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his disciples; and after the imprisonment of the latter, prosecuted the same work, and gathered disciples of his own. Jeschuah now formed the design of effecting by his doctrine the moral regeneration of his countrymen; and being under the influence of the supernatural prejudices of his times, imagined that God would interpose to help him in so worthy an attempt, and to reëstablish the kingdom of David. This idea corresponded very nearly to the Messianic expectations of the Jews; and they, hearing him preach from time to time, began to think whether he might not be the expected Messiah. At first, Jeschuah shrunk from such a thought, but gradually became reconciled to it, and at length it gained full possession of his mind. He was, however, entirely destitute of the means of carrying out this idea in practice, for he had no political influence nor any power of working miracles. He saw that the all-powerful priest party was daily becoming more and more incensed against him; the unhappy fate of the persecuted prophets of the Old Testament dwelt on his mind; some texts of the Old Testament, as he began to think, indicated a suffering and dying Messiah; and, on the whole, he at length anticipated a violent death from the hands of his enemies. His anticipations were realized, and he perished on the cross in early life.

This, according to Strauss, is the whole of the historical basis of the gospels. There were no miracles wrought, nor even pretended to be wrought, during the lifetime of Jesus; nor did he, at the commencement of his career, imagine himself to be the Messiah, nor anticipate the sad fate which at length overtook him.

(b) Origin of the miraculous stories of the gospels. The disciples of Jeschuah believed him to be the Messiah; and when the first shock of his terrible end and of their own bitter disappointment was past, they set themselves to devise some method of reconciling actual facts with their cherished expectations, and especially to see if they could not in some way get the idea of suffering and death into their notion of the Messiah. They searched the Old Testament, and found many passages which represented men of God as plagued, persecuted and slain; and these answered to them for Messianic predictions. The Messiah, then, though departed, was not lost; he had only gone into his glory; he must still love and care for his own. This idea took such complete possession of their minds, that some of the women began to imagine they had actually seen him after his burial, and they so said to the men- and the whole company became so excited and talked about the matter so much, and got their imaginations so inflamed, that two or three times, when they were gathered together,


Theory of Strauss.


some object dimly seen in the mountain mist, or some unknown person approaching them, gave them the impression that they had actually seen the Lord in bodily presence.

The great miracle of the resurrection, being thus generated and born and brought into the world, becomes the fruitful parent of other miracles. According to the expectation of the Jews, the Messiah must work miracles, and if Jeschuah wrought no miracles, how could he be the Messiah? The matter was anxiously thought of, and the remembered words and deeds of Jeschuah were scrutinized to see if they might contain any germs out of which miraculous narratives could naturally grow. He had told them they should be fishers of men-happy reminiscence! what more natural than that out of this should grow the story of the miraculous draught of fishes? He had said the unfruitful tree should be cut down; and here we have the nucleus of the fig-tree which was cursed and withered away. True, the apostles could not themselves imagine that they had with their own eyes seen these miracles; but knowing as they did, that the Messiah must work miracles, they could not doubt that such miracles actually occurred. At least, if this was not the idea of the apostles, it must have occurred to those who had seen but little of Christ while he was on earth, and became the popular belief of most of the Christian congregations.

The miracles being thus set on growing by Strauss, their increase is very rapid, and many a scion from the Old Testament tree is grafted into the New, and immediately bears fruit. The hand of Moses, the face of Miriam, the body of Naaman, had been leprous, and were cured at a word; and the Messiah of course could heal leprosy as well as Moses and Elijah, and therefore he did. As Jordan occasioned miraculous cures in the Old Testament, so Siloam in the New; as Elijah struck men with blindness in the Old Testament, so Christ cured blind men in the New; as Jeroboam's withered hand was restored in the Old Testament, so Christ healed withered hands in the New; as Moses divided the Red Sea, so Christ stilled the Galilean Sea; as Moses turned water into blood, so Christ turned water into wine and so all the miracles of the Old Testament find parallels in the New; and this accounts for very many of the miraculous narratives of the New Testament. But Strauss does not so clearly tell us how to account for these miracles of the Old Testament. On his principles, however, it is very easy to invent methods, and any invention is preferable to the plain, simple, matter-of-fact truth. As with the doings of Christ, so with his sayings; those which

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stand recorded are compositions, amplifications, from brief hints of his remembered apothegms.

Now we have the materials of the gospel story, and after a while, one and another writer works up these materials into a written narrative, of which we have four still extant, ascribed severally to Matthew and Mark, to Luke and John.

(c) Estimate of this hypothesis. Such is the hypothesis of Strauss ; and this sort of stuff forms the staple of two thick, heavy volumes, written with great energy, clearness and show of learning, apparently in the most sober earnest, and giving evidence of untiring industry. And these volumes have set the world on fire, and in the opinion of many have demolished the very foundations of Christianity, and left the world without a Saviour, and almost without a God. What a monstrosity; in every view of it a monstrosity! The church of Christ is an accomplished fact, a most mighty, efficient, working fact a fact which confessedly began at the time alleged-and does the hypothesis of Strauss give us means in the least degree adequate to account for this fact? The African who imagines that when the moon is in an eclipse, there is a great serpent attempting to swallow her, and the child who supposes that when it thunders, God is riding in a big waggon over a tin bridge, are philosophers of the highest order in comparison with Strauss as he exhibits himself-in his Leben Jesu.

What an inexplicable enigma is that Jeschuah, for whose existence we are indebted solely to the imagination of Strauss. What unheard of, unaccountable compounds of knavery and goodness, of silliness and greatness, are Strauss's disciples of Jeschuah! What wonderful proficients in stupidity must have been the men of that generation, and the generation immediately succeeding! How could myths arise and gain credence, in the manner and to the extent which he dreams of, in the same generation and the same country wherein the facts are alleged to have occurred? This difficulty is felt by Strauss, and he attempts to get rid of it by supposing that the stories originated mostly in those parts of Palestine east of the Jordan, where Christ had personally seldom appeared. The whole of Palestine was not so large as the State of Maine; and can men in Maine lie with impunity, by going east of the Penobscot? That was an active, enlightened, revolutionizing, realistic age. The whole world was in motion, nations intermingled with each other, languages were cultivated-commerce, literature, the arts, military operations, kept every thing a-stir, and there was neither sluggishness, nor stagnation,


Hypothesis of Weisse.


nor mental stupor to favor the growth of a new mythology. One might as well look for the growth of mushrooms at midday on the pavement of the Royal Exchange in London, under the tread of the thousands of feet which daily there perambulate, as expect the prosperous development of such myths as Strauss dreams of, in such an age and country as that which witnessed the lives and deeds of Christ and his disciples.

Again, how does Strauss know that matters came about in the way which he represents? Who told him? or was he there to see? What authority does he bring, that we should postpone to his single statement the testimony of prophets and apostles and martyrs? Ah! he knows it by the Hegelian power of intuition - by means of which history is constructed subjectively, instead of being objectively learned from the proper sources. In such constructive history, or rather theories of history, we have no confidence.

Yet there is in Strauss's book not a little of learning, and a great amount of acuteness and ingenuity. He starts many difficulties in the gospel narrative, which it requires a clear head and a steady hand and a thorough acquaintance with the subject, effectually to obviate. His book has exerted a great and pernicious influence in Europe, and is doing the same in this country. By means of English translations he is in the hands of many young men who are greedily reading him without any sufficient knowledge of the subject to detect the groundlessness of his assumptions or the fallaciousness of his reasonings; and without dreaming that he has already been thorougly refuted and antiquated in his own country. In the German bookstores the critical writings of Strauss and the theological writings of Tom Paine stand on the same shelf, and are apparently held in equal honor. Why should it not be so with us? In what respects is Strauss so much better than Paine, that he should be respected while Paine is despised? If he has more learning and more decency than Paine, he certainly has much less of sound, practical, common sense. And we are sorry to be obliged to add, that much of what De Wette has said about the Old Testament (made current among us by Parker's translations) is very little better than what Strauss says about the New.

(2) Hypothesis of Weisse.

Chr. Herm. Weisse is an older man than Strauss, a philosopher of no mean pretensions, and a metaphysician. He had published a work on the Fundamental Principles of Metaphysics, another on the

Idea of God, a System of Aesthetics, etc.; and in 1838, awakened by the celebrity of Strauss, he publishes a book entitled the Gospel History critically and philosophically investigated (bearbeitet, belabored.) Weisse understands animal magnetism, and all the mysteries of clairvoyance.

(a) The facts out of which the gospel narratives have arisen. There lived in Palestine during the reign of Tiberius a good man, one Jesus of Nazareth, who, among other happy gifts, possessed the magnetic power of healing. He was in fact a full-charged galvanic battery, ready at any touch to be discharged. He went about Galilee preaching, collecting disciples, and applying his magnetic power to the healing of diseases and the quieting of demoniacs; so that he very naturally gained the affections of the Galileans, who recognized in him the Messiah, and would have been glad to make him king. But, thoughhe felt his Messiahship, he had no political ambition, and sought rather the moral elevation of the people; and in prosecution of this purpose he uttered many parables. Thus he represented the blessed effects of his ministry under the image of the opening of the heavens and the descent of a dove; the strong faith which men should exercise in the grace of God, by the parable of a Canaanitish woman seeking help of a Jew, and taking no denial; the judgment which is to come upon men spiritually unfruitful, by the image of a barren figtree cursed and withered; the regeneration of the world by his word he compares to turning water into wine, etc. He once occasioned great excitement by awakening a maiden who had fallen into a swoon and was supposed to be dead. He never went to Jerusalem but once, and that was at the feast of the passover, when he was im mediately apprehended and crucified. We have no reason to believe that he prayed aloud the night before his apprehension; or that he said when they were nailing him to the cross, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. During his crucifixion there accidental obscurity of the heavens which made much talk. He was buried, and his body remained in the tomb; but his nervo-magnetic spirit once appeared to his disciples and passed up into the clouds.

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(b) Origin of the miraculous stories. These all came very naturally. After the death of Jesus, his parables were turned into stories, and men thought they were actual occurrences. (How many times has this happened in respect to sop's fables!) These stories were not propagated by the apostles; they busied themselves only with teaching the doctrines of their Master, and said nothing about his biography. But somebody told the stories and found people to

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