Or he will reason as follows: “One hears so many rash opinions about this person from people who understand nothing—and worship him; and so many severe condemnations of him by those who, perhaps, misunderstand him after all. As for me, I am not going to allow myself to be accused of venturing a hasty opinion. I shall keep entirely cool and calm; in fact, which counts for still more, I am conscious of being as reasonable and moderate with him as is possible. Grant now—which, to be sure, I do only to a certain extent—grant even that one’s reason is impressed by this person. What, then, is my opinion about him? My opinion is, that for the present, I can form no opinion about him. I do not mean about his claim of being God; for about that I can never in all eternity have an opinion. No, I mean about him as a man. Only by the consequences of his life shall we be able to decide whether he was an extraordinary person or whether, deceived by his imagination, he applied too high a standard, not only to himself, but also to humanity in general. More I cannot do for him, try as I may—if he were my only friend, my own child, I could not judge him more leniently, nor differently, either. It follows from this, to be sure, that in all probability, and for good reasons, I shall not ever be able to have any opinion about him. For in order to be able to form an opinion I must first see the consequences of his life, including his very last moments; that is, he must be dead then, and perhaps not even then, may I form an opinion of him. And, even granting this, it is not really an opinion about him, for he is then no more. No more is needed to say why it is impossible for me to join him while he is living. The authority he is said to show in his teaching can have no decisive influence in my case; for it is surely easy to see that his thought moves in a circle. He quotes as authority that which he is to prove, which in its turn can be proved only by the consequences of his life; provided, of course, it is not connected with that fixed idea of his about being God, because if it is therefore he has this authority (because he is God) the answer must be: yes—if! So much, however, I may admit, that if I could imagine myself living in some later age, and if the consequences of his life as shown in history had made it plain that he was the extraordinary person he in a former age claimed to be, then it might very well be—in fact, I might come very near, becoming his disciple.” An ecclesiastic would reason as follows: “For an impostor and demagogue he has, to say the truth, a remarkable air of honesty about him; for which reason he cannot be so absolutely dangerous, either, even though the situation looks dangerous enough while the squall is at its height, and ever, though the situation looks dangerous enough with his enormous popularity—until the squall has passed over and the people—yes, precisely the people—overthrow him again.