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Whence this sudden change? For that the disciples fled in confusion and consternation is a certain fact. Their answer
was: the Lord has appeared to us, first to Peter, then to the twelve, then to more than five hundred brethren together, then to James, then to all of the apostles, last of all to Paul. From these appearances—the first must have taken place, according to the oldest accounts, in Galilee—they inferred the facts of the resurrection and of the present life of Jesus in glory. In the very earliest time, when St Paul obtained this information from St Peter, they were content with drawing these conclusions and required no further proofs. The new faith rests upon the appearances alone.
Our judgment as to these appearances depends upon the credibility which we attach to St Paul and his informant, and still more upon our philosophical and religious standpoint, upon our “faith.' Purely scientific considerations cannot decide where the question at stake is the existence or non-existence of the invisible world, and the possibility of communicating with spirits. Hence, too, all attempts at explanation, which rest upon the axiom that our world of phenomena is the only reality, are merely subjectively persuasive and convincing. The Christian faith always reckons with the reality of the other world which is our goal. A Christian, therefore, has no difficulty in accepting as the ground of his belief in the resurrection, the real projection of Jesus into this world of sense by means of a vision.
But there is another reason which prevents the historian from resting content with this supposition
even if he approves of it. The mere faith in these miracles makes the origin of Christianity dependent on a chance, as though the cause of Jesus had come to nought but for this story. But in Jesus' person there resided so mighty a power of redemption, there was so great a certainty of ultimate victory, that it could not be destroyed by any death however disgraceful.
“ He was too great that He should die (Lagarde)—i.e. the impression that He had made, the fellowship in which one had lived with Him, these were too great, too firm, too indestructible. As during the time of His earthly life He had continuously imparted to His disciples joy, consolation, courage, and certainty of victory, so after His death He did not cease to take up again after a short interval of confusion His work as Saviour of mankind.
Of John the Baptist, too, it was said that he had arisen, and worked though Jesus. But his sect disappeared in the confused jumble of Jewish sects. But Jesus was really the Redeemer even after His death, and instead of His influence decreasing, He now really began to draw all men unto Himself. Even, therefore, though He may have helped by means of His appearances to enable His disciples to recover from their perplexity, the fact that these appearances produced this effect was the consequence of the earlier impression which death had not been able to efface. Faith in the resurrection is the fruit of salvation through Jesus.
THE EARLY CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY.
CHAPTER VIII. .
Jesus did not leave His disciples without leaders. During His lifetime He had organized and trained a compact body, a little company, the twelve. By participating in His missionary labours they were to multiply His activity, and when He was not Himself present, they were to take His place. Upon the twelve He had laid the duty of leading the same wandering life as His own. He had given them the authority to preach and to heal which He Himself possessed. · He made them sharers in all His rights. “He that receiveth you receiveth Me; he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me.” It was the twelve who accompanied Jesus when He entered Jerusalem, who received His last commands and were witnesses of His capture.
The first appearance of the risen Master, soon after the first flight of the disciples, fell to Peter, the captain of this company.
The second was to all the eleven. We know nothing beyond the bare fact of these appearances; we do not know what words were then heard. The consequences alone are evident: the assembling
of the company in Galilee, the start for Jerusalem, city of danger and mournful memories, their appearance there with the glad confession of the Messiah.
Round the nucleus of this little company there gathered the former disciples as well as the new adherents. The old name, the twelve,' gave way to the new official designation, the apostles,' though it is possible that this did not take place before Greek soil was reached. The chief recommendation of the new name lay in the fact that it could be transferred to the later missionaries as well, but its original meaning was strictly limited : “One who had companied with Jesus in His missionary work, and had been witness of the resurrection."
Nothing can exceed the significance of the apostles in the history of the development of Christianity. Jesus did not Himself found the Church. He who shattered the institution of the Jewish Church had no understanding for such an organization. But the company of the apostles is His own peculiar creation. He had faith in the power of the word and in the influence of personality. The call of the companions of His mission was the result of this faith. In this call He was not uniformly successful; that is proved by much else besides the one name Judas Ischariot. But, on the whole, the work that He had begun lasted. The foundation of the Church, all the work of consolidating the early community of believers, rests upon the apostles, upon their enthusiasm, their courage and their endurance. Here, again, the saying is proved true, that it is men that make history. The belief in the resurrection, the future
foundation-stone of Christianity, arose in the circle of the twelve, and here alone.
The apostles were animated by a lofty self-consciousness. They felt themselves to be the representatives of Jesus. They were continuing His work. As ambassadors for Christ, they were ambassadors for God. The new office of mediation between God and man was continued by the apostles. Their manner of life was an extraordinary one, like that of Jesus. Besides their work as missionaries, the twelve had no calling: for their sustenance they depended entirely on the hospitality of the faithful.
But Jesus' miraculous powers likewise continued effective in the apostles. It came to be universally accepted that an apostle could prove himself such by signs and wonders. Jesus Himself, so it was said, had given them power to tread on serpents and scorpions without danger. As a reward for their faithful services they should sit upon twelve thrones in the future kingdom and judge the twelve tribes of Israel.
In sayings such as these can be traced the glorification of the legend which dates from the earliest times. The self-consciousness of the apostles and the veneration of the disciples helped to complete each other almost from the first. At all events it was counted as an especial privilege of this early time that the twelve were there to lead ; the twelve in whom Jesus Himself continued to live.
In spite, however, of all their high authority, there was not the remotest attempt to place the apostles on the same level as Jesus. Subordination to the Master, resting in the feeling that he owes his posi