Granting it was an exaggeration to claim to be God, he really was good to the poor and the needy, even if in an odd manner, by becoming one of them and going about in the company of beggars. But there is something touching in it all, and one can’t help but feel sorry for the poor fellow who is to suffer such a miserable death. For you may say what you will, and condemn him as strongly as you will, I cannot help feeling pity for him. I am not so heard-hearted as not to feel compassion.” We have arrived at the last phase, not of Sacred History, as handed down by the apostles and disciples who believed in Christ, but of profane history, its counterpart. Come hither now, all ye that labor and are heavy laden: that is, if you feel the need, even if vou are of all sufferers the most miserable—if you feel the need of being helped in this fashion, that is, to fall into still greater suffering, then come hither, he will help you.
THE INVITATION AND THE INVITER
Let us forget for a little while what, in the strictest sense, constitutes the “offense”; which is, that the inviter claims to be God. Let us assume that he did not claim to be more than a man, and let us then consider the inviter and his invitation.
The invitation is surely inviting enough. How, then, shall one explain the bad relation which did exist, this terribly wrong relation, that no one, or practically no one, accepted the invitation; that, on the contrary, all, or practically all—alas! and was it not precisely all who were invited?—that practically all were at one in offering resistance to the inviter, in wishing to put him to death, and in setting a punishment on accepting aid from him? Should one not expect that after an invitation such as he issued all, all who suffered, would come crowding to him, and that all they who were not suffering would crowd to him, touched by the thought of such compassion and mercy, and that thus the whole race would be at one in admiring and extolling the inviter? How is the opposite to be explained? For that this was the outcome is certain enough; and the fact that it all happened in those remote times is surely no proof that the generation then living was worse than other generations! How could any one be so thoughtless as to believe that? For whoever gives any thought to the matter will easily see that it happened in that generation only because they chanced to be contemporaneous with him. How then explain that it happened—that all came to that terribly wrong end, so opposite to what ought to have been expected?
Well, in the first place, if the inviter had looked the figure which purely human compassion would have him be; and, in the second place, if he had entertained the purely human conception of what constitutes man’s misery—why, then it would probably not have happened.