With this we have already passed to the next question which was to occupy our attention, and we have half answered it.
(4) The Gospel and work, or the question of civilisation.
The points which we shall have to consider here are essentially the same as those which we emphasized in regard to the question just discussed; and we shall therefore be able to proceed more concisely.
Jesus’ teaching has been felt again and again, but above all in our own day, to exhibit no interest in any systematic work or calling, and no appreciation of those ideal possessions which go by the name of Art and Science. Nowhere, people say, does Jesus summon men to labour and to put their hands to the work of progress; in vain shall we look in his words for any expression of pleasure in vigorous activity; these ideal possessions lay far beyond his field of vision. In that last, unhappy book of his, The Old Faith and the New, David Friedrich Strauss gave particularly harsh expression to this feeling. He speaks of a fundamental defect in the Gospel, which he considers antiquated and useless because out of sympathy with the progress of civilisation. But long before Strauss the Pietistic movement exhibited the same sort of feeling. The Pietists tried to evade the difficult}” in a way of their own. They started from the position that Jesus must be able to serve as a direct example for all men, whatever their calling; that he must have proved himself in all the situations in which a man can be placed. They admitted that a cursory examination of Jesus’ life disclosed the fact that this requirement was not fulfilled; but they were of opinion that on a closer inspection it would be found that he was really the best bricklayer, the best tailor, the best judge, the best scholar, and so on, and that he had the best knowledge and understanding for everything. They turned and twisted what Jesus said and did until it was made to express and corroborate what they wanted. Although it was a childish attempt which they made, the problem of which they were sensible was nevertheless of some moment. They felt that their consciences and their callings bound them to a definite activity and a definite business; they were clear that they ought not to become monks; and yet they were anxious to practise the imitation of Christ in the full sense. They felt, then, that he must have stood in the same situation as they themselves, and that his horizon must have been the same as theirs.