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§ 190. Christ’s two Sayings: “He that is not against you is for you,” and, “He that is not for me is against me.” (Mark, ix., 40.)

It is hardly probable that the disciples at once understood the pro found meaning of Christ’s words on the occasion referred to in the pre3eding section; and thus it was that John (Mark, ix., 38) brought for ward an instance which appeared to him inconsistent with the rule just laid down.525525   Strauss objects to Schleiermacher’s view (which accords in substance with mine), that “it presupposes a readiness of thought in the disciples of which they were by no means possessed.” It is just the reverse; it seems to have been precisely the want of clear apprehension at the time which led John, without further thought upon the sense and bearing of Christ’s remarks, to seize upon the words, “In my name.”

It appears that the miracles of Christ, and those wrought by the Apostles by calling upon his name, had induced others, not belonging to the immediate circle of the disciples, to call upon the name of Jesus for the healing of demoniacs.526526   As (though with another motive) in Acts, xix., 13. The disciples, displeased that one out of their circle, and unauthorized by Christ, should try in this way to make himself equal with them, had forbidden him to do so. Even here, selfish motives appear to have intruded; only those who belonged to them were to be allowed to make use of Christ’s name. In view of what Christ now said, however, of the value of even the smallest actions, if done in His name, John seems to have thought within himself: “If every thing that is done in His name be so worthy, have we not done wrong in forbidding him who was thus working in his name?”

It is true Christ’s words referred to the disposition of the heart, and a mere external calling upon his name would not necessarily involve all that he meant. And had the disciples fully understood his meaning, they would probably not have alluded to such an instance. But the instance itself may have been allied to that which has the aim of Christ’s words; a man who thought so highly of Christ’s name as to believe that by using it he could do such great works, even though he enjoyed no intimate relations with the Saviour, might have been on the way to higher attainments, and, by obtaining higher knowledge and a purer faith, might have reached the stand-point designated by Christ; and so his outward calling upon the name might have led the 289way to a true acting in that name. He, therefore, reproved them; they should let this stand-point pass as a preparatory one: “Forbid him not [for there is no man which can do a miracle in my name which can lightly speak evil of me]; for he that is not against you is for you.” The explanation (in brackets) is given by Mark, but not by Luke; it aids the interpretation of the latter clause, but does not exhaust its meaning.

These words of Christ allow us to suppose that the man in question, perhaps, only used His name by way of conjuration, and was far from him in heart; but they imply, also, that the very fact of his giving credit to the Name for so great power might lead him to inquire who and what Christ was, and to attach himself to him. His procedure, also, might call the attention of others to Christ’s power, and bring them nearer to his communion. Jesus here taught the disciples (and the lesson was a most weighty one for their coming labours) that they were not to require a perfect faith and an immediate attachment to their communion from men at once; that they were to recognize preparatory and intermediate stages; to drive back no one whose face was turned in the right direction; to hinder none who might wish to confess or glorify Christ among men in any way; in a word, to oppose no one who, instead of offering himself, in this sense, to them, sought the same end, and thus advanced the object of their ministry, even though out of their own communion, and not seeking to glorify Christ precisely in the same sense and by the same methods as themselves.

Comparing this saying of Christ with the other and opposite one, to which we have before referred,527527   Cf. p. 241. viz., “He that is not for me is against me,” we must, in order to harmonize them, seek the precise objects which He had in view in the two cases. In the latter, an action was treated of which seemed to agree perfectly with Christ in its results—the expulsion of evil spirits—but yet not done in the Spirit of Christ at all, but just the opposite; apparently done for the kingdom of God, but, in fact, against it; outwardly like Christ’s acts, but inwardly and essentially antagonistic to them. In the former there was an act, again, agreeing in result, and also in the mode, viz., by calling upon the name of Christ; not, it is true, entirely in the right way, but in a way preparatory to the right one, and which might lead to it, if not disturbed by an impatient zeal. In the former the outward coincidences concealed an inward and essential opposition, but in the latter an inward affinity, which might possibly be ripened into full communion.

The common feature, therefore, of these two sayings is this: Every thing depends upon the relation in which the outward act and its results stand to the spirit and the heart from which they proceed.

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