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Title: Christianity and Morals
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CHRISTIANITY

AND MORALS

Author of


THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE MORAL IDEAS, 2 vols.
ETHICAL RELATIVITY
THE HISTORY OF HUMAN MARRIAGE, 3 vols.
A SHORT HISTORY OF MARRIAGE
THREE ESSAYS ON SEX AND MARRIAGE
THE FUTURE OF MARRIAGE
MARRIAGE CEREMONIES IN MOROCCO
RITUAL AND BELIEF IN MOROCCO, 2 vols.
WIT AND WISDOM IN MOROCCO: A STUDY OF NATIVE PROVERBS
PAGAN SURVIVALS IN MOHAMMEDAN CIVILISATION
EARLY BELIEFS AND THEIR SOCIAL INFLUENCE
THE GOODNESS OF GODS
MEMORIES OF MY LIFE

 

CHRISTIANITY
AND MORALS

By

EDWARD WESTERMARCK

Ph.D., Hon. LL.D. (Glasgow and Aberdeen), Hon. Ph.D. (Upsal)
Late Martin White Professor of Sociology at the
University of London

 

 

LONDON

KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER & CO. LTD.

BROADWAY HOUSE: 68–74, CARTER LANE, E.C.

First published 1939

Printed in Great Britain by Butler & Tanner Ltd., Frome and London

 

 

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I

RELIGION AND MORALITY

The meaning attached to the terms religion and magic, pp. 1–6.—Distinction between “natural” and “supernatural” phenomena or causes, p. 1 sq.—Mediæval conceptions of magic, p. 3 sq.—The theory that religion is essentially social and magic anti-social, or at any rate non-social, p. 6 sq.—White and black magic, p. 3 sq.—Connections between religion and magic, pp. 4–6.—The word religion used in a concrete sense, p. 5 sq.—The foundation of the moral consciousness entirely different from that of religion, p. 6.—All moral concepts, which are used as predicates in moral judgments, based on one or the other of the two moral emotions, moral approval and moral disapproval or indignation, p. 6.—The moral emotions retributive emotions, approval, like gratitude, forming a subspecies of retributive kindly emotion, and disapproval, like anger and revenge, forming a subspecies of resentment, p. 6.—The moral emotions distinguished from the non-moral retributive emotions by being disinterested and, at least within certain limits, impartial, p. 6 sq.—Different classes of conditions under which disinterested retributive emotions arise, pp. 8–12.—The co-operation of the altruistic sentiment with sympathy productive of disinterested retributive emotions, when an individual towards whom we are kindly disposed is hurt or benefited, p. 9 sq.—Such emotions also directly produced by the cognition of outward signs of resentment or kindly feeling in others, pp. 10–12.—Or by disinterested antipathies or likings, p. 11 sq.—How disinterestedness and a certain degree of impartiality have become characteristics of that particular kind of retributive emotions which we call moral emotions, pp. 12–14.—Those characteristics of moral disapproval to be sought for in its connection with tribal custom, which was the earliest rule of duty on account of the public disapproval called forth by its transgression, p. 13 sq.—As public disapproval is the prototype of moral disapproval, so is public approval, expressed in moral praise, the prototype of moral approval, p. 14.—Yet moral disapproval and approval have not always remained inseparably connected with the feelings of any special society, p. 14 sq.—The theory of the emotional origin of moral judgments does not imply that such a judgment affirms the existence of a moral emotion in the mind of the person who utters it, but it implies that the qualities assigned to the subjects of moral judgments and expressed by moral concepts are generalisations of tendencies to feel either moral approval or disapproval, interpreted as dynamic tendencies in the phenomena which gave rise to the emotion, p. 15 sq.—The relations between the concepts which are used as predicates in moral judgments and the moral emotions, pp. 16–20.—Analysis of “ought” and “duty,” p. 16 sq.—Of “bad” and “wrong,” p. 17.—Of “right” as an adjective and as a substantive, p. 17.—Of “injustice” and “justice,” pp. 17–19.—Of “good” and “virtue,” p. 18.—Of “merit,” p. 19 sq.

 

CHAPTER II

RELIGION AND MORALITY (concluded)

The malevolence of savage gods, p. 21.—The improvement of gods, p. 21 sq.—Selection of gods according to their usefulness, p. 21 sq.—Their good qualities magnified in worship, p. 23 sq.—Gods induced by invocations to reward virtue and punish vice, p. 24 sq.—The magical forces which give efficacy vi to curses or oaths personified as supernatural beings or transformed into attributes of the chief god, p. 25 sq.—Gods as moral specialists, pp. 25–7.—The notion of a persecuting ghost replaced by an avenging god, p. 26 sq.—The guardianship of gods extended to the whole sphere of justice or morality at large, pp. 26–8.—The influence of the religious sanction upon morality, pp. 28–31.—Religious devotion accompanied with laxity of morals, pp. 29–31.—Criticism of philosophers’ and theologians’ assumption that moral judgments possess objective validity, pp. 31–9.—The variability of moral judgments and its causes, pp. 34–9.—The cause of substantial similarities of moral judgments, p. 39.

 

CHAPTER III

THE ETHICS OF JESUS: THEIR RETRIBUTIVE CHARACTER

The records of the moral teaching of Jesus, p. 40 sq.—Personal anger and vindictiveness condemned by Jesus, pp. 41–3.—The injunctions of forgiveness and kindness to enemies by no means exclusively Christian tenets, pp. 43–5.—Why resentment springing from personal motives is condemned, p. 46 sq.—The moral indignation of Jesus often intense, pp. 47–9.—The reprobation of the lost and the idea of fiery torment in hell, pp. 49–52.—Differences between the teaching of the gospels and that of the Old Testament as regards divine retribution for unrighteousness, p. 52 sq.—The infliction of penal suffering upon guiltless persons in consequence of the sins of others contrary to the nature of moral indignation, pp. 53–5.—The belief in divine retribution after death open to criticism on the plea of being at variance with the moral justification of punishment, pp. 55–7.—Forgiveness on the ground of repentance, pp. 57–9.—The emotion of moral approval, of which moral praise or reward is the outward manifestation, very prominent in the teaching of Jesus, pp. 60–2.—Attempts to extenuate the presence of promises of reward in the gospels, p. 62 sq.—Moral judgments commonly passed upon acts without much regard being paid to their motives, p. 63.—The teaching of Jesus an ethic of inwardness, in agreement with that of the Prophets, p. 64 sq.—That moral qualities are internal recognised by all great moralists, p. 65 sq.—No indication that Jesus regarded the hope of reward as an obstacle to gaining it, p. 66 sq.—The hedonistic trait in his ethics, p. 67 sq.—The allegation that the evangelical ethics are completely anti-eudemonistic, p. 68 sq.

 

CHAPTER IV

THE ETHICS OF JESUS: THEIR DISINTERESTEDNESS AND ALTRUISM

The disinterestedness which distinguishes the moral emotions from other, non-moral, retributive emotions emphasised by Jesus, pp. 70–3.—The Golden Rule, pp. 70–3.—The precept, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” pp. 72–5.—The “fatherhood” of God, p. 75 sq.—The “universal brotherhood of men,” p. 76 sq.—Tenets of universal love laid down by Stoics and Eastern moralists, p. 77 sq.—Criticism of the conclusion that the love of neighbour follows from the love of God, p. 78 sq.—The altruistic sentiment underlying the injunction of neighbourly love, p. 79.—Almsgiving as a religious duty also connected with the belief in the efficacy of the curses and blessings of the poor, pp. 81–3.—And with sacrifice, the poor becoming the heirs of the god, p. 83 sq.—Jesus’ insistence upon those of the ten commandments which forbid men to do harm to their neighbours, p. 85.—His attitude towards the commandment, “Honour thy father and thy mother,” p. 85 sq.—The Jewish divorce law, p. 87.—Jesus’ teaching concerning divorce, p. 87 sq. vii

 

CHAPTER V

THE ETHICS OF JESUS (concluded)

The Jewish Sabbath law, p. 89.—Jesus’ attitude towards it, p. 91.—The attitude of the early Christians, p. 91 sq.—The Christian Sunday rest, p. 92 sq.—Fasting, p. 93 sq.—Jesus not an ascetic, but leading a very simple wandering life, p. 94.—His opinion that wealth is of no value to a man, but a peril, p. 95 sq.—His insistence upon prayer, p. 96.—Upon humility, p. 96 sq.—The pre-eminence of faith in his teaching, particularly in connection with his miracles, pp. 97–100.—The faith in Jesus, p. 100 sq.

 

CHAPTER VI

THE ETHICS OF PAUL

The conversion of Paul, pp. 102–4.—Belonging to a type familiar to students of modern conversions, p. 103 sq.—Faith in Christ as a divine being and a saviour the keystone of Paul’s teaching, p. 104 sq.—Justification by faith, p. 105.—Paul as the minister of Christ to the Gentiles, p. 106.—Presumable influence of Stoicism and the Logos-doctrine upon his universalising of Christianity, pp. 106–8.—His view of redemption as a mystery with magical elements in it, p. 108 sq.—His sacramentalism in regard to baptism, pp. 109–11.—The Eucharist and Paul’s conception of it, pp. 111–13.—His doctrine of redemption through the crucified and risen Christ, pp. 113–15.—The origin of his doctrine of justification by faith, p. 115.—Whatever else his conception of faith may imply, it presupposes in the first place the acceptance of some fact as true, and such a belief cannot be a proper object of moral judgment, p. 115 sq.—According to Paul the faith itself is a gift of God, and salvation depends upon an “election of grace,” p. 116 sq.—The wrath of God, aroused by the sin of man, supposed to be appeased by the vicarious suffering of Jesus, p. 117.—The idea that all mankind are doomed to death on account of Adam’s sin, p. 117 sq.—The idea of Christ’s death being a sacrifice, p. 118.—Reconciliation of Paul’s statements as regards the fulfilling of the law and justification by faith alone, pp. 118–20.—The great emphasis laid on charity in agreement with what we find in ancient and modern narratives of conversion, p. 120 sq.—From the moral point of view a positive danger in a doctrine that relies upon love of fellow-men and good deeds as the fruits of faith, p. 121 sq.—Another line of thought in the Pauline epistles which is in more harmony with the teaching of Jesus as recorded in the synoptic gospels, p. 122–4.—Paul’s moral contempt and horror of the flesh and his identification of it with sin, pp. 124–6.—Sexual indulgence regarded by him as the worst of all sins of the flesh, p. 126.—His attitude towards marriage, p. 126 sq.—His sexual asceticism may have been rooted in Greek ideas, Pythagorean and others, p. 127.—The notion that he who performs a sacred act or enters a holy place must be free from sexual pollution, p. 127 sq.—Why sexual intercourse is looked upon as unclean and defiling, p. 128 sq.

 

CHAPTER VII

THEOLOGICAL DOCTRINES BEFORE AUGUSTINE

Throughout the history of Christianity we notice, as regards the means of procuring salvation, the antithesis between works and faith: between the moralistic view that eternal life is the reward of a moral life wrought out essentially by our own power and the view that it depends entirely on divine grace, connected with the faith in Christ as our redeemer through his death on the cross—in other words, broadly speaking, the contrast between the teaching of Jesus as reported in the synoptic gospels and the Pauline formula of justification by faith alone, p. 130.—In the sub-apostolic period the moralistic mode of thought very prominent in the ‘Shepherd’ viii of Hermas, p. 130 sq.—In the ‘Didache,’ p. 131.—In the ‘Second Epistle of Clement of Rome,’ p. 132.—In the genuine epistle of Clement there is an echo of Paul’s teaching, but no real Paulinism, p. 132 sq.—The letter bearing the name of James looks like a definite polemic against Paul’s teaching of justification by faith only, p. 133 sq.—The Epistle to the Hebrews an addendum to the series of Pauline epistles, although faith does not mean for the writer quite the same thing as for Paul, p. 134 sq.—Paulinism well marked in the ‘Catholic Epistle’ of Barnabas, p. 135.—Ignatius the chief representative of Paulinism among the Apostolic Fathers, p. 135 sq.—The antithesis of Paul between law and gospel and between wrath and grace carried to an extreme by Marcion, pp. 136–8.—The early Christian Apologists—Aristides, Justin, Athenagoras, Tatian, Theophilus, and Minucius Felix—earnest moralists, pp. 138–40.—The views of Justin, pp. 138–40.—Of Tertullian, pp. 140–2.—Of Irenæus, p. 142.—Of Clement of Alexandria, pp. 142–4.—Of Origen, p. 144 sq.

 

CHAPTER VIII

LATER THEOLOGICAL DOCTRINES

The theology of Augustine essentially a Pauline reaction against the prevailing piety, though modified by popular Catholic elements, p. 146.—The conversion of Augustine, p. 146.—According to him, faith in the truth guaranteed by the Catholic Church, love, and merit successive steps in the way of final salvation, p. 147.—They are all God’s gifts, no man being justified by the merits of his own deeds, but by free grace, p. 147.—The elect saved because predestinated by God, p. 147 sq.—All men infected by Adam’s sin and the sins of their parents, as well as burdened by their own sins, being unable to refrain from sin, p. 148.—Christ a mediator who appeases the wrath of God by presenting a unique sacrifice in order to let the devil receive his rights, p. 148.—Augustine’s doctrine of the future state somewhat moralised by his admission of different degrees of damnation and felicity, pp. 148, 149, 151 sq.—The relation between the grace of God and the faith, love, and merit of man in his doctrine of salvation a moral absurdity, God rewarding man with eternal felicity for what he himself has given him, p. 149.—The problem of free will and moral responsibility, and the difference between determinism and fatalism, p. 149 sq.—Criticism of Augustine’s conception of original sin, p. 150 sq.—The view that the death of Christ was a ransom paid to the devil, p. 151.—Augustinianism, generally speaking, accepted by the Western Church, and said to be finally brought to completion by Luther, p. 152.—Thomas Aquinas its greatest champion in Catholicism, particularly with regard to the doctrines of God, predestination, sin, and grace, but with a timid revision of it in a moralistic direction, pp. 152–4.—His doctrines of merit and free will, p. 153 sq.—Distinction between precepts and counsels, between a higher and a lower Christian life, p. 154 sq.—A solid foundation for it in our moral consciousness, which distinguishes between duty and merit, and admits that a man can do more than his duty, p. 155 sq.—Difference between duty and the supreme moral ideal, p. 156.—Objectionable features in the Roman Catholic doctrine of merit, p. 156 sq.—Modifications of Augustine’s doctrine of original sin, p. 157 sq.—Different explanations of the atonement of Christ, pp. 158–62.—Anselm’s theory, pp. 158–60.—Other theories, pp. 160–2.—The doctrines of salvation through the suffering and death of Jesus, implying the idea of vicarious merit or vicarious punishment, from the moral point of view a distressing chapter in the history of Christian dogmas, pp. 162–4.—The modifications of Augustinianism which took place in Scholasticism had generally a moralistic tendency, the ethical interest being particularly predominant in Abelard, p. 164.—The Reformation implied an Augustinian reaction and a restoration of Paulinism, p. 164.—Luther’s insistence upon justification by faith alone, pp. 164–6—His acceptance of the Augustinian doctrines of the entire incapacity of fallen man, of the bondage of the will, and of ix predestination, p. 166.—While denying all human merit, he believed in the merit of Christ, who not only died for us but also kept the law for us, p. 166 sq.—The other Reformers in substantial, but not complete, agreement with Luther, p. 167 sq.—Calvin’s doctrine of predestination, p. 169 sq.—The reign of terror established by him at Geneva, p. 170.—Reformation a protest not only against doctrines taught by the Catholic Church, but also against moral abuses practised in its name, p. 171.—The demoralising effects of the doctrine of justification by faith alone and the denial of the value of good works, p. 171 sq.—Pelagianism, from a moral point of view, superior to the doctrines of both Catholics and Protestants, p. 172 sq.

 

CHAPTER IX

ASCETICISM

The ethical value of the doctrine that good works are essential to salvation much reduced by the ascription of merit to ascetic practices in particular, p. 174.—The beginnings of Christian asceticism, p. 174 sq.—Fasting, pp. 175–7.—Other forms of asceticism, such as filthiness, p. 177.—The most important form abstinence from sexual relationships, pp. 177–81.—Enthusiasm for virginity, pp. 178–81.—Scholastic distinction between sinful and innocent concupiscence, p. 181.—Celibacy imposed upon persons who had been married before, p. 182 sq.—Compulsory celibacy imposed upon the clergy in the Western Church, p. 183 sq.—In the Eastern Church the lower grades of clergy allowed to marry, p. 184.—The demands for the celibacy of the clergy and the double standard of moral excellence rejected by the Reformation, p. 184.—Its attitude towards asceticism, p. 184 sq.—Asceticism, as involving suffering or privation supposed to be pleasing to God and to appease his anger, p. 185 sq.—The practice of flagellation, p. 186 sq.—Suffering not only sought as a means of wiping off sin, but also with a view to preventing the commission of sin, p. 187 sq.—Ideas underlying fasting, pp. 188–90.—Ideas underlying religious celibacy and abstinence from sexual intercourse, pp. 190–3.—Sexual intercourse regarded as defiling, p. 191 sq.

 

CHAPTER X

THE SACRAMENTS

Various doctrines of the sacraments, pp. 194–7.—Their number, p. 197.—Baptism, pp. 197–201.—Infant baptism, pp. 199–201.—The Eucharist, pp. 201–7.—No moral justification for the saving effect attributed to baptism and the Eucharist, p. 207 sq.—The Roman Catholic sacrament of penance, pp. 208–12.—For the inner penitent temper, the confession of sin, and the satisfaction, which together constitute the sacrament of penance, Luther substituted repentance alone, springing from faith, p. 212 sq.—Confession serving as a means of purgation, p. 212.—The ethical foundation of the sacrament of penance, p. 212 sq.—Its degeneration especially through the practice of indulgences, p. 213.—Harnack’s objection to Luther’s insistence that the whole life of a man should be penitence, particular acts of repentance being of no use, p. 213.

 

CHAPTER XI

CHRISTIANITY AND THE REGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE

Homicide of any kind condemned as a heinous sin by the early Christians, p. 214.—Their total condemnation of warfare, p. 214 sq.—This attitude towards war soon given up, pp. 215–17.—The clergy forbidden to engage in warfare, p. 217 sq.—Penance prescribed for those who had shed blood on the battlefield, p. 218.—Instances of wars being forbidden by popes, p. 218.—The military Christianity of the crusades, pp. 218–21.—Chivalry, pp. 221–3.—The practice of private war, pp. 223–4.—The attitude of the Church towards x it, p. 224.—The Truce of God, p. 225.—The abolition of private war mainly due to the increase of the authority of emperors or kings, p. 225 sq.—War looked upon as a divine institution or as a judgment of God, pp. 226–9.—Religious protests against war, pp. 229–31.—Conscientious objectors, p. 231 sq.—Freethinkers’ objections to war, p. 232 sq.—The idea of a perpetual peace, p. 233.—The awakening spirit of nationalism and the glorification of war, p. 233 sq.—Arguments against arbitration, p. 234 sq.—The prohibition of needless destruction in war, p. 235 sq.—Pagan philosophers’ attitudes towards war, p. 236.

 

CHAPTER XII

CHRISTIANITY AND THE REGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE (concluded)

The killing or exposure of infants in ancient Greece and Rome, pp. 237–40.—The practice of exposing new-born infants vehemently denounced by the early Christian Fathers, p. 240.—Christian horror of infanticide, p. 240 sq.—The punishment of it in Christian countries, p. 241 sq.—Feticide in pagan antiquity, p. 242 sq.—Christian views about it, pp. 243–5.—Contraception, p. 245 sq.—Capital punishment, pp. 246–50.—The horror of blood-pollution, p. 247 sq.—Opinions as to suicide in ancient Greece and Rome, p. 251 sq.—Among the Christians, pp. 252–5.—Why suicide was condemned by the Church, pp. 253–5.—The secular legislation influenced by the Church, p. 255.—The treatment of suicides’ bodies in Europe, p. 255 sq.—More humane feelings towards suicides, p. 256 sq.—Attacks upon the views of the Church and upon the laws of the State concerning suicide, p. 257 sq.—Modern philosophers’ arguments against suicide, p. 258 sq.—Criticism of Durkheim’s opinion as regards the moral valuation of suicide in the future, p. 259.

 

CHAPTER XIII

CHRISTIANITY AND ECONOMICS

Jesus’ attitude towards the question of possessions, p. 260.—Primitive Christian communism, p. 260.—The surrender of private property fundamental in monastic communism, p. 260.—The patristic view that this principle was the most perfect way of life, but that for mankind in general some organisation of ownership became necessary, p. 261 sq.—Thomas Aquinas’ views as regards private property, p. 262.—Almsgiving considered one of the chief instruments of salvation, p. 262 sq.—The prominence of charity among the civilised nations of the East, among the Hebrews, and in ancient Greece and Rome, pp. 263–5.—Difference between the charity of the Christians and that taught by the Stoics, p. 265 sq.—Christian charity referring to the brotherhood of believers only, p. 266 sq.—Leading to the breeding of parasites and beggars, p. 267.—The Christian doctrine on labour, pp. 267 sq.—The ecclesiastical legislation on the subject of “usury,” p. 269.—The question of trade, pp. 269–71.—The Reformers’ attitude in economic matters, pp. 271–4.—Their insistence on labour within one’s calling as a divinely ordained duty, p. 271 sq.—Their attitude towards almsgiving and mendicancy, p. 272.—Calvin’s influence upon economic ethic leading to the religious sanction of capitalism, pp. 272–4.—The economics of Puritanism, pp. 274–7.—Of Methodism, p. 277.—The teaching of Jesus recognised as not applicable to economics, pp. 277–81.—Conflicting religious opinions about the proper treatment of the poor, p. 278.—The competitive economic system not in agreement with the maxim that you ought to love your neighbour as yourself, but not opposed to the intrinsic nature of the moral emotions, pp. 278–80.—At the same time certain generally accepted moral principles very often ignored in our business life, p. 280 sq.—The collapse of the influence of Christianity upon economics, p. 281. xi

 

CHAPTER XIV

CHRISTIANITY AND SLAVERY

Slavery essentially an industrial institution, which implies compulsory labour beyond the limits of family relations, but the master’s authority not necessarily absolute, p. 282.—Christianity’s recognition of slavery as part of its Jewish heritage, pp. 282–4.—Slavery at Rome, pp. 284–6.—The attitude of the Church towards slavery, pp. 286–92.—The alleged causes of its extinction in Europe, pp. 289–93.—The chief cause presumably the transformation of slavery into serfdom, p. 293.—Serfdom itself merely a transitory condition destined to lead up to a state of entire liberty, p. 293.—The attitude of the Church towards serfdom, p. 293 sq.—The negro slavery in the colonies of European countries and the Southern States of America, and the legislation related to it, pp. 294–302.—The support given to it by the clergy, pp. 302–4.—The abolition of it, p. 304.—The want of sympathy for, or positive antipathy to, the coloured race, p. 305.—Islam’s attitude towards slavery, p. 305 sq.

 

CHAPTER XV

CHRISTIANITY AND THE REGARD FOR TRUTH

Christian condemnation of lying, p. 307 sq.—From early times, however, a much less rigorous doctrine, pp. 308–10.—The doctrine of mental reservation rejected by Protestant moralists, and a less formal view as regards falsehood adopted by them, p. 310.—Puritan insistence upon literal truthfulness, p. 310.—According to the Catholic doctrine unbelief a greater sin than all sins of moral perversity, p. 311.—The Church the guarantor of the truth of her doctrines, p. 311 sq.—According to the Protestants also, faith in the Church, their own Church, or at any rate faith in Christ, necessary for salvation, p. 312 sq.—In the case of unbelief the worldly authorities considered to be compelled to appease God’s anger, p. 313.—Religious persecution practised both by Catholics and Protestants, pp. 313–18.—The Inquisition, p. 314 sq.—Various reasons for the persecutions, but the principal one unquestionably the doctrine of exclusive justification by faith, pp. 318–20.—The persecutions by no means ineffective, which was scarcely a triumph of truthfulness, p. 320.—The spirit of truth impaired by the Christian Churches also by softer means, p. 320 sq.—All knowledge other than that of religious truth regarded not only as valueless but even as sinful, pp. 321–3.—The allegation that the modern world owes its scientific spirit to Christianity, p. 323.—What religious toleration implies, p. 324.

 

CHAPTER XVI

CHRISTIANITY AND MARRIAGE

Marriage regarded as a sacrament, p. 326 sq.—The consent of the parties necessary, p. 327.—The consent of their parents or guardians, pp. 327–31.—The lowest age at which a person may marry, p. 331.—The degrees of relationship within which no marriage might be concluded greatly extended by the Church, pp. 331–3.—Prohibitions on the ground of “spiritual relationship,” p. 333.—Difference of religion a bar to intermarriage, p. 333 sq.—Christianity and polygamy, pp. 334–6.—Monogamy the only recognised form of marriage in Greece and Rome, p. 336.—The power which the Roman father possessed over his daughter generally transferred by marriage to the husband, p. 337.—Marriage with manus gradually superseded by a form of wedlock which conferred on the husband scarcely any authority at all over his wife, p. 337 sq.—The remarkable liberty granted to married women not agreeable to the opinion which the new religion held about the xii female sex, pp. 338–40.—Women excluded from sacred functions on account of their uncleanness, p. 339.—The Church largely responsible for those heavy disabilities with regard to personal liberty, as well as with regard to property, from which married women have suffered up to quite recent times, pp. 341–3.

 

CHAPTER XVII

CHRISTIANITY AND DIVORCE

European legislation with regard to divorce revolutionised by Christianity, p. 344.—The dissolubility of a valid Christian marriage, at least if it had been consummated, denied by the Western Church, p. 344 sq.—Non-Christian marriage, even though consummated, dissoluble in certain circumstances, p. 345 sq.—Separation from bed and board, p. 346.—Divorce a vinculo matrimonii, p. 347.—The influence of the Western Church upon secular legislation, pp. 347–9.—The Eastern Church on the contrary greatly influenced by the secular law, p. 349.—The doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage rejected by the Reformers, p. 349 sq.—The Fathers of English Protestantism as a body more conservative than the brethren on the Continent, p. 350.—The Report known as Reformatio Legum, p. 351.—The revival of the old Canon Law in England, p. 351.—Parliamentary divorce, p. 352.—The legal principle of the indissolubility of marriage at last abandoned in England, p. 352.—On the Continent impetus to a more liberal legislation on divorce given by the philosophy of the eighteenth century, p. 353 sq.—In the course of the nineteenth century divorce made legal in several Roman Catholic countries, p. 354.—The most general grounds for divorce, p. 354 sq.—The English law until quite recently the only one in Europe that recognised none but sexual reasons for the dissolution of marriage, p. 355 sq.—Divorce by mutual consent, and the arguments against and in favour of it, pp. 356–9.

 

CHAPTER XVIII

CHRISTIANITY AND IRREGULAR SEX RELATIONS

All forms of sexual intercourse outside marriage looked upon as mortal sins in either sex, p. 360 sq.—In this respect a fundamental difference between the Christians and the pagans, although even in pagan antiquity chastity in men was enjoined by a few as a duty, p. 361 sq.—The attitude of the Christians towards prostitution, p. 362 sq.—In the Christian condemnation of adultery no distinction made between husband and wife, contrary to the general attitude of the pagans, p. 363 sq.—The Christian condemnation of all forms of sexual intercourse outside marriage minutely expressed in the Penitentials, p. 364 sq.—In the case of extra-matrimonial connections considerable discrepancy between Christian doctrine and public opinion in Christian countries, pp. 365–8.—The treatment of illegitimate children, p. 367 sq.—In some existing laws relating to adultery a distinction made between husband and wife, p. 368.—In modern legislation adultery, if punishable at all, generally an indictable offence, p. 368 sq.—The early Christians’ horror of sodomy, determined by ancient Hebrew ideas and strengthened by the habits of the Gentiles, p. 369 sq.—Heretics accused of it as a matter of course, p. 370 sq.—Pederasty in Greece and Rome, p. 371 sq.—Throughout the Middle Ages and later sodomy punishable by death, p. 372 sq.—A change in the attitude towards homosexual practices brought about by the rationalistic movement of the eighteenth century, p. 373 sq.—Arguments against punishing them, p. 374 sq.—Various circumstances that have affected modern opinion about homosexuality, pp. 375–7.—Christian attitude towards bestiality also determined by Hebrew Ideas, p. 377 sq.—Kant’s view about it, p. 378. xiii

 

CHAPTER XIX

CHRISTIANITY AND THE REGARD FOR THE LOWER ANIMALS

Jesus’ sympathy for animals alleged to be as universal as Buddha’s, p. 379.—The regard for them in Buddhism, p. 380 sq.—In Brahmanism, p. 380.—In Jainism, p. 380 sq.—In Taoism, p. 381.—In China, p. 381.—In Japan, p. 381 sq.—Its sources, p. 382.—The attitude towards animals in Zoroastrianism, pp. 382–4.—In Islam, p. 384.—In ancient Greece and Rome, pp. 384–6.—Among the Hebrews, p. 386 sq.—In Christianity, pp. 387–9.—The views of modern philosophers and legislators, p. 390.—Indifference to animal suffering characteristic of public opinion in Christian Europe up to quite modern times, p. 390 sq.—Laws against cruelty to animals, p. 391.—Humane feelings towards animals in Europe, pp. 391–3.—The influence of human thoughtlessness upon the treatment of animals and upon the moral ideas relating to it, p. 393.

 

CHAPTER XX

SUMMARY AND CONCLUDING REMARKS, pp. 394–411

INDEX OF PERSONS, pp. 413–22.

INDEX OF SUBJECTS, pp. 423–7.

 

CHRISTIANITY AND MORALS

 

 

 

CHRISTIANITY AND MORALS

CHAPTER I

RELIGION AND MORALITY

CHRISTIANITY is in the first place a religion but, as in the case of many other religions, it contains moral aspects closely connected with the purely religious ones.

The term religion has been used in many different senses, and it is therefore necessary that I should define what I mean by it. I take religion in the abstract, so to speak, as distinguished from any concrete religion, to be a belief in and a regardful attitude towards a supernatural being, on whom man feels himself dependent and to whom he makes an appeal in his worship. This definition seems to be in agreement with the most common usage of the word. It has been criticised on the ground that it would not apply to genuine Buddhism. But Buddhism was originally a metaphysical and ethical doctrine, which was transformed into a religion when the old gods of Brahmanism came back, when Buddha himself was deified, and Buddhism incorporated most of the local deities and demons of those nations it sought to convert.

The belief in supernatural beings is undoubtedly based on a feeling of uncanniness or mystery. Men distinguish between phenomena that they are familiar with and consequently ascribe to “natural” causes, and other phenomena that seem to them unfamiliar and mysterious and are looked upon as “supernatural,” or are supposed to spring from “supernatural” causes. We meet with this distinction among savages as well as civilised races. It may be that in the mind of a savage the natural and supernatural often overlap, that no definite line can be drawn between the phenomena which he refers to one class and those which he refers to the other; but he certainly sees a difference between events of everyday occurrence or ordinary objects of nature and other events or objects which fill him with a feeling of wonder or mysterious 2 awe. The feeling of mystery and the germ of a distinction between the natural and the supernatural are found even in the lower animal world. The horse fears the whip, but it does not make him shy; on the other hand, he may shy when he sees an umbrella opened before him or a paper moving on the ground. The whip is well known to the horse, whereas the moving paper or the umbrella is strange, uncanny, let us say “supernatural.” I had a mule that took no notice of a volley of guns discharged close to her, because she had been in war and was used to the sound, whereas she might take fright when she met a goat or saw an unusually large stone at the side of the road. Dogs and cats are alarmed by an unusual noise or appearance, and remain uneasy till they have by examination satisfied themselves of the nature of its cause.1 Even a lion is scared by an unexpected sound or the sight of an unfamiliar object;2 and we are told of a tiger who stood trembling and roaring in a paroxysm of fear when a mouse tied by a string to a stick had been inserted into its cage.3 Little children are apt to be terrified by the strange and irregular movements of a feather as it glides along the floor or lifts itself into the air.4

1 C. Lloyd Morgan, Animal Life and Intelligence (London, 1890–91), p. 339; G. J. Romanes, Animal Intelligence (London, 1895), p. 455 sq.

2 Gillmore, quoted by J. H. King, The Supernatural, i (London, 1892), p. 80.

3 Basil Hall, quoted ibid. i. 81. See also ibid. i. 78 sqq.; T. Vignioli, Myth and Science (London, 1882), p. 58 sqq.

4 J. Sully, Studies of Childhood (London, 1895), p. 205 sq.

Supernatural qualities are not only attributed to beings who are able to work wonders at will: the supernatural, like the natural, may also be looked upon in the light of mechanical energy, which discharges itself without the aid of any volitional activity. Such energy is utilised in magic. In religion, man appeals to or worships supernatural beings by natural means, such as prayers, offerings, abstinences and so forth; in magic, he attempts to influence either natural or supernatural objects or persons by supernatural means which act mechanically and coercively. The religious attitude is in its nature respectful and humble, the magical attitude is domineering and self-assertive. At the root of the difference between religion and magic there is thus a difference in the mental state of the persons who practise them. So far as religion is concerned, this agrees well with the notion so forcibly expressed by Schleiermacher, that the religious feeling is in its essence a feeling of dependence; whereas the word magician invariably suggests the idea of a person who claims to possess power and to know how to wield 3 it in the magic art. In order to achieve his aim he may make use of spirits, but then he coerces them; if he tried to gain their assistance by propitiation, his attitude would be religious, not magical.

This view of magic finds support in mediæval conceptions of it. It is true that the theologians mostly attributed the success of magic to demons, who were enticed by men to work marvels; but the demons were able to do so largely through their superior knowledge of the forces of nature.5 And besides the marvels worked by spirits, there were others which were produced without their aid, simply by the wonderful virtues inherent in certain objects of nature. To marvels wrought in this manner William of Auvergne applied the term “natural magic.”6 Albertus Magnus likewise associated magic with natural forces and the stars, as well as with demons;7 and Thomas Aquinas, though upholding the opinion that magic is due to demons, gives us a glimpse of a different conception of it, according to which magicians were able by personal qualifications, by subtle use of occult natural properties, by rites and ceremonies, and by the art of astrology, either to work wonders directly and immediately or to coerce demons to work wonders for them.8

5 L. Thorndike, A History of Magic and Experimental Science, ii (London, 1923), pp. 343, 973.

6 Ibid. ii. 343.

7 Ibid. ii. 553.

8 Ibid. ii. 604 sq.

Another view concerning the difference between religion and magic has been expressed by certain writers, from Robertson Smith onwards, who maintain that religion is social in its aim and magic at any rate non-social,9 or that magic includes “all bad ways, and religion all good ways, of dealing with the supernormal, bad and good as the society concerned judges them.”10 This use of the terms, however, is not in agreement with the most authoritative traditional usage. Besides black magic there is also white magic. Even mediæval theologians distinguished between good and bad magic. William of Auvergne (†1249), whose works present an unexpectedly detailed picture of the magic and superstition of his time, sees no harm whatever in “natural magic,” unless it is employed for evil ends; he observes that the workers of it are called magi, because they do great things (magna agentes), whereas others, 4 who work magic by the aid of demons, are to be regarded as evil-doers.11 Albertus Magnus defends the Magi of the gospel story and tries to exculpate them from the practice of those particular evil, superstitious, and diabolical occult arts which Isidore and others had included in their definitions of magic. “They were not devoted to any of these arts,” he says, “but only to magic as it has been described; and this is praiseworthy.” He was himself a believer in occult forces and marvels in nature, showed a leaning to the occult sciences, and was called, even by his panegyrists, magnus in magia and in magicis expertus.12 In the Liber aggregationis, a very popular treatise on magic which has been ascribed to Albertus but is of dubious authenticity, it is said that magical science (scientia magicalis) is not evil, since by knowledge of it evil can be avoided and good attained.13

9 W. Robertson Smith, Lectures on the Religion of the Semites (London, 1894), p. 264; É. Durkheim, Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse (Paris, 1912), p. 60 sqq.; H. Hubert and M. Mauss, ‘Esquisse d’une théorie générale de la magie,’ in L’Année sociologique, vii (Paris, 1904), p. 1 sqq.

10 R. R. Marett, Anthropology (London, s.d.), p. 209 sq.

11 Thorndike, op. cit. ii. 347.

12 Ibid. ii. 550, 551, 553 sq.

13 Ibid. ii. 726.

Nor does the definition according to which magic includes all bad ways and religion all good ways of dealing with the supernormal seem to me at all suitable for the purpose of scientific classification. It implies, for example, that a prayer to a god for the destruction of an enemy must be classified as religion if it is offered in a cause which is considered just by the community, but as magic if it is disapproved of. When a man makes a girl drink a love-potion in order to gain her favour, it is religion if their union is desirable from the society’s point of view, but if he gives the same drink to another man’s wife it is magic. The best part of what has been hitherto called imitative or homœopathic magic no longer remains magic at all; if water is poured out for the purpose of producing rain, it is homœopathic magic only in case rain is not wanted by the community, but if it is done during a drought it is religion. The acceptance of the view that the very same practices are religious or magical according as they have social or anti-social ends would overthrow well-established and useful terms and deprive us of the comprehensive, convenient, and in every respect appropriate attribute “magical” for all sorts of supposed impersonal occult or supernatural forces.

In spite of the essential difference between religion and magic they have, nevertheless, been connected with each other in various ways. Owing to the element of mystery which is found in both, magical forces may be personified as spirits or gods, or be transformed into divine attributes or lead to divine injunctions; and magical practices may become genuine acts of religious worship, or acts of worship may become magical 5 practices. Numerous instances of such transformations have been given in my book on the Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas. For example: the magical forces which give efficacy to curses have been personified as supernatural beings, like the Greek Erinyes of parents,14 beggars,15 and guests,16 and the Roman divi parentum,17 dii hospitales,18 and Terminus;19 or they may be transformed into attributes of the chief god, as in the case of Jupiter Terminalis or Ζεὺς ὅριος.20 The injurious energy attributed to work performed on the seventh day developed into a religious prohibition,21 and the uncanny feeling experienced in mentioning the name of a supernatural being readily leads to the belief that he feels offended if his name is pronounced.22 Curses and blessings become prayers;23 and on the other hand, prayers become spells which are believed to constrain the gods to whom they are addressed. This appears from the words of many formulas that are used as magical incantations. Assyrian incantations are often dressed in the robe of supplication and end with the formula, “Do so and so, and I shall gladden thine heart and worship thee in humility.”24 Vedic texts which were not originally meant as charms became so afterwards. Incantations are comparatively rare in the Rig-Veda, and seem even to be looked upon as objectionable, but towards the end of the Vedic period the reign of Brahma, the power of prayer, as the supreme god in the Indian pantheon began to dawn.25 The prayer is imbued with supernatural energy owing to the holiness of the being to whom it is addressed, and its constraining force may then be directed even against the god himself.

14 E. Westermarck, The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, i (London, 1912), p. 623.

15 Ibid. i. 561.

16 Ibid. i. 585.

17 Ibid. i. 624.

18 Ibid. i. 585.

19 Ibid. ii (1917), p. 68.

20 Ibid. ii. 68.

21 Ibid. ii. 286 sq.

22 Ibid. ii. 640 sqq.

23 Ibid. i. 564 sq., ii. 66–8, 120–3, 658, 686–90, 731.

24 K. L. Tallqvist, ‘Die assyrische Beschwörungsserie maqlû,’ in Acta Societatis Scientiarum Fennicæ, xx (Helsingfors, 1895), p. 22.

25 H. Oldenberg, Die Religion des Veda (Berlin, 1894), p. 311 sqq.; E. W. Hopkins, The Religions of India (London, 1896), p. 149; R. Roth, ‘Brahma und die Brahmanen,’ in Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, i (Leipzig, 1846), pp. 67, 71; J. Darmesteter, Essais orientaux (Paris, 1883), p. 132.

But the connection between religion and magic may be still more intimate. I have hitherto spoken of religion in the abstract, as distinguished from any concrete religion. In the popular sense of the word, which certainly must be respected, a religion may include many practices which are what I have called magical. In the ancient religions of the East religion 6 and magic are indissolubly mixed up together. According to Mohammedan orthodoxy the Arabic words of the Koran work miracles. The Christian sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist are rooted in magical ideas, and the efficacy ascribed to them has always retained a more or less magical character.26 Although the magical and the strictly religious attitudes differ from each other, they are not irreconcilable, and may therefore very well form parts of one and the same religion; there is no such thing as a magic being opposed to a religion. By a religion is generally understood a system of beliefs and rules of behaviour which have reference to, or are considered to be prescribed by, one or several supernatural beings whom the believers call their god or gods—that is, supernatural beings who are the objects of a regular cult and between whom and their worshippers there are established and permanent relationships. If it is admitted that the word “religion” may thus be legitimately used in two different senses, an abstract and a concrete, I think there is little ground left for further controversy as regards the relation between religion and magic.

26 Infra, ch. x.

While the origin of religion may be traced to the feeling of uncanniness and mystery, the moral consciousness has an entirely different foundation. For a discussion not only of the general relations between religion and morality, but also of my particular subject—the relations between Christianity and morals—I find it necessary to give a summary of my views concerning the nature of the moral consciousness, which I have expounded in detail in earlier works.27 The reader will notice what a fundamental position these views occupy in my arguments.

27 The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, two volumes (London, 1912, 1917), and Ethical Relativity (London, 1932).

All moral concepts, which are used as predicates in moral judgments, are ultimately based on one or the other of the two emotions, moral approval and moral disapproval or indignation. Both of them belong to a wider class of emotions, which I have called retributive emotions. Moral disapproval is a kind of resentment, by which I understand a hostile attitude of mind towards a living being (or something taken for a living being) conceived as a cause of inflicted pain; moral approval is a retributive kindly emotion, that is, a friendly attitude of mind towards such a being conceived as a cause of pleasure. They are related to other kinds of resentment or retributive kindly emotion: moral disapproval to anger and the feeling of revenge, and moral approval to gratitude. But the moral emotions 7 differ from those non-moral retributive emotions by being disinterested and, at least within certain limits, impartial. If some one inflicts an injury upon me, or upon a friend of mine, and I feel indignant in consequence, my indignation can be called a moral emotion only if it is felt independently of the fact that it was I or my friend who was hurt; it must be possible to assume that I should have experienced the same emotion if another similar person in similar circumstances had been subjected to the same treatment. Otherwise my emotion of resentment would have been not moral disapproval, but personal anger. So also, the kindly emotion which I feel for a benefactor can be called moral approval only on condition that it is disinterested and impartial; otherwise it would be personal gratitude.

The origin of retributive emotions may be explained by their usefulness to the species. Resentment, like protective reflex action, from which it has gradually developed, is a means of protection for the animal owing to its tendency to remove a cause of danger. The disposition to experience it may consequently be regarded as an element in the animal’s mental constitution that has been acquired through the influence of natural selection in the struggle for existence. And as natural selection accounts for the origin of the disposition to feel resentment, so also it accounts for the origin of the disposition to feel retributive kindly emotion. Both of these emotions are useful to the species: by resentment evils are averted, by retributive kindliness benefits are secured. But retributive kindliness is of much less frequent occurrence in the animal kingdom than resentment. In a very large number of species not even the germ of it is found, and where it occurs it is generally restricted within narrow limits. Anybody may provoke an animal’s anger, but only towards certain individuals is it apt to feel retributive kindliness. The limits for this emotion are marked off by the conditions under which altruistic sentiments tend to arise. In its primitive form we find it among animals living in groups, including the small group consisting of mother, or parents, and offspring. The associated animals take pleasure in each other’s company, and with this pleasure is intimately connected kindliness towards its cause, the companion himself, who is conceived as a friend. The altruistic sentiment would never have come into existence without such reciprocity of feeling. That there is such an enormous difference between the prevalence of resentment and that of retributive kindly emotion is easily explained by the simple fact that the living in groups is an advantage only to certain species, and that even gregarious animals have many enemies but few friends.

8 This explanation of the origin of resentment and retributive kindly emotion also holds true of the moral emotions in so far as they are retributive emotions; it accounts for the hostile attitude of moral disapproval towards the cause of pain and for the friendly attitude of moral approval towards the cause of pleasure. But it still remains for us to consider the origin of those elements in the moral emotions by which they are distinguished from other, non-moral, retributive emotions. First, how shall we explain their disinterestedness?

We have to distinguish between different classes of conditions under which disinterested retributive emotions arise. In the first place, we may feel disinterested resentment, or disinterested retributive kindly emotion, on account of an injury inflicted, or a benefit conferred, upon another individual with whose pain, or pleasure, we sympathise and in whose welfare we take a kindly interest. Our retributive emotions are, of course, always reactions against pain or pleasure felt by ourselves; this holds good of the moral emotions as well as of anger, revenge, and gratitude. The question to be answered, then, is, Why should we, quite disinterestedly, feel pain calling forth disapproval because our neighbour is hurt, and pleasure calling forth approval because he is benefited?

That a certain act causes pleasure or pain to the bystander may be due to the close association that exists between these feelings and their outward expressions. The sight of a happy face tends to produce some degree of pleasure in him who sees it; the sight of bodily signs of suffering tends to produce a feeling of pain. Moreover, sympathetic pain or pleasure may be the result of an association between cause and effect, between the cognition of a certain act or situation and the feeling generally evoked by this act or situation: a blow may cause pain to the spectator before he has witnessed its effect on the victim.

But the sympathetic feeling that results from association alone is not what is popularly called sympathy: it lacks kindliness. Arising merely from the habitual connection of certain cognitions with certain feelings in the experience of the spectator, it is, strictly speaking, not at all concerned with what the other individual feels. On the other hand sympathy, in the popular sense of the word, requires the co-operation of the altruistic sentiment or affection, a disposition of mind that is particularly apt to display itself as kindly emotion towards other beings. This sentiment, only, induces us to take a kindly interest in the feelings of our neighbours. It involves a tendency, or willingness, and, when strongly developed, gives rise to an eager desire, to sympathise with their pains and pleasures. But the altruistic 9 sentiment is not merely willingness to sympathise, it is above all a conative disposition to promote the welfare of its object. It is true that sympathetic pain, unaided by kindliness, may induce a person to relieve the suffering of his neighbour, but then he does so, not out of regard to the feeling of the sufferer, but simply to get rid of a painful cognition. The sight of the wounded traveller may perhaps have caused scarcely less pain to the Pharisee than to the good Samaritan; yet it would have been impossible for the latter to dismiss his pain by going away, since he felt a desire to assist the wounded man, and this desire would have been ungratified if he had not stopped by the wayside.

The co-operation of the altruistic sentiment with sympathy also produces in us disinterested retributive emotions, when the individual towards whom we are kindly disposed is hurt or benefited. In the tendency to feel such emotions, however, there is a great difference between resentment and retributive kindliness. Resentment towards an enemy is itself, as a rule, a much stronger emotion than retributive kindly emotion towards a benefactor. And as for the sympathetic forms of these emotions, it is not surprising that the altruistic sentiment is more readily moved by the sight of pain than by the sight of pleasure, considering that it serves as a means of protection for the species. Moreover, sympathetic retributive kindliness has powerful rivals in the feelings of jealousy and envy, which tend to excite anger also towards him who bestows the benefit on the other individual. As an ancient writer observes, “many suffer with their friends when the friends are in distress, but are envious of them when they prosper.”28 Among the lower animals there seems to be no trace of retributive kindly emotion felt as a result of pleasure taken in kindness shown to another individual. On the other hand, there is sympathetic resentment in consequence of an inflicted injury. A mammalian mother is as hostile to the enemy of her young as to her own enemy. Social animals defend members of their own group, which evidently involves some degree of sympathetic anger. When a young monkey which had been seized by an eagle cried for assistance, “the other members of the troupe, with much uproar, rushed to the rescue, surrounded the eagle, and pulled out so many feathers, that he no longer thought of his prey, but only how to escape.”29 Speaking of a group of chimpanzees in confinement, Professor Köhler says that if one of them was 10 attacked before the eyes of the others, great excitement went through the whole group; and that even the lightest form of punishment, such as pulling the ear of the offender, often stirred single members of the group to much more decisive action.30 Among domesticated animals sympathetic resentment may be felt even when the individual who is hurt belongs to another species. We are told by a trustworthy authority of a dog at Liverpool who saved a cat from the hands of some young ruffians: he rushed in among the boys, barked furiously at them, terrified them into flight, and carried the cat off in his mouth to his kennel, where he nursed it.31 The dog who flies at any one who strikes, or even touches, his master is a very familiar instance of sympathetic resentment.

28 Quoted by L. Schmidt, Die Ethik der alten Griechen, i (Berlin, 1882), p. 259.

29 C. Darwin, The Descent of Man (London, 1890), p. 101 sq.

30 W. Köhler, The Mentality of Apes (London, 1927), p. 286 sq.

31 C. Williams, Dogs and Their Ways (London, 1863), p. 43.

Among a gregarious species of animals the members of a herd are at ease in each other’s company, suffer when they are separated, rejoice when they are reunited, and very frequently display affection by defending each other, helping each other in distress and danger, and perform various other services for each other.32 Among men the members of the same social unit are tied to each other with various bonds of a distinctly human character—the same customs, laws, institutions, magic or religious ceremonies and beliefs, notions of a common descent, and so forth. As men generally are fond of that to which they are used or which is their own, they are also naturally apt to have likings for other individuals whose habits, ideas, and feelings are similar to theirs. Uncivilised peoples are as a rule described as kind towards members of their own community or tribe. Within these limits they are charitable and generous and their customs relating to mutual aid are often much more stringent than our own; and this applies even to the very lowest among them.

32 Darwin, op. cit. p. 100 sqq.; P. Kropotkin, Mutual Aid (London, 1902), ch. i sq.; F. Alverdes, Social Life in the Animal World (London, 1927), p. 133 sq.

While disinterested resentment may thus be felt in consequence of an injury inflicted upon another individual as a reaction against sympathetic pain, it may also be directly produced by the cognition of the signs of resentment. In the former case it is really independent of the emotion of the injured individual; we may feel resentment on his behalf though he himself feels none. In the latter case it is an emotion reflected through the medium of its outward expression in another individual. We are told that among bees, ants, and termites 11 signs of anger felt by one individual may awaken, the whole community to a high pitch of excitement.33 A group of the captive chimpanzees studied by Köhler might be thrown into a state of blind fury by the angry cries of one of its members, “even when the majority of its members have seen nothing of what caused the first cry, and have no notion of what it is all about.”34 When the yells and shrieks of a street dog-fight are heard, dogs from all sides rush to the spot, each dog being apparently ready to bite any of the others. So, too, in an infuriated crowd of men one gets angry because the other is angry, and often the question Why? is hardly asked. This form of disinterested resentment is of great importance both as an originator and, especially, as a communicator of moral ideas; it is, in fact, the main foundation of moral tradition. Men are inclined to sympathise with the resentment of persons for whom they feel regard; hence an act which, though harmless by itself, is forbidden by God and man may be not only professed but actually felt to be wrong. The punishment inflicted by the society, which as a rule is an expression of its moral indignation, may also, by arousing such a feeling, lead to the idea that it deserves to be punished. Children, as everybody knows, grow up with their ideas of right and wrong graduated, to a great extent, according to the temper of the father or mother; and men are not seldom, as Hobbes said, “like little children, that have no other rule of good and evill manners, but the correction they receive from their Parents and Masters.”35 Any means of expressing resentment may serve as a communicator of the emotion. Besides punishment, language deserves special mention. Moral disapproval may be evoked by the very sounds of words like “murder,” “theft,” “cowardice,” and others, which not merely indicate a certain mode of behaviour but also express the opprobrium attached to it. By the use of some strong word the orator raises the indignation of a sympathetic audience to its pitch.

33 S. J. Holmes, The Evolution of Animal Intelligence (New York, 1911), p. 209.

34 Köhler, op. cit. p. 288.

35 T. Hobbes, Leviathan, i. 11 (Oxford, 1881), p. 76.

There is yet a third way in which disinterested resentment may arise. In many cases people feel hostile to a person who inflicts no injury on anybody. There are in the human mind what Bain called “disinterested antipathies,” or sentimental aversions, “of which our fellow-beings are the subjects, and on account of which we overlook our own interest as much as in 12 displaying our sympathies and affections.”36 Differences of taste, habit, and, opinion easily create similar dislikes; and these, too, have played a prominent part in the moulding of the moral consciousness. The antipathy which is so commonly felt against anything unusual, new, or foreign, may lead to the idea that it is wrong; and when a certain act which does no harm—apart from the painful impression it makes on the spectator—fills people with disgust or horror, they may feel no less inclined to inflict harm upon the agent than if he had committed an offence against person, property, or good name. Such resentment may also arise from the observation of the feelings of others. As Abraham Tucker said, “we grow to love things we perceive them fond of, and contract aversions from their dislikes.”37

36 A. Bain, The Emotions and the Will (London, 1880), p. 268.

37 A. Tucker, The Light of Nature Pursued, i (London, 1840), p. 154.

We have already noticed that sympathy, in the popular sense of the word, may produce not only disinterested resentment but disinterested retributive kindliness as well: when taking a pleasure in the benefit bestowed upon our neighbour we are disposed to look with kindness on the benefactor. Moreover, as resentment may be produced by the cognition of outward signs of resentment in others, so kindly emotion may be produced by the signs of kindliness. Even a dog may be well-disposed towards a stranger when he sees a friend—whether a man or another dog—be friendly to him. Language communicates emotions by terms of praise as well as by terms of condemnation; and a reward, like a punishment, has some tendency to reproduce the emotion from which it sprang. Finally, men have disinterested likings as they have disinterested dislikes. As an instance of these may be mentioned the common admiration of courage when felt irrespectively of the object for which it is displayed—a feeling which has even elevated it to an independent virtue, and in any case tends to influence the moral verdict.

Having found the origin of disinterested retributive emotions, we have also partly explained the origin of the moral emotions. But, as we have seen, these emotions are not only disinterested, they are also impartial in a wider sense. The possibility of such impartiality, however, is explained by the answer to the more general question, how disinterestedness and a certain degree of impartiality have become characteristics of that particular kind of retributive emotions that we call moral emotions. The solution of this problem is not difficult to find. It lies in the fact that society is the birth-place of the moral 13 consciousness; that the first moral judgments expressed not the private emotions of isolated individuals, but emotions felt by the society at large; that tribal custom was the earliest rule of duty.

Customs are not merely public habits—the habits of a certain circle of men, a racial or national community, a rank or class of society—but they are at the same time rules of conduct. As Cicero observes, the customs of a people “are precepts in themselves.”38 We say that “custom commands” or “custom demands,” and even when custom simply allows the commission of a certain class of actions, it implicitly lays down the rule that such actions are not to be interfered with. And the rule of custom is conceived of as a moral rule which decides what is right and wrong. The Greek idea of the customary, τὸ νόμιμον, shows the close connection between morality and custom; and so do the words ἔθος, ἦθος, and ἠθικά, the Latin mos and moralis the German Sitte and Sittlichkeit. Moreover, in early society customs are not only moral rules but the only moral rules ever thought of. The savage strictly complies with the Hegelian command that no man must have a private conscience.

38 Cicero, De officiis, i. 41.

What does it mean that custom is a rule of conduct? It implies that every deviation from custom is apt to call forth public disapproval. In the lower stages of civilisation, especially, custom is a tyrant who binds man in iron fetters, and who threatens the transgressor not only with general disgrace, but often with bodily suffering or even death. In its ethical aspect custom is nothing but a generalisation of emotional tendencies, applied to certain modes of conduct and transmitted from generation to generation. Now if custom is a moral rule, the public disapproval aroused by its transgression may be properly called a moral emotion. Moreover, where all the duties of a man are expressed in the customs of the society to which he belongs, the characteristics of moral disapproval are naturally to be sought for in its connection with custom. Custom is fixed once for all, and admits of no purely individual preferences. It is equally binding for me and for you and for all the other members of the society. A breach of it is equally wrong whether I myself am immediately concerned in the act or not; this involves disinterestedness. So also the condemnation of it is independent of the relationship in which the parties concerned in it stand to me personally; this implies impartiality in a larger sense. And all this holds true whatever be the origin of any particular custom. It may have originated in selfishness 14 or partiality; the leading men of the society may at first have prohibited certain acts because they found them disadvantageous to themselves or to the class of people with whom they particularly sympathised. Where custom is an oppressor of women, this oppression may, in some measure at least, be traced back to the selfishness of the men. Where custom sanctions slavery, it is certainly not impartial to the slaves. Yet in one case as in the other custom is assumed to be in the right, irrespectively of one’s own station, and the women and the slaves themselves are expected to be of the same opinion. Such an expectation is by no means a chimera.39 Under stable social conditions, largely owing to men’s tendency to share the resentment of their superiors, the customs of a society are willingly submitted to and recognised as right by the great majority of its members, whatever be their station.

39 For instances of this see my Ethical Relativity, p. 111.

As public disapproval is the prototype of moral disapproval, so is public approval, expressed in public praise, the prototype of moral approval: it is characterised by the same disinterestedness and impartiality. But of the two emotions public disapproval, being at the root of custom and leading to the infliction of punishment, is by far the more impressive. Hence it is not surprising that the term “moral” is etymologically connected with mos, which always implies the existence of a social rule the transgression of which evokes public disapproval. Only by analogy has it come to be applied to the emotion of approval as well.

Though moral disapproval and approval have taken their place in the system of human emotions as public emotions felt by the society at large, they have not always remained inseparably connected with the feelings of any special society. The unanimity of opinion that originally characterised the members of the same social unit was disturbed by its advancement in civilisation. Individuals arose who found fault with the moral ideas prevalent in the community to which they belonged, criticising them on the basis of their own individual feelings. To deny such individuals the right of speaking in the name of morality true and proper would be to attach to this term a meaning which, in its narrowness, would be utterly different from the established usage of it. All that is required is that their retributive emotions should possess that disinterestedness and impartiality which have become moral characteristics in connection with custom, but may differ from public approval and disapproval either in intensity or with regard to the facts by which they are evoked. Indeed, the dissent from 15 the orthodox views of morality often arises from the conviction that the apparent impartiality of public feelings is an illusion. In the course of progressive civilisation the moral consciousness has tended towards a greater equalisation of rights, towards an expansion of the circle within which the same moral rules are applicable. And this process has been largely due to the example of influential individuals and their efforts to raise public opinion to their own standard of right.

My earlier statement that the predicates of all moral judgments are ultimately based on moral emotions by no means implies that such a judgment affirms the existence of a moral emotion in the mind of the person who utters it: he may do so without feeling any emotion at all. No doubt, to say that a certain act is good or bad may be the mere expression of an emotion felt with regard to it, just as to say that the sun is hot and the weather cold may be the mere expression of a sensation of heat or cold produced by the sun or the weather. But such judgments express subjective facts in terms which strictly speaking have a different meaning. To attribute a quality to something is not the same as to state the existence of a particular emotion or sensation in the mind that perceives it. This, however, does not imply that the term used to denote the quality may not have a subjective origin. I maintain, on the contrary, that the qualities assigned to the subjects of moral judgments really are generalisations derived from approval or disapproval felt with regard to certain modes of conduct, that they are tendencies to feel one or the other of these emotions interpreted as qualities, as dynamic tendencies, in the phenomena which gave rise to the emotion. A similar translation of emotional states into terms of qualities assigned to external phenomena is found in many other cases: something is “fearful” because people fear it, “admirable” because people admire it. When we call an act good or bad, we do not state the existence of any emotional tendencies, any more than, when we call a landscape beautiful, we state any characteristics of beauty: we refer the subject of the judgment to a class of phenomena which we are used to call good or bad. But we are used to call them so because they have evoked moral approval in ourselves or in other persons from whom we have learnt the use of those words.

Most people follow a very simple method in judging of an act. Particular modes of conduct have their traditional labels, many of which are learnt with language itself; and the moral judgment commonly consists simply in labelling the act according to certain obvious characteristics which it presents in common with others belonging to the same group. We hear 16 that some one has appropriated another’s property, this is theft, it is wrong; some one tells an untruth, this is lying, it is wrong; some one gives money to a needy person, this is charity, it is good; and so forth. But when we examine the nature of these acts we find that they are apt to give rise to or, as we may also put it, to become the objects of, certain emotions, either of disapproval or approval, and it is the tendency to feel one or the other of these emotions that has led people to call them bad or good. Those who first established the use of these and all other moral concepts felt disapproval or approval and expressed in the concepts their tendency to feel such an emotion in the given circumstances. This is what may be called the intrinsic meaning of the terms. I do not say that those who use them are aware of this meaning. We are often unable to tell what is really implied in a concept that we predicate to a certain phenomenon. When any one is asked what he means by saying that something is or exists, or that something is the cause of something else, I suppose that everybody who is not a philosopher, and even many a philosopher, feels somewhat bewildered. If we want to find out the intrinsic meaning of a term we have to examine the circumstances in which it is used. And in analysing the predicates of moral judgments, we are guided by the fact that if we ourselves emphatically and truly mean what we say when we pronounce such a judgment, we recognise that we are apt, or at least think we are apt, to feel a moral emotion of either approval or disapproval with regard to that on which the judgment is pronounced.

In order to show that the concepts which are used as predicates in moral judgments are ultimately based upon emotions it is necessary to examine the relations between the concepts and the emotions. This is a task which has been much neglected by the moralists of the emotional school, from Adam Smith to McDougall, although it is evidently a matter of paramount importance. I have undertaken it in my earlier works, and shall now only give a brief summary of my views. The import of the moral concepts is not a topic that requires, for the right understanding of the main subject of my book, as detailed a treatment as the nature of the emotions underlying them.

Moral disapproval has led to the concepts of ought and duty, right and wrong, justice and injustice. Every “ought”-judgment contains implicitly a prohibition of that which ought not to be done. Nobody would ever have dreamt of laying down a moral rule if the idea of its transgression had not presented itself to his mind. We may reverse the words of the Apostle and say that where no transgression is, there is no law; 17 the law-breaker is, in a way, the law-maker. When Solon was asked why he had specified no punishment for one who had murdered his father, he replied that he supposed it could not occur to any man to commit such a crime.40 We may certainly applaud him who is faithful to his duty in circumstances where the average man would have felt a strong temptation to yield to a contrary impulse. There is no contradiction in the omission of an act being disapproved of and the performance of it being praised; but “ought” and “duty” only express the tendency of an act’s omission to call forth moral disapproval and say nothing about the consequences of its performance. The tendency in a phenomenon to arouse moral disapproval is directly expressed by the terms “bad” and “wrong.”

40 Diogenes Laertius, Solon, 10; Cicero, Pro S. Roscio Amerino, 25.

“Right” is what is in conformity to duty, unless this term is simply used to point out that something is “not wrong.” And like the adjective “right” is also the substantive denoting “a right” rooted in the emotion of moral disapproval. To have a right to do a thing is to be allowed to do it, either by positive law, in the case of a legal right, or by the moral law, in the case of a moral right; in other words, to have a moral right to do a thing implies that it is not wrong to do it. But generally the concept of “a right” means something more than this. From the fact that an act is allowable follows, as a rule, that it ought not to be prevented; and this character of inviolability is largely included in the very concepts of rights. That a man has a right to live does not merely mean that he commits no wrong by supporting his life, but it chiefly means that it would be wrong of other people to prevent him from living, that it is their duty to refrain from killing him, or even, as the case may be, that it is their duty to help him to live.

Closely connected with the notions of wrongness and rightness are the notions of injustice and justice. “Injustice” implies a violation of some one’s right; “justice,” in the strict sense of the term, involves the notion that a duty to somebody, a duty corresponding to a right in him, is fulfilled. But at the same time “injustice” and “justice” are not simply other names for violating or respecting rights. When we style an act “unjust” we emphasise that it is not impartial, when we style an act “just” we point out that an undue preference would have been shown some one by its omission. It is the emphasis laid on the duty of impartiality that gives justice a special prominence in connection with punishments and rewards. A man’s rights depend to a great extent upon his actions. Other things being equal, the criminal has not the same rights to 18 inviolability as regards reputation, freedom, property, or life as the innocent man; the miser and the egoist have not the same rights as the benefactor and the philanthropist. On these differences in rights, due to differences in conduct, the terms “just” and “unjust” lay stress; for in such cases an injustice would have been committed if the rights had been equal. When we say of a criminal that he has been “justly” imprisoned, we point out that he was no victim to undue partiality, as he had forfeited the general right to freedom on account of his crime. When we say of a benefactor that he has been “justly” rewarded, we point out that no favour was partially bestowed upon him in preference to others, as he had acquired the special right of being rewarded. But the “justice” of a punishment or a reward, strictly speaking, involves something more than this; as we have seen, what is strictly just is always the discharge of a duty corresponding to a right that would have been in a partial manner disregarded by a transgression of the duty. If it is just that a person should be rewarded he ought to be rewarded, and to fulfil this duty is to do him justice. Again, if it is just that a person should be punished he ought to be punished, and his not being punished is an injustice towards all those whose condemnation of the wrong act finds its recognised expression in the punishment, inasmuch as their rightful claim that the criminal should be punished, their right of resisting wrong, is thereby violated in favour of the wrongdoer. Moreover, his not being punished is an injustice towards other criminals, who have been, or who will be, punished for similar acts, in so far as they have a right to demand that no undue preference should be shown anybody whose guilt is equal to theirs. Retributive punishment may admit of a certain latitude as to the retribution. It may be a matter of small concern from the community’s point of view whether men are fined or imprisoned for the commission of a certain crime. But justice demands that in equal circumstances all of them should be punished with the same severity, since the crime has equally affected their rights. The emphasis which “injustice” lays on the partiality of a certain mode of conduct always involves a condemnation of that partiality, and is thus a concept that is obviously based on the emotion of moral disapproval. And so is the concept of “justice,” whether it involves the notion that an injustice would be committed if a certain duty is not fulfilled, or it is used, more loosely, to denote that a certain course of conduct is “not unjust.” But the word “just” may also emphasise the impartiality of an act in a tone of praise. Considering how difficult it may be to be perfectly impartial 19 and give every man his due, especially when one’s own interests are concerned, it is only natural that men may be applauded for being just, and, consequently, that to call a person “just” may be to praise him. So also, “justice” is used as the name for a virtue, “the mistress and queen of all virtues.”41 But all this does not imply that an emotion of moral approval enters into the concept of justice as such. It only means that one word is used to express a certain concept, which ultimately derives its import from moral disapproval, and in addition an emotion of approval. That the concept of justice by itself has no reference to the emotion of approval is shown by the fact that it is no praise to say of an act that it is “only just.”

41 Cicero, De officiis, iii. 6.

From the concepts springing from moral disapproval we shall pass to those springing from moral approval. Foremost among these ranks the concept of goodness. The word “good” is applied to a great variety of objects. But whatever all other good things may have in common, “goodness,” in the emphatically moral sense of the word has a characteristic of its own, which makes it widely different from any other “good”: it is a concept rooted in the tendency to feel the emotion of moral approval, it is the general expression for moral praise. The word “virtue,” again, is usually applied to denote a disposition of mind characterised by some special kind of goodness. He who is habitually temperate possesses the virtue of temperance, he who is habitually brave the virtue of courage, he who is habitually generous the virtue of generosity. Even when a man is simply said to be “virtuous,” this epithet is given him, more or less distinctly, with reference to some kind or kinds of goodness: it may mean that he has many virtues, or that he has much of one. A Supreme Being who is regarded as all-good is not called virtuous.

Like the notions of goodness and virtue, the “meritorious” derives its origin from the emotion of moral approval; but while the former merely express a tendency to give rise to such an emotion, the “meritorious” implies that the object to which it refers “merits” praise, that it has a just claim to praise, in other words, that it ought to be recognised as good. This makes the term “meritorious” more emphatic than the term “good,” but at the same time it narrows its province in a peculiar way. Just as the expression that something ought to be done implies the idea that it possibly may not be done, so the statement that something is meritorious, in pointing out its goodness, implies 20 the idea that this goodness may fail to receive due recognition. It would be blasphemous to call the acts of a God who is conceived to be infinitely good “meritorious,” since it would suggest a thinkable limitation of his goodness.

 

CHAPTER II

RELIGION AND MORALITY (concluded)

THE gods of uncivilised peoples are to a large extent of a malevolent character, but they are not exclusively so; and though they as a rule take little interest in any kind of human conduct that does not affect their own welfare, some of them are also opposed to acts of ordinary wrongdoing. Among peoples of a higher culture, again, the gods are on the whole benevolent to mankind when duly propitiated. They resent by preference offences committed against themselves personally; but in many cases they at the same time avenge social wrongs of various kinds, act as superintendents of human justice, and are even looked upon as the originators and sustainers of the whole moral order of the world. The gods have thus experienced a gradual change for the better; until at last they are described as ideals of moral perfection, even though, when more closely scrutinised, their goodness and notions of justice are found to differ materially from what is deemed good and just in the case of men.42

42 See my book The Origin und Development of the Moral Ideas, ii (London, 1917), ch. l sq.

The malevolence of savage gods is in accordance with the theory that religion is born of fear. The assumed originators of misfortunes were naturally regarded as enemies to be propitiated; while fortunate events, if attracting sufficient attention and appearing sufficiently marvellous to suggest a supernatural cause, were commonly ascribed to beings who were too good to require worship. But growing reflection has a tendency to attribute more amiable qualities to the gods. The religious consciousness of men becomes less exclusively occupied with the hurts they suffer, and comes more and more to reflect upon the benefits they enjoy. The activity of a god which displays itself in a certain phenomenon, or group of phenomena, appears to them on some occasions as a source of evil, but on other occasions as a source of good; hence the god is regarded as partly malevolent, partly benevolent, and in all circumstances as a being who must not be neglected. Moreover, a god who is by nature harmless or good may by proper worship be induced 22 to assist man in his struggle against evil spirits. The protective function of nature gods becomes particularly important when the god is humanised also with regard to his shape, and consequently more or less dissociated from the natural phenomenon in which he originally manifested himself. Nothing, indeed, seems to have contributed more to the improvement of nature gods than the expansion of their sphere of activity. When supernatural beings can exert their power in the various departments of life, men naturally choose for their gods those among them who with great power combine the greatest benevolence.

Men have selected their gods according to their usefulness. We have many direct instances of such “supernatural selection.” Among the Maori “a mere trifle, or natural casualty, will induce a native (or a whole tribe) to change his Atua.”43 The negro, when disappointed in some of his speculations, or overtaken by some sad calamity, throws away his fetish, and selects a new one.44 When hard-pressed the Samoyed, after having invoked his own deities in vain, addresses himself to the Russian god, promising to become his worshipper if he relieves him from his distress; and in most cases he is said to be faithful to his promise, though he may still try to keep on good terms with his former gods by occasionally offering them a sacrifice in secret.45 North American Indians attribute all their good or bad luck to their Manitou, and “if the Manitou has not been favourable to them, they quit him without any ceremony, and take another.”46 Among many of the Indians of Central America there was a regular and systematic selection of gods. Father Blas Valera says that their gods had annual rotations and were changed each year in accordance with the superstitions of the people. “The old gods were forsaken as infamous, or because they had been of no use, and other gods and demons were elected. . . . Sons when they inherited either accepted or repudiated the gods of their fathers, for they were not allowed to hold their pre-eminence against the will of their heir. Old men worshipped other greater deities, but they likewise dethroned them, and 23 set up others in their places when the year was over. . . . Such were the gods which all the nations of Mexico, Chiapa, and Guatemala worshipped, as well as those of Vera Paz, and many other Indians. They thought that the gods selected by themselves were the greatest and most powerful of all the gods.”47 These are crude instances of a process which in some form or other must have been an important motive force in religious evolution by making the gods better suited to meet the wants of their believers. We find traces of it even in the Old Testament. “Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.”48 The Hebrews thought of the national religion as constituted by a covenant rite in which the parties were Yahve and Abraham,49 as also by a formal covenant sacrifice at Mount Sinai, where half of the blood of the sacrificed oxen was sprinkled on the altar and the other half on the people;50 and the idea of sacrifice establishing a covenant between God and man is also apparent in the Psalms.51 Robertson Smith and his followers have represented the covenant practices as acts of communion,52 but similar methods of covenanting, which I have found in Morocco, have led me to believe that those employed by the ancient Hebrews in covenanting with the deity aimed at transferring conditional curses both to the men and to their god.53 Such covenanting naturally presupposed a kind of selection.

43 J. S. Polack, Manners and Customs of the New Zealanders, i (London, 1840), p. 233.

44 J. Leighton Wilson, Western Africa (London, 1856), p. 212.

45 A. Ahlqvist, ‘Unter Wogulen und Ostjaken,’ in Acta Societatis Scientiarum Fennicæ, xiv (Helsingfors, 1885), p. 240. The ancient Scandinavians abandoned their old gods when they found that the Christian God was better able to satisfy their wants (H. Ljungberg, Den nordiska religionen och kristendomen [Stockholm and Köpenhamn, 1938], p. 315).

46 Bossu, Travels through Louisiana, i (London, 1771), p. 103; J. G. Frazer, Totemism (Edinburgh, 1887), p. 55.

47 Blas Valera, quoted by Garcilasso de la Vega, First Part of the Royal Commentaries of the Yncas, i (London, 1869), p. 124 sq.

48 Genesis xxviii. 20 sqq.

49 Ibid. xv. 8 sqq.

50 Exodus xxiv. 4 sqq.

51 Psalms 1. 5.

52 W. Robertson Smith, Lectures on the Religion of the Semites (London, 1894), lec. ix sqq.; E. S. Hartland, The Legend of Perseus, ii (London, 1895), p. 236; F. B. Jevons, An Introduction to the History of Religion (London, 1896), p. 225.

53 See my Ritual and Belief in Morocco, i (London, 1926), ch. x.

Men not only select as their gods such supernatural beings as may be most useful to them in the struggle for life, but also magnify their good qualities in worshipping them. Praise and exaggerating eulogy are common in the mouth of a devout worshipper. In ancient Egypt the god of each petty state was within it said to be the ruler of the gods, the creator of the world, the giver of all good things.54 So also in Chaldea the god of a 24 town was addressed by its inhabitants with the most exalted epithets, as the master or king of all the gods.55 The Vedic poets were engrossed in the praise of the particular deity they happened to be invoking, magnifying his attributes to the point of inconsistency.56 The Hindus say that by praise a person may obtain from the gods whatever he desires.57 There is a Chinese story that amusingly illustrates this little weakness of so many gods. At the hottest season of the year there was a heavy fall of snow at Soochow. The people, in their consternation, went to the temple of the Great Prince to pray. Then the spirit moved one of them to say: “You now address me as Your Honour. Make it Your Excellency, and, though I am but a lesser deity, it may be well worth your while to do so.” Thereupon the people began to use the latter term, and the snow stopped at once.58 “Every virtue, every excellence,” says Hume, “must be ascribed to the divinity, and no exaggeration will be deemed sufficient to reach those perfections with which he is endowed.”59 But though the tendency of the worshipper to extol his god beyond all measure is largely due to the idea that praise or flattery is as pleasant to superhuman as to human ears, it may also be rooted in a sincere will to believe or in genuine veneration. That nations of a higher culture, especially, have a strong faith in the power and benevolence of their gods, is easy to understand when we consider that such peoples have been most successful in their national endeavours. As the Greeks attributed their victory over the Persians to the assistance of Zeus, so the Romans maintained that the grandeur of their city was the work of the gods whom they had propitiated by sacrifices.60

54 A. Wiedemann, Religion of the Ancient Egyptians (London, 1897), p. 11.

55 F. Mürdter and F. Delitzsch, Geschichte Babyloniens und Assyriens (Calw and Stuttgart, 1891), p. 24.

56 A. A. Macdonell, Vedic Mythology (Strassburg, 1897), p. 16 sq.; A. Barth, The Religions of India (London, 1882), p. 26; E. W. Hopkins, The Religions of India (London, 1896), p. 139.

57 W. Ward, A View of the History, Literature, and Religion of the Hindoos, ii (London, 1817), p. 69.

58 H. A. Giles, Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, ii (London, 1880), p. 294.

59 D. Hume, Philosophical Works, iv (London, 1875), p. 353.

60 Cicero, De natura deorum, iii. 2.

The benevolence of a god, however, does not imply that he acts as a moral judge. A friendly god is not generally supposed to bestow his favours gratuitously; it is therefore not a matter of course that he should meddle with social morality out of sheer kindliness and of his own accord. But by an invocation he may be induced to reward virtue and punish vice. 25 The retributive activity of many gods is evidently very closely connected with the blessings and curses of men. In order to actualise their good or evil wishes men appeal to a supernatural being, or simply bring in his name to give their appeal that mystic efficacy which the plain word lacks; and if this is regularly done in connection with some particular kind of conduct, the idea may grow up that the supernatural being rewards or punishes it even independently of any human invocation. In Morocco the very patron saint of a village is expressly said not to care about the behaviour of its inhabitants outside the precincts of his sanctuary; yet I found that some particular saints not only resent theft committed at their own shrines, but also punish robbers who merely pass by, either preventing them from proceeding further until they are caught, or making it impossible for them to sell the stolen object, so that they are found out at last. In these cases their hostility to an offence which does not concern them personally is obviously due to the fact that those saints have been so often appealed to in oaths taken by persons suspected of theft that they have at last come to be looked upon as permanent enemies of thieves and guardians of property. At Fez there are certain saints who are said to be so much opposed to wrongdoers that they do not even suffer them to live in the neighbourhood of their shrines, and these saints are exactly those by whom it is considered most dangerous to swear; hence I assume that they have acquired their remarkable moral sensitiveness just by being such severe avengers of perjury.

Moreover, as I have pointed out before, the magical forces which give efficacy to curses may be personified as supernatural beings or may be transformed into attributes of the chief god. Various departments of social morality have thus come to be placed under the supervision of gods—such as charity, hospitality, the right of property, and the submissiveness of children. Gods are also frequently looked upon as guardians of truth and good faith, which I take to be mainly due to the common practice of confirming a statement or promise by an oath. A god is not only more powerful than ordinary mortals, but may also better know whether the sworn word be true or false; it is no doubt on account of their superior knowledge that sun or moon or light gods are by preference appealed to in oaths.61 Owing to its invocation of supernatural sanction, perjury is considered the most heinous of all acts of falsehood, but it has a tendency to make even the ordinary lie or breach of faith a 26 matter of religious concern. If a god is frequently appealed to in oaths, a general hatred of lying and faithlessness may become one of his attributes. There is every reason to believe that a god is not, in the first place, appealed to because he is looked upon as a guardian of veracity and good faith, but that he has come to be looked upon as a guardian of these duties because he has so often been appealed to in connection with them.

61 See The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, ii. 115, 116, 121 sq.

Where the oath is an essential element in the judicial proceedings, as it was in the archaic State, the consequence is that the guardianship of gods is extended to the whole sphere of justice. Truth and justice are repeatedly mentioned hand in hand as matters of divine concern, and the same gods as are appealed to in oaths or ordeals are also frequently described as judges of human conduct.62 Zeus presided over assemblies and trials;63 according to a law of Solon, the judges of Athens had to swear by him.64 And the Erinyes, the personifications of oaths and curses, are sometimes represented by poets and philosophers as guardians of right in general.65

62 See The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, ii. 115, 116, 121, 122, 686, 687, 699.

63 L. R. Farnell, The Cults of the Greek States, i (Oxford, 1896), p. 58.

64 Pollux, Onomasticum, viii. 12. 142.

65 E. Rohde, Psyche (Freiburg i. B. and Leipzig, 1894), p. 246.

We have still to consider another set of facts that have tended to make gods moral specialists. In the case of homicide the notion of a persecuting ghost may be replaced by an avenging god. Confusions are common in the world of mystery; doings or functions attributed to one being may be transferred to another. Among some North American Indians, though the revengeful ghost of the murdered man was not lost sight of, the deed was at the same time looked upon as offensive to Wakanda, “the Great Spirit”; no one wished to eat with the murderer; they said: “If we eat with the man whom Wakanda hates for his crime, Wakanda will hate us.”66 In the Chinese books there are numerous instances of persons haunted by the souls of their victims on their death-bed, and in most of these cases the ghosts state expressly that they are avenging themselves with the special authorisation of Heaven.67 The Greek belief in the Erinyes of a murdered man originated no doubt in the earlier notion of a persecuting ghost, whose anger or curses in later times were personified as an independent spirit.68 And 27 the transformation went further still: the Erinyes were represented as the ministers of Zeus, who by punishing the murderer carried out his divine will. Zeus was considered the originator of the rites of purification; at his altar Theseus underwent purification for the shedding of kindred blood.69 The ritual uncleanness ascribed to a manslayer was thus transformed into spiritual impurity.

66 J. Owen Dorsey, ‘Omaha Sociology,’ in Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, iii (Washington, 1884), p. 369.

67 J. J. M. de Groot, The Religious System of China, vol. iv, book ii (Leyden, 1901), p. 441.

68 See C. O. Müller, Dissertations on the Eumenides of Æschylus (London and Cambridge, 1853), p. 155 sqq.; Rohde, op. cit. p. 247; idem, ‘Paralipomena,’ in Rheinisches Museum für Philologie, neue Folge, xv (Frankfurt a. M., 1895), p. 6 sqq.

69 Farnell, op. cit. i. 66 sqq.; Rohde, Psyche, p. 249; idem, in Rheinisches Museum, neue Folge, xv. 18; P. Stengel, Die griechischen Kultusaltertümer (München, 1898), p. 140.

It has been said that when men ascribe to their gods a mental constitution similar to their own they eo ipso consider them to approve of virtue and disapprove of vice.70 But this conclusion is certainly not true in general. Malevolent gods cannot be supposed to feel emotions that essentially presuppose altruistic sentiments, and, as already said, an invocation may be required to induce a benevolent god to interfere with the worldly affairs of men. Moreover, where the system of private retaliation prevails, not even the extension of human analogies to the world of supernatural beings would lead to the idea of a god who of his own accord punishes social wrongs. But it is quite probable that such analogies have in some cases made gods guardians of morality at large, especially ancestor gods. These may readily be supposed not only to preserve their old feelings with regard to virtue and vice, but also to take a more active interest in the morals of the living; and they are notoriously opposed to any deviation from ancient custom. I also admit that the conception of a great or supreme god may perhaps, independently of his origin, involve retributive justice as a natural consequence of his power and benevolence towards his people. Yet it is obvious that even a god like Zeus was more influenced by the invocation of a suppliant than by his sense of justice. Farnell points out that the epithets which designate him as the god to whom those stricken with guilt can appeal are far more in vogue in actual Greek cult than those which attribute to him the function of vengeance and retribution.71 Hermes was addressed by thieves as their patron.72 According to the 28 Talmud, “the thief invokes God while he breaks into the house.”73 In Morocco the sultan of all the saints, Mûlai ʿAbdlqâder, has the epithet “the patron of liars,” and is said to be compelled to assist thieves and liars who invoke him, although he may afterwards punish them for their behaviour. The Italian bandit begs the Virgin herself to bless his endeavours.

70 Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (London, 1887), p. 232 sq.; C. Darwin, The Descent of Man (London, 1890), p. 95; C. P. Tiele, Elements of the Science of Religion, i (Edinburgh and London, 1897), p. 92 sq.

71 Farnell, op. cit. i. 66 sq.

72 L. Schmidt, Die Ethik der alten Griechen, i (Berlin, 1882), p. 136.

73 E. Deutsch, Literary Remains (London, 1874), p. 57.

At the same time we must again remember that men ascribe to their gods not only ordinary human qualities but excellences of various kinds, and among these may also be a strong desire to punish wickedness and to reward virtue. The gods of monotheistic religions in particular have such a multitude of the most elevated attributes that it would be astonishing if they had remained unconcerned about the morals of mankind. If flattery or genuine veneration makes the deity all-wise, all-powerful, all-good, they also make him the supreme judge of human conduct. And there is yet another reason for investing him with the moral government of the world. The claims of justice are not fully satisfied on this earth, where it only too often happens that virtue is left unrewarded and vice escapes unpunished, that right succumbs and wrong triumphs; hence persons with deep moral feelings and a religious or philosophical bent of mind are apt to look for a future adjustment through the intervention of the deity, who alone can repair the evils and injustices of the present. This demand of final retribution is sometimes so strongly developed, that it even leads to the belief in a deity when no other proof of his existence is found convincing. Kant maintained that, since an accurate correspondence between happiness and moral worth is not to be expected in a mere course of nature, we postulate a moral and all-powerful Supreme Being who establishes such correspondence. Not even Voltaire could rid himself of the notion of a rewarding and avenging deity, whom, if he did not exist, “it would be necessary to invent.”

The belief in a god who acts as a guardian of worldly morality undoubtedly gives emphasis to its rules. To the social and legal sanctions a new one is added, which derives particular strength from the supernatural power and knowledge of the deity. The divine avenger can punish those who are beyond the reach of human justice and those whose secret wrongs even escape the censure of their fellow-men. But on the other hand, there are also certain circumstances which detract considerably from the influence of the religious sanction when compared with other sanctions of morality. The supposed punishments and rewards of the future life have the 29 disadvantage of being conceived as very remote; and fear and hope decrease in inverse ratio to the distance of their objects. Men commonly live in the happy illusion that death is far off, even though it is in reality very near, and, therefore, the retribution after death also appears distant and unreal and is comparatively little thought of by the majority of people who believe in it. Moreover, there seems to be time left for penance and repentance. Manzoni himself admitted, in his defence of Roman Catholicism, that many men think it an easy matter to procure that feeling of contrition by which, according to the doctrine of the Church, sins may be cancelled, and therefore encourage themselves in the commission of crime through the facility of pardon. The frequent assumption that the moral law would scarcely command obedience without the belief in retribution beyond the grave is contradicted by an overwhelming array of facts. We hear from trustworthy witnesses that unadulterated savages follow their own rules of morality no less strictly, or perhaps more strictly, than civilised people follow theirs. Nay, it is a common experience that contact with a higher civilisation exercises a deteriorating moral influence upon the conduct of uncultured races, although we may be sure that Christian missionaries do not fail to impart the doctrine of hell to their savage converts.

It has also been noticed that a high degree of religious devotion is frequently accompanied with great laxity of morals. The orientalist Wallin, who had an intimate and extensive knowledge of Mohammedan peoples, often found that those Moslems who attended to their prayers most regularly were the greatest scoundrels.74 “One of the most remarkable traits in the character of the Copts,” says Lane, “is their bigotry”; and at the same time they are represented as “deceitful, faithless, and abandoned to the pursuit of worldly gain, and to indulgence in sensual pleasure.”75 Among two hundred Italian murderers Ferri did not find one who was irreligious; and Naples, which has (or had?) the worst record of any European city for crimes against the person, is also the most religious city in Europe.76 On the other hand, according to Havelock Ellis, “it seems extremely rare to find intelligently irreligious men in prison.”77 Most religions contain an element which 30 constitutes a real peril to the morality of their votaries. They have introduced a new kind of duties—duties towards gods; and even where religion has entered into close union with worldly morality, much greater importance has been attached to ceremonies or worship or the niceties of belief than to good behaviour towards fellow-men. People think that they may make up for lack of the latter by orthodoxy or pious performances. A Christian bishop of the seventh century, who was canonised by the Church of Rome, described a good Christian as a man “who comes frequently to church; who presents the oblation which is offered to God upon the altar; who doth not taste fruits of his own industry until he has consecrated a part of them to God; who, when the holy festivals approach, lives chastely even with his own wife during several days, that with a safe conscience he may draw near the altar of God; and who, in the last place, can repeat the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.”78 A scrupulous observance of external ceremonies—that is all which in this description is required of a good Christian. Smollett observes in his Travels into Italy that it is held more infamous to transgress the slightest ceremonial institution of the Church of Rome than to transgress any moral duty; that a murderer or adulterer will be easily absolved by the Church, and even maintain his character in society; but that a man who eats a pigeon on a Saturday is abhorred as a monster of reprobation.79 Simonde de Sismondi wrote: “The more regular a vicious man has been in observing the commandments of the Church, the more he feels in his heart that he can dispense with the observance of that celestial morality to which he ought to sacrifice his depraved propensities.”80 And how many a Protestant does not imagine that by going to church on Sundays he may sin more freely on the six days between? In reply to Starbuck’s question, “What does religion mean to you?” a sixty-seven years old business man wrote: “I find that the most religious and pious people are as a rule those most lacking in uprightness and morality. The men who do not go to church or have any religious convictions are the best. Praying, singing of hymns, and sermonising are pernicious—they teach us to rely on some supernatural power, when 31 we ought to rely on ourselves.” William James recognises in this man a sufficiently familiar type.81

74 G. A. Wallin, Reseanteckningar från Orienten åren 1843–1849, iii (Helsingfors, 1865), p. 166.

75 E. W. Lane, An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians (London, 1896), p. 551.

76 Havelock Ellis, The Criminal (London, 1895), p. 156.

77 Ibid. p. 159.

78 W. Robertson, The History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V., i (London, 1806), p. 282 sq.

79 Smollett, quoted by Lord Kames, Sketches of the History of Man, iv (Edinburgh, 1788), p. 380.

80 J. C. L. Simonde de Sismondi, Histoire des républiques italiennes du moyen âge, xvi (Paris, 1826), p. 419.

81 W. James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (London, etc., 1903), p. 92.

We come at last to a point in which religion, or rather the Christian revelation, is supposed to have exercised a profound influence on moral ideas: it is said to have invested them with objective validity.

All exponents of normative ethics assume that they possess such validity: that the moral values belong to a reality which exists whether there be a mind that perceives it or not, that what is said to be good or bad, right or wrong, cannot be reduced merely to what people think to be good or bad, right or wrong. It makes morality a matter of truth and falsity, and to say that a judgment is true obviously means something different from the statement that it is thought to be true. If a certain course of conduct is objectively right it must be thought to be right by all rational beings who judge truly of the matter and cannot, without error, be judged to be wrong.

Certain philosophers, like Mill and Kant, have adduced rational arguments to prove the objectivity of their first principles and thereby the existence of ethical truths. These have been rejected for good reasons, and the advocates of moral objectivity have generally resorted to a more convenient method of establishing it: they assume that there are self-evident moral principles perceived by intuition. But how can I know if a proposition is really self-evident or only supposed to be so? In the case of theoretical truths no truth is admitted to have a claim to self-evidence which is not generally accepted as self-evident or axiomatic by all those whose intellect is sufficiently developed to have an opinion on the matter worthy of any consideration at all; to speak with Sidgwick, the absence of disagreement between experts must be an indispensable negative condition of the certainty of our beliefs.82 As a matter of fact, however, in the case of moral principles enunciated as self-evident truths disagreement is radical. Some “moral specialists” say it is an axiom that I ought not to prefer my own lesser good to the greater good of another; whilst others not only deny the self-evidence, but thoroughly disagree with the contents, of this proposition. According to Sidgwick the assertion that pleasure is the only rational ultimate end of action is an object of intuition;83 according to Moore, also a professor of moral philosophy, 32 the untruth of this proposition is self-evident.84 The latter finds it self-evident that good cannot be defined;85 but others, who have no smaller claim to the epithet “moral specialists,” are of the very contrary opinion. What should we say if two professors of mathematics quarrelled about the axiom that “if equals be added to equals the wholes are equal,” to which Sidgwick compares one of his moral axioms?86

82 H. Sidgwick, The Methods of Ethics (London, 1913), p. 341 sq.

83 Ibid. p. 201.

84 G. E. Moore, Principia Ethica (Cambridge, 1922), pp. 75, 144.

85 Ibid. pp. 6, 8, 148.

86 Sidgwick, op. cit. p. 382 sq.

But besides rational arguments and intuitive insight that have been alleged to prove the objectivity of moral judgments there are also theological arguments. In spite of all his efforts to base his own theory on a non-theological basis, Rashdall feels compelled to admit that, in his opinion, the belief in God is the logical presupposition of an “objective” or absolute morality. “A moral ideal,” he says, “can exist nowhere and nohow but in a mind; an absolute moral ideal can exist only in a Mind from which all Reality is derived. Our moral ideal can only claim objective validity in so far as it can rationally be regarded as the revelation of a moral ideal externally existing in the mind of God.”87 He invalidates, however, in another place this argument by saying that “the belief in the objectivity of our moral judgments is a necessary premise for any valid argument for the belief either in God, if by that be understood a morally good or perfect Being, or in Immortality.”88 The two statements that objective morality presupposes the belief in God, and that the belief in God presupposes objective morality, lead combined to the logical conclusion that there is no valid evidence either for the existence of God or for the objectivity of moral judgments. According to Dean Inge, “Christianity lifts psychology out of mere subjectivism, and morality out of mere relativism. . . . The Christian point of view gives to conduct an absolute value.”89 Bishop Bohlin, after a penetrating review of the claim to objective validity made by normative moralists, arrives at the conclusion that only a divine revelation can give morality such validity.90

87 H. Rashdall, The Theory of Good and Evil, ii (London, 1924), p. 212.

88 Idem, Is Conscience an Emotion? (London, 1914), p. 194.

89 W. R. Inge, Christian Ethics and Moral Problems (London, 1932), p. 44.

90 T. Bohlin, Das Grundproblem der Ethik (Uppsala and Leipzig, 1923), p. 428 sqq.

The theological argument in favour of the objective validity of moral judgments, which is based on belief in an all-good God who has revealed his will to mankind, contains of course 33 an assumption that cannot be proved scientifically. But even if it could be proved, would that justify the conclusion drawn from it? Those who maintain that they possess in such a revelation an absolute moral standard and that, consequently, any mode of conduct which is in accordance with it must be objectively right, may be asked what they mean by an all-good God. If God were not supposed to be all-good, we might certainly be induced by prudence to obey his decrees, but they could not lay claim to moral validity; suppose the devil were to take over the government of the world, what influence would that have on the moral values—would it make right wrong and wrong right? It is only the all-goodness of God that might give his commandments absolute moral validity. But to say that something is good because it is in accordance with the will of an all-good God is to reason in a circle; if goodness means anything, it must have a meaning which is independent of his will. God is called good or righteous because he is supposed to possess certain qualities that we are used to call so: he is benevolent, he requites virtue and vice, and so forth. For such reasons do we add the attributes goodness and righteousness to his other attributes, which express qualities of an objective character, and by calling him all-good we attribute to him perfect goodness.91 As a matter of fact, there are also many theologians who consider moral distinctions to be antecedent to the divine commandments. Thomas Aquinas and his school maintain that the right is not right because God wills it, but that God wills it because it is right.

91 Cf. Shaftesbury, Characteristicks, ii (London, 1733), p. 49 sq.: “Whoever thinks there is a God, and pretends formally to believe that he is just and good, must suppose that there is independently such a thing as justice and injustice, truth and falsehood, right and wrong; according to which he pronounces that God is just, righteous, and true.” A similar remark has been made by G. Stumpf (Vom ethischen Skeptizismus [Leipzig, 1909], p. 22) and G. Heymans (Einführung in die Ethik auf Grundlage der Erfahrung [Leipzig, 1914], p. 8).

1 have thus arrived at the conclusion that the attempts of philosophers and theologians to prove the objective validity of moral judgments give us no right to accept such validity as a fact. I am now prepared to take a step further and assert that it cannot exist. The reason for this is that in my opinion the predicates of all moral judgments, all moral concepts, are ultimately based on emotions, and that, as is very commonly admitted,92 no objectivity can come from an emotion. It is of course true or not that we in a given moment have a certain emotion; but in no other sense can the antithesis 34 of true and false be applied to it. The cognition which gives rise to an emotion is of course either true or false; in the latter case the emotion may be said to be felt “by mistake”—as when a person is frightened by some object in the dark which he takes for a ghost, or is indignant with a person to whom he imputes a wrong that has been committed by somebody else; but this does not alter the nature of the emotion itself. We may call the emotion of another person “unjustified,” if we feel that we ourselves should not have experienced the same emotion had we been in his place, or, as in the case of moral approval or disapproval, if we cannot share his emotion. But to speak, as Brentano does, of “right” and “wrong” emotions, springing from self-evident intuitions and having the same validity as truth and error,93 is only another futile attempt to objectivise our moral judgments. The same may be said of Nicolai Hartmann’s assertions that “the sense of value is not less objective than mathematical insight,”94 and that the criterion of the genuine and the spurious sense of value “is nothing else than the primary consciousness of value itself,” which is also an intuition.95 But I find in his book no clear criterion of this “primary consciousness of value” as distinguished from any other feeling of value. Very generally the so-called intuitions are nothing but objectivised emotions, or emotional tendencies formulated as judgments, calculated to give moral values an objectivity they do not in reality possess.

92 See my book Ethical Relativity (London, 1932), p. 60 n.

93 F. Brentano, Vom Ursprung sittliches Erkenntnis (Leipzig, 1921), p. 18 sqq.

94 N. Hartmann, Ethik (Berlin and Leipzig, 1926), p. 141.

95 Ibid. pp. 55, 105 sq.

Although all moral judgments are ultimately based on emotions, the influence that intellectual factors exercise on such judgments is very great indeed. Emotions are determined by cognitions and differ in nature or strength according as the cognitions differ. This has been a very important cause of the variations of moral judgments: the same course of conduct is differently judged of because different notions are held as to its nature or implications. If a person tells an untruth we are apt to feel indignant; but if, on due consideration of facts, we find that his motive was benevolent, for instance to save the life of the person to whom it was told, our indignation ceases and may be followed by approval. And, to take another instance, at the lower stages of civilisation there is a considerable lack of discrimination between intentional injuries and accidental ones, and even among ourselves the outward event exercises a 35 great influence upon moral estimates.96 But if it is clearly realised that a certain event is the result of merely external circumstances, that it was neither intended by the agent nor could have been foreseen by him, then there could be no moral disapproval at all. Such an event could not even call forth a feeling of revenge. Sudden anger itself cools, down when it appears that the cause of the inflicted pain was a mere accident. Even a dog distinguishes between being stumbled over and being kicked.

96 We notice this influence even in certain rules and doctrines of mediæval Christianity. The principle laid down by Augustine (Sermo CLXXX. 2, in Migne, Patrologiæ cursus, xxxviii. 973), and adopted by Canon Law (Gratian, Decretum, ii. 22. 2. 3), that “ream linguam non facit, nisi mens rea,” was not always acted upon. Various penitentials condemned to penance a person who, in giving evidence, swore to the best of his belief, in case his statement afterwards proved untrue; and in other cases also penances were prescribed for mere misfortunes. If a person killed another by pure accident, he had to do penance—in ordinary cases, according to most English penitentials, for one year, according to various continental penitentials, for five or seven years; whereas, according to the Penitential of Pseudo-Theodore, he who accidentally killed his father or mother was to atone his deed with a penance of fifteen years, and he who accidentally killed his son with a penance of twelve (see The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, i. 230). The Scotists even expressly declared that the external deed has a moral value of its own, which increases the goodness or badness of the agent’s intention; and though this doctrine was opposed by Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventura, Suarez, and other leading theologians, it was nevertheless admitted by them that, according to the will of God, certain external deeds entail a certain accidental reward, the so-called aureola (F. A. Göpfert, Moraltheologie, i [Paderborn, 1899], p. 185).

The variability of moral valuation also depends in a large measure upon different cognitions arising from different situations and external conditions of life. We find, for example, among many peoples the custom of killing or abandoning parents worn out with age or disease. It prevails among a large number of savage tribes and occurred formerly among several Asiatic and European nations, including the Vedic people and peoples of Teutonic extraction. It is particularly common among nomadic hunting tribes, owing to the hardships of life and the inability of decrepit persons to keep up in the march. In times when the food-supply is insufficient to support all the members of a community it also seems more reasonable that the old and useless should have to perish than the young and vigorous. And among peoples which have reached a certain degree of wealth and comfort the practice of killing the old folks, though no longer justified by necessity, may still go 36 on, partly through survival of a custom inherited from harder times, and partly from the humane intent of putting an end to lingering misery. What appears to most of us as an atrocious practice may really be an act of kindness, and is commonly approved of, or even insisted upon, by the old people themselves. Or take the widespread custom of infanticide. Among the lower races custom often decides how many children are to be reared in each family, and not infrequently the majority of infants are destroyed. This wholesale infanticide is also mainly due to the hardships of savage life. Urgent want is frequently represented by our authorities as the main cause of it; and their statements are corroborated by the conspicuous prevalence of this custom among poor tribes and in islands whose inhabitants are confined to a narrow territory with limited resources. For a similar reason infanticide is or has been a custom among many peoples of a higher civilisation.

The variability of moral judgments further originates in different measures of forethought or knowledge based on experience of the consequences of conduct, and in different beliefs. In almost every branch of conduct we notice the influence which the belief in supernatural forces or beings or in a future state has exercised upon the moral ideas of mankind, and the great diversity of this influence. Religion or superstition has, on the one hand, stigmatised murder and suicide, on the other hand it has commended human sacrifice and certain cases of voluntary self-destruction. It has inculcated humanity and charity, but has also led to cruel persecutions of persons embracing another creed. It has emphasised the duty of truth-speaking, and has itself been a cause of pious fraud. It has promoted cleanly habits and filthiness. It has enjoined labour and abstinence from labour, sobriety and drunkenness, marriage and celibacy, chastity and temple prostitution. It has introduced a great variety of new duties and virtues, quite different from those which are recognised by the moral consciousness when left to itself, but nevertheless in many cases considered more important than any other duties or virtues.

From this motley crowd of influences I shall single out one the result of which has been particularly revolting to the moral feelings of Christians, namely human sacrifice. It is found not only among many savages, but occurred in early times among all Indo-European peoples, the Semites, and the Japanese, and in the New World among the Mayas and the Aztecs, who practised it on an enormous scale. The gods were supposed to be gratified by such offerings—because they had an appetite 37 for human flesh and blood, or because they required attendants, or because they were angry and could only be appeased by the death of him or those who aroused their anger or some representative of the offending community, or—who could exactly tell why? The principal thing is that people know or believe that on some certain occasion they are in danger of losing their lives; they attribute this to the designs of a supernatural being; and by sacrificing a man they hope to avert the danger from themselves by gratifying that being’s craving for human life. That this principle mainly underlies the practice of human sacrifice appears from the particular circumstances in which it generally occurs. In such cases it is mostly a matter of public concern, a method of ensuring the lives of many by the death of one or a few—absurd, no doubt, according to our ideas, but not an act of wanton cruelty. When practised for the benefit of the community or in a case of national distress, it is hardly more cruel than to compel thousands of men to suffer death on the battlefield on behalf of their country.

In so far as differences of moral opinions depend on different degrees of reflection, on knowledge or ignorance of specific religious or superstitious beliefs, or on different conditions of life and other external circumstances, they do not clash with that universality which is implied in the notion of the objective validity of moral judgment, as in every kind of truth. But the case is different with some other dissimilarities of moral opinion, which are due to other causes.

When we study the moral rules laid down by the customs of savage peoples we find that they in a very large measure resemble the rules of civilised nations. In every savage community homicide is prohibited by custom, and so is theft. Savages also regard charity as a duty and praise generosity as a virtue, indeed their customs relating to mutual aid are often more exacting than our own; and many of them are conspicuous for their avoidance of telling lies. But in spite of the great similarity of moral commandments, there is at the same time a difference between the regard for life, property, truth, and the general well-being of a neighbour which displays itself in savage rules of morality and that which is found among ourselves: it has, broadly speaking, only reference to members of the same community or tribe. Among peoples more advanced in civilisation the social unit has grown larger, the nation has taken the place of the tribe, and the circle within which the infliction of injuries is prohibited has extended accordingly. A distinction is still very frequently made between injuries committed against compatriots and harm done to foreigners, but both law and 38 public opinion may show a very great advance in humanity with regard to the treatment of the latter. And when we come to rules laid down by moralists and professedly accepted by a large portion of civilised mankind, we find such as have reference to the whole human race. It seems to me obvious that the dominant cause of this expansion of moral rules has been the widening of the altruistic sentiment. But this sentiment varies in different individuals both in strength and with reference to its objects. And this variability will always prevent the moral rules from being anything like uniform.

The variations of the altruistic sentiment in range and strength are also responsible for other differences of moral opinion. Even among ourselves there is no unanimity as to the dictates of duty in cases where a person’s own interests collide with those of his fellow-men. Sidgwick admitted that his axiom of “rational benevolence,” according to which, other things being equal, no one must prefer his own lesser good to the greater good of another, is more rigid than the view of common sense,97 and I fail to see that any process of reasoning or “intuition” could ever harmonise the different views. As Höffding said, no reasoning can change an egoist into a utilitarian; his position is so far unassailable.98 While everybody will agree that some amount of self-sacrifice is a duty in certain circumstances, the amount and the circumstances can hardly be fixed in general rules, and on the whole, in cases of conflicting interests the judgment must to a large extent remain a matter of private opinion. Kant, that high priest of ethical rationalism, wrote that it is impossible to assign definite limits how far I am bound to sacrifice to others a part of my own welfare without hope of recompense. “This duty, therefore, is only indeterminate; it has a certain latitude within which one may do more or less without being able to assign its limits definitely.”99

97 Sidgwick, op. cit. pp. 9, 13.

98 H. Höffding, Etik (Köbenhavn and Kristiania, 1913), p. 35.

99 Kant, Einleitung zur Tugendlehre, 8 (Gesammelte Schriften, vi [Berlin, 1914]), p. 393.

That moral judgments could not possibly possess that universality which is characteristic of truth becomes particularly obvious when we consider that their predicates vary not only in quality but also in quantity. There are no degrees of truth and falsehood; but there are degrees of goodness and badness, virtues and merits may be greater or smaller, a duty may be more or less stringent, and if there are no degrees of rightness, the reason for it is that right means simply conformity to the rule of duty. These quantitative differences of 39 moral estimates are due to the emotional origin of all moral concepts. Emotions vary indefinitely in strength, and the moral emotions form no exception to this rule. It should be noticed, however, that the quantity of the estimate expressed in a moral predicate is not identical with the intensity of the moral emotion which a certain course of conduct arouses on a particular occasion. We are liable to feel more indignant if an injury is committed before our eyes than if we read about it in a newspaper, and yet we admit that the degree of badness is the same in either case. The comparative quantity of moral estimates is determined by the intensity of the emotions which their objects tend to evoke in exactly similar circumstances.

But in spite of all differences of moral ideas there are most substantial similarities, which are due to the facts that they are all based on moral emotions, and that moral emotions are retributive emotions characterised by disinterestedness and impartiality. I have discussed these facts at a length which may have seemed exorbitant, but which I have found necessary for expressing and justifying my views on Christian morals.

 

CHAPTER III

THE ETHICS OF JESUS: THEIR RETRIBUTIVE CHARACTER

THE thesis that moral judgments are based on retributive emotions may seem to have been a strange introduction to the discussion of the ethics of the New Testament with their doctrine of love and forgiveness. But I maintain that this thesis is nowhere confirmed more strongly than in the teaching of Jesus as recorded in the three synoptic gospels.

While the Gospel of John is of great value for the history of the teaching of the early Catholic Church and the edifice of Catholic doctrines based on it, it is now very generally admitted to be a comparatively late document which does not give us an authoritative account of the work and teaching of Jesus, but represents a tendentious interpretation of the tradition. The synoptic gospels are founded on a tradition about Jesus which had been preached and taught in the Church either orally or else in small collections capable of expansion.100 Almost all scholars are now agreed that the short Gospel of Mark, which is earlier than its two companions, has been one of their sources; but that they in addition used also another source, now lost, which has been designated Q. As regards the amount of reliable information which the three gospels contain, it has been pointed out that wherever we can observe the methods of the synoptists we see how little they valued strict accuracy in the reproduction of their authorities, and how fully they felt themselves justified in treating the details with literary freedom.101 There is no doubt that Jesus never uttered the discourses attributed to him, but that they are artificial compositions of which the most which we can hope is that they employ authentic logia. On closer examination these discourses break up into a number of disjointed sayings or, at best, into small groups of sayings, which appear to be for the most part the work of the primitive community or of the gospel redactors.102

100 M. Dibelius, A Fresh Approach to the New Testament and Early Christian Literature (London, 1937), p. 66.

101 A. Jülicher, An Introduction to the New Testament (London, 1904), p. 368.

102 Cf. C. Guignebert, Jesus (London, 1935), p. 235.

41 It is a question whether the tradition, which had only recollection to sustain it, was sufficiently complete and precise to enable us to comprehend what Jesus said and meant. Harnack avers that the synoptics give us a clear idea of Jesus’ teaching in regard both to its main features and to its individual application.103 According to Dibelius, “the message of Jesus has been preserved for us in the first three gospels self-consistently and unspoiled.”104 Professor R. H. Lightfoot, again, concludes that the gospels yield us little more than a whisper of the voice of Jesus.105 Wrede says it should be borne in mind that only the earliest stratum of the material of the three gospels existed before the elaboration of the Pauline theology, and that a considerable part of it came into being alongside or after that theology, nay even—here and there—under its influence.106 In any case the ethics of Jesus are quite distinct: the principle of divine reward and punishment is the keystone of his moral teaching, which is thus an expression of retributive emotions—the basis of all moral judgments.

103 A. Harnack, What is Christianity? (London and New York, 1904), p. 32.

104 Dibelius, op. cit. p. 35.

105 R. H. Lightfoot, History and Interpretation in the Gospels (London, 1934), p. 225.

106 W. Wrede, Paul (London, 1907), p. 155.

It should be remembered that moral emotions are disinterested retributive emotions. Personal anger and vindictiveness are strongly condemned by Jesus:

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil:107 but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. . . . Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew v. 38, 39, 43 sq.).

107 The Revised Edition has “him who is evil,” but also “evil” as an alternative. J. B. Lightfoot (On a Fresh Revision of the English New Testament [London, 1891], p. 274) thinks that the former rendering is more likely to be the correct one; and N. Söderblom (Jesu bärgspredikan och vår tid [Stockholm, 1899], pp. 19, 194) insists on it.

“If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (ibid. vi. 14 sq.). See also ibid. xviii. 34 sq.

42 “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (ibid. xviii. 21 sq.).

“When ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark xi. 25 sq.).

“Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you. Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. . . . Love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest. . . . Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” (Luke vi. 27–30, 35, 37).

The injunction of forgiveness, however, is not always unqualified. According to Luke, Jesus said: “If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.”108 He also gave the following injunction: “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”109 Moreover, according to some manuscripts and the Authorised Version of the English Bible, Jesus said: “Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment”;110 whereas the qualifying clause “without a cause” is lacking in other manuscripts—both the 43 Codex Sinaiticus and the Vaticanus—and in the Vulgate,111 and has been omitted in the Revised Version of the English Bible. It would of course be absurd to blame a person for expressing moral indignation at an act simply because he himself happens to be the offended party.

108 Luke xvii. 3 sq.

109 Matthew xviii. 15–17.

110 Ibid. v. 22. Adalbert Merx (Die vier kanonischen Evangelien nach ihrem ältesten bekannten Texte [Berlin, 1897], p. 231 sqq.) has tried to show that this passage belonged to the original text; and Söderblom (op. cit. p. 9) considers his argument convincing. The passage is found in the very early Gothic version (Die gotische Bibel, ed. by W. Streitberg [Heidelberg, 1908], p. 2). For this information I am indebted to my friend Professor Hugo Pipping.

111 As also in the German and Swedish translations.

The injunctions of forgiveness and kindness to enemies are by no means exclusively Christian tenets. We find them in the Old Testament. “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart. . . . Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people.”112 “Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.”113 “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee.”114 “If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.”115 Sirach says: “Forgive thy neighbour the injury (done to thee), and then, when thou prayest, thy sins will be forgiven.”116 In the apocryphal book ‘The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs,’ which is supposed to have been written more than a century before the life and teaching of Jesus, we read: “If a man sin against thee, speak peaceably to him, and in thy soul hold not guile; and if he repent and confess, forgive him. . . . But if he be shameless and persisteth in his wrongdoing, even so forgive him from the heart, and leave to God the avenging.”117 In the Talmud it is said that “whosoever does not persecute them that persecute him, whosoever takes an offence in silence, he who does good because of love, he who is cheerful under his sufferings—they are the friends of God.”118

112 Leviticus xix. 17 sq.

113 Proverbs xx. 22.

114 Ibid. xxv. 21 sq.

115 Exodus xxiii. 4 sq.

116 Ecclesiasticus xxviii. 2.

117 ‘The Testament of Gad,’ vi. 3, 7, in R. H. Charles, The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (London 1908), p. 156 sqq.

118 E. Deutsch, Literary Remains (London, 1874), p. 58. Cf. A. Katz, Der wahre Talmudjude (Berlin, 1893), p. 11 sq.

The Koran, while repeating the old rule “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,”119 at the same time teaches that paradise is “for those who repress their rage, and those who pardon men; God loves the kind.”120 Mohammedan tradition puts the 44 following words in the mouth of the Prophet: “Say not, if people do good to us, we will do good to them, and if people oppress us, we will oppress them: but resolve that if people do good to you, you will do good to them, and if they oppress you, oppress them not again.”121 Goldziher emphasises Mohammed’s opposition to the traditional rule of the Arabs that an enemy is a proper object of hatred;122 and Syed Ameer Ali has collected various passages from the writings of Mohammedan scholars which prove that, in spite of what has often been said to the contrary, forgiveness of injuries is by no means foreign to the spirit of Islam.123 That “the sandal-tree perfumes the axe that fells it,” is a saying in everyday use among the Mohammedans of India.124 And Lane often heard Egyptians forgivingly say, on receiving a blow from an equal: “God bless thee,” “God requite thee good,” “Beat me again.”125

119 Koran, ii. 190: “Whoso transgresses against you, transgress against him like as he transgressed against you.”

120 Ibid. iii. 125. Cf. ibid. xxiii. 98, xxiv. 22, xli. 34.

121 S. Lane-Poole, The Speeches and Table-Talk of the Prophet Mohammad (London, 1882), p. 147.

122 I. Goldziher, Muhammedanische Studien, i (Leiden, 1896), p. 15 sqq.

123 Ameer Ali, The Ethics of Islâm (Calcutta, 1893), pp. 7, 26 sqq.

124 J. J. Pool, Studies in Mohammedanism (Westminster, 1892), p. 226.

125 E. W. Lane, An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians (London, 1896), p. 314 sq.

Kindness to enemies was inculcated by Chinese moralists. “Recompense injury with kindness,” says Lao-Tsze.126 According to Mencius, “a benevolent man does not lay up anger, nor cherish resentment against his brother, but only regards him with affection and love.”127 In the ‘Laws of Manu,’ the mythical Hindu legislator, the following rule is laid down for the twice-born man: “Against an angry man let him not in return show anger, let him bless when he is cursed.”128 It is said in the Buddhist ‘Dhammapada’: “Hatred does not cease by hatred at any time; hatred ceases by love, this is an old rule. . . . Among men who hate us we dwell free from hatred. . . . Let a man overcome anger by love, let him overcome evil by good; let him overcome the greedy by liberality, the liar by truth.”129

126 Tâo Teh King, ii. 63. 1; in The Sacred Books of the East, xxxix (Oxford, 1891). According to Thâi-Shang, 4 (ibid. xl. [1891]), a bad man “broods over resentment without ceasing.”

127 Mencius, v. 1. 3. 2; in J. Legge, The Chinese Classics, ii (Oxford, 1895).

128 The Laws of Manu, vi. 48; in The Sacred Books of the East, xxv (Oxford, 1886). Cf. ibid. viii. 313; M. Monier Williams, Indian Wisdom (London, 1893), pp. 444, 446; J. Muir, Additional Moral and Religious Passages metrically rendered from Sanskrit Writers (London, 1875), p. 30.

129 Dhammapada, i. 5, xv. 197, xvii. 223; in The Sacred Books of the East, x (Oxford, 1898). Cf. Jātaka Tales, Buddhist Birth Stories (London, 1880), i. 22; H. Oldenberg, Buddha (London, 1882), p. 298.

The principle of forgiveness had also advocates in Greece 45 and Rome. In one of the Platonic dialogues, Socrates says: “We ought not to retaliate or render evil for evil to any one, whatever evil we may have suffered from him”; though he adds that “this opinion has never been held, and never will be held, by any considerable number of persons.”130 In Stoicism the condemnation of anger and resentment is abundant. “Mankind is born for mutual assistance, anger for mutual ruin.”131 “Anger is a crime of the mind; . . . it often is even more criminal than the faults with which it is angry.”132 “The truly great mind, which takes a true estimate of its own value, does not revenge an insult because it does not feel it.”133 “We all are bad. . . . There is only one thing which can afford us peace, and that is to agree to forgive one another.”134 “If any one is angry with you, meet his anger by returning benefits for it.”135 “To suppose that we shall become contemptible in the eyes of others unless in some way we inflict an injury on those who first shewed hostility to us, is the character of most ignoble and thoughtless men.”136 “The Cynic loves those who beat him.”137 He is the best and purest “who pardons others as if he sinned himself daily, but avoids sinning as if he never pardoned.”138 “The best way of revenge is not to imitate the injury.”139 “Though we are not just of the same flesh and blood, yet our minds are nearly related, being both extracted from the Deity. . . . Nor can I find it in my heart to hate or to be angry with one of my own nature or family. For we are all made for mutual assistance.”140 “Remember always, when you are angry, that rage is the mark of an unmanly disposition. Mildness and temper are not only more human, but more masculine too.”141 “This is the way to disarm the most insolent, if you continue kind and unmoved under ill usage.”142 Some of these statements breathe rather dignity or pride than kindness; and Seneca makes the acute remark that “the most contemptuous form of revenge is not to deem one’s adversary worth taking vengeance upon.”143 Paul says, as it was said in the Proverbs, that if you feed your enemy when he hungers and give him drink when he thirsts, you will “heap coals of fire on his head.”144

130 Plato, Crito p. 49.

131 Seneca, De ira, i. 5.

132 Ibid. i. 16, ii. 6.

133 Ibid. iii. 5. Cf. ibid. ii. 32, iii. 25; Seneca, De clementia, i. 5.

134 Idem, De ira, iii. 26.

135 Ibid. ii. 34.

136 Epictetus, Fragmenta, 70.

137 Idem, Dissertationes, iii. 22, 54.

138 Pliny, Epistolæ, ix. 22 (viii. 22).

139 Marcus Aurelius, Commentarii, vi. 6.

140 Ibid. ii. 1.

141 Ibid. xi. 18.

142 Ibid. xi. 18.

143 Seneca, De ira, ii. 32.

144 Romans xii. 20.

46 A person who feels resentment may be a proper object of moral disapproval, not on account of the resentful impulse as such, but because it has been allowed to develop either into an intention or into a deliberate wish to make the other person suffer or, at any rate, into a wish that he shall have to suffer; and the word resentment may be vaguely used in all these cases. Jesus’ commandment, “Love your enemies,” may imply something more than the next one, “Do good to them that hate you”: it may enjoin you to try to check your anger; but it cannot reasonably make it an obligation for you to have a tender feeling towards your enemy. As Kant said,145 “love, as an affection, cannot be commanded,” and the reason for this is that it cannot be produced by any effort of will. But it is easy to see why thoughtful and sympathetic minds disapprove of resentment and retaliation springing from personal motives. Such resentment is apt to be partial. It is too often directed against persons whom impartial reflection finds to be no proper objects of indignation, and still more frequently it is unduly excessive. As Butler said, “We are in such a peculiar situation with respect to injuries done to ourselves, that we can scarce any more see them as they really are, than our eye can see itself.”146 “As bodies seem greater in a midst, so do little matters in a rage”; hence the old rule that we ought not to punish whilst angry.147 The restraining rule of like for like, which is frequently found among peoples whose customs permit or enjoin private revenge, has largely a social origin.148 As resentment involves no accurate balancing of suffering against suffering, there may be a crying disproportion between the act of revenge and the injury evoking it; a revengeful mind, said Sir Thomas Browne, “holds no rule in retaliations, requiring too often a head for a tooth, and the supreme revenge for trespasses, which a night’s rest should obliterate.”149 But if the offender is a person with whose feelings men are ready to sympathise, their sympathy will keep the desire to see him suffer within certain limits; and if, in ordinary circumstances, they tend to sympathise equally with both parties, the injurer 47 and the person injured, and, in consequence, confer upon these equal rights, they will demand a retaliation which is only equal in degree to the offence. The more the moral consciousness is influenced by sympathy, the more severely it condemns any retributive infliction of pain which it regards as undeserved; and it seems to be in the first place with a view to preventing such injustice that teachers of morality have enjoined upon men to love or be kind to their enemies.

145 Kant, Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten, sec. i (Gesammelte Schriften, iv [Berlin, 1911]), p. 399.

146 J. Butler, ‘Sermon IX.—Upon Forgiveness of Injuries,’ in The Analogy of Religion, etc. (London, 1893), p. 469.

147 Plutarch, De cohibenda ira, 11; Montaigne, Essais, ii. 31. “The sword of justice is ill-placed in the hands of an angry man” (Seneca, De ira, i. 19).

148 See E. Westermarck, The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, i (London, 1912), p. 178 sq.

149 T. Browne, Christian Morals, iii. 12 (Cambridge, 1716), p. 94.

Quite different from the resentment and retaliation springing from personal motives are moral resentment and the punishment in which it finds its expression. The moral indignation of Jesus was often intense. His attacks on the Pharisees, scribes, and lawyers were vehement in the extreme:

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. . . . Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. . . . Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. . . . Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew xxiii. 13–15, 23–25, 27, 28, 33).

“Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation” (Mark xii. 38–40).

In the Gospel of Luke there are similar attacks on the Pharisees and scribes, and on the lawyers as well (xi. 39 sqq., xx. 46 sq.).

48 The moral indignation of Jesus even led him to violent activity. He “went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”150

150 Matthew xxi. 12 sq. See also Mark xi. 15–17; Luke xix. 45 sq.

Resentment, moral and non-moral, varies indefinitely in intensity, and the same is the case with the act of retaliation to which it may lead. According to the teaching of Jesus, the future punishment of sinners is often enormous. As this is a fact which Christian apologists have ignored or smoothed over, I shall add other quotations from the gospels to those referring to the Pharisees, scribes, and lawyers:

“Whosoever shall say (to his brother), Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew v. 22).

“If thy right eye (or, ‘thy right hand’) offend thee pluck it out (or, ‘cut it off’), and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (ibid. v. 29 sq.). See also ibid. xviii. 8 sq.; Mark ix. 43–48.

“The children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew viii. 12).

“Whosoever shall not receive you (the disciples), nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city” (ibid. x. 14 sq.).

“Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew x. 28).

“Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell. . . . It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee” (ibid. xi. 21–24). See also Luke x. 12–15.

“The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire, there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. . . . So shall it 49 be at the end of the world; the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew, xiii. 41, 42, 49 sq.).

“Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (ibid. xviii. 6). See also Mark ix. 42.

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations, “he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. . . . Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. . . . And these shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Matthew xxv. 31–33, 41, 46).

“He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation” (Mark iii. 29). Cf. Matthew xii. 31 sq.; Luke xii. 10.

“Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke xiii. 3, 5).

“Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out” (ibid. xiii. 27 sq.).

The rich man of the parable died and was buried, “and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, . . . I am tormented in this flame” (ibid. xvi. 22–24).

When Jesus was asked, “Lord, are there few that be saved?” he said: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”151 On another occasion, in his Sermon on the Mount, he said: “Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth into life, and few there be that find it.”152 He also said: “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.”153 Modern theology pretends to be better informed. In Hastings’ Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics we read that New Testament teaching, taken as a whole, suggests the salvation of the great bulk of mankind and 50 reprobation as the rare exception.154 In support of this statement the author quotes some inconclusive passages from John and Timothy and only one from the synoptic gospels, namely the saying that “the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.”155 He is also very optimistic as to the condition of the lost. He says that the general principle of the judgment will be the loss of faculties which have been abused, and continues: “It is not necessary to regard the condition of the lost as absolutely intolerable, though, in contrast with the bliss of the redeemed, it will appear most sad. Its sadness will consist mainly in regret for the loss of the Beatific Vision, and remorse for the criminal folly which has led to their degradation from the rank of responsible beings. On the other hand, their condition may admit of important alleviations. Thus they can sin no more, and will perform the will of God unerringly, which will surely be for their good. Moreover, their enjoyment of natural goods, though impaired, will not be destroyed. In fact, it even seems possible to regard their condition as one of relative happiness of a purely natural kind.”156 I should have thought that there could not be much enjoyment of natural goods or happiness in the furnace of hell.

151 Luke xiii. 23 sq.

152 Matthew vii. 13 sq.

153 Ibid. xxii. 13 sq. See also ibid. xx. 16.

154 C. Harris, ‘State of the Dead (Christian),’ in J. Hastings, Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, xi (Edinburgh, 1920), p. 836 sq.

155 Matthew xviii. 11.

156 Harris, loc. cit. p. 837.

It is, however, nowadays a widespread opinion that Jesus did not believe in fiery torment in hell. The statements referring to it in the gospels are said to be either non-authentic—later glosses added in oral tradition or by the evangelists157—or to be interpreted in a figurative sense. It is argued that they are chiefly found in the first gospel, “the Jewish gospel,” and are absent from the parallel passages in the other gospels; but the fire of hell is nevertheless mentioned also by Mark and Luke. Another argument is that they are inconsistent with Jesus’ true and original gospel of the love of God, which compels us to regard them as metaphorical. But, as Dr. Cadoux remarks, “to have recourse to figurative interpretation whenever Jesus’ words clash with modern knowledge or belief, in order to maintain the complete conformity of our beliefs with his words, is an unnatural and forced proceeding, which does violence to the instinct of truth.”158 The explanation of the gospel passages concerning hell seems simple enough. It is generally admitted that Jesus shared with his Jewish contemporaries other beliefs 51 which are now held untenable. The later pre-Christian Jewish writings contain a variety of detailed descriptions of future punishment in which torment and destruction by fire are constant features.159 Of particular importance is the passage in which Isaiah speaks of the damnation of the wicked, when “the Lord will come with fire . . . to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames,” and of the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against him; “for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched.”160 This passage is evidently the source of Mark’s reference to hell “where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”161

157 Lily Dougall and C. W. Emmet, The Lord of Thought (London, 1922), p. 249.

158 C. J. Cadoux, Catholicism and Christianity (London, 1928), p. 214.

159 Ibid. p. 523; F. Schwally, Das Leben nach dem Tode nach den Vorstellungen des alten Israel und des Judentums einschliesslich des Volksglaubens im Zeitalter Christi (Giessen, 1892), p. 174 sqq.

160 Isaiah lxvi. 15, 24.

161 Mark ix. 43–48.

The immense bulk of Christians have naturally regarded hell and its agonies as material facts. Origen, who was a Platonist and a heretic in many respects, was severely censured for assuming that the souls of the unpurified ones pass into a cleansing fire which is only temporary and figurative, simply consisting in the torments of conscience;162 and in the ninth century Scotus Erigena showed unusual audacity in questioning the locality of hell and the material tortures of the condemned.163 Some great Protestant divines, like Jeremy Taylor and Jonathan Edwards, were anxious to point out that the fire of hell is infinitely more painful than any fire on earth, being “fierce enough to melt the very rocks and elements.”164 This awful punishment also exceeds in dreadfulness anything which even the most vivid imagination can conceive, because it will last not for a passing moment, nor for a year or a hundred, thousand, million, or milliard years, but for ever and ever. In case any doubt should arise as regards the physical capacity of the damned to withstand the heat, we are assured by some reputed theologians that their bodies will be annealed like glass or asbestos-like or of the nature of salamanders,165 which was already suggested by Augustine.166 It would seem that even the felicity of the few who were saved must be seriously impaired by their contemplation of this endless and undescribable misery, but we are told that the case is just the reverse. They become 52 as merciless as their god. Thomas Aquinas says that a perfect sight of the punishment of the damned is granted them that they “may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more richly.”167 And the Puritans, especially, have revelled in the idea that “the sight of hell torments will exalt the happiness of the saints for ever,” as a sense of the opposite misery always increases the relish of any pleasure.168

162 Origen, περὶ ἀρχῶν, ii. 10. 4; idem, Contra Celsum, v. 15, vi. 26.

163 H. H. Milman, History of Latin Christianity, ix (London, 1864), p. 88 n. k.

164 W. R. Alger, A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life (Philadelphia, 1864), p. 516 sq.

165 Ibid. pp. 518, 520.

166 Augustine, De civitate Dei, xxi. 4.

167 Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, iii. Supplementum, xciv. 1. 2.

168 J. Edwards, Works, vii (London, 1817), p. 480; Alger, op. cit. p. 541.

It was only in the nineteenth century that, at last, a more considerable number of Christians began to feel shocked by the ancient doctrine of eternal punishment. Nowadays, according to Dr. Major, the general belief in the English Church is “that the soul at death passes into the spirit world, and never again has anything to do with its fleshly integument, which has been deposited in the grave”; and a conviction has grown up that heaven and hell are thought of not as localities but as personal states, and that there is every degree of purgatory between them.169 Thus Mr. R. H. Charles has tried to show that the fire spoken of by Jesus is not to be conceived sensuously, but as a symbol of the divine wrath, and that the place of punishment for the wicked is apparently a place of spiritual punishment only.170 Modern theology constantly falls back upon symbolism as an interpretation of unpalatable statements found in the gospels. This, it is said, safeguards the Saviour’s infallibility. But what about his honesty? In the recent Report of the Commission on Christian Doctrine appointed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York it is argued that eschatological beliefs are inevitably expressed in symbolical language, being matters in respect of which “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,” and the essence of hell is described as “exclusion from the fellowship of God.”171 This implies that Jesus said what he did not mean, but terrified the simple and ignorant people to whom he spoke, and countless succeeding generations, by words which it has taken nearly two thousand years for learned theologians to decipher.

169 H. D. A. Major, ‘Towards Prayer Book Revision,’ in The Church and the Twentieth Century, ed. by G. L. H. Harvey, p. 99 sq.

170 R. H. Charles, A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel, in Judaism, and in Christianity (London, 1913), pp. 399, 475.

171 Doctrine in the Church of England (London, 1938), pp. 203, 219.

As to the conception of the divine retribution for unrighteousness there are important differences between the teaching of the gospels and that of the Old Testament. According to the latter, 53 the judgment of God is carried out in this life, according to the former predominantly after death. Among the Jews the belief in a future state began only in prophetic times, when it was clearly spoken of for the first time in the following passage in the book of Daniel: “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament.”172 But belief in the resurrection of individuals and a final judgment had become elements of Jewish religion when Jesus was born.173 The other difference between the ideas of retribution in the Old Testament and in the gospels was due to the Hebrew belief that sin affects the nation through the individual and entails guilt on succeeding generations. The anger of the Lord is kindled against the children of Israel on account of Achan’s sin.174 The sin of the sons of Eli is visited on his whole house from generation to generation.175 Because Saul has slain the Gibeonites, the Lord sends in the days of David a three years’ famine, which ceases only when seven of Saul’s sons are hanged.176 The notion of a jealous God who visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate him,177 is also frequently met with in the Old Testament Apocrypha.178

172 Daniel xii. 2 sq.

173 A. Schweitzer, Die Mystik des Apostels Paulus (Tübingen, 1930), p. 89 sq.

174 Joshua vii. 1.

175 1 Samuel ii. 21 sqq.

176 2 Samuel xxi. 1 sqq.

177 Exodus xx. 5, 7; Numbers xiv. 18; Deuteronomy v. 9. Cf. Leviticus xxvi. 39.

178 Ecclesiasticus xvi. 4, xli. 5 sqq.; Wisdom of Solomon iii. 12, 16 sqq.

The infliction of penal suffering on guiltless persons in consequence of the sins of others is contrary to the nature of moral indignation, which, as a retributive emotion, is a hostile attitude of mind towards a living being conceived as a cause of pain. The retribution of a god is in many cases nothing but an outburst of sudden anger, or an act of private revenge, and is as such particularly liable to lack sufficient discrimination. It may also be extended beyond the limits of individual guilt, because sin is looked upon as a kind of material substance which may be transmitted from parents to offspring. To this day the Jews in Morocco sometimes go on their New Year’s Day to the seashore or to a spring and remove their sins by throwing stones into the water. The words of the Psalmist, “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin,”179 54 were not altogether a figure of speech. That sin is contagious was expressly stated by Novatian, who said that “the one is defiled by the sin of the other, and the idolatry of the transgressor passes over to him who does not transgress.”180 In this materialistic conception of sin there is an obvious confusion between cause and effect, between the sin and its punishment. This carries with it the idea that the injurious energy inherent in sin will sooner or later discharge itself to the discomfort or destruction of anybody who is affected with it. The sick Chinese says of his sickness, “It is my sin,” instead of saying, “It is the punishment of my sin”;181 and both in Hebrew and in the Vedic language the word for sin is used in a similar way.182 “In the consciousness of the pious Israelite,” says Schultz, “sin, guilt, and punishment, are ideas so directly connected that the words for them are interchangeable”; the prophets frequently and emphatically declare that there is in sin itself a power which must destroy the sinner.183 Finally it should be noticed that while the resentment of a man is a matter of experience, that of a god is a matter of inference. That some particular case of suffering is a divine punishment may therefore be assumed on the ground of the conviction that a certain heinous sin cannot be left unpunished. When the sinner himself escapes all punishment, leading a happy life till his death, the conclusion is thus near at hand that any grave misfortune which befalls his descendants is the delayed retribution of the offended god.184 Such a conclusion may especially force itself upon a mind which has no idea of a hell with post mortem punishments for the wicked.

179 Psalms li. 2.

180 Novatian, quoted by A. Harnack, History of Dogma, ii (London. 1896), p. 119.

181 J. Edkins, Religion in China (London, 1878), p. 134.

182 M. Holzman, ‘Sünde und Sühne in den Rigvedahymnen und den Psalmen,’ in Zeitschrift für Völkerpsychologie und Sprachwissenschaft, xv (Berlin, 1884), p. 9.

183 H. Schultz, Old Testament Theology, ii (Edinburgh, 1892), pp. 306, 308 sq.

184 Cf. Isocrates, Oratio de pace, 120; Cicero, De natura deorum, iii. 38.

But a moral consciousness which is sufficiently guided by discrimination and sympathy cannot acquiesce in penal suffering being inflicted upon the guiltless. Protests against it are heard from different quarters both with reference to human justice and with reference to the retribution of gods. Plato lays down the rule that “the disgrace and punishment of the father is not to be visited on the children.”185 According to Roman law, “crimen vel poena paterna nullam maculam filio infligere 55 potest.”186 The Deuteronomist enjoins: “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.”187 And Jeremiah and Ezekiel broke with the old notion of divine vengeance by extending the law of individual responsibility to the sphere of religion. “Every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.”188 “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.”189

185 Plato, Leges, ix. 854.

186 Digesta, xlviii. 19. 26. Cf. ibid. xlviii. 19. 20.

187 Deuteronomy xxiv. 16. Cf. 2 Kings xiv. 6.

188 Jeremiah xxxi. 30.

189 Ezekiel xviii. 20. For Talmudic views, see E. Deutsch, op. cit. p. 52.

While the belief in divine retribution after death favours the acceptance of the principle of individual responsibility, it lays itself open to criticism on the plea of being at variance with the moral justification of punishment. The punishment which society inflicts on a criminal is intrinsically an expression of its moral indignation. For ages it was looked upon as a matter of course that a person who has committed a crime should have to suffer for it because he deserves to be punished. This is still the notion of the multitude, as also of a host of theorisers, who by calling punishment an expiation, or a reparation, or a restoration of the disturbed equilibrium of justice, or some similar term, only endeavour to give philosophical sanction to a social institution which is rooted in an emotion. But the infliction of pain is not an act which the moral consciousness regards with indifference even in the case of a criminal; and to many enlightened minds with keen sympathy for human suffering it has appeared both unreasonable and cruel that the State should wilfully torment him to no purpose. It may certainly be thought that men have no right to give vent to their moral resentment in a way which hurts their neighbours, unless some benefit may be expected from it. In the case of many other emotions we hold that the conative element in the emotion ought not to be allowed to develop into a distinct volition or act; and it would seem that a similar view might be taken with reference to the aggressiveness of moral disapproval. It is a notion of this kind that is at the bottom of the condemnation of retributive punishment. But at the same time punishment itself is defended. It is only looked upon in 56 a different light, not as an end in itself but as the means of attaining an end. It is to be inflicted not because wrong has been done, but in order that wrong be not done. Its object is held to be either to deter from crime, or to reform the criminal, or by means of elimination or seclusion to make it physically impossible for him to commit fresh crimes.

A punishment inflicted after the death of the culprit cannot serve the aim of eliminating a dangerous individual, because he can no longer do any harm. Nor can it be of any use as a means of deterring him from committing fresh crimes, because he is incapable of doing it. Nor can it be supposed to have any reformatory effect of value to him or to anybody else, if the punishment is eternal. The only thing that may be gained by it is that the threat of it may intimidate the living. In an earlier chapter I have drawn attention to certain facts which seem to detract considerably from its usefulness in this respect; but to inspire fear of damnation has certainly been a prominent object of Christian moralists from the very beginning till our own times, and not without some degree of success.190

190 Supra, p. 28 sq.; infra, p. 406 sq.

On the other hand, as I have endeavoured to show in detail elsewhere,191 those theorists who think it possible to make punishment independent of moral resentment are victims of an illusion. Whether they are advocates of the theory of determent or the theory of reformation, it has escaped them that they themselves are under the influence of the very principle they reject, because they have failed to grasp its true import. Rightly understood, resentment is preventive in its nature; it is not only aroused by pain, but is a hostile attitude towards its cause, and its tendency is to remove this cause. And it may aim at its removal by bringing about repentance in the offender, which is the reformationists’ object of punishment. Thus resentment not only gives rise to punishment, but readily suggests as its proper end either determent or amendment or both. But first of all moral resentment raises a protest against wrong. And whatever theorists may say on the matter, the immediate aim of punishment has always been to give expression to the righteous indignation of the society which inflicts it.

191 Westermarck, op. cit. i. 82 sqq.; idem, Ethical Relativity (London, 1932), p. 78 sqq.

The dependence of punishment upon moral resentment also shows itself in the fact that its degree is influenced by the degree of the resentment. Though a severe punishment may be the most effective deterrent, our feelings object to its application if the crime is slight; and in any case they put a limit to the 57 intensity of suffering to be inflicted upon a criminal, whatever his crime may be. In former times burning was a penalty for certain offences which were considered particularly atrocious, but it is utterly revolting to the moral consciousness of modern men. Yet its agonies lasted only for a few minutes. What, then, shall we say of the everlasting torments in the furnace of hell as a punishment even for persons who “desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew make long prayers”?192 The only thing which can be said in excuse of them is that their horror is never clearly perceived by any one who predicts them.

192 Luke xx. 46 sq.

Side by side with the doctrine of retribution there is in the gospels the message of forgiveness. John the Baptist preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, “and there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptised of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” And he preached, saying: “There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptised you with water: but he shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost.”193 “After that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”194 “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”195 “Pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, . . . forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. . . . For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”196 Yet there is a limit to forgiveness: “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.”197

193 Mark i. 4, 5, 7 sq. Cf. Matthew iii. 1, 2, 5, 6, 11; Luke iii. 2, 3, 16.

194 Mark i. 14 sq. Cf. Matthew iv. 17.

195 Luke v. 32. See infra, p. 68.

196 Matthew vi. 9, 12, 14 sq. Cf. Luke xi. 2, 4.

197 Matthew xii. 31 sq.; Mark iii. 29; Luke xii. 10.

That repentance is followed by forgiveness is found in other religions besides Christianity. According to Zoroastrianism, one element of atonement consists in repentance, as manifested by avowal of the guilt and by the recital of a formula, the Patet.198 58 It is said in the Laws of Manu: “In proportion as a man who has done wrong, himself confesses it, even so far he is freed from guilt, as a snake from its slough. . . . He who has committed a sin and has repented, is freed from that sin, but he is purified only by the resolution of ceasing to sin and thinking ‘I will do so no more.’”199 According to the Rig-Veda, the god Varuna inflicts terrible punishments on the hardened criminal, but is merciful to him who repents; to Varuna, the cry of anguish from remorse ascends, and before him the sinner comes to discharge himself of the burden of his guilt by confession.200 So, also, Zeus pardons the repentant.201 The main doctrine of Judaism on the subject of atonement is comprised in the single word Repentance. No teachers, says Montefiore, “exalted the place and power of repentance more than the Rabbis. There was no sin for which in their eyes a true repentance could not obtain forgiveness from God.”202 According to the Talmud, a space of only two fingers’ breadth lies between hell and heaven: the sinner has only to repent sincerely, and the gates to everlasting bliss will spring open.203

198 J. Darmesteter, ‘Introduction to the Vendidâd,’ in The Sacred Books of the East, iv (Oxford, 1880 ), p. lxxxvi.

199 The Laws of Manu, xi. 229, 231, cf. xi. 228, 230; in The Sacred Books of the East, xxv (1886).

200 Rig-Veda, trans. into German by A. Ludwig (Prag, 1876, etc.), i. 25. 1 sq., ii. 28. 5 sqq., v. 85. 7 sq., vii. 87. 7, 88. 6 sq., 89. 1 sqq.; A. Barth, The Religions of India (London, 1882), p. 17.

201 Ilias, ix. 502 sqq.

202 C. G. Montefiore, Hibbert Lectures on the Religion of the Ancient Hebrews (London, 1892), pp. 524, 335 n.

203 Deutsch, op. cit. p. 53. Cf. ibid. p. 56; Katz, op. cit. p. 87 sq.; G. F. Moore, ‘Sacrifice,’ in Cheyne and Black, Encyclopædia Biblica, iv (London, 1903), p. 4224 sq.

But repentance not only blunts the edge of moral indignation and recommends the offender to the mercy of men and gods: it is the sole ground on which pardon can be given by a scrupulous judge. When sufficiently guided by deliberation and left to itself, without being unduly checked by other emotions, the feeling of moral resentment is apt to last as long as its cause remains unaltered, that is, until the will of the offender has ceased to be offensive; and it ceases to be offensive only when he acknowledges his guilt and repents. It is true that the mere performance of certain ceremonies is frequently supposed to relieve the performer of his sin,204 and the same end is thought to be attained by pleasing God in some way or other, by sacrifice, or almsgiving, or the like. But such ideas are objectionable to the moral consciousness of a higher type. They are based on the crude notion that sin is a material 59 substance which may be removed by material means; or on the belief that an offender may compound with the deity for sinning against him, in the same way as he pacifies his injured neighbour, by bribery or flattery. Hence the Reformation proscribed offerings for the redemption of sins, together with the trade in indulgences; and we meet with an analogous movement in other comparatively advanced forms of religion. In reformed Brahmanism repentance is declared to be the only means of redeeming trespasses.205 The idea expressed in the Psalms, that God delights not in burnt offerings, but that the sacrifices of God are a broken and a contrite heart,206 became the prevailing opinion among the Rabbis, most of whom regarded repentance as the conditio sine quâ non of expiation and the forgiveness of sins.207

204 See E. Westermarck, The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, i. 53 sqq.

205 E. Goblet d’Alviella, Hibbert Lectures on the Origin and Growth of the Conception of God (London, 1892 ), p. 263.

206 Psalms li. 16 sq.

207 Moore, loc. cit. col. 4225.

That moral indignation is appeased by repentance, and that repentance is the only proper ground for forgiveness, is due, not to the specifically moral character of such indignation, but to its being a form of resentment. This is confirmed by the fact that an angry and revengeful man is apt to be in a similar way influenced by the sincere apology of the offender. As Aristotle said, men are placable in regard to those who acknowledge and repent their guilt: “there is proof of this in the case of chastising servants; for we chastise more violently those who contradict us, and deny their guilt; but towards such as acknowledge themselves to be justly punished we cease from our wrath.”208 In the case of revenge external satisfaction or material compensation is often allowed to take the place of genuine repentance, and the humiliation of the adversary may be sufficient to quiet the angry passion. But the revenge felt by a reflecting mind is not so readily satisfied. It wants to remove the cause which aroused it. The object which resentment is chiefly intent upon, Adam Smith observes, “is not so much to make our enemy feel pain in his turn, as to make him conscious that he feels it upon account of his past conduct, to make him repent of that conduct, and to make him sensible, that the person whom he injured did not deserve to be treated in that manner.”209 The delight of revenge, says Bacon, “seemeth to be not so much in doing the hurt, as in making the party repent.”210

208 Aristotle, Rhetorica, ii. 3. 5.

209 Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (London, 1887), p. 138 sq.

210 Bacon, Essays, iv, ‘Of Revenge.’ Cf. Montaigne, Essais, ii. 27.

60 While Jesus was capable of feeling intense moral indignation, his emotion of moral approval, of which moral praise or reward is the outward manifestation, plays an even more prominent part in his teaching, as is shown by the innumerable cases in which eternal reward is promised for righteousness. Modern theologians have been disconcerted by this fact and tried to minimise it. They have said that the hope of reward and consequently a eudemonistic motive “sometimes” is found in the teaching of Jesus;211 that “it cannot be denied that the idea of reward and punishment now and then peeps out from the context of Christian ethics”;212 that “no doubt Jesus did on occasion make an appeal to self-interest.”213 To disclose the inaccuracy of these statements, for which ignorance should be no excuse, the following quotations from the gospels may suffice:

211 T. Bohlin, Das Grundproblem der Ethik (Uppsala and Leipzig, 1923), p. 438.

212 A. Nygren, Filosoflsk och kristen etik (Lund and Leipzig, 1923), p. 312.

213 E. W. Hirst, Jesus and the Moralists (London, 1935), p. 102.

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew v. 5–12).

“When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward you openly. . . . When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (ibid. vi. 3, 4, 6).

“If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (ibid. vi. 14). See supra, p. 57.

“When thou fasteth, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly” (ibid. vi. 17 sq.).

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter 61 into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (ibid. vii. 21).

“Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” (ibid. vii. 24). See also Luke vi. 47 sq.

“Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew x. 22).

“He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward” (Matthew x. 41 sq.). See also Mark ix. 41.

“Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew xiii. 43).

“Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (ibid. xvi. 25 sq.). See also ibid. x. 39; Mark, viii. 35 sq.; Luke, ix. 24 sq.

“Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (Matthew xix. 29). See also Mark x. 29 sq.; Luke xviii. 29 sq.

“And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. . . . Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. . . . The righteous [shall go] into life eternal” (Matthew xxv. 32–36, 40, 46).

“Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven” (Luke vi. 22 sq.).

62 “Love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (ibid. vi. 35–38).

“Seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things (food and drink and clothing) shall be added unto you” (ibid. xii. 31).

“When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just” (ibid. xiv. 12–14).

“Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (ibid. xviii. 14).

When Jesus was asked by a certain ruler what he should do to inherit eternal life, and heard that he had kept all the commandments, “he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing; sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me” (ibid. xviii. 18, 20–22). See also Matthew, xix. 16, 18–21; Mark x. 17, 19–21.

As it, after all, cannot be denied that the gospels contain promises of reward, attempts have been made to extenuate their presence. It is said that they serve a “pedagogical” purpose being intended to influence people with a moral consciousness of an inferior type;214 that Jesus for this reason made use of an idea which was prevalent in Jewish thought, but in such a way as to abolish it “by transforming the reward into a gift of love, which transcends the claims that can be raised by the worker”;215 that the gospels speak of reward not to make people desirous of it, but to teach people that righteousness is pleasing to God, and must be followed by reward. When the world shows itself hostile to the good man, this belief serves 63 to cheer and comfort him and make him persevere and progress in goodness.216 This seems to be the general doctrine in Lutheran theology. But Luther admits that such an unselfish belief is hardly ever found in actual Christendom.217

214 C. Stange, Die christliche Ethik (Göttingen, 1892), p. 92; Bohlin, op. cit. p. 438; Nygren, op. cit. p. 312; Hirst, op. cit. p. 102.

215 H. Jacoby, Neutestamentliche Ethik (Königsberg, 1899), p. 51.

216 K. Thieme, Die sittliche Triebkraft des Glaubens (Leipzig, 1895), p. 179 sq.

217 Ibid. p. 195.

It is easy to see why Christian theologians are perplexed by the promises of rewards in the gospels. Moral judgments are influenced by the motives of conduct. They are passed on intentions and deliberate wishes and the motive of an act may itself be an intention or deliberate wish but one referring to another act. When Brutus helped to kill Cæsar in order to save his country, his intention or deliberate wish, or hope, to save it was the reason, and therefore the motive, for his intention to kill Cæsar. But if we more carefully analyse our moral judgments, we find that they are not really passed on intentions or deliberate wishes in the abstract, but on the persons who have them: they are held blamable or worthy of praise on account of their intentions or wishes, because the moral emotions are reactionary attitudes towards living beings. Now we do not feel the emotion of moral approval or retributive kindliness towards a person if we recognise that he does a thing only in the selfish hope of being benefited by it, for example, if he saves another person from drowning merely because he expects a reward for it. The reason for this is not the specifically moral character of moral approval, but the fact of its being a retributive emotion. We do not feel grateful either to a person who bestows a benefit upon us, if we find that he does it only in his own interest.

As a matter of fact, however, moral judgments are commonly passed on acts without much regard being paid to their motives. Moral indignation and moral approval are in the first place aroused by conspicuous facts, and whilst intentions are expressed in the acts themselves, their motives are not. Men desire that certain acts shall be performed, and other acts refrained from. The motives, or conative causes of acts and forbearances are not equally interesting, and they are often mixed, uncertain, and hidden. As a mediæval writer puts it, “the devil himself knoweth not the thought of man.”218 Though we would not praise a person for some deed which we clearly recognise to reflect no merit on his will, the benefit which results from a good act easily induces us to exaggerate the goodness, of the 64 agent. On the other hand, it is success alone that confers upon a man the full reward which he deserves; good intentions without corresponding deeds meet with little applause even when the failure is due to mere misfortune. But it is only from ignorance or want of due reflection that moral judgments are influenced by outward deeds. Owing to its very nature the moral consciousness, when sufficiently thoughtful, regards the will as the only proper object of moral disapproval or moral praise.

218 Quoted by F. Pollock and F. W. Maitland, The History of the English Law before the Time of Edward I., ii (Cambridge, 1898), p. 474.

The teaching of Jesus certainly laid stress on the motives of conduct. It has been described as an ethic of inwardness: “he rebukes acquisitiveness rather than wealth, lust rather than adultery, hatred rather than war or violence.”219 He condemned the Pharisees, whose leaven was hypocrisy,220 who for a pretence made long prayer, who made clean the outside of the cup and the platter, but whose inward part was full of wickedness.221 He said: “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”222 But in breaking with Pharisaism on the point of its mechanical conception of duty Jesus reverted, in fact, to the position taken up by the Prophets of Israel, whose teachings he must often have listened to in the synagogue at Nazareth.223 “The Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.”224 “Thus saith the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. . . . O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou 65 mayest be saved.”225 “Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit.”226 In the rabbinical literature few sayings are quoted more frequently than the adage which closes those tractates of the Mishna which deal with the sacrificial law: “He that brings few offerings is as he that brings many; let his heart be directed heavenward.”227 In the Talmud it is said: “Before a man prays let him purify his heart”;228 “Sin committed with a good motive is better than a precept fulfilled from a bad motive”;229 “No charity is rewarded but according to the degree of benevolence in it.”230

219 W. R. Inge, Christian Ethics and Modern Problems (London, 1932), p. 51.

220 Luke xii. 1.

221 Supra, p. 47.

222 Mark vii. 20–3. See also Matthew xv. 18–20.

223 Cf. H. H. Henson, Christian Morality (Oxford, 1936), p. 102.

224 Isaiah xxix. 13 sq.

225 Jeremiah iv. 3, 4, 14. Cf. ibid. xxiv. 7.

226 Ezekiel xviii. 31. Cf. ibid. xi. 19, xxxvi. 26.

227 Montefiore, op. cit. p. 484.

228 Ibid. p. 174.

229 Nazir, fol. 23b, quoted by P. I. Hershon, Treasures of the Talmud (London, 1882), p. 74.

230 Sukkah, fol. 49b, quoted ibid. p. 11. See infra, p. 80.

That moral qualities are internal has indeed been recognised by all great moralists. Confucius required an inward sincerity in all outward practice, and poured scorn on the Pharisaism which contented itself with cleaning the outside of the cup and platter.231 He said that “in the rites of mourning exceeding grief with deficient rites is better than little demonstration of grief with superabounding rites; and that in those of sacrifice exceeding reverence with deficient rites is better than an excess of rites with but little reverence.”232 “Sacrifice is not a thing coming to a man from without; it issues from within him, and has its birth in his heart. When the heart is deeply moved, expression is given to it by ceremonies.”233 The virtuous man offers his sacrifices “without seeking for anything to be gained by them.”234 “The Master said: ‘See what a man does, mark his motives.’”235 The popular Taoist work called ‘The Book of Secret Blessings’ inculcates the necessity of purifying the heart as a preparation for all right-doing; and in another Taoist work it is written: “If you form in your heart a good intention, although you may not have done any good, the good spirits follow you. If you form in your heart a bad intention, although you may not have done any harm, the evil spirits follow you.”236 One of the Pahlavi texts puts the following 66 words into the mouth of the Spirit of Wisdom: “To be grateful in the world, and to wish happiness for every one; this is greater and better than every good work.”237 The religious legislator of Brahmanism, whilst assuming in accordance with the popular view that the fulfilment of religious duty will always be rewarded to some extent, whatever may be the motive, maintains that the man who fulfils his duties without regard to the rewards which follow the fulfilment, will enjoy the highest happiness in this life and eternal happiness hereafter.238 “He who is pure in heart is the truest priest,” said Buddha.239 According to ‘Dhammapada,’ “if a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage. . . . If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.”240 In his description of the Buddhists of Mongolia the Rev. James Gilmour observes: “Mongol priests recognise the power of motive in estimating actions. . . . The attitude of the mind decides the nature of the act. He that offers a cup of cold water only, in a proper spirit, has presented a gift quite as acceptable as the most magnificent of donations.”241

231 Cf. J. Legge, The Religions of China (London, 1880), p. 261 sq.; J. Girard de Rialle, La mythologie comparée (Paris, 1878), p. 214.

232 Lî Kî, ii. 1. 2. 27; in The Sacred Books of the East, vol. xxvii. (Oxford, 1885). Cf. Lun Yü, iii. 4, 3; in J. Legge, The Chinese Classics, i (Oxford, 1893).

233 Lî Kî, xxii. 1.

234 Ibid. xxii. 2.

235 Lun Yü, ii. 10. 1 sq.

236 R. K. Douglas, Confucianism and Taouism (London, 1889), pp. 272, 270.

237 Dînâ-î Maînôgî Khirad, lxiii. 3 sqq.; in The Sacred Books of the East, xxiv (Oxford, 1885).

238 J. Talboys Wheeler, The History of India, ii (London, 1869), p. 478.

239 E. W. Hopkins, The Religions of India (London, 1896), p. 319.

240 Dhammapada, 1 sq.; in The Sacred Books of the East, x (Oxford, 1898).

241 J. Gilmour, Among the Mongols (London, [1892]), p. 239.

Although Jesus insisted on inwardness and purity of heart, there is no indication that he regarded the hope of reward as an obstacle to gaining it. How could anybody make a promise and at the same time require that it should not influence the conduct of the promisee? There is no inconsistency between benevolence being the immediate spring of action and the hope of reward being the ultimate motive for it: a person may aim at his own happiness as his ultimate end and at the same time aim sincerely at the happiness of his neighbour as a means to that end. Kant said that “morality is not properly the doctrine how we should make ourselves happy, but how we should become worthy of happiness.”242 But then he placed the virtuous man in a most precarious position. Even though he know that he is worthy of happiness, and even may hope to participate in it,243 he must not allow any such hope to slip in 67 as a motive for his conduct; for if he does so, he ceases to be virtuous and will not get the happiness he hopes for.

242 Kant, Kritik der praktischen Vernunft, i. 2. 5 (Gesammelte Schriften, v [Berlin, 1913], p. 129 sq.).

243 Idem, Kritik der reinen Vernunft, Transcendentale Methodenlehre, ii. 2 (Gesammelte Schriften, iii [1911], p. 525 sqq.).

This was not the teaching of Jesus. To desire to gain divine favour, with everything implied in it, must certainly have been regarded by him as a right motive for our conduct. But then it cannot be said that there is in his message “no support for a hedonistic ethic.”244 He represents heaven as a place where his followers will receive ample compensation for all their present suffering.245 They will enjoy the company of the great and good of former ages. Jesus will be there himself, in glory, to welcome them into everlasting habitations, and they will see God, the Father who is in heaven, face to face. They will have their old bodies,246 and Jesus does not even scruple to throw into the picture a dash of material felicity, speaking of the drinking of wine in his Father’s kingdom.247 There is, however, this difference, mentioned in all the synoptic gospels,248 that the children of resurrection will neither marry nor be given in marriage, but be as the angels of God in heaven. Neither can they die any more.249

244 Hirst, op. cit. p. 101.

245 Cf. J. Stalker, The Ethic of Jesus (London, 1909), p. 36 sq.

246 Matthew v. 29 sq., x. 28, xxvii. 52.

247 Ibid. xxvi. 29.

248 Ibid. xxii. 30; Mark xii. 25; Luke xx. 35.

249 Luke xx. 36.

The ethics of Jesus are not only hedonism, but egoistic hedonism, as defined by Sidgwick, that is, “a system which prescribes actions as means to the end of the individual’s happiness or pleasure.”250 It cannot be said that the section of eighteenth-century hedonists who supported their theory by theological considerations251 contradicted the teaching of Jesus, when they looked upon self-love as the ground for accepting the will of God as our rule; nor that Waterland did so in his ‘Sermon on Self-Love,’ in which he said: “The wisest course for any man to take is to secure an interest in the life to come. . . . There can be no excess of fondness, or self-indulgence, in respect of eternal happiness. This is loving himself in the best manner, and to the best purposes. All virtue and piety are thus resolvable into a principle of self-love. . . . It is with reference to ourselves, and for our own sakes, that we love even God himself.”252 Paley defined virtue bluntly as “the doing good to mankind, in obedience to the will of God, and for the 68 sake of everlasting happiness.”253 This motive is in agreement with Augustine’s saying that in the heavenly city “there is only the piety that serves the true God and expects a reward.”254

250 H. Sidgwick, The Methods of Ethics (London, 1913), p. 89.

251 See Westermarck, Ethical Relativity, p. 15 sqq.

252 D. Waterland, ‘Sermon on Self-Love,’ in The English Preacher, i (London, 1773), p. 101 sq.

253 W. Paley, The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, i. 7 (Works [Edinburgh, 1834], p. 9).

254 Augustine, De civitate Dei, xiv. 28.

The most authoritative description of the ethics of Jesus as egoistic hedonism comes from a theologian of the highest repute, Nathan Söderblom, the late Archbishop of Sweden. He wrote in his book on the Sermon on the Mount: “If it is asked why everything which is commanded in the Sermon on the Mount is to be done, why we ought to love our enemies, not to put away our wife, and so forth, the ultimate answer, according to Jesus, is not, for the common good or progress of mankind, but the only uniform and satisfactory explanation of his whole ethics and injunction of piety runs: in order to save our soul. The infinite value of the individual human soul is the leading idea in the Sermon on the Mount and the whole message of Jesus. To this fact many of the moderns are perfectly blind.” Jesus does not advocate “a careful weighing of one’s own good against the good of others, but a ruthless egoism: build thou thy house upon a rock, so that it shall stand when the floods come and the winds blow.”255

255 Söderblom, op. cit. p. 43.

Another well-known Swedish theologian, professor Nygren, says on the contrary that “the evangelical ethics are the most anti-eudemonistic of all ethical theories,”256 and even goes so far as to allege that according to the teaching of Jesus (as well as that of Paul) God’s relations to the human beings are in no way influenced by their behaviour, but depend exclusively upon the nature of his love, which is “spontaneous” or “prompted by no motive.”257 In support of this allegation he quotes repeatedly the saying, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners”;258 Luke adds: “to repentance.”259 This has been said to be clearly a gloss, since there is no notion at all that Jesus had brought with him into the world any new way of procuring forgiveness of sins but that of repentance.260 It has been pointed out that the prodigal son in the parable is 69 nearer his father than the elder brother, and that there is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth than over ninety-nine just men. But the prodigal son showed his repentance in thought and in word and in act; and while we do not generally feel any positive pleasure because a person acts rightly, it is different when a sinner repents. Even Luther, whose authority is appealed to for the doctrine that God’s love is prompted by no motive, demanded in the first of his ninety-nine theses that a Christian’s whole life should be a continuous penitential act.

256 Nygren, op. cit. p. 313.

257 Ibid. pp. 251, 252, 271; idem, Urkristendom och reformation (Lund, 1932), pp. 17, 71, 72, 74, 76, 78 sqq.

258 Matthew ix. 13 (R.V.); Mark ii. 17 (R.V.); Nygren, Urkristendom och reformation, pp. 23, 27, 40, 78, 80, 153, 156.

259 Luke v. 32.

260 H. Rashdall, The Idea of Atonement in Christian Theology (London, 1919), p. 24; W. B. Barnes, The Forgiveness of Jesus Christ (London, 1936), p. 16.

I am at a loss to understand how Professor Nygren can ignore sayings like these: “With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again”;261 “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment; for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned”;262 “The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works”;263—and the number of others quoted above. The principle of reward and punishment permeates all the moral teaching of Jesus.

261 Matthew vii. 2; Luke vi. 38.

262 Ibid. xii. 30 sq.

263 Ibid. xvi. 27.

 

CHAPTER IV

THE ETHICS OF JESUS: THEIR DISINTERESTEDNESS AND ALTRUISM

WHILE Jesus’ doctrine of punishment and reward is an outcome of the retributive character of the moral emotions, his teaching also emphasises that disinterestedness which distinguishes them from other, non-moral, retributive emotions. This he does in his enunciation of the “Golden Rule”: “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them”;264 or “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”265 The disinterestedness of the moral emotions also finds an echo in the rebuke: “Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? . . . Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”266

264 Matthew vii. 12.

265 Luke vi. 31.

266 Matthew vii. 3, 5; Luke vi. 41 sq.

The Golden Rule is much older than Christianity and, especially in its negative form, widespread. In the Sanskrit work ‘Mahabharata’ it is said: “Let no man do to another that which would be repugnant to himself; this is the sum of righteousness; the rest is according to inclination. In refusing, in bestowing, in regard to pleasure and to pain, to what is agreeable and disagreeable, a man obtains the proper rule by regarding the case as like his own.”267 Similar words are ascribed to Confucius. When Tsze-kung asked if there is any one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life, the Master answered: “Is not Reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” And in another utterance Confucius showed that the rule had for him not only a negative, but also a positive form. He said that, in the way of the superior man, there are four things to none of which he himself had as yet attained: to serve his 71 father as he would require his son to serve him, to serve his prince as he would require his minister to serve him, to serve his elder brother as he would require his younger brother to serve him, and to set the example in behaving to a friend as he would require the friend to behave to him.268 In Greece Isocrates enunciated the maxim: “Do not do to others that which angers you when they do it to you.”269 Aristotle, when questioned how we should behave to our friends, is quoted by Diogenes Laertius as saying: “Exactly as we would they should behave to us.”270 Seneca wrote: “Let us put ourselves in the place of him with whom we are angry. . . . We are quite willing to do to others what we cannot endure should be done to ourselves”;271 and Epictetus: “That which thou wouldst not suffer thyself, seek not to lay upon others.”272 In its negative form the Golden Rule is also found in the earlier Judaism. Tobit said to his son: “Take heed to thyself, my child, in all thy works, and be discreet in thy behaviour; what thou thyself hatest, do to no man.”273 When a heathen came to the famous rabbi Hillel and said to him that he would embrace Judaism on condition that he were taught the whole doctrine during the time that he stood on one leg, the rabbi replied: “What thou doest not like, do not do to thy neighbour; that is the whole doctrine, all the rest is only explanation.”274 According to Augustine the precept that we must not do to others what we do not wish them to do to us, is a rule of behaviour which is by nature inherent in the human mind;275 and Hobbes speaks of the “laws of nature” expressed in “this one sentence, approved by all the world, Do not that to another, which thou thinkest unreasonable to be done by another to thy selfe.”276 They were perfectly right for the simple reason that disinterestedness is an essential characteristic of the moral emotions, without which there could be no moral precepts at all.

267 Mahabharata, xiii. 5571 sq., in J. Muir, Religious and Moral Sentiments metrically rendered from the Sanskrit (London, 1875), p. 107. Cf. Pantschatantra, iii. 104, trans. by Th. Benfey, ii (Leipzig, 1859), p. 235.

268 Lun Yü, xv. 23, in J. Legge, The Chinese Classics, i (Oxford, 1893); Chung Yung, xiii. 4 (ibid.). Cf. Lun Yü, xii. 2; Chung Yung, xiii. 3.

269 Isocrates, Nicocles, 61. Cf. idem, Ad Demonicum, 14.

270 Diogenes Laertius, De clarorum philosophicorum vitis, v. 21.

271 Seneca, De ira, iii. 12.

272 Epictetus, Fragmenta, 42.

273 Tobit, iv. 14 sq.

274 Shabboth, 31a, quoted by A. Drews, The Witnesses of the Historicity of Jesus (London, 1912), p. 266 sq. For other parallels see C. Taylor, Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Cambridge, 1897), p. 142 sq.

275 Augustine, De doctrina Christiana, iii. 14 (Migne, Patrologiæ cursus, xxxiv. 74).

276 T. Hobbes, Leviathan, ii. 26. 8 (Oxford, 1881), p. 210.

The Golden Rule also occurs in its prohibitive shape—“that which ye will that other men do not unto you, do not that to other men”—in the earliest quotations of it which are 72 found in Christian literature outside the gospels. In this negative form it is already attached to the Apostolic Decree as early as the Western text to the Acts xv. 29, dating from the opening years of the second century if not from a still earlier period, and, in spite of its absence from the received text, it continued to hold a place in this passage of the Acts down to a comparatively late date.277 The negative form is also observable in post-Biblical Christian writings.278

277 J. E. Carpenter and G. Harford, The Composition of the Hexateuch (London, 1902), p. 10; A. Harnack, ‘Das Aposteldecret (Act 15, 29) und die Blass’sche Hypotese,’ in Sitzungsberichte der Königlich Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, Jahrgang 1899 (Berlin, 1899), p. 151 sq.

278 W. A. Spooner, ‘Golden Rule,’ in J. Hastings, Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, vi (Edinburgh, 1913), p. 311.

It is not difficult to explain why the negative Golden Rule is more widely spread than the positive one. Negative commandments spring from the disapproval of acts, whereas positive commandments spring from the disapproval of forbearances or omissions, and the indignation of men is much more easily aroused by action than by absence of action. A person who commits a harmful deed is a more obvious cause of pain than a person who causes harm by doing nothing, and this naturally affects the question of guilt in the eyes of most people. Moreover, the Golden Rule implies that it cannot be right for A to treat B in a manner in which it would be wrong for B to treat A, unless there is some difference between the natures or circumstances of the two individuals which can be regarded as a reasonable ground for difference of treatment; and such differences are generally more restricted in the case of acts that are forbidden than in the case of acts that are positively enjoined. The negative commandments are also more distinct: they condemn certain definite modes of behaviour, while the rules of benevolence often are more comprehensive. It seems that almost from the outset the rule of the gospels was in need of explanation and some limitation. In certain Latin versions the words “good things” were inserted after the word “whatsoever.” Those who made the insertion recognised evidently that it is not everything which we may wish for ourselves that we are bound to do for others. We might wish for ourselves, for instance, some form of illicit or undesirable pleasure, and yet cannot be bound to provide for others such pleasure or assist them in obtaining it for themselves.279

279 Ibid. p. 312.

The disinterestedness of the moral emotions partly underlies the rule, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” which 73 occurs both in the Old Testament280 and in the three synoptic gospels.281 But this maxim contains much more than the disinterestedness of the conception of duty. When a person pronounces an act right or wrong, it implies that it is so ceteris paribus, whether he does it to another or another does it to him, but this has nothing to do with the particular nature of the act. When my own interests clash with those of my neighbour, I may have the right to prefer my own lesser good to the greater good of another, but only on condition that the other person also, in similar circumstances, is admitted to have the right to prefer his own lesser good to my greater good. No such right to prefer one’s own lesser good to the greater good of another is recognised in the precept, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”; but this precept owes its origin to the strength of the altruistic sentiment in him who laid down the rule, and not merely to the disinterestedness of his moral emotions.

280 Leviticus xix. 18.

281 Matthew xix. 19, xxii. 39; Mark xii. 31; Luke x. 27.

The precept inculcating love of one’s neighbour is rooted in the altruistic sentiment, which, as I have pointed out above, has produced moral emotions, as distinguished from other retributive emotions not only by their disinterestedness, but also by their impartiality in other respects. Now the altruistic sentiment varies greatly both in strength and expanse, and so does consequently the love of neighbour which is prescribed as a duty by different moral codes. The groups of neighbours to which these rules refer may vary indefinitely, without interfering with the impartiality required by the moral emotions from which they sprang. If it is considered wrong of a person to cheat another belonging to his own group but not wrong to cheat a foreigner, the impartiality of the moral emotion of disapproval, which underlies the concept of wrongness, merely leads to a general rule that applies to all similar cases independently of the nationality of him who holds the view. If I maintain that a foreigner, or a member of another class in my own society, has a duty towards me but that I have not the same duty towards him, my opinion can be morally justified only on condition that there is some difference in the circumstances affecting the morality of the case. The impartiality of my moral emotions does not prevent me from promoting the welfare of my own family or country in preference to that of other families or countries. But they tell me that I must allow anybody else to show a similar preference for his family or country.

74 The question is, then, who is my neighbour whom I ought to love as myself? This question was put to Jesus by a lawyer who asked him what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus answered him by telling the parable of the traveller who fell among thieves and was left half dead, of the priest and the Levite who passed by on the other side, and of the good Samaritan who took care of the wounded man; and he then asked the lawyer which of those three he thought was “neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.”282 This has been alleged to prove that in the thought of Jesus the idea of neighbour had lost all such limitations as in the earlier Jewish interpretation were imposed by national animosity, and embraced all men irrespective of race. Much significance has also been attached to the word “men” in the passage, “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew vii. 12),283 and to the word “whosoever” in the passage, “Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (ibid. xii. 50; Mark iii. 35).284 As to the alleged implications of these two passages, it must be said to be a poor case that is considered to need the support of such strained interpretations; indeed, the latter of them directly contains an important limitation. And the parable of a Samaritan who takes pity on a wounded stranger is scarcely a clear answer to the question: Who is my neighbour whom I should love as myself?

282 Luke x. 25–37.

283 H. Bisseker, ‘Brotherly Love (Christian),’ in Hastings, op. cit. ii (1909), p. 873.

284 E. W. Hirst, Jesus and the Moralists (London, 1935), p. 25.

On the other hand, there is good evidence in the gospels that Jesus had not entirely discarded Jewish exclusiveness in these matters. He seems to have felt himself as one who had come with a message to the people of Israel. When he sent out his disciples as travelling apostles, he “commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”285 Again, a Syrophœnician woman came from the environs of Tyre, “and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, 75 saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” When the woman, admitting the truth of this, made the remark that the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table, Jesus “answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.286 By the children whose bread should not be cast to the dogs, Jesus obviously meant the Jews.287 It was to Jewish sinners that Jesus addressed himself; his life was spent in wandering over the narrow strip of ground between Capernaum and Jerusalem. He is sometimes represented as speaking of the gospel being preached “among all nations,” or “throughout the whole world,” or “to every creature”;288 but these utterances are scarcely congruous with his belief in the imminence of the end of the world.289 As Dean Rashdall observes, “there is no critically unassailable evidence that he ever spoke of actually converting the world to his gospel or making gentiles into members of a worldwide Church.”290

285 Matthew x. 5–7.

286 Ibid. xv. 21–8. Cf. Mark vii. 24–30.

287 Cf. A. Aall, The Hellenistic Elements in Christianity (London, 1931), p. 25.

288 Matthew xxiv. 14; Mark xiii. 10, xiv. 9, xvi. 15; Luke xxiv. 47. The commandment reported by Matthew xxviii. 19 could not have been uttered by Jesus (see A. Harnack, History of Dogma, i [London, 1894], p. 79, n. 1).

289 Matthew iv. 17, xxiv. 34 sq.; Mark i. 15, xiii. 30 sq.; Luke xxi. 32 sq.

290 H. Rashdall, The Idea of Atonement in Christian Theology (London, 1919), p. 17.

It has been argued that the belief in a common divine fatherhood compels us to regard every man as a neighbour whom we ought to love as ourselves. Among the Jews their common descent from Abraham was always felt to bind them together in mutual obligations. The novelty introduced by Jesus, we are told, lies in the fact that he grounded such obligations on a common descent from God: “by substituting the Father in Heaven for father Abraham, Christ made morality universal. This phrase, which places not a certain number of men, but all men, in the relation of brotherhood to each other, destroys at once the partition-wall between Jew and Gentile, Greek and barbarian.”291 Mr. Hirst writes: “Since the love of God is a Father’s love, man, being God’s child, must love 76 him with filial devotion and other men as brothers.”292 And Bishop Bohlin maintains not only that the principle of a human brotherhood is derived from that of the fatherhood of God, but even that without their belief in God as a Father the Christians could never have formed the idea of a common human brotherhood.293 As a matter of fact, however, we find in the gospels neither the belief in a common divine fatherhood nor the idea of a common human brotherhood.

291 J. R. Seeley, Ecce Homo (London, 1892), p. 122 sq.

292 Hirst, op. cit. p. 49. He even says that “the Christian should love himself, not of course for his own sake, but as being the child of the Heavenly Father” (ibid. p. 21).

293 T. Bohlin, Das Grundproblem der Ethik (Uppsala and Leipzig, 1923), p. 44.

By careful study of the passages in the New Testament in which God is spoken of as a Father, Professor Mead has found that he is called so with reference either to Christ in particular or to Christ’s believers. When Jesus is especially addressing the Pharisees or others who are not in sympathy with him, he never calls God their Father. He nowhere distinctly declares that the fatherhood of God is universal, but he is recorded distinctly to assert that it is not universal. When certain of the Jews, in their dispute with Jesus, said to him: “We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God,” he replied: “If God were your Father, ye would love me. . . . Ye are of your father the devil.”294 Again, when we examine the New Testament passages which speak of men as the sons or children of God, we find that the gospels, and particularly the words of Jesus as recorded there, present not a single declaration to the effect that all men are children of God. Wherever the conception is found, it clearly and unmistakably is limited to a portion of mankind. On one occasion Jesus said that those who love their enemies become the children of the heavenly Father.295 Paul said: “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”296

294 John viii. 41, 42, 44.

295 Matthew v. 44 sq.

296 Romans viii. 14. See also Galatians iv. 5; Philippians ii. 14 sq.; Ephesians i. 5.—C. M. Mead, ‘The Fatherhood of God,’ in The American Journal of Theology, i (Chicago, 1897), pp. 577–600. See also H. E. Guillebaud, Why the Cross? (London, 1937), pp. 49–59.

Nor do we find in the gospels the notion of a universal brotherhood. In a passage quoted above Jesus says that his brother is he who does the will of God.297 John puts into his mouth a saying in which he enjoins on his disciples brotherly love of a very narrow compass: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, 77 that ye also love one another. By this all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one to another.”298 It has been pointed out that the prevalent sense of ἀδελφός in the New Testament is that of “fellow-Christian”—a restricted meaning which is sometimes markedly imposed by the immediate context299—and that the love required frequently refers to the brotherhood of believers only.300 Even Paul, in spite of his cosmopolitan outlook, wrote to the Romans: “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another”;301 and to the Thessalonians: “As touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia.”302 In another epistle he wrote: “As we have . . . opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”303 Hospitality towards strangers is represented as a duty in the New Testament,304 as it was by the Jews, but sometimes its exercise is expressly confined to the case of fellow-Christians.305 Otherwise there is nothing specifically Christian about it. Hospitality seems to be a universal custom among the lower races whilst in their native state, as also among the early peoples of culture. But there is no doubt that it is in the main based on egoistic considerations, particularly connected with superstitious ideas about the unknown mysterious stranger, who is looked upon as a potential cause of evil if he is treated badly, and as a potential benefactor if he is received as a guest.306 The latter idea is expressly mentioned as the reason for the injunction in the Epistle to the Hebrews: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”307

297 Supra, p. 74.

298 John xiii. 34 sq. See also ibid. xv. 12, 17.

299 See, for example, 1 Corinthians v. 11, vi. 6.

300 Bisseker, loc. cit. p. 873.

301 Romans xii. 10.

302 1 Thessalonians iv. 9 sq.

303 Galatians vi. 10.

304 Matthew xxv. 43, 45; Romans xii. 13; 1 Timothy v. 10; Hebrews xiii. 2.

305 3 John 5–8.

306 E. Westermarck, The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, i (London, 1912), p. 572 sqq.

307 Hebrews xiii. 2.

As to the contention that without their belief in God as a father the Christians could never have formed the idea of a common human brotherhood, it should be noticed that tenets of universal love have been laid down both by the Stoics and by Eastern moralists, who had no notion of a divine fatherhood. The Chinese teachers of morality inculcated benevolence to all 78 men, without making any reference to national distinctions.308 Mih-tsze, who lived in the interval between Confucius and Mencius, even thought that we ought to love all men equally; but this called forth protests as abnegating the peculiar devotion due to relatives.309 In ‘Thâi-Shang’ it is said that a good man will feel kindly towards every creature, and should not hurt even the insect tribes, grass, and trees.310 Buddhism enjoins the duty of universal love: “As a mother, even at the risk of her own life, protects her son, her only son, so let a man cultivate goodwill without measure toward all beings, . . . unhindered love and friendliness toward the whole world, above, below, around.”311 According to the Hindu work ‘Panchatantra’ it is the thought of little-minded persons to consider whether a man is one of ourselves or an alien, the whole earth being of kin to him who is generously disposed.312

308 Lun Yü, xii. 22; Mencius, vii. 1. 45, in Legge, op. cit. ii (1895); R. K. Douglas, Confucianism and Taouism (London, 1889), pp. 108, 205.

309 J. Edkins, Religion in China (London, 1878), p. 119; Legge, op. cit. ii. 476 n. 45; J. J. M. de Groot, The Religious System of China, vol. ii, book i (Leiden, 1894), p. 684.

310 Thâi-Shang, 3; in The Sacred Books of the East, xl (Oxford, 1891).

311 Quoted by T. W. Rhys Davids, Hibbert Lectures on . . . the History of Indian Buddhism (London, 1881), p. 111.

312 Muir, op. cit. p. 109.

Much importance has been attached to the fact that in the teaching of Jesus the two commandments enjoining the love of God and the love of neighbour, which in the Old Testament occur in different books,313 have been put together in the saying: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”314 This combination has led to the conclusion that the love of neighbour follows from the love of God, and cannot exist without it.315 I find no evidence for such a conclusion in the saying that the second commandment is “like unto”316 the first. They are like each other in so far that both are commandments of love. But the word “love” cannot mean the same in both cases. The love of God implies reverence, gratitude,317 devotion, and trust or faith; the love of neighbour means practically benevolence. Love as a 79 pure emotion cannot, of course, be commanded, but it readily develops into a volition, and becomes then a proper object of moral judgment. It is absurd, however, to suppose that benevolence towards a fellow-man could be merely derivative from the love of God. If it were, I am afraid that there would not be much of it even in the Christian world; as Dean Inge says, “‘love of God’ is talked about more often than felt,”318 and while “god-fearing” is a common epithet for a devout Christian, “god-loving” is not found even in dictionaries. Paul speaks extremely rarely of the love of God. Instead of saying that the love of neighbour follows from the love of God, we may rather say, with John, that a man cannot love God, whom he has not seen, if he does not love his brother, whom he has seen.319

313 Deuteronomy vi. 5; Leviticus xix. 18.

314 Matthew xxii. 37–9; Mark xii. 30 sq.

315 A. Nygren, Filosofisk och kristen etik (Lund and Leipzig, 1923), pp. 294, 298.

316 In Luke (x. 27 sq.) these words are not found at all.

317 “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John, iv. 19).

318 W. R. Inge, Christian Ethics and Modern Problems (London, 1932), p. 52.

319 1 John iv. 20.

The altruistic sentiment, of which benevolence is a manifestation, is found in all mammalian species, at least as displayed in the mother’s love of her young, and the duty of benevolence in every human society. There is no doubt that it was such a sentiment that led Jesus to enjoin men to love their neighbours as themselves, and to regard this duty as a command of God. His infinite kindness towards the sick, the needy, and the distressed is abundantly proved throughout the gospels, and finds its most touching expression in the words: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”320

320 Matthew xi. 28–30.

Among the positive duties resulting from benevolence almsgiving holds a prominent position in the teaching of Jesus. He said: “Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”321 When a young ruler who asked him what he should do that he might inherit eternal life, and told him that he had kept all the commandments from his youth, Jesus answered: “Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.”322 Eternal life is promised to those who feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, take in the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick.323

321 Ibid. v. 42. See also Luke vi. 30.

322 Luke xviii. 20–2. See also Matthew xix. 16, 18–21; Mark x. 17, 19–21.

323 Matthew xxv. 34, 36, 40, 45 sq.

80 This insistence on the duty of charity, which for ages was destined to exercise a paramount influence on Christian morals, belonged to the Jewish heritage. “Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land”; “for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.”324 Even “if thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: . . . the Lord shall reward thee.”325 Especially in the Old Testament apocrypha and in rabbinical literature almsgiving assumed an excessive importance—so much so that the word which in the older writings means “righteousness” in general came to be used for almsgiving in particular.326 “Shut up alms in thy storehouses; and it shall deliver thee from all affliction.”327 “As water will quench a flaming fire, so alms maketh an atonement for sins.”328 “For alms doth deliver from death, and shall purge away all sin. Those that exercise alms and righteousness shall be filled with life.”329 The charitable man is rewarded with the birth of male issue.330 Almsgiving outweighs all other duties.331 He who averts his eye from charity commits a sin equal to idolatry.332 It must be extended equally to Jew and Gentile.333 To such an extreme was almsgiving carried by the Jews that, while the giver must devote to charity at least a tenth of his income, some rabbis at length decreed that no man should give more than a fifth, lest he should come to seek charity himself.334 But charity is not sufficient in itself: kind thoughts and words must go with it. To give liberally to the poor, but with sullen look, is to rob the deed of all virtue.335 “Sow [a reward] for yourselves in giving alms as charity, you will reap according to the benevolence.”336 Like Jesus, the rabbis insisted that charity should be done in secret.337 He that gives alms publicly is a sinner; indeed, “better give no alms at all, than give them in public.”338

324 Deuteronomy xv. 11, 10. See also ibid. x. 18, xiv. 29, xv. 7–9, xvi. 11, 14, xxiv. 19–21; Leviticus xix. 9 sq., xxv. 35; Psalms xli. 1; Proverbs xiv. 21.

325 Proverbs xxv. 21 sq.

326 W. E. Addis, ‘Alms,’ in T. K. Cheyne and J. S. Black, Encyclopædia Biblica, i (London, 1899), p. 118. Cf. C. G. Montefiore, Hibbert Lectures on . . . the Religion of the Ancient Hebrews (London, 1892), p. 484 sq.

327 Ecclesiasticus xxix. 12.

328 Ibid. iii. 30.

329 Tobit, xii. 9. Cf. ibid. i. 3, 16 sq., ii. 14, iv. 7–12, xii. 8 sq.

330 Baba Bathra, fol. 10b.

331 Idem, fol. 9a; Sukkah, fol. 49b.

332 Kethuboth, fol. 68a.

333 Giṭṭin, fol. 61a.

334 Kethuboth, fol. 50a.

335 Baba Bathra, fol. 9b.

336 Sukkah, fol. 49b.

337 Baba Bathra, fol. 9b.

338 Ḥagiga, fol. 5a.

81 While the duty of almsgiving is in the first place based on the altruistic sentiment and, therefore, is apt to assume a religious character where the deity is looked upon as a being who is kindly disposed towards mankind and a guardian of morality, there are also some special reasons why it has been so strenuously enjoined by religions of a higher type, including others besides Hebrewism and Christianity.339 There is an idea that niggardliness exposes a person to supernatural danger, whereas charity and liberality may entail supernatural reward, on account of the curses or blessings of the poor. The ancient Greeks believed that the beggar had his Erinys,340 his avenging demon, who was evidently a personification of his curse.341 It is said in the Proverbs: “He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse”;342 and in Deuteronomy: “Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, . . . lest he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee.”343 The same idea is expressed in Ecclesiasticus: “Turn not away thine eye from the needy, and give him none occasion to curse thee: for if he curse thee in the bitterness of his soul, his prayer shall be heard of him that made him. . . . A prayer out of a poor man’s mouth reacheth to the ears of God, and his judgment cometh speedily.”344 In a very early Christian work, the ‘Shepherd’ of Hermas, it is said: “Beware, ye that glory in your riches, lest perhaps they groan who are in want, and their sighing come up to God, and ye be shut out with your goods without the gate of the tower.”345 And a poor man is able not only to punish the uncharitable by means of his curse, but also to reward the generous giver by means of his blessing; as it is said in Ecclesiasticus: “Stretch thine hand unto the poor, that thy blessing may be perfected. A gift hath grace in the sight of every man living.”346 While he who withholdeth corn shall be cursed by the people, “blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.”347 Hermas writes that as the vine is supported by the elm, so is the rich man helped by the prayers of the poor. “The poor 82 praying unto the Lord for the rich are heard by him; and their riches are increased, because they minister to the poor of their wealth.”348

339 Westermarck, op. cit. i. 549 sqq.

340 Odyssey, xvii. 575.

341 Æschylus (Eumenides, 416 sq.) expressly designates the Erinyes by the title of “curses” (ἀραὶ) and Pausanias (Descriptio Græciæ, viii. 25. 6) derives the name Erinys from an Arcadian word signifying a fit of anger. Cf. Westermarck, op. cit. i. 60 n. 3.

342 Proverbs xxviii. 27.

343 Deuteronomy xxiv. 14 sq. Cf. ibid. xv. 9.

344 Ecclesiasticus, iv. 5 sq., xxi. 5.

345 Hermas, Pastor, i. 3. 9.

346 Ecclesiasticus vii. 32.

347 Proverbs xi. 26.

348 Hermas, op. cit. iii. 2.

The curses and blessings, no doubt, partly account for the fact that almsgiving has come to be regarded as a religious duty. They have not necessarily the character of an appeal to a god, but may be believed to possess a purely magical power, independently of any superhuman will. This belief is rooted in the close association between the wish, more particularly the spoken wish, and the idea of its fulfilment. The wish is looked upon in the light of energy which may be transferred—by material contact, or by the eye, or by means of speech—to the person concerned, and then becomes a fact. This process, however, is not taken quite as a matter of course. There is always some mystery about it, and one—though not the only—method of giving the curse or the blessing that supernatural quality which alone can bring about the result desired is to invoke in it a god. His own feelings need not be considered at all: his holy name may simply be brought in to impart to it that mystic efficacy which the plain word lacks. In the Talmud there are traces of the idea that the name of the Lord might be used with advantage in any curse however undeserved.349 But with the deepening of the religious sentiment this idea has to be given up. A righteous and mighty god can scarcely agree to be a mere tool in the hand of a wicked curser. Hence the curse comes to be looked upon as a prayer, which is not fulfilled if undeserved; as it is said in the Proverbs, “the curse causeless shall not come.”350 And the same is the case with a blessing. In ancient days Jacob could take away his brother’s blessing by deceit;351 the blessing acted in the same way as a medicine, which cures the patient just as well if it is stolen as if it is bought. But later on its efficacy was limited by moral considerations. The Psalmist declares that only the offspring of the righteous can be blessed,352 and according to the Apostolic Constitutions, “although a widow who eateth and is filled from the wicked, pray for them, she shall not be heard.”353 On the other hand, curses and blessings, when well deserved, continued to draw down calamity or prosperity upon their objects, by inducing God to put them into effect. This notion prevails both in 83 Judaism and Mohammedanism,354 and underlies the Christian oath and benediction. As an uncharitable man deserves to be punished and a charitable man merits reward, the curses and blessings of the poor will be heard by a righteous God. “The Lord will plead their cause.”355

349 Makkoth, fol. 11a; Berakhoth, foll. 19a, 56a.

350 Proverbs xxvi. 2.

351 Genesis xxvii. 23 sqq.

352 Psalms xxxvii. 26.

353 Constitutiones Apostolicæ, iv. 6. Cf. Jeremiah, vii. 16.

354 Cf. T. K. Cheyne, ‘Blessings and Curses,’ in Cheyne and Black, op. cit. i. 592; I. Goldziher, Abhandlungen zur arabischen Philologie, i (Leiden, 1896), i. 29 sqq.

355 Proverbs xxii. 23.

Besides the belief in the efficacy of curses and blessings there is another, and more important, reason for the extraordinary stress which the higher religions lay on the duty of charity, namely the connection between almsgiving and sacrifice. When food is offered as a tribute to a god, he is supposed to enjoy its spiritual part only, while the substance of it is left behind and is in many cases eaten by the poor. And when the offering is continued in ceremonial survival in spite of the growing conviction that, after all, the deity does not need and cannot profit by it, the poor become the heirs of the god. The chief virtue of the act then lies in the self-abnegation of the donor, and its efficacy is measured by the “sacrifice” which it costs him.

Many instances may be quoted of sacrificed food being left for the poor or being distributed among them,356 whilst in other cases almsgiving is itself regarded as a form of sacrifice, or takes the place of it.357 When the destruction of the temple with its altar filled the Jews with alarm as they thought of their unatoned sins, Johanan ben Zakkai comforted them saying: “You have another means of atonement as powerful as the altar, and that is the work of charity, for it is said, ‘I desired mercy, and not sacrifice.’”358 Several other passages show how closely the Jews associated almsgiving with sacrifice. “He that giveth alms sacrificeth praise.”359 “As sin-offering makes atonement for Israel, so alms for the Gentiles.”360 “Almsdeeds are more meritorious than all sacrifices.”361 An orphan is called an “altar to God.”362 Alms were systematically collected in the synagogues, and officers were appointed to make the collection.363 So also among the early Christians the collection of 84 alms for the relief of the poor was an act of the Church life itself. Almsgiving took place in public worship, nay formed itself a part of worship. Gifts of natural produce, the so-called oblations, were connected with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. They were offered to God as the first-fruits of the creatures (primitiæ creaturarum), and a prayer was said: “O Lord, accept also the offerings of those who to-day bring an offering, as Thou didst accept the offerings of righteous Abel, the offering of our father Abraham, the incense of Zachariah, the alms of Cornelius, and the two mites of the widow.” These oblations were not only used for the Lord’s Supper, but also formed the chief means for the relief of the poor. They were regarded as sacrifice in the most special sense; and as no unclean gift might be laid upon the Lord’s altar, profit made from sinful occupations was not accepted as an oblation, neither were the oblations of impenitent sinners.364

356 Westermarck, op. cit. i. 565 sq.

357 Ibid. i. 566 sq.

358 K. Kohler, in Jewish Encyclopedia, i (New York and London, 1901), p. 467; Hosea vi. 6.

359 Ecclesiasticus xxxv. 2.

360 Quoted by J. Levy, Neuhebräisches Wörterbuch über die Talmudim, iv (Leipzig, 1889), p. 173.

361 Ibid. iv. 173.

362 Constitutiones Apostolicæ, iv. 3.

363 Addis, loc. cit. p. 119.

364 G. Uhlhorn, Die christliche Liebesthätigkeit, i (Stuttgart, 1882), p. 135 sqq.; A. Harnack, History of Dogma, i (London, 1894), p. 205.

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews speaks of almsgiving as a sacrifice of thanksgiving which continues after the Jewish altar has been done away with.365 Like sacrifice, almsgiving was connected with prayer, as a means of making the prayer efficacious and furnishing it with wings; the angel said to Cornelius: “Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.”366 When the Christians were reproached for having no sacrifice, Justin wrote: “We have been taught that the only honour that is worthy of Him is not to consume by fire what He has brought into being for our sustenance, but to use it for ourselves and those who need.”367 So also Irenæus observes that sacrifices are not abolished in the New Testament, though their form is indeed altered, because they are no longer offered by slaves, but by freemen, of which just the oblations are the proof.368 And God has enjoined on Christians this sacrifice of oblations, not because He needs them, but “in order that themselves might be neither unfruitful nor ungrateful.”369 Augustine says: “The sacrifice of the Christians is the alms bestowed upon the poor.”370

365 Hebrews xiii. 14 sqq.

366 Acts x. 4; Cyprian, De opere et eleemosynis, 4; Chrysostom, Homilia VII, de Pœnitentia (Migne, Patrologicæ cursus, Ser. Gr., xlix. 332 sq.).

367 Justin, Apologia I. pro Christianis, 13.

368 Irenæus, Adversus hæreses, iv. 18. 82.

369 Ibid. iv. 17. 5.

370 Augustine, Sermo XLII. 1 (Migne, op. cit. xxxviii. 252).

By pointing out the magical and ritualistic elements in the formation of the religious duty of almsgiving I have, of course, 85 by no means wanted to undermine its altruistic foundation, but only to explain why it has attained the same supreme importance as is otherwise attached only to devotional exercises. And this is certainly a problem by itself, for which the belief in a benevolent God interested in the worldly morality of his believers affords no adequate solution.

The altruism of the ethics of Jesus is also apparent in his insistence on those of the ten commandments which forbid men to do harm to their neighbours. Somewhat different was his attitude towards the commandment, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” It is unlike the others through its appeal to the worldly interests of those who follow it. Among the Hebrews, as among many other peoples,371 the connection between filial submissiveness and religious beliefs was in a large measure due to the extreme significance attributed to parental blessings and curses. They thought that parents, and especially a father, could thereby determine the fate of their children;372 and we have every reason to assume that the reward which in the fifth commandment is held out to respectful children was originally the result of parental blessings. We meet with this idea in Ecclesiasticus, where it is said: “Honour thy father and mother in word and deed, that a blessing may come upon thee from them. For the blessing of the father establisheth the houses of children; but the curse of the mother rooteth out foundations.”373 But a long life on earth was a poor reward compared with the eternal life in heaven. Jesus taught that every one that had forsaken father or mother for his name’s sake would inherit everlasting life.374 His church was a militant church. He had come not to send peace, but a sword, “to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother.”375 Being chiefly addressed to the young, the new teaching naturally caused much disorder in families. Fathers disinherited their converted sons,376 and children thought that they owed no duty to their parents when such a duty was opposed to the interests of their souls. According to Gregory the Great, we ought to ignore our parents, hating them, and flying from them when they are an obstacle to us in 86 the way of the Lord;377 and this became the accepted theory of the Church.378 But it was not only in similar cases of conflict that Jesus spoke disparagingly of family ties that previously had been regarded with religious veneration. In all circumstances the relationship between child and parent was put in the shade by the relationship between man and God: “Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father which is in heaven.”379 And what would an orthodox Jew have thought if he heard the words: “If any man come to me and hate not his father and mother, . . . he cannot be my disciple.”380 In his own conduct he did not always follow the law. When he, at the age of twelve, went to Jerusalem with his parents at the feast of the Passover, he tarried behind without their knowledge, and was found by them in the temple only after three days. The mother reproved him saying: “Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing”; but afterwards he “was subject unto them.”381 Yet on one occasion his brusque treatment of his mother and brothers surprised the people around him: “There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.”382 According to John, the mother of Jesus was at a marriage in Cana, to which also he and his disciples were called. “When they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.” Afterwards, however, he turned water into wine.383 Yet in spite of utterances which must have jarred upon Jewish ears, the fifth commandment was left formally intact. It was mentioned by Jesus together with the other commandments which he enumerated in his answer to the man who asked him what he should do that he might inherit eternal life.384

371 Westermarck, op. cit. i. 621 sqq.

372 Genesis ix. 25 sqq., xxvii. 4, 19, 23, 25, 27 sqq., xlviii. 9, 14 sqq., xlix. 4, 7 sqq.; Judges xvii. 2.

373 Ecclesiasticus iii. 8 sq. Cf. ibid. iii. 16.

374 Matthew xix. 29; Mark x. 29 sq.; Luke xviii. 29 sq.

375 Matthew x. 34 sq.; Luke xii. 51–3.

376 Tertullian, Apologeticus, 3.

377 Gregory the Great, Homiliæ in Evangelia, xxxvii. 2 (Migne, Patrologiæ cursus, lxxvi. 1275).

378 Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, ii.-ii. 101. 4.

379 Matthew xxiii. 9.

380 Luke xiv. 26.

381 Ibid. ii. 42–8, 51.

382 Mark iii. 31–5. See also Matthew xii. 46–50.

383 John ii. 1–4, 6, 9.

384 Matthew xix. 19; Mark x. 19; Luke xviii. 20. See also Matthew xv. 4; Mark vii. 10.

87 In an important point Jesus opposed the Jewish marriage law. In his teaching concerning divorce he stood up for the interests of the wife. The right of the husband to divorce his wife at his pleasure was the central thought in the system of Jewish divorce law, although the rabbis gradually tempered its severity by certain restrictive measures. Two restrictions are already found in the Deuteronomic code: the husband shall not put his wife away all his days if he has falsely accused her of ante-nuptial incontinence,385 or if he has ravished her before marriage;386 but his loss of the right to divorce her in these cases was really a penalty inflicted upon him on account of his own offensive behaviour. To these restrictions the Mishna added a few others;387 but in the same period the very theory of the law was challenged by the school of Shammai, who held that according to Deuteronomy the husband cannot divorce his wife unless he has found her guilty of sexual immorality. The ancient doctrine was strongly supported by the school of Hillel, who went so far as to say that a man can divorce his wife even for the most trivial reason, for instance, for spoiling his food or if he sees another woman who pleases him better. Both schools based their opinions on the same passage in the Deuteronomic text: “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.”388 But the school of Shammai maintained that the expression “some uncleanness” (lit. “the nakedness of a thing”) signified sexual immorality; whereas the school of Hillel interpreted it to mean anything offensive to the husband and, besides, pressed the clause “if she find no favour in his eyes.”389 In legal respects the opinion of Hillel prevailed, although divorce without good cause is said to have been morally disapproved of by the rabbis in general.390

385 Deuteronomy xxii. 13 sqq.

386 Ibid. xxii. 28 sq.

387 D. W. Amram, The Jewish Law of Divorce according to Bible and Talmud (London, 1897), p. 45 sq.

388 Deuteronomy xxiv. 1.

389 Amram, op. cit. p. 32 sqq.; M. Mielziner, The Jewish Law of Marriage and Divorce in Ancient and Modern Times (Cincinnati, 1884), p. 118 sq.; J. Bergel, Die Eheverhältnisse der alten Juden (Leipzig, 1881), p. 29; S. R. Driver, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Deuteronomy (Edinburgh, 1895), p. 270.

390 Amram, op. cit. pp. 24, 52 sq.

In the sayings of Jesus there are various passages bearing upon the question. A man who puts away his wife and marries 88 another commits adultery,391 he who marries a divorced wife is guilty of the same crime,392 and so is a woman who puts away her husband and is married to another man.393 A man shall cleave to his wife, “they twain shall be one flesh”; and “what God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.”394 According to Matthew, however, Jesus, like Shammai and his school, taught that a man might put away his wife for fornication, but for no other reason. This exception is considered to be an interpolation.395 But Dean Inge asks whether it was not Christ’s method to make statements in an unguarded form, leaving it to the common sense of his hearers to make the necessary qualifications; and he thinks it is a tenable view that the case of adultery was not in the speaker’s mind at the time, and even that to a Jew the right of divorce for adultery might have been too obvious to need reaffirmation.396 In any case, though the rule laid down by Jesus was, from the wife’s point of view, a great improvement on the orthodox Jewish law, its stringency has certainly been a lasting cause of much matrimonial unhappiness in the Christian world.

391 Matthew v. 32, xix. 9; Mark x. 11; Luke xvi. 18.

392 Matthew v. 32, xix. 9; Luke xvi. 18.

393 Mark x. 12.

394 Matthew xix. 5 sq.; Mark x. 7–9.

395 Th. Keim, The History of Jesus of Nazara, v (London, 1881), p. 32 sq.; N. Söderblom, Jesu bärgspredikan (Stockholm, 1899), p. 14 sq.; K. Lake, The Earlier Epistles of St. Paul (London, 1911), p. 142; F. G. Peabody, Jesus Christ and the Social Question (New York, 1915), p. 152 sqq.

396 Inge, op. cit. p. 370.

 

CHAPTER V

THE ETHICS OF JESUS (concluded)

THE ethical teaching of Jesus discussed in the two last chapters was found to be an expression of intense moral emotions in which both the retributive and the altruistic elements come out very prominently. Specific religious and eschatological beliefs were blended with the ideas springing from those emotions. Our duties to neighbours were founded upon our submission to the will of God,397 and their sanctions were rewards or penalties for obedience or disobedience to his commandments. But those beliefs have not essentially altered the contents of the commandments, as is testified by the innumerable parallels between the teaching of Jesus and that of other moralists. We even find that certain doctrines which had crept into the moral system of the Jews from their religion, but were alien to the emotional origin of morals, were opposed by him. This is particularly apparent in his attitude towards the sabbath.

397 Cf. Matthew vii. 21, xii. 50; Mark iii. 35; Luke xi. 28.

It has been alleged that the abundant regulations of the rabbis had “tended to obscure in the general mind the original character and intention of the sabbath law.”398 These are evidently supposed to be explained by the words in the decalogue: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work. . . . For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”399 It is evident, however, that the institution of the sabbath was not due to any idea of giving a weekly day of rest to men and animals, but to the belief that it was inauspicious or dangerous to work on the seventh day; and there seems to be no doubt that the reason for this belief was the mystic connection which in the opinion of the ancient Hebrews existed between human activity and the changes of the moon. I have pointed out in another work that such a superstition is found among 90 many peoples in different parts of the world.400 It has been sufficiently demonstrated that the sabbath originally depended upon the new moon, and this carries with it the assumption that the Hebrews must at one time have observed a sabbath at intervals of seven days corresponding to the moon’s phases.401 In the Old Testament the new moon and the sabbath are repeatedly mentioned side by side;402 thus the oppressors of the poor are represented as saying: “When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat?”403 Among modern Jews, at the feast of the new moon, which is held every month on the first or on the first and second days of the month, the women are obliged to suspend all servile work, though the men are not required to interrupt their secular employment.404

398 H. H. Henson, Christian Morality (Oxford, 1936), p. 106.

399 Exodus xx. 8–11.

400 E. Westermarck, The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, ii (London, 1917), p. 284 sqq.

401 J. Wellhausen, Prolegomena to the History of Israel (London, 1885), p. 112 sqq.; M. Jastrow, ‘The Original Character of the Hebrew Sabbath,’ in The American Journal of Theology, ii (Chicago, 1898), pp. 314, 327; H. Webster, Rest Days (New York, 1916), ch. viii.

402 2 Kings iv. 23; Isaiah i. 13; Hosea ii. 11.

403 Amos viii. 5.

404 J. Allen, Modern Judaism (London, 1830), p. 390 sq.

Wellhausen suggested that the rest on the sabbath was originally the consequence of that day being the festal and sacrificial day of the week, and only gradually became its essential attribute on account of the regularity with which it every eighth day interrupted the round of everyday work. He argues that the sabbath as a day of rest cannot be very primitive, because such a day “presupposes agriculture and a tolerably hard-pressed working day-life.”405 But this argument appears quite untenable when we consider how frequently changes of the moon are believed to exercise an unfavourable influence upon work of any kind. That the superstitious fear of doing work on the seventh day developed into a religious prohibition, is only another instance of the tendency of magic forces to be transformed into divine volitions. Like the ancient Hebrews, the Assyrians and Babylonians looked upon the seventh day as an “evil day”; and though they do not seem generally to have abstained from work on that day, there were royal taboos connected with it. The king was not to show himself in his chariot, not to hold court, not to bring sacrifices, not to change his clothes, not to eat a good dinner, nor even to curse his enemies.406

405 Wellhausen, op. cit. p. 114.

406 E. Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament, edited by H. Zimmern and H. Winckler (Berlin, 1903), p. 592 sq.; H. Hirschfeld, ‘Remarks on the Etymology of Sabbāth,’ in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1896 (London), p. 358; Jastrow, loc. cit. pp. 320, 328.

91 Jesus exasperated the Pharisees by his treatment of the sabbath. He healed sick people on that day,407 and defended it himself by saying that “it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.”408 When the Pharisees blamed him for allowing his disciples to pluck the ears of corn as they went through cornfields on the sabbath, he replied: “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath. Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.”409 In defence of the Pharisees it has been pointed out that they authorised breaches of the sabbatic law in certain contingencies; that they “permitted, nay required, the performance of all necessary works of mercy, but refused to extend the licence too indiscriminately, and never reconciled themselves to the theory that in general the performance of a duty justified the infringement of a prohibition.”410 On such grounds even the accuracy of the reports concerning the indignant Pharisees has been called in question. Drews argues that since healing by merely stretching out one’s hand over the patient, as Jesus is said to have done on the sabbath, was not forbidden by the rabbis, the Pharisees could not have been “filled with madness” on such an occasion.411 But all Pharisees can scarcely be supposed to have been unanimous as to the emergencies in which the sabbath law might be disregarded; and Jesus certainly traversed the Pharisaic position when he treated on the sabbath long-standing diseases, lingering maladies, and, generally, cases where the treatment could be postponed without fear of dangerous consequences.412 We know that the early Christians considered the sabbath to have been abolished by Christ. Jewish converts no doubt continued to observe it, but this met with disapproval. In one of the epistles of Ignatius we find the exhortation not to “sabbatise,” which was expanded by the subsequent paraphraser of these compositions into a warning against keeping the sabbath, after the manner of the Jews, “as if delighting in idleness.”413 And in the fourth century a Council of the Church enacted that “the 92 Christians ought not to judaise and rest on the sabbath, but ought to work on that day.”414

407 Matthew xii. 13, 15; Mark iii. 5; Luke vi. 10, xiii. 13, xiv. 4.

408 Matthew xii. 12. See also Luke xiv. 3.

409 Mark ii. 23, 24, 27 sq. See also Matthew xii. 1, 2, 8; Luke vi. 1 , 2, 5.

410 I. Abrahams, Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels, 1st series (Cambridge, 1917), p. 135.

411 A. Drews, The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus (London, 1912), p. 236.

412 Abrahams, op. cit. p. 135.

413 Ignatius, Epistola ad Magnesias, 9; E. V. Neale, Feasts and Fasts (London, 1845), p. 89.

414 Concilium Laodicenum, can. 29 (Labbe-Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum collectio, ii. 580).

Nor was the Christian Sunday originally in any way a substitute for the Jewish sabbath. It was from early times a recognised custom among the Christians to celebrate the first day of the week in memory of Christ’s resurrection by holding a form of religious service; but there was no sabbatic regard for it, and it was chiefly looked upon as a day of rejoicing.415 Tertullian is the first writer who speaks of abstinence from secular care and labour on Sunday as a duty incumbent upon Christians, lest they should “give place to the devil.”416 But it is extremely doubtful whether the earliest Sunday law really had a Christian origin. In 321 the Emperor Constantine issued an edict to the effect that all judges and all city people and tradesmen should rest on “the venerable Day of the Sun,” whereas those living in the country should have full liberty to attend to the culture of their fields, “since it frequently happens that no other day is so fit for the sowing of grain or the planting of vines.”417 In this rescript nothing is said of any relation to Christianity, nor do we know that it in any way was due to Christian influence.418 It seems that Constantine, in his capacity of Pontifex Maximus, only added the day of the sun—whose worship was the characteristic of the new paganism—to those inauspicious days, religiosi dies, which the Romans of old regarded as unsuitable for worldly business and especially for judicious proceedings.419

415 Justin Martyr, Apologia I. pro Christianis, 67; Didache, 14; Barnabas, Epistola catholica, 15; Ph. Schaff, History of the Christian Church: Anti-Nicene Christianity (Edinburgh, 1884), p. 202 sqq.; J. A. Hessey, Sunday (London, 1889), p. 29 sqq.

416 Tertullian, De oratione, 23.

417 Codex Justinianus, iii. 12. 2 (3).

418 Cf. A. H. Lewis, A Critical History of Sunday Legislation (New York, 1888), p. 18 sqq.; H. H. Milman, History of Latin Christianity, ii (London, 1867), p. 291 sq.

419 Gellius, Noctes Atticæ, iv. 9. 5, vi. 9. 10; Varro, De lingua Latina, vi. 30; Neale, op. cit. pp. 5, 6, 86, 87, 206; W. W. Fowler, The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic (London, 1899), p. 8 sq. The Greeks, also, had “unblest and inauspicious” days, when no court or assembly was to be held, and work was to be abstained from (Plato, Leges, vii. 800; R. Karsten, Studies in Primitive Greek Religion [Öfversigt af Finska Vetenskaps-Societetens Förhandlingar, xlix, Helsingfors, 1906–1907, no. 1], p. 90).

But although the obligatory Sunday rest in no case was a continuance of the Jewish sabbath, it was gradually confounded with it, owing to the recognition of the decalogue, with its 93 injunction of a weekly day of rest, as the code of divine morality. From the sixth century upwards vexatious restrictions were made by civil rulers, councils, and ecclesiastical writers,420 until in Puritanism the Christian Sunday became a perfect image of the Pharisaic sabbath, or even excelled it in the rigour with which abstinence from every kind of worldly activity was insisted upon. The theory that the keeping holy of one day out of seven is the essence of the fourth commandment reconciled people to the fact that the Jewish sabbath was the seventh day and Sunday the first. In England, in the seventeenth century, persons were punished for carrying coal on Sunday, for hanging out clothes to dry, for travelling on horseback, for rural strolls and walking about.421 And there were Scotch clergymen who taught their congregations that on that day it was sinful even to save a vessel in distress.422 Until quite recently the Scottish Sunday was observed with amazing rigour. Not only were ordinary recreations disallowed, but a ban was put even upon books and music, except such as were recognised as religious in the narrow sense. Indeed, no recreation remained but whisky-drinking; and a writer in Hastings’ Encyclopædia of Religion attributes a great part of the drunkenness which is still common in Scotland to this strange Sabbatarianism.

420 Hessey, op. cit. p. 87 sqq.

421 G. Roberts, The Social History of the People of the Southern Counties of England in Past Centuries (London, 1856), p. 244 sqq.

422 H. T. Buckle, History of Civilization in England, iii (London, 1894), p. 276.

Jesus inaugurated his ministry by a fast of forty days;423 the Jews associated fasting with divine revelations.424 It also held a prominent position in Jewish ritual and in the Christian Church as well; but it is seldom mentioned by Jesus, though allusions to it have been interpolated in several places in later manuscripts of the New Testament.425 To some extent he took it for granted. He said to his disciples: “When ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. . . . But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret.”426 He speaks with scorn of the 94 Pharisee who “stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers. . . . I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.”427 It was objected to Jesus that while the disciples of John and the Pharisees used to fast, his disciples did not fast. Jesus replied: “Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.”428 Fasting after a death is a widespread practice,429 and is also mentioned in the Old Testament. David and his people fasted for Saul and Jonathan until even on the day when the news of their death arrived.430

423 Matthew iv. 2; Luke iv. 2.

424 Exodus xxxiv. 28; Deuteronomy ix. 9; Daniel ix. 3.

425 Matthew xvii. 21; Mark ix. 29; Acts x. 30; 1 Corinthians vii. 5. See W. R. Inge, Christian Ethics and Modern Problems (London, 1932), p. 98. The word “fasting” has been omitted in the Revised Edition.

426 Matthew vi. 16–18.

427 Luke xviii. 11 sq.

428 Mark ii. 18–20. See also Matthew ix. 14 sq.; Luke v. 33–5.

429 Westermarck, op. cit. ii. 298 sqq.

430 2 Samuel i. 12. Cf. ibid. iii. 35.

Jesus was not an ascetic like John the Baptist, who lived in the wilderness clothed with camel’s hair and neither ate bread nor drank wine, but subsisted on locusts and wild honey.431 He “came eating and drinking” and was even accused of being “a gluttonous man and a winebibber” who ate and drank with publicans and sinners.432 He accepted invitations of Pharisees to dine in their houses, and according to John he was present at a wedding where he turned water into wine.433 But he led a very simple wandering life, indifferent to all comfort. When a certain man came and said that he wished to follow him wherever he went, Jesus replied: “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”434 And when he sent his disciples to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick, he said to them: “Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves”; but admonished them to rely upon private hospitality.435 On another occasion he said to his disciples: “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. . . . For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.”436

431 Matthew iii. 1, 4; Mark i. 4, 6; Luke iii. 2, vii. 33.

432 Matthew ix. 10 sq., xi. 19; Mark ii. 15 sq.; Luke v. 29 sq., vii. 34.

433 John ii. 1, 6–9.

434 Matthew viii. 19 sq.; Luke ix. 57 sq.

435 Matthew x. 5, 9–11; Mark vi. 7–10; Luke ix. 2–4.

436 Matthew vi. 25, 32; Luke xii. 22, 30.

95 In the opinion of Jesus wealth is of no value to a man but a peril: “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”437 “Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. . . . But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger.”438 “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! . . . It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”439 The beggar Lazarus died, “and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried. And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.”440

437 Luke xiv. 33.

438 Ibid. vi. 20, 21, 24 sq. Matthew (v. 3, 6) writes “the poor in spirit” and “they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness.”

439 Mark x. 23, 25; Matthew xix. 23 sq.; Luke xviii. 24 sq.

440 Luke xvi. 22–5.

Jesus speaks of the folly of hoarding in the parable of the rich man who built greater barns: “God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”441 Moreover, the end of the world was at hand: “Ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”442 The attitude of Jesus towards wealth was also connected with the idea that we ought to give in charity any superfluity of what we possess.443 But the principal reason why Jesus was so severe upon the rich was the nothingness of all earthly possessions and their imperilling the soul. “He that layeth up treasure for himself . . . is not rich toward God.”444 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. . . . For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. . . . No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the 96 other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”445 “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”446

441 Ibid. xii. 20.

442 Matthew xxv. 13.

443 Luke xii. 33. See also supra, p. 79.

444 Luke xii. 21.

445 Matthew vi. 19–21, 24, See also Luke xvi. 13.

446 Mark viii. 36. See also Matthew xvi. 26; Luke ix. 25.

This disdain for temporal anxieties and worldly goods has taken us to a new department in the ethics of Jesus, where the determining factor is no longer the natural constitution of the moral consciousness, but the influence of specific religious ideas. Such influence is also apparent in the importance which he attached to certain ritual practices, contrary to his disregard of certain others, such as the keeping of the sabbath, fasting, and sacrifice: “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.”447 Prayer holds a very prominent position in his teaching: “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”448 “All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”449 “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”450 “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name”; and so forth.451 Isaiah also condemned those who did honour to the Lord with their lips, but had removed their heart far from him.452

447 Matthew ix. 13, xii. 7.

448 Luke xviii. 1. See also ibid. xxi. 36.

449 Matthew xxi. 22.

450 Ibid. vii. 7 sq.; Luke xi. 9 sq.

451 Matthew vi. 7–13.

452 Isaiah xxix. 13 sq.

Prayer is an act of humility, and the spirit of humility pervades the teaching of Jesus throughout: “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. . . For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.”453 “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”454 “Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”455 It has been said that there is no more distinguishing mark of Christian ethics than humility.456 But it was also insisted upon by the Prophets. Micah said: “What 97 doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”457

453 Matthew vi. 10, 13; Luke xi. 2.

454 Matthew v. 5.

455 Ibid. xxiii. 12; Luke xiv. 11.

456 J. Stalker, The Ethic of Jesus (London, 1909), p. 210.

457 Micah vi. 8.

Prayer and humility presuppose faith, which was stressed by the Prophets,458 and assumed pre-eminence in the teaching of Jesus. “The apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith”; and he answered: “If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.”459 When Jesus caused a fig-tree which had leaves but no fruit suddenly to wither away, the disciples who saw it marvelled and said: “How soon is the fig-tree withered away.” Jesus answered and said to them: “Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig-tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. . . . And nothing shall be impossible unto you.”460

458 Isaiah vii. 9: “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established”; ibid. xxviii. 16: “He that believeth shall not make haste”; ibid. xxx. 15: “Thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; . . . in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength”; Habakkuk ii. 4: “The just shall live by his faith.”

459 Luke xvii. 5 sq.

460 Matthew xxi. 19–22, xvii. 20. See also Mark xi. 22 sq.

Jesus particularly often speaks of faith in connection with his miracles. When he had entered into Capernaum, a centurion came and said to him: “Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.” Jesus answered that he would come and heal him. The centurion said: “I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.” When Jesus heard this, he marvelled and said to the people who followed him: “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” And he said to the centurion: “Go thy way; and as thou has believed, so be it done unto thee.” And the servant was healed at once.461

461 Matthew viii. 5–10, 13. See also Luke vii. 1–10.

A woman who was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years came behind Jesus and touched the hem of his garment, saying within herself: “If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.” Jesus turned round, and when he saw her he said: “Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made 98 thee whole.” And the woman was made whole from that hour.462

462 Matthew ix. 20–2. See also Mark v. 25–34; Luke viii. 43–8.

Two blind men asked Jesus to have mercy on them. He asked them: “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” They answered: “Yea, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying: “According to your faith be it unto you.” And their eyes were opened.463

463 Matthew ix. 27–30.

The woman of Canaan, mentioned above, whose daughter was vexed with a devil and who implored Jesus to heal her, but was rebuffed by him with the words, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread and to cast it to dogs,” replied: “Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus said to her: “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.464

464 Supra, p. 74 sq.; Matthew xv. 22–8. See also Mark vii. 25–30, where Jesus is reported to have said, not “Great is thy faith,” but, “For this saying go thy way.”

Once when Jesus was in a house preaching and there were many people gathered, four men came carrying a man sick of the palsy, but could not make their way through the crowd. They then uncovered the roof where he was, and when they had broken it up they let down the bed in which the sick man lay. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” Some of the scribes sitting there reasoned in their hearts: “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?” Then Jesus, who read their thoughts, said: “That ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy), I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.” And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all.465

465 Mark ii. 1–12. See also Matthew ix. 2–7; Luke v. 17–25.

A man brought to Jesus his son who had been vexed with a dumb spirit since he was a child. He had spoken to the disciples that they should cast him out, but they could not, and now he implored Jesus, saying: “If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.” Jesus answered: “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” Straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears: “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” And Jesus cast the devil out. When the disciples asked him why they could not do it, Jesus answered, according to Mark: 99 “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting”; and according to Matthew: “Because of your unbelief. . . . Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”466 But in these cases the word “fasting” is an interpolation.467

466 Mark ix. 17–29; Matthew xvii. 14–21.

467 Supra, p. 93.

A blind man came to Jesus, who asked him: “What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?” The blind man answered: “Lord, that I might receive my sight.” Jesus said to him: “Go thy way; thy faith hath made you whole.” And immediately he received his sight.468

468 Mark x. 46–52. See also Luke xviii. 35–43.

A man who was a ruler of the synagogue fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought him that he would come into his house, because he had a young daughter who was dying; but the people thronged him. Then there came some one from his house and said to him: “Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master.” But when Jesus heard it he said: “Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.” When he came into the house he “took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway.”469

469 Luke viii. 41, 42, 49–51, 54 sq. See also Mark v. 35, 36, 39, 41 sq.

When Jesus entered into a certain village ten lepers met him, and, standing afar off, cried out: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them: “Go shew yourselves unto the priests.” As they went they were cleansed. But one of them, who was a Samaritan, when he saw that he was healed, turned back and glorified God with a loud voice and fell down on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Jesus said to him: “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? . . . Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.”470

470 Luke xvii. 12–17, 19.

When Jesus was dining in a Pharisee’s house, a woman who was a sinner brought an alabaster box of ointment, and, standing behind him weeping, began to wash his feet with tears, wiped them with the hair of her head, kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now the Pharisee spoke within himself: “This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.” Jesus turned to the woman, and said to the Pharisee: “Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of 100 her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” And he said to her: “Thy sins are forgiven. . . . Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”471

471 Luke vii. 36–9, 44–8, 50.

Faith, then, is said to enable a person to work miracles, and to be a ground for the remission of sins and a cure for sickness. Faith in whom or in what? It has been alleged that Jesus nearly always uses the word with the meaning of trust in the power and goodness of God.472 In proof of this reference is made to the stories of the centurion whose servant was ill, of the four men who carried to Jesus the paralytic, and of the woman whose faith was shown by her answer that the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. In these, and in the other cases of faith recorded in connection with his miracles, I can find nothing more than the belief that Jesus could cure sickness or forgive sins. This is particularly obvious from the question he put to the two blind men, “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” and from their eyes being opened immediately after their answer, “Yea, Lord.” On several occasions the faith was not even displayed by the person who was cured, but by the supplicant.

472 W. Morgan, ‘Faith (Christian),’ in J. Hastings, Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, v (Edinburgh, 1912), p. 689.

In any case faith, whether in God or in Jesus, is no moral quality, since the proper object of moral judgment is always the will; and the reward for it is therefore no moral reward, but only a favour. At the same time there can be no objection to such a favour from the moral point of view; whereas the case is quite different with the condemnation or punishment of the absence of faith. Of this little is heard in the sayings of Jesus reported in the synoptic gospels, but we nevertheless find there the germ of a doctrine which subsequently assumed enormous importance in Christian theology. He said: “Whosoever . . . shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”473 Dean Rashdall suggests that here the representation of the evangelists may have been more or less coloured by the later belief of Christ’s followers and by the teaching of Paul and the 101 whole early Church as to the importance of faith in Christ.474 Jesus is also reported to have said: “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”475 Such reflection on the necessity of baptism betrays the relatively late origin of the passage; and it is known not to have been an original part of Mark’s gospel.476 If Jesus had regarded salvation as conditional on belief in his Messiahship we might expect him to have emphasised it. This is what he did according to John.477 But, as said above, the fourth gospel cannot be recognised as a reliable source of information about the teaching of Jesus.

473 Matthew x. 32 sq. See also Luke xii. 8 sq.

474 H. Rashdall, The Idea of Atonement in Christian Theology (London, 1919), p. 21.

475 Mark xvi. 16.

476 J. V. Bartlet, ‘Baptism (New Testament),’ in Hastings, op. cit. ii (1909), p. 376.

477 John iii. 15, 16, 18, 36, vi. 40, 47, viii. 24, xx. 31, etc.

 

CHAPTER VI

THE ETHICS OF PAUL

THERE was once a great persecution against the church at Jerusalem. A young man, whose name was Saul, then entered into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. After that he went to the high priest and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found there any disciples of the Lord, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus; and suddenly there shone round about him a light from heaven. He fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” He said: “Who art thou, Lord?” He heard the answer: “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest; it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” He said, astonished and trembling: “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” The answer was: “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” The men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no man. When Saul rose from the ground he was blind, and was led by them and brought into Damascus. There was in the city a certain disciple, named Ananias, who also had a vision in which Jesus commanded him to go and inquire for a man called Saul, of Tarsus. “He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.” Ananias went to the house where Saul was staying, put his hands on him, and told him that Jesus had sent him, that Saul might receive his sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. Immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales. He arose and was baptised, and preached straightway in the synagogues that Christ was the Son of God.478

478 Acts viii. 1, 3, ix. 1 sqq.

There are in the Acts two other accounts of the vision and conversion of Paul, represented as speeches delivered by himself.479 In one of them, that addressed to King Agrippa, Ananias is not mentioned at all, but Jesus is alleged to have said to Paul: “I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou 103 hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” In his epistles Paul does not describe his vision, but insists that he has received the gospel by the revelation of Jesus Christ, “when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen.”480 He also writes: “Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?”481 And after pointing out that Jesus was seen by all the apostles he adds: “And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.”482

479 Ibid. xxii. 6 sqq., xxvi. 12 sqq.

480 Galatians i. 11, 12, 15 sq.

481 1 Corinthians ix. 1.

482 Ibid. xv. 7 sq.

From all these accounts it is obvious that Paul’s conversion was due to a vision in which he believed himself to have seen Christ risen in celestial glory; he was evidently predisposed to visions and trances.483 His vision of the risen Christ belonged to a type which is familiar to students of modern conversions, in which a complete division is established in the twinkling of an eye between the old life and the new. Those who have had such an experience carry away a feeling of its being a miracle. Voices are often heard, lights are seen, or visions are witnessed, and it always seems, after the surrender of the personal will, as if an extraneous higher power had flooded in and taken possession of the person, as if he were partaking directly of Christ’s substance, as if the deity were present in him. Of this he has a joyous conviction, which has been called faith par excellence.484 According to James, the most striking conversions of that kind have been permanent.485 So also Starbuck has found that “the effect of conversion is to bring with it a changed attitude towards life, which is fairly constant and permanent, although the feelings fluctuate. . . . The persons who have passed through conversions, having once taken a stand for the religious life, tend to feel themselves identified with it, no matter how much their religious enthusiasm declines.”486

483 Acts xvi. 9, xxii. 17 sq., xxiii. 11, xxvii. 23 sq.; 2 Corinthians xii. 1 sqq.; Galatians ii. 2.

484 W. James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (London, etc., 1903), ch. x passim.

485 Ibid. pp. 257, 268.

486 E. D. Starbuck, The Psychology of Religion (London, 1899), pp. 360, 357.

104 Of all these characteristics of conversion there is evidence in Paul’s own sayings: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.”487 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”488 “In him we live, and move, and have our being.”489 “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”490 “We have the mind of Christ.”491 “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.”492 “To me to live is Christ.”493 According to Deissmann, the formula “in Christ” or “in the Lord” is found 164 times in the Pauline epistles.494 The most conspicuous characteristic of all the elements of the conversion crisis is the ecstasy of happiness produced.495 And Paul speaks again and again of the joy of faith, and exhorts his disciples to rejoice.496 He says that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.”497 He speaks of “long-suffering with joyfulness”;498 and after recording his own torments and perils he writes: “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”499

487 2 Corinthians v. 17. See also Galatians vi. 15; Colossians iii. 10; Ephesians iv. 24.

488 Galatians ii. 20.

489 Acts xvii. 28.

490 Romans viii. 9 sq.

491 1 Corinthians ii. 16.

492 Ibid. iii. 16.

493 Philippians i. 21.

494 G. A. Deissmann, Paulus. Eine kultur- und religionsgeschichtliche Skizze (Tübingen, 1925), p. 111.

495 James, op. cit. p. 254; A. C. Underwood, Conversion: Christian and Non-Christian (London, 1925), p. 153 sqq.

496 Romans xii. 12, xiv. 17, xv. 13; 2 Corinthians i. 24, ii. 3, vi. 10, viii. 2; Philippians i. 25, ii. 17 sq., iii. 1, iv. 4; 1 Thessalonians v. 16.

497 Galatians v. 22.

498 Colossians i. 11. See also ibid. i. 24.

499 2 Corinthians xi. 23–33, xii. 10.

Faith in Jesus Christ is the keystone of Paul’s whole teaching. But this faith was not a belief in his miracles, nor even a belief in his Messiahship. In his estimation Christ was a divine being in whom “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,”500 “the image” of God,501 and “the firstborn of every creature,”502 “the Son” of God503 who “sitteth on the right hand of God.”504 And the Christ who had revealed himself 105 to Paul in his glory was the crucified and risen Christ, whom he now knew as a saviour, and whose message he felt called to preach to the world. As Christ had risen from the grave, so also those who through their belief in it were possessed by him would rise and be justified. Jesus our Lord “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ. . . . Being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him . . . by whom we have now received the atonement.”505 “Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”506 “He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus.”507 “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”508 “Some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. . . . So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power; It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. . . . The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”509

500 Colossians ii. 9.

501 Ibid. i. 15, iii. 10; 2 Corinthians iv. 4.

502 Colossians i. 15.

503 Ibid. i. 13; Galatians ii. 20.

504 Colossians iii. 1. Cf. Ephesians i. 20.

505 Romans iv. 25, v. 1, 9, 11.

506 1 Corinthians xv. 21 sq.

507 2 Corinthians iv. 14.

508 Colossians iii. 4.

509 1 Corinthians xv. 35–8, 42–4, 52 sq.

By faith every one will be saved. The gospel of Christ “is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. . . . For the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”510 God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth. . . . That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him.”511 “There is no respect of persons with God.”512 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus”;513 “Christ 106 is all, and in all.”514 And Paul had been commanded to “be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God.”515

510 Romans i. 16, x. 12 sq.

511 Acts xvii. 26 sq.

512 Romans ii. 11.

513 Galatians iii. 28. See also Colossians iii. 11.

514 Colossians iii. 11.

515 Romans xv. 16. See also Galatians i. 16; Ephesians iii. 6.

For this task he was pre-eminently suited. True, he was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin,516 “a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee.”517 As Deissmann remarks, he “never departed from the national and religious communion of his people; he retained with pride the name Hebrew, and the even more significant names Israelite and Seed of Abraham, just as he also reckoned himself one of the Israel of God.”518 He calls even the unconverted Jews “my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh”;519 he could write that unto the Jews be became as a Jew that he might gain the Jews, “to them that are under the law, as under the law”;520 he constantly makes quotations from the Old Testament. But he was a native of Tarsus in Cilicia,521 a Græco-Roman town, and spent most of his life before his conversion there; and he was a Roman citizen.522

516 Romans xi. 1; Philippians iii. 5.

517 Acts xxiii. 6; Philippians iii. 5.

518 Deissmann, op. cit. p. 77.

519 Romans ix. 3.

520 1 Corinthians ix. 20.

521 Acts xxii. 3.

522 Ibid. xvi. 37, xxii. 25, 27, 29, xxiii. 27.

At the beginning of our era Tarsus was a city of considerable importance, which had reached a position of high standing on account of its intellectual life and the general love of knowledge displayed by his inhabitants. It had a university which was a centre of Hellenistic philosophy, and even surpassed those of Athens and Alexandria in respect of the eagerness of its students and in filling its classroom with its own people, though it did not surpass them in equipment or in standing and fame as a seat of learning.523 In Tarsus Paul came from his early boyhood in close contact with the Græco-Roman world. He was a man of education, who had received a Greek training. Greek was the only language which he used in his epistles, and he read his Old Testament first and chiefly in Greek translation. Even though it cannot be proved that he possessed such accurate knowledge of Greek literature and philosophy as some of the Church Fathers have attributed to him,524 he did not hesitate to enter into discussion with persons trained in Greek philosophy.525 It is of particular interest to note that a famous philosopher, Athenodorus (74 B.C.-A.D. 7), who had influenced 107 considerably the thought of Seneca, had lived in Tarsus very near the time of which we are speaking, and whose teaching was undoubtedly influential in the university of Tarsus after his death.526 There is reason to believe that Paul was brought up in a society which was permeated by Stoicism.527 It is not improbable that his conversion, as has been found to be the case with other religious conversions,528 was connected with a previous preparation for it in his own mind in the form of a subconscious incubation which, when ripe, burst into flower. If so, it is no wonder that he freed Christianity from its nationalistic fetters, and transformed it into a world-religion of salvation.

523 Strabo, iv. 10. 13, p. 674; W. Ramsay, The Cities of St. Paul (London, 1907), p. 232 sq.

524 Socrates, Historia ecclesiastica, iii. 16.

525 Acts xvii. 18 sqq.

526 Ramsay, op. cit. p. 217 sqq.

527 See E. V. Arnold, Roman Stoics (Cambridge, 1911), p. 24.

528 James, op. cit. p. 230.

In Greece, philosophers had long before opposed national narrowness and prejudice. Democritus of Abdera said that every country is accessible to a wise man, and that a good soul’s fatherland is the whole earth.529 The same view was expressed by Theodorus, one of the later Cyrenaics, who denounced devotion to country as ridiculous.530 The Cynics in particular, attached slight value to the citizenship of any special state, declaring themselves to be citizens of the world.531 But, as Zeller observes, in the mouth of the Cynic this doctrine was meant to express not so much the essential oneness of all mankind, as the philosopher’s independence of country and home.532 It was the Stoic philosophy that first gave to the idea of a world-citizenship a definite positive meaning, and raised it to historical importance. The citizen of Alexander’s huge empire had in a way become a citizen of the world; and national dislikes were so much more readily overcome since the various nationalities comprised in it were united not only under a common government but also in a common culture.533 Indeed, the founder of Stoicism was himself only half a Greek. But there is also an intrinsic connection between the cosmopolitan idea and the Stoic system in general. According to the Stoics, human society has for its basis the identity of reason in individuals; hence we have no ground for limiting this society to a single nation. We are all, says Seneca, members of one great body, 108 the universe; “we are all akin by Nature, who has formed us of the same elements, and placed us here together for the same end.”534 As Marcus Aurelius puts it, “the world is in a manner a state,” including all rational beings, to which the individual states are related as the houses of a city are to the city collectively.535 And the wise man will esteem it far above any particular community in which the accident of birth has placed him.536

529 Stobæus, Florilegium, xl. 7, vol. ii. 80. Cf. P. Natorp, Die Ethika des Demokritos (Marburg, 1893), p. 117, n. 41.

530 Diogenes Laertius, Vitæ philosophorum, ii. 98 sq.

531 Ibid. vi. 12, 63, 72, 98; Epictetus, Dissertationes, iii. 24. 66; Stobæus, xlv. 28, vol. ii. 252.

532 E. Zeller, Socrates and the Socratic Schools (London 1855), p. 326 sq.; idem, The Stoics, Epicureans, and Sceptics (London, 1892), p. 327.

533 Cf. Plutarch, De Alexandri Magni fortuna aut virtute, i. 6, p. 329.

534 Seneca, Epistulæ, xcv. 52.

535 Marcus Aurelius, Commentarii, iii. 11, iv. 4.

536 Seneca, De otio, iv. 1; idem, Epistulæ, lxviii. 2; Epictetus, Dissertationes iii. 22. 83 sqq.

Besides Stoic influence there may have been another cause that made for the universalising of Christianity, namely the Logos-doctrine, of which elements are clearly discernible in the Pauline epistles; it is difficult to doubt that this doctrine influenced his conception of Christ. It could look back to a long history, but assumed definite shape as a metaphysical theory particularly in the religious philosophy of Philo Judæus of Alexandria, who was a contemporary of Jesus. According to this theory nobody can approach God—the immaterial, unknowable, ineffable, self-existent Being. Nor was it possible that God should intervene directly in the process of creation; only indirectly could his function as cause of the universe be accomplished. God proceeded therefore according to a plan. He made use of an image of his own essence, an ideal image that remains intimately united with himself. The universe comes into existence through the instrumentality of this divine mediator. All that it possesses of spirit, soul, of forms and values, of patterns and ideas, issues from, or is rooted in, the supreme Reason, the Logos. The term Logos stood for many things, but in the teaching of Philo it was the equivalent of the world’s wisdom or the world’s image.537 And in this sense it appears in Pauline literature. Jesus is spoken of as “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible.”538

537 A. Aall, The Hellenistic Elements in Christianity (London, 1931), pp. 57–9, 62 sq.

538 Colossians i. 15 sq. See also supra, p. 104.

Paul looked upon the process of redemption as a mystery. He declares that the wisdom he speaks of is “not the wisdom of this world,” but “the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory. . . . Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become 109 a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.”539 But the redemption is not only a mystery: there is also magic in it. This appears from the importance which Paul attaches to baptism and the Eucharist.

539 1 Corinthians ii. 6 sq., iii. 18–20. Cf. Colossians i. 26 sq.

There is no evidence that Jesus instituted baptism, but every reason to believe that he did not do so. It never appears among the conditions of discipleship. The passage in Mark’s gospel about him who believes and is baptised is not an original part of it.540 John’s report of Jesus’ answer to Nicodemus, that “except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,”541 cannot be relied upon. And the same is the case with the commandment attributed to Jesus by Matthew, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,”542 which has been regarded as the central piece of evidence for the traditional view of the institution of baptism by Jesus.543 Harnack points out that for two reasons Jesus could not have uttered it. First, it is only a later stage of the tradition that represents the risen Christ as delivering speeches and giving commandments—Paul knows nothing of it; secondly, the Trinitarian formula is foreign to the mouth of Jesus and has not the authority in the Apostolic age which it must have had, if it descended from Jesus himself.544 Further, if Paul had known of such a commission to baptise he could hardly have said, as he does: “Christ sent me not to baptise, but to preach the gospel.”545 At the same time he knows of no other way of receiving the Gentiles into the Christian community than by baptism. He writes: “By one Spirit are we all baptised into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free.”546 We may perhaps assume that the practice of baptism was continued in consequence of Jesus’ recognition of John the Baptist and his baptism, even after John himself was removed; in the fourth gospel it is said that Jesus did not baptise, but that his disciples did.547 John had preached “the baptism of repentance for the remission of 110 sins”;548 and Paul also regarded baptism as a cleansing from sin,549 but predominantly as a reincarnation of Christ’s death and rising to immortality; “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ were baptised into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”550

540 Supra, p. 101.

541 John iii. 5.

542 Matthew xxviii. 19.

543 See K. Lake, ‘Baptism (Early Christian),’ in J. Hastings, Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, ii (Edinburgh, 1909), p. 380.

544 Harnack, op. cit. i. 79 n. 1. See also C. Clemen, Primitive Christianity and its non-Jewish Sources (Edinburgh, 1912), p. 214.

545 1 Corinthians i. 17.

546 Ibid. xii. 13.

547 John iv. 2.

548 Mark i. 4.

549 This is obviously implied in 1 Corinthians vi. 11.

550 Romans vi. 3–6. See also Colossians ii. 12.

Lietzmann observes that Paul’s mystic sacramentalism in regard to baptism was in closest contact with the belief of the church of the “Hellenists” and must surely have appeared to many a Corinthian as an infallible means of purging away sin and as a guarantee of future salvation.551 In the Mysteries which at that time were spread throughout Asia Minor and Greece we find rites of ablution from which a new birth was expected; mention was made of “dying” in the figurative sense, as the high priest of Isis says in Apuleius;552 use was made of the magic power of a name or some other formula; and the result was considered to be salvation due to the union of the initiate with the god.553 Tertullian noticed the resemblance, and argued that demons, whose chief employment was to prevent mankind from embracing the worship of the true God, endeavoured to preoccupy the minds of men by imitating rites having some similarity to those which were to be observed under the gospel, and that baptism was thus by their suggestion introduced into the Eleusinian mysteries as a mode of initiation, being an imitation of Christian baptism.554 The Eleusinian purificatory bath, from which the candidate emerged a new man with a new name, was also referred to by Greek Fathers, especially Clement of Alexandria, as a parallel to the Christian rite of baptism both in its nature and in its intended effects.555 In any case we must 111 assume that the pagan sacrament influenced the latter and increased the importance attached to baptism in the Christian world.

551 H. Lietzmann, The Beginnings of the Christian Church (London, 1937), p. 184.

552 Apuleius, Metamorphoses, xi. 21.

553 Clemen, op. cit. p. 230; K. Lake, The Earlier Epistles of St. Paul (London, 1911), p. 389 sq.

554 Tertullian, De baptismo, 5. See also Justin, Apologia I. pro Christianis, 62.

555 Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, v. 11 (Migne, Patrologiæ cursus, Ser. Græca, ix. 107).

Various writers regard Paul’s sacramental conception of baptism as an alien body in his system as a whole, incongruous with his general doctrine of justification by faith;556 and, though he no doubt considered faith a necessary preliminary to it, it is fairly obvious that he attributed to baptism magical efficacy. Some statements to this effect have already been quoted, and others may be added, such as: “By one Spirit are we all baptised into one body”;557 “As many of you as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ.”558 Paul’s reference to the Corinthian custom of baptism for the dead—“What shall they do which are baptised for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptised for the dead?”559—also supports this view. It has been argued that he leaves us in the dark as to his own opinion about it.560 But it seems more to the point that he does not reprove the Corinthians for practising it.561

556 W. Heitmüller, Taufe und Abendmahl bei Paulus (Göttingen, 1903), p. 22 sq.; H. J. Holtzmann, Lehrbuch der neutestamentlichen Theologie, ii (Tübingen, 1911), p. 198; H. J. Weinel, Biblische Theologie des neuen Testaments (Tübingen, 1928), p. 251.

557 1 Corinthians xii. 13.

558 Galatians iii. 27.

559 1 Corinthians xv. 29.

560 E. Eidem, Det kristna livet enligt Paulus (Stockholm, 1927), p. 122 n. 2.

561 Cf. A. Loisy, Les mystères païens et le mystère chrétien (Paris, 1914), p. 275.

Like baptism the Last Supper is mentioned in the synoptic gospels. They contain three passages dealing with it. When eating with his disciples Jesus “took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”562 There is a similar account in Matthew, which is dependent on Mark.563 The third account, found in Luke, contains the addition, “This do in remembrance of me.”564 This does not occur in some early Western authorities, and is therefore regarded by almost all critics as a later insertion influenced by the passage in Corinthians on the subject.565 It 112 has also been contended by many scholars that the account of Mark (on which Matthew depends) shows traces of Pauline influence, especially in the language which describes the cup as “my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.”566 Conybeare argues that the agreement is so close that either Mark must have copied Paul or Paul Mark, and that the latter hypothesis is ruled out by the fact that the Pauline epistle is older than the Gospel of Mark.567 Montefiore observes how difficult it is to believe that a Palestinian or Galilæan Jew could have suggested that, in drinking wine, his disciples were, even symbolically, drinking blood, considering the horror with which the drinking of blood was regarded by the Jews.568

562 Mark xiv. 22–5.

563 Matthew xxvi. 26–9.

564 Luke xxii. 15–20.

565 W. Sanday, ‘Jesus Christ,’ in J. Hastings, A Dictionary of the Bible, ii (Edinburgh, 1899), p. 636; P. Gardner, The Religious Experience of Paul (London and New York, 1911), p. 113; Holtzmann, op. cit. i. 377.

566 Loisy, op. cit. p. 284; Holtzmann, op. cit. i. 368 sq.; M. Goguel, The Life of Jesus (London, 1933), p. 448.

567 F. C. Conybeare, Myth, Magic, and Morals (London, 1909), p. 270.

568 C. G. Montefiore, The Synoptic Gospels, edited with an Introduction and a Commentary, i (London, 1927), p. 332.

In any case it is a widespread opinion that the only trace of a mystic meaning given to the Eucharist in the gospels is a later incorporation that could have no meaning save in the mystery-salvation through Christ as conceived by Paul. For him it was a sacrament and a mystical re-enactment of the death and resurrection of Christ through which the believer participates in his immortality, the bread and wine being an incarnation of his body and blood: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat the sacrifices partakers of the altar?”569 In reproving the Corinthians for profaning the Lord’s Supper Paul wrote to them: “As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”570 As Loisy observes, “in the ardent imagination of the Apostle, the bread broken for the Lord’s Supper assimilates itself to Christ crucified for the elimination of sin, the wine of the cup identifies itself with the blood spilt for the salvation of mankind.”571 The 113 “worthy” participation in the Supper may have presupposed faith, but the essence of the rite was undoubtedly the magical effect ascribed to the bodily communion with Christ by partaking of his body and blood.

569 1 Corinthians x. 16–18.

570 Ibid. xi. 26–9.

571 Loisy, op. cit. p. 286.

It is obvious that the sacramental form of the Eucharist exhibited by Paul cannot have been a creation of Jesus, nor can it have come from strict Judaism; but there were striking parallels to it in the pagan world. There was a series of cults in the Roman Empire which offered a happy immortality to their initiates, and the method of obtaining it was by means of sacraments. In several of those mysteries blood played a very important part. It was an extremely common belief in the ancient world that by drinking the blood it was possible to absorb the qualities of the god whose blood was used.572 All the mystery gods were intercessors and saviours, and the object of the initiates was to attain, through identification with the god, a share in his blessed immortality.573 Paul was plainly aware of those pagan parallels. After speaking of the bread and the cup of communion, he refers to the things which the Gentiles “sacrifice to devils, and not to God,” and warns the Corinthians that they “cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.”574 The Corinthians evidently regarded the Eucharist as food and drink by consuming which they enjoyed participation in the life of Jesus; just as the participants in the Eleusinian mysteries believed that they became ἔνθεοι by means of a meal in which they partook, in some mysterious manner, of the body of Dionysus.575 The words of dislike and contempt with which Paul speaks of the pagan mysteries do not prove that he was uninfluenced by them. His own terminology rather suggests the reverse. He may have been, half-unconsciously, allured by them. Where ideas are in the air men may catch them by a sort of infection, and often without any notion whence they came.576

572 Cf. F. Cumont, Les religions orientales dans le paganisme romain (Paris, 1929), p. 64.

573 Ch. Guignebert, Jesus (London, 1935), p. 446 sq.

574 1 Corinthians x. 20 sq.

575 K. Lake, The Earlier Epistles of St. Paul (London, 1911), p. 213 sq.

576 C. G. Montefiore, Judaism and St. Paul (London, 1914), p. 116 sq.; Gardner, op. cit. p. 80.

The centre of Paul’s Christianity is the doctrine of redemption through the crucified and risen Christ. He never speaks of Jesus as a teacher or of his teaching, he extremely seldom appeals to any words of Jesus as a moral norm, he never refers to his example of life in any concrete situation.577 His 114 preoccupation with the death and resurrection of Jesus was no doubt immediately due to his vision, but to this vision he may have been predisposed by pagan cults known to him from his boyhood at Tarsus, which were much occupied with divine beings who had died and had risen again, who were, in fact, for ever dying and for ever rising again, to the joy of their worshippers. We have evidence that his native city was thronged with such mysteries, the myths and rites of Isis and Osiris, of Dionysus, Cybele, and Attis. The leading deities were Sandon-Herakles and Baal-Tarz. The former was popularly associated with the same ideas of death and resurrection as pervaded the worship of Adonis, Tammur, and Osiris. Baal-Tarz, again, pre-eminently “Lord of Tarsus,” was the giver of vegetation and every good gift, and his picture, as seen on the coins of the fourth century before Christ, looks as noble as the Greek Zeus, whom he greatly resembled in character. Hans Böhlig has made it perfectly clear that Paul adopted his terminology, and perhaps his method of unfolding the redemptive scheme of a deified Christ, to the preconceptions of his Gentile fellow-citizens, who from childhood had been taught the mystic religion of Sandon.578 But the resemblance between Paul’s teaching and the mystery religions is not merely a formal one, apart from its sacramentalism, of which I have already spoken. In those religions, also, there was a divine saviour through which the believers hoped to reach a state of salvation not only in this life but in the world beyond the grave. While the synoptists emphasise a speedy coming of the Son of man to judge the nations and to found a reign of saints upon earth, Paul turned the eyes of Christians towards a spiritual heaven where he who dies with Christ will live for ever. This is a doctrine of the same class as the doctrines taught by pagan mystery religions.579 From the moral point of view there is of course an enormous difference between Christ and the pagan gods. But those writers who maintain that Paul was in no way influenced by the mysteries—not even indirectly by the atmosphere which they diffused—fail to account for those points in which his teaching so closely resembles them.

577 Eidem, op. cit. pp. 236, 243, 250.

578 C. M. Cobern, The New Archæological Discoveries and their Bearing upon the New Testament and upon the Life and Times of the Primitive Church (New York and London, 1928), p. 542 sq.; H. Böhlig, Die Geisteskultur von Tarsos im augustinischen Zeitalter (Göttingen, 1913), pp. 67 sqq., 89 sqq.

579 Cf. Loisy, op. cit. pp. 248, 249, 333, 349, 357, etc.; Gardner, op. cit. p. 87 sqq.; Harnack, op. cit. ii. (1896), p. 10.

At the same time Paul says himself that “Christ died for our 115 sins according to the scriptures.”580 Among the early Christians there was a belief that the Old Testament had prophesied the Passion of Christ.581 There was, in particular, the famous prophecy in which Isaiah deals with the voluntary suffering and death of the servant of Yahveh, who “bore the sin of many.”582 This has obviously been the source of the words which Mark puts into the mouth of Jesus: “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many”; and, “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.”583 Johannes Weiss quotes with approval Jülicher’s assertion that “Jesus himself never referred to his obligation to bear the form of a servant or to the mediatorial work of his death and sacrifice.”584

580 1 Corinthians xv. 3.

581 Matthew viii. 17; Mark ix. 12; Acts iii. 18, viii. 32 sq.; 1 Peter i. 10 sq., ii. 24 sq.

582 Isaiah lii. 13–liii. 12.

583 Mark x. 45, xiv. 24.

584 J. Weiss, Paul and Jesus (London and New York, 1909), p. 11.

It has been alleged that Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith also is due to Hellenic influence,585 while he himself refers to the Old Testament as his authority.586 But it seems that the immense importance which he attaches to faith was in the first place the outcome of his ecstatic vision. This is suggested by knowledge which we have of other sudden conversions. “Beliefs,” says William James, “are strengthened wherever automatisms corroborate them. Incursions from beyond the transmarginal region have a peculiar power to increase conviction.”587 There has been much discussion about the meaning of faith (pistis) in Paul’s vocabulary.588 He says himself that the word of faith which he teaches is “that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”589 Whatever else Paul’s conception of faith may imply, such as trust, “enthusiastic adhesion,”590 and obedience,591 it 116 presupposes in the first place the acceptance of some fact as true; and such a belief cannot be a proper object of moral judgment. But even if the sin of unbelief, as Thomas Aquinas argues, has its cause in the will because it consists in “contrary opposition to the faith, whereby one stands out against the hearing of the faith,”592 it could not be imputed to anybody who never heard of the faith. Paul considers this question in connection with his tenet that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? . . . I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.”593 Even now, after the lapse of nearly two thousand years this reassuring statement has not become true. In another passage, however, there is an indication that God might have mercy even upon unbelievers.594

585 Loisy, op. cit. p. 360.

586 Romans x. 11.

587 James, op. cit. p. 478.

588 See, for example, J. Weiss, Das Urchristentum (Göttingen, 1917), p. 322 sqq.; R. Gyllenberg, Pistis, ii (Helsingfors, 1922), p. 2 sqq.; W. H. P. Hatch, The Idea of Faith in Christian Literature (Strasbourg, 1925), p. 9 sq.; Eidem, op. cit. pp. 96 n., 115 sqq.; E. Wissmann, Das Verhältnis von πίστις und Christusfrömmigkeit bei Paulus (Göttingen, 1926), pp. 38, 40, 66, 67, 81 sqq.; C. A. A. Scott, Christianity according to Paul (Cambridge, 1927), p. 102 sqq.

589 Romans x. 9.

590 W. Sanday and A. C. Headlam, Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (Edinburgh, 1911), p. 33 sq.

591 See W. Schlater, ‘Glaube und Gehorsam,’ in Beiträge zur Förderung christlicher Theologie, v. (Gütersloh, 1901), fasc. 6.

592 Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, ii.-ii. 10. 1.

593 Romans x. 13, 14, 18.

594 Ibid. xi. 32.

In the most important cycle of Paul’s teaching salvation is not, as it is generally depicted in the synoptic gospels, a reward for righteous conduct. “A man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”595 “Before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”596 “To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”597 And the faith itself is a gift of God: “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”598 Salvation depends upon an “election of grace.”599 “Whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”600 “Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom 117 I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. . . . Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.”601

595 Romans iii. 28. See also ibid. iii. 20, iv. 5, ix. 31 sq.; Galatians ii. 16, iii. 11; Ephesians ii. 8 sq.

596 Galatians iii. 23–6.

597 Romans iv. 5.

598 Ibid. xii. 3. See also 1 Corinthians ii. 5; Philippians i. 29; Ephesians ii. 8. This point has been very strongly emphasised by A. Deissmann, op. cit. p. 132.

599 Romans xi. 5.

600 Ibid. viii. 29 sq.

601 Romans ix. 14–16, 18.

Those who believe are justified by the grace of God “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.”602 Christ “died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. . . . God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”603 It is thus by the vicarious suffering of Jesus that the wrath of God, aroused by the sin of men, is appeased. How is that possible? Paul writes: “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. . . . If by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. . . . As sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”604

602 Ibid. iii. 24 sq.

603 2 Corinthians v. 15, 19. See also Romans viii. 32; 1 Corinthians xv. 3, 4, 14, 17; Galatians i. 4; Colossians i. 13, 14, 20; Thessalonians i. 10.

604 Romans v. 12, 17, 18, 21.

The idea that all mankind are doomed to death on account of Adam’s sin, which Paul no doubt had imbibed from his Jewish upbringing, is explicable by the conception of sin as a kind of material substance or infection which is transmitted by propagation.605 As we have seen above, the Prophets already broke with the old notions of divine vengeance by declaring that “every one shall die for his own iniquity,” that “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.”606 And Ezekiel added that as the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him, so also “the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him.”607 This is in agreement with the fact that the moral emotions of disapproval or approval, in their capacity of retributive emotions, are hostile 118 or friendly attitudes of mind towards living beings conceived as causes of pain or pleasure. They cannot admit that a person is punished or rewarded on account of another person’s behaviour. There cannot be a merit by transfer.

605 Supra, p. 53 sq.

606 Ibid. p. 55.

607 Ezekiel xviii. 20.

But apart from this, Paul’s doctrine of redemption raises the question how Christ’s suffering and death could be a means of justification at all. Paul says that “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.”608 The idea of Christ’s death being a sacrifice is also found in the Epistle to the Ephesians,609 the authorship of which is disputed, and is set forth in detail in the Epistle to the Hebrews,610 which is related to Paulinism. The bloody sacrifices of the law have been succeeded by the redemption which Christ obtained for us “by the sacrifice of himself” being offered “to bear the sins of many.”611 “We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. . . . By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. . . . There is no more offering for sin.”612 This theory was subsequently elaborated by Cyprian. Christ’s suffering and death constituted a sacrifice calculated to propitiate an angry God; and this thought was never afterwards lost sight of in the West. I shall return to this subject in a following chapter.

608 1 Corinthians v. 7.

609 Ephesians v. 2.

610 Hebrews ch. ix sq.

611 Ibid. ix. 26, 28.

612 Ibid. x. 10, 14, 18.

Are we to conclude then that the teaching of Paul is devoid of all ethical significance. By no means. He asks: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. . . . Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”613 His epistles are full of moral injunctions. On the one hand he wrote that “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law”;614 that he found “the commandment, which was ordained to life, . . . to be unto death”;615 that “the law worketh wrath”;616 that “the strength of sin is the law.”617 But on the other hand he also wrote that “the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”618 Different explanations have been given of these contradictory statements;619 but the most satisfactory one seems to be that when Paul speaks of the law he does not always mean the same thing.620 He does not definitely distinguish 119 between ritual and the strictly ethical parts of the Israelitish legislation. But he says that no man should be judged “in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come.”621 He contrasts “the circumcision, which is outward in the flesh,” with the circumcision “of the heart.”622 And above all, he makes the parallel statements that all the law is fulfilled in one word, namely this: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”;623 and that “he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. . . . Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”624 He also writes: “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. . . . Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. . . . Avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”625 “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any. . . . And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”626 “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, 120 but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth. . . . And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”627

613 Romans vi. 1, 2, 15.

614 Galatians iii. 13. See also ibid. iv. 4 sq.; Romans vii. 6, x. 4.

615 Romans vii. 10.

616 Ibid. iv. 15.

617 1 Corinthians xv. 56.

618 Romans vii. 12.

619 See, for example, A. Juncker, Die Ethik des Apostels Paulus, i (Halle, 1904), p. 167 sqq.; Weiss, Das Urchristentum, p. 427 sq.; W. Wrede, Paul (London, 1907), p. 77 sq.

620 Cf. Eidem, op. cit. p. 303 sqq.

621 Colossians ii. 16 sq.

622 Romans ii. 28 sq. Cf. Colossians ii. 11.

623 Galatians v. 14.

624 Romans xiii. 8–10.

625 Ibid. xii. 14, 15, 17–21.

626 Colossians iii. 12–14.

627 1 Corinthians xiii. 1–8, 13. The chapter in question has been regarded by some writers as a later interpolation, but this opinion has not been generally accepted (Eidem, op. cit. p. 187 n. 2).

How can these sayings be reconciled with the doctrine of justification by faith only? An obvious answer would be that faith produces, or manifests itself in, obedience to the law and charity; that good works are not the condition of righteousness, but righteousness, received as a divine gift by faith, is the condition of good works. There are passages in the epistles which directly express this idea: “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”628 “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”629 Faith “worketh by love”;630 in another passage love is said to belong to “the fruit of the Spirit.”631 If Christ lives in the believer it must influence his whole conduct. The Christlikeness of the faithful is in some passages expressed in imperatives: “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him”;632 “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”;633 “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”634

628 Romans iii. 31.

629 Ibid. vi. 2.

630 Galatians v. 6.

631 Ibid. v. 22.

632 Colossians ii. 6.

633 Philippians ii. 4 sq.

634 Galatians vi. 2.

The great emphasis which Paul lays on charity is quite in agreement with what we find in modern narratives of conversion. “I had more tender feeling towards my family and friends”;—“I spoke at once to a person with whom I had been angry”;—“I felt for every one, and loved my friends better”;—“I felt everybody to be my friend”;—“I began to work for others”;—these are so many expressions from the records collected by Starbuck.635 Sainte-Beuve observes that in Christians of different epochs there is a fundamental and identical spirit of piety and charity, common to those who have received grace; an inner state which before all things is one of love and humility, of infinite confidence in God, and of severity for one’s self, accompanied with tenderness for others. The fruits peculiar to this condition of the soul have the same savour in all, under distant suns and in different surroundings, in Saint Teresa of Avila just as in any Moravian brother of 121 Herrnhut.636 Justin Martyr wrote about the wonderful change in manners of other converts: “We, who loved nothing like our possessions, now produce all we have in common and spread our whole stock before our indigent brethren; we, who were pointed with mutual hatred and destruction, and would not so much as warm ourselves at the same fire with those of a different tribe on account of different institutions, now since the coming of Christ cohabit and diet together, and pray for our enemies; and all our returns for evil are but the gentlest persuasives to convert those who unjustly hate us, that by living up to the same virtuous precepts of Christ they might be filled with the same comfortable hopes of obtaining the like happiness with ourselves, from that God who is Lord of all things. . . . I could give you a proof of the influence of such bright examples from many converts among us, who from men of violence and oppression were transformed into quite another nature.”637 Pagans bore witness to the correctness of the picture drawn by the apologetics.638 Pliny wrote in a letter to Trajan that Christians said they had bound themselves by an oath not to commit any wicked deed, but to abstain from theft and robbery and adultery, and not withhold a deposit when reclaimed.639 In recent times the Welsh revival of 1904–5 was accompanied by a real decrease in crime. Family life was restored by the abandonment of drinking habits, long-standing quarrels were made up, enemies were reconciled, ancient wrongs repaired, bad debts paid, stolen property restored.640 Nowadays we also hear of moral reformation among converts to the Oxford Movement. A manifestation of the altruism of converted men and women is their missionary zeal—their burning desire to tell others of their experience that they may share their blessings. Throughout the history of Christianity those who have experienced the more sudden kind of conversion have generally been the most zealous missionaries.641 Foremost among these was Paul.642

635 Starbuck, op. cit. p. 127. See also James, op. cit. pp. 274, 280 sqq.

636 C.-A. Sainte-Beuve, Port-Royal, i (Paris, 1876), p. 106.

637 Justin, Apologia I. pro Christianis, 17, 20.

638 E. von Dobschütz, Christian Life in the Primitive Church (London, 1904), p. 371.

639 Pliny, Epistulæ, x. 96 (97). 7.

640 H. Bois, Le Réveil au pays de Galles (Toulouse, s.d.), pp. 582, 586 sqq.

641 Underwood, op. cit. p. 234 sqq.; W. Lawson Jones, A Psychological Study of Religious Conversion (London, 1937), p. 270.

642 Cf. Eidem, op. cit. p. 171.

From the moral point of view, however, there is positive danger in a doctrine that relies upon love of fellow-men and good deeds as the fruits of faith. To an ecstatic convert like 122 Paul faith may seem a sufficient source of such love and anything it carries with it, but in an established religion the faith of the ordinary believer may fail entirely to produce similar effects. Already in the Apostolic age his formula about righteousness and salvation by faith alone was taken advantage of as a cloak of laxity; it was said that one might have the true faith though in this case that faith remained dead or was united with immorality.643 James evidently saw this danger when he wrote in his Epistle: “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? . . . Faith without works is dead.”644 Ordinary men are not mystics; and ecstatic converts are dangerous founders of religious creeds. The emphasis laid on orthodox belief has not only, more than anything else, brought the Christian religion into conflict with the nature of moral emotions and ideas, but also, through the persecutions to which it has led, been one of the most potent causes of misery in the Christian world.

643 Harnack, op. cit. i (1894), p. 173.

644 The Epistle of James ii. 14, 20.

But we notice also another line of thought in the Pauline epistles, which is more in harmony with the teaching of Jesus as recorded in the synoptic gospels. He writes to the Romans not only that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law, but also that God will show himself as a righteous judge “who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath. . . . We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. . . . Every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”645 In other epistles he writes: “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”646 “Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. . . . Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss.”647 “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also 123 reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”648—“Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”649 When Paul mentions the deeds of men he does not overlook their cast of mind. He speaks of “the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ,”650 when the Lord will come and “bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.”651

645 Romans ii. 5–8, xiv. 10, 12.

646 2 Corinthians v. 10. See also ibid. ix. 6.

647 1 Corinthians iii. 8, 13–15.

648 Galatians vi. 7–9.

649 Colossians iii. 23–5.

650 Romans ii. 16.

651 1 Corinthians iv. 5. See also ibid. xiii. 3; 2 Corinthians ix. 7.

It may be argued that if a person is justified by his faith, which is a gift of God, and good deeds are manifestations of it, his “reward” for them is really due to the faith which God has given him, and that the damnation of a person who has done evil is due to the fact that he has not received the gift of faith from God; whereas if he receives such a gift, and is justified thereby, he will do no evil again. Such a conclusion might be drawn from the following passage: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind. Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”652 But Paul was not a consistent thinker. On the one hand he teaches that justification depends upon faith alone, that faith is a gift of God, that man’s work really is God’s work,653 nay that it even was God who gave Israel “the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear”;654 but on the other hand he also looks upon the activity of the human will as a factor of importance.655 His inconsistency is nowhere more glaring than in the passage in which he tells the Philippians to work out their own salvation 124 “with fear and trembling,” and then adds immediately: “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”656 When he speaks of the retribution for good and evil deeds, he is obviously moved by his moral consciousness, which repeatedly finds expression without any reference to justification by faith. In his epistles to the Romans and to the Corinthians he frequently refers to “conscience,” or syneídēsis, a term which he evidently had adopted from his Hellenistic surroundings,657 and speaks of the “witness” it bears.658 And he finds a conscience not only among the Christians, but in every man;659 and makes the following remarkable statement: “Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.”660

652 1 Corinthians vi. 9–11.

653 Philippians i. 6; 1 Thessalonians v. 24; Ephesians i. 11, ii. 10.

654 Romans xi. 8.

655 See, for example, 1 Corinthians vii. 36 sq., ix. 17, x. 27, xiv. 1, xvi. 12; Philemon, 14. Cf. Eidem, op. cit. p. 98 sqq.

656 Philippians ii. 12 sq.

657 Cf. Eidem, op. cit. p. 331.

658 Romans ii. 15, ix. 1; 2 Corinthians i. 12.

659 2 Corinthians iv. 2.

660 Romans ii. 13–15.

As Christ lives in the believer he must not soil his body: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”661 And as Christ was crucified, so the believer must crucify his flesh that he also may live eternally in the spirit, for the flesh is evil and contrary to the spirit. “If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. . . . If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”662 “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.”663 “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, 125 hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”664 “To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. . . . They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God.”665

661 1 Corinthians iii. 16 sq.

662 Romans viii. 10, 11, 13.

663 1 Corinthians xv. 50.

664 Galatians v. 16–26.

665 Romans viii. 6–8, ix. 8.

Though Paul connects his idea that the believer must die to the flesh, that he might live immortally in the spirit, with the death and resurrection of Christ, it may be asked where he had learnt to have such a moral contempt and horror of the flesh and to identify it with sin. This is not a Jewish conception. As Montefiore points out, Paul could not possibly have taken sin so sombrely as he did, had he been simply a Palestinian rabbi of his day. To the rabbinic Jew repentance and forgiveness were forces greater than sin, greater than the evil inclination. To Paul it was not so. He was no rabbinic Jew, and of the Law he knew little more than the fetters. He had always the horrid feeling of the unconquered evil inclination gnawing within his soul.666 Nor did the rabbis oppose flesh and spirit in the same way as they are opposed in the writings of Paul. The spirit and flesh doctrine of the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans could not have been devised by anyone who to his rabbinic antecedents merely added a conviction that the Messiah had appeared in the person of Jesus.667 The man who devised that doctrine had been subjected to other influences. Paul, who was a Greek Jew, may have derived his idea of the sharp severance between flesh and spirit and his condemnation of the flesh from the Judaism of the Diaspora, which was greatly influenced by its Græco-Oriental environment. The antithesis of spirit and body was an old Platonic idea, and the doctrine that bodily enjoyments are low and degrading was taught by many pagan philosophers; even a man like Cicero says that 126 all corporeal pleasure is opposed to virtue and ought to be rejected.668 And in the Neo-Platonic and Neo-Pythagorean schools of Alexandria an ascetic ideal of life was the natural outcome of their theory that God alone is pure and good, and matter impure and evil.

666 Montefiore, Judaism and St. Paul, p. 114 sq.

667 Ibid. p. 79 sq.

668 Cicero, De officiis, i. 30, iii. 33.

Paul’s identification of flesh with evil led to various ascetic rules. “Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.”669 “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth.”670 He submits himself to fastings, watchings, cold, and nakedness;671 he subdues his body after the manner of athletes;672 and he looks for similar action on the part of other seriously-minded followers of Christ. “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”673

669 1 Corinthians ix. 25.

670 Colossians iii. 5.

671 2 Corinthians xi. 27.

672 1 Corinthians ix. 26.

673 Ibid. ix. 27.

The worst of all sins of the flesh is sexual indulgence: “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own.”674 Even marriage is permitted to man as a restraint, however imperfect, on the sinful licentiousness of the sexual impulse (Paul said nothing about propagation): “It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. . . . I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” He that giveth his virgin in marriage “doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.”675 For this inferiority of marriage to the unmarried state he gives the following reason: “He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she please her husband.”676

674 Ibid. vi. 18 sq.

675 Ibid. vii. 1, 2, 8, 9, 38.

676 Ibid. vii. 32–4.

This attitude towards marriage was utterly inconsistent with Jewish ideas: to marry and to have children were 127 considered matters of fundamental importance in Israel through all periods of its history. Nor does it receive much support from the synoptic gospels. Jesus was not himself married and he is reported to have said that in the resurrection, there will be neither marriage nor giving in marriage, but that those who rise will be as the angels in heaven.677 When the disciples, after hearing Jesus’ saying about divorce, wondered if it was good for a man to marry, he answered them that “all men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given,” and that there are “eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”678 Paul writes to the Corinthians: “Concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment.”679 His view that celibacy is better than marriage was undoubtedly connected with his horror of sexuality as the worst sin of the flesh; and for this there must have been some reason.

677 Supra, p. 67.

678 Matthew xix. 11 sq.

679 1 Corinthians vii. 25.

There was a small class of Hebrews, the Essenes, who renounced marriage, and esteemed “continence and the conquest over our passions to be virtue.”680 We have no evidence that Paul was influenced by them, but his sexual asceticism, like theirs,681 may have been rooted in Greek ideas, Pythagorean and others. I wish particularly to draw attention to the notion that he who performs a sacred act or enters a holy place must be free from sexual pollution. In Greece priestesses were not infrequently required to be virgins, if not for their whole life, at any rate for the duration of their priesthood;682 and there were eunuch priests connected with the cults of the Ephesian Artemis,683 the Phrygian Cybele,684 and the Syrian Astarte.685 Moreover, those who took part in certain religious festivals were obliged to be continent for some time previously.686 Paul tells husbands and wives: “Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to 128 fasting and prayer.”687 Again, Herodotus informs us that both the Greeks and the Egyptians “made it a point of religion to have no converse with women in the sacred places, and not to enter them without washing, after such converse”;688 and so far as the latter are concerned this statement is corroborated by a passage in the ‘Book of the Dead.’689 Before entering the sanctuary of Mên Tyrannos, whose worship was extended over the whole of Asia Minor, the worshipper had to abstain from garlic, pork, and women, and had to wash his head.690 Among the Hebrews, also, it was a duty incumbent upon all to be free from sexual defilement before entering the temple.691 Now if, as Paul said, every believer is “the temple of God,” he too must, consequently, be free from such defilement.

680 Josephus, De bello Judaico, ii. 8. 2. See also Solinus, Collectanea rerum memorabilium, xxxv. 9 sq.

681 O. Zöckler, Askese und Mönchtum, i (Frankfurt a. M., 1897), p. 126.

682 Strabo, xiv. 1. 23; Tertullian, Ad uxorem, i. 6; idem, De exhortatione castitatis, 13; W. Götte, Das Delphische Orakel (Leipzig, 1839), p. 78 sq.; H. Blümner, The Home Life of the Ancient Greeks (London, 1893), p. 325.

683 Strabo, xiv. 1. 23.

684 Arnobius, Adversus gentes, v. 7.

685 Lucian, De dea Syria, 15, 27, 50 sqq.

686 W. Wachsmuth, Hellenische Alterthumskunde, ii (Halle, 1846), p. 560.

687 1 Corinthians vii. 5.

688 Herodotus, ii. 64.

689 A. Wiedemann, Herodots zweites Buch (Leipzig, 1890), p. 269 sq.

690 P. Foucart, Des associations religieuses chez les Grecs (Paris, 1873), pp. 119, 123 sq.

691 Leviticus xii. 4, xv. 31.

In order to explain in full the ascetic attitude towards sex, we have still to consider why sexual intercourse is looked upon as unclean and defiling. This implies that it is a presumed mysterious cause of danger. That the danger is supposed to be particularly alarming in the case of contact between the polluted individual and anything holy is merely an instance of the general belief that holiness is exceedingly sensitive to, and readily reacts against, external influences: indeed it is not only exceptionally susceptible to influences that are, or are supposed to be, injurious in other cases as well, but it is even affected or influenced by various acts or omissions which are otherwise considered perfectly harmless.692 It should be noticed that the mere discharge of sexual matter, even when quite involuntary and unaccompanied with any sexual desire, is held to be polluting both in Leviticus693 and in the Christian Penitentials.694 It seems that the polluting effect ascribed to the discharge of such matter is largely due to its mysterious propensities and the veil of mystery which surrounds the whole sexual nature of man. There is the secrecy drawn over the sexual functions, and the feeling of sexual shame,695 which give them the appearance of something illicit and sinful. But the 129 defiling effects attributed to sexual intercourse are also, no doubt, connected with the notion that woman is an unclean being. Particularly during menstruation and childbirth she is supposed to be charged with mysterious baleful energy, presumably on account of the marvellous nature of these processes and especially the appearance of blood; and such regular temporary defilement of a specifically feminine character may easily lead to the notion of the permanent uncleanness of the female sex.

692 E. Westermarck, Ritual and Belief in Morocco, i (London, 1926), p. 250 sqq.

693 Leviticus ch. xv.

694 F. W. H. Wasserschleben, Die Bussordnungen der abendländischen Kirche (Halle, 1851), pp. 559, 560, 600.

695 I have discussed the origin of sexual modesty in my book The History of Human Marriage, ii (London, 1921), ch. x.

 

CHAPTER VII

THEOLOGICAL DOCTRINES BEFORE AUGUSTINE

THROUGHOUT the history of Christianity the principal subject of interest has been the question of salvation; but as to the means of procuring it there has been diversity of opinion. We have first and foremost to notice the antithesis between works and faith: between the moralistic view that eternal life is the wages and reward of a moral life, wrought out essentially by our own power, and the view that eternal life depends entirely on divine grace, connected with the faith in Christ as our redeemer through his death on the cross. In other words, there is, broadly speaking, the contrast between the moral teaching of Jesus as reported in the synoptic gospels and the Pauline formula of justification by faith alone.

In the sub-apostolic period both views are represented. The moralistic mode of thought is very prominent in the ‘Shepherd’ of Hermas, dating from the first half of the second century,696 which is an important document for the Church Christianity of the age. “The true fast,” he says, “is this: do nothing wickedly in thy life, but serve God with a pure mind, and keep his commandments, and walk according to his precepts, nor suffer any wicked desire to enter into thy mind. But trust in the Lord, that if thou dost these things, and fearest him, and abstainest from evil work, thou shalt live unto God.”697 “Fear God, and put thy trust in him, and love truth and righteousness, and do that which is good. If thou shalt do these things, thou shalt be an approved servant of God. . . . If thou shalt not observe these commands, but shalt neglect them, thou shalt not be saved, nor thy children, nor thy house.”698 “But if besides those things which the Lord hath commanded, thou shalt add some good thing, thou shalt purchase to thyself a greater dignity, and be in more favour with the Lord than thou shouldst otherwise have been.”699 Here we have the 131 doctrine of merit in germ. Faith is repeatedly spoken of.700 By faith “the elect shall be saved . . . From faith proceeds abstinence, from abstinence simplicity, from simplicity innocence, from innocence modesty, from modesty discipline and charity.”701 “Put on faith, and trust in God, and thou shalt receive all that thou shalt ask. . . . Faith promises all things, and perfects all things.”702 But this faith is faith in God, not in Christ. In the extensive writing of Hermas there is no mention of the death and resurrection of Christ. But the Son of God laboured very much, and suffered much, that he might blot out the offences of those whom the Father delivered to him. “For no vineyard can be digged without much labour and pains. Wherefore having blotted out the sins of his people, he showed to them the paths of life, giving them the law which he had received of the Father.”703

696 M. Dibelius, A Fresh Approach to the New Testament and Early Christian Literature (London, 1937), p. 132.

697 Hermas, Pastor, iii. 5. 1.

698 Ibid. ii. 12. 3. Cf. ibid. i. 1. 3, i. 2. 3, i. 3. 5, ii. 1. 8, iii. 6. 1, iii. 8. 7, iii. 10. 4.

699 Ibid. iii. 5. 3. Cf. ibid. ii. 4. 4.

700 Ibid. i. 3. 5, 6, 8, i. 4. 1, ii. 1, ii. 6. 1 sq., ii. 8, ii. 12. 5.

701 Ibid. i. 3. 8.

702 Ibid. ii. 9.

703 Ibid. iii. 5. 6.

The same paramount importance attached to morality is shown in the ‘Teaching of the Twelve Apostles,’ which is usually cited by its Greek name as the ‘Didache.’ There also nothing is said about the death and resurrection of Jesus and the redemption of mankind. Thanks are given to God for the knowledge of faith and immortality which he has made known to us through Jesus, his servant,704 who has shown us the way of life in his teaching. The way of life “is this: first, thou shalt love the God who made thee; secondly, thy neighbour as thyself; and all things whatsoever thou wouldst not have befall thee, thou too, do not to another.”705 Then there is a series of sayings of Jesus, an enumeration of the commandments of the decalogue, and various other ethical injunctions.706 Particular emphasis is laid on almsgiving as a ransom for our sins.707 After this there is a description of the way of death, which contains all sorts of wickedness and is full of curse.708 At the end we read the comforting words: “If thou art able to bear the whole yoke of the Lord, thou shalt be perfect; but if thou art not able, what thou art able, that do.”709 The warning is given; “Watch for your life’s sake; let your lamp not go out, and your loins not be relaxed, but be ready; for ye know not the hour in which our Lord cometh. . . . In the last days the false prophets and the corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate. . . . Then all created men shall come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall 132 perish. But they that endure in their faith shall be saved from this curse.”710

704 Didache, 10.

705 Ibid. 1.

706 Ibid. 1–4.

707 Ibid. 4.

708 Ibid. 5.

709 Ibid. 6.

710 Didache, 16.

To the moralistic group of writings belongs also the so-called ‘Second Epistle of Clement of Rome,’ which was in fact a sermon delivered by a presbyter to the Church. He quotes the saying of Jesus: “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven,”711 and asks: “Wherein must we confess him?” His answer is: “In doing those things which he saith, and not disobeying his commandments—by worshipping him not with our lips only, but with all our heart, and with all our mind.”712 “If we do the will of Christ we shall find rest; but if not, nothing shall deliver us from eternal punishment if we shall disobey his commands.”713 “Beautiful, therefore, is almsgiving, even as repentance from sin. Better is fasting than prayer, but almsgiving is better than both. Love covereth a multitude of sins. But prayer out of a good conscience delivereth from death.”714 “Let us repent. Let us recover ourselves unto that which is good, for we are full of much madness and evil. Let us wipe away from us our former sins, and repent with all our hearts, and be saved.”715 “Blessed are they who obey these ordinances. Though for a short season they suffer affliction in the world, they shall gather in the immortal fruit of the resurrection.”716

711 Matthew x. 32.

712 Clement of Rome, Epistola II. ad Corinthios, 3.

713 Ibid. 6.

714 Ibid. 16.

715 Ibid. 13.

716 Ibid. 13.

In the genuine epistle of Clement, which is of an earlier date, there is an echo of Paul’s teaching. We “are not justified by ourselves, neither by our own wisdom, or knowledge, or piety, or the works which we have done in the holiness of our hearts,” but by faith. This, however, is “that faith by which God almighty has justified all men from the beginning,”717 not faith in the Pauline sense of the word. “We must fix our minds by faith towards God, and seek those things that are pleasing and acceptable unto him.”718 “We see how all righteous men have been adorned with good works; wherefore even the Lord himself, having adorned himself with his works, rejoiced. Having therefore such an example, let us without delay fulfil his will, and with all our strength work the work of righteousness. The good workman with confidence receives the bread of his labour; but the sluggish and lazy cannot look him in the face that sets him on work. We must therefore be ready and forward in well-doing; for from him are all things. 133 And thus he foretells us, ‘Behold, the Lord cometh, and his reward is with him, even before his face, to render to every one according to his work’” (Isaiah xl. 10, lxii. 11).719 “Let the wise man shew forth his wisdom, not in words but in good works,”720 we are “justified by our actions, and not our words.”721 “Happy then shall we be, beloved, if we shall have fulfilled the commandments of God, in the unity of love: that so, through love, our sins may be forgiven us. For so it is written, ‘Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered’” (Psalms xxxii. 1).722 Clement also speaks of keeping the commandments of Christ.723 He calls him “our high priest and protector,”724 whose blood, being shed for our salvation, has obtained the grace of repentance for all the world.725 There shall be a future resurrection of which God has made our Lord Jesus Christ the first-fruits, raising him from the dead; and some other guarantees of our own resurrection are also mentioned, among others that of the wonderful bird phœnix, seen in Arabia.726 Though Clement occasionally directly refers to Paul there is no genuine Paulinism in his epistle. “The Roman Christians,” says Lietzmann, “had not felt the least breath of the Pauline spirit. It is not an eviscerated Paulinism but a Hellenistic proselyte Christianity that we meet with here in a pure form, an independent growth from a root in the early Church, of importance for the future.”727

717 Clement of Rome, Epistola I. ad Corinthios, 32.

718 Ibid. 35.

719 Ibid. 33 sq.

720 Ibid. 38.

721 Ibid. 30.

722 Ibid. 50.

723 Ibid. 49.

724 Ibid. 64.

725 Ibid. 7. Cf. ibid. 21.

726 Ibid. 24 sq.

727 H. Lietzmann, The Beginnings of the Christian Church (London, 1937), p. 267.

The letter bearing the name of James, which was known in Rome at the end of the first century or shortly after, and was accepted into the canon of the Western Church in the fourth century,728 looks like a definite polemic against Paul’s teaching of justification by faith only, although his name is not mentioned.729 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? . . . Faith without works is dead. Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? . . . By works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received 134 the messengers, and had sent them out another way?”730 But unlike Paul, the author of this epistle means by faith merely belief, or the acceptance of something as true: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”731 There is no reference to the resurrection of Jesus, whose name is mentioned only twice, and then quite incidentally.732

728 F. B. Clogg, An Introduction to the New Testament (London, 1937), p. 146 sq.

729 See Dibelius, op. cit. p. 227 sq.

730 The Epistle of James ii. 14, 20–2, 24 sq.

731 Ibid. ii. 19.

732 Ibid. i. 1, ii. 1.

An addendum to the series of the Pauline epistles is the Epistle to the Hebrews, which was quoted already by Clement of Rome733 and was accepted as canonical by the Eastern Church from early times, but in the West only since the fourth century.734 The author’s conception of Jesus and his work is similar to Paul’s, although he expresses it in his own way. Jesus is the Son of God, by whom he has made the worlds.735 He became man and equal to us in every respect: “In all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.”736 Being thus the perfect representative of humanity in the sight of God, he sanctified us once for all by offering his body,737 and “became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”738 “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.”739 “If we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.”740 Sore punishment awaits him “who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing.”741 The writer cites the saying about the righteous man who lives by faith.742 But faith does not mean for him personal trust in Christ, as it meant for Paul: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. . . . Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. . . . Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”743 We 135 have Jesus as “the author and finisher of our faith”;744 but, the writer also speaks of the faith of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and other saints of the past, “of whom the world was not worthy.”745 There is some Judaising moralism in the comforting saying addressed to the readers, that God would not be so unjust as to forget their work and their loving deeds which they had done to his honour at an earlier date and were now doing in the service of the saints.746

733 Clement, Epistola I., 36.

734 Clogg, op. cit. pp. 134, 142.

735 The Epistle to the Hebrews i. 2.

736 Ibid. ii. 16–18.

737 Ibid. x. 10.

738 Ibid. v. 9.

739 Ibid. x. 12.

740 Ibid. x. 26.

741 Ibid. x. 29.

742 Ibid. x. 38.

743 Ibid. xi. 1, 3, 6.

744 The Epistle to the Hebrews xii. 2.

745 Ibid. xi. 4 sqq.

746 Ibid. vi. 10.

Tertullian attributed this epistle to Barnabas,747 who is interpreted in Acts as one able to give consolation,748 but this seems to be a mere guess. There is, however, another writer current under the name of Barnabas, whom Origen even describes as “Catholic,” that is canonical.749 The Paulinism of his epistle is well marked. Faith, love, and hope of that life which is to come are the characteristics of a Christian;750 and the assistants of our faith are fear and patience.751 Our Lord vouchsafes to give up his body to destruction, that through the forgiveness of our sins we might be sanctified, that is, by the sprinkling of his blood”;752 and he “shall come to judge both the quick and the dead.”753 As his kingdom was founded upon the cross, “they that put their trust in him shall live for ever”;754 whereas “a man will justly perish, if having the knowledge of the way of truth, he shall nevertheless not refrain himself from the way of darkness.”755 The whole of Christianity was already foretold in the Old Testament; it is as if it had been said there: “Put your trust in Jesus, who shall be manifested to you in the flesh.”756 But the Jews were not worthy to receive the covenant which God had promised to give them, because they had transgressed his commandments, being deceived by the evil one.757 There is also a moral strain in this epistle: “Learning the just commands of the Lord, . . . we should walk in them. For he who does such things shall be glorified in the kingdom of God. But he that chooses the other part shall be destroyed together with his works. For this cause there shall be both a resurrection and a retribution.”758

747 Tertullian, De pudicitia, 20.

748 Acts iv. 36.

749 Clogg, op. cit. p. 145.

750 Barnabas, Epistola catholica, 1.

751 Ibid. 2.

752 Ibid. 5.

753 Ibid. 7.

754 Ibid. 8.

755 Ibid. 5; cf. 20.

756 Ibid. 6.

757 Ibid. 9, 14.

758 Ibid. 21.

The chief representative of Paulinism among the Apostolic Fathers is Ignatius, who was bishop of Antioch in the beginning 136 of the second century.759 We have seven letters from his hand, all written in imitation of the epistles of Paul. Like him, he speaks of believers both “being found in Christ,” and of “having Christ within themselves,”760 and exhort them to keep their bodies “as the temples of God.”761 “Faith and charity in Christ Jesus . . . are the beginning and end of life; for the beginning is faith, the end charity. And these two, joined together, are of God.”762 Nothing is to be preferred to them.763 Jesus Christ died for us, that we, by believing in his death, might escape death;764 and “he was also truly raised from the dead by his Father, after the manner as he will also raise up us who believe in him, by Jesus Christ, without whom we have no true life.”765 On the other hand, if people “believe not in the blood of Christ, it shall be them to condemnation.”766 He calls faith “the flesh of the Lord” and charity “the blood of Jesus Christ”: “Renew yourselves in faith, that is, the flesh of the Lord; and in charity, that is, the blood of Jesus Christ.”767 All other things which concern a holy life are the consequences of faith and charity.768 “Let your works be your charge, that so you may receive a suitable reward.”769 We must not judaise: “If we still continue to live according to the Jewish law, we do confess ourselves not to have received grace.”770

759 Lietzmann, op. cit. p. 315.

760 Ignatius, Epistola ad Trallianos, 2.

761 Idem, Epistola ad Philodelphenses, 7.

762 Idem, Epistola ad Ephesios, 14.

763 Idem, Epistola ad Magnesios, 1; idem, Epistola ad Smyrnæos, 6.

764 Idem, Trallianos, 2; idem, Smyrnæos, 6.

765 Idem, Trallianos, 9.

766 Idem, Smyrnæos, 6.

767 Idem, Trallianos, 8. Cf. idem, Romanos, 7.

768 Idem, Ephesios, 14.

769 Idem, Epistola ad Polycarpum, 6.

770 Magnesios, 8.

The antitheses of Paul between law and gospel and between wrath and grace were carried to an extreme by Marcion. He was a native of Sinope in Pontus, where his father was bishop, but as a grown man he came to Rome in the reign of Antoninus Pius, and gained influence in the Church there until sharp oppositions arose. He separated himself from the Church Catholic and founded his own Church, which spread with such rapidity that wherever Christians were numerous about the year 160 there were probably Marcionite communities. The work in which he brought his teaching together has not been preserved, and its contents can therefore only be deduced from the notices which are found in the writings of opponents, particularly in Tertullian’s five volumes against Marcion. 137 They have been assembled by Harnack,771 and I shall avail myself of his collection.

771 A. Harnack, Marcion: das Evangelium vom fremden Gott (Leipzig, 1921).

Contrary to some other writers of the age, Marcion explained the Old Testament in its literal sense and rejected every allegorical interpretation. He recognised it as the revelation of the creator of the world and the god of the Jews, but placed it, just on that account, in sharpest contrast to the gospel. This god created the world out of material substance; and he also created Adam weak in body and soul and then, tolerating the wiles of the devil through the Law, he brought sin and death upon mankind. His character was stern justice, and therefore anger, contentiousness, and unmercifulness. He wished to enforce the carrying out of his commandments by a system of punishments which rested upon the idea of retaliation: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, blood for blood was its principle, and this made him an unmerciful judge who punished the sins of the fathers on the children down to the fourth generation. His ideal was “righteousness,” and therefore he might be called the “righteous God.”

But there is also another god, the good God of love, who was absolutely unknown before Christ, but was revealed by him. Men were also in every respect strange to him; but out of pure goodness and mercy he espoused their cause, as he could not bear to have them any longer tormented by their just and yet malevolent god. Rejecting Old Testament righteousness, Christ preached the gospel of the unknown God, taught gentleness and patience instead of cruelty and wrath, love of enemies and forgiveness instead of hate and retribution, compassionate kindness instead of calculating righteousness. He taught these things as the will of God and showed them forth in both word and deed. Then he died on the cross the death accursed by the creator god (Galatians iii. 13), and thereby paid him the ransom money and thus redeemed us, “the strangers,” from our previous owners and gained us for the good God; and not only those of us who were then living or who should live, but also the dead. For he descended into hell and liberated all the sinners, the whole multitude of heathen who suffered in the fiery wrath of the revenging god. The difference between the two gods had been clearly expounded by Paul, whom Christ had inspired by a special revelation, lest the gospel of the grace of God should be lost by falsifications. None of the twelve apostles whom Christ chose had understood him; they had regarded him erroneously as the Messiah of the Jewish god. 138 Therefore Christ had revealed the truth once again and had called Paul as its herald, who alone had maintained it in its purity. Marcion set himself boldly to the task of restoring the genuine and true gospel which had been known to Paul, by removing the Judaising interpolations and altering the text. But his gospel had also been misunderstood, nay his epistles had been falsified in many passages, in order to make them teach the identity of the god of creation and the God of redemption. And Marcion attempted to purify them too from interpolations and restore the genuine Paulinism, which was just the gospel itself.

Nearly all ecclesiastical writers from Justin to Origen opposed Marcion. He was said to be the most wicked and shameless of all heretics, worse than a heathen, a blasphemous emissary of demons, the first-born of Satan.772 Yet he was too important to be ignored. Harnack maintains that the duty of accommodating herself to the Pauline epistles was actually forced upon the Church by Marcion and some other heretics, and that, but for this constraint, she would hardly have incorporated them with the canon.773 Whatever else may be said about Marcion we must give him credit for having perceived clearly the vital difference between the teaching of Jesus as reported in the synoptic gospels and the teaching of Paul, as we know it, which modern theologians have been so apt to slur.

772 A. Harnack, History of Dogma, i (London, 1894), p. 284 sq.

773 Ibid. ii (1896), p. 51.

The early Christian Apologists—Aristides, Justin, Athenagoras, Tatian, Theophilus, and Minucius Felix—are earnest moralists. Man was created free to choose; there is no virtue where there is no choice, and evil may therefore be necessary for the production of virtue.774 Justin introduces Jesus with the formula “the teacher Christ,”775 represents him as the Socrates of the barbarians, and propounds the theory that this teacher is the incarnate reason of God.776 The prophets of the Jews, however, were also inspired by the divine wisdom or Logos;777 hence the Mosaic law comprehended the unchangeable and fundamental principles of morality, and those who had lived up to it before the coming of Christ would be saved by him.778 Man is naturally endowed with a “sperm of Logos.”779 But a revelation of the rational was necessary because he had 139 fallen under the sway of demons, and by the appearance of Christ the very Logos, or Reason itself, took upon himself a human form and nature to assist man and rescue him from the power of the demons, and thus enable him to follow his reason and freedom to do what is good.780 God is “the Father of righteousness,”781 who rewards goodness and punishes wickedness. “Every one is stepping forward into everlasting misery or happiness according to his works.”782 They who walk according to the will of God, “and demonstrate their worthiness by their works, we are sure will be admitted into the Divine presence, there to reign with him, where corruption and suffering never come”;783 whereas every one according to his demerits shall suffer in eternal fire.784 But no one can be accountable for any action of his unless mankind has the power to choose the good and refuse the evil. “For if it be not so, but all things are determined by fate, then farewell freedom of will; and if this man is destined to be good, and that evil, then neither the one nor the other can be justly approved or condemned.”785 “By maintaining, therefore, that future events have been foretold by the prophets, we do not maintain that the things foretold came to pass by any fatal necessity, but from that divine prescience which foresees all the actions of men, without necessitating them to act.”786 Only this is destiny, inevitable destiny, that those who choose to walk in the paths of virtue shall meet with proportionate returns of honour, and those who prefer the contrary course shall be punished accordingly, for God has not made man like trees or beasts, without the power of election.787

774 E. Hatch, Hibbert Lectures on the Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian Church (London, 1890), p. 232.

775 Justin, Apologia I. pro Christianis, 4.

776 Ibid. 5.

777 Ibid. 33, 36.

778 Justin, Dialogus cum Tryphone Judæo, 45.

779 Idem, Apologia II. pro Christianis, 8.

780 Justin, Apologia I., 5.

781 Ibid. 6.

782 Ibid. 12.

783 Ibid. 10.

784 Ibid. 12, 21.

785 Ibid. 43.

786 Ibid. 44.

787 Ibid. 43.

But although Christ is considered to have accomplished salvation as a divine teacher and to be a redeemer by helping men to withstand the power of evil demons, Justin also refers to the cross, saying that the sinless Christ submitted to his ignominious death in obedience to the will of his Father, in order that he might rescue them from the penalty due to their sins,788 and that in order to secure the benefits from Christ’s death repentance and a renunciation of our past evil habits are necessary.789 He also says that men are purified by faith through the blood and death of Christ,790 and that we are sure to have a life incorruptible if we ask for it in faith.791 But it has 140 been pointed out that these are mere words which have nothing at all corresponding to them in Justin’s general system of thought. To him Christianity is essentially the belief, founded on the words of Christ, that God rewards righteousness with eternal life, and punishes wickedness with eternal punishment.792

788 Justin, Dialogus cum Tryphone Judæo, 41.

789 Ibid. 44, 95.

790 Ibid. 13.

791 Justin, Apologia I., 16.

792 M. von Engelhardt, Das Christenthum Justins des Märtyrers (Erlangen, 1878), p. 199 sqq.

The other Apologists mentioned above did not enter closely into the significance of Christ. They, also, maintained that true wisdom can be learnt only by divine revelation, from the prophets and Christ, whose teaching was identical with or a continuation of theirs.793 But while Minucius Felix, like the Greek Apologists, perceives the teachings of the prophets and Christ to be divine truth,794 he also says that Christian truth chiefly presents itself as the wisdom implanted by nature in every man,795 and finds Christian ethics to be the expression of the Stoic.796 That the moral interest is dominant in all the Apologists is the more natural on account of the calumnious accusations circulated against the Christians. Aristides, a philosopher of Athens, portrays Christianity by portraying Christian morality. The Christians “know and believe in God, the creator of heaven and earth, by whom all things consist, . . . and from whom they have received the commandments which they have written in their hearts, commandments which they keep in the hope and expectation of the world to come.”797

793 Athenagoras, Legatio pro christianis, 7; Tatian, Oratio adversus Græcos, 29; Theophilus, Ad Autolycum, i. 14.

794 Minucius Felix, Octavius, 34.

795 Ibid. 16.

796 Ibid. 31 sqq.

797 Aristides, Apologia, 15.

Tertullian was the first Apologist after Justin who considered it necessary to give a detailed account of Christ as the incarnation of the Logos.798 He repeatedly urges that the whole work of Christ is comprised in the death on the cross, and indeed that this death was the aim of his mission;799 we are redeemed by the blood of the Lord and the Lamb,800 and such is the efficacy of this blood, that it not only cleanses men from sin and brings them out of darkness into light, but preserves them also in a state of purity if they continue to walk in the light.801 He also speaks of a repentance which is justified by faith, pœnitentiam ex fide justificatam,802 and of justification by faith without the 141 ordinances of the law.803 But in Tertullian the mystic doctrine of salvation is rudimentary, and there are many inconsistencies in his treatment both of dogmatic and moral questions. In the first place he was a moralist and a legalist, who looked upon the whole life of the Christian after baptism as strictly a life under the law, its motives being hope of reward and fear of punishment and the result determined purely according to legal standards. He tells us that God keeps a register of our works,804 that we shall be restored to life to answer for them, whether they be good or evil.805 All good works are in general meritorious, but merit in a peculiar sense attaches to such as go beyond the strict demands of God. Tertullian distinguishes between precepts and counsels, between jussa and suasa, in consequence of expressions found in Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians,806 a distinction which had previously been made by Hermas.807 The retribution is strictly according to merit.808 “The worshippers of God shall be clothed upon with a substance proper for everlasting duration, and fixed in a perpetual union with God; but the profane and the hypocrite shall be doomed to a lake of overflowing fire, and fuelled with incorruptibility from the divine indefectible nature of that flame which torments them.”809 But Tertullian also speaks of a kind of purgatory, where, in the interval between death and the general resurrection, the souls of those who are destined to eternal happiness undergo a purification from the stains which even the best men contract during their lives.810

798 Tertullian, Apologeticus, 21.

799 Idem, De baptismo, 11; idem, Adversus Marcionem, iii. 8.

800 Idem, De pudicitia, 6. Cf. idem, Ad uxorem, ii. 3.

801 Idem, De pudicitia, 19.

802 Idem, Adversus Marcionem, iv. 18.

803 Ibid. iv. 35.

804 Tertullian, Apologeticus, 36.

805 Ibid. 48.

806 Tertullian, Ad uxorem, ii. 1; 1 Corinthians, vii.

807 Supra, p. 130.

808 Tertullian, Adversus gnosticos scorpiace, 6; idem, De patientia, 10.

809 Idem, Apologeticus, 48.

810 Idem, De anima, 57 sq.

Of predestination we find no trace in Tertullian’s writings. When men sin the guilt is strictly and properly their own,811 for they possess by nature freedom of will.812 “Some argue,” he says, “that whatever happens, happens by the will of God; for if God had not willed, it would not have happened. But this is to strike at the root of all virtue, and to offer an apology for every sin. The sophistry, moreover, of the argument is not less glaring than its pernicious tendency. For if nothing happens but what God wills, God wills the commission of crime; in other words, he wills what he forbids. . . . Man has also a will, which ought always to coincide with the will of God, but is often at variance with it.”813 But at the same time he says that 142 man’s freedom of will is subject to the influence of divine grace.814 Tertullian has often given a Stoic colouring to Christian ethics and rules of life.

811 Idem, De monogamia, 14.

812 Idem, De anima, 21.

813 Idem, De exhortatione castitatis, 2.

814 Tertullian, De anima, 21.

The influence of Paul shows itself clearly in Irenæus, although it was by no means so great as the frequency of his citations from him might suggest.815 He adopted from Paul the thought that Christ’s real work of salvation consists in his death on the cross,816 but his moralistic teaching differed from Paul’s. He applied the benefits of Christ’s work to those who listen to the Saviour’s words and adorn them with works of righteousness.817 Christ is the teacher who reforms mankind by his preaching, calling upon them to direct their freedom of will to obedience to the divine commandment and thereby strengthening this freedom.818 The fundamental knowledge of God and the moral law of nature were already revealed to man and placed in his heart by the creator.819 He who preserves these, as the patriarchs did, is justified.820 But the great majority of men wandered away from God; hence he gave his people the written law, the decalogue, though it contains nothing else than the moral law of nature, which had fallen in oblivion.821 Christ did not abolish it, but extended and fulfilled it.822 It is the same truth which we can learn from the prophets and again from Christ and the apostles. It is Christ that prophesied and appeared in the Old Testament; he is the householder who produced both Old and New Testaments.823

815 See J. Werner, Der Paulinism des Irenæus (Leipzig, 1889), p. 213 sq.

816 Irenæus, Contra hæreses, ii. 20. 3.

817 Ibid. iv. 36, 6.

818 Ibid. v. 1. 1, iii. 23. 2, iii. 5. 3, iv. 24. 1.

819 Ibid. iv. 13. 1, iv. 15. 1.

820 Ibid. iv. 16. 3.

821 Ibid. iv. 16. 3.

822 Ibid. iv. 13. 1.

823 Ibid. iv. 2. 3, iv. 9. 1.

In the Alexandrian school of catechists, which was modelled to some extent after the manner of the Academy of Plato, Greek philosophy was made to serve the purpose of Christian apologetics. The goodness of God and the responsibility of man are the central ideas. According to Clement of Alexandria, it is the will of God that he who obeys the commandments and repents his sins should be saved.824 The law and the gospel are only parts of the same economy, in which the same God is revealed to mankind: “There is in truth one covenant of salvation, extending from the foundation of the world to our time, which, according to the difference of generations and 143 seasons, is supposed to be given in different forms.”825 Before the coming of the Lord philosophy was necessary to the Greeks for justification,826 but it was much later than the philosophy of the Hebrews, from which it was in fact borrowed.827 Yet the Greek philosophy, though it possessed the Logos—the source of all the true knowledge to which man attains—is not sufficient for salvation, which must be obtained through faith in Christ; for that which was hidden from former generations is now revealed to mankind.828 “The law was given to the Jews, philosophy to the Greeks, until the advent of Christ, who was to collect all men, Greeks and barbarians into one peculiar righteous people through the teaching of faith.”829 The Son of God is the saviour of all men; “but especially, as the Apostle says, of those who believe.”830

824 Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, ii. 16 (Migne, Patrologiæ cursus, Ser. Græca, viii. 1012).

825 Ibid. vi. 13 (Migne, ix. 328).

826 Ibid. i. 5 (Migne, viii. 717).

827 Ibid. i. 14 (Migne, viii. 757).

828 Ibid. v. 13 (Migne, ix. 128).

829 Ibid. vi. 17 (Migne, ix. 392).

830 Ibid. vi. 17 (Migne, ix. 393).

Clement speaks of the redemption of man as effected by the death of Christ,831 but he really regards Christ as of no importance to “gnostics”—who are wise men and not merely simple believers—except as a teacher, who “taught the good life, in order that afterwards as God he might grant everlasting life.”832 God confers eternal salvation on those who work together with him in knowledge and good actions; the performance of his commandments being in our power.833 This freedom of will, however, does not exclude the operation of divine grace: “by grace we are saved,” but not without good works.834 Clement also speaks of justification by faith, referring to the Epistle to the Hebrews, which he ascribes to Paul.835 He quotes almost all the epistles of Paul, and yet there is not much of Paul in his teaching. He defines faith as the rational assent of a soul free to choose,836 and, in another place, as obedience to the word.837 But knowledge is superior to faith,838 through knowledge faith is perfected;839 or the first saving change is from heathenism to faith, the second is from faith to knowledge, which is perfected in love.840 If the choice were proposed to the gnostic either to 144 know God or to obtain eternal salvation, he would choose the former. And he does not strive to attain to the knowledge of God for any consequences which will flow from the attainment: he does not do good for fame nor for reward.841 Clement’s strict moralism is also apparent in his sayings that different degrees of reward will be assigned to different degrees of virtue,842 and that in inflicting punishment God does not wish to avenge himself but “has three things in view: to amend the transgressor, to admonish those who can be saved by example, and to prevent the injured party from becoming an object of contempt, and being thereby exposed to future injustice.”843 Sins committed after baptism are to be purged by public confession and profession of repentance; and if the purifying discipline does not take place in this life, it must do so after death, being effected by fire, “not by a destructive, but a discriminating fire, pervading the soul which passes through it.”844

831 Clement of Alexandria, Pædagogus, i. 5 (Migne, viii. 277), i. 6 (Migne, viii. 301), i. 11 (Migne, viii. 365), ii. 8 (Migne, viii. 488).

832 Idem, Cohortatio ad gentes, 1 (Migne, viii. 61).

833 Idem, Stromata, vii. 7 (Migne, ix. 469).

834 Ibid. v. 1 (Migne, ix. 16).

835 Ibid. ii. 4 (Migne, viii. 944).

836 Ibid. v. 1 (Migne, ix. 12), v. 13 (Migne, ix. 128).

837 Clement of Alexandria, Pædagogus, i. 13 (Migne, viii. 372).

838 Idem, Stromata, vi. 14 (Migne, ix. 332).

839 Ibid. vii. 10 (Migne, ix. 477).

840 Ibid. vii. 10 (Migne, ix. 481).

841 Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, iv. 22 (Migne, viii. 1348).

842 Ibid. iv. 6 (Migne, viii. 1248).

843 Ibid. iv. 24 (Migne, viii. 1364).

844 Ibid. vii. 6 (Migne, ix. 449).

Like Clement his great disciple Origen modified the gospel doctrine of the state of sinners after death, with its everlasting torments in the fire of hell. He assumed that the souls of the unpurified ones pass into a cleansing fire which is only temporary and figurative, simply consisting in the torments of conscience;845 and that in the end all the spirits in heaven and earth, nay even the demons, are purged and brought back to the Logos-Christ.846 But he treated this doctrine as an esoteric one: “for the common man it is sufficient to know that the sinner is punished.”847 Origen regarded the two Testaments as the absolute reliable divine revelation, while he also recognised revelations of God in Greek philosophy;848 but he maintained that the Christianity which is fitted for the comprehension of the multitude is the best doctrine only in a relative sense, that the “common man” must be reformed by the prospect of rewards and punishments, and that the truth can be communicated to him only in veiled forms and images.849 When faith is elevated to knowledge and clear vision, it is found that God rewards in justice and punishes in kindness.850 No spirit can be saved without entering into fellowship with the Logos, who, as also the Apologists maintained, has been revealing himself from the 145 beginning. In the lower stages this is effected through faith and sure conviction of the reality of a historical fact; the redeeming death of Christ, but in the higher stage it is accomplished through knowledge and love, which grasp the eternal essence of the Logos.851 For this purpose the wise man requires a perfect, in other words, a divine teacher; while “to know Christ crucified is the knowledge of babes.”852

845 Origen, περὶ ἀρχῶν, ii. 10. 4; idem, Contra Celsum, v. 15, vi. 26.

846 Idem, περὶ ἀρχῶν, i. 6. 1 sqq., iii. 6. 1 sqq.

847 Idem, Contra Celsum, vi. 26.

848 Ibid. ii. 335.

849 Ibid. iii. 78 sq.

850 Origen, περὶ ἀρχῶν, ii. 5. 3 sq.

851 C. Bigg, The Christian Platonists of Alexandria (Oxford, 1913), p. 211 sq.

852 Origen, Contra Celsum, iii. 28, 61; idem, Commentaria in Evangelium Joannis, i. 20 sqq.

Porphyry says of Origen: “His outward life was that of a Christian and opposed to the law, but in regard to his views of things and of the Deity he thought like the Greeks, inasmuch as he introduced their ideas into the myths of other peoples”;853 and we can everywhere verify this observation from his works and particularly from the books written against Celsus. In the East the history of the Church during the succeeding centuries is the history of Origen’s philosophy; and among the theologians of ecclesiastical antiquity he was the most important and influential alongside of Augustine.

853 Eusebius, Historia ecclesiastica, vi. 19.

 

CHAPTER VIII

LATER THEOLOGICAL DOCTRINES

IN the West Augustine dominated more or less the history of piety and dogma from the beginning of the fifth century to the eve of Reformation, and continued to exert his influence afterwards as well. His own reformation was essentially a Pauline reaction against the prevailing piety, though a Paulinism modified by popular Catholic elements.854 Like Paul, Augustine experienced a sudden conversion, a momentary ecstacy in which he became absorbed in the love of God, and his mind underwent a complete change; he had been a slave of lust, as he describes himself, but was now set free from all propensity to sensual indulgence. The conversion took place when he was in his thirty-second year. He tells us in his ‘Confessions’ that in Milan, where he was staying, he retired into a garden and, greatly agitated, cast himself down under a fig-tree, and, weeping in most bitter contrition of his heart, prayed to God to put an end to his uncleanness. Then he heard from a neighbouring house a voice, “as of a boy or girl,” singing and repeating the words, “Tolle lege” (“take up and read”). “Instantly,” he writes, “with a changed countenance, I began to think most intently, whether boys in any kind of game used to sing such a phrase; nor could I remember ever to have heard the like. So checking the torrent of my tears, I arose, interpreting it to no other than a divine command, to open the book and read the first chapter I should find. . . . I seized, opened, and in silence read the passage upon which my eyes first fell: ‘Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof’” (Romans xiii. 13 sq.). Then his friend Alypius, who was with him, disclosed to him the following passage, “Him that is weak in the faith receive” (ibid. xiv. 1).855

854 Cf. H. Reuter, Augustinische Studien (Gotha, 1887), p. 494 sqq.

855 Augustine, Confessiones, viii. 12.

Next to the conversion of Paul, there has been no other conversion fraught with so far-reaching consequences in the 147 history of Christianity as that of Augustine. In innumerable passages Augustine, like Paul, extols faith as the element in which the soul lives, as the beginning, middle, and end of piety. But to him the object of the faith which is necessary for salvation was the truth guaranteed by the Catholic Church, which he regarded as infallible in consequence of its authority as based on apostolicity.856 Augustine had forced his way through scepticism to the truth of the Church and looked upon the latter as the rock on which his faith was founded. It constitutes a real unity with Christ, so that all Catholics are “the true members of his body”; whereas heretics and schismatics “are cut off from this body,”857 and consequently cannot be saved. At the same time, faith is only a preliminary condition of salvation. We must not fancy that faith by itself protects from future judgment: it is only the faith that works in love, faith and work, that does so.858 Faith and hope without love are useless; it is love that decides the measure of goodness possessed by a man.859 According to Augustine, faith, love, and merit are successive steps in the way to final salvation; and this became the view of the Catholic Church.

856 Idem, Contra epistolam Manichæ, i. 5.

857 Idem, De civitate Dei, xxi. 25.

858 Idem, Enchiridion, 67 sq.

859 Ibid. 117.

But while the conception of merits, which had been current in the Church from the days of Tertullian860 and Cyprian861 was accepted by Augustine, he reconciled this principle—as also Ambrose had done862—with the doctrine of grace, by teaching that God crowned his own gifts in crowning our merits.863 A man is justified not by the merits of his own deeds, but by free grace. Faith and love and merits are all God’s gifts;864 and “no one is saved except by undeserved mercy, and no one condemned except by a deserved judgment.”865 As Paul taught in his epistle to the Romans, the elect are saved because God, in virtue of his eternal decree of salvation, has predestinated, chosen, called, justified, sanctified, and preserved them.866 He would not have been blamed if he had redeemed no one after Adam’s fall; so neither is he to be blamed if in his mercy he redeems only a few, that none may boast of his own merits. God’s will is expressed in the case of the lost as much as in that of the saved: “in the very deed by which they opposed his 148 will, his will regarding them was done.”867 When Adam, in the hope of becoming like God, transgressed his command not to eat the fruit, all conceivable sins were compressed into his sin; and children are infected not only by Adam’s sin, but also by the sins of their parents, nay even unbaptised infants will receive damnation.868 Indeed, their very birth is corrupt, because their parents have produced them in sinful lust.869 Adam’s fall was all the more dreadful as it was easy for him to observe God’s command and refrain from sin. He might have forborne one fruit when there were so many besides it, and no lust then opposed his will.870 But the Fall of man was the suicide of his free will, and since then he is subject to the dreary necessity of being unable to refrain from sin.871 And even inherited sin is enough for damnation.

860 Supra, p. 141.

861 Cyprian, De habitu virginum, 23.

862 Ambrose, De viduis, 12.

863 Augustine, De gratia et libero arbitrio, 15; idem, De gestis Pelagii, 35; idem, Epistola CXCIV.

864 Idem, Enchiridion, 30–2, 107.

865 Ibid. 94.

866 Augustine, De prædestinatione sanctorum, 17 (34).

867 Augustine, Enchiridion, 98–100.

868 Ibid. 45; Augustine, De peccato originali, 31.

869 Idem, Enchiridion, 34, 46; idem, De nuptiis et concupiscentia, ii. 15.

870 Idem, De civitate Dei, xiv. 12. On the primitive state see idem, De correptione et gratia, 28–33.

871 Idem, Enchiridion, 30.

Since all men are by nature children of wrath, and are burdened both by original sin and their own sins, a mediator was necessary, who should appease that wrath by presenting a unique sacrifice. That this was done constitutes the grace of God through Jesus Christ, who was conceived not by the libido matris, but by faith and therefore sinlessly.872 Christ, the man who was deemed worthy to be assumed by God to form one person with him, is the most splendid example of grace given gratis and not according to merits.873 He submitted to death, not from compulsion, but in order to let the devil receive his rights.874 He became a sacrifice for sin, representing our sin in the flesh in which he was crucified, “that in some way he might die to sin, in dying to the flesh,” and from the resurrection might seal our new life.875

872 Ibid. 34, 41.

873 Ibid. 36.

874 Ibid. 49.

875 Ibid. 41.

In the future state there will be different degrees both of felicity876 and damnation. Those of the latter will depend in each case on the measure of sin; those will have the mildest punishment who have only original but not actual sin.877 It is credible that a purifying fire exists for believers even after death.878 In the intermediate state departed souls may obtain mitigation through the mass and the alms of survivors in the Church; for there are many souls not good enough to be able to dispense with this provision, and not bad enough not to be 149 benefited by it. What the Church does for the dead, is not inconsistent with the sayings of Paul in his epistle to the Romans (xiv. 10) and in his second epistle to the Corinthians (v. 10). For those who are wholly good it is a thanksgiving, for those not altogether bad an atonement, for those entirely wicked it is resultless, but gives comfort to the survivors; nay, while it makes remission complete, it renders damnation more tolerable.879 After the judgment there are only two states, though there are different grades in them. We must believe in the eternal duration of the pains of hell, although we may perhaps suppose that from time to time God lightens the punishment of the lost, or permits some sort of mitigation. “Death will continue without end, just as the collective eternal life of all saints will continue.”880

876 Augustine, De civitate Dei, xxii. 30.

877 Idem, Enchiridion, 93.

878 Ibid. 69.

879 Ibid. 110.

880 Ibid. 111–13.

From the moral point of view the relation between the grace of God and the faith, love, and merit of man in Augustine’s doctrine of salvation is an absurdity. If the latter are gifts of God, he rewards man with eternal felicity for what he himself has given him; and if man’s freedom of will is restricted in such a way as to make him unable to refrain from sin, he might possibly reject the offer of the gift, but he certainly deserves no reward for refraining from doing so.

Augustine’s idea that God has predestinated some persons to salvation and others to damnation takes us to the problem of free will and moral responsibility. We have seen that a moral emotion is a reactionary attitude of mind towards a person conceived as the cause of a certain mode of conduct, and that a moral judgment is consequently passed on him as the cause of it. But we impute a person’s conduct to him only in so far as we consider it to be due, directly or indirectly, to his will. This is not the case if he acts under compulsion. In such circumstances even ordinary anger tends to cease; as Seneca said, “Who but an unjust person can be angry with what is done under compulsion?”881 When a man’s whole conduct is determined by an external power ruling over human affairs, a god or an all-powerful fate, he can obviously not be held responsible for what he does under the influence of such constraint; the logical outcome of radical fatalism is a denial of all moral imputability and a rejection of all moral judgment. The same has been said to apply to determinism. Determinism has been confounded with fatalism, causation confounded with compulsion, the cause which determines the will being looked upon in the light of a constraining power outside the will. This 150 is an obvious mistake. While fatalism presupposes the existence of a person who is constrained by an outward power, determinism regards the person himself as in every respect a product of causes. It does not assume any part of his will to have existed previous to his formation by these causes; his will cannot possibly be constrained by them because there is nothing to constrain, it is made by them. When we say of a person that he is influenced by external circumstances or subdued by fate, we regard him as existing independently of that which influences or subdues him, we attribute to him a will, or character, which is acted upon from the outside. He would have been different if he had lived under different conditions of life, or if fate had left him alone. But how could we say that he would have been different if he had been the offspring of different parents? He would not have existed at all. This is the pivot of the whole question. A moral emotion and a moral judgment presuppose the existence of a certain individual with an innate character, it is towards him that the emotion is felt, on him that the judgment is passed; beyond that they cannot go. In the very strictest sense of the term, the proper subject of moral judgment is the innate character,882 and any succeeding change a person’s character undergoes is imputable to him only in so far as it is caused by the character with which he was born. The moral consciousness should, so far as possible, consider the influences to which his innate character has been subjected from the outside world, but it cannot consider the causes from which it sprang. To do so would be foreign to its very nature. The moral emotions are no more concerned with the origin of the innate character than the æsthetic emotions are concerned with the origin of the beautiful object: when we enjoy the music of a violin, we do not consider that it is produced by the rubbing of hairs from a horse-tail against the dried intestines of sheep. In their capacity of retributive emotions, they are essentially directed towards sensitive and volitional entities conceived, not as uncaused themselves, but only as causes of pleasure or pain.

881 Seneca, De ira, ii. 30.

882 See my book Ethical Relativity (London, 1932), p. 177 sqq.

Nor can Augustine’s conception of original sin satisfy even the most elementary moral claims. His opinion of the enormity of Adam’s sin shocked even a schoolman like Duns Scotus, who argued that the act to which he allowed himself to be led was not in its nature an immoral act, but only transgression of a command imposed for the purpose of testing, and that Adam accordingly sinned only indirectly against the command to love God, while at the same time he transgressed the law of 151 neighbourly love by overpassing, through his pliancy, the proper limit. His sin did not arise from uncontrolled self-love, but had its root in uncontrolled love for the partner associated with him, which, however, was not libidinous, since in the primitive state there was no libido.883 The punishment for his offence was also enormous, and unjust beyond all bounds; it consisted not only in his own death but in the death of all other men, his descendants, who were supposed to be infected with his sin. And at the same time they had also, for no fault of theirs, to pay for the sin contracted by their parents producing them in sinful lust.

883 K. Werner, Johannes Duns Scotus (Wien, 1881), p. 412.

It would seem that from the Augustinian point of view the salvation of man might have been accomplished simply by the grace of God, without the assistance of the death of Christ; but Paul had written that “Christ died for all,” and this had to be explained. Augustine, however, had no new explanation to offer. Origen, though considering that the crucified Christ was of no account for the gnostic, was the first to set up the theory that the devil had acquired a legal claim on men, and therefore to regard the death of Christ (or his soul) as a ransom paid to the devil. He associated this view with the notion of a deception practised on the devil. By his successful temptation the devil acquired such a right, and this right could not be destroyed, but only bought off. God offered the devil Christ’s soul in exchange for the souls of men. But this proposal of exchange was insincere, as God knew that the devil could not keep hold of Christ’s soul, because a sinless soul could not but cause him torture. The devil agreed to the bargain and was duped; hence Christ did not fall into the power of death and the devil, but overcame both.884 This theory was widely accepted, by Augustine and Gregory the Great amongst others. The latter gives it in a very drastic form: the humanity of Christ was the bait, the fish—that is the devil—snapped at it, and was left hanging on the invisible hook, Christ’s divinity.885 But in Augustine we also find echoes of another thought, namely that God must be propitiated. This view, too, had been expressed by Origen, who was the first to introduce into the Church a theology of sacrifice or propitiation based on the death of Christ.886

884 Harnack, History of Dogma, ii (London, 1896), p. 367 n. 1.

885 Gregory the Great, Moralia, xxxiii., 7.

886 Harnack, op. cit. ii. 307 n. 1, iii. (1897), p. 308.

While Augustine insisted on the eternal duration of the pains of hell, he moralised somewhat this doctrine by admitting 152 different degrees of damnation. The notion of different degrees of damnation and blessedness did not originate in him, but seems to have been very common even before his days.887 Nor was his suggestion of a purifying fire after death a novel one. The idea of a kind of purgatory is found in Tertullian,888 and Clement and Origen had assumed a purgatory in the shape of a cleansing fire.889 From the East this conception passed to Ambrose, who established it in the West, after the way for it had been prepared by Tertullian.890 The scriptural proof was Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians (iii. 13–15).

887 Harnack, op. cit. iii. 188 n. 1.

888 Supra, p. 141.

889 Supra, p. 144.

890 Harnack, op. cit. iii. 189 n. 1.

Augustinianism was accepted by the Western Church, though “with the secret reservation that it was to be moulded by its own mode of thought,” when it did not harmonise with the tendencies of the Church. Its greatest and most influential champion was Thomas Aquinas, particularly with regard to its doctrines of God, predestination, sin, and grace. The turning from Realism to Nominalism was an anti-Augustinian movement, but in the fourteenth century Bradwardine, on whom Wyclif was dependent as a theologian, gave the impulse to Augustinian reactions which accompanied the history of the Church till the time of Staupnitz and Luther, and prepared the way for the Reformation. It has been said that the work of Augustine was finally brought to completion by Luther, since Augustine, by going back to Paulinism, began the work of breaking down and re-casting the ruling dogmatic tradition and of restoring theology to faith. In Roman Catholicism the Augustinian reaction of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries partly embodied itself in the decrees of Trent, but was fully checked again, after a struggle for three hundred years, in the nineteenth century.891

891 Ibid. vi (1899), pp. 169, 170, 275.

Augustine’s doctrine that faith in the truth guaranteed by the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation, was universally accepted by the Church. It was admitted that a certain belief or “unbelief” never is by itself a sufficient ground for damnation; but Thomas Aquinas points out that there is yet a sin of unbelief consisting in “contrary opposition to the faith, whereby one stands out against the hearing of the faith, or even despises faith,” and that, though such unbelief is in the intellect, the cause of it is in the will. He adds that in those who have heard nothing of the faith, unbelief has not the character of a sin, “but rather of a penalty, inasmuch as such 153 ignorance of divine things is a consequence of the sin of our first parent.”892 The sin of unbelief is greater than all sins of moral perversity.893

892 Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, ii.-ii. 10. 1 sq.

893 Ibid. ii.-ii. 10. 3.

In spite of Thomas’ adherence to Augustinianism we find in him a timid revision of it in a moralistic direction. He makes an earnest endeavour to assert the sole efficacy of divine grace, but his line of statement takes ultimately a different direction. Although “without grace man cannot merit eternal life,”894 there must for justification co-operate a movement of free will, a movement of faith, and a hatred of sin895—in other words there is an intermingling of grace and self-action; and only then justification takes place.896 Man cannot acquire merit before God in the absolute sense of strict righteousness, but certainly in virtue of a benevolent arrangement of God. “Meritorious work of man can be looked at in two ways: on the one hand in so far as it proceeds from free will, on the other hand in so far as it proceeds from the grace of the Holy Spirit.”897 Thus, according to Thomas, the process of grace realises itself with the consent of free will, but this consent is at the same time an effect of grace. Other theologians, such as Halesius, Bonaventura, and Scotus, yielded to a much more decided tendency to render the doctrine of grace less effectual by means of the doctrine of merit; and from the middle of the fourteenth century their views gained the ascendancy in the Church through the victorious conflicts of the Scotists against the Thomists.898 According to Scotus, merit always precedes grace.899 The Council of Trent declared that “while God touches the heart of man by the illumination of the Holy Ghost, neither is man himself utterly without doing anything while he receives that inspiration, forasmuch as he is also able to reject it, yet is he not able, by his own free will, without the grace of God, to move himself unto justice in His sight.”900

894 Ibid. ii.-i. 109. 5.

895 Ibid. ii.-i. 113. 3–5.

896 Ibid. ii. 8. 113. 6.

897 Ibid. ii.-i. 114. 3.

898 Harnack, op. cit. vi. 300 sq.

899 R. Seeberg, Die Theologie des Johannes Duns Scotus (Leipzig, 1900), p. 301 sq.; Werner, op. cit. p. 418 sqq.

900 Canones et decreta Concilii Tridentini, sess. vi. ch. 5.

As to the election of grace, Thomas took over Augustine’s doctrine of predestination in all its strictness: in virtue of his decree God determines some to be elected and others to be reprobated.901 Bonaventura, on the other hand, makes predestination dependent on prescience and limits the causation of God by teaching that another contingent cause is the free 154 will of man.902 In the ninth century Rabanus had already declared that when God foresees evil, he predestines punishment for those who should not deserve to be redeemed by grace;903 and John of Damascus, whose doctrines became final in the Greek Church, taught that God, in virtue of his omniscience, knows everything from all eternity, and therefore assists by his grace those who will avail themselves of it.904

901 Thomas, op. cit. i. 23. 3.

902 Bonaventura, Sententiæ, i. 40. 2. 1.

903 Harnack, op. cit. v. (1898), p. 298.

904 John of Damascus, De fide orthodoxa, ii. 29 sq., iv. 22.

It was not easy for Thomas to construe the doctrine of free will, since in the doctrine of God he had applied throughout the thought of sole divine causality, even the consent of man’s will being conceived as an effect of divine grace. But he wants free will in order to strengthen the Augustinian concept of merit. His doctrine of grace culminates in the “evangelical counsels.” He points out, as others had done before him, that there are both precepts and counsels. A precept is compulsory, whereas a counsel is dependent on the option of him to whom it is given. Precepts are necessary to, and also sufficient for, eternal life, “but there ought to be counsels regarding those things by which man can attain the appointed end better and more readily.” They consist in relinquishing entirely, so far as it is possible, the benefits of this world, such as the possession of outward goods, sexual pleasures, and the possession of honours; and the adoption of even one of these counsels has a corresponding worth, e.g. when one gives alms to a poor man beyond what is obligatory, abstains from marriage for a long time for the sake of prayer, or does good to his enemies in excess of what is due, and so forth. The following of these counsels is a ground of merit in a still higher degree than the following of the commands, so that here in a pre-eminent way it holds good, that God gives eternal life to man, not merely in grace, but also by virtue of divine righteousness.905 All merit, so far as it proceeds from the free will is de congruo, and so far as it proceeds from grace de condigno.906 The doctrine that eternal salvation must be merited by good works is common to all the mediæval schoolmen, and the Council of Trent stamped it with its approval. It decreed that “to those who perform good works on to the end, and who hope in God, there is to be offered eternal life, both as grace mercifully promised to the sons of God through Christ Jesus, and as a reward to be 155 faithfully rendered, in terms of the promise of God himself, to their good works and merits.”907 Bellarmine briefly sums up the Roman Catholic point of view when he says: “The common opinion of all Catholics is that good works are truly and properly meritorious, and that not merely of some particular reward, but of eternal life itself.”908

905 Thomas Aquinas, op. cit. ii.-i. 108. 4, ii.-ii. 184 sqq.

906 F. Loofs, Leitfaden zum Studium der Dogmengeschichte (Halle a. S., 1906), p. 551 sq.

907 Canones et decreta Concilii Tridentini, sess. vi. ch. 16.

908 R. Bellarmine, De justificatione, v. 1.

The distinction between command and counsel, between a higher and a lower Christian life, is in agreement with Paul’s saying that the virgin state is superior to the married, but that he who marries has not sinned.909 A similar distinction meets us in many later writers, such as Hermas,910 Tertullian,911 Cyprian,912 Origen,913 Ambrose,914 Augustine.915 It has certainly a solid foundation in our moral consciousness, in so far that a command implies the concept of duty, which is based on the emotion of moral disapproval, and a counsel implies the concept of goodness, which derives its origin from the emotion of moral approval.916 But at the same time goodness and meritoriousness, the latter of which lays claim to praiseworthiness, are not identical with the superobligatory. Although the concept of duty has nothing to do with praise, we may nevertheless praise a person for doing his duty and even consider him worthy of praise. Practically, no doubt, there is a general antagonism between duty and merit. We praise, and especially we regard as deserving praise, only what is above the average, and we censure what is below it. But although thus most acts that are deemed meritorious fall outside the ordinary limits of duty as roughly drawn by the popular mind, we are, on the other hand, often disposed to attribute merit to a man on account of an act which from a strict point of view is his duty, but a duty that most people in the same circumstances would have left undischarged. This shows that the antagonism between duty and merit is not absolute. And in the concept of merit per se no such antagonism is involved.

909 1 Corinthians vii. 25 sqq.

910 Hermas, Pastor, ii. 4. 4, iii. 5. 3.

911 Tertullian, Ad uxorem, i. 3, ii. 1; Adversus Marcionem, i. 29; De monogamia, 1; De pudicitia, 16.

912 Cyprian, De habitu virginum, 23.

913 Origen, Commentarii in Epistolam B. Pauli ad Romanos, iii. 3.

914 Ambrose, De officiis ministrorum, i. 11; idem, De viduis, 12.

915 Augustine, Enchiridion, 121, etc.

916 See supra, pp. 16, 17, 19.

But while “meritorious” is not identical with “superobligatory,” it is obvious that if a course of conduct which is not regarded as a duty is held to be meritorious, it is eo ipso 156 admitted that a man can do more than his duty. This is denied both by those who derive goodness from duty and consider that what is good is what ought to be done, and by those who derive duty from goodness and consider that everybody ought to do the best he is able to do. Duty, which is the minimum of morality, in so far that it implies that the opposite mode of conduct is wrong, is identified with the supreme moral ideal, which requires the best possible conduct for its realisation. This rigorism is not supported by our practical moral judgments, but is a mere theory, which may be traced either to the direct or indirect influence of Protestant theology with its denial of all works of supererogation, or to the endeavour of normative moralists to preach the most elevated kind of morality they can conceive. For my own part I do not see how such a doctrine could serve any useful purpose at all. The recognition of a “superobligatory” does not lower the moral ideal, but on the contrary tends to raise it; and at the same time it makes it more possible to vindicate the moral law and administer it more strictly. It is nowadays a recognised principle in legislation that a law loses much of its weight if it cannot be enforced. If the realisation of the highest moral ideal is commanded by a moral law, such a law will always remain a dead letter, and morality will gain nothing. It seems to me that far above the anxious effort to fulfil the commandments of duty stands the free and lofty aspiration to live up to an ideal, which, unattainable as it may be, threatens neither with blame nor remorse him who fails to reach its summits. Does not experience show that those whose minds are constantly prepossessed with thoughts of duty are apt to become inhuman, intolerant, indeed intolerable?

At the same time there are in the Roman Catholic doctrine of merit certain very objectionable features. It implies that a good deed stands in the same relation to a bad deed as a claim to a debt; that the claim is made on the same person to whom the debt is due, that is God, even though it only be by his mercy; and that the debt consequently may be compensated for in the same way as the infliction of a loss or damage may be compensated for by the payment of an indemnity. This doctrine of reparation comes inevitably to attach badness and goodness to external acts rather than to mental facts. No reparation can be given for badness. It can only be forgiven, and moral forgiveness can be granted only on condition that the agent’s mind has undergone a radical alteration for the better, that the badness of the will has given way to repentance. This point was certainly not overlooked by the Catholic moralists, 157 but even the most ardent apology cannot explain away the idea of reparation in the Catholic doctrine of the justification of man.917 Penance consists of contrition, confession, and satisfaction, and contrition itself is chiefly “a willingness to compensate.”918 Moreover, vicarious efficacy is attributed to good deeds. It is said that Christ has done more by his suffering than was required for redemption, and that even many saints have acquired for themselves merit which God’s grace rewards. This surplus merit, or “treasury of supererogatory works,” must necessarily fall to the benefit of the Church, since neither Christ nor the saints can derive further advantage from it. The theory of a treasury of merits which the Church administers and from which indemnifications can be derived for the sins of others was first adopted by Halesius,919 but owes its recognition within the Catholic Church chiefly to Thomas Aquinas.920 It has been argued that, since we are all regenerated unto Christ by being washed in the same baptism, made partakers of the same sacraments, and especially of the same meat and drink, the body and blood of Christ, we are all members of the same body. “As, then, the foot does not perform its functions solely for itself, but also for the benefit of the eyes; and as the eyes exercise their sight, not for their own, but for the common benefit of all the members; so should works of satisfaction be deemed common to all the members of the Church.”921

917 A. Manzoni, Osservazioni sulla morale cattolica (Firenze, 1887), p. 100.

918 The Catechism of the Council of Trent, ii. 5. 22.

919 Harnack, op. cit. vi. 263 n. 1.

920 Thomas Aquinas, op. cit. iii. Supplementum, xxv. 1.

921 The Catechism of the Council of Trent, ii. 5. 72.

Augustine’s doctrine of original sin was modified to some extent by Thomas. The sin which originated with Adam was loss of natural goodness, and accordingly led to rebellion of the lower parts of man against the higher, but the natural capacity to know and to will the good was only weakened, not eradicated; that sin could remove it is unthinkable.922 He thus emphasised the negative side of sin more strongly than Augustine. Yet he taught a stricter doctrine than Anselm, who really only accentuated the negative side, and began to waver even in regard to the character of guilt; he rejected the damnation of infants.923 To him Duns Scotus attached himself. He separated the question about concupiscence, which is natural, from the question about original sin; and there remains for it merely the being deprived of the supernatural good, which 158 certainly has a disturbing effect upon the nature of man, while however nothing is really lost of the natural goodness. The guilt of inherited sin, which is considerably reduced even in Thomas, appears in Duns quite insignificant. Even the consequences of sin are presented by him in another light: it has not attacked the very nature of man.924 Scholasticism ultimately lost sight entirely of the Augustinian starting-point.925 In its decree on original sin the Council of Trent rejects in strong terms Pelagianism, which denies that sin can be inherited, but the positive propositions are so shrewdly constructed that it is always possible still to connect with them a meaning that widely diverges from that of Augustine.926

922 Thomas Aquinas, op. cit. ii.-i. 82 sqq.

923 Anselm, De conceptu virginali et originali peccato, 27 sq.

924 Seeberg, op. cit. p. 218.

925 Harnack, op. cit. vi. 305.

926 Canones et decreta Concilii Tridentini, sess. v. ‘Decree concerning original sin.’ Cf. Harnack, op. cit. vii. 58.

Augustine’s answer to the question how Christ’s suffering and death can be a means of justification, namely, that it is a ransom paid to the devil, who has acquired a legal claim on men—a theory which had previously been set forth by Origen—was accepted by the most important of the Western Fathers. This, however, did not exclude the other thought that Christ’s suffering and death constituted a sacrifice presented by him to God in order to propitiate him. But rival explanations were also suggested. Among these Anselm’s theory in his Cur Deus homo deserves special consideration because it has given the impulse to permanent treatment of the subject and is still regarded in our own day and by evangelical theologians, too, as essentially a model; both Luther and Calvin took over many of its presuppositions, and quite recently Principal Denney described Cur Deus homo as “the truest and greatest book on the Atonement that has ever been written.”927 It is an attempt to prove both the necessity of the appearing of the God-man and the necessity of his death. Anselm denies that the devil had obtained any claim upon us, since over against God he has absolutely no right.928 Every rational creature owes to God entire subjection to his will. This is the only honour that God demands, and he who does not pay it dishonours God by withholding from him his own. This robbery he cannot tolerate, he must defend his honour; hence every sinner must furnish a satisfaction.929 But what can man give God which he was not already required to give him in any case? He has nothing that he can render back for his sin,930 and how much he would 159 have to do! Even the smallest disobedience entails an infinite guilt,931 and man has therefore to furnish an infinitely great satisfaction.932 The incapacity of human nature to furnish such satisfaction can make no change on this law, which follows from the honour of God.933 So there remains only one solution: there must be some one who shall pay to God for the sin of man something greater than all that is apart from God, but since there is nothing above all that is not God save God, no one is able to make this satisfaction save God. Again, it cannot be made by anybody save man; consequently, it is necessary that the God-man shall make it.934 If the God-man surrenders his life voluntarily to God, the satisfaction sought for is obtained; it must be his life, because only this he is not under obligation to offer to God.935 The worth of such a life as a satisfaction is infinite; the acceptance of the death of such a God-man is an infinite good for God which far surpasses the loss by sin.936 The God-man acts for himself, by no means as the representative of mankind; and the Father must recompense him for that.937 Though nothing can be given to the Son, since he has all, it would be outrageous to assume that the whole action of the Son should remain without effect. Hence it is necessary that it should be for the advantage of another, and if this is willed by the son the Father cannot object, otherwise he would be unjust. “But to whom more fittingly shall he impart the fruit and recompense of his death than to those for whose salvation, as true reason has taught us, he made himself man, and to whom, as we have said, he gave in dying the example of dying for righteousness’ sake? In vain surely shall they be imitators of him, if they are not to be partakers of his merit. Or whom shall he more justly make heirs of that which is due to him, but which he does not need, . . . than his own parents and brethren, whom he looks on, burdened in their poverty with so many and so great debts, and languishing in the depths of misery, that what they owe for their sin may be remitted to them, and what, by reason of their sin, they lack, may be given to them?”938 Anselm’s theory does not guarantee to the individual that he really becomes saved; it aims rather at only showing for all the possibility of their being saved. Whether they shall be so depends “on the measure in which men come to partake of so great grace, and on the degree in which they live under it,” that is, on how they fulfil the commandments of 160 holy scripture.939 This statement introduces a moral element into the theory, which it otherwise lacks. It is true that the suffering of Christ is not regarded as a vicarious punishment: Anselm did not say, like Athanasius, that justice was satisfied by his taking upon himself the punishment to be inflicted for our sins.940 But at the same time the benefit he provided was to make us “partakers of his merit.”

927 J. Denney, The Death of Christ (London, etc., 1911), p. 295.

928 Anselm, Cur Deus homo, i. 6 sq.

929 Ibid. i. 11.

930 Ibid. i. 20.

931 Ibid. i. 21.

932 Ibid. i. 23.

933 Ibid. i. 24.

934 Ibid. ii. 6.

935 Ibid. ii. 11.

936 Ibid. ii. 14.

937 Ibid. ii. 20 (19).

938 Ibid. ii. 20 (19).

939 Anselm, Cur Deus homo, ii. 20 (19).

940 Athanasius, Adversus Arianos, i. 60.

The meritoriousness of the work of Christ rapidly came to the front. It was strongly emphasised by the Lombard and Thomas Aquinas, both of whom combined various points of view which had been furnished by earlier theologians. By his passion, says Thomas, Christ merited exaltatio,941 but as the exaltation could not be conferred upon him it passed over to the Church of which he is the head, “the head and the members are, as it were, one mystical person, and thus the satisfaction of Christ belongs to all believers just as to his own members.”942 Both Thomas and the Lombard are in agreement with Abelard’s view that the death of Christ is a proof of love, which awakens counter-love.943 The Lombard writes: “So great a pledge of love having been given to us, we are both moved and kindled to love God who did such great things for us; and by this we are justified, that is, being loosed from our sins we are made just. The death of Christ therefore justifies us, inasmuch as through it charity is stirred up in our hearts.”944 Duns Scotus, again, and his school abandoned the principle of strict equivalence, which was fundamental to Anselm, in favour of a theory which makes the efficacy of the atonement depend upon the gracious acceptance of God rather than upon its own inherent merit constituting it an exact equivalent for the punishment deserved by man.945 Neither Catholics nor Protestants, however, have maintained that the self-sacrifice of Christ acts automatically as a means of salvation. To the Catholic theologian the atonement only forms the basis of the whole system of ecclesiastical machinery upon which man’s salvation is supposed to depend. To the Protestant it is his warrant for rejecting this machinery as superfluous. Through the atonement of Christ the price of man’s redemption has been paid once for all, but he can appropriate its benefits only through faith.946

941 Thomas Aquinas, op. cit. iii. 49. 6.

942 Ibid. iii. 48. 2.

943 Harnack, op. cit. vi. 78, 79, 81.

944 Peter the Lombard, Sententiæ, iii. 19. 1.

945 Seeberg, op. cit. p. 284 sqq.

946 Cf. W. A. Brown, ‘Expiation and Atonement (Christian),’ in Hastings, Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, v (1912), p. 645.

161 That the suffering and death of Christ was a propitiatory substitutionary sacrifice, or a penalty of guilt in the interests of God, has undoubtedly remained the most popular view. In Anglican Article II. it is said that the Son of God “suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.” A recent writer asserts that the teaching of the New Testament is faithfully expressed in the popular hymn:

Bearing shame and scoffing rude, 
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood:
Hallelujah! what a Saviour.947      

Yet there is an increasing number of disbelievers even within the Church. An English theologian asks if the theory that Jesus, by his propitiatory sacrifice and by his resurrection, has restored to mankind what had been lost by the Fall can be held to-day by people of education; and he adds, “It is doubtful even if those who profess to believe in propitiatory sacrifice really do believe in it; and how rapidly they are diminishing in numbers.”948 The bishop of Birmingham writes that “in some way or another the fact of the atonement must be preserved,” but that “we can no longer maintain the Evangelical tradition which uses for the atonement a substitutionary theory of the death of Christ”;949 yet he does not tell us what other explanation should take its place. In the last century a Swedish bishop, the famous poet Esaias Tegnér, called the doctrine of a blood-atonement “a butcher’s idea, blasphemous against both God and reason.”950 While the older Evangelicals hold a particularly crude doctrine of the atonement, the liberal modern ones, though they have retained a full recognition of Christ’s work of redemption, have deliberately discouraged attempts to inquire too closely into the manner in which it was accomplished.951 The authorities of the Church of England even declared in their Report (in spite of Article II.) that “the Church as a whole has never formally accepted any particular explanation of the fact.”952 It has been argued that there never 162 can be a single theory of the atonement, since “God’s plan of salvation is too vast to be embraced in any one single explanation.”953 But though none of the many theories of the atonement is held finally satisfactory, there is said to be neither doubt nor difficulty about the fact itself, the saving power of the cross of Christ being a matter of common Christian experience.954 It is alleged that we “perceive” the effect of the cross,955 and that what took place at Calvary “can be apprehended only by faith.”956 But faith is no testimony. Dr. Murray maintains that “Our Lord’s own words . . . leave no doubt that with clear consciousness and deliberate intent in accordance with the prophetic anticipation (Isaiah liii. 10–12),957 He accepted the position as victim on behalf of His people with the institution of the sin-offering prefigured.”958 But modern scholars have denied that Jesus ever spoke such words;959 and even Mr. Thornton, who attaches much importance to Old Testament Servant-prophecies as a basis for the theology of the atonement, does not seem quite convinced that they are mistaken. He writes, however, that “even if our Lord never spoke such words as those in Mark x. 45, there still remains the possibility that His life and teaching as a whole, crowned by the death and resurrection, are most fitly interpreted in the light of the Servant passages.”960 But according to the Hebrew text Israel was smitten for its own iniquities, not for the iniquities of other peoples; and, as Dujardin remarks, the idea of Israel atoning for the sins of the world was impossible before the Christian era.961 Dean Rashdall maintains that “the only doctrine of the atonement which can with any certainty, or even with any probability, be traced back to our Lord himself is the simple doctrine that his death, like his life, was one of self-sacrifice for his followers.”962

947 H. E. Guillebaud, Why the Cross? (London, 1937), p. 181.

948 H. D. A. Major, ‘Towards Prayer Book Revision,’ in The Church and the Twentieth Century, edited by G. L. Harvey (London, 1930), p. 74.

949 The bishop of Birmingham (Dr. E. W. Barnes), ‘Foreword,’ in The Church and the Twentieth Century, p. x.

950 E. Tegnér, Samlade skrifter, iii (Stockholm, 1920), p. 447.

951 L. Elliott Binns, ‘Evangelicalism in the Twentieth Century,’ in The Church and the Twentieth Century, p. 369.

952 Doctrine in the Church of England (London, 1938), p. 90.

953 P. Green, Our Lord and Saviour (London, 1928), p. 78. See also J. G. Riddell, Why did Jesus die? (London, 1938), p. 60 sq.

954 Riddell, op. cit. p. 63; J. Dickie, The Organism of Christian Truth (London, s.d.), p. 43; H. R. Mackintosh, The Christian Experience of Forgiveness (London, 1927), p. 194.

955 Mackintosh, op. cit. p. 195.

956 Riddell, op. cit. p. 31.

957 See supra, p. 115.

958 J. O. F. Murray, The Obedience of the Cross (London, 1938), p. 36.

959 Supra, p. 115.

960 L. S. Thornton, The Doctrine of the Atonement (London, 1937), p. 55.

961 É. Dujardin, The Source of the Christian Tradition (London, 1911), p. 189.

962 H. Rashdall, The Idea of Atonement in Christian Theology (London, 1919), p. 45.

From the moral point of view the doctrines of salvation 163 through the suffering and death of Jesus and the various explanations given of it make a distressing chapter in the history of Christian dogma. All of them imply the idea of vicarious merit or of vicarious punishment or of both. Yet moral justification is claimed for them. In the Report of the Archbishops’ Commission we are told that “the Cross is a satisfaction for sin so far as the moral order of the universe makes it impossible that human souls should be redeemed from sin except at a cost. . . . The redeeming love of God, through the life of Jesus Christ sacrificially offered in death upon the Cross, acted with cleansing power upon a sin-stained world, and so enables us to be cleansed.”963 So also Harnack refers to the demand that sin must be expiated by suffering, and to the conviction that the expiation may be effected by the suffering of a righteous person. “No reflection of the ‘reason,’ no deliberation of the ‘intelligence,’” he says, “will ever be able to expunge from the moral ideas of mankind the conviction that injustice and sin deserve to be punished, and that everywhere that the just man suffers, an atonement is made which puts us to shame and purifies us. It is a conviction which is impenetrable.”964 An idea of this kind is found among children. M. Piaget has shown that they accept the equity of collective punishment if the guilty one is unknown, not in the least because the group is responsible as a whole for the fault of one of its members, but simply because there must be punishment at all costs.965

963 Doctrine in the Church of England, p. 92 sq.

964 A. Harnack, What is Christianity? (London, 1904), p. 162.

965 J. Piaget, Le jugement moral chez l’enfant (Paris, 1932), p. 279.

To me it seems that even the slightest degree of reflection should show how incompatible the infliction of punishment on an innocent person in place of the culprit is with the very nature of our moral consciousness, moral indignation being a hostile attitude of mind towards a living being conceived as a cause of pain. Dean Inge says that “it may be worth while to distinguish between vicarious punishment, which is immoral, and vicarious suffering, which love is willing to endure.”966 Other writers967 refer to John’s saying, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”968 This is quite true, but does not explain why the self-sacrifice of 164 Christ makes amends for the sins of mankind. Our moral consciousness does not admit that the execution of an innocent person can cancel the guilt of a criminal, and, in addition, finds it outrageous that, as in the present case, the sinner, in order to benefit by the death of the innocent person, must have faith in such an order of things established by a righteous God. It sounds like mockery to be told that “the righteousness of God may be discerned in the death of Christ.”969 The Socinians argued that the doctrine of vicarious suffering blunts the conscience and leads easily to moral laxity;970 and the doctrine of vicarious merit may certainly have a similar effect.

966 W. K. Inge, Christian Ethics and Moral Problems (London, 1932), p. 54 sq.

967 E.g., the bishop of London (Dr. Winnington Ingram), ‘Are we forgetting the Message of the Cross?’ in the Daily Mail, April 14, 1938; R. Fangen, Paulus (Stockholm, 1937), p. 64.

968 John xv. 13.

969 Riddell, op. cit. p. 99.

970 The Racovian Catechism (London, 1818), v. 8, p. 306.

The modifications of Augustinianism which took place in Scholasticism had generally a moralistic tendency. The ethical interest is particularly predominant in Abelard, who was sure that what answers to the moral law also is holy and good before God, and consequently endeavoured to show that in the doctrinal system of the Church the principles of morality shall have as much justice done to them as the fundamental theological speculations on nature.971 That his success in carrying conviction was small is not to be wondered at; his contemporaries felt repelled by many of his propositions. They certainly suffered from contradictions; but above all, the conflict between morality and the religion of the Church was too great to allow any considerable modifications of her dogmas or their interpretations.

971 Harnack, History of Dogma, vi. 40 n.

The Reformation implied an Augustinian reaction and a restoration of Paulinism. It substituted the Bible for the authority of the Church, and the kernel and marrow of the Bible was in particular the epistles of Paul. Luther passed through a crisis of the same kind as that which Paul had experienced in his day. It implied the conviction that in faith in Jesus he had a gracious God, who had revealed himself in the gospel, that is, in the incarnated, crucified, and risen Christ. We are justified by faith alone, this justification is the forgiveness of sins,972 and the faith through which it takes place should make the believer feel an absolute confidence in his own personal and complete salvation.973 Sometimes he pushes his insistence upon faith, and faith only, to the point of disparaging repentance. 165 “Priests,” he declares, “err and are mad, not to absolve people unless they are contrite, and they ask, ‘Son, do you grieve for your sins?’” They should only say, “Dost thou, believe? Believe and have confidence.” “Thus Christ, said to the sinful woman, ‘Thy sins are forgiven thee. I absolve thee, go in peace, because thou believest.’”974 The Schoolmen had developed the hint contained in Paul’s expression “faith working by love,” and distinguished between an “unformed” faith—a mere intellectual belief—and a “formed” faith, which includes love, and which alone justifies and saves. But to Luther the doctrine that we are saved by faith formed by charity is an abominable blasphemy.975 “We can be saved without charity, . . . but not without pure doctrine and faith.”976 “No good work can profit an unbeliever to justification and salvation; and, on the other hand, no evil work makes him an evil and condemned person, but that unbelief, which makes the person and the tree bad, makes his works evil and condemned. Wherefore, when any man is made good or bad, this does not arise from his works, but from his faith or unbelief.”977 But Luther even denied that we can do any good work at all. Among the famous ninety-five theses which he nailed on the church door of Wittenberg there were the assertions that “the just man sins in every good work,” and that “our best work is a venial sin.” But in his explanation the last thesis is withdrawn in favour of the assertion that every good work of the just man is a mortal sin if it were judged by the judgment of God.978 Both Augustine and the Schoolmen had taught that after justification, with the assistance of divine grace and of the divine spirit, the Christian really did become capable of good works, well-pleasing to God, and this was just what Luther in his more dogmatic moments categorically denied.979 Yet in his more moderate statements he can declare that the sanctifying grace given after the man has been justified by faith enables him to do good works. He writes: “If thou believest, good works will 166 necessarily follow thy faith,”980 and even: “He believeth not truly if works of charity follow not his faith.”981 At the same time the good works which are done when the man has been justified are not really done by him but by God. “To sleep and to do nothing is the work of Christians,” he exclaims in a sermon on Jacob’s dream.982 As Luther grew older, his conception of faith became more and more intellectual, till at last it comprised little beyond the assent of mind to certain articles of an orthodox creed.983 “One little point of doctrine,” he says, “is of more value than heaven and earth; therefore we do not suffer it (i.e. doctrine) to be injured in the smallest particular. But at errors of life we may very well connive.”984

972 K. Holl, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kirchengeschichte, i (Tübingen, 1927), pp. 69, 71, 75, 117.

973 Luther, ‘Operationis in Psalmos, 1519–1521,’ in Werke, v (Weimar, 1892), p. 395.

974 Idem, ‘De sacerdotum dignitate Sermo,’ ibid. iv (Weimar, 1886), p. 658. See also ‘Assertio omnium articulorum M. Lutheri per bullam Leonis novissimam damnatorum, 1520,’ ibid. vii (Weimar, 1897), p. 119.

975 Idem, ‘In epistolam S. Pauli ad Galatas Commentarius [1531], 1535,’ ibid. xl. i (Weimar, 1911), p. 254.

976 Ibid. xl. ii (Weimar, 1914), p. 51.

977 Idem, ‘Von der Freiheit eines Christenmenschen. 1520,’ ibid. vii. (Weimar, 1897), p. 32 sq.

978 Idem, ‘Assertio omnium articulorum M. Lutheri per bullam Leonis X. novissimam damnatorum,’ ibid. vii (Weimar, 1897), pp. 136, 138 sq.

979 Cf. H. Rashdall, The Idea of Atonement in Christian Theology (London, 1919), p. 402.

980 Luther, ‘Predigten des Jahres 1523,’ in Werke, xii (Weimar, 1891), p. 559.

981 Idem, ‘In epistolam S. Pauli ad Galatas Commentarius,’ ibid. xl. ii (Weimar, 1914), p. 37.

982 Idem, ‘Predigten Luthers gesammelt von Joh. Poliander 1519–1521,’ ibid. ix (Weimar, 1893), p. 407.

983 See C. Beard, The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century (London, 1885), p. 132, and the references.

984 Luther, ‘In epistolam S. Pauli ad Galatas Commentarius,’ in Werke, xl. ii (Weimar, 1914), p. 52.

Luther took over the Augustinian doctrine of the entire incapacity of fallen man and of the bondage of the will. True, he describes Paul’s teaching of the derivation of human sin from Adam as “a laughable doctrine,” and asks what can be more ridiculous than the fact that Adam, by taking a bite of an apple, put all men, to the very end of the world, into the power of death.985 But he knows how to answer charges of this kind. “It is,” he says, “a quality of faith that it wrings the neck of reason and strangles the beast, which else the whole world, with all creatures, could not strangle. But how? It holds to God’s Word: lets it be right and true, no matter how foolish and impossible it sounds.”986 The Fall itself and the penalties which it brought with it were predestined. Luther accepted Augustine’s doctrine of predestination.

985 Idem, ‘Auslegung des 15. Capitels der I. Epistel St. Pauli an die Corinther, von der Auferstehung der Todten (anno 1534),’ in Sämtliche Schriften, viii (Halle, 1742), col. 1240 sq.

986 Idem, ‘Ausführliche Erklärung der Epistel an die Galater,’ ibid. viii. 2042.

Although Luther would not hear of any human merit, he believed in the merit of Christ, who, as the Confession of Augsburg put it, “suffered and died that he might reconcile the Father to us, and be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.”987 Christ’s righteousness is 167 imputed to us.988 “Christ, that rich and pious husband, takes as a wife a needy and impious harlot, redeeming her from all her evils and supplying her with all his good things. It is impossible now that her sins should destroy her, since they have been laid upon Christ and swallowed up in him.”989 Our faith in Christ makes his piety ours, and makes our sins his. He was the greatest of all sinners, “because he assumed in his body the sins we had committed, to make satisfaction for them by his own blood.”990 “He was crucified and died for us, and offered up our sins in his own body.”991 And Christ is represented as not merely dying instead of us, but also as keeping the law instead of us. “This is the gospel . . . that the law has been fulfilled, that is, by Christ, so that it is not necessary for us to fulfil it, but only to adhere and be conformed to him who fulfils it.”992 We meet with this idea also in the Reformed Church. Jonathan Edwards says that “Christ’s perfect obedience shall be reckoned to our account, so that we shall have the benefit of it, as though we had performed it ourselves.”993 But Dean Rashdall is probably right in saying that Luther’s “insistence on correctness of doctrine and his contempt for ‘mere morality’ would be difficult to parallel from any previous writer.”994

987 Augustana Confessio, art. 3.

988 Luther, ‘Sermo de triplici iusticia, 1518,’ in Werke ii (Weimar, 1884), p. 44 sq.

989 Idem, ‘Von der Freiheit eines Christenmenschen. 1520,’ ibid. vii (Weimar, 1897), p. 26.

990 Idem, ‘In epistolam S. Pauli ad Galatas Commentarius,’ ibid. xl. i (Weimar, 1911), p. 433.

991 Ibid. xl. i (Weimar, 1911), p. 224.

992 Idem, ‘Sermo Dominica II. Adventus’ (1516), in Werke, i (Weimar, 1883), p. 105.

993 J. Edwards, ‘Justification by Faith Alone,’ in Works, vi (London, 1817), p. 257.

994 Rashdall, op. cit. p. 414.

The other Reformers were, generally, in substantial agreement with Luther.995 Zwingli likewise substituted the authority of the Bible for the authority of the Church, and preached the justification by faith alone. He denied, however, that he was dependent on Luther (who was exactly of his own age), and though he spoke in admiring language of him, he would not be called a Lutheran. He says he took his doctrine from Scripture and preached it before even he heard the name of Luther.996 A 168 distinction has been drawn between their attitudes towards Scripture: Luther, it is said, was willing to abide by any existing doctrine or usage which he did not find expressly forbidden by it, whereas Zwingli demanded distinct warrant of it for whatever he was willing to allow. But the latter took a wider view of what Scripture was. He was more biblical than Pauline: he did not so exclusively as Luther take his gospel from Paul’s epistles and then read it into the whole Bible. It is significant that the Epistle to the Romans finds no place in his scheme of scriptural instruction.997 He was much more than Luther a humanist, and more a moralist as well. He writes, for instance, that the Christian life is “an innocent life after Christ’s pattern”;998 that “we are not born that we may live to ourselves, but that we may be all things to all men”;999 that “it is the part of a Christian man not to talk magnificently of doctrines, but always with God to do great and hard things.”1000 And his more reasonable view of the sacraments1001 caused an irreparable breach between him and Luther, which became a rock on which Reformation was wrecked.

995 Melanchthon, who may be taken in general as the systematiser of Luther’s thought, however, did not accept his doctrine of predestination (R. Bring, Förhällandet mellan tro och gärning inom luthersk teologi [Acta Academiæ Aboensis, ix. Ábo, 1934]), p. 94 sqq.

996 Zwingli, Werke, i (Zurich, 1828), p. 253 sqq.

997 Beard, op. cit. p. 239 sq.

998 Zwingli, ‘De vera et falsa religione commentarius,’ in Opera, iii (Turici, 1832), p. 201.

999 Idem, ‘Quo pacto adolescentes formandi,’ in Opera, iv (Turici, 1841), p. 155.

1000 Ibid. in Opera, iv. 158.

1001 Infra, pp. 196, 197, 206.

Calvin was a full generation younger than Luther and Zwingli. He is the only one of the great Reformers who can justly be called international. In Switzerland the influence of Zwingli paled before that of his countryman, the Genevese Reformer. Calvinism soon found a footing even in Germany, especially in the Palatinate. In France it was the religion of the Huguenots. In its strength the Dutch Republic was sustained, and the American Republic was founded. It partly turned the current of the English Reformation in the direction of Puritanism. It made Scotland what it is. Its leading ideas are generally ideas which Zwingli had already put forward in a less precise and systematic form; but in his great work, the ‘Institution of the Christian Religion,’ he gathered up all the diverse threads of the new thought and wove them into a homogeneous system. In his appeal from the authority of the Church to Scripture he took the Bible much more as a whole than Luther did. He was full of a Hebrew spirit, and used references to the Old Testament to modify the too great humanity of the gospel. This accounts for the fact that among the English Puritans of the seventeenth century the Mosaic 169 legislation and the Jewish kingdom and church took a place to which the earlier history of Christianity offers no parallel. Like Luther, Calvin was an Augustinian in assuming the absolute foreknowledge and determining power of God, the servitude of the human will, the corruption and incapacity of man’s nature. To him, however, the main thing was not the sinner’s personal relation to Christ and his appropriation of the Saviour’s work, but the awful omnipotence of the Divine decree fixing the unalterable succession of events, shutting out all co-operation of the human will. God chose certain individuals as his elect, predestining them to salvation from eternity by “his gratuitous mercy, totally irrespective of human merit,” and consigned the remainder to eternal damnation, by “a just and irreprehensible, but incomprehensible judgment.”1002 To apply earthly standards of justice to God’s sovereign decrees is meaningless and an insult to his majesty, since he and he alone is free, subject to no law. To assume that human merit and guilt play a part in determining the destiny of man would be to think of God’s absolutely free decrees, which have been settled from eternity, as subject to change by human influence, an impossible contradiction. And since his decrees cannot change, it is as impossible for those to whom his grace has been granted to lose it, as it is impossible to attain it for those to whom he has denied it.1003

1002 Calvin, Institutio Christianæ religionis, iii. 21. 7.

1003 See Max Weber, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Religionssoziologie, i (Tübingen, 122), p. 92 sq.

It might seem that such ideas must be fatal to morals and produce slackness of will. Yet we find that Calvinists have been among the most strenuous of men: Calvin himself, John Knox, William of Nassau, Oliver Cromwell, and many others. This is congruous with the fact that “no true Calvinist, save one perhaps here and there, ever believes that he is finally reprobate; . . . on the contrary, he feels himself to be an instrument of the Omnipotent Will, and bends to whatever toil he undertakes in the unshakable conviction that he is on the side of God.”1004 Indeed, it is held to be an absolute duty to consider oneself chosen, and to combat all doubts as temptations of the devil, since lack of self-confidence is the result of insufficient faith, hence of imperfect grace.1005 In order to attain such self-confidence, intense worldly activity, which serves to increase the glory of God, is recommended as the most suitable means. However useless good works might be as a means of attaining salvation, nevertheless they are indispensable as a sign of election. They are the technical means, not of 170 purchasing salvation, but of getting rid of the fear of damnation.1006 Lutherans have again and again accused this line of thought of reversion to the Catholic doctrine of salvation by works. But the God of Calvinism did not demand of his believers an accumulation of individual good works to one’s credit. The Calvinist’s conviction of salvation depends rather on a systematic self-control, on a life of good works combined into a unified system. Max Weber observes that it is no accident that the name of Methodists stuck to the participants in the last great revival of Puritan ideas in the eighteenth century.1007

1004 Beard, op. cit. p. 257.

1005 Weber, op. cit. i. 105.

1006 Weber, op. cit. i. 105, 106, 110.

1007 Ibid. i. 111 sqq.

Calvin’s conception of God’s law shows itself in the reign of terror which he established at Geneva. He laid down in the ‘Institution’ that the Church has not the right of the sword to punish or restrain and knows of no punishment save exclusion from the Lord’s Supper,1008 but he used the State as its instrument in punishing, for the honour of God, such acts as he assumed to be opposed to the Divine mind and purpose. They were many and varied, and the punishments inflicted were worse than Draconian. Adultery was repeatedly punished with death. Banishment, imprisonment, in some cases drowning, were penalties inflicted on unchastity. It was a punishable offence to wear clothes of forbidden stuff or make; to give a feast to too many guests or of too many dishes; to dance at a wedding. A child was beheaded for having struck father and mother.1009 Calvinism accounts for the strict home discipline among the English Puritans, with its liberal use of the rod. Its doctrine of original sin led to an utter distrust of child nature. Even Bunyan bids parents remember that children are cursed creatures, whose wills, being evil, are to be broken.1010

1008 Calvin, op. cit. iv. 11. 3.

1009 Beard, op. cit. pp. 249, 250, 255.

1010 H. G. Wood, ‘Puritanism,’ in Hastings, op. cit. x (1918), p. 513.

The English Reformation has no name to show beside those of Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin. But during the reign of Edward VI. communications were opened with the Reformed Churches of the Continent, which resulted in a strong foreign influence of Protestant theologians, whose theology was more Calvinistic than Lutheran. It was when this influence was at its height that the English Prayer-book was shaped and the foundation laid of the Thirty-nine Articles. At the same time the English Reformation is characterised by the continuity of the Anglican Church which makes it impossible to fix the point where the old Church ends and the new begins; she is the heir of the Catholic tradition as well as of the Reformation. The materials of the Prayer-book were quarried in the mines of English mediæval 171 piety, while the theology of the Thirty-nine Articles is that of the Confession of Augsburg. During the reign of Elizabeth there was a growing prevalence of Calvinistic theology. Puritanism, which was chiefly Calvinistic, spread in every diocese, and in the Nine Lambeth Articles of 1595 the main points of Calvinism were laid down with uncompromising rigidity.1011 They were never imposed upon the English Church, but in the following century Puritanism was still in the ascendant. It did not, however, establish itself as the controlling power in English religion. While Scotland was strongly Calvinistic and Presbyterian, the Puritans in England did not capture the Church, and were compelled to struggle hard for the right to follow their own consciences.1012

1011 Beard, op. cit. p. 320.

1012 H. Balmforth, ‘Disrupta membra: Developments in England,’ in History of Christian Thought, ed. by E. G. Selwyn (London, 1937), p. 154.

Reformation was a protest not only against doctrines taught by the Catholic Church, but also against moral abuses practised in its name, such as benefactions being accepted in atonement for flagrant sin, and escape from purgatory being bought of wandering indulgence-mongers in any market-place. But at the same time the Reformers rejected the sound moral principles which were defiled by such corrupt practices. They denied altogether the value of good deeds, however sincere, and the different degrees of sinfulness of which the doctrine of purgatory was an expression; and while they condemned to eternal damnation the most virtuous man who lacks the orthodox belief, which has nothing to do with morality, Luther, as we have seen, even went so far as to promise salvation to the greatest sinner who has such a belief. No wonder that such an attractive doctrine was taken advantage of. Von Döllinger has accumulated a vast mass of evidence to show that the immediate result of the Reformation was a dissolution of morals; that the restraint of religion was relaxed, and that the characters of the Protestant preachers themselves were by no means without stain. Part of this evidence is drawn from the works of Catholic theologians, who were altogether out of harmony with the Reformation; part from those of humanists who grew dissatisfied with it before they died; part from the utterances of men who retreated from the Protestant into the Catholic ranks. All of them lay the blame of the neglect of morals upon the doctrine of justification by faith alone.1013 Evidence from such sources is certainly 172 not above suspicion; but there remain a series of painful confessions of disappointment with the moral results of their work on the part of the Reformers themselves, and especially of Luther. “In passage after passage Luther declares that the last state of things was worse than the first; that vice of every kind had increased since the Reformation; that the nobles were greedy, the peasants brutal; that the corruption of morals in Wittenberg itself was so great that he contemplated shaking off the dust of his feet against it; that Christian liberality had altogether ceased to flow; and that the preachers were neither held in respect nor supported by the people. Towards the close of his life, these complaints became more bitter and more frequent. Sometimes the Devil is called in to account for so painful and perplexing a state of things. . . . But it is significant that Luther himself does not altogether acquit the doctrine of justification—though in his view misapprehended—of blame in this matter.”1014 Harnack writes: “The holding to the ‘faith alone’ (‘fides sola’) necessarily resulted in dangerous laxity. What would really have been required here would have been to lead Christians to see that only the ‘fides caritate formata’ has a real value before God. . . . If one has persuaded himself that everything that suggests ‘good works’ must be dropped out of the religious sequence, there ultimately remains over only the readiness to subject one’s self to faith, i.e. to the pure doctrine. . . . The Lutheran Church had to pay dearly for turning away from ‘legal righteousness,’ ‘sacrifice,’ and ‘satisfactions.’ Through having the resolute wish to go back to religion and to it alone, it neglected far too much the moral problem, the ‘Be ye holy, for I am holy.’”1015 Thus the demoralising effect of Paul’s teaching of justification by faith alone, which already was noticed in Apostolic times, was again testified at the Reformation.

1013 J. J. I. von Döllinger, Die Reformation, ihre Entwicklung und ihre Wirkungen im Umfange des Lutherischen Bekenntnisses (Regensburg, 1846–8).

1014 Beard, op. cit. p. 145 sq. Cf. Rashdall, op. cit. p. 417.

1015 Harnack, op. cit. vii. 256, 267.

In the history of moral protests against Christian dogmas Pelagianism, which played an important part in the beginning of the fifth century, has to be mentioned; indeed, it has been justly said that in the study of no other controversy can we learn so much about the connection and the distinction between morality and religion. The two earnest monks Pelagius and Cælestius and their associate, the wordly bishop Julian of Eclanum, taught that as God’s highest attributes are his goodness and righteousness, everything created by him must be good, and that human nature must remain so indestructively, though it may be modified accidentally. To its constitution belongs the will as free choice, and this free choice, with which reason is 173 implied, is the highest good in man’s constitution. We are free to abstain from sin, as Adam was before the fall: his sin—which Julian esteemed of slight account—was not transmitted. The doctrine of inherited or original sin is blasphemous and absurd: it annuls God’s righteousness, it contradicts the fact that there can be no sin where there is no free will, it leads to the condemnation of marriage when original sin is assumed to be propagated by sexual intercourse. In the discussion of divine grace the statements of the Pelagians are often contradictory or ambiguous. Sometimes it is said to be necessary to every good work, sometimes to facilitate goodness, and sometimes to be superfluous. The two latter positions, which to a certain extent can be combined, seem to give their real opinion; “for it was assuredly the chief intention of Pelagius to deprive Christians of their indolent reliance on grace, and Julian’s main object was to show that the human constitution bore merit and salvation in its own lap.” There are three states of grace. In the first place, there is the grace of creation, which is so glorious that even heathens and Jews may be perfect men; Julian sneers at the saying that the virtuous of the heathen are only splendid vices. In the second place, grace denotes the law of God; indeed all grace, in so far as it is not nature, can have no other character than that of illumination and instruction (doctrina) which facilitates the doing of good. Thirdly, grace means the grace of God through Christ, which also is at bottom “illumination and instruction”: Christ works by his example. Pelagius and Julian admit that the habit of sinning was so great that Christ’s appearance was necessary. This grace through Christ is quite compatible with the righteousness of God, because the latter does not preclude an increase of benefit, but that grace is given according to our merits; in any other case God would have been unjust.1016

1016 For the Pelagian doctrine see Harnack, op. cit. v. 188–203; F. Wörter, Der Pelagianismus (Freiburg, i. B., 1874); F. Klasen, Die innere Entwicklung des Pelagianismus (Freiburg, i. B., 1882); A. Bruckner, Julian von Eclanum (Leipzig, 1897); idem, Die vier Bücher Julians von Æclanum an Turbantius (Berlin, 1910).

The Pelagians never came to form a sect or schismatical party. They were suppressed, chiefly by the influence of Augustine, in the years after A.D. 418, without it being necessary to apply any special force, and in the West Pelagianism brought upon itself a kind of universal anathema. Although the subsequent development of Christian thought has tended to confirm certain individual propositions of the Pelagian system, it was rejected both by Catholics and Protestants. From a moral point of view it was superior to the doctrines of both.

 

CHAPTER IX

ASCETICISM

THE ethical value of the doctrine that good works are essential to salvation is much reduced by the fact that merit is particularly ascribed to works which our moral consciousness is apt to regard as indifferent or even to disapprove of, namely, ascetic practices, not in the sense of strict self-discipline but of deliberate maltreatment of the body.

Such practices were not prescribed in the original body of Christian doctrine as necessary to salvation, but the ascetic principle soon made way for itself in the development of the Christian Church. The beginnings of early Christian asceticism were due to the influence of Greek and Judæo-Hellenic philosophy. According to the conception of Eastern theologians religion and morality were closely bound together: “God does not accept doctrine without good works, nor works separated from the dogmas of religion.”1017 But there was one kind of good works which did not appear to be merely subordinate to religious faith and hope, but seemed to anticipate the future blessings or to put man into the condition of being able to receive them immediately. This was asceticism, which was regarded as the adequate and principal disposition for the reception of salvation. The achievement of more positive morality appeared as a minimum, to which the shadow of imperfection always clung. Clement of Alexandria deemed the performance of any act by which the senses are gratified, for the purpose of obtaining that gratification, derogatory from Christian perfection, nay even sinful:1018 “a sensual life is unseemly, opprobrious, hateful, and contemptible.”1019 Origen remained an enthusiastic panegyrist of world-renunciation and mortification of the flesh, even after he had repented the hyper-ascetic excesses of his youth, especially his self-emasculation.1020 John of Damascus characterised asceticism as a salutary means of correcting the deterioration 175 of the human state: “Asceticism and its toils were not invented to procure the virtue that comes from without, but to remove superinduced and unnatural vileness, just as we restore the natural brightness of iron by carefully removing the rust, which is not natural, but has come to it through negligence.”1021

1017 Cyril of Jerusalem, Cathesis, iv. 2.

1018 Clement of Alexandria, Pædagogus, ii. 10 (Migne, Patrologiæ cursus, Ser. Græca, viii. 508).

1019 Ibid. iii. 7 (Migne, Ser. Gr., viii. 608).

1020 Eusebius, Historia ecclesiastica, vi. 8.

1021 John of Damascus, De fide orthodoxa, iii. 14.

Western Christianity kept real life more distinctly in view. In spite of the asceticism which Ambrose also preached, he constantly discussed all the concrete affairs of the time and the moral wants of the community. He thus represents the intimate union of the ascetic ideal with energetic insistence on positive morality,1022 and this union the Western mediæval Church never lost, however much practical life was subordinated to the contemplative. Augustine looked upon the ascetic life as the ideal for the individual, but at the same time broke through the barren system which made blessedness consist in contemplation alone by urging the monastic ascetics to engage in active work; and although the merita which he said would be crowned at the Judgment were works thoroughly ascetic, he did not consider it necessary for everybody to practise asceticism.1023 Before his time Clement had distinguished between ordinary and extraordinary rules of life, the latter of which are laid down for Christians perfected in knowledge, but are too pure and spiritual to be comprehended by the great mass of believers.1024 Tertullian had also, like Augustine, made a difference between precepts and counsels, and the same was subsequently done by Thomas Aquinas, who considered the following of the counsels, by relinquishing the benefits of this world, to be more meritorious than the following of the precepts.1025

1022 Th. Förster, Ambrosius Bischof von Mailand (Halle a. S., 1884), p. 186 sqq.

1023 A. Harnack, History of Dogma, v (London, 1898), pp. 138, 209 n. 3, 235.

1024 Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, i. 1 etc.

1025 Supra, pp. 141, 155.

In Christian asceticism fasting came gradually to hold a prominent position. In the primitive Church there were two weekly fast-days, which undoubtedly were a Pharisaic inheritance, although the days were different. It is said in the ‘Didache’ that the “hypocrites” fast on Monday and Thursday, but that the Christians should fast on Wednesday and Friday;1026 and fasting is also prescribed as preparatory to baptism, both for the baptiser and the baptised.1027 Fasting was an accompaniment of prayer. In the ‘Shepherd’ of Hermas we read: “All prayer needeth humiliation; fast therefore, and thou shalt 176 learn from the Lord that which thou dost ask.”1028 Clement of Alexandria also speaks of fasting on Wednesday and Friday,1029 and from his day these fasts became more and more general both in the East and the West.1030 In Tertullian’s time a half-fast terminating at three in the afternoon was kept in the Catholic Church, though he contended that the fast ought to be prolonged till the evening.1031 These were voluntary fasts, and observed on the authority of tradition, Wednesday being selected because on that day the Jews took counsel to destroy Christ, and Friday because that was the day of his crucifixion. But there was also a fast that was considered obligatory upon all Christians, namely, the Lent fast, consisting in a total abstinence from food during the interval between Christ’s passion and resurrection.1032 The Montanists were anxious to introduce a more rigorous discipline in the observance of fasts, and their two weeks’ “xerophagy,” which implied abstinence from flesh and wine, induced the Church to prolong her Lent fast.1033 Indeed, she gradually extended the fast which lasted for forty hours, the time when Christ lay in the grave, to forty days, in imitation of the forty days’ fasts of Moses, Elijah, and Christ.1034 A custom which is known to have existed at the beginning of the fifth century and subsequently, slowly, became general in the Western Church is that of observing every Saturday as a fast-day.1035

1026 Didache, 8.

1027 Ibid. 7.

1028 Hermas, Pastor, i. 3. 10.

1029 Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, vii. 12 (Migne, Patrologiæ cursus, Ser. Græca, ix. 504).

1030 O. Zöckler, Askese und Mönchtum (Frankfurt a. M., 1897), p. 154.

1031 Tertullian, De jejuniis, 2, 10.

1032 Ibid. 2; Irenæus, quoted by Eusebius, op. cit. v. 24.

1033 Zöckler, op. cit. p. 155.

1034 Leo I., Sermo XLIV. (alias XLIII.); Jerome, Commentarii in Jonam, 3 (Migne, Patrologiæ cursus, xxv. 1140); Augustine, Epistola LV. (alias CXIX.), ‘Ad inquisitiones Januarii,’ 15 (Migne, xxxiii. 217 sq.); Funk, ‘Die Entwicklung des Osterfastens,’ in Theologische Quartalschrift, lxxv (Tübingen, 1893), p. 209.

1035 Zöckler, op. cit. p. 434 sq.

Many other fasts of a longer or shorter duration were also introduced, before religious festivals or in connection with them; so that in the Roman Catholic Church, since the ninth century, fasting is more or less obligatory on about 120 days of the year.1036 But a conscientious member of the Greek Church abstains from flesh at least 180 days and from fish as well about 140 days. Most of these fasts are known to have existed there from the fourth or sixth century onwards.1037 There are, in addition, compulsory individual fasts connected with baptism, confirmation, communion, ordination, and nuptials, as also penitential 177 fasts.1038 Besides these there are voluntary fasts. Of some of these incredible stories have been told as the highest proof of excellence. Jerome declares that he had seen a monk who for thirty years had lived exclusively on barley bread and muddy waters while another, who lived in an old cistern, kept himself alive on five dried figs a day.1039 Of a famous saint it is asserted that for three years his only nourishment was the sacrament, which was brought him on Sundays.1040 In Mesopotamia and part of Syria there existed a whole sect known by the name of “Grazers,” who never lived under a roof, but spent their time for ever on the mountain-side and ate grass like cattle.1041

1036 Ibid. p. 435 sqq.

1037 Ibid. pp. 302, 305.

1038 Ibid. p. 439 sq.

1039 Jerome, Vita Pauli, 6.

1040 Rufinus, Historia monachorum, 15.

1041 Sozomen, Historia ecclesiastica, vi. 33.

There were other ascetic practices equally appalling. We read of hermits who lived in deserted dens of wild beasts, or in dried-up wells, or in tombs; who disdained all clothes, and crawled abroad like animals covered only by their matted hair; who spent forty days and nights in the middle of thornbushes, and for forty years never lay down.1042 In the early days of Christian monasticism “the cleanliness of the body was regarded as the pollution of the soul.” The saints who were most admired were those who had become one hideous mass of clotted filth. Athanasius relates with enthusiasm how St. Antony, the patriarch of monasticism, never washed his feet, “nor even endured so much as to put them into water, unless compelled by necessity.”1043 St. Simeon Stylites, who was generally pronounced to be the highest model of a Christian saint, bound a rope round himself so that it became imbedded in his flesh and caused putrefaction; and it is said that “a horrible stench, intolerable to the bystanders, exhaled from his body, and worms dropped from him whenever he moved, and they filled his bed.”1044 Even a philosopher like Clement of Alexandria asserts that while women may bathe for cleanliness and health, men may only bathe for health.1045

1042 Evagrius, Historia ecclesiastica, i. 21 (Migne, Patrologiæ cursus, Ser. Græca, lxxxvi. 2475 sqq.); W. E. H. Lecky, History of European Morals, ii (London, 1890), p. 108 sq.

1043 Athanasius, Vita S. Antoni, 47.

1044 Lecky, op. cit. ii. 111 sq.

1045 Clement of Alexandria, Pædagogus, iii. 9 (Migne, Ser. Græca, viii. 617).

The most important form of asceticism has been abstinence from sexual relationships. From the earliest period there were circles of ascetics in the Christian communities who required of all, as an inviolable law under the name of Christian perfection, 178 complete abstinence from marriage. As Jesus had been unmarried and his mother was a virgin, did not this represent the divine ideal for men and women who sought to be like him? The Marcionites permitted no union of the sexes, and those who were married had to separate ere they could be received by baptism into the community.1046 Hierarcas, a disciple of Origen who lived at the close of the third and in the first half of the fourth century, insisted on the suppression of the sexual impulse as a demand of the Logos-Christ, and consequently required celibacy as a Christian law.1047 The Eustathians also condemned marriage. They were opposed by the Synod of Gangra;1048 but the numerous tractates De virginitate show how near the great Fathers of the Church came to the Eustathian view. Clement of Alexandria combats the notions of the heretics who, like Marcion, enjoined abstinence from marriage in order that the world created by the Demiurge might not be peopled; or, like Tatian, dared to ascribe the institution of marriage to the devil, contending that the binding of the woman to the man, mentioned by Paul (1 Corinthians vii. 39), meant the union of the flesh to corruption.1049 But he limits the lawful use of marriage to the procreation of children.1050 According to Methodius, in whom we have the final stage of Greek theology, marriage is not forbidden,1051 but unstained virginity is ranked high above the married state. It is the condition of Christlikeness,1052 and all Christians must strive towards it. It is like a spring flower, always softly exhaling immortality from its white petals.1053 It is “the flower and first fruits of incorruption, and therefore the Lord promises to admit those who have preserved their virginity into the kingdom of heaven.”1054

1046 Harnack, op. cit. i. 277.

1047 Ibid. iii. 98.

1048 C. J. von Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, i. (Freiburg i. B., 1873), p. 779 sq.

1049 Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, iii. 3, 12.

1050 Ibid. ii. 23.

1051 Methodius, Convivium decem virginum, ii. 1 sq.

1052 Ibid. i. 5.

1053 Ibid. vii. 1.

1054 Ibid. i. 1.

The apologist Justin asserts that the Christians either abstained from marriage altogether or married with the sole view of having children, and that such as refuse to marry contain perpetually within the bounds of chastity.1055 According to Athenagoras, procreation is the measure of a Christian’s indulgence in appetite, just as the husbandman throwing the seed into the ground awaits the harvest, not sowing more upon it. “Many among us,” he adds, “both men and women, have grown old in a state of celibacy, through the hope that they 179 shall thereby be more closely united to God. But if the condition of virgins and eunuchs is more acceptable to God and even thoughts and desires exclude us from his presence, surely we shall renounce the act when we shun the very wish.”1056 Tertullian, on the authority of the new prophecy of Montanus, if not actually condemning marriage, yet on all occasions gives a decided preference to a life of celibacy. Commenting on the words of the Apostle that “it is better to marry than to burn,” he points out that what is better is not necessarily good. It is better to lose one eye than two, but neither is good; so also, though it is better to marry than to burn, it is far better neither to marry nor to burn.1057 Marriage unfits the soul for devotional exercises.1058 It “consists of that which is the essence of fornication,”1059 and is only allowed under the gospel in condescension to human infirmity. “The union of the sexes was, it is true, in the beginning blessed by God, being devised for the purpose of peopling the earth, and on that account permitted.”1060 On the other hand, continence “is a means whereby a man will traffic in a mighty substance of sanctity”;1061 the Lord himself opens the kingdoms of the heavens to eunuchs.1062 Yet when Tertullian is opposing Marcion and other heretics who condemned marriage altogether, he speaks of it as a pure and honourable state;1063 and he even breaks out into a glowing description of the blessedness of that marriage in the celebration of which none of the forms required by the Church has been omitted.1064 He was himself married; but the Romish commentators attempt to get rid of this perplexing fact by saying that when he became a priest, he ceased to cohabit with his wife. If Jerome consented to praise marriage, it was merely because it produced virgins.1065

1055 Justin, Apologia I. pro Christianis, 29.

1056 Athenagoras, Legatio pro Christianis, 33.

1057 Tertullian, Ad uxorem, i. 3; idem, De monogamia, 3.

1058 Idem, De exhortatione castitatis, 9 sq.

1059 Ibid. 9.

1060 Idem, Ad uxorem, i. 2, See also idem, De exhortatione castitatis, 5.

1061 Idem, De exhortatione castitatis, 10.

1062 Idem, De monogamia, 3.

1063 Idem, De anima, 27; idem, Adversus Marcionem, v. 15.

1064 Idem, Ad uxorem, ii.

1065 Jerome, Epistola XXII. 20.

Ambrose celebrated virginity as the real novelty in Christian morality: this virtue is our exclusive possession, the heathen had it not.1066 It works miracles: Mary, the sister of Moses, leading the female band, passed on foot over the straits of the sea, and by the same grace Thecla was reverenced even by lions, so that the unfed beasts, lying at the feet of their prey, underwent a holy fast, neither with wanton look nor sharp 180 claw venturing to harm the virgin.1067 But Ambrose admitted that though virginity is the shortest way to the camp of the faithful, the way of matrimony also arrives there, by a longer circuit.1068 According to Augustine, pride in relation to God and concupiscence show that man is sinful in soul and body; but the emphasis falls on concupiscence, the lust of the flesh. The motus genitalium, independent even of will, teaches us that nature is corrupt. But although the involuntariness of the impulse should exclude the possibility of its being sinful, Augustine concludes that there is a sin which belongs to nature and not to the sphere of the will. Children possess original sin because their parents have procreated them in lust,1069 whereas Christ was sinless because he was not born of marriage.1070 Augustine imagined paradisiacal marriages in which children were begotten without lust, or, as Julian says jerkingly, were to be shaken from trees. Similar views had been expressed before, by Marcion and others. Gregory of Nyssa,1071 and in a later time John of Damascus, held the opinion that virginity belonged to the nature of man and that if Adam had preserved his obedience to the Creator some harmless method of vegetation would have peopled paradise with a race of innocent and immortal beings—an opinion which was opposed by Thomas Aquinas, who maintained that the human race from the beginning was propagated by means of sexual intercourse, but that such intercourse originally was free from all carnal desire.1072 One would think that Augustine’s conception of the sinfulness mingled with all procreation should have led him to reject marriage. But he argues that many things are permitted by the Apostles, although they are sinful, matrimonial intercourse being one of these, and that many things which custom has brought us to look on lightly, for example unchastity, are dreadful, even though Church discipline itself has become lax in dealing with them.1073 So far as marriage is concerned, this argument is extraordinary considering that Augustine ranked concupiscence practically above alienation from God, and treated original sin, resulting from it, as if it were more serious than actual sin, in so far that while the former can only be washed out by baptism, the latter can be atoned for by penance.1074

1066 Ambrose, De virginibus, i. 4.

1067 Ambrose, Epistola LXIII. 34 (Migne, Ser. Latina, xvi. 1198 sq.).

1068 Ibid. 40 (Migne, xvi. 1200).

1069 Augustine, De nuptiis et concupiscentia, ii. 15.

1070 Idem, Enchiridion, 34, 41.

1071 Gregory of Nyssa, De hominis opificio, 17.

1072 H. von Eicken, Geschichte und System der mittelalterlichen Weltanschauung (Stuttgart, 1887), p. 437 sq.

1073 Augustine, Enchiridion, 78, 80.

1074 Harnack, op. cit. v. 220.

181 It is interesting to notice that Pelagius almost rivalled his great antagonist Augustine in his praise of virginity. He deduced not inherited sin, which he denied, but the actual existence of sin from the snares of the devil and sensual lusts, and condemned concupiscence accordingly. Pelagius’ associate, Bishop Julian, however, argued that if the substance of the flesh was good, its desires, which frequently do not spring from the will, must have been permitted by the Creator; and he attacked inexorably Augustine’s view that marriage is allowed although concupiscence is sinful. The case of marriage, which is unthinkable without sexual desire, convinced Julian that the latter is in itself indifferent and innocent, while excess follows from a fault of the will. Christ himself possessed concupiscence.1075

1075 F. Klasen, Die innere Entwicklung des Pelagianismus (Freiburg i. B., 1882), p. 195 sq.

In Scholasticism a clear distinction is drawn between sinful and innocent concupiscence: the latter is involved in man’s earthly nature and is kept within appointed limits, as it may be as a result of his baptism. Duns Scotus, who found no reason to regard the sperm as more infectious than blood and saliva, also separated the question about concupiscence, which he regarded as natural, from the question about original sin.1076 Following Augustine, the Catholic Church declared sexual desire to be sinful, but at the same time accepted marriage. Before his time, in the earlier part of the fourth century, the Council of Gangra expressly condemned any one who maintained that marriage prevented a Christian from entering the kingdom of God;1077 but at the end of the same century a Council also excommunicated the monk Jovinian because he denied that virginity is more meritorious than marriage.1078 The Church declared marriage a sacrament. Virginity is ordained to the good of the soul in the contemplative life, which is to “think of the things of the Lord”; marriage, on the other hand, is ordained to the good of the body, the bodily multiplication of the human race, and belongs to the active life, because husband and wife, living in the married state, are under necessity to think of “the things of the world.”1079 The Council of Trent condemned any one who does not regard the unmarried state as better than the married.1080

1076 R. Seeberg, Die Theologie des Johannes Duns Scotus (Leipzig, 1900), p. 218.

1077 Concilium Gangrense, can. 1 (Labbe-Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum collectio, ii. 1106).

1078 Concilium Mediolanense, A.D. 390 (ibid. iii. 689 sq.).

1079 Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, ii.-ii. 152, 4.

1080 Canones et decreta Concilii Tridentini, sess. xxiv, can. 10.

182 Yet the Church by no means encouraged the adoption of virginity as a general practice among her members, but on the contrary resolutely declared war on all attempts to make it a law for everybody. While she distinguished between a higher and a lower, though sufficient, morality, she repudiated any claim that the higher morality should be the only authoritative one. A religion that commanded all alike to renounce the world would have closed the world against it. She graded her members as priests, monks, and laity, and assigned to them different standards of duty.

The earliest form of compulsory celibacy was imposed on persons who had been married before. The command in the First Epistle to Timothy (iii. 2, 12) that a bishop and a deacon should be the husband of one wife was believed, rightly or wrongly, to be prohibitory of second marriages. But such marriages were in early times looked upon as more or less discreditable or inadmissible even if contracted by the laity. Hermas says that if a husband or a wife dies the party which survives does not sin in marrying again; “howbeit, if he shall remain single, he shall thereby gain to himself great honour before the Lord.”1081 But if a man puts away an unfaithful wife and marries another woman, he too commits adultery.1082 According to Justin, divorced persons who contract new marriages are guilty of the same crime.1083 Athenagoras calls a second marriage a “decorous adultery,” for Christ says that “whosoever puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery”; and he who cuts himself off from his first wife, even though she be dead, is a concealed adulterer.1084 Clement of Alexandria does not pronounce second marriages positively unlawful, but asserts that a man who marries again after the decease of his wife falls short of human perfection.1085 Tertullian, referring to the injunction of the Apostle, argues that what is forbidden to the clergy is not allowed to the laity: all Christians are really priests, who in case of need must exercise the functions of the priesthood and consequently must also live up to its standard of morality.1086 And he also adduces another argument: you have lost your wife, it was therefore the will of God that you should become a widower; by marrying again you cease to be a widower, and thereby strive against the will of God.1087 This doctrine was 183 branded by the Church as heretical when it was elevated into an article of belief by the Montanists; but those who married a second time were subject to penance. In 484 we find the Pope Gelasius obliged to remind the faithful that marriages of this kind are not to be refused to laymen. On the other hand, it became firmly and irrevocably established that no husband of a second wife was admissible to holy orders.1088 The Council of Elvira, in 365, which admitted that in cases of extreme necessity a layman might administer baptism, was careful to specify that he must not be a “digamus,” or husband of a second wife.1089 The restriction on the priesthood, however, was not easily enforced. Jerome asserts that the world is full of prelates who evade it, not only in the lower orders but in the episcopate.1090

1081 Hermas, op. cit. ii. 4. 4.

1082 Ibid. ii. 4. 1.

1083 Justin, Apologia I. pro Christianis, 15.

1084 Athenagoras, op. cit. 33.

1085 Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, iii. 1 (Migne, Ser. Græca, viii. 1104).

1086 Tertullian, De exhortatione castitatis, 7.

1087 Ibid. 2.

1088 H. C. Lea, History of Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Christian Church, (London, 1907), p. 24 sq.

1089 Concilium Eliberitanum, A.D. 305, ch. 38 (Labbe-Mansi, ii. 12).

1090 Jerome, Epistola LXIX. 2.

The rule in question drew for the first time a distinct line of separation between the great body of the faithful and those who officiated as ministers of Christ. Shortly afterwards there was a revival of the Levitical law that required the priesthood to marry none but virgins.1091 The Council of Elvira declared in the most positive manner that all concerned in the ministry of the altar should maintain entire abstinence from their wives under pain of forfeiting their positions;1092 but this was simply the legislation of a local synod in Spain, and its canons were not entitled to respect or obedience beyond the limits of the churches directly represented. At the end of the fourth century we find, for the first time, a papal command imposing perpetual celibacy as an absolute rule of discipline on the ministers of the altar.1093 Energetic protests were not wanting, nor the more perplexing stubbornness of passive resistance. The most energetic endeavours to enforce the celibacy of the clergy were made, in the latter part of the eleventh century, by Gregory VII., who ordered that no one in future should be admitted to orders without a vow of celibacy, and authorised the laity to withdraw their obedience from all prelates and priests who disregarded this rule. He was resolved that his decree should not remain, like the decretals of innumerable Councils, a mere protest, and took immediate measures to have it enforced wherever the authority of Rome extended.1094 Yet the reform for which he laboured was not carried through in the various 184 Roman Catholic countries till the end of the twelfth or even late in the thirteenth century.1095

1091 Lea, op. cit. i. 27.

1092 Concilium Eliberitanum, ch. 33 (Labbe-Mansi, ii. 11).

1093 Lea, op. cit. i. 62.

1094 Ibid. i. 185 sqq.

1095 Zöckler, op. cit. p. 446.

In the Eastern Church, where sexual asceticism continued to flourish as in its birthplace, there is no trace of any official attempt to render it universally imperative. The East only preserved the traditions of earlier times, as recorded in the Apostolic Constitutions and Canons, prohibiting marriage in orders and the ordination of digami, but imposing no compulsory separation on those who had been married previous to ordination.1096 In these respects the early traditions of the Greek Church have remained unaltered to the present day. The lower grades of the clergy are free to marry, and they are not separated from their wives when promoted to the sacred functions of the diaconate or priesthood. The bishops, again, are selected from the regular clergy or monks, and, being bound by the vow of chastity, are of course unmarried and unable to marry.1097

1096 Lea, op. cit. i. 91.

1097 Ibid. i. 97.

The Reformation of the sixteenth century rejected the demands for the celibacy of the clergy. This was due not only to its denial of merits of any kind, but also to its rejection of the double standard of moral excellence which was accepted by Catholicism, and of its different attitude towards asceticism in general and towards sexual abstinence in particular. Luther appreciated all the lawful enjoyments of life. “If our Lord God,” he said, “may make excellent large pike and good Rhenish wine, I may very well venture to eat and to drink. Thou mayest enjoy every pleasure in the world that is not sinful: that thy God forbids thee not, but much rather wills it. And it is pleasing to the dear God whenever thou rejoicest or laughest from the bottom of your heart.”1098 The German Pietism of the seventeenth century, however, returned to the principles and practices of strict asceticism in the matters both of fasting and of abstinence from worldly pleasures and enjoyments; even strolls, games, and laughter were condemned by the more rigorous section of Pietists. Calvin attached much importance to a strict ecclesiastical discipline as a means of holiness.1099 This gave birth to the austere holiness of Scottish Presbyterianism and English Puritanism with their occasional excesses of harsh casuistry and Sabbatarian gloom. Among the Evangelicals there was a real distrust of pleasure as pleasure. Sport was 185 accepted if it served a rational purpose, that of recreation necessary for physical efficacy, but in so far as it became purely a means of enjoyment, it was strictly condemned. Sexual intercourse was permitted, even within marriage, only as the means willed by God for the increase of his glory according to the commandment, “Be fruitful and multiply.” A moderate vegetable diet and cold baths were remedies against sexual temptations.1100 Children were kept away from the fire in cold weather; and if flagellation had gone out of fashion in the monasteries, it was religiously practised in schools and in the home. We read of a typical Evangelical of the eighteenth century, John Fletcher of Madeley, who sat up every week for reading, meditation and prayer, and lived wholly upon vegetarian food.1101 The early Methodist and Baptist sects even favoured the principle of celibacy. These tendencies to withdrawal from the world led for the most part to no permanent results. But a more enduring character belongs to the ascetic efforts of various branches of British and American Methodism, particularly in the sphere of the crusade against alcohol.1102

1098 K. Hagen, Deutschlands literarische und religiöse Verhältnisse im Reformationszeitalter, ii (Erlangen, 1843), p. 232.

1099 Calvin, Institutio Christianæ religionis, iv. 12.

1100 Max Weber, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Religionssoziologie, i (Tübingen, 1922), pp. 170, 171, 184, 187.

1101 W. R. Inge, Christian Ethics and Modern Problems (London, 1932), p. 132 sq.

1102 Zöckler, op. cit. p. 572 sqq.; idem, ‘Asceticism (Christian),’ in J. Hastings, Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, ii (Edinburgh, 1909), p. 79.

A common characteristic of all forms of asceticism is that it involves suffering or privation, and in religious asceticism this is supposed to be pleasing or gratifying to the deity, or lead to something having such an effect. From the days of Tertullian and Cyprian the Latins were familiar with the notion that the Christian has to propitiate God, that cries of pain, sufferings and deprivations are means of appeasing his anger, that God takes strict account of the quantity of the atonement, and that where there is no guilt to be blotted out those very means are regarded as merits.1103 According to the doctrine of the Church, penitential asceticism should in all grave cases be preceded by sorrow for the sin and also by confession, either public or private; but only too often the notion was adopted that the outward practice itself was a compensation for sin, that a man was at liberty to do whatever he pleased provided he was prepared to do penance afterwards, and that a person who, conscious of his frailty, had laid in a large stock of vicarious penance in anticipation of future necessity, had a right “to work it out,” 186 and spend it in sins. How largely ascetic practices are due to the idea of expiation is indicated by the fact that they scarcely occur among nations which have no vivid sense of sin like the Chinese before the introduction of Taoism and Buddhism,1104 and the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Scandinavians. In Greece, however, people sometimes voluntarily sacrificed a part of their happiness in order to avoid the envy of the gods, who would not allow to man more than a moderate share of good fortune. Yet, though fear is a tremendous incentive to self-mortification, the impulse to expiate and do penance may also be an immediate and spontaneous expression of self-despair and devotion. “There are saints,” says William James, “who have literally fed on the negative principle, on humiliation and privation, and the thought of suffering and death, their souls growing in happiness just in proportion as their outward state grew more intolerable.”1105

1103 Tertullian, De jejuniis, 7; idem, De resurrectione carnis, 8; idem, De patientia, 13; Harnack, op. cit. ii. 110, 132 sqq., iii. 311.

1104 A. Réville, La religion Chinoise (Paris, 1889), p. 221.

1105 W. James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (London, etc., 1903), p. 50. See also ibid. p. 302.

The most extreme instance of the infliction of suffering as a means of salvation was the practice of flagellation. In this practice there was a considerable difference between Eastern and Western Christians. The former aimed at weeping in their devotional acts, tears being a sign of contrition, and as self-scourging was thought by them to be an excellent expedient for obtaining tears, they had frequent recourse to it for the purpose of bringing them into this saving state. Western Christians, on the other hand, resorted to flagellation as a direct and immediate method of compensation for past sins.1106 It came into prominence in Europe in the eleventh century through the practices of the monk Dominicus Loricatus and Cardinal Peter Damian. It was advocated as a substitute for the reading of penitential psalms, a thousand strokes of the lash being equal to ten psalms; but the most complete course went up to three million strokes.1107 The first serious outbreak of public flagellation began in Italy just after the middle of the thirteenth century; and a still more famous gregarious outbreak came about a hundred years later, and led to the formation of the Brotherhood of the Flagellants, whose members, stripping to the waist, lashed themselves with scourges, sometimes knotted and sometimes supplied with iron points which embedded themselves in the flesh. They believed that their blood would 187 mingle with the shed blood of Christ, and that this penitential flagellation, continued for thirty-three days and a half, would wash the soul free of all taint of sin. Being voluntary, it was thought to be more meritorious than martyrdom, and to supply the want of all other good works.1108 When the Flagellants thus felt that the means of salvation were in their own hands, and that the mediation of the Church and its priesthood could be dispensed with, the Church launched her anathemas against them, and on several occasions they were forced to seal their testimonies at the stake. The mania then took the form of private whipping, and in cells and rooms they belaboured the sinful flesh with infinite satisfaction. This was especially the case in Bavaria, which may be termed the classic land of the scourge.1109

1106 W. M. Cooper, Flagellations and the Flagellants (London, s.d.), p. 115.

1107 Zöckler, op. cit. p. 529 n. 1.

1108 R. M. Jones, ‘Flagellants,’ in J. Hastings, Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, vi (Edinburgh, 1938), p. 49 sq.; Cooper, op. cit. p. 117.

1109 Cooper, op. cit. p. 118.

Suffering is not only sought as a means of wiping off sins committed, but is also endured with a view to preventing the commission of sin. This is another important idea upon which Christian asceticism rests. The gratification of every worldly desire is sinful, the flesh should be the abject slave of the spirit intent upon unearthly things. Man was created for a life in spiritual communion with God, but yielded to the seduction of evil demons, who availed themselves of the sensuous side of his nature to draw him away from the contemplation of the divine and lead him to the earthly. Goodness, therefore, consists in renouncing all sensuous pleasures, in separating from the world, in living solely after the spirit, in imitating the perfection and purity of God, The contrast between good and evil is the contrast between God and the world, and the conception of the world includes not only the objects of bodily appetites but all human institutions. This antithesis of spirit and body, which we have met with already in Paul, was an old Platonic conception, which the Fathers of the Church regarded as the contrast between what was precious and what was to be mortified. In the Neo-Platonic and Neo-Pythagorean schools of Alexandria, an ascetic ideal of life was the natural outcome of their theory that God alone is pure and good, and matter impure and evil. The idea that man ought to liberate himself from the bondage of earthly desires is the conclusion of a contemplative mind reflecting upon the short duration and emptiness of all bodily pleasures and the allurements by which they lead men into misery and sin. And separation from the material world is the ideal of the religious enthusiast whose highest aspiration 188 is union with God conceived as an immaterial being, as pure spirit.

There are yet other ideas at the bottom of particular ascetic practices. Fasting is frequently adopted as a means of having supernatural converse, or of acquiring supernatural powers.1110 Chrysostom says that fasting “makes the soul brighter, and gives it wings to mount up and soar on high.”1111 An idea of this kind partly underlies the common practice of abstaining from food before or in connection with the performance of a magical or religious ceremony;1112 but there is also another ground for this practice. The effect attributed to fasting is not merely psychical, but it also prevents pollution.1113 In Christianity we meet with it as a rite of purification, when practised before a religious festival or a religious rite, like prayer or a sacramental act. In the early Church catechumens were accustomed to fast before baptism.1114 At least as early as the time of Tertullian it was usual for communicants to prepare themselves by fasting for the reception of the Eucharist;1115 and to this day Roman Catholicism regards it as unlawful to consecrate or partake of it after food or drink.1116 The Lent fast itself was partly interpreted as a purifying preparation for the holy table;1117 but its archetype, the fast which lasted for forty hours only, the time when Christ lay in the grave, belonged to the very common type of fasting after a death. The mourning fast may be ascribed to different causes,1118 but in this case it was undoubtedly an expression of sorrow.

1110 E. Westermarck, The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, ii (London, 1917), p. 292 sq.

1111 Chrysostom, In Cap. I. Genes. Homil. X. 2 (Migne, Ser. Græca, liii. 83). Cf. Tertullian, De jejuniis, 6 sqq.; B. Haug, Die Alterthümmer der Christen (Stuttgart, 1785), pp. 476, 482.

1112 Westermarck, op. cit. ii 293 sqq. Among the Jews fasting was a means of giving special efficacy to prayer (L. Löw, Gesammelte Schriften, i [Szegedin, 1889], p. 108; W. Nowack, Lehrbuch der hebräischen Archäologie, ii [Freiburg i. B. and Leipzig, 1894], p. 271; I. T. Benzinger, ‘Fasting, Fasts,’ in Encyclopædia Biblica, ii [London, 1901], p. 1507), and fasting and praying became in fact a constant combination of words (Judith, iv. 9, 11; Tobit, xii. 8; Ecclesiasticus, xxxiv. 26).

1113 Westermarck, op. cit. ii. 294 sq.

1114 Justin Martyr, Apologia I. pro Christianis, 61; Augustine, De fide et operibus, vi. 8.

1115 Tertullian, De oratione, 19.

1116 The Catechism of the Council of Trent, ii. 4, 6.

1117 Jerome, In Jonam, 3 (Migne, Patrologiæ cursus, xxv. 1140).

1118 Westermarck, op. cit. ii. 302 sqq.

Moreover, there is a close connection between fasting and almsgiving. This was the case among the Jews1119 and from 189 Judaism the combination of fasting and almsgiving passed over into Christianity. We read in the ‘Shepherd’ of Hermas: “That day on which thou fastest thou shalt taste nothing at all but bread and water; and computing the quantity of food which thou art wont to eat upon other days, thou shalt lay aside the expense which thou shouldst have made that day, and give it unto the widow, the fatherless, and the poor. And thus thou shalt perfect the humiliation of thy soul, that he who receives of it may satisfy his soul, and his prayer come up to the Lord God for thee. If, therefore, thou shalt thus accomplish thy fast, as I command thee, thy sacrifice shall be acceptable unto the Lord, and thy fast shall be written in his book.”1120 Aristides writes that if there is among Christians “a man who is poor or needy, and they have not an abundance of necessaries, they fast two or three days that they may supply the needy with their necessary food.”1121 According to Augustine, alms and fasting are the two wings which enable a man’s prayer to fly upward to God.1122 But fasting without almsgiving “is not so much as counted for fasting”;1123 that which is gained by the fast at dinner ought not to be turned into a feast at supper, but should be expended on the bellies of the poor.1124 And if a person is too weak to fast without injuring his health he should give more plentiful alms.1125 Tertullian calls fastings “sacrifices that are acceptable to God.”1126 But fasting, as well as temperance, has also from early times been advocated by Christian writers on the ground that it is “the beginning of chastity,”1127 whereas “through love of eating love of impurity finds passage.”1128 Thomas Aquinas says that fasting serves principally three ends: “First, to repress the concupiscences of the flesh; hence the Apostle says, ‘In fastings, in chastity,’ because by fasting chastity is preserved. Secondly, it is taken up that the mind 190 may be more freely raised to the contemplation of high things; hence Daniel, after a three weeks’ fast, received a revelation from God. Thirdly, to satisfy for sin.”1129 That fasting serves the general purpose of religious asceticism as a means of propitiating God by self-inflicted suffering is also kept in view by Tertullian when he explains its necessity as the result of Adam’s fall. He fell by yielding to his appetite, and from this fact it follows that the sure way for man to regain the favour of God is to mortify his appetite: Adam offended by eating, his descendants must remedy the evil consequences of the offence by fasting.1130

1119 Ibid. ii. 317.

1120 Hermas, op. cit. iii. 5. 3.

1121 Aristides, Apologia, 15.

1122 Augustine, Enarratio in Psalmum XLXII. 8 (Migne, Patrologiæ cursus, xxxvi. 482).

1123 Idem, Sermones supposititii, cxlii. 2, 6 (Migne, xxxix. 2023 sq.); Chrysostom, In Matthæum Homilia, LXXVII. (al. LXXVIII.) 6 (Migne, Ser. Græca, lviii. 710).

1124 Augustine, Sermones supposititii, cxli. 4 (Migne, xxxix. 2021). Cf. Canons enacted under King Edgar, ‘Of Powerful Men,’ 3 (Ancient Laws and Institutes of England [London, 1840], p. 415); Ecclesiastical Institutes, 38 (ibid. p. 486).

1125 Augustine, Sermones supposititii, cxlii. 1 (Migne, xxxix. 2022 sq.); Chrysostom, In Cap. I. Genes. Homil. X. 2 (Migne, Ser. Græca, liii. 83).

1126 Tertullian, De resurrectione carnis, 8.

1127 Chrysostom, In Epist. II. ad Thessal. Cap. I. Homil. I. 2 (Migne, Ser. Græca, lxii. 470).

1128 Tertullian, De jejuniis, 1.

1129 Thomas Aquinas, op. cit. ii.-ii. 147. 1.

1130 Tertullian, De jejuniis, 3.

So also religious celibacy and abstinence from sexual intercourse are enjoined or commended as means of self-mortification supposed to appease an angry god. We find them side by side with other ascetic observances practised for similar purposes. Among the early Christians those young women who took a vow of chastity “did not look upon virginity as any thing if it were not attended with great mortification, with silence, retirement, poverty, labour, fastings, watchings, and continual praying. They were not esteemed as virgins who would not deny themselves the common diversions of the world, even the most innocent.”1131 Tertullian enumerates virginity, widowhood, and the modest restraint in secret on the marriage-bed among those fragrant offerings acceptable to God which the flesh performs to its own especial suffering.1132 But sexual asceticism may be traced to other sources as well.

1131 C. Fleury, An Historical Account of the Manners and Behaviour of the Christians (London, 1698), p. 128 sq.

1132 Tertullian, De resurrectione carnis, 8.

In various religions a priestess is regarded as married to the god whom she is serving, and is therefore forbidden to have sexual intercourse with any man. In the Egyptian texts there are frequent references to “the divine” consort, a position which was generally held by the ruling queen, and the king was believed to be the offspring of such a union.1133 As Plutarch states, the Egyptians thought it quite possible for a woman to be impregnated by the approach of some divine spirit, though they denied that a man could have corporeal intercourse with a goddess.1134 Nor was the idea of a nuptial relation between a woman and the deity foreign to the early Christians. Cyprian 191 speaks of women who had no husband and lord but Christ, with whom they lived in a spiritual matrimony—who had “dedicated themselves to Christ, and, retiring from carnal lust, vowed themselves to God in flesh and spirit.”1135 In the following words he condemns the cohabitation of such virgins with unmarried ecclesiastics, under the pretence of a purely spiritual connection: “If a husband come and see his wife lying with another man, is he not indignant and maddened, and does he not in the violence of his jealousy perhaps even seize the sword? What? How indignant and angered then must Christ our Lord and Judge be, when he sees a virgin, dedicated to himself, and consecrated to his holiness, lying with a man! and what punishments does he threaten against such impure connections. . . . She who has been guilty of this crime is an adulteress, not against a husband, but Christ.”1136 According to the gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, the Virgin Mary had in a similar manner dedicated herself as a virgin to God.1137

1133 A. Wiedemann, Herodots zweites Buch mit sachlichen Erläuterungen (Leipzig, 1890), p. 268. Cf. A. Erman, Life in Ancient Egypt (London, 1894), p. 295 sq.

1134 Plutarch, Numa, iv. 5; idem, Symposiaca problemata, viii. 1. 6 sq.

1135 Cyprian, De habitu virginum, 4, 22. Cf. Methodius, Convivium decem virginum, vii. 1.

1136 Cyprian, Epistola LXII., ad Pomponium de virginibus, 3 sq. (Migne, Patrologiæ cursus, iv. 368 sqq.). See also J. Neander, General History of the Christian Religion and Church, i (Edinburgh, 1847), p. 378. The Council of Elvira decreed that such fallen virgins, if they refused to return back to their former condition, should be denied communion even at the moment of death (Concilium Eliberitanum, A.D. 305, ch. 13 [Labbe-Mansi, ii. 8]).

1137 The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, 8 (Anti-Nicene Christian Library, xvi [Edinburgh, 1870], p. 25). See also The Gospel of the Nativity of Mary, 7 (ibid. xvi. 57 sq.).

An extremely important cause of sexual asceticism is the view that sexual intercourse is defiling, and that sexual pollution is particularly injurious to holiness, as also to anybody who comes into contact with anything holy—a view the origin of which I have discussed in an earlier chapter.1138 The Christians prescribed strict continence as a preparation for baptism1139 and the partaking of the Eucharist.1140 They enjoined that no married persons should participate in any of the great festivals of the Church if the night before they had lain together;1141 and in the ‘Vision’ of Alberic, dating from the twelfth century, a special place of torture, consisting of a lake of mingled lead, pitch, and resin, is represented as existing in hell for the punishment of married people who have had intercourse on Sundays, church 192 festivals, or fast-days.1142 They abstained from the marriage-bed at other times also, when they were disposed more freely to give themselves to prayer.1143 Newly married couples were admonished to practice continence during the wedding-day and the night following, out of reverence for the sacrament; and in some instances their abstinence lasted even for two or three days.1144 The Penitential of Theodore commands those who contract a first marriage to abstain from entering a church for thirty days, after which they are to perform penance for forty more.1145 The Syrian philosopher Jamblichus speaks of the belief that “the gods do not hear him who invokes them, if he is impure from venereal connections.”1146 A similar notion prevailed among the early Christians; with reference to a passage in the First Epistle to the Corinthians (vii. 5), Tertullian remarks that the Apostle added the recommendation of a temporary abstinence for the sake of adding efficacy to prayers.1147 Carried further, the idea underlying all these rules and practices led to the notions, that celibacy is more pleasing to God than marriage and a religious duty for those members of the community whose special office is to attend to the sacred cult. For a nation like the Jews, whose ambition was to live and to multiply, celibacy could never become an ideal; whereas the Christians, who professed the utmost indifference to all earthly matters, found no difficulty in glorifying a state which, however opposed it was to the interests of the race and the nation, made men pre-eminently fit to approach their god. Indeed, far from being a benefit to the kingdom of God by propagating the species, sexual intercourse was on the contrary detrimental to it by being the great transmitter of the sin of our first parents.

1138 Supra, p. 128 sq.

1139 Augustine, De fide et operibus, vi. 8.

1140 Jerome, Epistola XLVIII. 15 (Migne, xxii. 505 sq.).

1141 Gregory the Great, Dialogi, i. 10 (Migne, lxxvii. 200 sq.); Lecky, op. cit. ii. 324.

1142 Albericus, Visio (Ariano, 1899), ch. 5, p. 17; J. O. Delepierre, L’enfer décrit par ceux qui l’ont vu (London, 1864–5), p. 57 sq. On this subject see also J. Müller, Das sexuelle Leben der christlichen Kulturvölker (Leipzig, 1904), pp. 52, 53, 120 sq.

1143 Jerome, Epistola XLVIII. 15 (Migne, xxii. 505); Fleury, op. cit. p. 75.

1144 L. A. Muratori, Dissertazioni sopra le antichità Italiane, 20, vol. i (Milano, 1836), p. 347.

1145 G. May, Social Control of Sex Expression (London, 1930), p. 63.

1146 Jamblichus, De mysteriis, iv. 11.

1147 Tertullian, De exhortatione castitatis, 10.

Finally, it was argued that marriage prevents a person from serving God perfectly, because it induces him to occupy himself too much with worldly things.1148 Though not contrary to the act of charity or the love of God, says Thomas Aquinas, it is 193 nevertheless an obstacle to it.1149 This was one, but certainly not the only, cause of the obligatory celibacy which the Roman Church imposed upon her clergy. Even in the East, where there was no such compulsory celibacy, we find Eusebius stating that it is becoming in those, who are engaged in the ministry of God to abstain from their wives in order to be relieved from family cares and anxieties.1150

1148 Vincentius Bellovacensis, Speculum naturale (Venetijs, 1494), xxx. 43.

1149 Thomas Aquinas, op. cit. ii.-ii. 184, 3.

1150 Eusebius, Demonstratio evangelica, i. 9.

 

CHAPTER X

THE SACRAMENTS

IN previous chapters we have considered two different trends of thought as regards the means of procuring salvation. On the one hand there is the moralistic view that salvation is the reward of a moral life wrought out essentially by our own power, and on the other hand there is the belief that it depends upon divine grace, connected with the faith in Christ as our redeemer through his death on the cross. In the Catholic Church the two views were combined by the idea that merits are the gifts of God, while in Protestantism justification was declared to be due to faith alone and good works to be merely the fruits of faith. But as a matter of fact, whatever importance was attached either to merits or to faith, the doctrine of salvation was at the same time influenced by the belief in a mystical efficacy of sacraments.

What is a sacrament? It was found easier to describe the particular rites called by that name than to give a general definition of it. Augustine made various statements on the notion of the sacrament, but evolved no harmonious theory on the subject. He says that when “the Word is added to the element . . . a sacrament is constituted, itself being, as it were, a visible Word”;1151 and in many passages the sign is described as a figure, although at the same time it is not an empty sign. “It is not that which is seen that feeds, but that which is believed.”1152 The gift conveyed in the Eucharist is a spiritual gift, and the eating and drinking are a spiritual process.1153 That of which we partake is not the sensual flesh, but of this flesh we receive its essence, the spirit which quickens it.1154 The Schoolmen’s doctrine of the sacraments has its root in that of Augustine, but goes beyond it both formally and materially. The “word” disappears behind the sacramental sign, and the conception becomes still more magical. The definition of the Lombard, which lies at the foundation of the later definitions, runs thus: 195 “That is properly called a sacrament which is a sign of the grace of God, and a form of invisible grace in such a way that it bears the image thereof and exists as a cause. Sacraments, therefore, are instituted for the purpose, not merely of signifying, but also of sanctifying.”1155

1151 Augustine, In Joannis evangelium, lxxx. 3.

1152 Idem, Sermo CXII. 5.

1153 Idem, Sermo CXXXI. 1.

1154 Idem, In Joannis evangelium, xxvii. 5.

1155 Petrus Lombard, Sententiæ, iv. 2.

Thomas Aquinas, however, does not accept without guarding clauses the statement that the sacrament “exists as a cause.” He says that it only “in some way” causes grace; that the principal cause of grace is God, who works as the fire does by its warmth, communicating in grace his own nature, and that the sacrament is merely an “instrumental cause,” which acts through the impulse it receives from the principal agent. Anyhow, “the sacraments of the new law are at the same time causes and signs, and hence it is commonly said of them that they effect what they symbolise.”1156 But while the principal cause of grace is God, the humanity of Christ is, so to speak, a conjoined instrument. Yielding himself up as an offering and sacrifice to God, he initiated by his passion the ritual of the Christian religion, “whence it is manifest that the sacraments of the Church have their efficacy principally from the passion of Christ, of which the virtue is in some way united to us through receiving the sacraments, as a sign of which there flowed from Christ as he hung upon the cross water and blood, of which the one relates to baptism, the other to the Eucharist, which are the most potent sacraments.”1157 The ultimate end of the sacrament is life eternal; and a sacrament may thus be defined as “a sign commemorative of what went before, namely, the passion of Christ, and representative of what is effected in us by the passion of Christ, namely, grace, and anticipatory, that is, predictive of future glory.”1158 It must always be a sensible thing, because it corresponds with the nature of man that he should attain to the knowledge of intelligible, through sensible things.1159 Though the inner effect of the sacrament, which is justification, can be produced only by God, a man (the priest), by way of administering it, becomes an instrumental cause of that effect.1160 Whether he is good or bad does not come into account here, since “the instrument does not work by its own form of virtue, but by the virtue of him by whom it is moved.”1161 Bad servants commit a mortal sin when they celebrate the sacraments, but the sin does not extend to the receiver, “who 196 does not communicate with the sin of the bad minister, but with the Church.”1162

1156 Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, iii. 62. 1.

1157 Ibid. iii. 62. 5.

1158 Ibid. iii. 60. 3.

1159 Ibid. iii. 60. 4.

1160 Ibid. iii. 64. 1.

1161 Ibid. iii. 64. 5.

1162 Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, iii. 64. 6.

The doctrine of Thomas underwent afterwards considerable modification from the time of Duns Scotus onwards—although Scotus himself, in spite of his criticism, does not stand very far from him in his doctrine of the sacraments,1163—but became finally dominant. This is noticeable in what the Council of Trent has to say on the subject. In the prologue to the decree of Session vii, it declares that “by means of the sacraments all true righteousness either begins or, having been begun, is increased or, having been lost, is restored.” As in the doctrine of Aquinas, a regard to faith is lacking, and this silence is the more significant since it shows that just the sacrament itself as externally applied is held to be the means of salvation. In the canons, anathema is pronounced on those who assert that man can be justified before God without the sacraments by faith alone;1164 on those who teach that the sacraments are instituted for the sake of only nourishing faith;1165 on those who say that “grace is not conveyed ex opere operato by the sacraments of the new law, but that faith alone in the divine promise is sufficient for obtaining grace.”1166 If the negative definitions which the Council adopted in these and other statements are translated into a positive form, they come close to Thomism. They are really protests against Protestantism.

1163 See Harnack, op. cit. vi (London, 1899), p. 219 sqq.; R. Seeberg, Die Theologie des Johannes Duns Scotus (Leipzig, 1900), p. 346 sqq.

1164 Canones et decreta Concilii Tridentini, sess. vii, can. 4.

1165 Ibid. vii. 5.

1166 Ibid. vii. 8.

Luther insisted that the sacraments do not become efficacious in their being celebrated, but in their being believed in. He maintained that both baptism and the Eucharist, which were the only sacraments recognised by him, work forgiveness of sin and thereby procure life and blessedness, but not without faith. He says that in baptism “this is not done certainly by the water, but by the Word of God, which is with and beside the water, and by the faith which trusts in such Word of God in the water”;1167 and so also the eating of the bread and the drinking of the wine in the Eucharist must be combined with faith in the Word in order to produce forgiveness of sins, for only then it can be said with truth, “This bread is my body, this wine is my blood.”1168 According to Zwingli, on the other hand, “all sacraments are so far from conferring grace that 197 they do not even bring or dispense it. . . . Sacraments are given for a public testimony of that grace which is previously present to each individual. . . . A sacrament is a sign of a sacred thing, that is, of grace which has been given.”1169 Calvin again, tried to steer a middle course between the theories of Luther and Zwingli. He defined a sacrament as “an external sign, by which the Lord seals to our consciences his promises of goodwill towards us, in order to sustain the weakness of our faith, and we in our turn testify our piety towards him, both before himself and before angels as well as men.”1170 But was not the sacrament then a superfluity, since the true will of God was sufficiently known through the Word, and the sacrament could make us no wiser? Calvin makes the reply: “Sacraments bring with them the clearest promises, and, when compared with the Word, have this peculiarity that they represent promises to the life, as if painted in a picture.” They are like seals which are affixed to diplomas and other public deeds, which “are nothing considered in themselves, and would be affixed to no purpose if nothing were written on the parchment, and yet this does not prevent them from sealing and confirming when they are appended to writing.”1171

1167 Luther, ‘Der kleine Catechismus,’ in Sämmtliche Werke, xxi (Erlangen, 1832), p. 17.

1168 Ibid. xxi. 20.

1169 Zwingli, ‘Fidei ratio,’ in Eine Auswahl aus seinen Schriften (Zürich, 1918), p. 748 sq.

1170 Calvin, Institutio Christianæ religionis, iv. 12. 1.

1171 Ibid. iv. 14. 5.

The doctrine of the sacraments was developed under the disadvantage of not knowing for certain to what sacred acts the general conceptions were to be applied. As to their number the greatest vacillation prevailed for centuries. Still, theology had already wrought for long with the number seven, before this number was officially recognised by the Church,1172 which happened in 1439.1173 The only sacred acts in a pre-eminent sense, which had been handed down from ecclesiastical antiquity were baptism and the Eucharist.

1172 Harnack, op. cit. vi. 201 sqq.

1173 Eugene IV., ‘Decretum,’ in Labbe-Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum collectio, xxxi (Venetiis, 1798), col. 1054 sqq.

Baptism was regarded as the bath of regeneration, by which the sins of the past were blotted out. Speaking of “the repentance of baptism,” Hermas says that when we go down into the water we receive the forgiveness of our sins; we “go down under the obligation unto death, but come up appointed unto life.”1174 According to the ‘Didache,’ the pronouncing of the name of Father and Son and the Holy Spirit is essential, but if immersion is not practicable water may be poured upon the 198 head thrice.1175 Personal faith was looked upon as a necessary condition.1176 Tertullian argues that baptism, in order to be effectual to the pardon of sin, presupposes a renunciation of all sinful habits on the part of him who is to receive it; men are admitted to baptism because they have repented and reformed their lives, not in order that they may afterwards repent and reform.1177 The converts from heathenism went through a course of instruction in the principles and doctrines of the gospel, and were subjected to a strict probation before they were admitted to the rite of baptism. Tertullian says that this rite must not be hastily conferred; and recommends delay in the case not only of infants but also of unmarried persons and widows, whom he considers particularly exposed to temptation.1178 He and the Christians of his day were impressed by the belief that the external rite was absolutely necessary to salvation, and thought it better that it should be performed by a layman than that it should not be performed at all. But although he maintains that the laity possess the right to administer baptism in case of necessity, he does not extend this right to women, and stigmatises the attempt on their part to baptise as a most flagrant act of presumption.1179

1174 Hermas, Pastor, ii. 4. 3, iii. 9. 16.

1175 Didache, 7.

1176 Justin Martyr, Apologia I. pro Christianis, 61; Tertullian, De baptismo, 14; idem, De pœnitentia, 6.

1177 Tertullian, De pœnitentia, 6.

1178 Idem, De baptismo, 18.

1179 Ibid. 17; Tertullian, De præscriptione hæreticorum, 41.

Augustine considers likewise baptism indispensable for salvation. Its necessity rests on the “stamp,” and it cannot be rendered invalid by sin or heresy;1180 it may even cause a momentary forgiveness of sin in the case of heretics.1181 But the importance of the Catholic Church is strictly guarded. Baptism is set in the foreground as the grand mystery in the cross of Christ, for according to Paul it is nothing but the similitude of Christ’s death; but the death of Christ crucified is nothing but the remission of sin, that as in him a true death took place, so in us a true remission of sins.1182 Thomas Aquinas asserts that while generally the sacraments as a whole are necessary to salvation, this applies specifically, in the strictest sense, to baptism.1183 It is the medicine for the consequences of the Fall, and lays the basis of the new life. It has thus both a negative and a positive effect. It abolishes the guilt both of original 199 sin and of the previously committed sinful deeds without exception.1184 The penalty is thereby remitted, and the disorder of the passions is rectified, so that man is now capable of resisting or keeping within appointed limits the concupiscence which is involved in his earthly nature.1185 The positive effect of baptism is summed up in the term “regeneration.”1186 Baptism cannot be repeated.1187 It is valid when it is performed with water and with the words of institution, and is regularly dispensed by the priest. Yet in an emergency a deacon,1188 and even a layman, nay a woman, can baptise.1189 The Council of Trent only systematised the earlier doctrine and practice of baptism,1190 which, in fact, had not essentially altered in the Church since the middle of the second century. In the ‘Confession of Augsburg’ the Lutherans asserted the absolute necessity of baptism quite as emphatically as the Tridentine theologians.1191 The Anglican Article XXVII. speaks of baptism as a sign of regeneration “whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church,” the promises of the forgiveness of sin being visibly signed and sealed. The Archbishops’ Commission on Doctrine in the Church of England admits that the baptism of infants cannot clean from actual sin, since no such sin has been committed, but maintains that it “is a means of deliverance from the domination of influences which predispose to sin.”1192

1180 Augustine, De peccato originali, i. 34.

1181 Idem, De baptismo, i. 19.

1182 Idem, Enchiridion, 52.

1183 Thomas Aquinas, op. cit. iii. 66. 2, iii. 68. 1 sq.

1184 Ibid. iii 69. 1 sq.

1185 Ibid. iii. 69. 4.

1186 Ibid. iii. 66. 9, iii. 69. 10.

1187 Ibid. iii. 66. 9.

1188 Ibid. iii. 67. 1.

1189 Ibid. iii. 67. 3 sq.

1190 Canones et decreta Concilii Tridentini, sess. vii.

1191 Augustana Confessio, art. 9.

1192 Doctrine in the Church of England (London, 1938), p. 187.

Infant baptism is a subject of great, though melancholy, interest. We have no testimony regarding it from an earlier time than that of Irenæus1193 and Tertullian, but then it had already become quite general. Tertullian alludes to the custom of having sponsors, who made, in the name of the children brought to the font, those promises which they were unable to make for themselves. He thinks, however, that it is more advantageous to delay baptism till the children are growing up and are able to know Christ; “for why is it necessary for the sponsors also to be thrust into danger?”1194 Augustine, on the other hand, regarded infant baptism as indispensable: even the youngest children who have done nothing sinful pass justly into damnation if they die unbaptised, because they possess 200 original sin and are burdened with concupiscence. He admitted, however, that the punishment of such children was of the mildest sort.1195 Other writers were more severe; Fulgentius condemned to “everlasting punishment in eternal fire” even infants who died in their mother’s womb.1196 But the notion that unbaptised children will be tormented gave gradually way to a more humane opinion. In the middle of the twelfth century Peter Lombard determined that the proper punishment of original sin, when no actual sin is added to it, is loss of heaven and the sight of God, but not positive torment.1197 This doctrine was confirmed by Innocentius III. and shared by the whole troop of the Schoolmen, who assumed the existence of a place called limbus or infernus puerorum, where unbaptised infants will dwell without being subject to torture.1198 But the older view was again set up by the Protestants, who generally maintained that the due punishment of original sin is, in strictness, damnation in hell, although many of them were inclined to think that if a child dies by misfortune before it is baptised, the parents’ sincere intention of baptising it, together with their prayers, will be accepted with God for the deed.1199 Luther, who declared that baptism is useless in the absence of faith,1200 nevertheless retained infant baptism not only as a symbol, but as an efficacious act.1201 The Confession of Augsburg emphatically condemns the doctrine of the Anabaptists that God would not damn a little child for a drop of water.1202 Zwingli regarded the salvation of the unbaptised children of Christians as certain, and hoped apparently for the salvation of all other infants as well.1203 But the damnation of infants who died unbaptised was an acknowledged belief of Calvinism,1204 although an exception was made for the children of pious parents, provided “there is neither sloth, nor contempt, 201 nor negligence.”1205 Yet in the latter part of the eighteenth century Toplady, who was a violent Calvinist, avowed his belief in the universal salvation of all departed infants, whether baptised or unbaptised;1206 and a hundred years later Dr. Hodge thought he was justified in stating that the common belief of evangelical Protestants was that all who die in infancy are saved.1207 The accuracy of this statement, however, seems somewhat doubtful. In 1888 Mr. Prentiss wrote of the doctrine of infant salvation independently of baptism: “My own impression is that, had it been taught as unequivocally in the Presbyterian Church even a third of a century ago by a theologian less eminent than Dr. Hodge for orthodoxy, piety, and weight of character, it would have called forth an immediate protest from some of the more conservative, old-fashioned Calvinists.”1208

1193 Irenæus, Contra hæreses, ii. 22. 4.

1194 Tertullian, De baptismo, 18.

1195 Augustine, De peccatorum meritis et remissione, i. 16; idem, Enchiridion, 93.

1196 Fulgentius, De fide, 27.

1197 Petrus Lombard, op. cit. ii. 33. 5.

1198 W. Wall, The History of Infant-Baptism, i (Oxford, 1862), p. 460 sq.

1199 Ibid. i. 462, 468.

1200 Luther, ‘Der grosse Catechismus,’ in Sämmtliche Werke, xxi (Erlangen, 1832), p. 133.

1201 Ibid. xxi. 136 sqq.

1202 Augustana Confessio, i. 9.

1203 Zwingli, ‘De providentia Dei,’ in Opera, iv (Turici, 1841), p. 125 sqq.

1204 Calvin, op. cit. iv. 15. 10: “Even infants bring their condemnation with them from their mother’s womb; for although they have not yet brought forth the fruits of their unrighteousness, they have its seed included in them. Nay, their whole nature is, as it were, a seed of sin, and, therefore, cannot but be odious and abominable to God”; A. Norton, Tracts concerning Christianity (Cambridge, 1852), p. 179 sqq.

1205 Calvin, op. cit. iv. 15. 22; W. Anderson, ‘Introductory Essay’ to W. Logan, Words of Comfort for Parents Bereaved of Little Children (London, 1851), p. xxi.

1206 A. M. Toplady, Works (London, 1852), p. 645 sq.

1207 C. Hodge, Systematic Theology, i (London and Edinburgh, 1871), p. 26 sq.

1208 G. L. Prentiss, ‘Infant Salvation and its Theological Bearings,’ in The Presbyterian Review, iv (New York, 1883), p. 559. See also Anderson, loc. cit. p. xxiii.

Like the sacrament of baptism, the Eucharist also evidently owes its sacramental character to Paul. He looked upon it as a mystical re-enactment of the death and resurrection of Christ through which the believer participates in his immortality, the bread and wine being an incarnation of his body and blood. A similar conception is found in the Gospel of John, where the following words are put into the mouth of Jesus: “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.”1209 In this respect there was a great resemblance between the teaching of Paul and John and certain mystic saviour cults in the Græco-Roman world, in which the believer shares in and is assimilated to a divine being who dies and is reborn to immortal life.1210 In the case of Pauline Christianity the breaking of bread and the drinking of wine, as well as baptism, were efficacious sacraments, as the instruments of an intimate union with Christ through faith, but they were not sufficient for salvation.

1209 John vi., 54–6.

1210 Supra, p. 118.

The Lord’s Supper soon became the central point both for the worship of the Church and for its very life as a Church, the common meal being a fitting expression of the brotherly unity 202 of the community.1211 It is said in the ‘Didache’: “On the Lord’s day do ye assemble and break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions, in order that your sacrifice may be pure. But every one that hath controversy with his friend, let him not come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned.”1212 Agapes, or love-feasts, were held in connection with the Supper, and the bread and wine for the holy celebration were taken out of the payments in kind that were necessary for them. The presentation of the elements for the holy ordinance was also extended to the offering of gifts for the poor brethren.1213 The wealthy and the willing, for every one is at liberty, contribute as they think fitting; and this collection is deposited with the bishop, who out of this relieves the orphan and the widow, and such as are in bonds, and strangers that come from afar.1214

1211 Cf. 1 Corinthians x. 17, xii. 13.

1212 Didache, 14.

1213 Supra, p. 84.

1214 Justin, op. cit. 67.

But in the first place the Lord’s Supper was a blessing to the individual who partook of it. Ignatius calls the breaking of bread “the medicine of immortality, our antidote that we should not die, but live for ever in Christ Jesus.”1215 As to the connection between the elements and the body and blood of Christ, he seems to have expressed himself in a strictly realistic way in several passages,1216 but in others he gives evidence of a very different conception, as when he equates the flesh of the Lord partaken of at the Supper with faith and the blood with love,1217 or when he calls the blood “incorruptible love”1218 and the gospel “the flesh of Christ.”1219 Justin, on the other hand, presupposed the identity, miraculously produced by the Logos, of the consecrated bread and the body he had assumed; in this we have undoubtedly to recognise an influence of pagan mysteries where “bread and a cup of water, with a certain form of words” were made use of as an initiation ceremony, according to Justin at the instigation of evil spirits.1220 Tertullian says that owing to the devil the consecration of the bread in the Eucharist was imitated in the mysteries of Mithra.1221 Harnack observes that “there was plainly a remodelling of the ritual in imitation of the ancient mysteries and of the heathen sacrificial system,” and that this fact is admitted by Protestant scholars of all 203 parties.1222 But the doctrine in question is essentially that of Paul, and there is no reason to suppose that the pagan influence was only of a later date.

1215 Ignatius, Epistola ad Ephesios, 20.

1216 See, for example, idem, Epistola ad Smyrnæos, 7.

1217 Idem, Epistola ad Trallianos, 8.

1218 Idem, Epistola ad Romanos, 7.

1219 Idem, Epistola ad Philodelphenses, 5.

1220 Justin, op. cit. 66.

1221 Tertullian, De præscriptione hæreticorum, 40.

1222 Harnack, op. cit. ii. 138.

Clement and Origen, like Ignatius, assign a spiritual significance to the flesh and blood of Christ. According to the former, “there is a twofold blood of the Lord: the one carnal, by which we are redeemed from corruption, the other spiritual, by which we are anointed,”1223 “His notion,” says Bishop Kaye, “seems to have been that by partaking of the bread and wine in the Eucharist, the soul of the believer is united to the Spirit, and that by this union the principle of immortality is imparted to the flesh.”1224 In Origen’s view the eucharistic body is only the word of God or of Logos as being a substitute for his appearance in the flesh; whenever he speaks of the Supper, or in a more general sense of eating of the flesh or of the drinking of the blood of Christ, he does this without any reference to the body which he had as a man or to the blood which flowed in the veins of this body.1225 But Origen’s disciple Gregory of Nyssa maintained that the actual body of Christ as immortal is the only remedy against death, and that it therefore must be partaken of bodily in the Supper; through the act of consecration the bread and wine are changed into the flesh and blood of the Lord in order that by partaking of them our body may be transformed into the body of Christ.1226 Chrysostom agreed with Gregory in the assumption of an essentially corporeal effect of the participation, and speaks like him of a refashioning and transforming of the elements which Christ effects through the priest by means of the invocation. He says that Christ, in proof of his love, has given us his body pierced with nails, “that we might hold it in our hands and eat it; for we often bite those whom we love much.”1227 The classical doctrine of the Lord’s Supper in the Greek Church up to the present day is that of John of Damascus, who perfected the conception of the identity of the eucharistic and the real body of Christ. By 204 the Holy Ghost bread and wine are received into the body of Christ. The eucharistic body is that which was born of the virgin, not, however, by a transubstantiation, as if the body of Christ descended suddenly from heaven and took the place of the elements, but by a transformation and assumption, just as in the incarnation. The bread-body is received into the real body and is thus identical with it.1228

1223 Clement of Alexandria, Pædagogus, ii. 2 (Migne, Ser. Græca, viii. 409).

1224 J. Kaye, Some Account of the Writings and Opinions of Clement of Alexandria (London, s.d.), p. 265.

1225 G. E. Steitz, ‘Die Abendmahlslehre der griechischen Kirche in ihrer geschichtlichen Entwickelung,’ in Jahrbücher für deutsche Theologie x (Gotha, 1865), p. 99.

1226 Gregory of Nyssa, Oratio catechetica magna, 37. Cf. Steitz, loc. cit. p. 466 sqq.

1227 Chrysostom, In Epistolam primam ad Corinthios Homilia XXIV. 4; Steitz, loc. cit. x. p. 466 sqq.

1228 John of Damascus, De fide orthodoxa, iv. 13. Cf. Steitz, loc. cit. xii (1867), pp. 216, 275 sqq.

Roman Catholic writers are desirous to allege Tertullian’s authority in support of the doctrine of transubstantiation. He speaks indeed of “the feeding on the fatness of the Lord’s body, that is, on the Eucharist,”1229 and of “our flesh being fed on the body and blood of Christ, in order that our soul may be sated with God.”1230 But when compared with other passages in his writings these appear to have been used in a figurative sense.1231 And in other places he expressly calls the bread only the representation of the body of Christ.1232 So also Augustine resists the realistic interpretation of the Supper.1233 But towards the end of the period of Louis the Pious, Paschasius Radbertus asserted as doctrine what had been felt by the majority, that the real historical body of Christ is sacrificed in the Mass and partaken of in the Lord’s Supper.1234 At the beginning of the thirteenth century the doctrine of transubstantiation was practically settled by the Lateran Council of 1215. The words run: “There is one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which no one whatever can be saved, in which Jesus Christ is at once priest and sacrifice, whose body and blood are truly contained in the sacrifice of the altar under the appearances of bread and wine, the bread being transubstantiated into the body, and the wine into the blood by divine power, so that for the effecting of the mystery of unity we receive of his what he received of ours. And this sacrament especially no one can administer but the priest who has been duly ordained according to the Church authority which Jesus Christ himself gave to the Apostles and their successors.”1235 The conception of the 205 Eucharist as a sacrifice is already found in the early Church;1236 and Cyprian’s statement that every celebration of the Lord’s Supper is a repetition or imitation of Christ’s sacrifice of himself, and therefore has an expiatory value, still continues to be repeated by the Romish Church to the present day.1237 While Greek Catholicism interpreted the Eucharist as the mystery whereby life eternal was mediated to the faithful, the Eucharist of Latin Catholicism centred more upon the sacrifice, forgiveness rather than immortality being mediated by it.1238

1229 Tertullian, De pudicitia, 9.

1230 Idem, De resurrectione carnis, 8.

1231 See John, bishop of Bristol, The Ecclesiastical History of the Second and Third Centuries illustrated from the Writings of Tertullian (London, s.d.), p. 224 sq.

1232 Tertullian, Adversus Marcionem, i. 14, iii. 19, iv. 40; idem, Ad uxorem, ii. 5; idem, De anima, 17; idem, Adversus Judæos, 10.

1233 Augustine, Enarratio in Psalmum xcviii. 9; supra, p. 194.

1234 Harnack, op. cit. v. 311 sqq.

1235 Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum collectio, xxii. 982.

1236 See supra, p. 202; Harnack, op. cit. i. 209 n. 1.

1237 Harnack, op. cit. ii. 137 sq.

1238 Cf. J. Moffatt, The First Five Centuries of the Church (London, 1938), p. 145.

Thomas Aquinas, who gives a systematic exposition of the notion of transubstantiation,1239 says of the effects of the Eucharist that it conveys grace, gives aid for eternal life, blots out venial sins but not mortal sins, guards against future transgressions, and as a sacrifice profits the spectators also, although it as a sacrament profits only the receiver.1240 Although in strict theory comparatively slight results were attributed to the Eucharist as a sacrifice, the people looked upon it as much more important than the sacrament, which formed the central part of divine service. And the dignity of the priest came most distinctly to view when he in the Mass appeared as priest of the body of Christ and in a very real sense as the mediator between God and men. But the doctrine of transubstantiation increased the dignity of the priest also in his capacity of administering the sacrament because, in order that the wine might not be spilt and the sacrament thereby profaned, it was considered safer that the layman should receive it only in the form of the bread, while the priest drank the cup in the name of all.1241 In defiance of history, the Council of Trent alleged that the doctrine of transubstantiation had always prevailed in the Church.1242

1239 Thomas Aquinas, op. cit. iii. 73 sqq.

1240 Ibid. iii. 79. 1–4, 6 sq.

1241 Ibid. iii. 80. 12.

1242 Canones et decreta Concilii Tridentini, sess. xiii, ch. 3 sq.

Luther rejected the Scholastic doctrine of transubstantiation on the grounds that it lacks support in revelation and is not the most reasonable way of asserting the presence of the real flesh and blood of Christ; but he does not claim that all others also should reject it. His own opinion is that in the consecrated sacrament the substances of the bread and wine remain, although the real flesh and blood of Christ are there also. Why should not Christ be able to include his body within the substance of the bread as well as within the accidents? “In the 206 sacrament it is not necessary to the presence of the real body and real blood that the bread and wine should be transubstantiated, so that Christ may be contained beneath the accidents; but while both bread and wine continue there, it can be said with truth, ‘This bread is my body, this wine is my blood,’ and conversely.”1243 When Melanchthon went to hold conferences with Butzer, Luther could give him the instruction, that “in and with the bread the body of Christ is truly partaken of, that accordingly all that takes place actively and passively in the bread takes place actively and passively in the body of Christ, that the latter is distributed, eaten and masticated with the teeth.”1244 Brenz, who after Luther’s death was among the most active opponents of union with the Reformed theologians, asks what would be the consequence if, by any accident, the consecrated bread were eaten by a mouse. He decides that the mouse would have eaten the true body of Christ.1245

1243 Luther, ‘De captivitate Babylonica ecclesiæ præludium. 1520,’ in Werke, vi (Weimar, 1888), p. 508 sqq.

1244 Harnack, op. cit. vii. 264.

1245 D. Schenkel, Das Wesen des Protestantismus, i (Schaffhausen, 1845), p. 563 sq.

Zwingli allowed only a symbolical explanation of the body and blood of Christ in the sacrament. Calvin, again, stood between Zwingli and Luther: the body of Christ is not now present on earth anywhere as substance, but it is present as power, and in the Eucharist it is so to our benefit.1246 The Socinians expressly rejected the Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinistic doctrines of the Supper, and attempted to restore to the Eucharist its original meaning. The Racovian Catechism of 1609, in which their doctrines are set forth in detail, says that “it is an institution of the Lord Christ, that believers in him should break and eat bread and drink of a cup together, with the view of commemorating him, or showing forth his death.” He is said to have instituted that rite because he wished the remembrance of this to be above all other things celebrated in the Church; for of all the actions which he undertook with a view to our salvation, his death was the most difficult and exhibited the strongest proof of his love towards us.1247

1246 Calvin, op. cit. iv. 17. 18.

1247 The Racovian Catechism (London, 1818), p. 263 sq.

The sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist are rooted in magical ideas, and the efficacy ascribed to them has always retained a more or less magical character. In the Report of the Archbishops’ Commission on Doctrine in the Church of 207 England it is said that there is “at once a sharp distinction of Sacraments from magic. In magic the use of the formula is held to enable the wizard to control powers other than human. Belief in the efficacy of Sacraments is rooted in faith in the revealed will of God to bestow gifts of grace through certain appointed signs.”1248 But then, how is it that the appointed signs are so similar to certain pagan rites with which Christianity had come into contact, and which certainly contained a lot of magic? Wizards are not necessary for the performance of magical acts. In magic man simply makes use of supernatural means which act mechanically. Eusebius tells the story of a sick old man who was longing to die, and whose wish was fulfilled by a few drops from a moistened piece of Eucharistic bread being dropped into his mouth.1249 But in the case of the Eucharist there really is a wizard who administers it, or what else shall I call the priest who, according to the main tradition of the Church, has to celebrate the rite in order to make it valid?1250 Is he not supposed to possess some quality capable of bringing about a supernatural effect which other persons lack? The bishop of Birmingham, who was not a member of the Commission, writes that the modern world rejects as an absurdity such priestly pretensions as this that any priest could associate the spiritual presence of Christ with the consecrated elements of bread and wine.1251

1248 Doctrine in the Church of England, p. 128.

1249 Eusebius, Historia ecclesiastica, vi. 44.

1250 Doctrine in the Church of England, p. 132.

1251 The bishop of Birmingham (E. W. Barnes), ‘Foreword,’ in The Church and the Twentieth Century, edited by G. L. H. Harvey (London, 1936), p. xv.

For the saving effect attributed to baptism and the Eucharist there is no moral justification. A righteous God does not forgive a sinner unless he repents, and if he repents he is forgiven without any external rite. Repentance is not much spoken of in connection with those sacraments. In the case of baptism it was formerly expected of converts. In Tertullian’s time the teachers who undertook to prepare the catechumens for reception at the baptismal font insisted on the necessity of repentance and amendment of life.1252 But he tells us that when the proselyte heard that baptism conferred upon him who received it the remission of all his former sins, he persuaded himself that he might with safety defer the work of repentance, and passed the time allotted for his probation in a more unrestrained enjoyment of those worldly and sensual pleasures 208 in which he knew that after baptism he could not indulge without forfeiting his hopes of eternal happiness. So general had this practice become that Tertullian devotes a considerable portion of the tract De pœnitentia to the exposure of its wickedness.1253 When infant baptism was introduced repentance ceased of course even nominally to be required of him who was going to be baptised.

1252 Tertullian, De pœnitentia, 1–5.

1253 See particularly ibid. 6.

While baptism blots out the sins of the past, the Roman Catholic Church has another sacrament for the remission of sins committed afterwards, that of penance, which became practically the most important means of grace. Certain statements of Jesus1254 left no doubt as to the general power vested in the Church to forgive all manner of sins; such is the belief reasserted in the decree Lamentabili of 3rd July 1907. In the earliest times it was held by the Christian Church that after baptism, while lighter sins needed only to be confessed to the gracious God,1255 serious sins excluded the offender altogether from the community.1256 But this rigorous practice was soon broken through, and by a public confession of sins even gross sinners were allowed restoration, though at first not more than once. Hermas gives assurances of forgiveness for all sins except blasphemy against the Lord and betrayal of the brethren; but “to the servants of God there is but one repentance”1257—a restriction which later writers apply to public penance only.1258 Tertullian treats as a fixed regulation a custom established in the course of the latter half of the second century, according to which a baptised person in the case of a first relapse might be restored to the favour of God and of the Church by making a public confession of his guilt. It was not sufficient that the offender felt the deepest remorse: he was required to express his contrition by some public acts which consisted in various external marks of humility. The penitent was clothed in the meanest apparel; he lay in sack-cloth and ashes; he either fasted entirely or lived upon bread and water; he passed whole days and nights in tears and lamentations, he embraced the knees of the presbyters as they entered the church, and entreated the brethren to intercede by their prayers in his behalf. In this state of degradation and exclusion from the communion of the 209 faithful he remained a longer or a shorter period, according to the magnitude of his offence; and when that period was expired the bishop publicly pronounced his absolution, by which he was restored to the favour of God and to the communion of the Church.1259 The benefits of this penance could be obtained only once.1260 But although a penitent who relapsed could not be reconciled to the Church in this world, Tertullian does not exclude him from all hope of pardon in the next. He expressly distinguishes between remission of sins by the Church and by God; and affirms that the sincere penitent, though he may not by his tears and lamentations obtain readmission into the Church, may yet secure his reception into the kingdom of heaven.1261 In the tract De pœnitentia he spoke as if all crimes committed after baptism might once, though only once, be pardoned upon repentance.1262 But in the tract De pudicitia, which was written after he became a Montanist, we find him drawing a distinction between greater and less offences, between those which could not and those which could be pardoned by the Church.1263 Among the venial sins he classes such as being angry without a cause and allowing the sun to go down upon our wrath, acts of violence, evil-speaking, rash swearing, non-performance of contracts, and white lies; and among the heinous sins, homicide, idolatry, fraud, denial of Christ, blasphemy, adultery, fornication,1264 and even second marriages.1265 Of these he says that there is no remission, and that even Christ will not intercede for those who commit them. De pudicitia was directed against an edict, issued by Pope Calixtus, which allowed adulterers and fornicators to be readmitted to the communion of the Church if they had done penance. In another tract Tertullian maintained that the stain of mortal sin after baptism could only be washed away by martyrdom, by the baptism of the sinner in his own blood.1266 The milder practice with regard to the sins of the flesh prevailed, and in the latter part of the third century certain concessions were allowed in the case of relapse into idolatry. Moreover, the assumption that there can be only one repentance after baptism became untenable.1267

1254 Matthew xvi. 19, xviii. 18; John xx. 21–3.

1255 1 John i. 9.

1256 F. Loofs, Leitfaden zum Studium der Dogmengeschichte (Halle, 1906), p. 205.

1257 Hermas, Pastor, iii. 9. 19, ii. 4. 1.

1258 Tertullian, De pœnitentia, 7, 9; Origen, Homilia in Leviticum, xv. 2; Ambrose, De pœnitentia, ii. 95.

1259 Tertullian, De pudicitia 5, 13, 18.

1260 Idem, De pœnitentia, 7, 9.

1261 Idem, De pudicitia, 3, 11, 18.

1262 Idem, De pœnitentia, 8.

1263 Idem, De pudicitia, 1, 2, 18.

1264 Ibid. 19.

1265 Ibid. 1.

1266 Tertullian, Scorpiace, 6.

1267 Harnack, op. cit. ii. 111 sq.

An important change was that private confession in the presence of the priest became the rule. This state of matters 210 began in the Iro-Scottish Church, where penitential regulations were drawn up for the laity, who were directed to confess their sins to the priest, as the monks had long been enjoined to do in their cloisters. From Ireland books dealing with penance came to the Anglo-Saxons and Franks and to Rome.1268 The Fourth Lateran Council definitely laid down the rule that “every believer of either sex, after arriving at the years of discretion, must by himself faithfully confess all his sins at least once a year to his own priest, and must study to carry out to the best of his ability the repentance enjoined upon him.”1269

1268 Harnack, op. cit. v. 325.

1269 Mansi, xxii. 1007 sqq.

This doctrine appears in perfected form in Thomas Aquinas. He shows that penance is a sacrament, and that the words “I absolve thee” are the form of it; for this sacrament receives its full effect from those things which are spoken by the priest. These words have been appointed by Christ (Matthew xvi); and the general rule that God alone forgives sin is not violated by the priest’s absolution, since the priests are “authorised ministers.”1270 The salvation of the sinner—that is, that his sin be removed from him—is not possible without the sacrament of penance, in which there operates the virtue of Christ’s passion through the absolution of the priest together with the work of the penitent, who co-operates with grace for the destruction of sin. “When once anyone has fallen into sin, love, faith, and mercy do not deliver the man from sin without penitence; for love requires that a man grieve for the offence committed against his friend, and that a man be anxious to satisfy his friend; faith also requires that he seek to be justified from his sins through the virtue of the passion of Christ, which operates in the sacraments of the Church; rightly directed mercy also requires that a man find a remedy in his repenting for the misery into which his sin has plunged him.”1271 “Penitence is twofold, namely, internal and external. That is internal penitence in which one grieves over sin committed, and such penitence ought to last till the close of life. . . . That is external penitence in which one shows external signs of grief, and verbally confesses his sins to the priest who absolves him, and makes satisfaction according to the priest’s judgment; and such penitence does not need to continue till the end of life, but only for a time determined by the measure of the sin.”1272 Thomas—as others had done before him—distinguishes between attrition and contrition: the former is a certain displeasure over sins committed, but only an approach to perfect contrition, 211 which is a perfect penitent disposition.1273 As to the necessity of confession, he points out that though according to divine law only those guilty of mortal sin after baptism are obliged to confess, yet according to positive law (that is, the decree of the Council of 1215) all Christians must confess at least once a year,1274 and that a dispensation exempting from confession can on no account whatever be given.1275 As to the administrator of confession it is said that as “he only is the minister of the sacraments in which grace is given who has a ministry in connection with the true body of Christ,” confession must be made to him only.1276 But it is conceded that “in case of necessity a layman supplies the place of the priest, so that it is possible to make confession to him.”1277 Thomas very strongly accentuates the reticence of the minister: “it is of the essence of the sacrament that one conceal confession, and he sins as a violator of the sacraments who reveals confession.”1278 The confession made before the priest is followed by absolution. Thomas has developed the doctrine of “the power of the keys,” and pointed out that the priest’s absolution is “the instrumental cause” of the forgiveness of sin.1279 He explains that even the bad priest retains the keys.1280 But absolution is preceded by the appointment of satisfaction, if such has not already been made; here the priest acts as a skilled physician and impartial judge.1281 This performance is the necessary manifestation of sorrow through works that are fitted to furnish a certain satisfaction to the injured God, especially prayer, fasting, and alms.1282 It is shown that one can render satisfaction for another; yet this thesis has its guarding clauses.1283

1270 Thomas Aquinas, op. cit. iii. 84. 1, 3.

1271 Ibid. iii. 84. 5.

1272 Ibid. iii. 84. 8.

1273 Ibid. iii. Suppl. 1. 2.

1274 Ibid. iii. Suppl. 6. 3.

1275 Ibid. iii. Suppl. 6. 6.

1276 Ibid. iii. Suppl. 8. 1.

1277 Ibid. iii. Suppl. 8. 2.

1278 Ibid. iii. Suppl. 11.

1279 Ibid. iii. Suppl. 17 sqq.

1280 Ibid. iii. Suppl. 19. 5.

1281 Ibid. iii. Suppl. 12 sqq.

1282 Ibid. iii. Suppl. 15. 3.

1283 Ibid. iii. Suppl. 13. 2.

Thomas’ doctrine of the sacrament of penitence underwent modifications made by the Scotists,1284 but it became permanent in substance. The Council of Trent declared that “the universal Church has always understood that the entire confession of sins is of divine right necessary for all who have fallen after baptism, because Christ has left behind him priests, representatives of himself, as overseers and judges to whom all mortal offences are to be made known”;1285 and it pronounced anathema on any one who shall deny that, “for the entire and perfect 212 remission of sins, three acts are required in the penitent, forming, as it were, the material of the sacrament of penance, namely contrition, confession, and satisfaction, which are called the three parts of penance.”1286 Thus the party which declared attrition to be enough for saving reception of the sacrament did not succeed in asserting itself. At the same time attrition is called “imperfect contrition” and is described as “a gift of God and an impulse of the Holy Spirit”; and it is said that although attrition cannot of itself conduct the sinner to justification, “it disposes him to obtain the grace of God in the sacrament of penance.”1287

1284 D. A. W. Dieckhoff, Der Ablassstreit (Gotha, 1886), p. 19 sq.

1285 Canones et decreta Concilii Tridentini, sess. xiv, ch. 4.

1286 Canones et decreta Concilii Tridentini, sess. xiv, can. 4.

1287 Ibid. sess. xiv, ch. 4.

For the inner penitent temper, the confession of sin, and the satisfaction, Luther substituted repentance alone, which he conceived of as the crushed feeling about sin awakened by faith, and he also abolished the necessity for priestly co-operation by substituting for the Catholic sacrament of penance the thought of justification by faith. This became the general Protestant doctrine. In England the Wesleyans have Church discipline, and so had the Calvinistic and Presbyterian bodies, but no confession, while the Salvation Army practises and recommends public confession. The Anglicans do not prescribe auricular confession, but merely advise it, when necessary, to satisfy one’s conscience, and to the sick if they feel their conscience troubled. The Oxford Movement revived it to a considerable extent.1288 It should be noticed that confession, even when unconnected with any formal absolution, serves as a means of purgation. We find this also among savages. “The Akikuyu of British East Africa hold that sin is essentially remissible, and one needs only to confess it. The confession is made, usually, to a sorcerer or to a medicine-man who expels the sin by a ceremony in which one subjects himself to the effects of a pretended emetic, kotahikio, a word derived from tahikia, ‘to vomit.’” Such a view is found among some American Indians as well, the words “to vomit” and “to confess” being synonymous, or nearly so.1289

1288 E. L. van Becelaere, ‘Penance (Roman Catholic),’ in J. Hastings, Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, ix (Edinburgh, 1917), p. 715.

1289 H. S. Darlington, ‘The Confession of Sins,’ in The Psychoanalytic Review, xxiv (1937), p. 150 sq.

The sacrament of penance differs from the other sacraments by having a distinctly ethical foundation. The starting-point is the contrition, or at any rate attrition, of the penitent, while the real sacrament is the external acts of him and the priest.1290 213 But as the contrition did not constitute the actual sacrament, the opinion could easily creep in that in the case of sacramental penitence the addition of the sacrament completes the imperfect contrition; and as a matter of fact this opinion became dominant.1291 The priest became the most important person. As Joh. von Paltz says, very few men are really contrite, though every one can bring himself in the end to an imperfect contrition, and then the priest, through the sacrament of penance, transfers the imperfect contrition into a perfect one and saves the soul of the penitent.1292 The satisfaction preceding absolution, again, became a sheer travesty through the practice of indulgences, which implied the exchange of more arduous penitential acts for very small performances, such as the payment of penance money—with such excellent result that the Church dispensed from the temporal pains of purgatory all, whether living or departed, who either themselves or vicariously performed those ecclesiastical exercises.

1290 See Thomas Aquinas, op. cit. iii. 84. 1.

1291 Dieckhoff, op. cit. p. 12.

1292 J. von Paltz, Cœlifodina, published 1510, quoted by Dieckhoff, op. cit.

The practice and theory of indulgences were strenuously attacked by Wyclif and Huss, by Wesel and Wessel, and, as everybody knows, by Luther. But his own doctrine that only such repentance has value before God as springs from faith, is also open to severe criticism, though of a very different kind. It alienates repentance widely from the sphere of morality, and is fraught with serious consequences. It makes it as constant as faith. The first of Luther’s ninety-five theses runs: “Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ in saying: ‘Repent ye,’ etc., intended that the whole life of believers should be penitence.” A Lutheran theologian remarks that if men are told that they must constantly repent, and that particular acts of repentance are of no use, there are few who will ever repent.1293

1293 Harnack, op. cit. vii. 252 sq.

 

CHAPTER XI

CHRISTIANITY AND THE REGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE

IN the preceding chapters we have studied Christian ethics as expressed in theories of salvation, and examined how far these theories are in agreement with the nature of our moral emotions. The remaining portion of the book will be devoted to a discussion of the influence which Christianity has exercised in concrete cases upon ideas and behaviour within different branches of morality.

It inspired a greater regard for human life than was felt anywhere in pagan society. The extraordinary importance it attached to this earthly life as a preparation for the life to come naturally increased the guilt of any one who, by cutting it short, not only killed the body, but probably to all eternity injured the soul; and in a still higher degree than most other crimes, homicide was regarded as an offence against God, because man had been made in his image.1294 Gratian says that even the slayer of a Jew or a heathen has to undergo a severe penance, “quia imaginem Dei et spem futuræ conversionis exterminat.”1295 The early Christians, in fact, condemned homicide of any kind as a heinous sin; and in this, as in all other questions of moral concern, the distinction of nationality or race was ignored by them.

1294 L. Thomassin, Dictionnaire de discipline ecclésiastique, ii (Paris, 1856), pp. 1069, 1074.

1295 Gratian, Decretum, i. 50, 40.

The sanctity which they attached to the life of every human being led to a total condemnation of warfare, sharply contrasting with the prevailing sentiment in the Roman Empire. In accordance with the general spirit of their religion, as also with special passages in the Bible,1296 they considered war unlawful in all circumstances. Justin Martyr quotes the prophecy of Isaiah, that “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more,”1297 and proceeds to say that the instruction in the Word of God which was given by the 215 twelve Apostles “had so good effect that we, who heretofore were continually devouring each other, will not now so much as lift up our hand against our enemies.”1298 Lactantius asserts that “to engage in war cannot be lawful for the righteous man, whose warfare is that of righteousness itself.”1299 Tertullian asks: “Can it be lawful to handle the sword, when the Lord himself has declared that he who uses the sword shall perish by it?”1300 And in another passage he states that “the Lord by his disarming of Peter disarmed every soldier from that time forward.”1301 Origen calls the Christians the children of peace, who, for the sake of Jesus, never take up the sword against any nation; who fight for their monarch by praying for him, but who take no part in his wars, even though he urge them.1302 It is true that even in early times Christian soldiers were not unknown; Tertullian alludes to such as were engaged in military pursuits together with their heathen countrymen.1303 But the number of Christians enrolled in the army seems not to have been very considerable before the era of Constantine,1304 and though they were not cut off from the Church, their profession was looked upon as hardly compatible with their religion. Basil says that soldiers, after their term of military service has expired, are to be excluded from the sacrament of the communion for three whole years.1305 And according to one of the canons of the Council of Nice, those Christians who, having abandoned the profession of arms, afterwards returned to it, “as dogs to their vomit,” were for some years to occupy in the Church the place of penitents.1306

1296 Matthew v. 9, 39, 44, xxvi. 52; Romans xii. 17; Ephesians vi. 12.

1297 Isaiah ii. 4.

1298 Justin, Apologia I. pro Christianis, 39.

1299 Lactantius, Divinæ institutiones, vi (‘De vero cultu’), 20.

1300 Tertullian, De corona, 11.

1301 Idem, De idolatria, 19.

1302 Origen, Contra Celsum, v. 33, viii. 73.

1303 Tertullian, Apologeticus, 42.

1304 E. Le Blant, Inscriptions chrétiennes de la Gaule antérieures au VIII. siècle, i (Paris, 1856), p. 84 sqq.

1305 Basil, Epistola CLXXXVIII., ad Amphilochium, can. 13 (Migne, Patrologiæ cursus, Ser. Græca, xxxii. 681 sq.).

1306 Concilium Nicænum, A.D. 325, can. 12 (Labbe-Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum collectio, ii. 674).

A divine law which prohibited all resistance to enemies could certainly not be accepted by the State, especially at a time when the Empire was seriously threatened by foreign invaders. Christianity could therefore never become a State religion unless it gave up its attitude towards war. And it gave it up. In 314 a Council condemned soldiers who, from religious motives, deserted their colours.1307 Athanasius, “the 216 father of orthodoxy,” ventured to say that it was not only permissible, but praiseworthy, to kill enemies in war.1308 Ambrose eulogised the warlike courage which prefers death to bondage and disgrace, and claimed the Old Testament warriors as spiritual ancestors; nay, he adopted the classical maxim that one who does not defend a friend from injury is as much at fault as he who commits the injury.1309 Augustine, who was forced to face the question by the havoc of the Teutonic migrations and the peril of the Empire, explored the subject very fully. He tried to prove that the practice of war was quite compatible with the teaching of the New Testament. The soldiers who were seeking for a knowledge of salvation were not directed to throw aside their arms and renounce their profession, but were advised to be content with their wages.1310 St. Peter baptised Cornelius, the centurion, in the name of Christ, without exhorting him to give up the military life.1311 St. Paul himself took care to have a strong guard of soldiers for his defence.1312 And was not the history of David, the “man after God’s own heart,” an evidence of those being wrong who say that “no one who wages war can please God.”1313 When Christ declared that “all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword,” he referred to such persons only as arm themselves to shed the blood of others without either command or permission of any lawful authority.1314 A great deal depends on the causes for which men undertake war, and on the authority they have for doing so. Those wars are just which are waged with a view to obtaining redress for wrongs, or to chastising the undue arrogance of another State. The monarch has the power of making war when he thinks it advisable, and, even if he be a sacrilegious king, a Christian may fight under him, provided that what he enjoined upon the soldier personally is not contrary to the precept of God.1315 In short, though peace is our final good, though in the City of God there is peace in eternity,1316 war may sometimes be a necessity in this sinful world.

1307 Concilium Arelatense I., A.D. 314, can. 3 (Labbe-Mansi, op. cit. ii. 471). Cf. Le Blant, op. cit. i. lxxxii.

1308 Athanasius, ‘Epistola ad Amunem monachum,’ in Migne, Patrologiæ cursus, Ser. Græca, xxiii. 1173.

1309 Ambrose, De officiis ministrorum, i. 35, 36, 40.

1310 Augustine, Epistola CXXXVIII. ad Marcellinum, 15 (Migne, Patrologiæ cursus, xxxiii. 531 sq.).

1311 Idem, Epistola CLXXXIX. ad Bonifacium, 4 (Migne, xxxiii. 855).

1312 Idem, Epistola XLVII. ad Publicolam, 5 (Migne, xxxiii. 187).

1313 Idem, Epistola CLXXXIX. ad Bonifacium, 4 (Migne, xxxiii. 855).

1314 Idem, Contra Faustum Manichæum, xxii. 70.

1315 Ibid. xxii. 75.

1316 Idem, De civitate Dei, xix. 11.

By the writings of Augustine the theoretical attitude of the Church towards war was definitely settled, and later theologians 217 only reproduced or further elaborated his view. Thomas Aquinas says that there are three requisites for a war to be just. The first thing is the authority of the prince by whose command the war is to be waged. It does not belong to a private person to start a war, for he can prosecute his claim in the court of his superior. But since the care of the commonwealth is entrusted to princes, it belongs to them not only to defend it with the sword against inward disturbances by punishing malefactors, but also to protect it from enemies without by the sword of war. The second requisite is a just cause, so that they who are assailed should deserve to be assailed for some fault that they have committed; as Augustine says: “Just wars are usually defined as those which avenge injuries, in cases where a nation or city has to be chastised for having either neglected to punish the wicked doings of its people, or neglected to restore what has been wrongfully taken away.” The third requisite is a right intention of promoting good or avoiding evil; as Augustine says: “Eagerness to hurt, bloodthirsty desire to revenge, an untamed and unforgiving temper, ferocity in renewing the struggle, lust of empire,—these and the like excesses are justly blamed in war.”1317

1317 Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, ii.-ii. 40. 1.

Yet it was not with a perfectly safe conscience that the Church thus sanctioned the practice of war. There was a feeling that a soldier scarcely could make a good Christian. In the middle of the fifth century, Leo the Pope declared it to be contrary to the rules of the Church that persons after the action of penance—that is, persons then considered to be pre-eminently bound to obey the law of Christ—should revert to the profession of arms.1318 Various Councils forbade the clergy to engage in warfare,1319 and certain canons excluded from ordination all who 218 had served in an army after baptism.1320 Penance was prescribed for those who had shed blood on the battle-field.1321 Thus the ecclesiastical canons made in William the Conqueror’s reign by the Norman prelates, and confirmed by the Pope, directed that he who was aware that he had killed a man in a battle should do penance for one year, and that he who had killed several should do a year’s penance for each.1322 Occasionally the Church seemed to wake up to the evils of war in a more effective way: there are several notorious instances of wars being forbidden by popes. But in such cases the prohibition was only too often due to the fact that some particular war was disadvantageous to the interests of the Church. And while doing comparatively little to discourage wars which did not interfere with her own interests, the Church did all the more to excite war against those who were objects of her hatred.

1318 Leo Magnus, Epistola XC. ad Rusticum, 12 (Migne, liv. 1206 sq.).

1319 One of the Apostolic Canons requires that any bishop, priest, or deacon who devotes himself to military service shall be degraded from his ecclesiastical rank (Canones ecclesiastici qui dicuntur Apostolorum, 83 [74] [C. C. J. Bunsen, Analecta Ante-Nicæna, ii, London, 1854, p. 31]). The Councils of Toulouse, in 633 (ch. 45, in Labbe-Mansi, x. 630), and of Meaux, in 845 (can. 37, ibid. xiv. 827), condemned to a similar punishment those of the clergy who ventured to take up arms. Gratian says (Decretum, ii. 23. 8. 4) that the Church refuses to pray for the soul of a priest who died on the battle-field. But notwithstanding the canons of Councils and the decrees of popes, ecclesiastics frequently participated in battles (Nicolaus I., Epistolæ et Decreta, 83 [Migne, cxix. 922]; W. Robertson, The History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V., i [London, 1806], pp. 330, 385; R. Ward, An Enquiry into the Foundation and History of the Law of Nations in Europe from the Time of the Greeks and Romans to the Age of Grotius, i [London, 1795], p. 365 sq.; H. T. Buckle, History of Civilization in England [London, 1894], i. 204, ii. 464; J. F. Bethune-Baker, The Influence of Christianity on War [Cambridge, 1888], p. 52; E. Dümmler, Geschichte des Ostfränkischen Reichs [Berlin and Leipzig, 1862–88], ii. 637).

1320 H. Grotius, De jure belli et pacis, i. 2, 10. 10; J. Bingham, Antiquities of the Christian Church, iv. 4. 1 (Works, ii. [Oxford, 1855], p. 55).

1321 Pœnitentiale Bigotianum, iv. 1. 4 (F. W. H. Wasserschleben, Die Bussordnungen der abendländischen Kirche [Halle, 1851], p. 453); Pœnit. Vigilanum, 27 (ibid. p. 529); Pœnit. Pseudo-Theodori, xxi. 15 (ibid. p. 587 sq.). Cf. La mort de Garin le Loherin (Paris, 1846), p. 213: “Ainz se repent et se claime cheti; Ses pechiés plore au soir et au matin, De ce qu’il a tans homes mors et pris.”

1322 D. Wilkins, Concilia Magnæ Britanniæ et Hiberniæ, i (London 1737), p. 366.

It has been suggested that the transition from the peaceful principles of the primitive Church to the essentially military Christianity of the crusades was chiefly due to the terrors and the example of Islam. “The spirit of Mohammedanism,” says Lecky, “slowly passed into Christianity, and transformed it into its image.” Until then, “war was rather condoned than consecrated, and, whatever might be the case with a few isolated prelates, the Church did nothing to increase or encourage it.”1323 But this view is hardly consistent with facts. Christianity had entered on the war-path already before it came into contact with Mohammedanism. Wars against Arian peoples had been represented as holy wars, for which the combatants would be rewarded by Heaven.1324 The war which Chlodwig made upon the Visigoths was not only undertaken with the approval 219 of the clergy, but it was “properly their war, and Chlodwig undertook it in the capacity of a religious champion in all things but the disinterestedness which ought to distinguish that character.” Remigius of Reims assisted him by his countenance and advice, and the Catholic priesthood set every engine of their craft in motion to second and encourage him.1325 In the Church itself there were germs out of which a military spirit would naturally develop itself. The famous dictum, “Nulla salus extra ecclesiam,” was promulgated as early as the days of Cyprian. The general view of mediæval orthodoxy was that those beyond the pale of the Church, heathen and heretics alike, were unalterably doomed to hell, whereas those who would acknowledge her authority, confess their sins, receive the sacrament of baptism, partake of the Eucharist, and obey the priest, would be infallibly saved. If war was allowed by God, could there be a more proper object for it than the salvation of souls otherwise lost? And for those who refused to accept the gift of grace offered them, could there be a juster punishment than death? Moreover, had not the Israelites fought great battles “for the laws and the sanctuary?”1326 Had not the Lord Himself commissioned them to attack, subdue, and destroy his enemies? Had he not commanded them to root out the natives of Canaan, who, because of their abominations, had fallen under God’s judgment, and to kill man and beast in the Israelitish cities which had given themselves to idolatry, and to burn all the spoil, with the city itself, as a whole offering to Jehovah?1327 There was no need, then, for the Christians to go to the Mohammedans in order to learn the art of religious war. The Old Testament, the revelation of God, gave better lessons in it than the Koran, and was constantly cited in justification of any cruelty committed in the name of religion.1328

1323 W. E. H. Lecky, History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne, ii (London, 1890), p. 251 sq.

1324 J. Gibb, ‘The Christian Church and War,’ in The British Quarterly Review, lxxiii (London, 1881), p. 86.

1325 T. Greenwood, The First Book of the History of the Germans (London, 1836), p. 518.

1326 1 Maccabees xiii. 3. Thomas Aquinas (op. cit. ii.-ii. 188. 3) quotes this passage in support of the doctrine that fighting may be directed to the preservation of divine worship.

1327 Deuteronomy xiii. 15 sq.

1328 Cf. B. Constant, De la religion, ii (Paris, 1825), p. 229 sq.

It was thus in perfect consistency with the general teachings of the Church that she regarded an exploit achieved against the infidels as a merit which might obliterate the guilt of the most atrocious crimes. Such a deed was the instrument of pardon to Henry II. for the murder of Becket,1329 and was supposed to be the means of cure to St. Louis in a dangerous illness. 220 Fighting against infidels took rank with fastings, penitential discipline, visits to shrines, and almsgivings, as meriting the divine mercy.1330 He who fell in the battle could be confident that his soul was admitted directly into the joys of paradise.1331 And this held good not only of wars against Mohammedans. The massacres of Jews and heretics seemed no less meritorious than the slaughter of the more remote enemies of the gospel. Nay, even a slight shade of difference from the liturgy of Rome became at last a legitimate cause of war.

1329 G. Lyttelton, The History of the Life of King Henry the Second, iii (London, 1771), p. 96.

1330 Cf. H. H. Milman, History of Latin Christianity, iv (London, 1867), p. 209.

1331 Cf. F. Laurent, Études sur l’histoire de l’Humanité, vii (Paris, 1865), p. 257.

It is true that these views were not shared by all. At the Council of Lyons, in 1274, the opinion was pronounced, and of course eagerly attacked, that it was contrary to the examples of Christ and the apostles to uphold religion with the sword and to shed the blood of unbelievers.1332 In the following century Bonet maintained that, according to the Scriptures, a Saracen or any other disbeliever could not be compelled by force to accept the Christian faith.1333 Franciscus a Victoria declared that “diversity of religion is not a cause of just war”;1334 and a similar opinion was expressed by Soto,1335 Covarruvias a Leyva,1336 and Suarez.1337 According to Balthazar Ayala, the most illustrious Spanish lawyer of the sixteenth century, it does not belong to the Church to punish infidels who have never received the Christian faith, whereas those who, having once received it, afterwards endeavour to prevent the propagation of the gospel, may, like other heretics, be justly persecuted with the sword.1338 But the majority of jurisconsults, as well as of canonists, were in favour of the orthodox view that unbelief is a legitimate reason for going to war.1339 And this principle was, professedly, acted upon to an extent which made the history of Christianity 221 for many centuries a perpetual crusade, and transformed the Christian Church into a military power even more formidable than Rome under Cæsar and Augustus. Very often religious zeal was a mere pretext for wars which in reality were caused by avarice or desire for power. The aim of the Church was to be the master of the earth, rather than the servant of heaven. She preached crusades not only against infidels and heretics, but against any disobedient prince who opposed her boundless pretensions. And she encouraged war when rich spoils were to be expected from the victor, as a thankoffering to God for the victory He had granted, or as an atonement for the excesses which had been committed.

1332 Bethune-Baker, op. cit. p. 73.

1333 H. Bonet, L’arbre des batailles (Bruxelles and Leipzig, 1883), iv. 2, p. 86.

1334 Franciscus a Victoria, Relectiones Theologicæ (Lugduni, 1587), vi. 10, p. 231. Yet infidels may be compelled to allow the gospel to be preached (ibid. v. 3. 12, p. 214 sq.).

1335 D. Soto, De justitia et jure (Lugduni, 1582), v. 3. 5, fol. 154.

1336 D. de Covarruvias a Leyva, Regulæ, Peccatum, ii. 10. 2 (Opera omnia, i [Antverpiae, 1638], p. 496).

1337 Suarez, quoted by E. Nys, Le droit de la guerre et les précurseurs de Grotius (Bruxelles and Leipzig, 1882), p. 98.

1338 B. Ayala, De iure et officiis bellicis et disciplina militari (Duaci, 1582), i. 2. 29 sq.

1339 Nys, op. cit. p. 89; idem, in his Introduction to Bonet’s L’arbre des batailles, p. xxiv.

Out of this union between war and Christianity there was born that curious bastard, Chivalry. The secular germ of it existed already in the German forests. According to Tacitus, the young German who aspired to be a warrior was brought into the midst of the assembly of the chiefs, where his father, or some other relative, solemnly equipped him for his future vocation with shield and javelin.1340 Assuming arms was thus made a social distinction, which subsequently derived its name from one of its most essential characteristics, riding a war-horse. But Chivalry became something quite different from what the word indicates. The Church knew how to lay hold of knighthood for her own purposes. The investiture, which was originally of a purely civil nature, became, even before the time of the crusades, as it were, a sacrament.1341 The priest delivered the sword into the hand of the person who was to be made a knight, with the following words: “Serve Christi, sis miles in nomine Patris, Filii, et Spiritus Sancti, Amen.”1342 The sword was said to be made in semblance of the cross so as to signify “how our Lord God vanquished in the cross the death of human lying”;1343 and the word “Jesus” was sometimes 222 engraven on its hilt.1344 God Himself had chosen the knight to defeat with arms the miscreants who wished to destroy his Holy Church, in the same way as he had chosen the clergy to maintain the Catholic faith with Scripture and reasons.1345 The knight was to the body politic what the arms are to the human body: the Church was the head, Chivalry the arms, the citizens, merchants, and labourers the inferior members; and the arms were placed in the middle to render them equally capable of defending the inferior members and the head.1346 “The greatest amity that should be in this world,” says the author of ‘The Book of the Ordre of Chyualry,’ “ought to be between the knights and clerks.”1347 The several gradations of knighthood were regarded as parallel to those of the Church.1348 And after the conquest of the Holy Land the union between the profession of arms and the religion of Christ became still more intimate by the institution of the two military orders of monks, the Knights Templars and Knights of St. John of Jerusalem.

1340 Tacitus, Germania, 13. According to Honoré de Sainte Marie (Dissertations historiques et critiques sur la chevalerie [Paris, 1718], p. 30 sqq.), Chivalry is of Roman, according to some other writers, of Arabic origin. L. Gautier (La Chevalerie [Paris, 1884], pp. 14, 16) repudiates these theories, and regards Chivalry as “un usage germain idéalisé par l’Église.” See also A. Rambaud, Histoire de la civilisation française, i (Paris, 1893), p. 178 sq.

1341 W. Scott, ‘An Essay on Chivalry,’ in Miscellaneous Prose Works, vi (Edinburgh, 1827), p. 16; C. Mills, The History of Chivalry, i (London, 1826), p. 10 sq. For a description of the various religious ceremonies accompanying the investiture, see The Book of the Ordre of Chyualry or Knyghthode (Westminster, 1484?), fol. 27b sqq. Cf. also A. Favyn, The Theater of Honour and Knight-Hood, i (London, 1623), p. 52.

1342 Favyn, op. cit. i. 52.

1343 Ordre of Chyualry, fol. 31a sq.

1344 Mills, op. cit. i. 71.

1345 Ordre of Chyualry, fol. 11b.

1346 Le Jouuencel (Paris, 1493), fol. 94 sqq.

1347 Ordre of Chyualry, fol. 12a.

1348 Scott, loc. cit. p. 15.

The duties which a knight took on himself by oath were very extensive, but not very well defined. He should defend the holy Catholic faith, he should defend justice, he should defend women, widows, and orphans, and all those of either sex that were powerless, ill at ease, and groaning under oppression and injustice.1349 In the name of religion and justice he could thus practically wage war almost at will. Though much real oppression was undoubtedly avenged by these soldiers of the Church, the knight seems as a rule to have cared little for the cause or necessity of his doing battle. “La guerre est ma patrie, Mon harnois ma maison: Et en toute saison Combatre c’est ma vie,” was a saying much in use in the sixteenth century.1350 The general impression which Froissart gives us in his history is, that the age in which he lived was completely given over to fighting, and cared about nothing else whatever.1351 The French knights never spoke of war but as a feast, a game, a pastime. “Let them play their game,” they said of the cross-bow men who were showering down arrows on them; and “to play a great game,” jouer gros jeu, was their description of a battle.1352 Previous to the institution of Chivalry there certainly existed 223 much fighting in Christian countries, but knighthood rendered war “a fashionable accomplishment.”1353 And so all-absorbing became the passion for it that, as real injuries were not likely to occur every day, artificial grievances were created, and tilts and tournaments were invented in order to keep in action the sons of war when they had no other employments for their courage. Even in these images of war—which were by no means so harmless as they have sometimes been represented to be1354—the intimate connection between Chivalry and religion displays itself in various ways. Before the tournament began, the coats of arms, helmets, and other objects were carried into a monastery, and after the victory was gained the arms and the horses which had been used in the fight were offered up at the church.1355 The proclamations at the tournaments were generally in the name of God and the Virgin Mary. Before battle the knights confessed and heard mass; and when they entered the lists, they held a sort of image with which they made the sign of the cross.1356 Moreover, “as the feasts of the tournaments were accompanied by these acts of devotion, so the feasts of the Church were sometimes adorned with the images of the tournaments.”1357 It is true that the Church now and then made attempts to stop these performances.1358 But then she did so avowedly because they prevented many knights from joining the holy wars, or because they swallowed up treasures which might otherwise with advantage have been poured into the Holy Land.1359

1349 Ordre of Chyualry, fols. 11b, 17a; De la Curne de Sainte-Palaye, Mémoires sur l’ancienne chevalerie, i (Paris, 1781), pp. 75, 129.

1350 F. de la Nouë, Discours politiques et militaires (Basle, 1587), p. 215.

1351 See Sir James Stephen’s essay on ‘Froissart’s Chronicles,’ in his Horæ Sabbaticæ, i (London, 1891), p. 22 sqq.

1352 Sainte-Palaye, op. cit. ii. 61.

1353 J. G. Millingen, The History of Duelling, i (London, 1841), p. 70.

1354 Sainte-Palaye, op. cit. i. 179, ii. 75; C. D. Du Cange, ‘Dissertations ou Réflexions sur l’histoire de S. Louys,’ in Petitot, Collection complète des Mémoires relatifs à l’histoire de France (Paris, 1819–29), iii. 122 sq.; Honoré de Sainte Marie, op. cit. p. 186.

1355 Sainte-Palaye, op. cit. i. 151.

1356 Ibid. ii. 57.

1357 Ibid. ii. 57 sq.

1358 Du Cange, loc. cit. p. 124 sqq.; Honoré de Sainte Marie, op. cit. p. 186; Sainte-Palaye, op. cit. ii. 75.

1359 Du Cange, loc. cit. p. 125 sq.

Closely connected with the feudal system was the practice of private war. Though tribunals had been instituted, and even long after the kings’ courts had become well-organised and powerful institutions, a nobleman had a right to wage war upon another nobleman from whom he had suffered some gross injury.1360 On such occasions not only the relatives, but also the 224 vassals, of the injured man were bound to help him in his quarrel, and the same obligation existed in the case of the aggressor.1361 Only greater crimes were regarded as legitimate causes of private war,1362 but this rule was not at all strictly observed. We read of a nobleman who declared war against Frankfort, because a lady residing there had promised to dance with his cousin, but danced with another; and the city was obliged to satisfy the wounded honour of the gentleman.1363 The barons fled to arms upon every quarrel; he who could raise a small force at once made war upon him who had anything to lose. The nations of Europe were subdivided into innumerable states of inferior rank, which were almost independent, and declared war and made treaties with all the vigour and all the ceremonies of powerful monarchs. Contemporary historians describe the excesses committed in prosecution of these intestine quarrels in such terms as excite astonishment and horror; and great parts of Europe were in consequence reduced to the condition of a desert, which it ceased to be worth while to cultivate.

1360 The right of private war generally supposed nobility of birth and equality of rank in both the contending parties (Ph. de Beaumanoir, Les coutumes du Beauvoisis [Paris, 1842], lix. 5 sq., vol. ii. 355 sq.; W. Robertson, The History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V., i [London, 1806], p. 329). But it was also granted to the French communes and to the free towns in Germany, Italy, and Spain (A. Du Boys, Histoire du droit criminel des peuples modernes, ii [Paris, 1858], p. 348).

1361 Du Cange, loc. cit. pp. 450, 458.

1362 Ibid. p. 445 sq.; W. Arnold, Deutsche Urzeit (Gotha, 1879), p. 841; C. G. von Wächter, Beiträge zur deutschen Geschichte (Tübingen, 1845), p. 46.

1363 Von Wächter, op. cit. p. 57.

The Church made some feeble attempts to put an end to this state of things. Thus, about the year 990, ordinances were directed against the practice of private war by several bishops in the south of France, who agreed to exclude him who violated their ordinances from all Christian privileges during his life, and to deny him Christian burial after his death.1364 A little later, men engaged in warfare were exhorted, by sacred relics and by the bodies of saints, to lay down their arms and to swear that they would never again disturb the public peace by their private hostilities.1365 But it is hardly likely that such directions had much effect as long as the bishops and abbots themselves were allowed to wage private war by means of their vidames, and exercised this right scarcely less frequently than the barons.1366 225 Nor does it seem that the Church brought about any considerable change for the better by establishing the Truce of God, involving obligatory respite from hostilities during the great festivals of the Church, as also from the evening of Wednesday in each week to the morning of Monday in the week ensuing.1367 We are assured by good authorities that the Truce was generally disregarded, though the violator was threatened with the penalty of excommunication.1368 Most barons could probably say with Bertram de Born: “La paix ne me convient pas; la guerre seule me plait. Je n’ai égard ni aux lundis, ni aux mardis. Les semaines, les mois, les années, tout m’est égal. En tout temps, je veux perdre quiconque me nuit.”1369 The ordinance enjoining the treuga Dei was transgressed even by the popes.1370 It was too unpractical a direction to be obeyed, and was soon given up even in theory by the authorities of the Church. Thomas Aquinas says that, as physicians may lawfully apply remedies to men on feast-days, so just wars may be lawfully prosecuted on such days for the defence of the commonwealth of the faithful, if necessity so requires; “for it would be tempting God for a man to want to keep his hands from war under stress of such necessity.”1371 And in support of this opinion he quotes the First Book of the Maccabees, where it is said: “Whosoever shall come to make battle with us on the sabbath day, we will fight against him.”1372

1364 ‘Charta de Treuga et Pace per Aniciensem Praesulem Widonem in Congregatione quamplurium Episcoporum, Principium, et Nobilium hujus Terræ sancita,’ in J. Dumont, Corps universel diplomatique du droit des gens, i (Amsterdam, 1726), p. 41.

1365 R. Glaber, Historiæ sui temporis, iv. 5 (M. Bouquet, Recueil des Historiens des Gaules et de la France, x [Paris, 1760], p. 49); Robertson, op. cit. i. 335.

1366 N. Brussel, Nouvel examen de l’usage général des fiefs en France, i (Paris, 1750), p. 144. How much the prelates were infected by the general spirit of the age, appears from a characteristic story of an archbishop of Cologne who gave to one of his vassals a castle situated on a sterile rock. When the vassal objected that he could not subsist on such a soil, the archbishop answered: “Why do you complain? Four roads unite under the walls of your castle” (A. Du Boys, Histoire du droit criminel de l’Espagne [Paris, 1870], p. 504).

1367 Glaber, op. cit. v. i (Bouquet, op. cit. x. 59); C. D. Du Cange Glossarium ad scriptores mediæ et infimæ Latinitatis, vi (Parisiis, 1736), p. 1267 sq.; C. J. F. Henault, Nouvel abrégé chronologique de l’histoire de France (Paris, 1752), p. 106.

1368 Du Cange, Glossarium, vi. 1272; E. Nys, op. cit. p. 114.

1369 A. F. Villemain, Cours de littérature française, Littérature du moyen âge, i (Paris, 1830), p. 122 sq.

1370 Belli, De re militari, quoted by Nys, op. cit. p. 115.

1371 Thomas Aquinas, op. cit. ii.-ii. 40. 4.

1372 1 Maccabees ii. 41.

It seems that the main cause of the abolition of private war was not any measure taken by the Church, but the increase of the authority of emperors or kings. In France the right of waging private war was moderated by Louis IX., checked by Philip IV., suppressed by Charles VI.1373 In England, after the Norman Conquest, private wars seem to have occurred more 226 rarely than on the Continent, probably owing to the strength of the royal authority, which made the execution of justice more vigorous and the jurisdiction of the King’s court more extensive than was the case in most other countries.1374 Freeman mentions as the last instance of private war in England one from the time of Edward IV.1375 In Scotland the practice of private war received its final blow only late in the eighteenth century, when the clans were reduced to order after the rebellion of 1745.1376 While, then, it is impossible to ascribe to the Church any considerable part in the movement which ultimately led to the entire abolition of private war, we have, on the other hand, to take into account the encouragement which the Church gave to the warlike spirit of the time by the establishment of Chivalry,1377 and by sanctioning war as a divine institution. Before a battle, the service of mass was usually performed by both armies in the presence of each other, and no warrior would fight without secretly breathing a prayer.1378 Pope Adrian IV. says that a war commenced under the auspices of religion cannot but be fortunate;1379 and it was commonly believed that God took no less interest in the battle than did the fighting warriors. Bonet, who wrote in the fourteenth century, puts to himself the question, why there are so many wars in the world, and gives the answer, “que toutes sont pour le pechié du siecle dont nostre seigneur Dieu pour le pugnir permet les guerres, car ainsi le maintient l’escripture.”1380 The Catechism of the Council of Trent brings home that there are on record instances of slaughter executed by the special command of God Himself, as when the sons of Levi, who put to death so many thousands in one day, after the slaughter were thus addressed by Moses: “Ye have consecrated your hands this day to the Lord.”1381 Even quite modern Catholic writers refer to the canonists who held that a State might lawfully make war upon a heretic people which is spreading heresy, and upon a pagan people which prevents the preaching of the gospel.1382

1373 Robertson, op. cit. i. 55, 56, 338 sqq.; H. Hallam, View of the State of Europe during the Middle Ages, i (London, 1860), p. 207; Brussel, op. cit. i. 142.

1374 Brussel, op. cit. i. 343 sq.

1375 E. A. Freeman, Comparative Politics (London, 1896), p. 328 sq.

1376 T. J. Lawrence, Essays on some disputed Questions in Modern International Law (Cambridge, 1885), p. 254 sq.

1377 I do not understand how Gautier can say (op. cit. p. 6) that Chivalry was the most beautiful of those means by which the Church endeavoured to check war.

1378 Mills, op. cit. i. 147.

1379 Laurent, op. cit. vii. 245.

1380 Bonet, op. cit. iv. 54, p. 150.

1381 The Catechism of the Council of Trent, iii. 6. 5.

1382 W. E. Addis and T. Arnold, A Catholic Dictionary (London, 1903), p. 944.

227 In its attitude towards war Protestantism was in general agreement with Catholicism. Luther defended vigorously the Christian soldier.1383 Calvin argued that war is a branch of the work of retributive justice which has been entrusted by God to the civil magistrate, and that it has the same moral justification as the police measures which protect the citizens against criminals. If it be objected that the New Testament does not expressly permit Christians to fight, it is to be observed that the gospel does not undertake to legislate about civil polity, and that it presupposes the Old Testament, “in which the greatest men of God, like Moses and David, were mighty men of valour in the service of God.”1384 The subject received prominence in the Protestant Confessions, which found it desirable to allay any misgivings that might be felt by princes as to the political implications of evangelical religion. They explicitly claimed for the State the right of waging war, and the Anabaptists were condemned because they considered war unlawful for a Christian.1385 Even the necessity of a just cause as a reason for taking part in warfare, which was reasserted at the time of the Reformation, was subsequently allowed to drop out of sight. It is noticeable that in the Anglican Article XXXVII., which is to the effect that a Christian at the command of the magistrate may wear weapons and serve in the wars, the word justa in the Latin form preceding the word bella has been omitted altogether. The Lutheran clergy, however, have followed the tradition of the Catholic Church that military service is inconsistent with the clerical office;1386 and the Anglican Church reaffirmed its adherence to it during the recent war by forbidding the clergy to offer themselves for such service. The Reformed Churches have occasionally left it to ministers to judge for themselves as to whether the necessity was such as to require them to offer their services as fighting men to the State. This was lately done by the Church of Scotland.1387

1383 Luther, Ob Kriegsleute auch im seligen Stande sein können, 1526.

1384 Calvin, Institutio Christianæ religionis, 1559, iv. 20. 10–12.

1385 Augsburg Confession, i. 16; Second Helvetic Confession xxx. 4.

1386 H. Martensen, Christian Ethics. Special Part. Second Division (Edinburgh, 1882), p. 236.

1387 W. P. Paterson, ‘War,’ in J. Hastings, Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, xii (Edinburgh, 1921), p. 680.

Nor did the old opinion that war is a providential institution and a judgment of God die with the Middle Ages. Bacon looks upon wars as “the highest trials of right; when princes and states that acknowledge no superior upon earth shall put themselves upon the justice of God, for the deciding of their controversies by such success as it shall please Him to give on 228 either side.”1388 Réal de Curban says that a war is seldom successful unless it be just, hence the victor may presume that God is on his side.1389 According to Jeremy Taylor, “kings are in the place of God, who strikes whole nations, and towns, and villages; and war is the rod of God in the hands of princes.”1390 And it is not only looked upon as an instrument of divine justice, but it is also said, generally, “to work out the noble purposes of God.”1391 Its tendency, as a theological writer assures us, is “to rectify and exalt the popular conception of God,” there being nothing among men “like the smell of gunpowder for making a nation perceive the fragrance of divinity in truth.”1392 By war the different countries “have been opened up to the advance of true religion.”1393 “No people ever did, or ever could, feel the power of Christian principle growing up like an inspiration through the national manhood, until the worth of it had been thundered on the battle-field.”1394 War is, “when God sends it, a means of grace and of national renovation”; it is “a solemn duty in which usually only the best Christians and most trustworthy men should be commissioned to hold the sword.”1395 According to Proudhon, it is the most sublime phenomenon of our moral life,1396 a divine revelation more authoritative than the gospel itself.1397 The warlike people is the religious people;1398 war is the sign of human grandeur, peace a thing for beavers and sheep. “Philanthrope, vous parlez d’abolir la guerre; prenez garde de dégrader le genre humain.”1399

1388 Bacon, Letters and Life, i (Works, viii [London, 1862]), p. 146.

1389 G. de Réal de Curban, La science du gouvernement, v (Paris, 1764), p. 394 sq.

1390 J. Taylor, The Whole Works of, xii (London, 1822), p. 164.

1391 ‘The Sword and Christianity,’ in The Boston Review. Devoted to Theology and Literature, iii (Boston, 1863), p. 261.

1392 Ibid. iii. 259, 257.

1393 T. A. Holland, A Time of War (Brighton, 1885), p. 14.

1394 Boston Review, iii. 257.

1395 ‘Christianity and War,’ in The Christian Review, xxvi (Rochester, 1861), p. 604.

1396 P.-J. Proudhon, La guerre et la paix, ii (Bruxelles, [1861]), p. 420.

1397 Ibid. i. 62, ii. 435.

1398 Ibid. i. 45.

1399 Ibid. i. 43.

In order to prove the consistency of war with Christianity appeals are still, as in former days, made to the Bible: to the divinely-sanctioned example of the ancient Israelites, to the fact that Jesus never prohibited those around him from bearing arms, to the instances of the centurions mentioned in the gospel, to Paul’s predilection for taking his spiritual metaphors from the profession of the soldier, and so on.1400 According to 229 Canon Mozley, the Christian recognition of the right of war was contained in Christianity’s original recognition of nations.1401 “By a fortunate necessity,” a universal empire is impossible.1402 Each nation is a centre by itself, and when questions of right and justice arise between these independent centres, they cannot be decided except by mutual agreement or force. The aim of the nation going to war is exactly the same as that of the individual in entering a court, and the Church, which has no right to decide which is the right side, cannot but stand neutral and contemplate war forensically, as a mode of settling national questions, which is justified by the want of any other mode.1403 A natural justice, Canon Mozley adds, is inherent not only in wars of self-defence; there is an instinctive reaching in nations and masses of people after alteration and readjustment, which has justice in it. And there are wars of progress which, so far as they are really necessary for the due advantage of mankind, are approved of by Christianity.1404 As a matter of fact, it would be impossible to mention a single instance of a war waged by a Protestant country, from any motive whatsoever, to which the bulk of its clergy, being in the service of the State, have not given their sanction and support. As Mr. Gibb observes, the Protestant minister has been as ready with his Thanksgiving Sermon for the victories of a profligate war as the Catholic priest has been with his Te Deum; “indeed, the latter was probably the more independent of the two, because of his allegiance to Rome.”1405 The opposition against war has generally come from other quarters.

1400 See, for example, E. H. Browne, An Exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles (London, 1887), p. 827 sq.; Christian Review, xxvi. 603 sq.

1401 J. B. Mozley, Sermons preached before the University of Oxford (London, 1883), p. 119.

1402 Ibid. p. 112.

1403 Ibid. p. 100 sqq.

1404 Ibid. p. 104 sq. So also Rothe, in his Theologische Ethik, iii (Wittenberg, 1848), p. 960, defends the war of conquest as legitimate in order to the replacement of a lower by a higher civilisation.

1405 Gibb, loc. cit. p. 90.

There have been, and still are, Christian sects which, on religious grounds, condemn war of any kind. In the fourteenth century the Lollards taught that homicide in war is expressly contrary to the New Testament; they were persecuted partly on this account.1406 Of the same opinion were the Anabaptists of the sixteenth century, who suffered imprisonment and death rather than bear arms; their insistence upon peace was the main cause of the constant war made upon them. They could claim on their side the words of men like Colet and Erasmus. From the pulpit of St. Paul’s Colet thundered that “an unjust 230 peace is better than the justest war,” and that, “when men out of hatred and ambition fight with and destroy one another, they fight under the banner, not of Christ, but of the Devil.”1407 According to Erasmus, “nothing is more impious, more calamitous, more widely pernicious, more inveterate, more base, or in sum more unworthy of a man, not to say of a Christian,” than war. It is worse than brutal; to man no wild beast is more destructive than his fellow-man. When brutes fight, they fight with weapons which nature has given them, whereas we arm ourselves for mutual slaughter with weapons which nature never thought of. Neither do beasts break out in hostile rage for trifling causes, but either when hunger drives them to madness, or when they find themselves attacked, or when they are alarmed for the safety of their young. But we, on frivolous pretences, what tragedies do we act on the theatre of war! Under colour of some obsolete and disputable claim to territory; in a childish passion for a mistress; for causes even more ridiculous than these, we kindle the flame of war. Transactions truly hellish are called holy wars. Bishops and grave divines, decrepit as they are in person, fight from the pulpit the battles of the princes, promising remission of sins to all who will take part in the war of the prince, and exclaiming to the latter that God will fight for him, if he only keeps his mind favourable to the cause of religion. And yet, how could it ever enter into our hearts, that a Christian should imbrue his hands in the blood of a Christian! What is war but murder and theft committed by great numbers on great numbers! Does not the gospel declare in decisive words that we must not revile again those who revile us, that we should do good to those who use us ill, that we should give up the whole of our possessions to those who take a part, that we should pray for those who design to take away our lives? “The man who engages in war by choice, that man, whoever he is, is a wicked man; he sins against nature, against God, against man, and is guilty of the most aggravated and complicated impiety.”1408

1406 G. G. Perry, A History of the English Church. First Period (London, 1881), pp. 455, 467.

1407 J. R. Green, History of the English People, ii (London, 1878), p. 93.

1408 Erasmus, Adagia (Coloniæ Allobrogum, 1612), iv. 1, col. 893 sqq.

In Protestantism the chief opponents of war have been sectarians. Among these the Quakers are the most important. By virtue of various passages in the Old and the New Testament,1409 they contend that all warfare, whatever be its peculiar features, circumstances, or pretexts, is wholly at variance with the Christian religion. It is always the duty of 231 Christians to obey their Master’s high and holy law—to suffer wrong, to return good for evil, to love their enemies. War is also inconsistent with the Christian principle that human life is sacred, and that death is followed by infinite consequences. Since man is destined for eternity, the future welfare of a single individual is of greater importance than the merely temporal prosperity of a whole nation. When cutting short the days of their neighbour and transmitting him, prepared or unprepared, to the awful realities of an everlasting state, Christians take upon themselves a most unwarrantable responsibility, unless such an action is expressly sanctioned by their divine Master, as was the case among the Israelites. In the New Testament there is no such sanction, hence it must be concluded that, under the Christian dispensation, it is utterly unlawful for one man to kill another, under whatever circumstances of expediency or provocation the deed may be committed. And a Christian who fights by the command of his prince, and in behalf of his country, not only commits sin in his own person, but aids and abets the national transgression.1410

1409 Isaiah ii. sqq.; Micah iv. 1 sqq.; Matthew v. 38 sqq., xxvi. 52; Luke vi. 27 sqq.; John viii. 36; Romans xii. 19 sqq.; 1 Peter iii. 9.

1410 J. J. Gurney, Observations on the Distinguishing Views and Practices of the Society of Friends (London, 1834), p. 375 sqq.

Similar views, however, are also found independently of any particular form of sectarianism. According to Dr. Wayland, all wars, defensive as well as offensive, are contrary to the revealed will of God, aggression from a foreign nation calling not for retaliation and injury, but rather for special kindness and goodwill.1411 Theodor Parker, the Congregational minister, looks upon war as a sin, a corrupter of public morals, a practical denial of Christianity, a violation of God’s eternal love.1412 W. Stokes, the Baptist, observes that Christianity cannot sanction war, whether offensive or defensive, because war is an “immeasurable evil, by hurling unnumbered myriads of our fellow-men to a premature judgment and endless despair.”1413 Even before the outbreak of the Great War it was said that those who compared the state of opinion during later years with that of former periods, could not fail to observe a marked progress of a sentiment antagonistic to war in the various sections of the Christian Church.1414 Yet the duties which compulsory military service imposes upon the male population of most Christian countries presuppose that a Christian should have no scruples 232 about taking part in any war waged by the State; and they are recognised as binding by the clergy of those countries. What, then, about “conscientious objectors”? In France, during the Great War, the authorities considered that it was not the business of the State to decide whether a man’s dislike of fighting was due to conscience, want of patriotism, or personal cowardice; and in consequence the few who refused to serve were shot. In England, even after compulsory service was instituted, men were allowed to plead conscientious scruples; but things were not made pleasant for them, and they were on the whole condemned by public opinion.1415

1411 F. Wayland, The Elements of Moral Science (London, 1863), pp. 375, 379.

1412 T. Parker, A Sermon of War (Boston, 1846), p. 23.

1413 W. Stokes, All War inconsistent with the Christian Religion (London, 1855), p. 41.

1414 Cf. Gibb, loc. cit. p. 81.

1415 W. K. Inge, Christian Ethics and Modern Problems (London, 1932), p. 310.

It is significant that the protest against war which has, presumably, exercised the widest influence on public opinion, came from a school of moralists whose tendencies were not only anti-orthodox, but distinctly hostile to the most essential dogmas of Christian theology. Bayle, in his ‘Dictionary,’ calls Erasmus’ essay against war one of the most beautiful dissertations ever written.1416 He observes that the more we consider the inevitable consequences of war, the more we feel disposed to detest those who are the causes of it.1417 Its usual fruits may, indeed, “make those tremble who undertake or advise it, to prevent evils which, perhaps, may never happen and which, at the worst, would often be much less than those which necessarily follow a rupture.”1418 To Voltaire war is an “infernal enterprise,” the strangest feature of which is that “every chief of the ruffians has his colours consecrated, and solemnly prays to God before he goes to destroy his neighbour.”1419 He asks what the Church has done to suppress this crime. Bourdaloue preached against impurity, but what sermon did he ever direct against the murder, rapine, brigandage, and universal rage, which desolate the world? “Miserable physicians of souls, you declaim for five quarters of an hour against the mere pricks of a pin, and say no word on the curse which tears us into a thousand pieces.”1420 Voltaire admits that in certain circumstances war is an inevitable curse, but rebukes Montesquieu for saying that natural defence sometimes involves the necessity of attack, when a nation perceives that a longer peace would 233 place another nation in a position to destroy it.1421 Such a war, he argues, is as illegitimate as possible. “It is to go and kill your neighbour for fear that your neighbour, who does not attack yon, should be in a condition to attack you; that is to say, you must run the risk of ruining your country, in the hope of ruining without reason some other country; this is, to be sure, neither fair nor useful.”1422 The chief causes which induce men to massacre in all loyalty thousands of their brothers and to expose their own people to the most terrible misery, are the ambitions and jealousies of princes and their ministers.1423 Similar views are expressed in the great ‘Encyclopédie.’ “La guerre est le plus terrible des fléaux qui détruisent l’espèce humaine: elle n’épargne pas même les vainqueurs; la plus heureuse est funeste. . . . Ce ne sont plus aujourd’hui les peuples qui déclarent la guerre, c’est la cupidité des rois qui leur fait prendre les armes; e’est l’indigence qui les met aux mains de leurs sujets.”1424

1416 Bayle, Dictionnaire historique et critique, vi (Paris, 1820), p. 239, art. Erasme.

1417 Ibid. ii. 463, art. Artaxata.

1418 Ibid. i. 472, art. Alting (Henri).

1419 Voltaire, Dictionnaire philosophique, art. Guerre (Œuvres complètes xl [s.l., 1785], p. 562).

1420 Ibid. xl. 564.

1421 Montesquieu, De l’esprit des lois, x. 2 (Œuvres [Paris, 1887], p. 256).

1422 Voltaire, op. cit. xl. 565.

1423 Ibid. pp. 466, 564.

1424 Encyclopédie méthodique, Art militaire, ii. 618 sq.

However vehemently Voltaire and the Encyclopædists condemned war, they did not dream of a time when all wars would cease. Other writers were more optimistic. In the early part of the eighteenth century Abbé Saint-Pierre—whose abbotship involved only a nominal connection with the Church—published a project of perpetual peace, which was based on the idea of a general confederation of European nations.1425 This project was much laughed at; Voltaire himself calls its author “un homme moitié philosophe, moitié fou.” But once called into being, the idea of a perpetual peace and of a European confederation did not die. It was successively conceived by Rousseau,1426 Bentham,1427 and Kant.1428 But on the other hand it met with a formidable enemy in the awakening spirit of nationalism.

1425 Saint-Pierre, Projet de Traité pour rendre la paix perpétuelle entre les souverains Chrétiens.

1426 Rousseau, Extrait du Projet de paix perpétuelle, de M. l’Abbé de Saint-Pierre (Œuvres complètes, i [Paris, 1837], p. 606 sqq.).

1427 J. Bentham, A Plan for an universal and perpetual Peace (Works, ii [Edinburgh, 1843], p. 546 sqq.).

1428 Kant, Zum ewigen Frieden.

The Napoleonic oppression called forth resistance. Philosophers and poets sounded the war-trumpet. The dream of a universal monarchy was looked upon as absurd and hateful, and the individuality of a nation as the only possible security 234 for its virtue.1429 War was no longer attributed to the pretended interests of princes, or to the caprices of their advisers. It was praised as a vehicle of the highest right,1430 as a source of national renovation.1431 By war, says Hegel, “finite pursuits are rendered unstable, and the ethical health of peoples is preserved. Just as the movement of the ocean prevents the corruption which would be the result of perpetual calm, so by war people escape the corruption which would be occasioned by a continuous or eternal peace.”1432 Similar views have been expressed by later writers. War is glorified as a stimulus to the elevated virtues of courage, disinterestedness, and patriotism.1433 It has done more great things in the world than the love of man, says Nietzsche.1434 It is the mother of art and of all civil virtues, says Ruskin.1435 Others defend war, not as a positive good, but as a necessary means of deciding the most serious international controversies, denying that arbitration can be a substitute for all kinds of war. Questions which are intimately connected with national passions and national aspirations, and questions which are vital to a nation’s safety, will never, they say, be left to arbitration. Each State must be the guardian of its own security, and cannot allow its independence to be calmly discussed and adjudicated upon by an external tribunal.1436 Moreover, arbitration would prove effective only where the contradictory pretensions could be juridically formulated, and these instances are by far the less numerous and the less important.1437 And would it not, in many cases, be impossible to find impartial arbiters? Would not arbitration often be influenced by a calculation of the forces which every power interested could bring into the field, and would not war be resorted to where arbitration failed to reconcile conflicting 235 interests, or where a decision was opposed to a high-spirited people’s sense of justice? The prediction of such difficulties hampering the work of a League of Nations has, indeed, been amply confirmed by recent events.

1429 Fichte, Reden an die deutsche Nation (Leipzig, 1824). Cf. idem, Ueber den Begriff des wahrhaften Krieges (Tübingen, 1815).

1430 Arndt, quoted by M. Jähns, Ueber Krieg, Frieden und Kultur (Berlin, 1893), p. 302.

1431 P. J. A. von Feuerbach, Ueber die Unterdrückung und Wiederbefreiung Europens (München and Leipzig, 1813).

1432 Hegel, Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts, § 324, p. 317 (English translation [London, 1896], p. 331).

1433 See, for example, P. Mabille, La guerre (Paris, 1884), p. 139.

1434 Nietzsche, Also sprach Zarathustra, i (Chemnitz and Leipzig, 1883), p. 63.

1435 Ruskin, ‘Crown of Wild Olive, Lecture on War,’ in Works, vi (Keston, Orpington, 1873), pp. 99, 105.

1436 T. J. Lawrence, op. cit. p. 275 sq.; H. Sidgwick, ‘The Morality of Strife,’ in International Journal of Ethics, i (London and Philadelphia, 1891), p. 13.

1437 Geffken, quoted by Jähns, op. cit. p. 352 n. 2.

It is said that, although Christianity has not abolished war, it has nevertheless, even in war, asserted the principle that human life is sacred by prohibiting all needless destruction. The Canon ‘De treuga et pace’ laid down the rule that non-resisting persons should be spared;1438 and Franciscus a Victoria maintained not only that between Christian enemies those who made no resistance could not lawfully be slain,1439 but that even in war against the Turks it was wrong to kill children and women.1440 This doctrine of mercy, however, was far in advance of the habits and general opinion of the time.1441 If the simple peasant often was spared, that was largely from motives of prudence,1442 or because the valiant knight considered him unworthy of the lance.1443 As late as the seventeenth century, Grotius was certainly not supported by the spirit of the age when he argued that, “if justice do not require, at least mercy does, that we should not, except for weighty causes tending to the safety of many, undertake anything which may involve innocent persons in destruction”;1444 or when he recommended enemies willing to surrender on fair conditions, or unconditionally, to be spared.1445 Pufendorf, in echoing the doctrine of Grotius,1446 spoke to a world which was already convinced; and in the eighteenth century Bynkershoek stands alone in giving to a belligerent unlimited rights of violence.1447 In reference to the assumption that this change of opinion is due to the influence of the Christian religion, it is instructive to note that Grotius, in support of his doctrine, appealed chiefly to pagan authorities; and that even savage peoples, without the aid of Christianity, 236 have arrived at the rule which in war forbids the destruction of helpless persons and captives.1448

1438 Gregory IX., ‘Decretales,’ i. 34. 2 (in Corpus juris canonici, ed. by A. Friedberg, ii [Lipsiae, 1881]).

1439 Franciscus a Victoria, op. cit. vi. 13, 35, 48, pp. 232, 241, 246 sq.

1440 Ibid. vi. 36, p. 241.

1441 Cf. W. E. Hall, A Treatise on International Law (Oxford, 1890), p. 395 n. 1.

1442 B. d’Argentré, L’histoire de Bretaigne (Paris, 1618), p. 391.

1443 Mills, op. cit. p. 132.

1444 Grotius, op. cit. iii. 11. 8.

1445 Ibid. iii. 11. 14 sqq.

1446 S. Pufendorf, De jure naturæ et gentium (Amstelodami, 1688), viii. 6. 8, p. 885.

1447 C. van Bynkershoek, Questiones juris publici (Lugduni Batavorum, 1737), i. 1, p. 3: “Omnes enim vis in bello justa est”; Hall, op. cit. p. 395 n. 1.

1448 E. Westermarck, The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, i (London, 1912), p. 335 sq.

It is also remarkable that Augustine was under an obligation to Cicero for his attitude towards war, which was adopted by the Church. According to Cicero, a war, to be just, ought to be necessary, the sole object of war being to enable us to live undisturbed in peace. There are two modes of settling controversies, one by discussion, the other by a resort to force. The first is proper to man, the second is proper to brutes, and ought never to be adopted except where the first is not available. And when we obtain the victory we are bound to exercise consideration towards those whom we have conquered by force, and to receive into our protection those who throw themselves upon the honour of our general and lay down their arms.1449 Seneca anticipates Erasmus in his condemnation of war, which he regards as a “glorious crime,” comparable to murder. “What is forbidden in private life is commanded by public ordinance. Actions which, committed by stealth, would meet with capital punishment, we praise because committed by soldiers. Men, by nature the mildest species of the animal race, are not ashamed to find delight in mutual slaughter, to wage wars, and to transmit them to be waged by their children, when even dumb animals and wild beasts live at peace with one another.”1450 History attests that the Romans, in their intercourse with other nations, did not act upon Cicero’s and Seneca’s lofty theories of international morality; as Plutarch observes, the two names “peace” and “war” are mostly used only as coins, to procure, not what is just, but what is expedient.1451 This remark has never ceased to be true. War is a rock on which Christian principles have suffered the most miserable shipwreck.

1449 Cicero, De officiis, i. 11.

1450 Seneca, Epistulæ, 95.

1451 Plutarch, Vita Pyrrhi, xii. 3, p. 389.

 

CHAPTER XII

CHRISTIANITY AND THE REGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE (concluded)

WHILE the early Fathers utterly failed to put a stop to war, they succeeded in their endeavour to bring about a change of ideas with regard to another practice involving the destruction of human life, to wit, the practice of exposing new-born infants, which was very common in the Pagan Empire.

The exposure of deformed or sickly infants was an ancient custom in Greece; in Sparta, at least, it was enjoined by law. It was also approved of by the most enlightened among the Greek philosophers. Plato condemns all those children who are imperfect in limbs, as also those who are born from depraved citizens, to be buried in some obscure and unknown place; he maintains, moreover, that when both sexes have passed the age assigned for presenting children to the State, no child is to be brought to light, and that any infant who is by accident born alive shall be done away with.1452 Aristotle not only lays down the law with respect to the exposing or bringing up of children, that “nothing imperfect or maimed shall be brought up,” but proposes that the number of children allowed to each marriage shall be regulated by the State, and that, if any woman be pregnant after she has produced the prescribed number, an abortion shall be procured before the fetus has life.1453 These views were in perfect harmony with the general tendency of the Greeks to subordinate the feelings of the individual to the interest of the State. Confined as they were to a very limited territory, they were naturally afraid of being burdened with the maintenance of persons whose life could be of no use. It is necessary, says Aristotle, to take care that the increase of the people shall not exceed a certain number, in order to avoid poverty and its concomitants, sedition and other evils.1454 It has been said that the exposure of healthy infants, which was frequently practised in Greece, was hardly approved of by 238 public opinion, although tolerated,1455 except at Thebes, where it was, according to Ælian, a crime punishable by death.1456 But recent researches have revealed the extraordinary prevalence of infanticide in ancient Greece. According to Mr. Zimmern, it remained a universal custom, so far as we know at least down to the fourth century, that it was within the discretion of the father whether a new-born child should be allowed to live. On the fifth day after birth, at the earliest, the infant was solemnly presented to the household and admitted to its membership. Up to the time of this ceremony the father had a complete power of selection, and it appears that this was quite frequently exercised, particularly in the case of female infants. The provision of a dowry for his daughters weighed heavily on a Greek father’s mind, and what was easier than to evade it by pleading inability at the outset? When it was decided that the infant was not to be “nourished,” it would be packed in a cradle or a pot, and exposed in a public place. The Athenian “had a traditional abhorrence of violence, and interfered when he could on behalf of the helpless. If he consented to exercise his immemorial right over his own offspring, he did so with regret, for the sake of the city and his other children, because it was more merciful in the long run.”1457 Dr. Inge has found from the speeches of Isæus, who lived in the fourth century before Christ, that in the pedigrees of eleven typical Athenian families, belonging to the middle class, the names of 97 males are mentioned, and of only 37 females.1458 Mr. Tarn writes that the prevalence of infanticide in Greece has been strenuously asserted from the literary texts, and as strenuously denied, but that for the late third and the second centuries the inscriptions are conclusive. “Of some thousand families from Greece who received Milesian citizenship c. 228–220, details of 79, with their children, remain; these brought 118 sons and 28 daughters, many being minors; no natural causes can account for those proportions. . . . More than one daughter was practically never reared, bearing out Poseidippus’ statement that ‘even a rich man always exposes a daughter.’ Of 600 families from Delphic inscriptions, second century, just one per cent. reared two daughters.”1459 Polybius says that the Greeks in the middle 239 of the second century refused to rear more than one or, at most, two children;1460 and, according to Tarn, there is plenty of evidence to bear him out.1461

1452 Plato, Respublica, v. 460 sq.

1453 Aristotle, Politica, vii. 16, p. 1335.

1454 Ibid. ii. 6, p. 1265.

1455 L. Schmidt, Die Ethik der alten Griechen, ii (Berlin, 1882), pp. 138, 463; C. F. Hermann-H. Blümner, Lehrbuch der Griechischen Privatalterthümer (Freiburg i. B. and Tübingen, 1882), p. 77.

1456 Ælian, Variæ historiæ, ii. 7.

1457 A. Zimmern, The Greek Commonwealth (Oxford, 1931), p. 330 sq.

1458 W. R. Inge, Christian Ethics and Modern Problems (London, 1932), p. 263.

1459 W. W. Tarn, Hellenistic Civilisation (London, 1930), p. 92 sq.

1460 Polybius, Historiarum reliquiæ, xxxvi. 17. 7.

1461 Tarn, op. cit. p. 92.

In Rome custom or law enjoined the destruction of deformed infants. According to a law of the Twelve Tables, referred to by Cicero, monstrous abortions were not suffered to live.1462 With reference to a much later period Seneca writes: “We destroy monstrous births, and we also drown our children if they are born weakly and unnaturally formed”; he adds that it is an act of reason thus to separate what is useless from what is sound.1463 But there was no tendency in Rome to encourage infanticide beyond these limits. While the Greek policy was to restrain, the Roman policy was to encourage population. Being engaged in incessant wars of conquest, Rome was never afraid of being over-populated, but, on the contrary, tried to increase the number of its citizens by according special privileges to the fathers of many children, and exempting poor parents from most of the burden of taxation.1464 The power of life and death which the Roman father possessed over his children undoubtedly involved the legal right of destroying or exposing newborn infants; but it is equally certain that the act was in ordinary circumstances disapproved of.1465 An ancient “law,” ascribed to Romulus—which according to Mommsen could have been merely a priestly direction1466—enjoined the father to bring up all his sons and at least his eldest daughter, and forbade him to destroy any well-formed child till it had completed its third year, when the affection of the parent might be supposed to be developed.1467 In later times we find exposure of children condemned by poets, historians, philosophers, jurists. Among nefarious acts committed in sign of grief on the day when Germanicus died Suetonius mentions the exposure of newborn babes.1468 Epictetus indignantly opposes the saying of Epicurus that men should not rear children: “Even a sheep will not desert its young, nor a wolf; and shall a man?”1469 240 Julius Paulus, the jurist, pronounced him who refused nourishment to his child, or exposed it in a public place, to be guilty of murder1470—a statement which is to be understood, not as a legal prohibition of exposure, but only as the expression of a moral opinion.1471 On the other hand, though the exposure of healthy infants was disapproved of in Pagan Rome, it was not generally regarded as an offence of very great magnitude, especially if the parents were destitute.1472 During the Empire it was practised on an extensive scale, and in the literature of the time it is spoken of with frigid indifference. Since the life of the victim was frequently saved by some benevolent person or with a view to profit,1473 it was not looked upon in the light of downright infanticide, which in the case of a healthy infant seems to have been strictly prohibited by custom.1474

1462 Cicero, De legibus, iii. 8.

1463 Seneca, De ira, i. 15.

1464 Montesquieu, De l’esprit des lois, xxiii. 20 sq. (Œuvres [Paris, 1837], p. 398 sqq.); W. E. H. Lecky, History of European Morals, ii (London, 1890), p. 27.

1465 J. Denis, Histoire des théories et des idées morales dans l’antiquité, ii (Paris, 1856), p. 110.

1466 T. Mommsen, Römisches Strafrecht (Leipzig, 1899), p. 619.

1467 Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Antiquitates Romanæ, ii. 15.

1468 Suetonius, Caligula, 5.

1469 Epictetus, Dissertationes, i. 23.

1470 Digesta, xxv. 3. 4.

1471 G. Noodt, ‘Julius Paulus, sive de partus expositione et nece apud veteres,’ in Opera omnia, i (Lugduni Batavorum, 1767), p. 465 sqq.; F. Walter, Geschichte des Römischen Rechts bis auf Justinian, § 538, vol. ii (Bonn, 1861), p. 148 sq.; Spangenberg, ‘Ueber das Verbrechen des Kindermords und der Aussetzung der Kinder,’ in Neues Archiv des Criminalrechts, iii (Halle, 1819–20), p. 10 sqq.; Mommsen, op. cit. p. 620 n. 1.

1472 Quintilian, Declamationes, 306; Plutarch, De amore prolis, 5.

1473 L. Lallemand, Histoire des enfants abandonnés et délaissés (Paris, 1885), p. 59; Lecky, op. cit. ii. 28.

1474 Mommsen, op. cit. p. 619.

The practice of exposing new-born infants was vehemently denounced by the early Christian Fathers.1475 They tried to convince men that if the abandoned infant died, the unnatural parent was guilty of nothing less than murder, while the fact that such foundlings, girls and boys, were trained up for the service of lust formed another argument against exposure.1476 The enormity of the crime of causing an infant’s death was enhanced by the notion that children who had died unbaptised were doomed to eternal perdition.1477 According to a decree of the Council of Mentz in 852, the penance imposed on the mother was heavier if she killed an unbaptised than if she killed a baptised child.1478 In the year 1556 Henry II. of France made a law which punished as a child-murderess any woman who had concealed her pregnancy and delivery, and whose child was found dead, “privé, tant du saint sacrement de baptesme, que 241 sépulture publique et accoustumée.”1479 This statute—to which there is a counterpart in England in the statute 21 Jac. 1, c. 27,1480 and in the Scotch law of 1690, c. 211481—thus went so far as to constitute a presumptive murder, avowedly under the influence of that Christian dogma to which Lecky generously attributes, in the first instance, “the healthy sense of the value and sanctity of infant life which so broadly distinguishes Christian from Pagan societies.”1482

1475 See J.-F. Terme and J.-B. Montfalcon, Histoire des enfans trouvés (Paris, 1840), p. 67 sqq.

1476 Justin Martyr, Apologia I. pro Christianis, 27, 29.

1477 Cf. Spangenberg, loc. cit. p. 20.

1478 Canon Hludowici regis, 9 (G. H. Pertz, Monumenta Germaniæ historica, Leges, iii [Hannoveræ], p. 413).

1479 Isambert, Decrusy, and Armet, Recueil général des Anciennes Lois Françaises, xiii (Paris, 1828), p. 472 sq.

1480 W. Blackstone, The Commentaries on the Laws of England, iv (London, 1876), p. 198.

1481 J. Erskine of Carnock, Principles of the Law of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1890), p. 560.

1482 Lecky, op. cit. ii. 23.

If the Pagans had been comparatively indifferent to the sufferings of the exposed infant, the Christians became all the more cruel to the unfortunate mother, who, perhaps in a fit of despair, had put to death her new-born child. The Christian emperor Valentinian I. made infanticide a capital offence.1483 According to the ‘Coutume de Loudunois,’ a mother who killed her child was burned.1484 In Germany and Switzerland she was buried alive with a pale thrust through her body;1485 this punishment was prescribed by the criminal code of Charles V., side by side with drowning.1486 Until the end of the eighteenth or the beginning of the nineteenth century infanticide was a capital crime everywhere in Europe, except in Russia.1487 Then, under the humanising influence of that rationalistic movement which compelled men to rectify so many preconceived opinions,1488 it became manifest that an unmarried woman who destroys her illegitimate child is not in the same category as an ordinary murderess.1489 It was pointed out that shame and fear, the 242 excitement of mind, and the difficulty in rearing a poor bastard, could induce the unfortunate mother to commit a crime which she herself abhorred. That no notice had been taken of all this is explicable from the extreme severity with which female unchastity was looked upon by the Church. At present most European law-books do not punish infanticide committed by an unmarried woman even nominally with death.1490 In France the law which regards infanticide as an aggravated form of meurtre1491 has become a dead letter;1492 and Stephen wrote in 1888 that in England no woman seems for a long time to have been executed for killing her new-born child under the distress of mind and fear of shame caused by childbirth.1493 Yet the law takes its grim course. The Judge dons his black cap, the death sentence is pronounced, and although reprieve is certain, the unfortunate prisoner is condemned to cruel and unnecessary mental torture. In order to put an end to this gruesome formality, Lord Dawson’s Infanticide Bill, which was given a second reading in the House of Lords shortly before this was written, provided that a woman proved guilty of causing the death of her baby, under the age of twelve months, should be convicted of manslaughter and not of murder.

1483 Codex Theodosianus, ix. 14. 1; Institutiones, ix. 16. 7.

1484 J. Tissot, Le droit pénal, ii (Paris, 1860), p. 40.

1485 E. Osenbrüggen, Das Alamannische Strafrecht (Schaffhausen, 1860), p. 229 sq.; idem, Studien zur deutschen und schweizerischen Rechtsgeschichte (Schaffhausen, 1868), p. 358.

1486 Charles V., Die Peinliche Gerichtsordnung, art. 131 (Heidelberg, 1842).

1487 D. de Feyfer, Verhandeling over den Kindermoord (Utrecht, 1866), p. 225; H. von Fabrice, Die Lehre von der Kindsabtreibung und vom Kindsmord (Erlangen, 1868), p. 251.

1488 A. F. Berner, Lehrbuch des Deutschen Strafrechtes (Leipzig, 1881), p. 497.

1489 Bentham maintained (Theory of Legislation [London, 1882], p. 264 sq.) that infanticide ought not to be punished as a principal offence. “The offence,” he says, “is what is improperly called the death of an infant, who has ceased to be, before knowing what existence is—a result of a nature not to give the slightest inquietude to the most timid imagination; and which can cause no regrets but to the very person who, through a sentiment of shame and pity, has refused to prolong a life begun under the auspices of misery.”

1490 de Feyfer, op. cit. p. 228. For modern legislation on infanticide, see also Spangenberg, in Neues Archiv des Criminalrechts, iii. 360 sqq.; von Fabrice, op. cit. p. 254 sqq.

1491 Code Pénal, arts. 300, 302.

1492 R. Garraud, Traité théorique et pratique du droit pénal Français, iv (Paris, 1891), 251.

1493 J. F. Stephen, A History of the Criminal Law of England, iii (London, 1883), p. 86.

Hand in hand with the custom of infanticide goes feticide, or the destruction of the embryo before it has left the mother’s womb. In ancient Greece, as we have seen, it was in certain circumstances recommended by Plato and Aristotle, in preference to infanticide. In Rome it was prohibited by Septimius Severus and Antoninus, but the prohibition seems to have referred only to those married women who, by procuring abortion, defrauded their husbands of children.1494 During the Pagan Empire abortion was extensively practised, either from poverty, or licentiousness, or vanity; and although severely disapproved of by some,1495 it was probably regarded by the average Romans 243 of the later days of Paganism as so venial as scarcely to deserve censure.1496 Seneca thinks Helvia worthy of special praise because she had never destroyed her expected child within her womb, “after the fashion of many other women, whose attractions are to be found in their beauty alone.”1497 The Romans drew a broad line between feticide and infanticide. An unborn child was not looked upon as a human being, it was a spes animantis not an infans.1498 It was said to be merely a part of the mother, as the fruit is a part of the tree till it becomes ripe and falls down.1499

1494 Digesta, xlvii. 11. 4. Cf. W. Rein, Das Criminalrecht der Römer (Leipzig, 1844), p. 447.

1495 Paulus, quoted in Digesta, xxv. 3. 4.

1496 Lecky, op. cit. ii. 21 sq.

1497 Seneca, Ad Helviam, 16.

1498 Spangenberg, ‘Ueber das Verbrechen der Abtreibung der Leibesfrucht,’ in Neues Archiv des Criminalrechts, ii (Halle, 1818), p. 23.

1499 Ibid. ii. 22.

Very different opinions were held by the Christians. A sanctity, previously unheard of, was attached to human life from the very beginning. Feticide was regarded as a form of murder. “Prevention of birth,” says Tertullian, “is a precipitation of murder; nor does it matter whether one take away a life when formed, or drive it away while forming. He also is a man who is about to be one. Even every fruit already exists in its seed.”1500 Augustine, again, makes a distinction between an embryo which has already been formed and an embryo as yet unformed. From the creation of Adam, he says, it appears that the body is made before the soul. Before the embryo has been endowed with a soul it is an embryo informatus, and its artificial abortion is to be punished with a fine only; but the embryo formatus is an animate being, and to destroy it is nothing less than murder, a crime punishable with death.1501 This distinction between an animate and inanimate fetus was embodied both in Canon1502 and Justinian law,1503 and passed 244 subsequently into various law-books.1504 And a woman who destroyed her animate embryo was punished with death.1505

1500 Tertullian, Apologeticus, 9.