The Moral Influence of Jewish Monotheism as contrasted with that of other Religions — Old Testament View of Man's Relation to God — Similar Vein of Thought in Pascal — Why this Religion is a Religion of Prophecy — The Idea of a Present Division between Goodness and Happiness, and a Future Reconciliation — Gradual Increase of the Difficulty owing to Higher Ideas both of Goodness and Happiness — Corresponding Changes in the Idea of their Reconciliation — The Rise of Messianic Hopes — The Resurrection of the Just.
IN the previous lecture I have contrasted the two forms of objective and subjective religion, as having respectively a predominantly contemplative or a predominantly practical tendency. I have spoken of the former as leading to the restful, contemplative worship of a God, who is realised and manifested in the actual movement of nature and of human life; while the latter sets man in antagonism with nature, with fortune, and with himself—makes him measure his own life and the life of the society to which he belongs by an ideal standard, and condemn both as inadequate to his desires and his aspirations. The former is, therefore, a religion which reconciles the individual to his world, his natural and ethical environment, or, at the worst, in its most abstract pantheistic form,—inspires him with resignation and submission to it as an inevitable fate; while the latter is a religion that proclaims ‘woe’ to those that are ‘at ease in Zion,’ stings man into activity by the contrast between that which is and that which ought to be, and fills him with an inextinguishable longing and aspiration after a perfection which he finds nowhere realised on earth. This must not, indeed, be understood to mean that religions of the objective type are altogether without ethical influence. On the contrary, even in a very primitive form of such religion, the gods are regarded as the forefathers of the race of their worshippers; and their worship is therefore bound up with the natural piety which unites the individual to his kinsmen. So also in Greece and Rome civic patriotism was consecrated by a religion which combined the worship of the gods with the service of the State. And it may fairly be said that, throughout all the ancient world, the principle of nationality and the worship of a national god were essentially bound up together. Even the Indian pantheism turned religion into a support of social morality, in so far as it consecrated the order of the caste system, and inculcated resignation to its inequalities, by tracing them back to a divine principle, which was beyond this and all other differences. But in all these cases the ethical spirit of objective religion had one defect. The moral division of man's life had not yet become distinctly conscious of itself, and therefore it could not be healed in other than an imperfect and unspiritual manner. The natural and the moral, the real and the ideal, that which is and that which ought to be, were not yet distinguished; or, at least, the depth and meaning of the distinction was not yet fathomed; and therefore a complete and adequate reconciliation of them could not be achieved. For, until the extent of a difference is measured, until the source and origin of an opposition is discerned, every combination of the conflicting elements must be merely a compromise. It is only when the antagonism has been fully worked out and sharpened to its utmost intensity, that we can look through and beyond it, and discern whether after all there is not a principle of unity, which is presupposed in the division, and therefore is capable of overcoming it. Now, the ethics of objective religion has never sufficiently broken away from its physical starting point; the social obligations which it acknowledges are still based on natural distinctions and relations, and the virtues which it cultivates are still the development of special natural gifts. As poetry reveals spiritual truth under a sensuous form which is inadequate to it, so, for objective religion, the spiritual origin of the social relations of man is still hidden under the disguise of natural ties of blood. And if, even as so hidden, it could elevate and idealise the natural bonds of union, yet it could neither break away from them altogether, nor avoid paying a certain penalty for their imperfection. “But it is just here that subjective religion shows its superiority. In rending away the conscious self from all mere objects, it imposes its own form upon the Absolute, i.e. upon the unity which is presupposed in the consciousness of the self as truly as in the consciousness of objects, and from which therefore the self cannot be separated. In this way, the idea of the spirituality of God and the idea of His absolute moral demands upon man, spring up together. Man is lifted out of the rank of other objects by his consciousness of himself as a subject; and, by the same movement of reflexion, he is brought into relation with an absolutely holy will, and made aware of an ideal law which, as a spiritual being, he is bound to fulfil, but which, because he is also a natural being, he is far from fulfilling. Thus the exalting sense of dignity, the consciousness that he is “made but a little lower than God,”1 and that “all things are put under his feet,” passes immediately into humbling feeling of weakness and finitude. “what is man that Thou art mindful of him, or son of man that Thou visitest him?” His consciousness of being made in the image of God at once lifts him up and casts him down; lifts him up with the idea of his nearness to the divine, and of a “glory and honour” in which no other creature partakes, but casts him down with the sense of his finitude. The closeness of the relation, and at the same time the disproportion of the relation, between God and man, oppress the soul with an awe from which it cannot liberate itself. How, as Job asks, shall a man plead his right with God “as a man with his neighbour”? The consciousness of an infinite Being, the source of all that calls itself wisdom and goodness, whenever it is fully realised, makes the soul that has entertained it shrink into itself with horror. “I had heard of Thee with the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”2 This recoil of the mind against the idea of questioning God may take various forms. It may present itself simply as the absurdity of finitude turning upon the infinite Being, and challenging His will, as if it could detach itself from Him or find an independent standing ground of its own. “Shall the clay say to him who fashioneth it: What makest thou? or thy work: He hath no hands’?3 In a higher mood it appears as a consciousness of the impossibility of separating the thought of righteousness from the source of all right, and of uniting it with the frailty of man. “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?”4 “What is man that he should be clean, or he that is born of a woman that he should be righteous? Behold he putteth no trust in His holy ones, yea, the heavens are not clean in His sight.”5 But even this prostration has in it a principle that elevates man far above the level of that finitude in which he is confused with all the other creatures; for the consciousness of finitude cannot exist in one who is altogether finite.
Among modern writers Pascal has most vividly expressed, and at the same time analysed, this fundamentally Jewish conception of the grandeur et misère de l'homme,—his wretchedness, because he is conscious of the infinite in contrast with his own finitude; and his greatness, because he is conscious of it. Beginning with the external infinitude of space and power, Pascal says: “Space comprehends and swallows me up like a point; but by thought I comprehend it.” “Man is but a reed, the weakest thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. It is not needful that the universe should arm itself to crush him. A breath of vapour, a drop of water, is enough to kill him. But even if the universe were to crush him, man would be more noble than that which slays him, because he knows that he dies.” Again the same consciousness of limit, as against the unlimited, turns into the demand for satisfaction which man makes against the world, and which the world cannot answer. “Why does man weary of everything, and seek to delude himself by a multitude of occupations? Is it not because he has the idea of a happiness which he has lost, and which, finding it not in himself, he seeks vainly in external things, without ever being able to content himself; for it is to be found neither within nor without us, but in God alone?” Yet “he who finds it miserable not to be a king must be a king dethroned,” and the very consciousness of misery from which man cannot escape is the seal of his greatness. “It is dangerous to let man see too clearly how he is on a level with the animals, without showing him his greatness. It is dangerous to let him see too clearly his greatness, without his meanness. If he boasts himself, I abase him; if he abases himself, I exalt I contradict him continually, till he comprehends what an incomprehensible monster he is.’ Pacsal proceeds to explain the inconsistencies of such a nature by the idea of the fall of man from an original state, in which he was in harmony with God and with himself. “If man had never been corrupted, in his innocence he would confidently enjoy truth and felicity. If he had never been anything but corrupt, he would have no idea of truth or happiness. But, wretched that we are, we have an idea of happiness and cannot attain it: we perceive an image of truth, and we possess a lie. Alike incapable of absolute ignorance and of certain knowledge, the one thing that we know is, that we were once in a grade of perfection from which we have miserably fallen.”
In these words we have a reflective reproduction of the same attitude of mind which characterises the religion of the Old Testament—a religion in which man is elevated above all other things, and even above his own natural self, by being brought near to God; but in which this elevation at once turns into such an overpowering awe, and such a trembling sense of weakness and unworthiness, that any thought of pride or self-confidence is entirely excluded. It is this that gives its higher moral meaning to such expressions as those of Isaiah: “Who among us can dwell with the devouring fire?”6 i.e. in the immediate presence of an absolute righteousness. For the answer: “He that walketh righteously and speaketh uprightly,” shows that Isaiah is not speaking of a mere worship of terror, but of the awe of infinite perfection. The intense searching of heart produced by conscious nearness to the divine light has never been expressed with such startling force as in some of the Psalms and in passages of the prophetic books. It is this which puts a wide gulf between them and the religious books of all other nations, in which the division of man's nature,—the opposition between his consciousness of himself in his immediate individuality and his consciousness of God as the universal power and principle of his life,—is yet latent or imperfectly expressed; and in which, therefore, neither the sense of sin nor the thirst for a higher than earthly satisfaction could possibly take such definite form.
One great consequence of this is that Judaism is a religion of prophecy, a religion which, unlike the religions of classical antiquity, lives not in the present but in the future. For, as we have seen, it is a religion which puts man at war with his circumstances and with himself in the present; but which views the defects of the present in relation to a past good which he has lost, and to a future good which he seeks to regain. Wherever we open his pages, we find the Hebrew prophet or psalmist looking back, out of the evil and suffering of his own time, to an original blessedness, an incorrupt state of human nature which has become depraved, a covenant with God which has been broken: and we find him looking forward to a better future in which the broken unity of man with God and with himself shall be restored. He is waiting for a happiness that is to come, and which he supposes his people to have enjoyed in the past; and his explanation of the absence of such happiness from the present is always the moral failure of his own generation. The covenant made with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has been forgotten, and therefore the promise which was attached to it cannot be immediately fulfilled. But, through all, there is a faithful remnant, who cling to the divine law and its Author and bear in their breast the promise of the better and happier time to come.
Into this ‘Cadre’ of an original unity, a present division, and an ultimate reconciliation and restoration,—the great writers of Israel introduce all the facts of life; and by means of it they supply for these facts a moral interpretation. Hence, as I have said, their religion is a religion of prophecy, in which reference to the future takes the place which, in religions of what I have called the objective type, is taken by reference to the present. Subjective religion, as it arises out of an opposition between the self and the not-self, between the inward ideal of the heart and the immediate facts of the outward life, worships a God who is defined in terms of this subjective ideal Hence it must believe that the antagonism between the ideal and the immediate or apparent reality is only superficial and temporary; and it must look forward to a final reconciliation, in which the ideal will be shown to be real and right to be might. Indeed, the history of Jewish religion may be said to be just the history of the development of this view of man's life from its simplest to its most complex form.
At first, the contrast or discord between the ideal and the real is confined within very narrow limits; and all that is felt is, that, if we regard the outward fortunes of men as a distribution of rewards and punishments for goodness and wickedness, the awards do not seem to be such as to satisfy our sense of justice. The just is not prosperous nor the wicked punished. Even this difficulty is at first mitigated by two things: by the idea that goodness is not assured till it is tried by temptation, and by the idea that it is the race rather than the individual that is the subject of reward and punishment. In early times the solidarity of the kinship is such that it does not occur to the individual to regard as unjust a suffering which he endures in behalf of, or along with, his people. And, though the spirit of monotheistic religion tends more and more to sever the individual from his race and to throw him back upon himself, it is only at a comparatively late period, and when Jewish nationality is verging to its fall, that the individualistic principle is distinctly expressed. It is only then declared that the proverb: “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge” shall no more be heard in Israel; but “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.”7
When, however, this gospel of individual responsibility was once promulgated—and we have seen that it was from the first involved in subjective religion—the problem of human life became much harder to solve; for, if it be difficult to see the execution of a divine justice in the history of nations, how is it possible to discern it at all in the fortunes of individuals? The doctrine that the suffering of the righteous and the success of the wicked are temporary, may help for a little to avert the pressure of this difficulty. “I have seen the wicked great in power, spreading himself like a green bay tree: yet he passed away, and lo! he was not, and when I sought him, he could not be found. Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the latter end of that man is peace.”8 But how could such a belief hold out against the calamities of the later period of the history of Judah, which seemed to fall most heavily just upon those who, like the prophet Jeremiah, were most faithful to the task laid upon them, and which struck down the pious king Josiah in battle, while it allowed the impious Manasseh to enjoy a long reign? Ultimately, the sober worldly wisdom, which was never wanting to the Jews, came to discern that “there be just men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked, and again there be wicked men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous”;9 and that the oppressions of the rich and powerful, and the sufferings of the poor and weak, did not frequently end in any retributive reversal of their lot upon earth. The book of Ecclesiastes—which, however, is now supposed to be of very late date10—shows that there were men among the Jewish nation, who, in this sense, sounded the depth of pessimism. “So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and beheld the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter. Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more; than the living which are yet alive. Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not seen the evil that is done under the sun.”11 The magnificent poetry of Job has no light to throw on the problem, except that God is great, and his ways are past understanding; and Ecclesiastes, if it ends in any moral lesson, seems only to bid us enjoy peacefully, with a kind of pious Epicureanism, what goods fall to our lot.
But such hopeless submission was never the general temper of the Hebrew race. Rather, it was their characteristic that the defeat of immediate hopes only produced in them a deepening and widening of their original faith in the ultimate unity of might and right. The highest strains of Jewish prophecy, the tenderest utterances of Jewish piety, were just those occasioned by the defeating and protracting of an unquenchable hope. On the one hand pain and suffering, regarded in the light of a conviction that calamity is always the result of sin, led to a deeper view of the kind of righteousness demanded by a heart-searching God, who could never be satisfied with a mere outward obedience. The reason of outward affliction was thus found in the lurking impurity of a heart which was not yet really at one with the divine law. Nay, the suffering itself began to be regarded as a blessing in disguise, in so far as it contributed to purge and purify the soul. On the other hand, the process which led through trial to happiness was lengthened out beyond the present life of the individual, and the idea of a future state, or at least of a ‘resurrection of the just’ at the Messianic restitution of all things, came to redress the balance. Nay, we may even say, that it came to be expected as a general rule that the life of the saints, in this present evil time, should be a life of humility and suffering, consoled and supported by a glorious hope. And the bliss which was hoped for so became so much idealised and spiritualised in their thought of it, that it ceased, at least to the nobler minds, to present itself as a mere fulness of earthly blessing; and it came to be represented as the happiness; of goodness itself,—not the conquest of all nations by Israel, but that “through the seed of Israel all nations should be blessed.” Thus the somewhat crude faith in a divine distribution of rewards and punishments to the servants and enemies of a national God, gradually deepens into a belief that in all the calamities of life the divine Spirit is with “those that are of a humble and contrite heart,” and that they who sow in tears of lite-long sacrifice for the good of others, will somewhere, somewhen, reap the unselfish joy of seeing all others redeemed from evil and unhappiness by their means.12 This highest result of Jewish religion is expressed most fully in those wonderful prophecies of the later Isaiah, in which the narrow and legal view of a righteousness that looks for earthly happiness as its immediate reward, gives way to the pathetic image of a servant of God, who neither “strives” with others for his own interest nor ‘cries’ out against the wrongs that are done him, but “bears the griefs and carries the sorrows” of others and, through his self-surrender, conquers the power of evil and lays the foundation for a better future to all. In this way that trust in the faithfulness of God, which was characteristic of the Jewish nation, rises, as it were, out of the grave of the earthly kingdom of David in the form of a Messianic hope, which, at Least in its higher and more spiritual aspect, was only a slightly disguised expression of that faith in the ultimate triumph of goodness, which is bound up with the very existence of morality.
The changes through which the faith of the Old Testament thus passes are not accidental, not due merely to the historical course of things in a particular nation. Rather, they are the necessary stages through which the moral consciousness of man, and the religion which goes along with that consciousness, are developed and purified from the baser and coarser ingredients which at first mingle with them. The idea that punishment will follow crime, that happiness will follow goodness, is not to be repudiated as if it were merely the indication of a slavish spirit that needs to be bribed to virtue, and that will not make any sacrifice, without asking: ‘What shall we have then?’ It is, in its simplest and most naïve form, the consciousness that ‘right is might,’ that ‘morality is the nature of things,’ that the law of the world corresponds to the highest law of our own being.“Fiat justitia, ruat caelum,” is a good rhetorical contrast; but that cannot be justice by which the world is destroyed. The righteous man's act, in clinging to his righteousness against the utmost menace of fortune and of evil men, would have no meaning, if he were not appealing to a deeper power in nature and in the hearts of those men themselves. The Carlylean faith, that ‘the cause we fight for so far as it is true, is sure of victory,’ is the necessary basis of all effective activity for good. At the same time, the first simple form in which that faith appears is at variance with obvious facts of life; and it mingles, almost undistinguishably, the higher motives of action with the selfish greed and ambition of the individual. A religion that speaks in such tones as these: “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it”13—such a religion contains, indeed, that synthesis of outward and inward which is necessary to all religion; but it expresses it in a simple and immediate way, which is excusable only because it is addressed to children or to men who are in a childish stage of culture. Every step in the advance of man's moral experience, and in his reflexion upon that experience, is a step towards a deeper understanding of the two terms which are thus united, and at the same time towards a clearer comprehension, of what is meant by their union. Goodness has the promise of happiness: godliness is “profitable for all things, having the promise of this life and of that which is to come.” Yes: but what is goodness, and what is godliness? Not the immediate compliance with an outward command regarded as divine, but the conformity of the whole heart and character to the spirit of the law; not only walking uprightly, but “clean hands and a pure heart”; not merely the outward service which does the day's labour looking for the day's wages, but, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy soul and with all thy strength, and thy neighbour as thyself.” So soon as this deeper consciousness of that which is necessary to bring man into conformity with the divine ideal arises, the process lengthens; for it is seen that the soul has to contend against an evil which clings to it as part of its very being, yet from which it is its first concern to be delivered. The very thought of reward vanishes from him who is conscious that he needs a thorough spiritual change, ere there can be in him anything to reward; and who is far too much oppressed by a sense of the inward division of his nature to be thinking of any extraneous good beyond the bliss of being reconciled to God and to himself. When the clinging sense of evil is expressed in such words as these: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold Thou desirest truth in the inward parts”; all other wishes must be postponed to the desire for inward purity. “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me.”14 To one who has reached such an intensive consciousness of the infinity of duty, and of the need of an inward transformation of his own nature, the simple ideal of an earlier time,—the picture of a righteous man enjoying the favour of God and man as the natural and necessary reward of his righteousness, of a patriarch living under his own vine and his own fig-tree, with an untroubled conscience and a happy and numerous family around him,—has ceased to present supreme attraction. Such a picture must seem to him like a childish dream, or, at best, like the legend of a remote past, in which the men of an earlier race lived other and more simple lives than is possible for himself. If he thinks of it in relation to himself, such conscious righteousness as is expressed in some of the Psalms must seem to him deceptive and insecure: deceptive, because such self-confidence can only be possible to one who has not yet detected the secret sources of evil in his own heart; and insecure, because the reward supposed to be attained has come too soon, without the trial and the suffering that could alone prepare for its enjoyment. Nay, even the reward itself must seem something too limited, too selfish, and too external to be regarded as a final object of desire. The deepening of the religious and moral consciousness thus leads to a conception of life as a discipline, which can hardly be too long and severe to subdue and humble the natural man, and to prepare him to be a vessel of divine grace; and, instead of the proud challenge of the righteous man confident in his own righteousness: “Let me be weighed in a balance so that God may know mine integrity”; We have the humility which is born of the consciousness of an infinite ideal: “Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, O Lord; for in Thy sight no man living can be justified.”15 The religious type, if we might use the expression, the pattern of moral excellence and saintliness which is, at this stage, regarded as the highest for man, is that of the ‘Ebyon,’ who combines outward poverty and suffering with inward humility and self-surrender, and, like Jeremiah, through all persecution and calamity, ‘waits patiently for the consolation of Israel.’ Sometimes this repressed and humbled religious spirit even rises above the need of any consolation, and finds in its own inward experiences of divine communion, a joy that is sufficient for itself, without the need of any outward evidence to support it. “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.”16
Now it is obvious that, as any approach is made to this deeper view of the nature and conditions of spiritual excellence, the idea of the happiness which is to be the reward of such goodness must also be changed. Two influences may be noticed which partly conflict, partly co-operate, but both of which contribute to alter the religious conception of the blessedness which is to be realised in the future. On the one hand, the postponement of such blessedness beyond the immediate life of the individual takes away the empirical limit within which it had to be confined, when it was supposed to be realised under the ordinary conditions of human existence; and also deprives it of the definite, sensuous character which was necessarily attributed to it as a bliss to bo enjoyed here, and now. And, on the other hand, the deepening reflexion which the advance of time brings with it, cannot but change the idea of what constitutes a satisfying good for man. Man has become conscious of a void in himself which cannot be filled by a limited earthly happiness; and, released from the measure of what is practicable under present conditions, the imagination can paint the glories of the better future in whatever colours it pleases. This, indeed, would of itself only lead—in those who were unable to rise to a spiritual view of things—to an extravagant hope of the triumph of Israel over all her enemies, and of the re-establishment of the kingdom of David on a grander scale as a sovereignty over the whole earth. But the same movement of thought which emancipated the imagination, and so gave rise to apocalyptic visions of the Messianic kingdom, had also, as we have seen, produced in many of the better spirits a deepened moral consciousness, which could no longer find satisfaction in the realisation of any outward ambition on however enlarged a scale. To him for whom the deepest source of joy was the life that is hid with God, and who regarded that life as finding its natural expression in the service of men, and especially in the consolation and support of the poor and the oppressed, a conquering Messiah who should set the feet of the Jews on the necks of their enemies, could no longer be the realisation of his dearest hopes. Rather, he must look upon that as the only true victory of the good cause, in which it shall win to itself the hearts of its enemies; that in which the tide of life which he feels within himself shall flow forth to overcome all the resistant powers of evil. To such a spirit in the later Isaiah the divine voice already spoke, in words which anticipate the universalism of St. Paul, breaking down the limits of all national religion “It is too light a thing that thou shouldest be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and restore the preserved of Israel. I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be My salvation unto the end of the earth.”17 And the character of the salvation itself necessarily changes with the universalising of it, ceasing to consist solely, or mainly, in any reward of goodness which can be separated from goodness itself. In place of the old covenant in which an outward reward was attached to an outward service, Jeremiah tells us that Jehovah is about to substitute a new covenant, which, unlike the former, will never be broken, because it abolishes the division between man and the God with whom he covenants. “This shall be the new covenant which I shall make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and I will be their God and they shall be My people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them.”18
This slight sketch of the way in which the ideas of goodness and of its reward are gradually deepened and elevated in the later prophets and psalmists, is enough to show that we have here one of the most remarkable cases of what we may call the dialectic of the development of religious ideas. The fundamental principle of all subjective religion is faith in divine justice, a faith that that justice is ever executing, and will more and more fully execute, itself upon earth. Such a faith sets the inner consciousness of what ought to be against what is, or, at least, what appears to be in the present; and it prophesies a future in which the demands of the inner voice will be outwardly realised, it may at first be mixed with selfish anticipations, and so may give rise to an outward goodness which does not ‘serve God for nought.’ But to a truly religious mind, even in the very simplest stage, the belief in the outward success which is to follow upon rectitude is nourished, not merely by the selfish desire of reward, but also, and far more, by the need of seeing the inward voice of conscience confirmed and manifested as the law of the universe. This is the permanent element of belief which survives through all the changing forms of Jewish religion, and which through all these forms is gradually purifying and enlarging itself, till finally it becomes the faith in a providential law according to which the ‘history of the world’ is still the ‘judgment of the world,’ but in no such simple and arbitrary fashion as that obedience immediately has its reward provided by a divine interposition. On the contrary, experience and reflexion have gradually made it manifest that it is only through suffering and sacrifice that the goodness of man gains that overcoming power which nothing can resist; and also that the success which it then wins lies not in the outward happiness of the sufferer himself, but rather in the higher life which he thus earns for his nation and for humanity. In this sense, the servant of God suffers for the sins, and with a view to the salvation of others. “The chastisement of their peace is laid upon him, and with his stripes they are healed.” Hence the triumph of goodness which satisfies the moral consciousness is not of the good man himself, but only of his cause, or of him only as he is one with his cause. “The cause thou lightest for, so far as it is true, just so far and no farther, is sure of victory.” Or, if the prophet can still hold that the sufferer for humanity will see of the travail of his soul, and will be satisfied, that idea can find its legitimate development only in a belief in the resurrection of the just, such as gradually gained ground in the later period of the history of Israel. The last voice of Jewish prophecy is, therefore, not: ‘Obey God and you will be happy,’ but, rather, in words like the flowing, which express how the spirit rises from its own calamity to the contemplation of the purpose of God through the ages. When the Psalmist, looking as the sorrows and evils of his time, asks the question, “Is His mercy clean gone for ever, and will He be favourable no more?” he immediately finds for himself the answer; “This is my infirmity”—this failing of faith—“but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”19 Out of such a view the hope of a better future arises, not under the form of an anticipation of external reward, but as the natural faith of spiritual life in its own permanence, in the eternal spring of existence which it contains within it. For unlike the natural, the spiritual life has a fountain of new life in itself, which cannot be exhausted. “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fail. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”20 And the final vision of happiness is one in which no baser ingredient of selfish triumph remains. “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”21
- 1. Psalm viii. 5. The above is the correct translation. The word is Elohim.
- 2. Job xlii. 6.
- 3. Isa. xlv. 9.
- 4. Gen. xviii. 25.
- 5. Job xv. 14.
- 6. Isa. xxxiii. 14.
- 7. Jer. xxxi. 30; Ezek. xviii. 2.
- 8. Psalms xxxvii. 36.
- 9. Eccles. viii. 14.
- 10. In next lecture, it will be shown that the pessimistic strain of thought, which is here expressed, was characteristic of the latest period of Jewish religion.
- 11. Eccles. iv. 1.
- 12. In Memoriam, 54
I can but trust that good shall fall
At lastfar offat last, to all,
And every winter change to spring.
- 13. Isaiah i. 19.
- 14. Psalms li. 5, 10.
- 15. Psalms cxliii. 2.
- 16. Psalms lxxiii. 25.
- 17. Isaiah xlix. 6.
- 18. Jer. xxxi. 33.
- 19. Psalms lxxvii. 8, 10.
- 20. Isa. xl. 30.
- 21. Daniel xii. 3.