The multitude is divided

The multitude is divided

The Feast of Tabernacles.

(The Gospel History, Section 77)

Some of the multitude therefore, when they heard these words, said, This is of a truth the prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, What, doth the Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said that the Christ cometh of the seed of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was? So there arose a division in the multitude because of him. And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him.

The multitude is divided

(The Saviour of the World, Vol V Book III Poem XXXII)

Must truth for aye be a dividing line
Separating men who share a common life,
Nay, chief friends, brothers sheltered by one roof?
Till now the pilgrims were unanimous,
(They from the country), friendly in desire
That He, this Rabbi, of good repute amongst men,
Should have fair dealing here in Jerusalem.

But that word, “Come unto Me,” searched all men’s hearts
With urgency of decision laid on each:
They might not rest in general good will
Towards any Rabbi who spoke words of truth,
This Man among the rest. The word went forth—
“Get up and come—choose this day whom ye serve!”
And, timorous, they held back. Some said, “Of a truth
This is the Prophet.” Long had Israel held
Her house in readiness to welcome Him,
Sent of Jehovah, whom Moses had foretold:
The temerity of the men who recognised
In Christ that Prophet,—an avowal, made,
Which should enmity incur, nay, risk of life—
Moves admiration in these easier times:
A saint of latter days, wise Brother Lawrence,
Bids us distinguish,—“Whether is thine act
Of the understanding born or of the Will”;
Here in this multitude, as in all crowds,
Were those who to their understanding leaned,
And those who embraced with Will the thing they knew.
The first, due weighing evidence, allowed.
“The Prophet, this”: these others knew their soul
To rise in strong assurance, undismayed;
With solemn tones confess they,—“This is Christ!”
The multitude divide on that bold word;
On that side, those who would have light from without;
On this, those who by its light inherent know
The truth when they see it: these arise and “Come!”

Conviction of the mind is bitter-sure;
Vindictiveness is born of certainty:
Well so, it may be; how, otherwise, should men
Fight for that truth which to matter appertains
And hand on Science to the race to come?
But science is of the senses ascertained,
And there be realms where these no more convince;
Certainties, to be neither seen nor touched
Or judged by any signs men may perceive;
The man who knows on evidence is wroth,
In sudden hate, he turns on the thing put forth
With claims he is incompetent to weigh:
So, through a thousand years the Church has fared,
So, that day, suffered Jesus at their hands—
Those men who judged by evidence alone.

The amazing word has fallen in that crowd,—
“If any thirst, come unto Me and drink!”
One more hard saying,—powerful to divide
Chief friends, one family, a man’s own heart!
And, lo, some of them would have taken Him—
Those who would fain be sure, demanded proof,—
Bitterly angry; how could that be true
Which by every sign they knew a witless lie?
They would have taken Him—the very men
Who had hung on His words but now! There stood the Lord,—
And none stretched hand to take, none rudely touched;
Did a screen ineffable—not seen of them—
Hedge round the Christ from sacrilegious touch
Until His time was come?

“This is the Christ,”—

Reiterated they who knew by signs
Infallible: “What, shall the Christ come forth
From Galilee?” the unbelieving cried,
Hot in the wrath of men who think they know
And hold their opponents liars, blind to truth:
“What make ye then of this, ye shameless ones,—
Hath not the Scripture said, ‘Of David’s seed,’
From out the village where great David was,
And shepherded his flock, shall come the Christ,—
Out of Bethlehem cometh He—Ye are possessed
With a lying spirit, ye ignorant and false!”

St. John vii. 40-44.
Deuteronomy xviii. 15.
Micah v. 2.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Amazon Music | Stitcher | RSS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *