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be no diversity of opinion and purpose, then, between Christ and John ; both fully understood that the deeper radiance of the kingdom of heaven swallows up and absorbs all lesser lights. The one as the Sun of Righteousness, the other as the star which heralds his coming, advance, joyously, into the unobstructed effulgence of the eternal kingdom.

At length, John disappears from the scene. He was beheaded at the instance of Herodias, and thus entered glory, by a quick, though bloody passage. His work was done; Jesus alone must appear on the scene, and occupy the entire field of vison.*

to the descent of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and so possessing higher views and enjoying greater privileges than John. Though elevated, we are not to suppose the views of John to be as perfect, or as clearly defined, as those of the early Christians, who lived after the permanent establishment of the church. See Olshausen in loco.

* Some of John's disciples did not carry out the spirit of their master, but forming a peculiar sect, lapsed into narrow Jewish prejudices, and carnal usages. Hence the Ebiontes.

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CHAPTER XI.

THE MYTHIC THEORY.

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We have dwelt the longer, in the preceding chapters, on the preparation of Christ for his public ministry, as well as on the character and mission of John the Baptist, because they supply the materials for a refutation of one of the most plausible and ingeniously supported theories of modern scepticism — to account, on natural grounds, for the life and character of Jesus, as the acknowledged Messiah. We refer to the hypothesis of Strauss, developed in his Life of Jesus, and adopted in its fundamental features by the great body of sceptics in Europe and in this country, among whom we may name Theodore Parker, who has reproduced it for the benefit of American readers. We have already alluded to this theory, but we wish to take some further notice of it, as it is confessedly the boldest yet proposed, to account for a life, which Rousseau himself was compelled to consider a miracle.

It is based, we may premise, upon a fundamental denial of the possibility of miracies - a prodigious assumption, as most persons will

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regard it, yet a perfectly natural one to Strauss, who, philosophically, is a pupil of the pantheistic school, and, therefore, positively denies the existence of a personal God. Nature and God, in his theory, are confounded. He knows no God but “the Absolute Essence, which comes to consciousness in man.” Nature, or the external universe, is but the necessary and eternal manifestation of the divine.

divine. All, indeed, is divine, as man is divine, and in its essence changeless and eternal. What we call change, or the relation of cause and effect, according to this theory, is but the ebb and flow of the uncreated being, who reveals himself in nature and in man. Under such a system, the idea of new beginnings or creations, whether in the natural or the spiritual worlds, of special interventions and revelations, as ordinarily understood, and, above all, of miracles and incarnations, is inadmissible. Such divine interpositions, beyond the sphere of natural or ordinary causes, Strauss pronounces impossible.*

Keeping this in mind, we present the following, as a fair statement of the substance of his theory:

* It is on this ground that Neander designates the controversy commenced by Strauss as “a struggle between Christian Theism and a system of world and self deification. — Preface to his Leben Jesu.

66 All that is miraculous in the life of Christ, as given in the gospel, and recognized by the church, is mythical; that is, it is the natural exaggeration of a credulous and superstitious age, anxious to exalt its heroes into divinities. There was such a man, such a teacher and reformer, as Jesus, the principal natural events of whose life are probably real historical facts; but all else, all especially that is supernatural, his birth from a pure virgin, the song of the angels, the star in the East, the miracles, the resurrection, the ascension, &c., are legendary or fictitious. He was a native of Nazareth, the son of Joseph and Mary. Some exhibition of uncoinmon intelligence may have given rise to the story of his sojourn in the temple, when twelve years old, though this is doubtful. He probably had some instructions from the Essenes or from the Jewish Rabbins, and intelligent persons whom he met at the feasts at Jerusalem. At about thirty years of age, he became a follower of John the Baptist, who appears to have belonged to the sect of the Essenes, and to have proclaimed the popular idea, very natural among an oppressed people, that the great national deliverer was at hand. Jesus probably remained a follower of John the Baptist much longer than the partiality of tradition would allow us to believe. At length he began to preach, at first the same doctrine with John the Baptist, that the Messiah was about to appear. Gradually becoming conscious of his extraordinary power, the idea occurred to him that he was destined to fill that office. His conception of the Messiahship, at first probably similar to that entertained by the Jewish people, rose with his increasing experience, until, applying to himself the prophecies of the Old Testament, which speak of the Messiah as suffering, he was convinced that a violent death, which the malice of his enemies rendered probable, was a part of his mission. Having exercised the mission of a teacher and reformer of morals, he was at length put to death. He did not rise again, but the excited imagination of his followers presented his form in visions; a report spread of his resurrection, which was believed among bis followers, and contributed chiefly to the success of his religion."

On this ground, Strauss and his followers ascribe no fraudulent designs either to Christ or his disciples. The whole conception of his Messianic character is attributed to the force of imagination. The myth, based upon a few fragmentary natural facts, grew, so to speak, by accretion, so that the church did not receive, but gave itself a divine Messiah. The followers of Christ, then, are in no sense impostors, but simply enthusiasts, who, finding certain things predicted

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