[Footnote 6: Apparently on these words of mine, a reviewer builds up the inference that I regard “the Evangelical narrative as a mythical fancy-piece imitated from David and Isaiah.” I feel this to be a great caricature. My words are carefully limited to a few petty details of one part of the narrative.] [Footnote 7: I did not calculate that any assailant would be so absurd as to lecture me on the topic, that God has no sympathy with our sins and follies. Of course what I mean is, that he has complacency in our moral perfection. See p. 125 above.]
[Footnote 8: This was at Aintab, in the north of Syria. One of my companions was caught by the mob and beaten (as they probably thought) to death. But he recovered very similarly to Paul, in Acts xiv. 20, after long lying senseless.]
ON THE MORAL PERFECTION OF JESUS.
Let no reader peruse this chapter, who is not willing to enter into a discussion, as free and unshrinking, concerning the personal excellencies and conduct of Jesus, as that of Mr. Grote concerning Socrates. I have hitherto met with most absurd rebuffs for my scrupulosity. One critic names me as a principal leader in a school which extols and glorifies the character of Jesus; after which he proceeds to reproach me with inconsistency, and to insinuate dishonesty. Another expresses himself as deeply wounded that, in renouncing the belief that Jesus is more than man, I suggest to compare him to a clergyman whom I mentioned as eminently holy and perfect in the picture of a partial biographer; such a comparison is resented with vivid indignation, as a blurting out of something “unspeakably painful.” Many have murmured that I do not come forward to extol the excellencies of Jesus, but appear to prefer Paul. More than one taunt me with an inability to justify my insinuations that Jesus, after all, was not really perfect; one is “extremely disappointed” that I have not attacked him; in short, it is manifest that many would much rather have me say out my whole heart, than withhold anything. I therefore give fair warning to all, not to read any farther, or else to blame themselves if I inflict on them “unspeakable pain,” by differing from their judgment of a historical or unhistorical character. As for those who confound my tenderness with hypocrisy and conscious weakness, if they trust themselves to read to the end, I think they will abandon that fancy.
But how am I brought into this topic? It is because, after my mind had reached the stage narrated in the last chapter, I fell in with a new doctrine among the Unitarians,—that the evidence of Christianity is essentially popular and spiritual, consisting in the Life of Christ, who is a perfect man and the absolute moral image of God,—therefore fitly called “God manifest in the flesh,” and, as such, Moral Head of the human race. Since