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CHAPTER XXII
OUR RELATION TO THE SACRED TRIBE

"Israël was despised and rejected; when we see him there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is full of sorrows and acquainted with grief. We hid our faces from him; he was despised and we esteemed him not.

"We thought him stricken of God; but he was wounded for our transgressions, and with his stripes we are healed.

"He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied; by his knowledge shall he justify many; for he makes intercession for transgressors."

The Path of intellectual Progress is a Pulsation between the active study of Nature's variety of manifestations and repose in the contemplation of The Unmanifested Unity. Science and Art tend to become, every now and then, entangled in and weakened by the overwhelming multiplicity of sensible facts. But Nature has provided us with a Sacred Tribe, subjected from Time immemorial to a peculiar discipline, which somewhat unfits its members to be great Leaders in the sensuous Arts, because it gives to them a strong tendency to think of The Unseen Unity. The effect of this Tribe on the thought-life of the world is very like what was described in Chapter XIX. as the effect of the true Logos-teacher on a School; when Science has exhausted itself and wandered off into too much detail, some Jew like Mendelssohn or Spinoza, or some Gentile who has been saturating his soul in Jewish lore, like Gratry or Boole, prepares for true recuperative repose by striking afresh the key-note of Sabbath, the Name of The Invisible Unity. For reasons which were pointed out in Chapter XIX., he who does this seems to be out of the line of progress, because he ignores and neutralizes much which others have been doing and which seems essential. But when once we have realized that nothing is more essential to progress than strong pulsation we shall lose the feeling that the peculiarly Jewish type of mind is out of tune with true refinement; we shall turn to it for the repose which gives new energy to all forms of culture.

The function of Judaism is perhaps best understood when we remember that the early Christian asceticism was not an isolated phenomenon, but a typical specimen of a group of facts, the natural outcome of tendencies whose action is essential to our intellectual life, but whose uncontrolled action would destroy society. Of these tendencies, Judaism is the corrective and controller.

In order to avoid entering into disputed questions of theology, let us look at the action of these tendencies as exhibited on a small scale in our own day.

James Hinton wrote a charming little book called The Mystery of Pain, wherein he announced that failure and suffering are the greatest boons that life has to offer. This and his other published works were hailed by many as a new Gospel. He next proceeded to state, in conversations and in private lectures, that "Heaven looks down on no sight so cursed as a happy home;" because, he said, in order to keep home happy, men ignore the claims of strangers. Finally, he propounded certain theories of sublime self-abnegation, which have, in one way or another, been the ruin of nearly all who paid any attention to them.

The career of such men becomes more intelligible, when one knows that James Hinton habitually went out in winter insufficiently clad, not in order to give his great-coat to a beggar, but to give himself the pleasure of suffering from cold. James Hinton would have been a useful subordinate in any well-organized school of Philosophy; unfortunately we have in England no well-organized Schools; and a large circle set Hinton up, for a time, as Leader. Now when a community has arrived at such a condition that men can be set up as thought-leaders who are born without the healthy appetite for self-preservation which is the necessary physical basis of all knowledge of the means by which society is preserved, that community needs to be taken in hand and controlled by the influence (one might almost say, by the magnetism) of a morally sane race. In ordinary times, Judaism keeps itself in the background, and leaves Gentile thought to develop in its own way. But when Philosophy has evaporated into the fourth dimension, when it has played with the Eternal till it has shrivelled out of itself the perception alike of locality and of epoch, of possibility and of sequence, of perspective and of proportion, then is a fitting occasion for Judaism to come to the front. It reminds us that He Who gave to us a certain limited power of sympathy with strangers, reserved for Himself the luxury of limitless sympathy, precisely because He is not a stranger but the Father of us all; that this Father in Heaven has placed us on earth; that the particular stratum of the fourth dimension wherein He has located us is that of three dimensional (i.e., physical) consciousness; that mere vague sensuous sympathy, not safeguarded by Law, may be not virtue but vice; and that the Eternal, acting within the limits of His own Holiness, has imposed on our faculties an order in development and a sequence of action which cannot be safely ignored.

We are prone to think Jews indifferent to religion and careless of our well-being, because they leave us so much to ourselves. Our own restless fussiness causes us to think every one callous who is not incessantly fidgeting about, trying to improve and convert somebody else. The New Testament (to say nothing of the Old) might have taught us that he is the best teacher who most perfectly reflects the Divine patience and willingness to suspend action. The Ideal Saviour seems to be asleep, leaving others to manage the ship as they will; till they cry to him in the storm, "Master, we perish."[1] In another version of the storm-myth,[2] the teacher, perceiving that men would make him a King by force, retires to commune with his God, and leaves the disciples to go on their way alone. But when it is dark and the tempest arises, they find that, without using their means of transport, he has reached the same spot as themselves. When the need is sorest he is found at hand, saying: "I am here; be not afraid."

James Hinton was well aware of his own lack of stability, and dreaded above all things being set up as an intellectual Pope. His own instinct told him that the true path of progress consists in incessant pulsation between the strong and the mobile types of mind. He often illustrated the relation between the two types by the following Parable. Little boys and girls, he said, play together indiscriminately, regardless of sex; and all copy the eldest or cleverest child. But as soon as that mental difference begins to appear which is to end in a possibility of fuller sympathy, it is often marked by a mutual repulsion, which lasts till the time for mutual understanding has come. The girls call the boys "Horrid, noisy, greedy, vulgar creatures, who don't care for fairy-tales and who destroy the dolls"; and the boys call the girls " Silly, sentimental molly-coddles, who can't understand anything sensible." Each side has a perfect right to its own opinion; and, should the quarrels become too violent, it is not of much use to preach solemnly about the sinfulness of lack of charity; it is better to remind all parties that when they are older they will feel differently; and to encourage them, in the meantime, to assist in each other's education. Nor is it wise to put too much check on the natural repulsion, by forcibly assimilating the lives of boys and girls; those young people are found ultimately of most use to each other in whom the differentiation of character has been allowed to develop.

This illustration surely throws light on the whole relation between Jews and Aryans. People who hope to improve the world, either by converting Jews to religions cast in the Trinitarian mould, or by depriving us of the adjuncts to faith which it is natural for us to seek, belong essentially to the same order of reasoners as those who fancy that boys are made more refined by being taught to pose in effeminate attitudes, or girls more logical by being forbidden to do fancy-embroidery. Those turn out best-bred who respect the individuality on each side, and yet are willing to learn from each other. The old fable of Narcissus tells the fate of those who can love nothing but the reflection of themselves.

The stern spiritual discipline which has made Jews indifferent to much which we think essential to religion, the sentimental and somewhat hysterical weakness which characterizes Aryan pietism, are among the means by which the differentiation is being effected; while sufficient proof that it is still incomplete is afforded by the fact that misunderstandings still arise. And perhaps no antagonism could prove ultimately to have been so great a misfortune, as would be the arresting of the differentiation before it is complete. Europe is quarrelling with imperfectly developed Jews; but it long ago lost its heart to the typical Jew, as seen in Vision, though as yet it knows not what it was that it saw. Christ, as he exists in Christian tradition, is not so much the historical Jesus as personified Judaism. The simple manliness of Jewish piety has so dazzled us, that we have invented a whole system of theology to account for its difference from our own more effeminate graces. Underlying all forms of Christian doctrine, there is the deep human truth that Gentile thought, with its Art and its fancy, its sensibility and its weakness, is the "Bride of Christ,"—the counterpart and destined helpmeet of the pure strong Hebrew faith. We Christians have got our life into confusion by trying to copy our Ideal "Christ"; we are not enough like him to know how to set about it. Jews do not go into ecstacies about "Jesus," because they are (potentially at least) himself.[3] When Judaism and Christianity have discovered their true relation to each other; when we Christians, especially, have realized that our true function is not so much copying Christ ourselves as organizing social life so as to facilitate the development of Judaism into its natural likeness to him, surely that will be the Millennium prophesied of old, "the Bridal of the Earth and Sky."

This may seem a romantic way of dealing with those epidemics of Jew-hating, which, as a prosaic matter of fact, often originate in trade jealousies and in envy of the special business faculty of Jews. The true Prophet, however, is not he who conjures himself into mystic trances, in order that by shutting his eyes to earth he may see into Heaven; but he who looks at the facts that God shows on earth by the Light which God sends from Heaven. Such an one can algebraize the slightest indications of progressive tendency in man. He thrills with the joy of future harvests when he sees one plant become more fruitful under human care; and hears all Handel's music in the tones of Jubal's lyre. And if it be vouchsafed to him to realize something of the true relation between the Aryan and the Jew, he knows henceforth the meaning of Isaiah's golden dreams. Those who are weak and contemptible while severed, become sublime and strong when united. "Il y a au monde une chose sainte et sublime; c'est l'union de deux Logic Taught by Love êtres imparfaits. On est souvent trompé, souvent blessé, et souvent malheureux; mais on aime; et quand on est sur le bord de la tombe, on dit:—J'ai aimé; c'est moi qui ai vécu, et non pas un être factice créé par mon orgueil et mon ennui."

This truth we all know. It lies deep down in all our hearts. We Gentiles know it, but are powerless to carry our knowledge into action; for impatience clouds our perceptions, and we lose Love by premature unifications. The unregulated indulgence of impulses of Altruism destroys nerve-stamina; and, as a consequence, we find mere unreasoning dislikes stronger than our faith in the Eternal Principle of Love. Jews have been taught, and will at length teach us, that the Love which is stronger than death and which survives the grave is not to be snatched at by any emotional passion, whether religious or poetic; it is brought into our lives by in all things awaiting the due time, and by the systematic consecration of natural duty.

  1. Luke viii.
  2. John vi.
  3. I speak here only of Jewish reformers in religion. Of the Jews who devote themselves to Finance, Commerce and Politics I have nothing to say, except that they are what Europe has made of them. What Europe has made of them should be carefully studied by those who are undertaking the task of bringing Chinese and Hindus into contact with Western civilization.