The Testimony Of Jesus To Himself - Part 3
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
A method of inwardness, a secret of self-renouncement;—but can any statement of what Jesus brought be complete, which does not include that temper of mildness and sweetness in which both of these worked ? To the representative texts already given there is certainly to be added this other : `Learn of me that I am mild and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls !' Shall we attach mildness to the method, because, without it, a clear and limpid view inwards is impossible? Or shall we attach it to the secret ?—the dying to faults of temper is a part, certainly, of dying to one's ordinary self, one's life in this world. Mildness, however, is rather an element in which, in Jesus, both method and secret worked ; the medium through which both the method and the secret were exhibited. We may think of it as perfectly illustrated and exemplified in his answer to the foolish question, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven 2-when, taking a little child and setting him in the midst, he said : `Whosoever receives the kingdom of God as a little child, the same is the greatest in it.' Here are both inward appraisal and self-renouncement ; but what is most admirable is the sweet reasonableness, the exquisite, mild, winning felicity, with which the renouncement and the inward appraisal are applied and conveyed. And the conjunction of the three in Jesus,—the method of inwardness, and the secret of self-renouncement, working in and through this element of mildness,—produced the total impression of his `epieikeia,' or sweet reasonableness ; a total impression ineffable and indescribable for the disciples, as also it was irresistible for them, but at which their descriptive words, words like this ' sweet reasonableness,' and like `full of grace and truth,' are thrown out and aimed.
And this total stamp of 'grace and truth,' this exquisite conjunction and balance, in an element of mildness, of a method of inwardness perfectly handled and a selfrenounce-ment perfectly kept, was found in Jesus alone. What are the method of inwardness and the secret of self-renouncement without the sure balance of Jesus, without his epieikeia? Much, but very far indeed from what he showed or what he meant; they come to be used blindly, used mechanically, used amiss, and lead to the strangest aberrations. St. Simeon Stylites on his column, Pascal girdled with spikes, Lacordaire flogging himself on his death-bed, are what the secret by itself produces. The method by itself gives us our political Dissenter, pluming himself on some irrational `conscientious objections,' and not knowing, that with conscience he has done nothing until he has got to the bottom of conscience, and made it tell him right. Therefore the disciples of Jesus were not told to believe in his method, or to believe in his secret, but to believe in him ; they were not told to follow the method or to follow the' secret, but they were told : `Follow me!' For it was only by fixing their heart and mind on Jesus that they could learn to use the method and secret right ; by ' believing in him,' `feeding on him;' by, as he often said, ' remaining in him.
But this is just what Israel had been told to do as regards the Eternal himself. ' I have set the Eternal always before me ;' `Mine eyes are ever toward the Eternal ;' 'The Eternal is the strength of my life ; " Wait , I say, on the Eternal ! ' Now, then, let us go back again for a little to Israel, and to Israel's belief.