Thirdly, what was there that was new in the whole movement? Was it anything new to set up the sovereignty of God, the sovereignty of the good and the holy, in opposition to all the other elements which had forced their way into religion? Did John the Baptist, did Christ himself, bring in anything that had not been proclaimed long before? Gentlemen, the question as to what is new in religion is not a question which is raised by those who live in it. What is there that can have been “new,” seeing that mankind existed so long before Jesus Christ and had seen so much in the way of intelligence and knowledge? Monotheism had long been introduced, and the few possible types of monotheistic religious fervour had long made their appearance here and there, and had taken possession of whole schools, nay, of a whole nation. Can the religious individualism of that Psalmist ever be surpassed in depth and vigour who confessed: “Lord, when I have thee, I ask not after heaven and earth “? Can we go beyond what Micah said: “He hath showed thee, 0 man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God”? Centuries had passed since these words were spoken. “What do you want with your Christ,” we are asked, principally by Jewish scholars; “he introduced nothing new.” I answer with Wellhausen: It is quite true that what Jesus proclaimed, what John the Baptist expressed before him in his exhortations to repentance, was also to be found in the prophets, and even in the Jewish tradition of their time. The Pharisees themselves were in possession of it; but unfortunately they were in possession of much else besides. With them it was weighted, darkened, distorted, rendered ineffective and deprived of its force, by a thousand things which they also held to be religious and every whit as important as mercy and judgment. They reduced everything to one dead level, wove everything into one fabric; the good and holy was only one woof in a broad earthly warp. You ask again, then: “What was there that was new?” The question is out of place in monotheistic religion. Ask rather: “Had what was here proclaimed any strength and any vigour?” I answer: Take the people of Israel and search the whole history of their religion; take history generally, and where will you find any message about God and the good that was ever so pure and so full of strength—for purity and strength go together— as we hear and read of in the Gospels? As regards purity, the spring of holiness had, indeed, long been opened; but it was choked with sand and dirt, and its water was polluted. For rabbis and theologians to come afterwards and distil this water, even if they were successful, makes no difference. But now the spring burst forth afresh, and broke a new way for itself through the rubbish — through the rubbish which priests and theologians had heaped up so as to smother the true element in religion; for how often does it happen in history that theology is only the instrument by which religion is discarded! The other element was that of strength. Pharisaical teachers had proclaimed that everything was contained in the injunction to love God and one’s neighbour. They spoke excellently; the words might have come out of Jesus’ mouth. But what was the result of their language? That the nation, that in particular their own pupils, condemned the man who took the words seriously. All that they did was weak and, because weak, harmful. Words effect nothing; it is the power of the personality that stands behind them. But he “taught as one having authority and not as the Scribes.” Such was the impression of him which his disciples received. His words became to them “the words of life,” seeds which sprang up and bore fruit. That was what was new.