EPICTETUS ALLUDES TO JEWS

I did not open the sealed note, though I was not convinced that Epictetus
had been a borrower. Paulus the Christian had begun to interest me,
because of Scaurus’s quotations and remarks on his style. Indeed he
interested me so much that I determined at once to procure a copy of his
letters. But Christus himself—whom I call Christus here to distinguish
the meaning with which I used the name then from that with which I began
to use the name of “Christ” soon afterwards—Christus, I say, at that
moment, did not interest me at all.

Moreover I was impressed by what Scaurus said about a military career.
Though too young to remember much about the shameful days of Domitian,
yet I had heard my father describe the anguish he used to feel, when
letters from the Emperor to the Senate came announcing a glorious victory
(duly honoured with a triumph) after which would come a private letter
from Scaurus informing him that the victory was a disgraceful defeat.
And even later on, even after the successes of Trajan, my father, in
conversations with Scaurus, had often expressed, in my hearing, still
lingering apprehensions of a time when the barbarians might break in like
a flood upon the northern borders of the empire—if ever the imperial
throne were cursed with a second Domitian. Patriotism would be even more
needed then, he said, than when Marius beat back the Cimbri. All this
gave additional weight to Scaurus’s remarks. “Artemidorus,” I said,
“shall be my model. I will try to be a good soldier and a good Stoic in
one.” So I locked up the note, still sealed.

Here I may say that afterwards, when I did open it, it did not greatly
influence the course of my thoughts. By that time, I had come to think
that Scaurus was right, and that Epictetus had really borrowed from the
Christians. I opened it, therefore, not because I distrusted the fairness
and soundness of his judgment, but because I trusted it and looked to
him for information. As a fact, it rather confirmed his hypothesis of
borrowing, but did not demonstrate anything. The real influence of that
little note in my cabinet amounted, I think, to little more than this.
In the period I am now about to describe, while daily studying the works
of Paulus the Christian, I was beginning to ask myself “If Paulus the
follower of Christus was so great a teacher, must not Christus have
been greater?” In those days, when taking out Paul’s epistles from my
bookcase, I used often to see that packet lying there, with WORDS OF
CHRISTUS on it, and the seal unbroken. Then I used to say “If only I
could make up my mind to open you, you might tell me wonderful things.”
This stimulated my curiosity. It was one of many things—some little, some
great—that led me toward my goal.

The reader may perhaps think that I, a Roman of equestrian rank, must
have been already more prone to the Christian religion than I have
admitted, if I attempted to procure a copy of Paul’s epistles from a
bookseller in Nicopolis frequented by my fellow-students. But I made no
such attempt. Possibly our bookseller there would not have had a copy.
Probably he would not have confessed it if he had. In any case, I did
not ask him. It happened that I needed at this time certain philosophic
treatises (of Chrysippus and others). So I wrote to a freedman of my
father’s in Rome, an enterprising bookseller, who catered for various
tastes, giving him the titles of these works and telling him how to
prepare and ornament them. Then I added that Æmilius Scaurus had sent me
some remarkable extracts from the works of one Paulus, a Christian, and
that the volume seemed likely to be interesting as a literary curiosity.
This was perhaps a little understating the case. But not much. With
Flaccus, my Roman bookseller, I felt quite safe. Rather than buy Paul’s
epistles from Sosia in Nicopolis, I am sure I should not have bought
them at all. Such are the trifles in our lives on which sometimes our
course may depend—or may seem to have depended.

Meantime I had been attending lectures regularly and had become familiar
with many of Epictetus’s frequently recurring expressions of doctrine.
They were still almost always interesting, and generally impressive.
But his success in forcing me to “feel, for the moment, precisely what
he felt”—how often did I recognise the exact truth of this phrase of
Arrian’s!—made me begin to distrust myself. And from distrust of myself
sprang distrust of his teaching, too, when I found the feeling fade away
(time after time) upon leaving the lecturer’s presence. When I sat down
in my rooms to write out my notes, asking myself, “Can I honestly say
I hope to be ever able to do this or that?” how often was I obliged to
answer, “No!”

I could not trust his judgment about what we should be able to do,
because I could not trust his insight into what we were. Two causes
seemed to keep him out of sympathy with us. One was his own singular
power of bearing physical pain—almost as though he were a stone and not
flesh and blood. He thought that we had the same, or ought to have it.
Another cause was his absorption in something that was not human, in
a conception of God, whom (on some evidence clear to him but not made
clear by him to us, or at all events not to me) he _knew_ (not trusted
or believed, but _knew_) to have bestowed on him, Epictetus, the power
of being at once—not in the future, but at once, here on earth, at all
times, and in all circumstances—perfectly blessed. Having his eyes fixed
on this Supreme Giver of Peace, our Master often seemed to me hardly
able to bring himself to look down to us, except when he was chiding our
weakness.

Passing over several of the lectures that left me in the condition
I have endeavoured to describe, I will now come to the one in which
Epictetus alluded to Christians. “Jews” he called them. But he defined
them in such a way as to convince Arrian that he meant Christians. Even
if he did not, the impression produced on me was the same as if he had
actually mentioned them by name. The lecture began with the subject of
“steadfastness.” “A practical subject, this,” I said to myself, “for one
in training to be a second Artemidorus.” But the “steadfastness” was not
of the sort demanded in camps and battlefields. The essence of good, said
the lecturer, is right choice, and that of evil a wrong choice. External
things are not in our power, internal things are: “This Law God has laid
down, _If thou wilt have good, take it from thyself_.” Then followed one
of the now familiar dialogues, of which I was beginning to be a little
tired, between a tyrant threatening a philosopher, who points out that
he cannot possibly be threatened. The tyrant stares and says, “I will
put you in chains.” The wise man replies, “It is my hands and feet that
you threaten.” “I will cut off your head,” shouts the tyrant. “It is my
head that you threaten,” replies the philosopher. After a good deal more
of this, a pupil is supposed to ask, “Does not the tyrant threaten _you_
then?” To this the lecturer replies, “Yes, if I fear these things. But
if I have a feeling and conviction that these things are nothing to me,
then I am not threatened.” Then he appealed to us, “Of whom do I stand
in fear? What things must he be master of to make me afraid? Do you say,
‘The master of things that are in your power’? I reply, ‘There is no such
master.’ As for things not in my power, what are they to me?”

Epictetus had a sort of rule or canon for us beginners, by which we were
to take the measure of the so-called evils of life: “Make a habit of
saying at once to every harsh-looking apparition of this sort, ‘You are
an apparition and not at all the thing you appear to be. Are you of the
number of the things in my power, or are you not? If not, you are nothing
to me.’” Applying this to a concrete instance, our Master now dramatized
a dialogue between himself and Agamemnon, who is supposed to be passing
a sleepless night in anxiety for the Greeks, lest the Trojans should
destroy them on the morrow.

“_Epict._ What! Tearing your hair! And you say your heart leaps in
terror! And all for what? What is amiss with you? Money-matters?

“_Ag._ No.

“_Epict._ Health?

“_Ag._ No.

“_Epict._ No indeed! You have gold and silver to spare. What then
is amiss with you? That part of you has been neglected and utterly
corrupted, wherewith we desire etc. etc.”

Here Epictetus—after some customary technicalities—turned to us like a
showman, to explain the royal puppet’s condition: “‘How _neglected_?’
you ask. He does not know the essence of the Good for which he has been
created by nature, nor the essence of evil. He cries out, ‘Woe is me, the
Greeks are in peril’ because he has not learned to distinguish what is
really his own etc. etc.” After this apostrophe, which I have condensed,
he resumed the dialogue:

“_Ag._ They are all dead men. The Trojans will exterminate them.

“_Epict._ And if the Trojans do not kill them, they are never, never to
die, I suppose!!

“_Ag._ O, yes, they’ll die. But not at one blow, not to a man, like this.

“_Epict._ What difference does it make? If dying is an evil, then,
surely, whether they die all together or one by one, it is equally an
evil. And do you really think that dying will be anything more than the
separating of the paltry body from the soul?

“_Ag._ Nothing more.

“_Epict._ And you, when the Greeks are in the act of perishing, is the
door of escape shut for you? Is it not open to you to die?

“_Ag._ It is.

“_Epict._ Why then bewail? Bah! You, a king! And with the sceptre of
Zeus, too! A king is never unfortunate, any more than God is unfortunate.
What then are you? A shepherd in truth! For you weep, like the
shepherds—when a wolf carries off one of their sheep. And these Greeks
are fine sheep to submit to being ruled over by you. Why did you ever
begin this Trojan business? Was your desire imperilled etc. etc.?” [Here
I omit more technicalities.]

“_Ag._ No, but my brother’s darling wife was carried away.

“_Epict._ And was not that a great blessing, to be deprived of a ‘darling
wife’ who was an adulteress?

“_Ag._ Were we then to submit to be trampled on by the Trojans?

“_Epict._ Trojans? What are the Trojans? Wise or foolish? If wise, why
make war against them? If foolish, why care for them?”

I doubt whether Epictetus quite carried his class with him on this
occasion. He certainly did not carry me, though he went on consistently
pouring out various statements of his theory. For the first time in my
experience of his lectures, I began to feel that his reiterations were
really tedious. My thoughts strayed. I found myself questioning whether
my model soldier and philosopher, Artemidorus, could possibly accept this
teaching. Would Trajan, I asked, have been so sure of beating Decebalus,
if he had considered the disgrace of Rome a matter “independent of
choice,” and therefore “nothing to him,” “neither good nor evil”?

From this reverie I was roused by a sudden transition—to a picture of
a well-trained youth going forth to a conflict worthy of his mettle.
And now, I thought, we shall have something more like the ideal of my
first lecture, a Hercules or Diogenes, going about to help and heal.
But perhaps Epictetus drew a distinction between a Diogenes and mere
well-trained youths, mere beginners in philosophy. At all events, what
followed was only a kind of catechism to prepare us against adversity,
and especially against official oppression. “Whenever,” said he, “you are
in the act of going into the judgment hall of one in authority, remember
that there is also Another from above, taking note of what is going on,
and that you must please Him rather than the authority on earth.” This
catechism he threw into the form of a dialogue between the youth and
God—whom he called “Another.”

“_Another._ Exile, prison, bonds, death, and disgrace—what used you to
call these things in the Schools?

“_Pupil._ I? Things indifferent.

“_Another._ Well, then, what do you call them now? Can it be that _they_
have changed?

“_Pupil._ They have not.

“_Another._ You, then—have _you_ changed?

“_Pupil._ I have not.

“_Another._ Say, then, what are ‘things indifferent’?

“_Pupil._ The things outside choice.

“_Another._ Say also the next words.

“_Pupil._ Things indifferent are nothing to me.

“_Another._ Say also about things good. What things used you to think
good?

“_Pupil._ Right choice, right use of phenomena.

“_Another._ And what the end and object?

“_Pupil._ To follow thee.

“_Another._ Do you say the same things still?

“_Pupil._ I say the same things still.

“_Another._ Go your way, then, and be of good cheer, and remember these
things, and you will see how a young and well-trained champion towers
above the untrained.”

I wanted to hear him explain why he spoke of “_Another_,” instead of
Zeus, or God. It struck me that he meant to suggest to us that in this
visible world, whenever we say “_this_,” we must also say, in our
minds, “_another_,” to remind ourselves of the invisible counterpart.
“Especially must we say ‘_Another_’”—this, I thought, was his
meaning—“when we speak about rulers. Visible rulers are mostly bad. We
must prevent them from encroaching on the place that should be filled in
our hearts by the Other, the invisible Ruler.”

Instead of this explanation, however, he concluded his lecture by warning
us against insincerity, or “speaking from the lips,” and against trying
to be on both sides, when we ought to choose between two contending
sides. This he called “trimming.” And here it was—while addressing an
imaginary “trimmer”—that he used the word “Jew.”

“Why,” said he—addressing the sham philosopher—“why do you try to impose
on the multitude? Why pretend to be a Jew, being really a Greek? Whenever
we see a man trimming, we are accustomed to say, ‘This fellow is no Jew,
he is shamming.’ But when a man has taken into himself _the feeling
of the dipped and chosen_”—these were his exact words, uttered with
a gesture and tone of contempt—“then he is, both in name and in very
truth, a Jew. Even so it is with us, having merely a sham baptism; Jews
in theory, but something else in fact; far away from any real feeling
of our theory, and far away from any intention of putting into practice
the professions on which we plume ourselves—as though we knew what they
really meant!” I could not quite make out this allusion to Jews. But
there was no mistaking his next sentence, and it was the last in the
lecture, “So, I repeat, it is with us. We are not equal to the fulfilment
of the responsibilities of common humanity, not even up to the standard
of Man. Yet we would fain take on ourselves in addition the burden of a
philosopher. And what a burden! It is as though a weakling, without power
to carry a ten-pound weight, were to aspire to heave the stone of Ajax!”

Thus he dismissed us. I went out, feeling like the “weakling” indeed, but
without the slightest “aspiration to heave the stone of Ajax.” Perhaps
Arrian wished to encourage me. For after we had walked on awhile in
silence, he said, “The Master was rather cutting to-day. I remember his
once saying that we ought to come away from him, not as from a theatre
but as from a surgery. To-day the surgeon used the knife, and we don’t
like it.”

“But what good has the knife done us?” I exclaimed. “If only I could feel
that the surgeon had cut out the mischief, a touch of the knife should
not make me wince. But the mischief within me seems more mischievous,
and my strength for good less strong, for some things that I have heard
to-day. Is a Roman to say, when fighting against barbarians for the name
and fame of Rome, ‘These things are nothing to me’? Is Diogenes, healing
mankind, his brethren, to say, ‘Your diseases are nothing to me’? And
that fine phrase in the Catechism, ‘follow thee’—is it not really a
disguised form of ‘follow myself’? Does it not mean, ‘follow the _logos_
within me, my own reason, or my own reasonable will,’ or ‘follow my own
peace of mind, on which my mind is bent, to the neglect of everything
else’?”

“It does not mean that, for Epictetus himself, I am convinced,” said
Arrian. “I believe not, for him,” said I; “but it has that meaning for
me. His teaching does not teach—not me, at least, however it may be
with others—the art of being steadfast. And what about others? Did not
he himself just now admit that his _logos_ was less powerful than the
_pathos_ of the Jews to produce steadfastness? What, by the way, is this
_pathos_? Does it mean passionate and unreasonable conviction? And who on
earth are these Jews that are ‘dipped and chosen’?”

My friend’s face brightened. Perhaps it was a relief to him to pass from
theology to matter of literary fact. “I think,” he replied, “that he must
mean the Jewish followers of Christus—the Christians, about whom we were
lately talking.” “Then why,” said I, “does not he call them Christians?”
“I do not know,” replied Arrian, “He has never mentioned either
Christians or Christus in my hearing; but he has, in one lecture at all
events, used the term ‘Galilæans’ to mean the Christians. And I feel sure
that he means them here, because the other Jews do not practise baptism,
except for proselytes, whereas the Christians are all baptized.” “But,”
said I, “he does not call them ‘baptized.’ He calls them ‘dipped’.” “That
is his brief allusive way,” said Arrian. “You know that we provincials,
and sometimes even Athenians too, speak of _dipping_ the hair, or, if I
may invent the word, _bapting_ it, where the literary people speak of
_blacking_ or _dyeing_ it. That is just what our Master means. These
Christians are not merely _baptized_; they are _bapted_. That is to say,
they are permanently and unalterably stained, or dyed in grain. They are.
We are not. That is his meaning. Afterwards, as you noticed, he dropped
into the regular word ‘_baptism_,’ and spoke of us as _sham-baptists_.”

“But he also called them _chosen_,” said I, “—that is to say, if he
meant _chosen_, and not _caught_ or _convicted_.” Arrian smiled. “You
have hit the mark without knowing it,” said he. “I noticed the word and
took it down. It is another of his jibes! These Christians actually call
themselves ‘_elect_’ or ‘_chosen_.’ I heard all about it in Bithynia.
They profess to have been ‘called’ by Christus. Then, if they obey this
‘calling,’ and remain steadfast, following Christus, they are said to be
‘_chosen_’ or ‘_elect_.’ But our Master believes this ‘_calling_’ and
‘_choosing_’ to be moonshine, and these Christian Jews to be the victims
of a mere delusion, _caught_ by error. So he uses a word that might mean
‘_chosen_’ but might mean also ‘_caught_.’ They think themselves the
former. He thinks them the latter.”

I hardly know why I refrained from telling my friend what Scaurus had
told me about the probability that Epictetus had borrowed from the
Christians. Partly it was, I think, because it was too long a story to
begin just then; and I thought I might shock Arrian and not do Scaurus
justice. Partly, I was curious to question Arrian further. So after a
short silence, during which my friend seemed lost in thought, I said
to him, “You know more about the Christians than I do. Do you think
Epictetus knows much about them? And what precisely does he mean by
‘_feeling_,’ when he speaks of ‘taking up the _feeling_ of the dipped’?”

“As for your first question,” said Arrian, “I am inclined to think that
he knows a great deal about them. How could it be otherwise with a young
slave in Rome under Nero, when all the world knew how the Christians
were used to light the Emperor’s gardens? Moreover his contrast between
the Jew and the Greek seemed to me to come forth as though it had been
some time in his mind, though it had not broken out till to-day. He
spoke with the bitterness of a conviction of long standing. If—contrary
to his own rules—he could be ‘troubled,’ I should say our Master felt
a real ‘trouble’ in being forced to confess that the Jew is above the
Greek in steadfastness and constancy. As to your second question, I think
he means that, whereas Greeks attain to wisdom through the reason (or
_logos_) these Jews follow their God, or Christus, through what we Greeks
call emotion or affection (_i.e._ _pathos_). And I am half disposed to
think that this word _pathos_ was used by him on the other occasion when
he spoke of the Christian Jews as Galilæans.” “Could you quote it?”
said I. “No, not accurately,” said Arrian, “it is rather long, and has
difficulties. I should prefer you to have it exactly. Come into my rooms.
I am going out on business, so that we cannot talk about it at present.
But you shall copy it down.”

So I went in to copy it down. Arrian left me after finding the place for
me in his notes. “You will see,” he said, “that the Galilæans are there
described as being made intrepid ‘_by habit_.’ Well, that is certainly
how I took the words down. But I am inclined to think it might have been
‘_by feeling_’—which seems to me to make better sense. But read the whole
context and judge for yourself. The two phrases are easily confused. Now
I leave you to your copying. _Prosit!_ More about this, to-morrow.”

The lecture from which I was transcribing was on “fearlessness.” What,
it asked, makes a tyrant terrible? The answer was, “his armed guards.”
A child, or madman, not knowing what guards and weapons mean, would
not fear him. Men fear because they love life, and a tyrant can take
life. Men also love wealth, wife, children. These things, too, a tyrant
can take; so men fear him. But a madman, caring for none of these
things, and ready to throw them away as a child might throw a handful
of sand—a madman does not fear. Now came the words about “custom” and
“Galilæans” to which Arrian had called my attention: “Well, then, is not
this astonishing? Madness can now and then make a man thus fearless!
_Custom can make the Galilæans fearless!_ Yet—strange to say—reason and
demonstration cannot make anyone understand that God has made all that is
in the world, and has made the world itself, in its entirety, absolutely
complete in itself and unimpeded in its motions, and has also made its
separate parts individually for the use of all the parts collectively!”

The context made me see the force of Arrian’s remark. Epictetus appeared
to be mentioning three influences under which men might resist the
threats and tortures of a tyrant. In the first place was the “madness”
of a lunatic. In the third place was the “logic,” or demonstration, of
philosophy. In the second place, it would make good sense to suppose
that Epictetus meant “feeling,” or “passionate enthusiasm.” This passage
would then accord with the one mentioned above. Both passages would then
affirm that the Christian Jews or Galilæans can do under the influence
of “feeling” what the Greek Philosophers, or “lovers of wisdom,” cannot
do with all the aid of reason (or “_logos_”). “Custom” would not make
good sense unless the “Galilæans,” or Christians, had made a “custom” of
hardening their bodies by severe asceticism. This (I had gathered from
Arrian) was not the fact. In any case, it seemed clear that Epictetus
was here again contrasting some kind of Jew with the Greek to the
disadvantage of the latter.

Curiosity led me to read on a little further. The text dealt with Man’s
place in the Cosmos, or Universe, as follows: “All the other parts of
the Cosmos except man are far removed from the power of intelligently
following its administration. But the living being that is endowed with
_logos_, or reason, has therein a kind of ladder by which he may reason
the way up to all these things. Thus he, and he alone, can understand
that he is a part, and what kind of part, and that it is right and fit
that the parts should yield to the whole.” This reminded me of the saying
I have quoted above, “Will you not make a contribution of your leg to the
Universe?” I think he meant “Will you not offer up your lameness, as a
decreed part of the whole system of things, and as a sacrifice from you
to the Supreme?”

This reasonable part of the Cosmos, this “living being that is endowed
with _logos_,” Epictetus declared to be “_by nature_ noble, magnanimous,
and free.” Consequently, said he, it discerns that, of the things around
it, some are at its disposal, while others are not; and that, if it will
learn to find its profit and its good in the former class, it will be
perfectly free and happy, “being thankful always for all things to God.”

This puzzled me not a little. I could not understand how Epictetus
explained the means by which these “noble, magnanimous, and free”
creatures, created so “_by nature_,” had degenerated into the weaklings,
fools, profligates, and oppressors, upon whom he was constantly pouring
scorn. Was not each man a “part” of the Cosmos? Was not the Cosmos
“perfect and exempt from all disorder or impediment in any of its
motions”? Did not each “part” in it—and consequently man—partake in this
perfection and exemption, being “made for the service of the whole”? What
cause did Epictetus find for the folly, vice, and injustice that he so
often satirised and condemned as “subject to the wrath of God”? Man was a
compound of “clay” and “logos.” The fault could not lie in the “logos.”
Was it, after all, the mere “clay” that caused all this mischief? And
then, lost in thought, turning over the loose sheets of Arrian’s notes,
one after the other, I came again on the passage I have quoted above
from Epictetus, “If I could have, I would have”—laying the fault, as it
seemed, upon the “clay.” I could not help asking, “If God ‘could’ not
remedy it, how much less ‘could’ I, being ‘clay,’ remedy myself, ‘clay’?”

Musing on these things I returned to my rooms, and was sitting down to
write to Scaurus, when my servant entered with a parcel, from Rome,
he said, forwarded by Sosia our bookseller. It contained the books I
had ordered from Flaccus, with a letter from him, describing in detail
the pains he had taken in having some of the rolls of Chrysippus and
Cleanthes transcribed and ornamented, and saying that in addition to the
“curious little volume containing the epistles of Paulus,” which, as I
no doubt anticipated, were “not in the choicest Greek,” he had forwarded
an epistle to the Hebrews. “This,” he said, “does not include in the
commencement the usual mention of Paulus’s name, and it is not in his
style. But I understand that it originated from the school of Paulus.”

There was more to the same effect, for Flaccus and I were on very
friendly terms; and he was a good deal more than a mere seller of books.
But I passed over it, for I was in haste to open the parcel. At the top
were the copies of Cleanthes, Chrysippus, and others, in Flaccus’s best
style. At the bottom of all were two rolls of flimsy papyrus. The larger
and shabbier of the two fell to the ground open, and as I took it up, my
eye lit on the following passage:—“_Who shall separate us from the love
of Christ? Shall tribulation or suffering or persecution or hunger or
nakedness or peril or the sword? As it is written:_

_‘For thy sake are we done to death all the day long:_
_We were accounted as sheep of the shambles.’_

_Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that
loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels,
nor sovereignties, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height, nor depth, nor anything in all creation, will be able to
separate us from that love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord._”

“This, at all events,” said I, “Scaurus cannot say that Epictetus has
borrowed from Paul. Never have I heard Epictetus mention the word ‘love’;
and here, in this one short passage, Paul uses it twice!” My next thought
was that Scaurus was quite right in his estimate of Paul’s style. It was
indeed terse, intense, fervid, strangely stimulating and constraining.
“There is no lack of _pathos_,” I said, “Let us now test the _logos_.” So
I sat down to study the passage, trying to puzzle out the meaning of the
separate words and phrases.

“_The love of Christ._” Well, Christus was their leader. The Christians
still loved him, and clung to his memory. That was intelligible. But
“that love of God which was in Christ” perplexed me. I read the whole
passage over again. Gradually I began to see that the passage implied
the Epictetian ideal—according to Scaurus, not Epictetian but Pauline
or Christian—of a Son of God standing fearless and erect in the face of
enemies, tyrants, oppression, death. But it also suggested invisible
enemies—“angels and sovereignties” that seemed to be against the sons of
God. And still I could not make out the expression, “that love of God
which is in Christ Jesus.”

So I turned back to the words at the bottom of the preceding column:—“_If
God is for us, who is against us? He that spared not His own Son but
delivered him up for us all, how shall He not also, with him, freely give
us all things? It is God that maketh and calleth us righteous: who is
he that shall condemn? It is Christ Jesus that died—or rather that was
raised from the dead, who is on the right hand of God, who also maketh
intercession for us._” And so, coming to the end of the column, I looked
on again to the words with which I had begun, “_Who shall separate us
from the love of Christ?_”

Now I could understand. “This,” said I, “is a great battle. There are
sovereignties of evil against the good. The Son of the good God is
supposed to devote himself to death, fighting against the hosts of evil.
Or rather the Father sends him into the battle and he goes willingly.
This Christus of the Galilæans is regarded by them as we Romans might
think of one of the Decii plunging into the ranks of the enemy and
devoting himself to death for the salvation of Rome. Philosophers might
ask inconvenient questions about the nature of the God to whom the brave
man devotes himself—whether it is Pluto, or Zeus, or Nemesis, or Fate. No
philosopher, perhaps, would approve of this theory. But, in practice, the
bravery stirs the spirits of those who believe it. Even if the sacrifice
is discreditable to the Gods accepting it, it is creditable to the man
making it.”

Turning back still further, I found that Paul imagined the Cosmos—or
“creation” as he called it—to have gone wrong. He did not explain how.
Nor did he prove it. He assumed it, looking forward, however, to a time
when the wrong would be made right, and even more right than if it had
never gone wrong: “_For I reckon that the sufferings of this present
season are not fit to be spoken of in comparison of the glory that is
destined to be revealed and to extend to us. For the earnest expectation
of the creation waiteth intently for the revealing of the sons of God.
For the creation was made subject to change, decay, corruption—not
willingly but for the sake of Him that made it thus subject—in hope, and
for hope: because even this very creation, now corrupt, shall be made
free from the slavery of corruption and brought into the freedom of the
glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole of creation
groaneth together and travaileth together—up to this present time._”

This struck me as a very different message from that of Epictetus about
Zeus. Both Paul and Epictetus seemed to agree as regards the past, that
certain things had happened that were not pleasing to God, taken by
themselves. But whereas the Greek said about God, “He would have, if He
could have; but He could not,” the Jew seemed to say, “He can, and He
will. Only wait and see. It will turn out to have been for the best.”

Reading on, I found something corresponding to Epictetus’s doctrine of
the indwelling Logos, namely, that each of us has in himself a fragment
of the Logos of God,—but Paul called it Spirit—in virtue of which we may
claim kinship with Him, being indeed God’s children. Epictetus, however,
never said that we were to pray to our Father for help. He seemed to
think that each must derive his help from such portion of the Logos as
each possessed. “Keep,” he said, “that which is your own,” “Take from
yourselves your help,” “Within each man is ruin and help,” “Seek and ye
shall find within you,” or words to that effect. Paul’s doctrine was
different, teaching that we do not at present possess salvation and help
to their full extent, but that we must look forward in hope: “_And not
only so, but we ourselves also, though possessing the firstfruits of
the Spirit—we ourselves also, I say, groan within ourselves, waiting
earnestly for the adoption, namely, the ransoming and deliverance of
our body_”—as though a time would come when that very same clay, which
(according to Epictetus) the Creator would have wished to make immortal
but could not, would be transmuted and transported in some way out of the
region of flesh into the region of the spirit.

Moreover, besides looking onward in hope, we must also (Paul said) look
upward for help. Epictetus, too, as I have said above, sometimes spoke of
looking “upward,” and of the Cynic stretching up his hands to God. That,
however, was not in prayer but in praise.

Epictetus never used the word “prayer” in my hearing except of foolish,
idle, or selfish prayers. But Paul represented the Logos, or rather the
Spirit, within us, as an emotional, not a merely reasonable power. “It
searcheth all things, yea, even the deep things of God,” he said to the
Corinthians; and by it (so he told the Romans in the passage I was just
now quoting) the children express to the Father, and the Father receives
from the children, their wants and aspirations: “_For by hope were we
saved. But hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopeth for that which
he seeth? But if we hope for that which we fail to see, then in patient
endurance we earnestly wait for it. And in the same way the Spirit also
taketh part with our weakness. For as to what we should pray for,
according to our needs, we do not know. But the Spirit itself maketh
representation in our behalf in sighings beyond speech. Now He that
searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind and temper of the Spirit,
because, being in union and accord with God, it maketh representation in
behalf of the saints._”

This passage I only vaguely understood. For I started with the
preconception that the spirit or breath or wind, must be only another
metaphor—like “word”—to describe a “fragment” of God (as Epictetus called
the Logos in man). I did not as yet understand that this Spirit might be
regarded as, at one and the same moment, in heaven with God and on earth
with men, representing the love and will of God to man below, and the
love and prayers of man to God above. Still I perceived that in some way
it was connected with the Christian Christ; and that the Father and the
Spirit and Christ were in some permanent relation to each other and to
man, by which relation man and God were drawn together. And this led me
back again to the words, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
and “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”

Comparing this “love” with the friendship felt by the Epictetian Diogenes
for the whole human race, I found the latter thin and poor. The Greek
philosopher, being a “friend” of the Father of Gods and men, seemed
to me to be friendly to men in the region (so to speak) of the Logos,
“because”—I was disposed to add—“the Logos within him, in a ‘logical’
way, commanded him to be friendly to them, for consistency’s sake,
as being ‘logically’ akin to him.” Perhaps some reaction against the
constant inculcation of loyalty to the Logos during the last few weeks
led me to be a little unfair to the Epictetian ideal. But, fair or
unfair, these were my thoughts at the moment, while I was turning over
the letters addressed by this wandering Jewish Diogenes to some of the
principal cities of Greece and Asia, coming every now and then on such
sentences as these: “_I have strength for all things in Him that giveth
me inward power_”: “_Being made powerful with all power, in accordance
with the might of His glory, so that we rejoice in endurance and
longsuffering, being thankful to the Father_”: “_Be ye made powerful in
the Lord and in the might of His strength._” Here I noted that he did not
say (as Epictetus did) “take power from yourselves.” Moreover Paul added
“_Put on the panoply of God._” Then I turned back again to the Roman and
Corinthian letters; and still the same thoughts and phrases met me, about
“_power_” in various contexts, such as “_demonstration of Spirit and
power_,” and “_abounding in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit_.”
“_Love_,” too, was represented as an irresistible power. “_The love of
Christ constraineth us_,” he said. And then he added, “_One died for
all_” and “_He died for all, that the living should be living no longer
to themselves, but to Him that for their sake died and was raised up from
death._”

There was a great deal in this Roman letter that was almost total
darkness to me at first. The references to Abraham—and, still more, those
to Adam, coming abruptly in the phrases, “death reigned from Adam,” and
“the transgression of Adam”—perplexed me a great deal till I perceived
that the Jews fixed their hopes on God’s promise to their forefather
Abraham, just as Romans—if they believed Virgil—might fix theirs on the
forefather of the Julian race. As Æneas was the divine son of Anchises,
so Isaac, by promise, was the divinely given son of Abraham. Paul, I
thought, might draw a parallel between our Æneas and his Isaac, as though
both were receivers of divine promises of empire extending over all the
nations of the earth. At this Jewish fancy (so I called it) I remember
smiling at the time, and quoting Virgil from a Jew’s point of view:

“Tantæ molis erat _Judæam_ condere gentem.”

But I soon perceived, not only that Paul was in serious earnest, quite as
much as Virgil, but also that his scheme, or dream, of universal empire
for the seed of Abraham was compatible with the fact of universal empire
for the seed of Anchises. Rome, the new Troy, claimed dominion over
nothing but men’s bodies. The new Jerusalem claimed it over men’s souls.

I did not fully take all this into my mind till I had read the story of
Abraham and Isaac in the scriptures, as I shall describe later on. But,
with Virgil’s help, and Roman traditions, I partially understood it even
now; and I remember asking myself, “If Virgil were now alive, would he be
as sanguine as this Jew? Is not Rome on the wane? Ever since the Emperor
cried to Varus, ‘Give me back my legions!’ have we not had qualms of fear
lest we should be beaten back by the barbarians? Do not even the wisest
of our rulers say, ‘Let us draw the line here. Let us conquer no more’?
But this Jew sets no limits to his conquests. His projects may be mad.
But at least he has some basis of fact for them. If he has conquered so
far, why not further?”

As to “the transgression of Adam,” I remained longer in the dark. But
I perceived from other passages in the epistles (and from the Jewish
scriptures soon afterwards) that the story of Adam and Eve resembled some
versions that I had read of the story of Epimetheus and Pandora, who
caused sins and pains to come into the world, but “hope” came with them.
Adam and Eve did the same. But Paul believed that the “hope” sprang from
a promise of a higher and nobler life than would have been possible if
Adam and Eve had never gone wrong. I took this for a mere legend, but
a legend that might represent the will of Zeus—namely, that man should
not stand still, but that he should go on growing, from age to age, in
righteousness, which, as Plato says, is the attribute of man that makes
him most like God.

Thus I was led on to higher and higher inferences about Paul’s “power.”
First, it was real power, attested by facts—facts visible in great
cities of Europe and Asia. In the next place, this power was based on
faith and hope. Lastly, this faith and this hope—although they extended
to everything in heaven and earth (since everything was to be bettered,
purified, drawn onward or upward to what Plato might call its _idea_ in
God, that is, its perfection)—were themselves based on Christ, as having
once died, but now being alive for ever in heaven.

But not only in heaven. For Paul seemed to think of Christ as also still
perpetually present with, and in, his disciples on earth. Socrates
in the Phædo says “As soon as I have drunk this poison I shall be no
longer remaining among you, but shall be off at once to the isles of the
blessed.” But Paul spoke of Christ’s love, and spirit, and of Christ
himself, as still remaining amongst his followers. I knew that the common
people think of Hercules as descending from heaven now and then to do a
man a good turn; and at this I had always been disposed to laugh. But
Paul’s view of Christ as being always in heaven, and yet also always on
earth, among, or in the hearts of, those who loved him—this seemed to me
more noble and more credible; though I did not believe it.

Now I was to be led a step further. For while I was repeating Paul’s
words “one died for all,” and again, “one died,” it occurred to me
“Yes, but he does not say _how_ he died. Is he ashamed to speak of the
shamefulness of the death, the slave’s death, death upon the cross?” So
I looked through the Roman letter, right to the end, and I could find no
mention of the “cross” or of “crucifying.” But in the very next column,
where the first Corinthian letter began, I found this passage: “_Christ
sent me not to baptize but to preach the Gospel, not in wisdom of ‘logos’
(i.e. word), lest the cross of Christ should be emptied of its power. For
as to the ‘logos’ of the cross, to those indeed who are going the way of
destruction, it is folly: but to us, who are going the way of salvation,
it is the power of God. For it is written:_

_‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise_
_And the subtlety of the subtle will I bring to naught.’_

_Where is the ‘wise’? Where is the learned writer? Where is the ‘subtle’
discusser and disputer of this present age?_”

Then followed some very difficult words: “_Hath not God made foolish
the wisdom of the Cosmos? For since, in the wisdom of God, the Cosmos,
through that wisdom, recognised not God, God decreed through the
foolishness of the proclamation of the gospel to save them that go the
way of belief: for indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks seek after
wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified; to the Jews, a stumbling block;
to the other nations, a folly; but, to the called and summoned—Christ the
power of God and the wisdom of God._”

I have translated this literally so as to leave it as obscure to the
reader as it was to me when I first read it. Even when I had read it over
two or three times, there was a great deal that I could not understand.
But it appeared to me to be ironical. It suggested that the “logos” of
God may be different from the “logos” of men, or at all events, the
“logos” of Greek philosophers. I had for some time been drawing near
to a belief that “logos” might include feeling as well as reason. But
this strange contrast between the unwise “wisdom of logos” and the wise
“logos of the cross” came upon me as (possibly) a new revelation. As
for the saying “the Greeks seek wisdom,” it reminded me how Epictetus
used to deride the man of mere logic, words without deeds, the futile
spinner of syllogisms. “Epictetus,” I said to myself, “would agree with
this accusation.” But then I reflected that Paul would perhaps class
Epictetus himself among these futile Greeks; and had not my Master
himself confessed that the Jew, by mere force of “pathos,” outclassed the
Greek in resolution and steadfastness, although the latter was backed by
“logos”? The conclusion fell upon me, like a blow, “Here is Paul boasting
as a conqueror what my Master confesses as a man conquered! Both agree
that the ‘feeling’ of the Jew is more powerful in producing courage than
the ‘reasonableness’ of the Greek!”

I did not like this turn of things. But I was intensely interested in
it; and it quite decided me to continue the investigation. The question
turned on “logos” and I quoted to myself Plato’s precept, “Follow the
logos.” Epictetus made much of “logos.” Well, I would “follow the
‘logos,’” in its fullest sense, and would try to find out whether it
did, or did not, indicate that “feeling,” as well as “reason,” may help
us towards the knowledge of God. Dawn was appearing when I rolled up the
little volume and placed it in my cabinet by the side of Scaurus’s sealed
note with WORDS OF CHRISTUS on it. That reminded me of my old friend.
What would he think of all this?

I sat down at once and wrote to him that I had not opened his note.
If I ever did, it would be, I said, because I accepted his verdict.
Epictetus really did seem to have borrowed from Paul. The subject was
very interesting to me from a historical as well as a literary point of
view; and I hoped he would not think it waste of time if I investigated
it a little further. At the same time, I sent a note to Flaccus. Æmilius
Scaurus, I said, had sent me some “words of Christus” extracted from
Christian books, and I desired to receive the books themselves. As for
the “scriptures” from which Paul so frequently quoted in their Greek
form, I knew that I should have no difficulty in procuring copies of
all or most of them from Sosia. This I resolved to do on the morrow, or
rather in the day that was now dawning. It was not a lecture-day. Even
if it had been, in the mood in which I then was, I should have thought a
lecture or two might be profitably missed.

The Greek translation of the Scriptures shewn me by Sosia was in several
volumes of various sizes and in various conditions. Unrolling the one
that shewed most signs of use, I found that, although it was in prose, it
was a translation of Hebrew poems, mostly very short, and of a lyrical
character. One of them had in its title the name of “David,” which I had
met with in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Sosia told me that he was the
greatest of the ancient kings of the Jews. Ordering the other volumes
to be sent to my rooms, I took this back with me, and began to read it
immediately, beginning with the poem on which I had chanced in the shop.

It was a prayer for purification from sin: “Pity me, O God, according to
thy great pity, and according to the multitude of thy compassions blot
out my transgression. Cleanse me still more from my crime, and purify me
from my sin.” So far, the poem was intelligible to me. I was familiar
with the religious rites of cleansing from blood-guiltiness—mentioned in
connexion with Orestes and many others by the Greek poets and recognised
in various forms all over the world. So I said, “This king has committed
homicide. He has been purified with lustral rites and sacrifices. But he
needs some further rites: ‘Cleanse me still more,’ he says. The poem will
tell me, I suppose, what more he needs.”

After adding some words to the effect that the transgression was
against God, against God alone, the king continued, “For behold, in
transgressions was I created at birth, and in sins did my mother conceive
me. For behold, thou hast ever loved truth; thou hast shewn unto me the
hidden secrets of thy wisdom. Thou wilt sprinkle me with hyssop and I
shall be purified; thou wilt wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.”
Here I was at a stand. It seemed to me a great and sudden descent to a
depth of superstition, to suppose that this particular additional rite of
“cleansing with hyssop” could satisfy the king’s conscience. Moreover I
thought that “wisdom” must mean the wisdom of the Greeks. It was not till
afterwards that I discovered how great a gulf separates our syllogistic
or rhetorical or logical “wisdom” from that of the Jews—which means
“knowledge of the righteousness of the Creator based upon reverence.”
Thence comes their saying, “Reverence for God is the beginning of
_wisdom_.”

These two misunderstandings almost led me to put down the book in
disgust. But the passionateness of the king’s prayer made me read
its opening words once again. Then I felt sure I must have done him
injustice. So I read on. Presently I came to the words, “Create in me a
clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away
from thy countenance, and take not thy holy spirit from me.” These made
me ashamed of having taken “hyssop” literally. I saw now that it was just
as much metaphorical as “whiter than snow,” and that it meant a deep
and inward purification—of the heart, not of the body. Still more was I
ashamed when I came to the words, “If thou hadst delight in sacrifice
I would have given it to thee, but thou wilt take no pleasure in whole
burnt-offerings. The sacrifice for God is a broken spirit. A broken and
contrite heart God will not despise.”

This was all new and strange doctrine to me. The graceful lines of Horace
about the efficacy of the simplest sacrifice—of meal and salt—from the
hand of an innocent country girl, and about its superiority to the
proffered bribe of a hecatomb from a man of guilt, these I knew by heart;
but they did not touch the present question, which was as to how the
man of guilt could receive purification, without a hecatomb, without
the blood of bulls and goats. And the question went even beyond that.
For the king said that he had been “in sins” even from the beginning,
even before birth. Did he speak of himself alone, or of himself as the
type of erring mankind? I thought the latter. He seemed to me to say,
“Man is from the first an animal, born to follow appetite. In part (no
doubt) he is a divine being, born to follow the divine will; but in part
he is an animal, born to follow animal propensity.” So far this agreed
with Epictetus’s doctrine about the Beast. The Beast, at the beginning,
tyrannizes over the divine Man, so that the human being may be said to
be in sin—and indeed is in sin, as soon as he becomes conscious of the
tyranny within him. “No lustral rites, no blood of bulls and goats,” the
king seemed to say, “can purify this human heart of mine now that it has
been tainted and corrupted by submitting to the Beast within me. A moment
ago, my prayer was ‘Purge me with hyssop,’ but now it is ‘Destroy me and
create me anew,’ ‘Take away my old heart and give me a new heart.’”

These last words were quite contrary to the doctrine of Epictetus, who
taught us that we are to receive strength and righteousness from that
which is within our own hearts. And, thought I, is not the king’s prayer
superstitious? The witches in Rome suppose they can draw down the moon
by incantations. This king David in Judæa supposes he can draw down “a
clean heart” and “a right spirit” by passionate invocation to the God of
the Jews! Are not the two superstitions parallel? Would not Epictetus
say so? Would not all the Cynics say so? I thought they would: and, as
I was rolling up the little book, I said, “It is a fine and passionate
poem, but the prayer is not one for a philosopher.” Then, however, it
occurred to me that there was a true and a deep philosophy—though I knew
not of what school—in the doctrine that the true and purifying sacrifice
for guilt is a penitent heart. That set me pondering the whole matter
again and reflecting on some of the things in my own life of which I
was most ashamed, things that I would have given much to forget, and a
great deal more to undo. In the end, I found myself thinking—not saying,
but thinking of it as a possible prayer—“In me, in me, too, create a
clean heart, O thou God of forgiveness!” It might not be a prayer for
philosophers, but I could not help feeling that it might be a good prayer
for me.

While I was placing my new volume by the side of Paul’s epistles it
occurred to me that the words I had just been reading might throw some
light on a passage in the epistle to the Romans at which I had glanced
last night. Then I could make nothing of it. Now I read it again: “I know
that in me, that is, in my flesh, there dwelleth no good thing. To will
[that which is good] is present with me, but to do is not present. I will
to do good and I do it not. I will not to do evil, and I do it.” This
now seemed to me a truer description of the state of things (within me
at all events) than the view mostly presented to us in our lecture-room.
Epictetus often talked as though we had merely to will, and then what we
willed—at least so far as concerns the mind and the things in the mind’s
province—would at once come to pass. True, he did not always say this.
Sometimes he insisted on the need of training or practice, and then he
likened the Cynic to an athlete preparing for the Olympian games. But it
seemed to me that he habitually underrated the difficulty of conforming
the human to the divine will: and he never—never even once, as far as I
know—recognised the need or efficacy of repentant sorrow.

My immediate conclusion was that, although it was not for me to decide
between the “feeling” of the Jews and the “reason” of the Greeks in
general, yet one thing was certain—I had a good deal to learn from the
former. So I welcomed the arrival of Sosia’s servant bringing the rest
of my new books. A good many of them I unrolled and cursorily inspected
at once. Both from their number, and from the variety of their subjects,
it was clear that I should only be able to study a few. I resolved to
confine myself to such parts as bore on Paul’s epistles, and to dispense
with lectures for a day or two. Then it occurred to me that Arrian, who
had proposed to resume to-day our conversation on the Jews and Galilæans,
might come in at any moment. I put away the Jewish books and went to his
lodging, thinking that I could perhaps tell my friend of my new studies
in order to explain to him my non-attendance at lecture. Instead of
Arrian, however, I found a note informing me that he had been obliged to
go suddenly to Corinth (in connexion with some business of his father’s)
but hoped to return before long.

This saved explanation; and I spent several days (during his prolonged
absence) in studying my new volumes. They led me into a maze—or rather,
maze after maze—of bewildering novelties. Sosia had told me that my
first volume, containing five books, was called by the Jews “the Law.”
But it included pedigrees, poems, prophecies, histories of nations, and
stories of private persons. The legal portion of it was largely devoted
to details about feasts and purificatory sacrifices—the very things that
David appeared to call needless. However, when I came to look into the
Law more closely, I found that its fundamental enactments were humane
and gentle—so much so as to give me the impression of being unpractical.
It enjoined on the Jews kindness to strangers as well as to citizens.
While retaining capital punishment, it prohibited torture. At least I
took that to be a fair inference from the fact that it even forbade the
infliction of more than forty blows with the scourge, on the ground
that a “brother”—that was the word—must not be so far degraded as to
become “vile” in the eyes of his fellow-citizens. It also placed some
limitations on the right of masters to punish slaves, even when the
latter were foreigners.

Having been accustomed to regard the Jews as unique for their moroseness
and unneighbourliness I was all the more astonished at these things. It
occurred to me then, as it does sometimes now, that the Law was almost
too humane to have been ever fully obeyed by the greater part of the
people. For example, even the slaves, even the beasts of burden, were to
have one day in seven as a holiday, on which all labour was forbidden.
Periodic remission of debts was enacted by law! This surprised me most
of all. To think that the revolutionary measure—so our Roman historians
called it—for which our tribunes of the people had contended in vain
under the Republic, should here be found legalised by the Law of
Moses—and this, too, not as an exceptional and isolated condonation, but
as a regular remission after a fixed number of years!

“How,” I asked, “could the Lawgiver expect people to lend money to
borrowers if the creditor knew that in the course of a few months
the obligation to pay the debt would cease?” Was he blind to the most
manifest tendencies of human nature? No, I found he was not blind to
them. He simply said that they must be resisted: “Beware,” said he, “that
there be not a base thought in thine heart, saying, The seventh year, the
year of release, is at hand.”

This notion of forbidding an action, or abstinence from action, in a
code of laws as being “base”—not as being “subject to a penalty of such
a kind,” or “a fine of so much,” was quite new to me. I had given some
time to the study of Roman law, and had always assumed that when the law
says “Do this,” it adds a punishment in some form or other, “Do this, or
you shall suffer this or that.” But here, embedded in the Law of Moses,
was a law, or rather a recommendation, without penalty. And presently I
found that the last of their Ten Greater Laws—if I may so call them—was
of the same kind. It could not possibly be enforced—for it forbade
“coveting”! Only a few days ago, before I had bought these books from
Sosia, I had read in Paul’s epistle to the Romans “I should not have
known covetousness if the law had not said, _Thou shalt not covet_”; and
these words had puzzled me a good deal. I had thought that they must
refer to some “law” of a spiritual kind, such as we might call “the law
of the conscience” or “the law of our higher nature,” or the like. Yet I
felt that this interpretation did not quite agree with the context. Now
I found, to my utter astonishment, that this was the very letter of the
first clause of the tenth of the Greater Laws, “Thou shalt not covet.”

To crown all, I found that elsewhere the whole of the code was based by
the Lawgiver on two fundamental precepts. The first was, “Thou shalt love
the Lord thy God,” and this love was to call forth all the powers of
mind and soul and body. The second was, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour
as thyself.” How was either of these to be enforced? “Love,” say all the
poets, “is free.” The Law neither prescribed nor suggested any means of
enforcing these two Great Commandments of “loving.” And how could “love”
be at once “free,” as poetry protests, and yet a part of the Law, as
Moses testified? There seemed no answer to this question, unless some
God could make us willing and eager to enforce the two commandments on
ourselves, constraining us (so to speak) by love to love both Him and
one another. “Truly,” said I, “this Law of Moses is very ambitious.” It
seemed to aim at more than Law could accomplish. It reminded me of a
sentence I had found in one of my new volumes, entitled “Proverbs,” “The
light of the Lord is as the breath of men; He searcheth the storehouses
of the soul.”

Somewhat similar was a saying imputed to Epictetus—which I had not heard
from Arrian but from a fellow-student—reproving one of his disciples
in these words, “Man, where are you putting it? See whether the basin
is dirty!” The disciple, though an industrious scholar, was of impure
life; and Epictetus meant that, if the vessel of his soul was foul, all
the knowledge put into that vessel would also become foul. The moral
was, “First cleanse the vessel!” So the Jewish Proverb seemed to say,
“The light of the Lord must first search the storehouse of the soul:
then the food taken out from the storehouse will be pure and wholesome.”
This brought me back to the words of David, who seemed to think that
the searching and cleansing must come from God and not from man alone,
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me!”

Comparing these two fundamental or Greatest Laws of Moses with the
fundamental law of Epictetus, “Keep the things that are thine own,”
I thought at first that the Jew and the Greek were entirely opposed.
On second thoughts, however, I perceived that in “the things that are
thine own” Epictetus would include justice and kindness, and all social
so-called virtues so far as they did not interfere with one’s own peace
of mind—for he would perhaps exclude pity, and certainly sympathy in
the full sense of the term. But Epictetus thought that people could be
sufficiently kind and just and virtuous without other aid than that of
the “logos” within them. David did not, in his own case, unless that
which was _within_ him had been cleansed or renewed by a Power regarded
as _outside_ him, to whom he prayed as God. There seemed to me, in this
difference of “within” and “outside,” more than a mere difference of
metaphor. But I had no time to think over the matter. For, just as I
was regretting that Arrian was not with me to talk over some of these
subjects, Glaucus, coming in to borrow a book, informed me that he had
met my friend late in the previous night coming from the quay. I had
intended to stay at home that morning. But now, finding that Glaucus was
on his way to the lecture, I resolved to accompany him, expecting to meet
Arrian there.

When we reached the lecture-room, a little late, we found it unusually
crowded. My place was taken, and I could not see Arrian in his customary
seat. Epictetus was in one of his discursive moods. He began with the
assertion—by this time familiar to me, but somewhat distasteful now,
fresh as I was from the atmosphere of the Jewish writings—that Gods
and men alike seek nothing but “their own profit.” As in most of his
epigrams, he meant just the opposite of what he seemed to assert. He
hated high-flown language as much as he loved high thought and action.
Even when he mentioned “the beautiful”—on which most Greeks go off into
rhapsodies—he almost always subordinated it to the “logos” or told us
that we must look for it in ourselves. So here again. Man, he declared,
must give up all things—property, reputation, children, wife, country,
if they are incompatible with his true “profit.” Then, of course, he
shewed that man’s “profit” is virtue, so that we need not give up these
blessings unless their possession is incompatible with virtue.

What he said next was new to me. A father, losing a child in death,
must not say “I have lost my child,” but “I have given it back.” When I
say “new,” I mean new in his teaching. But I had recently met something
like it in my books of Hebrew poems, “The Lord hath given, the Lord hath
taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Later on, I heard Epictetus
repeat this almost in the same form. This seemed to me not only beautiful
and devout but also consistent with reasonable faith.

But I could not follow him when, in reply to the objection, “He that took
away this thing from me is a villain,” he said, “What does it matter to
you by whom the Giver asked back the gift?” It seemed to me that a recoil
from villainy, as well as delight in virtue, ought to find a place even
in the calmest of mankind. No philosopher, he said, can have an “enemy,”
because no one can do him any harm or touch anything that really belongs
to him. This was true—in a sense. Its reasonableness contrasted with
the passionate poetry of the Jews, which I had found full, too full, of
talk about enemies. And yet, the more I meditated on the contrast, the
more this “What does it matter to you?” seemed to become a cold-blooded,
unnatural, and immoral question. Surely it ought to “matter” to us a
great deal whether we suffered loss from some neighbour’s forgetfulness
or from some enemy’s premeditated and malignant treachery. He went on
in the same chilling style. “Desire,” said he, “about that which is
happening, that it shall happen. Then you will have a stream of constant
peace.” I seemed to see Priam “desiring that which was happening” when
he saw Troy burned and the women ravished! His son, Polites, was being
butchered by Pyrrhus before his eyes, and the old king was standing by,
placidly enjoying “a stream of constant peace”!

Then Epictetus said, “An uneducated man blames others for his own evils.
A beginner blames himself. An educated man blames neither others nor
himself.” After this, he introduced what he called the law laid down
by God. “Right convictions make the will and purpose good. Crooked and
perverse convictions make the will bad. This law,” he said, “God has laid
down, and He says to each of us, ‘If you will have anything that is good,
take it from yourself’.” Then came another mention of the law—“the divine
law” he now called it. It was connected with “right convictions,” as to
which he asked “What are these?” His reply was, “They are such as a man
ought to meditate on all the day long. We must have such a conviction as
will prevent us from attaching our feelings to anything that is other
than our own—whether companion, or place, or bodily exercise, or even
the body itself. We must remember the law and have it always before our
eyes.”

This phrase, “meditate all the day long,” reminded me of some words of
David, which I had been reading the day before, “Oh how I love thy law!
It is my meditation all the day.” Other Hebrew expressions also came into
my mind concerning the sweetness and fragrance of the Lord’s commandment,
how the poet “opened his mouth and drew in his breath” to taste its
delight. These I could understand, when they applied to a law of love,
a law of the emotions, a “feeling.” But I wondered what Epictetus could
produce for us of a nature to kindle such enthusiasm. He continued, “And
what is the divine law? It is this. First, Keep the things that are your
own. Secondly, Do not claim things not your own; use them, if given; do
not desire them, if not given. Thirdly, When anything is being taken from
you, give it up at once in a detached spirit, and with gratitude for the
time during which one has used it.”

“Keep the things that are your own!”—This he placed first, and on this
he laid most emphasis, dwelling on each syllable. I fancied that he
knew he was disappointing us and almost took pleasure in it as though
he were administering to us a wholesome but bitter medicine. “You find
this sour,” he seemed to say: “Sour or not, it is the truth, the only
solid and safe truth. It is not the dream of a poet, or the scheme of a
student. It is the plan of a man of business, practicable for all—for
slaves as well as free men, for individuals in a desert as well as for
communities in a city. ‘Love your neighbour’—that is expecting too much.
‘Do not covet what is your neighbour’s’—that is expecting too little.
‘Keep that which belongs to you!’ There you have a rule that makes you
independent of all neighbours.” I was miserably disappointed; yet I could
not help respecting and admiring our Master’s unflinching frankness, his
determination to force us to face the austere truth, and his contempt for
anything that seemed incapable of being put into practice at all times
and in all circumstances.

He spoke next of “sin” or “error.” Some of his language strangely
resembled Paul’s, but with great differences. He made mention of a
“conflict,” but he seemed mostly to mean “a conflicting state of
things,” “logical contradiction,” or inconsistency. It might be called
self-contradiction, taken as including actions, and not words alone. He
also used the very same phrase as Paul’s “that which he willeth he doeth
not,” but not in the same way, as may be seen from the following extract
which I took down exactly: “Every error includes self-contradiction. For
since the person erring does not wish to err but to go straight, it is
clear that what he wills to do he does not do.… Now every soul endowed
with ‘logos’ by nature is disposed to dislike self-contradiction. As long
as a man has not followed up the facts and perceived that he is in a
state of self-contradiction, he is in no way prevented from doing things
that are self-contradictory; but, when he has followed them up, he must
necessarily revolt from the self-contradiction.… Here then comes in the
need of the teacher skilled in ‘logos’ … but the teacher needs also power
to refute what is wrong and to stimulate the pupil to what is right. This
teacher will give the erring man a glimpse into the self-contradiction in
which he errs, and will make it clear to him _that he is not doing that
which he wills to do and that he is doing that which he wills not to do_.
As soon as this is made clear to the person in error, he will, of himself
and of his own accord, depart from his error.”

Then he supposed a case where a man had relapsed from philosophy into a
profligate and shameless life. And first he tried to shew the offender
how much he had lost in losing modesty and decency and true manliness.
“There was a time,” he said, “when you counted this as the only loss
worth mentioning.” Next, he shewed each of us how to regain what we
had lost. “It is you yourself,” he exclaimed, “you yourself, no other
whom you have to blame. Fight against yourself! Tear yourself away to
seemliness, decency, and freedom.”

Lastly, he appealed—as I had never heard him do before—to the feelings
of loyalty and affection that we might entertain for himself. I thought
he must be recalling his old days in Rome, when he, a boy and a slave,
in the house of Epaphroditus, might be exposed to the temptations and
coercions to which such slaves were subject; and he asked his pupils
to imagine their feelings if someone came to them reporting that their
Master, Epictetus, had been forced to succumb.

“If,” said he, very slowly and deliberately, with emphasis on each
syllable, “if someone were to come and tell you that a certain man was
compelling _me_”—here he hurried onward—“to lead the sort of life that
you are now leading, to wear the sort of dress that you wear, to perfume
myself as you perfume yourself, would you not go off straightway and
lay violent hands on the man that was thus abusing me? Rescue yourself,
then, as you would have rescued me. You need not kill anyone, strike
anyone, go anywhere. Talk to yourself! Persuade (who else should do it
better?)—persuade yourself.”

Never, in my experience, had Epictetus more nearly fulfilled the promise
made in his behalf by Arrian—that he would always make his hearers feel,
for the moment, precisely what he wished them to feel. There were two
or three in the class notorious for their profligacy; but the appeal
went home to others as well, conscious of minor derelictions. “Persuade
yourself!” There was no need of it. We were all, to a man, already
persuaded. Infants and babies though we were, we could all stand up and
walk—for the moment. He proceeded in the same spirit-stirring tone, as
though—now that we had all resolved to go on this arduous journey with
him as a guide—he would go first and shew us how to push our way through
the forest.

“First of all,” said he, “give sentence against the present state of
things.” He did not say “_against yourselves_.” That would have been too
discouraging. We were to condemn “_the present state of things_”; that
is, our present self. “In the next place,” he continued, “do not give up
hope of yourself. Do not behave like the poor-spirited creatures who,
because of one defeat, give themselves up altogether and let themselves
be carried downward by the stream. Take a lesson from the wrestling-ring.
That young fellow yonder has had a fall. ‘Get up,’ says the trainer,
‘Wrestle again, and go on till you get your full strength.’ Act you in
the same spirit. For, mark you, there is nothing more pliable than the
human soul. You must _will_. Then the thing is done, and the crooked is
made straight. On the other hand, go to sleep; and then all is ruined.
From your own heart comes either your destruction or your help.”

He concluded with a word of warning. Perhaps some of us might appeal to
his own _dictum_ about seeking our own “profit,” as being the only right
and wise course. He met it as follows: “After this, do you say ‘What
good shall I get by it?’ What greater ‘good’ do you look for than this?
Whereas you once were shameless, you will now have received again the
faculty of an honourable shame. From the orgies of vice you will have
passed into the ranks of virtue. Formerly faithless and licentious, you
will now be faithful and temperate. If you seek any other objects better
than these, go on doing still the things you are doing now. Not even a
God can any longer save you.”

When we came out from the crowded room, as Arrian was nowhere to be seen,
I went at once to his lodging. To my surprise, he was busy packing,
amid books and papers, and a student’s other belongings. “Thanks,
many thanks,” he said, “for this timely visit. This is my last day in
Nicopolis. I was just coming round to wish you good-bye. You know I had
to go to Corinth. Well, when I got there, I found a letter from my father
bidding me wait a few days for further news from him; and on the fourth
day came a message that I was to conclude my studies at once and return
to Bithynia, as his health had quite given way and his affairs required
all my attention. I had intended to start to-day at the fifth hour; but
I have just learned that the vessel will not sail till the eighth. So
sit down. Epictetus there is not time to call upon. When I write to you
I shall ask you to deliver him a letter from me. Sit down, and begin by
telling me about the lecture I have just missed, while it is fresh in
your memory.”

When I had finished, he said, turning over the papers he was sorting,
“I remember another of his lectures in which he warned us against a
licentious and effeminate life. Here it is, and these are his exact
words: ‘Do not, in the name of the Gods, do not you, young man, fall back
again! Nay, rather go back to your home and say, now that you have once
heard this warning, _It is not Epictetus that has said this. How should
he? It is some God wishing well to me and speaking through him. It would
never have come into the mind of Epictetus to say this, for it is never
his custom to make personal appeals. Come, then; let us obey the voice
of God, lest we fall under God’s wrath._’ I have never forgotten these
words, and I trust I never shall. I think a God speaks through Epictetus.
Do you not agree with me?”

“I do indeed,” said I, “but I am not convinced that God speaks all that
Epictetus says, and that there is not more to be spoken. For example, he
says, ‘You have but to will and it is done.’ Is that a common experience?
Is it yours? He says, ‘Take from yourself the help you need.’ Do you find
in yourself all the help you need? When you fall, he says, ‘Get up,’
as though we were boys in the wrestling-ring. But what if we have been
stunned? What if one’s ankle is sprained or a leg broken? Do you remember
what you said to me at the end of my first lecture, ‘Will it last?’ You
also said that Epictetus could make us feel just what he wished us to
feel—as long as he was speaking. Well, while I was sitting on the bench
in the lecture-room, I felt that getting up from vice was as easy as
sitting on that bench. When I walked out, it began to seem less easy. Now
that I am quite away from the enchanter, talking the matter quietly over
with you, the feeling has almost vanished; and I am obliged to repeat
your question about this, and about much more of our Master’s doctrine,
‘Will it last?’”

“Some of it will last,” said Arrian, “We must not expect impossibilities.
I have heard him admit that it is impossible to be sinless already,
but he bade us remember that it is possible to be always intent on not
sinning.” “Did he mean,” asked I, “by ‘already,’ that we could not be
sinless in this life, but that we might be sinless at what he calls the
feast of the Gods, after death?” Arrian did not at once reply. Presently
he said, “I do not think so. I believe he meant that we must not expect
to be sinless as soon as we have reached the intermediate stage of what
he calls ‘the half-educated man.’ We must wait till we have reached the
further stage, that of complete education, where, as you said just now, a
man never blames himself, because he does not find in himself any fault
that he could blame.”

Here Arrian made a still longer pause. Then he continued, in his usual
slow, deliberate way, but with a touch of hesitation that was not usual
with him, “I have here a few duplicates of my notes. Among them are some
on the subject on which your remarks bear, and about which (I gather) you
would like to question me—the immortality of the soul. In my hearing, he
has seldom used that precise phrase. And, when he has used the epithet
‘immortal,’ it has generally applied to life like that of Tithonus—I
mean, a deathless life in this present world. To desire such a life,
deathless and free from disease, he thinks unreasonable. But I remember
his saying once, that he was prepared for death, ‘_whether it were the
death of the whole or of a certain part_’—that was his expression. And
I think he may possibly believe that the Logos within us is reabsorbed,
after death, into some kind of quintessential or divine fire from which
it sprang. But I cannot say that this satisfies me.”

Neither did it satisfy me. But I said nothing. Arrian, too, was silent,
turning over some of his papers and marking passages for my perusal. But
presently, rousing himself, “Did you agree with me,” he said, “about the
passage you transcribed, when we last met, concerning that sect of the
Jews which he called the Galilæans?” I could see that Arrian wished to
divert the conversation to “the Galilæans,” as being a subject of a less
serious character than the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. But
the subject of the Galilæans or Jews had become much more serious for
me now than it had been when we last conversed together. How much more,
I shrank from telling him, in the few minutes at our disposal. He was
good, just, a truthful scholar, a gentleman, and a kind friend. Given a
few days more—even a few hours—in one another’s company, and I should
not have kept my secret from him. But how could I hope, in so brief
an interval, and amid so many preoccupations, to make him understand
what a vast continent of new history, religion, literature—and, above
all, “feeling” as opposed to “logic”—had emerged before my mind’s eye,
during my recent voyages of exploration in the scriptures and in Paul’s
epistles? So I replied briefly that I agreed with his view. Epictetus, I
said, seemed to me to be speaking, not of the Galilæan “custom,” but of
their “feeling,” as also in the case of the Jews. “And indeed,” I added,
“the force of this ‘feeling’ in producing courage appears to me most
remarkable.” With these words I rose to go.

“Well,” said he, “I fear we shall hardly meet again in Nicopolis. But I
shall always cherish the recollection of the hours we have spent together
here, and of our common respect for our common Master, whom you already
love, and whom, if you come to know him as I do—in his home, and in his
kindness to those who need kindness—you will (I trust) love still more.”
“I do love him,” said I. “But tell me, do you love all his teaching about
indifference to what is happening? You know how our Master scoffs at the
agony of Priam looking on the ruin of Troy. Well, suppose you were a
Roman citizen, as I am sure you will be before long. Or, rather, suppose
you were our new Emperor Hadrian, and saw the northern barbarians not
only at our gates but inside our walls, and the City in flames, and the
Dacians doing in Rome what the Greeks did in Troy to the Trojan men and
women, would you, our Emperor Hadrian, feel it right to say, ‘All this
is nothing to me’?” “By the immortal Gods,” exclaimed Arrian, “I should
not.” “And if Epictetus were in Hadrian’s place, or Priam’s place, do you
think he could say it?”

I had to wait for an answer. “What I am going to say,” he replied at
last, “may seem to you monstrous. But I really cannot reply No. I cannot
tell what he would say. I am not able to judge him as I should judge
others.” Then he proceeded, with an animation quite unusual in him, “Of
any other Hadrian or Priam I should say that such an utterance stamped
him as either liar, or beast, or stone. But Epictetus—absorbed in Zeus,
devoted to His will, resolved to believe that His will is good, and
seeing no way out of the belief that all things happen in accordance with
His will—might not Epictetus conceivably feel, in moments of ecstasy,
that all these fires and furies, massacres and outrages, cannot prevent
him from believing in Zeus and being one with Zeus, so that he himself,
Epictetus, might be, nay, must be, in the bosom of Zeus (so to speak) at
the very moment when not only Rome, but all the cities, villages, and
hamlets of the world—nay, when the universe itself was being cast into
destruction? Well, I am out of my depth. I confess it. But will you not
agree with me thus far, that _if_ Epictetus said that he felt thus, he
would really feel thus?”

“Yes,” replied I, “I am sure that he would not say it unless he felt
it. But I am not sure that he might not feel it merely because he had
forced himself to feel it. However, let us say no more now on such subtle
matters. It is no small help to have been lifted up by such a teacher
above the mere life of the flesh. We part, do we not, in full agreement
that Epictetus has been, for both of us, a guide to that which is good?”
And thus we did part. I accompanied him to the quay. “May we meet again,”
were my last words. “May it be soon,” were his.

But we never met. The death of his father plunged him almost immediately
into domestic cares and matters of business. When the pressure of private
affairs relaxed, it was soon followed by affairs of state. This was due
in part perhaps to his having been a pupil of Epictetus. The new emperor,
long before he became emperor, had always admired our Master; whose
recommendation (I am inclined to think) had something to do with Arrian’s
subsequent promotions. At all events, when I was on service in the north,
I heard without any surprise, and with a great deal of pleasure, that
my former fellow-student—known now to literary circles as Flavianus, a
Roman citizen, and author of the Memoirs of Epictetus—had been appointed
governor of Cappadocia.

From time to time we corresponded. But it was not upon the topics that
used to engross us in old days. He took a great interest in geography.
Military service, at one time in the north and then in the east, gave
me some knowledge of this subject, which I was glad to place at his
disposal. He also studied military affairs with a view to writing on
Alexander. Here again I was of use to him. But we never resumed in our
letters that subject about which he had once said to me, “More of this
to-morrow.” Our paths had branched off, leading us far away from each
other in everything except mutual good will and respect. He had become a
Roman magistrate. Subsequently he was a priest of Demeter. I had become a
Roman soldier, but—a Christian. Many of my friends knew this and I have
little doubt that Arrian guessed it. Privately I feel sure he always
loved me. Officially he must have been forced to disapprove. Hadrian,
it is true, discouraged informations against the Christians, and I had
been hitherto connived at: but could I condemn my old friend if he shrank
from opening up old speculations that might lead him into unofficial,
suspected, and dangerous results? Much more might I myself rather feel
condemned for keeping silence. Sometimes I have felt thus. But not often.
More often I feel that it was better for him not to know what I know,
than to know it, in a sense, and to reject it. Presented in mere writing,
I felt sure that it would have been rejected. Writings and books brought
me on the way to Christ, but something more was needed to make me receive
Christ.

Arrian, I think, avoided such opportunities as presented themselves
for meeting. I am sure I did. If we had met, surely I should have been
constrained to open my mind to him. Once, at least, I touched (in a
letter) on our old conversation about “logos” and “pathos.” He replied
that, in his new career, both “logos” and “pathos” had to give place to
_pragmata_, “business,” which, he thought, was likely to take up all his
energies during the rest of his life.

Even if I had opened my mind, I cannot help thinking that his would
have remained unchanged. One thing, however, I do not think about, but
know—namely, that, if we had met, Arrian and I would still have had
common ground, as of old, in our love of truth and justice, and that we
should still have esteemed, respected, and loved each other. For myself,
love him I always shall, not for his own sake alone, but also because
he helped me directly and immediately to understand Epictetus, and
indirectly and ultimately to perceive the existence of something beyond
any truth that Epictetus could teach.