[Footnote 2: I am acquainted with the interpretation, that the word More is not here Greek, i.e., fool, but is Hebrew, and means rebel, which is stronger than Raca, silly fellow. This gives partial, but only partial relief.]
[Footnote 3: Indeed we have in Luke vi. 20-24, a version of the Beatitudes so much in harmony with this lower doctrine, as to make it an open question, whether the version in Matth. v. is not an improvement upon Jesus, introduced by the purer sense of the collective church. In Luke, he does not bless the poor in spirit, and those who hunger after righteousness, but absolutely the “poor” and the “hungry,” and all who honour Him; and in contrast, curses the rich and those who are full.]
[Footnote 4: At the close, is the parable about the absent master of a house; and Peter asks, “Lord? (Sir?) speakest thou this parable unto us, or also unto all?” Who would not have hoped an ingenuous reply, “To you only,” or, “To everybody”? Instead of which, so inveterate is his tendency to muffle up the simplest things in mystery, he replies, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward,” &c., &c., and entirely evades reply to the very natural question.]
[Footnote 5: This implied that Judas, as one of the twelve, had earned the heavenly throne by the price of earthly goods.]
[Footnote 6: If the account in John is not wholly false, I think the reply in every case discreditable. If literal, it all but indicates wilful imposture. If mystical, it is disingenuously evasive; and it tended, not to instruct, but to irritate, and to move suspicion and contempt. Is this the course for a religious teacher?—to speak darkly, so as to mislead and prejudice; and this, when he represents it as a matter of spiritual life and death to accept his teaching and his supremacy?]
ON BIGOTRY AND PROGRESS.
If any Christian reader has been patient enough to follow me thus far, I now claim that he will judge my argument and me, as before the bar of God, and not by the conventional standards of the Christian churches.
Morality and Truth are principles in human nature both older and more widespread than Christianity or the Bible: and neither Jesus nor James nor John nor Paul could have addressed or did address men in any other tone, than that of claiming to be themselves judged by some pre-existing standard of moral truth, and by the inward powers of the hearer. Does the reader deny this? or, admitting it, does he think it impious to accept their challenge? Does he say that we are to love and embrace Christianity, without trying to ascertain whether it be true or false? If he say, Yes,—such a man has no love or care for Truth, and is but by accident a Christian. He would have remained a faithful heathen, had he been born in heathenism, though Moses, Elijah and Christ preached a higher truth to him. Such a man is condemned by his own confession, and I here address him no longer.