Ernest Renan.
From the "Vie de Jésus, par E. Renan, membre de l'Institut." Septième édition. Paris, 1864. English translation by Charles Edwin Wilbour, translator of "Les Miserables." New York, 1864. (On Renan and his book, compare the preceding Essay, p.176 ff.)

"Jesus can not belong exclusively to those who call themselves his disciples. He is the common honor of all who bear a human heart. His glory consists not in being banished from history: we render him a truer worship by showing that all history is incomprehensible without him (l'histoire entière est incompréhensible sans lui)."

Page 50. (French ed. p. xlviii. close of the Introduction.)

"The capital event in the history of the world is the revolution by which the noblest portions of humanity passed from the ancient religions, comprised under the vague name of paganism, to a religion founded upon the divine unity, the trinity, the incarnation of the Son of God. This conversion required nearly a thousand years for its accomplishment. The new religion occupied at least three hundred years in its formation alone. But the origin of the revolution with which we have to do is an event which occurred during the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius. Then lived a superior person, who, by his bold initiative, and by the love which he inspired, created the object, and fixed the starting-point, of the future fate of humanity. (Alors vécut une personne supérieure qui, par son initiative hardie, et par l'amour qu'elle sut intspirer, créa l'objet et posa le point de depart de la foi future de l'humanité.")

Page 51. (French ed. p.1, beginning of chap. i.)

"This confused medley of [Messianic Jewish] visions and dreams, this alternation of hopes and deceptions, these aspirations incessantly trampled down by a hateful reality, at length found their interpreter in the incomparable man to whom the universal conscience has decreed the title of Son of God, and that with justice; since he caused religion to take a step in advance, incomparably greater thllan any other in the past, and, probably, than any yet to come. (L'homme incomparable auquel la conscience universelle a décerné le titre de Fils de Dieu, et cela avec justice, puisqu'il a fait faire à la religion un pas auquel nul autre ne peut et probablement ne pourra jamais être comparé.")

Page 64. (French ed. p.13, close of chap. i.)

"Were the men who have most loftily comprehended God, -- Cakya-Mouni, Plato, St. Paul, St. Francis d'Assisi, and St. Augustine, -- at some moments of his changeful life, deists or pantheists? Such a question has no meaning. The physical and metaphysical proofs of the existence of God to them would have had no interest. They felt the divine within themselves. In the first rank of this grand family of the true sons of God, we must place Jesus. Jesus has no visions; God does not speak to him from without; God is in him; he feels that he is with God, and he draws from his heart what he says of his Father. tie lives in the bosom of God by uninterrupted communication: lie dies not see him, but lie understands him without need of thunder and burning bush like Moses, of a revealing tempest like Job, of an oracle like the old Greek sages, of a familiar genius like Socrates, or of an angel Gabriel like Mohammed. The imagination and hallucination of a St. Theresa, for example, here go for nothing. The intoxication of the Soufi, proclaiming himself identical with God, is also an entirely different thing. Jesus never for a moment enounces the sacrilegious idea that he is God [?]. He believes that he is in direct communion with God: he believes himself the Son of God. The highest consciousness of God which ever existed in the breast of humanity was that of Jesus. (La plus haute conscience de Dieu qui ait existé au sein de l'humanité a été celle de Jésus.")

Page 104. (French ed. p.51, chap. iv.)

"It is probable that, from the very first, he looked to God in the relation of a son to a father. This is his great act of originality: in this he is in no wise of his race. (En cela il n'est nullement de sa race.) Neither the Jew nor the Moslem has learned this delightful theology of love. The God of Jesus is not the hateful master who kills us when he pleases, damns us when he pleases, saves us when he pleases. The God of Jesus is our Father. We hear him when we listen to a low whisper within us, which says, Father.' The God of Jesus is not the partial despot, who has chosen Israel for his people, and protects it in the face of all and against all. He is the God of humanity."

Page 106. (56, chap. v.)

"It can not be denied, that the maxims borrowed [?] by Jesus from his predecessors produce, in the gospel, an effect totally different from that in the ancient law, in the Pirke Aboth, [31] or in the Talmud. It is not the ancient law, it is not the Talmud, which has conquered and changed the world. Little original in itself -- if by that is meant that it can be recomposed almost entirely [?] with more ancient maxims, -- the evangelical morality remains none the less the highest creation which has emanated from the human conscience, the most beautiful code of perfect life that any moralist has traced. (La plus haute création qui soit sortie de la conscience humaine, le plus beau code de la vie parfaite qu'aucun moraliste ait tracé.")

Page 110. (p.61, chap. v.)

"The gospel has been the supreme remedy for the sorrows of common life; a perpetual sursum corda; a mighty distraction from the wretched cares of earth; a sweet appeal, like that of Jesus to the ear of Martha: Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things; but one thing is needful.' Thanks to Jesus, the most spiritless existence, that most absorbed in sad or humiliating duties, has had its glimpse of heaven! In our bustling civilization, the memory of the free life of Galilee has been like the perfume of another world; like a dew of Hermon,' which has prevented sterility and vulgarity from completely usurping the field of God."

Page 175. (p.127, chap. x.)

"Christ, for the first time, gave utterance to the idea upon which shall rest the edifice of the everlasting religion. He founded the pure worship -- of no age, of no clime -- which shall be that of all lofty souls to the end of time. . . . If other planets have inhabitants endowed with reason and morality, their religion can not be different from that which Jesus proclaimed at Jacob's well. Man has not been able to abide by this worship [in spirit and in truth]: we attain the ideal only for a moment. The words of Jesus were a gleam in thick night: it has taken eighteen hundred years for the eyes of humanity (what do I say I of an infinitely small portion of humanity) to learn to abide by it. But the gleam shall become the full day; and, after passing through all the circles of error, humanity will return to these words, as to the immortal expression of its faith and its hopes. (L'humanité reviendra a ce mot-là [John iv.23], comme d l'expression immortelle de sa foi et de ses espérances.")

Page 215. (p.168, chap. xiv.)

"Repose now in thy glory, noble founder! Thy work is finished; thy divinity is established. Fear no more to see the edifice of thy labors fall by any fault. Henceforth, beyond the reach of frailty, thou shalt witness, from the hights of divine peace, the infinite results of thy acts. At the price of a few hours of suffering, which did not even reach thy grand soul, thou hast bought the most complete immortality. For thousands of years, the world will defend thee! Banner of our contests, thou shalt be the standard about which the hottest battle will be given. A thousand times more alive, a thousand times more beloved since thy death, than during thy passage here below, thou shalt become the corner-stone of humanity so entirely, that to tear thy name from this world would be to rend it to its foundations. Between thee and God there will be no longer any distinction. (Entre toi et Dieu on ne distinguera plus.) Complete conqueror of death, take possession of thy kingdom; whither shall follow thee, by the royal road which thou hast traced, ages of worshipers (des siècles d'adorateurs)."

Page 351. (p.303, close of chap. xxv.)

"Whatever may be the surprises of the future, Jesus will never be surpassed. His worship will grow young without ceasing; his legend will call forth tears without end; his sufferings will melt the noblest hearts; all ages will proclaim, that, among the sons of men, there is none born greater than Jesus. (Quels que puissent être les phénomènes inattendus de l'avenir, Jésus ne sera pas surpassé. Son culte se rajeunira sans cesse; sa légende provoquera des larmes sans fin; ses souffrances attendriront les meilleurs coeurs: tous les siècles proclameront qu'entre les fils des hommes, il n'en est pas né de plus grand que Jésus.")

Page 376. (p.325, end of the xxviii. and last chap.)


[31] A collection of sentences and maxims of ancient Jewish rabbis.

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