The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8
Right Feelings and Right Actions
Right Feelings and Right Actions.
The Pharisees taught, as almost all Christian churches now teach, the entire and literal inspiration of the Scriptures; and they required that these Scriptures should be interpreted in accordance with the traditions of the fathers of their church, in the same way that every church now requires them to be interpreted in accordance with its own formalities, the embodiment of its traditions. This was the pretention against which Jesus contended. He opposed the principle of closing the Scriptures against the free and unfettered investigation of every inquirer, and of making them the exclusive source and final limit of truth. With him the Kingdom of Heaven was a life, not a doctrine. He never once refers to the importance of right belief; but he dwells exclusively upon the value of right feelings prompting to right actions, and he makes the actions the test and proof of the feelings. Against these lessons the Pharisees protested during his lifetime, and almost the whole Christian church has protested since his death; and in both instances successfully. The entire history of each one of the numerous bodies into which the universal church is divided, is a practical illustration of the lesson, that among Christians the life is nothing in comparison with the creed, and that the minutest doctrinal differences may outweigh a hundred common virtues. Christianity has triumphed, but it has been by adopting from the adversaries of Jesus the principles that he denounced, and the spirit that condemned him to the cross. Sacrifice in the place of obedience, sacramental efficacy in the place of good works, orthodoxy of creed as the test-of love to God and an intolerant zeal for conversion as the practical manifestation of love to man: such has been Christianity as exemplified in the history of the Church. And no one would more emphatically protest against its doctrines and institutions, its fantastic terms of admission and its capricious exclusions, than would Jesus of Nazareth, the prophet of Galilee.—The Jesus of History.