Page:Satires and profanities -microform- (1884).djvu/100

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91
JESUS: AS GOD; AS A MAN.

the kingdom with him and make all mankind fit for it? He loved the poor, he taught the ignorant: if God, why did he let any remain poor and ignorant? He rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees: if God, why did he not wholly purify them from formalism, hypocrisy, and unbelief? He died for love of mankind: if God, why did he not restore mankind to himself without dying? and what great thing was it to seem to die for three days? He sent apostles to preach salvation to all men: if God, why did he not reveal it at once to all men, and so reveal it that doubt had been impossible? He lived an example of holiness to us all: if God, how can our humanity imitate Deity? And finally, a question trampling down every assertion in his favor: why did he ever let the world get evil?

One is ashamed of repeating these things for the ten-thousandth time, but they will have to be repeated occasionally, so long as a vast ecclesiastical system continues to rest on the foundations of the absurdities they oppugn. And while one is grinding such chaff in the theological mill, he may as well have a turn at the Atonement, which is, in fact, the essence of the dogma of the Incarnation. No wonder this poor Atonement has been attacked on all sides; it invites attack; one may say that in every aspect it piteously implores us to attack it and relieve it from the misery of its spectral existence. It is so full of breaches that one does not know where to storm.

I am content to note one aspect of this unfortunate mystery which, so far as I am aware, has been seldom studied. The whole scheme of the Atonement, as planned by God, is based upon a crime—a crime infinitely atrocious, the crime of murder and deicide, is essential to its success: if Judas had not betrayed, if the Jews had not insisted, if Pilate had not surrendered, if all these turpitudes had not been secured, the Atonement could not have been consummated. Need one say more? Sometimes, when musing upon this doctrine, I have a vision of the God-man getting old upon