Story type: Essay
Now, this is exceedingly well worth consideration. I know not at all whether what I am going to say has been said already–life would not suffice in every field or section of a field to search every nook and section of a nook for the possibilities of chance utterance given to any stray opinion. But this I know without any doubt at all, that it cannot have been said effectually, cannot have been so said as to publish and disperse itself; else it is impossible that the crazy logic current upon these topics should have lived, or that many separate arguments should ever for very shame have been uttered. Said or not said, let us presume it unsaid, and let me state the true answer as if de novo, even if by accident somewhere the darkness shelters this same answer as uttered long ago.
Now, therefore, I will suppose that He had come down from the Cross. No case can so powerfully illustrate the filthy falsehood and pollution of that idea which men generally entertain, which the sole creditable books universally build upon. What would have followed? This would have followed: that, inverting the order of every true emanation from God, instead of growing and expanding for ever like a [symbol: < ], it would have attained its maximum at the first. The effect for the half-hour would have been prodigious, and from that moment when it began to flag it would degrade rapidly, until, in three days, a far fiercer hatred against Christ would have been moulded. For observe: into what state of mind would this marvel have been received? Into any good-will towards Christ, which previously had been defeated by the belief that He was an impostor in the sense that He pretended to a power of miracles which in fact He had not? By no means. The sense in which Christ had been an impostor for them was in assuming a commission, a spiritual embassy with appropriate functions, promises, prospects, to which He had no title. How had that notion–not, viz., of miraculous impostorship, but of spiritual impostorship–been able to maintain itself? Why, what should have reasonably destroyed the notion? This, viz., the sublimity of His moral system. But does the reader imagine that this sublimity is of a nature to be seen intellectually–that is, insulated and in vacuo for the intellect? No more than by geometry or by a sorites any man constitutionally imperfect could come to understand the nature of the sexual appetite; or a man born deaf could make representable to himself the living truth of music, a man born blind could make representable the living truth of colours. All men are not equally deaf in heart–far from it–the differences are infinite, and some men never could comprehend the beauty of spiritual truth. But no man could comprehend it without preparation. That preparation was found in his training of Judaism; which to those whose hearts were hearts of flesh, not stony and charmed against hearing, had already anticipated the first outlines of Christian ideas. Sin, purity, holiness unimaginable, these had already been inoculated into the Jewish mind. And amongst the race inoculated Christ found enough for a central nucleus to His future Church. But the natural tendency under the fever-mist of strife and passion, evoked by the present position in the world operating upon robust, full-blooded life, unshaken by grief or tenderness of nature, or constitutional sadness, is to fail altogether of seeing the features which so powerfully mark Christianity. Those features, instead of coming out into strong relief, resemble what we see in mountainous regions where the mist covers the loftiest peaks.
We have heard of a man saying: ‘Give me such titles of honour, so many myriads of pounds, and then I will consider your proposal that I should turn Christian.’ Now, survey–pause for one moment to survey–the immeasurable effrontery of this speech. First, it replies to a proposal having what object–our happiness or his? Why, of course, his: how are we interested, except on a sublime principle of benevolence, in his faith being right? Secondly, it is a reply presuming money, the most fleshly of objects, to modify or any way control religion, i.e., a spiritual concern. This in itself is already monstrous, and pretty much the same as it would be to order a charge of bayonets against gravitation, or against an avalanche, or against an earthquake, or against a deluge. But, suppose it were not so, what incomprehensible reasoning justifies the notion that not we are to be paid, but that he is to be paid for a change not concerning or affecting our happiness, but his?