True Greatness Of Christianity - Part 5
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Finally, and above all. As, for the right inculcation of righteousness, we need the inspiring words of Israel's love for it, that is, we need the Bible ; so, for the right inculcation of the method and secret of Jesus, we need the epieikeia, the sweet reasonableness, of Jesus. That is, in other words again, we need the Bible; for only through the Bible-records of Jesus can we get at his epieikeia. Even in these records, it is and can be presented but imperfectly; but only by reading and re-reading the Bible can we get at it at all.
Now, greatly as the failure, from the stress laid upon the pseudo-science of Church-dogma, to lay enough stress upon the method and secret of Jesus, has kept Christianity back from showing itself in its full power, it is probable that the failure to apply to the method and secret of Jesus, so far as these have at any rate been used, his sweet reasonableness or epieikeia,— his temper,—has kept it back even more. And the infinite of the religion of Jesus,—its immense capacity for ceaseless progress and farther development,—lies principally, perhaps, in the line of disengaging and keeping before our minds, more and more, his temper, and applying it to our use of his method and secret. For it is obvious from experience, how much our use of Jesus Christ's method and secret requires to be guided and governed by his temper of epieikeia. Indeed, without this, his method and secret seem of almost no use at all. The Flagellants imagined that they were employing his secret ; and the Dissenters, with their 'spirit of watchful jealousy,' imagine that they are employing his method. To be sure, Mr. Bradlaugh imagines that the method and the secret of Jesus, nay, and Jesus himself too, are all baneful, and that the sooner we get rid of them the better. So far, then, the Flagellants and the Dissenters are in advance of Mr. Bradlaugh : they value Christianity, and they profess the method and secret of Jesus. But they employ them so ill, that one is tempted to say they might nearly as well be without them. And this is because they are wholly without his temper of sweet reasonableness, or epieikeia. Now this can only be got, first, by knowing that it is in the Bible, and looking for it there ; and then, by reading and re-reading the Gospels continually, until we catch something of it.
This, again, is an experimental process. That the epieikeia or sweet reasonableness of Jesus may be brought to govern our use of his method and secret, and that it can and will make our use of his method and secret quite a different thing, is proved by our actually finding this to be so when we try. So that the culmination of Christian righteousness, in the applying, to guide our use of the method and secret of Jesus, his sweet reasonableness or epieikeia, is proved from experience. We end, therefore, as we began,—by experience. And the whole series of experiences, of which the survey is thus completed, rests, primarily, upon one fundamental fact,—itself, eminently, a fact of experience : the necessity of righteousness.