I have tried to show that the limitations which surrounded the Gospel did not cease with the severance of the tie binding it to Judaism, but that, on the contrary, new limits made their appearance. They arose, however, just at the very points upon which the necessary progress of things depended, or, as the case might be, where an inalienable possession like the Old Testament was in question. Here, again, then, we are reminded of the fact that, so far as history is concerned, as soon as we leave the sphere of pure inwardness, there is no progress, no achievement, no advantage of any sort, that has not its dark side, and does not bring its disadvantages with it. The apostle Paul complained that “we know in part.” To a much greater degree is the-same thing true of our actions and of everything connected with them. We have always to “pay the penalty “of acting, and not only take the evil consequences but also knowingly and with open eyes resolutely neglect one thing in order to gain another. Our purest and most sacred possessions, when they leave the inward realm and pass into the world of form and circumstance, are no exception to the rule that the very shape which they take in action also proves to be their limitation.
When the great apostle ended his life under Nero’s axe in the year 64, he could say of himself what a short time before he had written to a faithful comrade: “I have finished my course; I have kept the faith.” What missionary is there, what preacher, what man entrusted with the cure of souls, who can be compared with him, whether in the greatness of the task which he accomplished, or in the holy energy with which he carried it out? He worked with the most living of all messages, and kindled a fire; he cared for his people like a father and strove for the souls of others with all the forces of his own; at the same time he discharged the duties of the teacher, the schoolmaster, the organiser. When he-sealed his work by his death, the Roman empire from Antioch as far as Rome, nay, as far as Spain, was planted with Christian communities. There were to be found in them few that were “mighty after the flesh” or of