes to wish to relieve the church of errors which impede its progress. He is apparently convinced that his views are the only tenable ones. We will not dispute his honesty, but must regard his work as an unsuccessful attempt to accomplish an undesirable end.
Strauss, in the new edition of his work, gives, as a prominent object of the revision, a desire to make it more suitable than the first form for popular reading. The difference, however, in this respect, is trifling. This edition may, in general terms, be characterized as an attempt to restate and fortify the position taken at first. Strauss has given up nothing of the rigor with which he before maintained the mythical theory of the origin of the Gospels. Indeed, in point of scientific thoroughness of discussion, the new work is superior to the old, and would, were it not that his theory has been already so often replied to, receive, or at least deserve to receive, more attention than did the former. Strauss avails himself of the critical investigations which in the last thirty years have been directed, especially by the Tübingen school, against the genuineness of the New Testament books. The title of the present work is as great a misnomer as that of the other. The expectation that, in imitation of Renan, he would produce something of a more positive character than before, is disappointed. Strauss extends a very friendly word to his French coadjutor, expressing the hope that his [Strauss's] work will prove to be as well adapted to Germany as Renan's is to France; but the greeting can be occasioned only by the fact that he is more anxious about the result of his efforts than about their special character, for he has to express his regret that Renan should have fallen into the "fundamental error" of ascribing any credibility to the Gospels. As for himself, he still insists on the principle that no trust should be given to testimony in favor of the genuineness of those books, if
the force of it can by any means be weakened. Whatever is not absolutely demonstrated has for him no binding force. He has not relaxed from the rigor with which he applies what Professor Tholuck calls the Castor and Pollux canon of criticism, viz. the principle that when two authors disagree, neither tells the truth. We have here no occasion to enter into the details of his treatment of the main subject. Perhaps the most noteworthy fact suggested by the appearance of the book, is the fact that Strauss, after so long a silence, and after his former book had almost sunk into oblivion, still clings to his belief, and even cherishes the hope that it will yet obtain general currency.
Nor, to speak honestly, does this expectation of his appear to us very quixotic. The review which Strauss, in the opening of this revised edition of his Life of Jesus, passes on the different writers on the same theme, from Hess to Renan, is, to our mind, the most valuable part of the book - valuable as pointing out the weaknesses of the arguments of those who have undertaken to reconcile the authenticity of the Gospels as they stand with rationalistic or semi-rationalistic views of miracles. Strauss's logic is here unquestionably very keen and vigorous. He points out, with unsparing severity, the inconsistency of trying to effect any such reconciliation. For our part, we would much rather not be required to meet him on the ground taken by those whom he there criticises. His view seems to us, we will not say more nearly correct, yet far more easily to be maintained, than that of those who treat the Gospels as real histories, and yet assume, independent of all external guidance, to "feel out" the truth, throwing away what their feelings dislike as legendary and false. We cannot but hope that this work will do good, by serving to show the uselessness of seeking to eradicate the miraculous element from revelation. If we must choose between considering Christianity as a myth, and considering it as a revelation from the God of nature, who both could and did use miraculous measures in revealing his will, we have little to fear as to the result of the contest. Strauss makes the
issue extremely simple. He disdains to argue at any length the question whether miracles are possible or probable. He simply assumes that to believe in miracles is absurd. Admit this premise, and his conclusion is the most logical one that can be drawn. He holds that the impossibility of miracles implies the impossibility of such a phenomenon as a sinless man. In his opinion, to say that Jesus was a person whose like cannot be again expected, is just as much the affirmation of a miracle as is that of the resurrection of a dead man. And he is right. And he is right. Herein even Renan violates his own doctrine; Schenkel, as to his general position, is still more assailable, while Schleiermacher, unwilling to admit the reality of a physical phenomenon the how of which he cannot comprehend, yet affirming in the case of Jesus with such sharpness and boldness a wonder in the realm of spirit just as incomprehensible, and infinitely more important, than the others at which he stumbles, reminds us of nothing else so much as of one who strains out a gnat and swallows a camel.
To conclude, Strauss's work, far from being one whose doctrines are outlived, in reality represents a strong tendency of the times. Utter disbelief in the supernatural is the form which rationalism now inclines to take. In Strauss it finds one of its ablest representatives. The sight is in itself a sad one; but the Christian may even rejoice that the enmity of his foes, if it is not to be avoided, takes so violent a form. When it is maintained that Christianity owes its very existence to pure lies or silly fancies; when it is seen, moreover, that this is the most consistent form that the enmity can assume, we may take courage. The work is easier than when directed against the puzzling sophistries of half-way infidels, or the timorous doubts of half-way Christians. The enemy is not a smooth-tongued WordlyWiseman, but an unmistakable Apollyon, straddling quite over the whole breadth of the way. The scientific defender of Christianity can meet the opposer by a simple reductio ad absurdum; the practical defender needs only to use the sword of the Spirit and the shield of faith.
THE PERMANENCE OF CHRISTIANITY IN THE INTENTION OF ITS FOUNDER.1
BY JOSEPH P. THOMPSON, D.D., NEW YORK.
In closing his epistle to the Romans-that compact and comprehensive exposition of the gospel in its adaptation alike to the Jewish and to the Gentile world - the apostle Paul gives, in few words, a summary of Christianity as a final revelation of the one absolute and universal religion. In Rom. xvi. 25-27, in the condensed phrases of a single sentence in form a doxology - the origin and the mission of Christianity are set forth in almost every feature and function that could characterize a revelation as being complete and final: its historic continuity in the scriptures; its gradual unveiling through the ages; its concentrated manifestation in the ministry of Christ; the universality of its sphere; the permanence and the absolute supremacy of its office as the religion appointed of God for the enlightenment and the reformation of mankind.
In these particulars, the close of the epistle tallies exactly with its opening. There, Paul speaks of the gospel which God "had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures;" and here he describes the gospel as made known or opened up "by the scriptures of the prophets." There he speaks of Jesus Christ, his incarnation and his resurrection from the dead, as the very "gospel of God"; and here the preaching of Jesus Christ is the full ➜vealing of that "mystery" which though "kept secret" as to the
1 The substance of this Article was delivered as a Baccalaureate Address to the Senior Class in Andover Theological Seminary, in July, 1864; and also a an Anniversary Discourse before the American Missionary Association, at its mecting in New Haven, October, 1864.
2 Rom. xvi. 25 seq., and i. 1-6.