Page:Literature and Dogma (1883).djvu/110

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When Jesus appeared, his disciples were those who did not make this blunder. They were, in general, simple souls, without pretensions which Jesus Christ's new religious ideal cut short, or self-consequence which it mortified. And any Israelite who was, on the one hand, not warped by personal pretensions and self-consequence, and on the other, not dull of feeling and gross of life like the common multitude, might well be open to the spell which, after all, was the great confirmation of Christ's religion, as it was the great confirmation of the original religion of Israel,—the spell of its happiness. 'Be glad, O ye righteous, and rejoice in the Eternal,'—the old and lost prerogative of Israel,—Christianity offered to make again a living and true word to him.[1]

4.

For we have already remarked how it is the great achievement of the Israel of the Old Testament, happiness being mankind's confessed end and aim, to have more than anyone else felt, and more than anyone else succeeded in making others feel, that to righteousness belongs happiness. Now, it will be denied by no one that Jesus, in his turn, was eminently characterised by professing to bring, and by being felt to bring, happiness. All the words that belong to his mission,—gospel, kingdom of God, saviour, grace, peace, living water, bread of life,—are brimful of promise and of joy. 'I am come,' he said, 'that ye might have life, and that ye might have it more abundantly;' 'Come to me, and ye shall find rest unto your souls;' 'I speak, that my disciples may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.'[2]

You can see, says Jesus to his followers, you can see the leading religionists of the Jewish nation, with the current

  1. Ps. xxxii, 11; xcvii, 12.
  2. John, x, 10; Matth., xi, 28, 29; John, xvii, 13.