The Ethical Teachings of Jesus

7860 WordsFeb 28, 201232 Pages
The Ethical Teachings of Jesus. IT is a notable characteristic of Christianity that the ethical teachings of its Founder are inseparably connected with his religious teachings. "Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself" is not given by him as a separate and detached precept, but as one of two. "Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart; and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second like unto it is this, thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hangeth the whole law and the prophets." Observe that the two precepts are not simply placed side by side, they are united: "on these two.'" In like manner the first four of the Ten Commandments present duties…show more content…
Here alone among all moral instructors the example is absolutely equal to the precept. Are the ethical teachings of Jesus original? Some have thought this a question of great importance. Opponents have taken immense pains to show that certain of his precepts find a partial in previously existing pagan writings; and some Christian apologists have been nervously unwilling to recognize the fact. It needs no great reflection to see that a wise teacher of morals must bring his instructions into close connection with what men already know, or what they will instinctively recognize as true when suggested by his lessons. If you are teaching a child, you do not present ideas entirely apart from and above the child's previous consciousness; you try to link the new thoughts to what the child has thought of before. We need not then be at all unwilling to admit that for the most part Jesus only carried farther and lifted higher and extended more widely the views of ethical truth which had been dimly caught by the universal human mind, or had at least been seen by the loftiest souls. This was but a part of the wisdom of his teachings. The most familiar and striking instance is the so-called golden rule, something more or less similar to which is ascribed to various contemporaries of Jesus and to earlier teachers. Thus Hillel said, “What is hateful to thee, do not do to another," and he was but repeating a passage in the book of Tobit, " What thou hatest, do to no one."
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