2. It is certain that the disciples did not understand their master to be a world-shunning ascetic. We shall see later what sacrifices they made for the Gospel and in what sense they renounced the world. But it is evident they did not give ascetic practices the chief place; they maintained the rule that the labourer is worthy of his hire; they did not send away their wives. We are incidentally told of Peter that his wife accompanied him on his missionary journeys. Apart from what we are told of an attempt to institute a kind of communism in the congregation at Jerusalem—and we may put it aside, as it is not trustworthy and, moreover, bore no ascetic character—we find nothing in the apostolic age which suggests a community of men who were ascetics on principle; on the contrary, we find the conviction prevailing everywhere that it is within the given circumstances, in the calling and position in which he finds himself, that a man is to be a Christian. How differently things developed in Buddhism from the very start!
3. The all-important consideration is the third. Let me remind you of what we said in regard to Jesus’ leading thoughts. In the sphere indicated by trust in God, humanity, the forgiveness of sins and the love of one’s neighbour, there is no room for the introduction of any other maxim, least of all’ for one of a legal character. At the same time Jesus makes it clear in what sense the kingdom of God is the antithesis of the world. The man who associates any ascetic practice with the words “Take no thought,” “Be merciful even as your Father in heaven is merciful,” and so on, and puts it upon the same level as those words, does not understand the sublime character of these sayings, and has either lost or has never attained the feeling that there is a union with God in which all such questions as shunning the world and asceticism are left far behind.