The honest thing about him is his claim to be the Messiah when he resembles him so little as he does. That is honest, just as if some one in preparing bogus paper-money made the bills so poorly that every one who knows the least about it cannot fail to detect the fraud.—True enough, we all look forward to a Messiah, but surely no one with any sense expects God himself to come, and every religious person shudders at the blasphemous attitude of this person. We look forward to a Messiah, we are all agreed on that. But the governance of the world does not go forward tumultuously, by leaps and bounds; the development of the world, as is indicated by the very fact that it is a development, proceeds by evolution, not by revolution. The true Messiah will therefore look quite different, and will arrive as the most glorious flower, and the highest development, of that which already exists. Thus will the true Messiah come, and he will proceed in an entirely different fashion: he will recognize the existing order as the basis of things, he will summon all the clergy to council and present to them the results accomplished by him, as well as his credentials—and then, if he obtain the majority of the votes when the ballot is cast, he will be received and saluted as the extraordinary person, as the one he is: the Messiah.
“However, there is a duplicity in this man’s behavior; he assumes too much the role of judge. It seems as if he wished to be, at one and the same time, both the judge who passes sentence on the existing order of things, and the Messiah. If he does not wish to play the role of the judge, then why his absolute isolation, his keeping at a distance from all which has to do with the existing order of things? And if he does not wish to be the judge, then why his fantastic flight from reality to join the ignorant crowd, then why with the haughtiness of a revolutionary does he despise all the intelligence and efficiency to be found in the existing order of things? And why does he begin afresh altogether, and absolutely from the bottom up, by the help of—fishermen and artisans? May not the fact that he is an illegitimate child fitly characterize his entire relation to the existing order of things? On the other hand, if he wishes to be only the Messiah, why then his warning about putting a piece of new cloth unto an old garment. For these words are precisely the watchwords of every revolution since they are expressive of a person’s discontent with the existing order and of his wish to destroy it.
That is, these words reveal his desire to remove existing conditions, rather than to build on them and better them, if one is a reformer, or to develop them to their highest possibility, if one is indeed the Messiah. This is duplicity. In fact, it is not feasible to be both judge and Messiah. Such duplicity will surely result in his downfall. The climax in the life of a judge is his death by violence, and so the poet pictures it correctly; but the climax in the life of the Messiah cannot possibly be his death. Or else, by that very fact, he would not be the Messiah, that is, he whom the existing order expects in order to deify him. This duplicity has not as yet been recognized by the people, who see in him their Messiah; but the existing order of things cannot by any manner of means recognize him as such. The people, the idle and loafing crowd, can do so only because they represent nothing less than the existing order of things. But as soon as the duplicity becomes evident to them, his doom is sealed. Why, in this respect his predecessor was a far more definitely marked personality, for he was but one thing, the judge. But what confusion and thoughtlessness, to wish to be both, and what still worse confusion, to acknowledge his predecessor as the judge—that is, in other words, precisely to make the existing order of things receptive and ripe for the Messiah who is to come after the judge, and yet not wish to associate himself with the existing order of things!” And the philosopher would reason as follows: “Such dreadful or, rather, insane vanity, that a single individual claims to be God, is a thing hitherto unheard of. Never before have we been witness to such an excess of pure subjectivity and sheer negation. He has no doctrines, no system of philosophy, he knows really nothing, he simply keeps on repeating, and making variations on, some unconnected aphoristic sentences, some few maxims, and a couple of parables by which he dazzles the crowd for whom he also performs signs and wonders; so that they, instead of learning something, or being improved, come to believe in one who in a most brazen way constantly forces his subjective views on us. There is nothing objective or positive whatever in him and in what he says. Indeed, from a philosophical point of view, he does not need to fear destruction for he has perished already, since it is inherent in the nature of subjectivity to perish. One may in all fairness admit that his subjectivity is remarkable and that, be it as it may with the other miracles, he constantly repeats his miracle with the five small loaves, viz., by means of a few lyric utterances and some aphorisms he rouses the whole country. But even if one were inclined to overlook his insane notion of affirming himself to be God, it is an incomprehensible mistake, which, to be sure, demonstrates a lack of philosophic training, to believe that God could reveal himself in the form of an individual. The race, the universal, the total, is God; but the race surely is not an individual! Generally speaking, that is the impudent assumption of subjectivity, which claims that the individual is something extraordinary. But sheer insanity is shown in the claim of an individual to be God. Because if the insane thing were possible, viz. that an individual might be God, why, then this individual would have to be worshipped, and a more beastly philosophic stupidity is not conceivable.”