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GOOD AND EVIL SPIRITS
ing the acts of superhuman spirits. We have seen how Satan is portrayed in language almost wholly figurative. He appears in the pictorial narrative of the temptation, he snatches
away the good seed and sows tares, sifts men as wheat, and bows down a woman with infirmity. Moreover, Peter is called “Satan when he opposes divine truth. Much the same holds true of the demons. Collectively considered, they are almost synonyms with “Satan” where Jesus says that if he should cast out demons by the prince of the demons, Satan would be divided against himself (Mk. ii. 26; Mt. xii. 26; Lk. xi. 18). The dethroning of demons in men is the same as Satan falling like lightning from heaven (Lk. xiii. 32). Clear cases of maladies such as speechlessness and mania are attributed to their power.
In discussions of this subject some such dilemma as this is commonly presented: Jesus spoke of the casting out of demons by himself and by others; now he either spoke and hcted according to fact, or he knowingly lent the weight of his authority to a superstition which he knew had no foundation in fact. I do not think we are shut up to any such dilemma. Whether demon-possession be in reality a fact or a superstition, the authority of Jesus cannot be fairly cited for either the one or the other view of it. The case is the same as with regard to the 110th Psalm. Jesus cites it as containing what “ David said ” (Mk. xii. 35-37). Many would here involve us in the dilemma: Either David must have written the 110th Psalm, or Jesus' authority is undermined. No dilemma of this sort is to be admitted. Jesus simply spoke as other people did about Psalms and all other books. He taught nothing concerning their authorship. Nor did he concerning the nature, functions, or_actions of angels or demons.
HUMAN NATURE AND SINFULNESS
The references which Jesus made to the true nature of man, and to the estimate which God puts upon his wellbeing, are so numerous and explicit that they furnish sufficient materials for the construction of a doctrine. He did not, indeed, directly discuss man's origin, nor did he speak abstractly about human nature or man's relation to God. Nevertheless, in apothegm and in parable, and, still more, in action, he showed what man in his true divine destination is, and indicated the ways in which he falls short of its realization. His teaching includes such points
as the following: THE LIFE (1) The life of every man, as such, is of priceless value. SI Even If Jesus was speaking to his disciples when he pictured
God's care for each separate life by saying: “ The very I'NA 25
hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore,
(2) It follows that the forfeiture by any man of his true life is regarded as an unspeakable calamity. “ What doth it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his life?” (Mk. viii. 37; Mt. xvi. 26; Lk. ix. 25). The life of one man in its true meaning and destination outweighs the value of the world. To lose it is to forfeit that which lends meaning and worth to human existence — knowledge, holiness, love, and truth; it is to lose one's self (Luke has: εαυτόν δε απολέσας ή ζημιωθείς). He who thus loses himself loses what no price is adequate to buy back (Mk. viii. 37); the loss is irreparable. But the loss of anything can be irreparable only when its value is beyond estimate. Hence Jesus taught that one might better undergo the severest self-denial and suffering than to forfeit his true spiritual life. Such is the import of the sayings: If thy hand or foot cause thee to stumble, cut them off ; it is better to enter into life maimed than retaining both hands and both feet, to go into Gehenna (Mk. ix. 43 sq.; Mt. xviii. 8 sq.). · The life is more important than comfort or any temporal good; it is worth more than the food which sustains it and which is but a means to its ends (Mt. vi. 25); it is more valuable than all earthly things in God's sight, since it does not consist in outward possessions (Lk. xii. 15), but in inward peace and wellbeing (Lk. xii. 16-21; Mt. v. 3–12).
In harmony with this view of the worth of life, Jesus taught that the humblest or most insignificant person, on whom men set no value, is precious before God. “ These little ones” – be they children or humble believers; cf. page 81 — are not to be despised (Mt. xviii. 10). The least important person who goes astray from goodness excites the pity and solicitude of God, and he seeks him and brings him back as the shepherd, leaving his ninetynine sheep, goes into the mountains in eager search after the one that has wandered away. “Even so,” said Jesus, , “it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish” (Mt. xviii. 12–14; Lk. xv. 4–7). In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus he pictured the diseased and neglected beggar and the
unmerciful or indifferent rich man in order to show that God does not judge men by their outward conditions in this world. Not what one has but what one is gives the true measure of a man. A beggar may stand far above a prince in his favor. The beggar whom the rich man would not notice was not beneath the notice of the All
merciful. wew,T SINNARS
(3) Even the worst sinners still have worth in God's HAVE WORTH IN sight. Over and over again Jesus was charged with being
a " friend of publicans and sinners” (Mt. xi. 19). The charge was true. He even sought out the despised and degraded in order that he might bless and save them (Mk. ii. 15; Lk. v. 30). This action was certainly not due to the pleasure which he found in their society, nor to any sudden accession of special compassion. He deliberately planned to seek after those who were farthest from the common standards of virtue, and believed that he would find among them a more ready acceptance of his truth than among the self-righteous religionists who thought that they needed no repentance or amendment of life (Mt. xxi. 31). Our sources give us no reason to ascribe
any class-feeling or class-prejudice to Jesus. The publiALE: si la 17ycan as such was not worth more in his sight than the
Pharisee. But he was more accessible; and Jesus sought, not the publican, but the man, and all the more because he was sinful and needy. The pious Jew of the period was commonly completely encased in a covering of tradition and formalism which was utterly impervious to spiritual truth. Those, however, whom he called “sinners,” the social outcasts and even the positively immoral, were, in the view of Jesus, more likely to have a sense of their unworthiness and spiritual need than were those who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others” (Lk. xviii. 9). Jesus did not avoid the rich because they were rich; on the contrary, he numbered many of the prosperous among his friends. He did not pass by the Pharisees because their formal and ostentatious piety was repugnant to his own feeling; on the contrary, he was glad to draw them to himself whenever he found in them the least susceptibility to spiritual truth. But, for the most part, he found among these classes but little response to his appeal. In general, it was only “ the common people ” who “heard him gladly” (Mk. xii. 37). He found none so hopeless as those who were perfectly satisfied with themselves and perfectly content to remain as they were.
Jesus openly professed it to be his special concern to care for those for whom no one else cared; to seek to save those who seemed indifferent to their own salvation. He taught that God did not estimate them as their more favored neighbors did; that although “lost” they were not irrecoverable. Hence he pictured a Pharisee and a publican praying side by side in the temple (Lk. xviii. 9 89.). The former professed his own goodness; the latter confessed his sin. Jesus plainly hinted that there was more hope of the latter than of the former, because there was in him more self-knowledge and more sense of what God requires. Again, in the parables of Luke xv. he has defended his policy of seeking the outcast and lost. The Pharisees and scribes sneered at him for keeping evil company and hinted that he was like the “publicans and sin
with whom he associated. Jesus replied in the parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Piece of Money (Lk. xv. 3-10). I must concern myself, he says, for that which is lost, just because it is lost. The shepherd may safely disregard for the time the ninety-nine sheep which are safe in the fold, in his eager search for the one which has strayed away. The prudent housewife who has lost one piece of money may safely give no concern to the pieces which are in safe keeping, while she searches the house for the missing coin. So
So if you Pharisees are (as you assume) safe in the fold of the divine favor, I may justly disregard you and make those the special object of my solicitude who are clearly outside that fold. They that are whole have no need of a physician ; but they that are sick. I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance" (Lk. v. 31, 32). The parables present an argumentum ad hominem : assuming that you are what you