The Worlds Greatest Books, Volume XIII. - Religion and Philosophy
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Therefore, having to do with people of all sorts and conditions, and of diverse nationalities, they need casuists suited to all this diversity. From this principle you will easily see that if they had none but lax casuists they would defeat their chief purpose, which is to include the whole world. Truly pious people seek a more severe direction, but as there are not many who are truly pious the Jesuits do not need many strict directors to guide them. They have a few for the few who need them. On the other hand, the vast number of their lax casuists are at the service of the innumerable multitude who seek the broad and easy way.

It is by this obliging and accommodating conduct that they open their arms to all the world. Thus, if someone comes to them already determined to make restitution of goods which he has wrongly acquired, you need not fear that they will dissuade him. On the contrary, they will praise and confirm his holy resolution. But if another should come wishing to have absolution without making restitution, their position would be a difficult one, if they had not the means of giving him his desire. It is thus that they keep all their friends and defend themselves against their enemies. And if anyone accuses them of extreme laxity, they immediately bring forward their most austere directors, and certain books which they have written on the severity of the Christian law; and simple and uninquiring people are contented with these proofs.

They have proofs for all sorts of people, and make such ingenious replies to every question that when they find themselves in countries where a crucified God seems like madness, they suppress the scandal of the Cross and preach only Christ in glory. This they have done in India and China, where they even condone idolatry by a subtle device; they allow their people to carry with them hidden images of Christ, to which they should address the public worship ostensibly paid to their idols. This conduct led to their being forbidden under pain of excommunication to permit the adoration of idols, under any pretext, or to hide the mystery of the Cross from those whom they instruct in religion, and they have been forbidden to receive anyone in baptism until he has this knowledge, and are enjoined to erect in their churches the image of the crucifix.

Thus they have spread over the whole earth in the strength of their doctrine of "probable opinions," which is the fount and origin of all these irregularities. You may learn of this from themselves, for they take no pains to hide it, except that they cover their human and political prudence with the pretence of a divine and Christian prudence. They act as if the faith and the tradition which maintains it were not for ever invariable at all times and in all places, and as if nothing more were required, in order to remove the stains of guilt, than to corrupt the law of the Lord, instead of regarding that stainless and holy law as itself the instrument of conversion, and conforming human souls to its salutary precepts.


Sir,—I must now let you know what the good Jesuit father told me about the maxims of their casuists, with regard to the "point of honour" among gentlemen. "You know," said he, "that this point of honour is the dominating passion of men in that rank of life, and is constantly leading them into acts of violence which appear quite contrary to Christian piety. Indeed, we should have to exclude all of them from our confessionals, if our fathers had not in some degree relaxed the severity of religion and accommodated it to the weakness of men. But since they wished to remain attached to the Gospel by their duty towards God, and to men of the world by their charity towards their neighbour, they had to seek expedients by which they might make it possible for a man to maintain his honour in the ordinary way of the world without wounding his conscience. They had to preserve, at the same time, two things which are apparently so opposed to one another as piety and honour. But, however valuable their purpose might be, its execution was exceedingly difficult."

"I am surprised," I said, "that you find it difficult."

"Are you?" he replied. "Do you not know that on the one hand the law of the Gospel commands us never to render evil for evil, and to leave vengeance to God; and that on the other hand the laws of the world forbid that we should suffer injury without executing justice, even by the death of our enemies? Is it possible that two precepts should be more contrary to one another?"

"What I meant to say was, that after what I have seen of your fathers, I know that they can easily do things which are impossible to other men. I am quite ready to believe that they have discovered some means of reconciling these two precepts, and I beg of you to inform me what it is."

"You must know, then," he replied, "that this wonderful principle is our grand method of directing the intention, a principle of great importance in our moral system. You have already seen certain examples of it. Thus, when I explained to you how servants could carry with a clear conscience certain harmful messages, you must have seen that it was by diverting their intention from the evil of which they are the bearers and by turning it to the gain which they receive for their service. This is what we call 'directing the intention.' In the same way you have seen that those who give money in return for benefices would be guilty of simony unless they diverted their intention from the transaction. But I am going to show you this grand method in all its beauty in relation to homicide, which it justifies under a thousand circumstances."

"I am ready to believe," I said, "that your principle will permit everything, and that nothing will escape it."

"Not at all," he replied; "you are always running from one extreme to the other. We by no means permit everything. For instance, we never permit the formal intention of sin, for the mere sake of sinning, and we will have nothing to do with anyone who persists in seeking evil as an end in itself, for that is a devilish intention, in whatever age, sex, or rank it may be found. But so long as there is no such unhappy disposition as that, we try to put in practice our method of directing intention, which consists in proposing a lawful object as the end of one's actions. In so far as it is in our power, we turn away from forbidden things; but when we are unable to prevent the action, we at least try to purify the intention, and so correct the vice of the means by the purity of the end.

"That is how our fathers have been able to permit the acts of violence which are committed in the defence of honour. It is only necessary to turn away one's intention from the desire of vengeance, which is criminal, and to restrict it to the desire of defending one's honour, which is a lawful desire. It is thus that our fathers are able to fulfil their duties towards God and towards men alike. They please the world by permitting the actions, and they satisfy the Gospel by purifying the intentions. It is a method which was unknown to the ancients, and is entirely due to our fathers. Do you understand it now?"

"I understand it very well," I said. "You allow to men the external and material effect of the action, and you give to God the internal and spiritual movement of intention, and thus reconcile the human with the divine law. But though I understand your principle well enough, I should like to know what are its consequences.—I should like to know, for instance, all the cases in which your method permits one to kill. You have told me that whoever receives a blow may repay it with a sword-thrust without the guilt of vengeance, but you have not yet told me how far one may go."

"You can hardly make a mistake," said the father. "You may go as far as to kill the man. One of our authorities speaks: 'It is permitted to kill a man who has given a blow, even though he runs away, on the condition that it is not done through hatred or through vengeance, and that one's actions do not lead to murders which are excessive and harmful to the state.' The reason is, that one may thus run after one's honour as if after a stolen object. For though your honour is not exactly in the hands of your enemy as if it were something which he had picked up, you can yet recover it in the same way by giving a proof of greatness and of authority, and by thus acquiring human esteem. Indeed, he continues: 'Is it not true that he who has received a blow is considered disgraced until he has slain his enemy?'"

This appeared to me so horrible that I had difficulty in restraining myself. I felt that I had heard enough.


Reverend Fathers,—I have read the letters which you have published in answer to some of mine on the subject of your moral principles; and I find that one of the principal points in your defence is that I have not spoken seriously enough of your maxims. You repeat this charge in all your writings, and you go so far as to say that I have turned holy things into ridicule.

This is a surprising and very unjust reproach; for where is a passage to be found in which I have treated holy things with raillery? It is true that I have spoken with little respect of the teachings of certain among you, but do you suppose that the imaginations of your authors are to be taken as the verities of the faith? Is it impossible to laugh at passages of Escobar, and at the very fantastic and unchristian conclusions of others of your authors without being accused of ridiculing religion? Are you not afraid lest your reproaches should give me a new subject for ridicule, or lest it should be seen that when I make sport of your moral principles I am as far from laughing at holy things as the doctrine of your casuists is far from the holy teaching of the Evangel!

Truly, fathers, there is a great difference between laughing at religion, and laughing at those whose extravagant opinions are its profanation. It would be impious to be wanting in respect for the truths which the Spirit of God has revealed, but it would hardly be less impious that we should not show our contempt for the falsities which the human spirit has opposed to them.

I pray you to consider that just as Christian truth is worthy of love and of respect, the errors that are contrary to it deserve our contempt and hatred. For there are two qualities in the truths of our religion, a divine beauty which compels our love, and a holy majesty that demands our veneration; and there are two qualities in error, the impiety which makes it horrible, and the impertinence which renders it absurd.

Do not hope, therefore, to persuade the world that it is unworthy of Christians to deal with errors as absurdities, since this method has been common to the early fathers of the church, and is authorised by Holy Scriptures, by the example of the greatest saints, and even by that of God himself. For do we not see that God at the same time hates and despises sinners in such a degree that at the hour of their death, when their condition is at its saddest and most deplorable, the divine wisdom is said to unite mockery and laughter with the vengeance and fury which condemns them to perpetual torments.

Nay, it is worthy of our notice that in the first words which God spake to man after the fall the fathers of the church have discovered a tone of mockery, a stinging irony. After Adam had disobeyed, in the hope that the devil had given that he would then be made like a God, it appears from Scripture that God's punishment made him subject to death, and that after having reduced Adam to the miserable condition which his sin had deserved, God mocked him with words of piercing irony, saying: "There is the man who has become as one of us."

You see, therefore, that mockery is sometimes designed to turn men from their follies, and is then an act of righteousness. Thus Jeremiah says that the deeds of the foolish are worthy of laughter because of their vanity. And, again, St. Augustine says that the wise laugh at the foolish because they are wise, but in virtue not of their own wisdom, but of the divine wisdom which will mock at the death of the wicked.

What? Must we call in Scripture and tradition to prove that cutting down one's enemy from behind, and in an ambush is a treacherous murder? Or that giving a present of money to secure an ecclesiastical benefice is to purchase it? Of course, there are teachings which deserve our contempt, and can only be dealt with by mockery. Are you, fathers, to be permitted to teach that it is lawful to slay in order to avoid a blow and an affront, yet are we to be forbidden to refute publicly so grave an error? Are you to be at liberty to say that a judge may conscientiously retain a bribe given him to purchase injustice, yet may we never contradict you? Are you formally to pronounce that a man may be saved without ever having loved God, and yet close the mouths of those who would defend the truth of the faith, on the ground that their defence must wound fraternal charity by attacking you, and must grieve Christian modesty by laughing at your maxims?


Reverend Fathers,—I was about to write to you concerning the accusations which you have so long brought against me, wherein you call me impious, buffoon, rogue, impostor, calumniator, swindler, heretic, disguised Calvinist, one possessed of a legion of devils. I wish the world to know why you speak thus, for I should be sorry that anyone should think thus of me; and I had already made up my mind to complain publicly of your calumnies and impostures when I saw your replies, wherein you bring the same charges against me. You have thus forced me to change my purpose. Yet I shall still carry it out in some degree, inasmuch as I hope that my defence will convict you of more real impostures which you have imputed to me. Truly, fathers, your position is more open to suspicion than mine, for it is very unlikely that I, being alone as I am, and without strength or human support against so powerful a society as yours, and being sustained only by truth and sincerity, should have exposed myself to the risk of losing all, by exposing myself to a conviction of imposture. But your position, fathers, is different; you can say of me what you please, and I can find no one to whom I may complain. Well, you have chosen your ground, and the war shall be made in your country and at your expense. Do not fear that I shall be tedious; there is something so diverting about your maxims that they never fail to rejoice the world.

Let me closely explain, for instance, your doctrine with regard to simony. Finding yourself in a dilemma between the canons of the church, which forbid with the severest penalties any trade in ecclesiastical benefices, and the avarice of so many people who promote this infamous traffic, you have followed your ordinary method, which is to give to men what they desire, and to offer to God nothing but words and appearances. For what do simonfacal persons demand, if not that they shall receive money in return for their benefices?

But that is precisely the transaction which you have cleared from the guilt of simony. Yet, since you cannot do away with the name of simony, and there must be some matter to which the name attaches, you have devised for that purpose an imaginary idea, which never enters the minds of simoniacs at all, and indeed would be quite useless to them. This is, that simony consists in valuing the money, considered in itself, as highly as the spiritual privilege, considered in itself. Who would ever dream of comparing things which are so disproportionate and of such different kinds? Yet, according to your authors, so long as a man does not entertain this metaphysical comparison, he may give his benefice to another, and may receive money in return, without incurring the guilt of simony. It is thus that you make game of religion in order to pander to human passions.

The abusive language which you utter against me will never clear up our differences, nor shall any of your threats restrain me from defending myself. You trust in your strength and impunity, but I believe that I possess truth and innocence. The war by which violence attempts to oppress the truth is a strange and a long one, for all the efforts of violence are unable to weaken truth, and serve only to make it more evident. On the other hand, all the light of truth can do nothing to arrest violence, but rather inflames it. When force combats force, the stronger destroys the weaker; when argument is opposed to argument, true and convincing reasoning confounds that which is based on vanity and lies; but violence and truth have, no power one over the other. That is not to say that these two things are equal. There is this extreme difference between them: the career of violence is limited by the divine order, which determines its effects to the glory of the truth which it attacks; but truth, on the other hand, exists externally, and triumphs at last over its enemies, because it is eternal and powerful as God Himself.


Let us now see, fathers, how you value that life of man, which is so jealously safeguarded by human justice. It appears from your novel laws that there is only one judge in a case of affront or injury, and that this judge is to be he who has received the offence. He is to be at the same time judge, plaintiff, and executioner. He demands the death of the offender, sentences him to death, and immediately executes the sentence; and so, without respect either for the body or for the soul of his brother, slays and imperils the salvation of him for whom Christ died. And all this is to be done to avoid a blow, a slander, an insulting word, or some other offence for which neither the law nor any authorised judge could assign the penalty of death.

Not only so, but even a priest is held to have contracted neither sin nor irregularity in this infliction of death without authority and against law. Can these be religious men and priests who speak in this way? Are they Christians or Turks—men or demons? Spread over the whole earth, according to St. Augustine, there are two peoples and two worlds—the world of the children of God, who form one body, of which Jesus Christ is king, and the world of the enemies of God, of whom the devil is king.

Now, Christ has founded honour on suffering; the devil has founded it on the refusal to suffer. Christ has taught those who receive a blow to offer the other cheek; but the devil has taught those who are in danger of a blow to kill the enemy who threatens them.

Consider, therefore, fathers, to which of these two kingdoms you belong. You have heard the language of the city of peace, which is called the mystical Jerusalem, and you have heard the language of the city of turmoil, which is called in the Scriptures the spiritual Sodom. Which of these two languages do you understand? According to St. Paul, those who belong to Christ act and speak on his principles; and, according to the words of Christ, those who are the children of the devil, who has been a murderer from the beginning of the world, follow his maxims. We listen, therefore, to the language of your teachers, and ask of them whether when a blow is threatened, we ought to suffer it rather than slay the offender, or whether we may kill him in order to escape the affront?

Lessius, Molina, Escobar, and other Jesuits say that it is lawful to kill the man who threatens a blow. Is that the language of Jesus Christ?

* * * * *



William Penn was born in London on October 14, 1644. In early life he joined the Quakers, and while still a young man underwent imprisonment for the expression of his religious views. For "A Sandy Foundation Shaken," an attack on the Athanasian Creed, he was in 1668 sent to the Tower, where he wrote, "No Cross, No Crown." Under James II., however, he was high in the favour of the court, and received a grant of the region afterwards known as Pennsylvania, whither he went with a number of his co-religionists in 1682. After his return to England, he suffered by the fall of James II., but under William III. was acquitted of treason, and spent his later years in retirement. He died at Ruscombe, in Berkshire, on July 30, 1718. "Some Fruits of Solitude, or the Maxims of William Penn," evidently the result of one of his sojourns in prison, was licensed in 1693. It was followed by "More Fruits of Solitude." The whole forms a collection of maxims which are shrewd, wise, and charitable, informed with a good courage for life, and a contempt for mean ends, if in their variety they do not always escape the touch of the commonplace. The book has become known as a favourite of R.L. Stevenson, who said of it that "there is not the man living—no, nor recently dead—that could put, with so lovely a spirit, so much honest, kind wisdom into words."


Reader, this Enchiridion I present thee which is the fruit of solitude; a school few care to learn in, though none instructs us better. Some parts of it are the result of serious reflection; others the flashings of lucid intervals. Writ for private satisfaction, and now published for an help to human conduct.

The author blesseth God for his retirement, and kisses that Gentle Hand which led him into it; for though it should prove barren to the world, it can never do so to him.

He has now had some time he could call his own; a property he was never so much master of before; in which he has taken a view of himself and the world; and observed wherein he hath hit and mist the mark; what might have been done, what mended, and what avoided in his human conduct; together with the omissions and excesses of others, as well societies and governments, as private families and persons. And he verily thinks, were he to live over his life again, he could not only, with God's grace, serve Him, but his neighbour and himself, better than he hath done, and have seven years of his time to spare. And yet perhaps he hath not been the worst or the idlest man in the world, nor is he the oldest. And this is the rather said, that it might quicken thee, reader, to lose none of the time that is yet thine.

There is nothing of which we are apt to be so lavish as of time, and about which we ought to be more solicitous; since without it we can do nothing in this world. Time is what we want most, but what, alas! we use worst; and for which God will certainly most strictly reckon with us, when time shall be no more.

The author does not pretend to deliver thee an exact piece; his business not being ostentation, but charity. 'Tis miscellaneous in the matter of it, and by no means artificial in the composure. But it contains hints that may serve thee for texts to preach to thyself upon, and which comprehend much of the course of human life. Since whatever be thy inclination or aversion, practice or duty, thou wilt find something not unsuitably said for thy direction and advantage. Accept and improve what deserves thy notice; the rest excuse, and place to account of good will to thee and the whole creation of God.


It is admirable to consider how many millions of people come into and go out of the world ignorant of themselves and of the world they have lived in. If one went to see Windsor Castle or Hampton Court it would be strange not to observe and remember the situation, the building, the gardens, fountains, etc., that make up the beauty and pleasure of such a seat. And yet few people know themselves; no, not their own bodies, the houses of their minds, the most curious structure of the world, a living walking tabernacle: nor the world of which it was made, and out of which it is fed; which would be so much our benefit as well as our pleasure to know. We cannot doubt of this when we are told the Invisible things of God are brought to light by the things that are seen; and consequently we read our duty in them as often as we look upon them, to Him that is the Great and Wise Author of them, if we look as we should do.

The world is certainly a great and stately volume of natural things; and may not be improperly styled the hieroglyphics of a better. But, alas! how very few leaves of it do we really turn over! This ought to be the subject of the education of our youth, who at twenty, when they should be fit for business, know little or nothing of it.


We are in pain to make them scholars, but not men; to talk rather than to know, which is true canting. The first thing obvious to children is what is sensible; and that we make no part of their rudiments.

We press their memory too soon, and puzzle, strain, and load them with words and rules; to know grammar and rhetoric, and a strange tongue or two, that it is ten to one may never be useful to them; leaving their natural genius to mechanical and physical, or natural knowledge uncultivated and neglected; which would be of exceeding use and pleasure to them through the whole course of their life.

To be sure, languages are not to be despised or neglected; but things are still to be preferred.

Children had rather be making of tools and instruments of play; shaping, drawing, framing, and building, etc., than getting some rules of propriety of speech by heart; and those also would follow with more judgment and less trouble and time.

It were happy if we studied nature more in natural things, and acted according to nature; whose rules are few, plain, and most reasonable.

Let us begin where she begins, go her pace, and close always where she ends, and we cannot miss of being good naturalists.

The creation would not be longer a riddle to us: the heavens, earth, and waters, with their respective, various, and numerous inhabitants: their productions, natures, seasons, sympathies, and antipathies; their use, benefit, and pleasure would be better understood by us: and an eternal wisdom, power, majesty, and goodness very conspicuous to us through those sensible and passing forms: the world wearing the mark of its Maker, whose stamp is everywhere visible, and the characters very legible to the children of wisdom.

And it would go a great way to caution and direct people in their use of the world that they were better studied and known in the creation of it.

For how could man find the confidence to abuse it, while they should find the Great Creator stare them in the face, in all and every part thereof?

Their ignorance makes them insensible and that insensibility hardy in misusing this noble creation, that has the stamp and voice of a Deity everywhere, and in everything to the observing.

It is pity, therefore, that books have not been composed for youth, by some curious and careful naturalists, and also mechanics, in the Latin tongue, to be used in schools, that they might learn things with words: things obvious and familiar to them, and which would make the tongue easier to be obtained by them.

Many able gardeners and husbandmen are yet ignorant of the reason of their calling; as most artificers are of the reason of their own rules that govern their excellent workmanship. But a naturalist and mechanick of this sort is master of the reason of both, and might be of the practice, too, if his industry kept pace with his speculation; which were very commendable, and without which he cannot be said to be a complete naturalist or mechanic.

Finally, if man be the index or epitome of the world, as philosophers tell us, we have only to read ourselves well to be learned in it. But because there is nothing we less regard than the characters of the Power that made us, which are so clearly written upon us and the world He has given us, and can best tell us what we are and should be, we are even strangers to our own genius; the glass in which we should see that true instructing and agreeable variety, which is to be observed in nature, to the admiration of that wisdom and adoration of that Power which made us all.


Frugality is good, if liberality be joined with it. The first is leaving off superfluous expenses; the last bestowing them to the benefit of others that need. The first without the last begins covetousness; the last without the first begins prodigality. Both together make an excellent temper. Happy the place wherever that is found.

Were it universal, we should be cured of two extremes, want and excess: and the one would supply the other, and so bring both nearer to a mean; the just degree of earthly happiness.

It is a reproach to religion and government to suffer so much poverty and excess.

Were the superfluities of a nation valued, and made a perpetual tax on benevolence, there were be more alms-houses than poor, schools than scholars; and enough to spare for government besides.


Love labour; for if thou dost not want it for food thou mayest for physick. It is wholesome for thy body, and good for thy mind. It prevents the fruits of idleness, which many times come of having nothing to do, and lead too many to do what is worse than nothing.

A garden, an elaboratory, a work-house, improvements and breeding, are pleasant and profitable diversions to the idle and ingenious; for here they miss ill company, and converse with nature and art; whose variety are equally grateful and instructing; and preserve a good constitution of body and mind.


Knowledge is the treature, but judgment the treasurer of a wise man.

He that has more knowledge than judgment is made for another man's use more than his own.

It cannot be a good constitution, where the appetite is great and the digestion is weak.

There are some men like dictionaries; to be looked into upon occasions, but have no connection, and are little entertaining.

Less knowledge than judgment will always have the advantage over the injudicious knowing man.

A wise man makes what he learns his own, t'other shows he's but a copy, or a collection at most.


Man being made a reasonable, and so a thinking creature, there is nothing more worthy of his being than the right direction and employment of his thoughts; since upon this depends both his usefulness to the publick and his own present and future benefit in all respects.

The consideration of this has often obliged me to lament the unhappiness of mankind, that through too great a mixture and confusion of thoughts have been hardly able to make a right or mature judgment of things.

Clear, therefore, thy head, and rally, and manage thy thoughts rightly, and thou wilt save time, and see and do thy business well; for thy judgment will be distinct, thy mind free, and the faculties strong and regular.

Always remember to bound thy thoughts to the present occasion.

Make not more business necessary than is so; and rather lessen than augment work for thyself.

Upon the whole matter employ thy thoughts as thy business requires, and let that have place according to merit and urgency, giving everything a review and due digestion, and thou wilt prevent many errors and vexations, as well as save much time to thyself in the course of thy life.


Friendship is an union of spirits, a marriage of hearts, and the bond thereof virtue.

There can be no friendship where there is no freedom. Friendship loves a free air, and will not be penned up in strait and narrow enclosures. It will speak freely, and act so too; and take nothing ill where no ill is meant; nay, where it is 'twill easily forgive, and forget, too, upon small acknowledgements.

Friends are true twins in soul; they sympathise in everything, and have the same love and aversion.

One is not happy without the other, nor can either be miserable alone. As if they could change bodies, they take their turns in pain as well as in pleasure; relieving one another in their most adverse conditions.

What one enjoys the other cannot want. Like the primitive Christians, they have all things in common, and no property but in one another.

They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it.

Death cannot kill what never dies.

Nor can spirits ever be divided that love and live in the same divine principle, the root and record of their friendship.

If absence be not death, neither is theirs.

Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still.

For they must needs be present that love and live in that which is omnipresent. In this divine glass they see face to face; and their converse is free, as well as pure.

This is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die yet their friendship and society are in the best sense ever present, because immortal.


Charity has various senses, but is excellent in all of them.

It imports, first, the commiseration of the poor and unhappy of mankind, and extends an helping hand to mend their condition.

Next, charity makes the best construction of things and persons; it makes the best of everything, forgives everybody, serves all, and hopes to the end.

It is an universal remedy against discord, an holy cement for mankind.

And, lastly, 'tis love to God and the brethren which raises the soul above all earthly considerations; and as it gives a taste of heaven upon earth, so 'tis heaven in the fulness of it hereafter to the truly charitable here.

This is the noblest sense charity has, after which all should press as being the more excellent way.

Would God this divine virtue were more implanted and diffused among mankind, the pretenders to Christianity especially; and then we should certainly mind piety more than controversy, and exercise love and compassion instead of censuring and persecuting one another in any manner whatsoever.

* * * * *



Ernest Renan, the most widely read writer of religious history in his day, was forty years old when the "Vie de Jesus," his most popular book, appeared as the first volume of a "History of the Origins of Christianity." He was born at Treguier in Brittany, France, Feb. 27, 1823, a Breton through his father and a Gascon through his mother. Educated for the Church, under priestly tutelage, he specialised in the study of Oriental languages, with the result that he found it impossible to accept the traditional view of Christian and Jewish history. After holding an appointment in the Department of Manuscripts in the Bibliotheque Nationale, he became Professor of Hebrew in the College de France. At the age of 55 he was elected a member of the French Academy. His works include "A History of Semitic Languages," a "History of the Origins of Christianity," and a "History of the People of Israel," besides many volumes of essays and criticism, and several autobiographical books of great charm. Everybody read Renan, and disagreed with him. The orthodox rejected his opinions, and the unorthodox his sentiment. But his books marked an epoch in religious criticism. "The Life of Jesus" was the outcome of a visit to Palestine in pursuance of research studies of Phoenician civilisation. A feature is the importance given to scenic surroundings which he could so happily describe. Renan died on October 2, 1892, widely admired, honoured, and also condemned, and was buried in the Pantheon.


The principal event in the history of the world is the revolution by which the noblest portions of humanity have forsaken the ancient religions of Paganism for a religion founded on the Divine Unity, the Trinity, and the Incarnation of the Son of God. Nearly a thousand years were required to achieve this conversion. The new religion itself took at least three hundred years in its formation. But the origin of the revolution is a historical event which happened in the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius. At that time there lived a man of supreme personality, who, by his bold originality, and by the love which he was able to inspire, became the object, and settled the direction, of the future faith of mankind.

The great empires which succeeded each other in Western Asia annihilated all the hopes of the Jewish race for a terrestial kingdom, and cast it back on religious dreams, which it cherished with a kind of sombre passion. The establishment of the Roman empire exalted men's imaginations, and the great era of peace on which the world was entering gave birth to illimitable hopes. This confused medley of dreams found at length an interpretation in the peerless man to whom the universal conscience has decreed the title of the Son of God, and that with justice, since he gave religion an impetus greater than that which any other man has been capable of giving—an impetus with which, in all probability, no further advance will be comparable.


Jesus was born at Nazareth, a small town in Galilee, which before his time was not known to fame. The precise date of his birth is unknown. It took place in the reign of Augustus, probably some years before the year one of the era which all civilised peoples date from the day of his birth. Jesus came from the ranks of the common folk. His father, Joseph, and his mother, Mary, were people in humble circumstances, artisans living by their handiwork in the state, so usual in the East, which is neither ease nor poverty. The family was somewhat large. Jesus had brothers and sisters who seem to have been younger than he. They all remained obscure. The four men who were called his brothers, and among whom one at least, James, became of great importance in the early years of the development of Christianity, were his cousins-german. The sisters of Jesus were married at Nazareth, and there he spent the early years of his youth.

The town must have presented the poverty-stricken aspect still characteristic of villages in the East. We see to-day the streets where Jesus played as a child in the stony paths or little lanes which separate the dwellings from each other. No doubt the house of Joseph much resembled these poor domiciles, lighted only by the doorway, serving at once as workshop, kitchen, and bedroom, and having for furniture a mat, some cushions on the ground, one or two clay pots, and a painted chest. But the surroundings are charming, and no place in the world could be so well adapted for dreams of perfect happiness. If we ascend to the plateau, swept by a perpetual breeze, above the highest houses, the landscape is magnificent. An enchanted circle, cradle of the Kingdom of God, was for years the horizon of Jesus, and indeed during his whole life he went but little beyond these, the familiar bounds of his childhood.

No doubt he learnt to read and write according to the Eastern method; but it is doubtful if he understood the Hebrew writings in their original tongue. His biographers make him cite translations in the Aramean language. Nevertheless, it would be a great error to imagine that Jesus was what we should call an ignorant man. Refinement of manners and acuteness of intellect have, in the East, nothing in common with what we call education. In all probability Jesus did not know Greek. His mother tongue was the Syrian dialect, mingled with Hebrew. No element of secular teaching reached him. He was ignorant of all beyond Judaism; his mind kept that free innocence which an extended and varied culture always weakens. Happily, he was also ignorant of the grotesque scholasticism which was taught at Jerusalem, and which was soon to constitute the Talmud. The reading of the books of the Old Testament made a deep impression on him, especially the book of Daniel, and the religious poetry of the Psalms was in marvellous accordance with his lyrical soul, and all his life was his sustenance and support. That he had no knowledge of the general state of the world is evident from every feature of his most authentic discourses, and he never conceived of aristocratic society, save as a young villager who sees the world through the prism of his simplicity. Although born at a time when the principles of positive science had already been proclaimed, he lived in entirely supernatural ideas. To him the marvellous was not the exceptional but the normal statf of things, since to him the whole course of things was the result of the free-will of the Deity. This led to a profound conception of the close relations of man with God.


A mighty dream haunted the Jewish people for centuries, constantly renewing its youth. Judaea believed that she possessed divine promises of a boundless future. In combination with the belief in the Messiah and the doctrine of an approaching renewal of all things, the dogma of the resurrection had emerged and produced a great fermentation from one end of the Jewish world to the other. Jesus, as soon as he had any thought of his own, entered into the burning atmosphere created in Palestine by these ideas, and his soul was soon filled with them. A beautiful natural environment imprinted a charming and idyllic character on all the dreams of Galilee. During the months of March and April that green, shady, smiling land is a carpet of flowers of an incomparable variety of colours. The animals are small and extremely gentle—delicate and playful turtle-doves, blackbirds so light that they rest on a blade of grass without bending it, tufted larks which almost venture under the feet of the traveller, little river-tortoises with mild bright eyes, storks of gravely modest mien, which, casting aside all timidity, allow men to come quite near them, and indeed seem to invite his approach. In no country in the world do the mountains extend with more harmonious outlines, or inspire higher thought. Jesus seems to have had an especial love for them. The most important events of his divine career took place upon the mountains. This beautiful country in his time was filled with prosperity and gaiety. There Jesus lived and grew up. True, every year he knew the sweet solemnity of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and it is believed that early in life the wilderness had some influence on his development, but it was when he returned into his beloved Galilee that he once more found his Heavenly Father in the midst of green hills and clear fountains, and women and children who with joyous soul awaited the salvation of Israel.


Jesus followed the trade of his father, which was that of a carpenter. In this there was nothing irksome or humiliating. The Jewish custom required that a man devoted to intellectual work should learn a handicraft. Jesus never married. His whole capacity for love was concentrated upon that which he felt was his heavenly vocation. He was no doubt more beloved than loving. Thus, as often happens in very lofty natures, tenderness of heart was in him transformed into an infinite sweetness, a vague poetry, a universal charm.

Through what stages did the ideas of Jesus progress during this obscure early period of his life? A high conception of the Divinity, the creation of his own great mind, was the guiding principle to which his power was due. God did not speak to him as to one outside of himself; God was in him; he felt himself with God, and from his own heart drew all he said of his Father. The highest consciousness of God which ever existed in the heart of man was that of Jesus; but he never once gave utterance to the sacrilegious idea that he was God. From the first he looked upon his relationship with God as that of a son with his father. Herein was his great originality; in this he had nothing in common with his race. Neither Jew nor Musselman has understood this sweet theology of love. The God of Jesus is our Father. He is the God of humanity. The Jesus who founded the true Kingdom of God, the kingdom of the humble and meek, was the Jesus of early life—of those chaste and simple days when the voice of his Father re-echoed within him in clearer tones. It was then, for some months, perhaps a year, that God truly dwelt on earth.


An extraordinary man, whose position remains to some extent enigmatical, appeared about this time and unquestionably had some intercourse with Jesus. About the year 28 of our era there spread through the whole of Palestine the reputation of a certain John, a young ascetic, full of fervour and passion. The fundamental practice which characterised his sect was baptism; but baptism with John was only a sign to impress the minds of the people and to prepare them for some great movement. There can be no doubt he was possessed in the highest degree with hope for the coming of the Messiah. He was of the same age as Jesus, and the two young enthusiasts, full of the same hopes and the same hatreds, were able to lend each other mutual support, Jesus recognizing John as his superior, and timidly developing his own individual genius. John was soon cut short in his prophetic career, and cast into prison, from which, however, he still exercised a wide influence.

Jesus returned from the neighbourhood of the Dead Sea and the Jordan to Galilee, his true home, ripened by intercourse with a great man of very different nature, and having acquired full consciousness of his own originality. From that time he preached with greater power and made the multitude feel his authority. The persuasion that he was to make God reign upon earth took absolute possession of his spirit. He looked upon himself as the universal reformer. He aimed at founding the Kingdom of God, or, in other words, the Kingdom of the Soul. Jesus was, in some respects, an anarchist, for he had no idea of civil government. He never showed any desire to put himself in the place of the rich and mighty. The idea of being all-powerful by suffering and resignation, and of triumphing over force by purity of heart was his peculiar idea. The founders of the Kingdom of God are the simple—not the rich, not the learned, not the priests; but women, common folk, the humble, and the young. He now boldly announced "the good tidings of the Kingdom of God," and himself as that "Son of Man," whom Daniel in his vision had beheld as the divine herald of the last and supreme revelation.


The success of the new prophet's teaching was decisive. A group of men and women, all characterised by the same spirit of childish frankness and simple innocence, adhered to him, and said, "Thou art the Messiah." The centre of his operations was the little town of Capernaum, on the shore of the Lake of Genesareth. Jesus was much attached to the town and made it a second home. He had attempted to begin the work at Nazareth, but without success. The fact that his family, which was of humble rank, was known in the district lessened his authority too much; and it is moreover remarkable that his family were strongly opposed to him, and flatly declined to believe in his mission. In Capernaum he was much more favourably received, and it became "his own city." These good Galileans had never heard preaching so well adapted to their cheerful imaginations. They admired him, they encouraged him, they found that he spoke well, and that his reasons were convincing. The almost poetical harmony of his discourses won their affections. The authority of the young master increased day by day, and naturally the more that people believed in him the more he believed in himself. Four or five large villages, lying at half an hour's journey from one another, formed the little world of Jesus at this time. Sometimes, however, he wandered beyond his favourite region, once in the direction of Tyre and Sidon, a country which must have been marvellously prosperous at that time. But he returned always to his well-beloved shore of Genesareth. The motherland of his thoughts was there; there he found faith and love.

In this earthly paradise lived a population in perfect harmony with the land itself, active, honest, joyous, and tender of heart, and here Jesus became the centre of a little circle which adored him. In this friendly group he evidently had his favourites. Peter, for whom his affection was very deep, James, son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, formed a sort of privy council. Jesus owed his conquests to the infinite charm of his personality and speech. Everyone thought that he lived in a sphere higher than that of humanity. The aristocracy of the group was represented by a customs-officer, and by the wife of one of Herod's stewards. The rest were fishermen and common folk. Jesus lived with his disciples almost always in the open air, the faithful band leading a joyous wandering life, and gathering the inspirations of the Master in their first bloom. His preaching was soft and gentle, inspired with a feeling for nature and the perfume of the fields. It was above all in parable that the Master excelled. There was nothing in Judaism to give him a model for this delightful feature. He created it. In freeing man from what he called "the cares of this world" Jesus might go to excess and injure the essential conditions of human society; but he founded that spiritual exaltation which for centuries has filled souls with joy in the midst of this vale of tears. In our busy civilisation the memory of the free life of Galilee has been like perfume from another world, like the "dew of Hermon," which has kept drought and grossness from entirely invading the fields of God.


Jesus very soon understood that the official world of his time would by no means lend its support to his kingdom. He took his resolution with extreme daring. Leaving the world, with its hard heart and narrow prejudices, on one side, he turned towards the simple. A vast rearrangement of classes was to take place. The Kingdom of God was made for children, and those like them; for the world's outcasts, victims of that social arrogance which repulses the good but humble man; for heretics and schismatics, publicans, Samaritans, and the pagans of Tyre and Sidon. That the reign of the poor is at hand was the doctrine of Jesus. This exaggerated taste for poverty could not last very long, but although it quickly passed, poverty remained an ideal from which true descendants of Jesus were never afterwards separated.

Like all great men, Jesus was fond of common folk, and felt at his ease with them. He particularly esteemed all those whom orthodox Judaism disdained. Love of the people, pity for their powerlessness, the feeling of the democratic leader who has the spirit of the multitude quick within him, reveal themselves at every instant in his acts and sayings. He had no external affection, and made no display of austerity. He did not shun pleasure; but went willingly to marriage feasts. His gentle gaiety found constant expression in amiable pleasantries. Thus he journeyed through Galilee in the midst of continual festivities. When he entered a house, it was considered a joy and a blessing. Children and women adored him. The children, indeed, were like a young guard about him, for the inauguration of his innocent kingship, and gave him little ovations. It was childhood, in fact, in its divine spontaneity, in its simple bewilderment of joy, that took possession of the earth.

How long did this intoxication last? We cannot tell. But whether it filled years or months, the dream was so beautiful that humanity has lived upon it ever since. Happy he to whom it has been granted to behold with his own eyes this divine blossoming, and to share, if but for a day, the incomparable illusion! But yet more happy, Jesus would tell us, shall he be who, by the uprightness of his will, and the poetry of his soul, shall be able to create anew in his own heart the true Kingdom of God!


Nearly every year Jesus went to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. It was, it appears, in the year 31 that the most important of these visits took place. Jesus felt that to play a leading part he must leave Galilee and attack Judaism in its stronghold, Jerusalem. There the little Galilean community was far from feeling at home. Jerusalem was a city of pedantry, acrimony, disputation, hatreds, and pettiness of mind. Its fanaticism was extreme. All the religious discussions of the Jewish schools, all the canonical instruction, even the legal business and civil actions—in a word, all form of national activity, were concentrated in the temple. The Romans refrained from entering the sactuary; the surveillance of the Temple was in the hands of the Jews. It was in the Temple that Jesus spent his days during his sojourn at Jerusalem, and all that he saw aroused his aversion. These old Jewish institutions displeased him, and the necessity of conforming to them gave him pain. He who gave forgiveness to all men, provided they loved him, could find nothing congenial in vain disputations and obsolete sacrifices, and apparently he brought from Jerusalem one idea thenceforth rooted in his mind—that there was no understanding possible between him and the ancient Jewish religion. He no longer took his stand as a Jewish reformer, but as a destroyer of Judaism. In other words, Jesus is no longer a Jew. He is, in the highest degree, a revolutionary; he calls all men to a worship founded solely on the ground of their being children of God. Love of God, charity, and mutual forgiveness—in these consisted his whole law. Nothing could be less sacerdotal. It was on his return from Jerusalem, as he passed near Shechem, and when talking with a Samaritan woman, that Jesus gave utterance to the saying upon which will rest the edifice of eternal religion—Believe me, the hour cometh when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem shall ye worship the Father ... but the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. On the day when he said these words he was truly Son of God.

Jesus returned to Galilee full of revolutionary ardour. His innocent aphorisms and beautiful moral precepts now culminated in a decided policy. The law is to be abolished, and it is he that will abolish it. The Messiah is come, and it is he that is the Messiah. The Kingdom of God is about to be revealed, and it is he that will reveal it. He knew well that he would be the victim of his own audacity, but it was by cries and the rending of hearts that the kingdom had to be established.

The proposition "Jesus is the Messiah" was followed by the proposition "Jesus is the Son of David," and, by an entirely spontaneous conspiracy, fictitious genealogies arose in the imaginations of his partisans, while he was still alive, to prove his royal descent. We cannot tell whether he knew anything of these legends. He never designated himself Son of David. That he ever dreamed of making himself pass for an incarnation of God is a matter about which no doubt can exist. Such an idea was entirely foreign to the Jewish mind. He believed himself to be more than an ordinary man, but separated by an infinite distance from God. He was the Son of God, but all men are, or may become so in divers degrees. Jesus apparently remained a stranger to the theological subtleties which were soon to fill the world with sterile disputations.


Two means of proof—miracles and the accomplishment of prophecies—could alone establish a supernatural mission in the opinion of the contemporaries of Jesus. He himself, but more especially his disciples, employed these two methods of demonstration in perfect good faith. For a long time Jesus had recognised himself in the sacred oracles of the prophets. As to miracles, they were considered at this epoch the indispensable mark of the divine, and the sign of the prophetic vocation. Jesus, therefore, was compelled either to renounce his mission or become a thaumaturgist. It must be remembered that not only did he believe in miracles, but he had not the least idea of an order of nature under the reign of law. On that point, his knowledge was in no way superior to that of his contemporaries. Indeed, one of his most deeply-rooted opinions was that by faith and prayer man had entire power over nature. Almost all the miracles Jesus believed he performed seem to have been miracles of healing. The kind of healing which he most often practised was exorcism, or the expulsion of demons. There can be no doubt that he had in his lifetime the reputation of possessing the greatest secrets of the art. There were many lunatics in Judaea wandering at large, and no doubt Jesus had great influence over these unhappy beings. Circumstances seem to indicate that he became a thaumaturgist late in life and against his own inclinations. He accepted miracles exacted by public opinion rather than performed them.


During the eighteen months between the return from the Passover of the year 31 and his journey to the feast of tabernacles in the year 32, all that was within Jesus developed with an ever-increasing degree of power and audacity. The fundamental idea of Jesus from his earliest days was the establishment of the Kingdom of God. This kingdom he appears to have understood in divers senses. At times it is the literal consummation of apocalyptic visions relating to the Messiah. At other times it is the spiritual kingdom, and the deliverance at hand is the deliverance of the soul. The revolution desired by Jesus in this last sense is the one which has really taken place. That the coming of the end of the world and the appearance of the Messiah in judgment was taken literally by the disciples, and at certain moments by the Master himself, appears absolutely clear. These formal declarations absorbed the minds of the Christian family for nearly seventy years. The world has not ended, as Jesus announced, and as his disciples believed it would end. But it has been renewed and in one sense renewed as Jesus desired. By the side of the false, cold, impossible idea of an ostentatious advent, he conceived the real City of God, the raising up of the weak, the love of the people, esteem for the poor, and the restoration of all that is humble and true and simple. This restoration he has depicted, as an incomparable artist, in touches which will last for eternity. His Kingdom of God was doubtless the apocalypse which was soon to be unfolded in the heavens. But besides this, and probably above all, was the soul's kingdom, founded on freedom, and on the feeling of sonship which the good man knows in his rest on the bosom of his Father. This is what was destined to live. This is what has lived.


Throughout the first epoch of his career, it seems as though Jesus met with no serious opposition; but when he entered upon a path brilliant with public successes the first mutterings of the storm began to make themselves heard. He recognised only the religion of the heart, while the religion of the Pharisees almost exclusively consisted of observances. As his mission proceeded, his conflicts with official hypocrisy became incessant. His goal was in the future, not in the past. He was more than the reformer of an obsolete religion; he was the creator of the eternal religion of humanity. A hatred which death alone could satisfy was the consequence of these controversies. The war was to the death. Judaea drew him as by a charm; he wished to attempt one last effort to win the rebellious city, and seemed anxious to fulfil the proverb that a prophet ought not to die outside Jerusalem.

At the feast of tabernacles in the year 32, his relatives, always malevolent and sceptical, pressed him to go there. He set out on the journey unknown to every one and almost alone, and never again saw his beloved northern land.

In Jerusalem, Jesus was a stranger. There he felt a wall of resistance he could not penetrate. At every step he met with obstinate scepticism. The arrogance of the priests made the courts of the Temple disagreeable to him, and his criticisms naturally exasperated the sacerdotal caste. Imagine a reformer going, in our own time, to preach the overthrow of Islamism round the Mosque of Omar! His teaching in this new world was greatly modified; he had to become controversialist, jurist, theologian, though when alone with his disciples his gentle and irresistible genius inspired him with accents full of tenderness.


Jesus spent the autumn and part of the winter in Jerusalem. In the new year he undertook a journey to the banks of the Jordan, the district he had visited when he followed the school of John. After this pilgrimage he returned to Bethany, a place he especially loved, and where he knew a family whose friendship had a great charm for him. In impure and depressing Jerusalem, Jesus was no longer himself. His mission weighed him down, and he let himself be carried away by the torrent. The contrast between his ever-increasing exaltation and the indifference of the Jews became wider day by day. At the same time the public authorities began to be bitter against him. In February, or early in March, the council of the chief priests asked clearly the question "Can Jesus and Judaism exist together?" The High Priest was Joseph Kaiapha, but beside and behind him we always see another man, Hanan, his father-in-law. He had been High Priest, and in reality kept all the authority of the office. During fifty years the pontificate remained in his family almost without interruption. The family spirit was haughty, bold, and cruel. It was Hanan, his family, and the party he represented, who really put Jesus to death. After the death of Jesus was decided, he escaped for a short time by withdrawing to an obscure town, Ephron, and letting the storm pass over; but when the feast of the Passover drew nigh, he set out to see for the last time the unbelieving city. His followers all believed that the Kingdom of God was about to be realised there. As to Jesus, he grew confirmed in the conviction that he was about to die, but that his death would save the world.

During these last days a deep sadness appears to have filled the soul of Jesus, which was generally so joyous and serene. The enormous weight of the mission he had accepted bore cruelly upon him. All these inward troubles were evidently a sealed chapter to his disciples. His divine nature, however, soon gained the supremacy, and henceforth we behold him entirely himself and with his character unclouded. Each moment of this period is solemn, and counts more than whole ages in the history of humanity. A lofty feeling of love, of concord, of charity, and of mutual deference, animated the memories cherished of these last hours.


It was in the garden of Gethsemane that the guards of the Temple, supported by a detachment of Roman soldiers, executed the warrant of arrest. The course which the priests had determined to take against Jesus was in perfect conformity with the established law. The warrant of arrest probably came from Hanan, and before this powerful man Jesus was first brought for examination as to his doctrine. Jesus, with just pride, declined to enter into long explanations—he asked the ex-high priest to question those who had listened to him. Hanan then sent him to his son-in-law, Kaiapha, at whose house the Sanhedrim was assembled. It is probable that here, too, he kept silence. The sentence was already decided, and they only sought for pretexts. With one voice the assembly declared him guilty of a capital crime. The point now was to get Pilate to ratify the sentence. On being informed of the accusation, Pilate showed his annoyance at being mixed up in the matter, and called upon to play a cruel part for the sake of a law he detested. Perhaps the dignified and calm attitude of the accused made an impression upon him. To excite the suspicion of the Roman authorities, the charges now made were those of sedition and treason against the government. Nothing could be more unjust, for Jesus had always recognised the Roman government as the established power. Asked by Pilate if he really were the king of the Jews, Jesus, according to the fourth gospel, avowed his kingship, but uttered at the same time the profound saying, "My kingdom is not of this world." Of this lofty idealism Pilate understood nothing. No doubt Jesus impressed him as being a harmless dreamer. When, however, the people began to denounce Pilate's lack of zeal, in protecting an enemy of Caesar, he surrendered, throwing on the Jews the responsibility for what was about to take place. It was not Pilate who condemned Jesus. It was the old Jewish party; it was the Mosaic law. Intolerance is a Jewish characteristic. The Pentateuch has been the first code of religious terrorism in the world. It was, however, the chimerical "King of the Jews," not the heteradox dogmatist, who was punished, and the execution took the Roman form of crucifixion, carried out by Roman soldiers.

The horrors of that ignominious death were suffered by Jesus in all their atrocity. For a moment, according to certain narratives, his heart failed him; a cloud hid from him the face of his Father; he endured an agony of despair more acute a thousand times than all his torments. But his divine instinct again sustained him. In measure as the life of the body flickered out, his soul grew serene, and by degrees returned to its heavenly source. He regained the idea of his mission, in his death he saw the salvation of the world; the hideous spectacle spread at his feet melted from his sight, and profoundly united to his Father, he began upon the gibbet the divine life which he was to live in the heart of humanity through infinite years.

Rest now in thy glory, noble pioneer! Thy work is achieved, thy divinity established. At the price of a few hours of suffering, which have not even touched thy mighty soul, thou hast purchased the fullest immortality. For thousands of years the world will depend upon thee! A thousand times more alive, a thousand times more loved since thy death than during the days of thy pilgrimage here below, thou shalt become so truly the cornerstone of humanity that to tear thy name from this world were to shake it to its foundations.

Whatever the unexpected phenomena of the future, Jesus will never be surpassed. His worship will constantly renew its youth; the legend of his life will bring ceaseless tears; his sufferings will soften the best hearts; all the ages will proclaim that amongst the sons of men none has been born who is greater than Jesus.

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Emanuel Swedenborg, author of a strange system of mystical theology, was of Swedish nationality and was born at Stockholm on January 29, 1688. He was educated at Upsala, and after travelling for several years in Western Europe was appointed to a post in the Swedish College of Mines. Thenceforth, until he was 55 years of age, Swedenborg pursued, with equal industry and ingenuity, the career of a man of science, doing valuable work in mathematics, astronomy, navigation, engineering, chemistry, and especially in mining and metallurgy. These inquiries were followed by studies in philosophy and anatomy and physiology. But about the year 1744 certain visions and other mystical experiences began to take hold of his mind, and three years later Swedenborg had come to regard himself as the medium of a new revelation of divine truth. His message, or theory, or vision, was first promulgated in the eight quarto volumes of the "Heavenly Arcana," published in London from 1749 to 1756, and this was followed by "Heaven and Hell," 1758, the work now before us, the full title of which is "Heaven and Its Wonders, the World of Spirits, and Hell: described by one who had heard and seen what he relates," and several other apocalyptic books, all of which were written in Latin. The main features of Swedenborg's theology were a strong emphasis on the divinity of Christ, the proclamation of the immediate advent of the "New Jerusalem," foretold by the seer of Patmos, and the conception of correspondences between the natural, spiritual, and mental worlds. His followers, known as Swedenborgians, or more properly as "The New Church signified by the New Jerusalem in the Revelation," are widely spread but not very numerous, in England and in the United States. Swedenborg died in London on March 29, 1772.


The first thing necessary to be known is, who is the God of heaven; for everything else depends on this. In the universal heaven, no other is acknowledged for its God, but the Lord Alone; they say there, as He Himself taught, that He is One with the Father; that the Father is in Him, and He in the Father; that whosoever seeth Him, seeth the Father; and that everything holy proceeds from Him. I have often conversed with the angels on this subject, and they constantly declared that they are unable to divide the Divine Being into three, because they know and perceive that the Divine Being is one, and that He is One in the Lord.

The angels, taken collectively, are called heaven, because they compose it: but still it is the Divine Sphere proceeding from the Lord, which enters the angels by influx, and is by them received, which essentially constitutes it, both in general and in particular. The Divine Sphere proceeding from the Lord is the good of love and the truth of faith: in proportion, therefore, as the angels receive good and truth from the Lord, so far they are angels, and so far they are heaven.

As in heaven there are infinite varieties, and no society is exactly like another, nor indeed any angel, therefore heaven is divided in a general, in a specific, and in a particular manner. It is divided, in general, into two kingdoms, specifically, into three heavens, and in particular, into innumerable societies.

There are angels who receive the Divine Sphere proceeding from the Lord more and less interiorly. They who receive it more interiorly are called celestial angels; but they who receive it less interiorly are called spiritual angels. Hence, heaven is divided into two kingdoms, one of which is called the Celestial Kingdom, and the other, the Spiritual Kingdom.

The angels of each heaven do not dwell all together in one place, but are divided into larger and smaller societies, according to the difference of the good of love and faith in which they are grounded; those who are grounded in similar good forming one society. There is an infinite variety of kinds of good in the heavens; and every angel is such in quality as is the good belonging to him.

That heaven, viewed collectively, is in form as one man, is a mystery which is not yet known to the world: but it is well known in the heavens; for the knowledge of this mystery, with the particular and most particular circumstances relating to it, is the chief article of the intelligence of the angels; since many other things depend upon it, which, without a knowledge of this as their common centre, could not possibly enter distinctly and clearly into their ideas. As they know that all the heavens together with their societies are in form as one man, they also call heaven THE GRAND AND DIVINE MAN; divine, because the Divine Sphere of the Lord constitutes heaven.

From my experience, which I have enjoyed for many years, I can affirm that angels are in every respect men; that they have faces, eyes, ears, a body, arms, hands, and that they see, hear, and converse with each other; in short they are deficient in nothing that belongs to a man except that they are not super-invested with a material body.

Their habitations are exactly like our houses on earth, but more beautiful. They contain chambers, with-drawing-rooms, and bed-chambers, in great numbers, and are encompassed with gardens and flower-beds. Where the angels live together in societies the habitations are contiguous, and arranged in the form of a city, with streets, squares, and churches. It has also been granted to me to walk through them, and to look about on all sides, and occasionally to enter the houses. This occurred to me when wide awake, my interior sight being open at the time.

That it is by derelation from the Lord's Divine Humanity that heaven, both in whole and in parts, is in form as a man, follows as a conclusion from all that has been advanced.

There is a correspondence between all things belonging to heaven and all things belonging to man. It is unknown at this day what correspondence is. This ignorance is owing to various causes; the chief of which is, that man has removed himself from heaven, through cherishing the love of self and of the world. For he that supremely loves himself and the world cares only for worldly things, because they soothe the external senses and are agreeable to his natural disposition; but has no concern about spiritual things, because these only soothe the internal senses and are agreeable to the internal or rational mind. These, therefore, they cast aside, saying that they are too high for man's comprehension. Not so did the ancients. With them the science of correspondences was the chief of all sciences: by means of its discoveries, also, they imbibed intelligence and wisdom, and such of them as belonged to the church had by it communication with heaven; for the science of correspondences is the science of angels.

It shall first be stated what correspondence is. The whole natural world corresponds to the spiritual world; and not only the natural world collectively, but also in its individual parts: wherefore every object in the natural world, existing from something in the spiritual world, is called its correspondent. The natural world exists and subsists from the spiritual world, just as the effect exists from the efficient cause.

Since man is both a heaven and a world in miniature, he has belonging to him both a spiritual world and a natural world. The interiors, which belong to his mind, and have relation to his understanding and will, constitute his spiritual world; but his exteriors, which belong to his body, and have reference to its senses and actions, constitute his natural world.

The nature of correspondence may be seen from the face of man. In a countenance which has not been taught to dissemble, all the affections of the mind display themselves vividly, in a natural form, as in their type; whence the face is called the index of the mind. Thus man's spiritual world shows itself in its natural world. All things, therefore, which take effect in the body, whether in the countenance, the speech, or the gestures, are called correspondences.

The angels rejoice that it has pleased the Lord to reveal many particulars to mankind. They desire me to state from their lips, that there does not exist, in the universal heaven, a single angel who was created such from the first, nor any devil in hell who was created an angel of light and afterwards cast down thither; but that all the inhabitants, both of heaven and of hell, are derived from the human race; the inhabitants of heaven being those who had lived in heavenly love and faith, and those of hell who had lived in infernal love and faith.


The world of spirits is not heaven nor yet hell, but is a place or state intermediate between the two. Thither man goes after death; and having completed the period of his stay there, according to his life in the world he is either elevated into heaven or cast into hell.

The world of spirits contains a great number of inhabitants, because it is the region in which all first assemble, and where all are examined and are prepared for their final abode. Their stay there is not limited to any fixed period: some do but just enter it, and are presently either taken up to heaven or cast down to hell: some remain there only a few weeks; and some for several years, but never more than thirty. The varieties in the length of their stay depend upon the correspondence, or noncorrespondence between their interiors and their exteriors.

As men enter the world of spirits, they are distinguished by the Lord into classes. The wicked are immediately connected by invisible bonds with the society of hell, and the good, in a similar way, with the society of heaven, but notwithstanding these bonds, they meet and converse together. I saw a father conversing with his six sons, all of whom he recognised; but as they were different in disposition, resulting from their course of life in the world, after a short time they were parted.

The spirit of a man, when first he enters the world of spirits, is similar in countenance and in the tone of his voice to what he was in the world. The reason is, because he is then in the state of his exteriors and his interiors are not yet laid open. This is the first state of man after death. But afterwards his countenance is changed; being rendered similar to his governing affection or love, which is that in which the interiors belonging to his mind had been grounded while in the world, and which had reigned in his spirit while this was in the body. For the face of a man's spirit differs exceedingly from that of his body; the face of his body being derived from his parents, but that of his spirit from his affection, of which it is the image.

That his own life remains with everyone after death is known to every Christian from the Word. Everyone, also, who thinks under the influence of good and of real truth, has no other idea than that he who has lived well will go to heaven, and he who has lived ill will go to hell.

But by deeds and works are not merely meant deeds and works as they appear in their external form, but as they appear internally. Everyone knows, that every deed or work proceeds from the will and thought of the doer; for otherwise they would be mere motions, such as are performed by automatons and images. The deed or work, then, viewed in itself, is nothing but an effect, which derives its soul and life from the will and thought from which it is performed; and so completely is this the case that the deed or work is the will and thought in their effect, and is, consequently, the will and thought in their external form. It hence follows, that such as are, in quality, the will and thought which produce the deed or work, such, also, is the deed or work itself; and that if the thought and will are good the deeds or works are good; and if the thought and will are evil the deeds and works are evil, notwithstanding in their external form they appear like the former.

To sum up the truths concerning man's state after death, I will say, first: that man, after death, is his own love, or his own will; secondly: that, in quality, man remains to eternity, such as he is with respect to his will or governing love; thirdly: that the man whose love is celestial and spiritual goes to heaven, but that the man whose love is corporeal and worldly, destitute of such as is celestial and spiritual, goes to hell; fourthly: that faith does not remain with man, if not grounded in heavenly love; fifthly: that what remains with man is love in act, consequently his life.


When treating above respecting heaven, it has everywhere been shown, that the Lord is the God of heaven, and thus that the whole government of the heavens is that of the Lord. Now as the relation which heaven bears to hell, and that which hell bears to heaven, is such as exists between two opposites, which mutually act against each other, and the result of whose action and reaction is a state of equilibrium, in which all things may subsist, therefore, in order that all and everything should be maintained in equilibrium, it is necessary that he who governs the one should also govern the other. For unless the same ruler were to restrain the assaults made by the hells, and to keep down the insanities which rage in them, the equilibrium would be destroyed, and with it the whole universe.

It is this spiritual equilibrium that causes man to enjoy freedom in thinking and willing. For whatever a man thinks and wills has reference either to evil and the falsity proceeding from it, or to good and the truth which comes from that source: consequently, when he is placed in that equilibrium he enjoys the liberty of either, admitting and receiving evil and its falsity from hell, or good in its truth from heaven. Every man is maintained in this equilibrium by the Lord, because he governs both—heaven as well as hell.

Hell, like heaven, is divided into societies; and every society in heaven has a society opposite to it in hell; which is provided for the preservation of the equilibrium.

It is by influence from hell that man does evil, and by influence from the Lord that he does good. But as man believes that whatever he does, he does from himself, the consequence is that the evil which he does adheres to him as his own. It hence follows that the cause of his own evil lies with man, and not at all with the Lord. Evil as existing with man is hell, as existing with him: for whether you say evil or hell, amounts to the same thing. Now since the cause of his own evil lies with man himself, it follows that it is he who casts himself into hell, and not the Lord; and so far is the Lord from leading man into hell, that he delivers from hell, so far as the man does not will and loves to abide in his own evil. But the whole of man's will and love remains with him after death: whoever wills and loves evil in the world, wills and loves the same evil in the other life; and he then no longer suffers himself to be withdrawn from it. It hence results, that the man who is immersed in evil is connected by invisible bonds with hell: he is also actually there as to his spirit; and, after death, he desires nothing more earnestly than to be where his evil is.

From an inspection of the monstrous forms belonging to the spirits in the hells, it was made evident to me that they all, in general, are forms of self-love and the love of the world, and that the evils, of which in particular they are the forms, derive their origin from those two loves. It has also been told me from heaven, and proved to me by much experimental evidence, that those two loves—self-love and the love of the world—reign in the hells and also constitute them; whereas love to the Lord and love towards the neighbour reign in the heavens and also constitute them: and that the two former loves, which are the loves of hell, and the two latter, which are the loves of heaven, are diametrically opposite to each other.

As by the fire of hell is to be understood all the lust of doing evil flowing from self-love, by the same is also meant torment, such as exists in the hells. For the lust flowing from that love is, in those who are inflamed by it, the lust of doing injury to all who do not honour, respect, and pay court to them; and in proportion to the anger which they thence conceive against such individuals, and to the hatred and revenge inspired by such anger, is their lust of committing outrages against them. Now when such a lust rages in everyone in a society, and they have no external bond to keep them under restraint, such as the fear of the law, and of the loss of character, of honour, of gain, and of the like, everyone under the influence of his own evil attracts another and, so far as he is strong enough, subjugates him, subjects the rest to his own authority, and exercises ferocious outrages with delight upon all who do not submit to him. All the hells are societies of this description: on which account, every spirit, and every society, cherishes hatred in his heart against every other, and, under the influence of such hatred, breaks out into savage outrages against him, as far as he is able to inflict them. These outrages, and the torments so occasioned, are also meant by hell fire; for they are the effects of the lusts which there prevail.

In order that man may be in a state of liberty, as necessary to his being reformed, he is connected, as to his spirit, with heaven and with hell: for spirits from hell, and angels from heaven, are attendant on every man. By the spirits from hell, man is held in his evil; but by the Angels from heaven, he is held in good by the Lord.

Thus he is preserved in spiritual equilibrium, that is, in freedom or liberty.

The particulars which have been delivered in this work respecting heaven, the world of spirits, and hell, will appear obscure to those who take no pleasure in acquiring a knowledge of spiritual truths; but they will appear clear to those who take pleasure in that acquirement; and especially those who cherish an affection of truth for its own sake,—that is, who love truth because it is truth. For everything that is loved enters with light into the ideas of the mind: and this is eminently the case, when that which is loved is truth: for all truth dwells in light.

* * * * *


The word "Talmud," from the Hebrew verb lamad, equalling "to learn," denotes literally "what-is-learning." Then it comes to mean "instruction," "teaching," "doctrine." What is usually called the Talmud consists of two parts: 1. The Mishnah (literally, "tradition" and then "traditional doctrine") a code of Jewish laws, civil, criminal, religious, and so forth; based ostensibly on the Pentateuch, expounding, applying, and developing the laws contained in the so-called five books of Moses. 2. The Gemara, a word which means literally "completion," or "supplement," i.e., in reference to the Mishnah. Some, however, explain the word as meaning "teaching." The word is used technically to denote the expansion, exposition, and illustration of the Mishnah which is found in the Talmud. Strictly speaking, the word "Talmud" denotes the Gemara only, but in its ordinary sense the word denotes the Mishnah together with its completion in the Gemara. In the Talmud itself, as usually printed, the section of the Mishnah to be commented on and illustrated is followed by the Gemara in which the opinions of the great Rabbi are stated and discussed.

As in the case of the Mishnah, so, also, the Talmud has six principal divisions: these will be followed in the subsequent epitomes and need not, therefore, be given here. There are two versions or forms of the Talmud: 1. The Babylonian, or that due to the studies and discussions of the Jewish doctors in the various Hebrew colleges of Babylon (Sura, Pumbaditha, and so forth): in this the Gemara is some ten times as large as the Mishnah. When we speak of the Talmud it is that of Babylon which is always meant. Its language is Eastern Aramaic. 2. The Palestinian Talmud, compiled and edited by the heads of the Hebrew schools in Palestine, Tiberius, Sepphoris, and so forth. Its language is Western Aramaic, and its final editor is said to be Rabbi Ashe, who died A.D. 427. This is often erroneously called the Jerusalem Talmud. In its present form it is only about one-fourth as large as the Babylonian Talmud. The latter discusses nearly every section of the Mishnah, whereas the Palestine Talmud passes by a large proportion of the Mishnah without note or comment. That is, however, because much of this latter Talmud has been lost, for, in the time of Maimonides (died at Cairo A.D. 1204) the Gemara of the Jerusalem Talmud discussed nearly every part of the Mishnah. The Mishnah is usually said to have been completed by Rabbi Jehudah Hannasi, or the Prince (Hannasi), called simply "Rabbi" by way of preeminence, who died in A.D. 210 in his sixtieth year. But there are parts of the Mishnah which are older, and parts also at least a century later than the death of that great scholar. There is no absolute proof that the Mishnah was committed to writing until some time after the completion of the Palestinian (about A.D. 400) or even of the Babylonian (about A.D. 500) Talmud, for, in neither Gemara is there any reference to a written Mishnah, nor is a written form of the Mishnah implied anywhere. The preservation of this wonderful code of Jewish laws was due to memory alone, men being appointed in the various synagogues to learn the Mishnaic sections and to recite them whenever it was necessary. Extracts will be given below from the Mishnah and also from the Gemara, the letters M and G preceding paragraphs indicating which of the two is summarised.


[This part deals first of all with prayer, and then most of all with the various tithes and donations which are due to the priests, Levites, and the poor, from the products of the land.]

SECTION I. TREATISE ON BLESSINGS (Berakot). The time for reading or reciting the Shemang.[32]

M. At what time in the evening may shemang be read? From the time when the priests, having cleansed themselves, enter the sanctuary to partake of the offering (2) (i.e., when the stars come out) until the end of the first watch (about 10 p.m.). So says Rabbi Eliezar, but otherwise men extend the time until midnight. Rabbi Gameliel makes the time reach even to the dawn of the following day. It happened once that his sons returned home at midnight without having read the shemang. On asking their father if it was too late he replied that the obligation to perform the duties of each day is valid until the first light of morning shows itself.

The morning Shemang.

M. From what time may the morning shemang be read? From the moment when there is light enough to distinguish between purple-blue and white. Rabbi Eliezar says "between purple-blue and leek-green" (which are harder to distinguish) (3). Up to when may the morning shemang be read? Until the sun has risen. Rabbi Jose says "until the end of the third hour after sunrise, for it is the custom of kings' sons to rise in the third hour of the day. Yet a good act, such as shemang is, never loses its virtue whenever it is performed."

The attitude in which the shemang should be read.

M. The (strict) School of Shammai say men ought to bow in reading the evening shemang, but to stand upright when saying shemang in the morning, their scripture warrant being Deut. vi, 7, "when thou liest down and when thou risest up." But according to (the more liberal) School of Hillel, people must be allowed to read the shemang in whatever attitude they choose, referring to the words in the same passage: "When thou sittest in thy house and when thou walkest in the way." Why then the words "when thou liest down and when thou risest up?" Because these are the acts that men perform when the shemang would be usually read. Rabbi Tarphon said that once when journeying of an evening, he stooped in order to read the shemang, with the result that his goods were almost taken from him by unsuspected robbers. He was told that he would have deserved it, had he been actually robbed, for not having followed the decision of the Hillel School. The Gemara on the above Mishnahs gives the opinions of a large number of Rabbis, reporting also discussions in which they took part.

The benedictions before and after the Shemang.

M. Two benedictions (4) are to be said before the morning shemang, and one after it.

When the Shemang is rightly read.

M. He who reads the shemang without hearing his own voice has yet discharged his duty if only his heart has gone with the reading.

Persons not to read the Shemang:

Women, slaves, and minors are not commanded to read the Shemang, or to wear phylacteries. They are, however, expected to recite the eighteen benedictions, the grace after meat, and also to see that the Mezuza is attached to the doorpost.[33].

G. Where are we taught that the Shechinah rests upon one who studies the law? In Exodus xx, 24, where it is written: "In all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee." The Palestine Talmud paraphrases thus: "In every place in which ye shall memorialise My holy name, My word shall be revealed unto you, and shall bless you." Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God, even Jehovah is one. Deut. vi, 4. Whoever prolongs the utterance of the word one (Heb. ekhad), his days and years shall be prolonged.

Once, the Rabbis say, the Roman government decreed that no Israelite should be allowed to study the Law. Immediately after, Rabbi Agiba was found teaching the Law to crowds of people who had gathered around him. Some one passing by asked him "Fearest thou not the Roman government?" To which he said, "I will answer by a parable: A fox was once walking by a river side when he saw the fish rushing distractedly hither and thither. On asking them the cause of all their perturbation, they replied: 'We are afraid of the nets which wicked men are ever setting to catch us.' 'Why, then,' said the fox, 'do you not leave that dangerous element and try the dry land with me?' 'Surely,' replied the fish, 'thou art in this most foolish and unfoxlike, for if it is dangerous for us to dwell in this, our native element, how much more would it be if we left it for the dry land?' So," continued Agiba, "all those who study the Law have the Divine Promise," Deut. xxx, 20: "He is thy life and the length of thy days."


[contains directions for observing the festivals, including the Sabbath. The aim in all is professedly to make explicit what is implicit in the Pentateuch. But many late ideas and customs are brought into this division, of which the Pentateuch knows nothing. Even the feast of Purim mentioned here it quite unmencioned in the Pentateuch.]

1. TREATISE ON THE SABBATH. Law regarding transfer of goods on the Sabbath.

M. It is commanded in Exodus xvi, 29, that no man go out of his place on the Sabbath day. This implies that no one is to take goods from his own premises to those of another.(6). What, however, constitutes one's own premises? (Reshut). There are many cases to be considered. Suppose a beggar stand outside and the master of the house inside. If the first reaches his hand through a window or door to the second, or takes something out of the hand of the latter, the beggar is guilty, but the master is absolved. If, on the other hand, the master puts his hand outside the house, and places something in the beggar's hands, he is guilty, but the beggar is absolved.

[There are in all four cases treating of the man inside and four of the man outside.]

G. Rabbi Mathra said to Abazi, "There are eight or even ten cases of transfer." Rab questioned Rabbi, "Suppose one from the outside were laden in the house with food, fruit, etc. How stands the law? Is the removal of his body tantamount to the removal of a thing from its place?" "Yes," said Rabbi; "this is not like the case of removing the hand, because the latter was not at rest, while in the former, the body, before and after removal, was entirely at rest." "Suppose," said one Rabbi to another, "that a person has put bread into an oven and it is not done by the time the Sabbath begins. May he take it out before it is spoiled?" "He may lawfully do so if he put it there, believing it would be fully baked before the Sabbath arrived."

Acts forbidden on Sabbath eve.

M. Just before the time of Sabbath evening prayer (7), a man is not allowed to sit to a barber, to enter a bath, a tanyard, to sit to a meal, or to begin to act as judge in a Law Court. He must first of all perform his devotions. But supposing that one has commenced any one of these acts, then let them be finished.

G. A man begins the act of haircutting when the barber's cloth is spread over him. Bathing has begun if the outer coat has been pulled off. A man has commenced to tan if his working apron has been tied around him. A meal begins when the hands are washed or (as some say) when the girdle has been removed. The process of judging has begun when the judges have donned their professional robes, or (as some have it) directly the litigants begin pleading.

The Jew and a non-Jew.

M. The school of Shammai forbids a Jew to sell anything to a non-Jew on the Sabbath eve, or to help him with a load unless the Jew can reach some neighbouring village before the Sabbath fully sets in. The School of Hillel, however, allows it.

Miscellaneous prohibitions.

M. A tailor must not go out on the Sabbath eve with his needle, lest he forget it and carry it during the Sabbath. Nor must the professional writer (scribe) go out with his writing reed on the Sabbath eve. According to the School of Shammai it is unlawful on the Sabbath eve to deliver skins to a heathen tanner, or clothes to be washed to a non-Jewish laundress, unless there be time enough for them to be got quite ready before the Sabbath begins. But the School of Hillel allowed perfect freedom in the matter. Rabbi Simeon ben Gemaliel says, "it was the custom in my parental home to hand over to the non-Jewish laundress things to be washed, three days before the Sabbath." It is forbidden to fry meat, onions, or eggs, on the Sabbath eve, unless they can be completely cooked before the Sabbath begins. Bread must not be put into the oven, nor cakes on the coal, unless there is time before the Sabbath comes in for the surface to become encrusted.

Concerning the Sabbath lamp.[34].

M. Wherewith may one light the Sabbath lamp? Not with wicks made with cedar moss, or raw flax, or silk fibre, or weeds growing in water, or ship moss. Nor shall pitch, wax, cottonseed oil, or oil of rejected offerings, or oil from sheeptail fat, be used for these lamps.

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