Writings by George Burgess (1829-1905)
Jesus of Nazareth was a very remarkable being. Thousands of great, good, and divine men have lived, and taught, and spent their lives for the good of their fellows. But Jesus appears to stand out clear in his striking personality – and his self-sacrificing spirit – and in the spirituality of his teaching. It is probable that all men would be willing to say that “never a man spake like this man”.
He taught that he came from the Father into the world – and that he would again leave the world, and go to his Father.
He taught that “The Kingdom of God cometh not with observations” – but that it is “within you”. And is the reward for living a good life. He also taught that there is another “Kingdom of Heaven” – and that only those “shall enter it, who doeth the will of his Father, which is in Heaven”. So that the doctrine of Jesus is that there is no Heaven for a man, either in this world, or any other world, unless he deserves it.
Jesus talked of his own second coming – to follow his death – and that it “was near at hand” – and told his disciples that “There be some standing here, which shall not taste the death till they see the son of man coming in his Kingdom”. His disciples however, died – and did not see him so come. And the centuries since have not witnessed his second coming. And the future ages are not likely to witness it. For Jesus is “gone the way of all the earth” – and will never again return!
According to the Gospel writers, Jesus worked miracles, and so cured various bodily and mental diseases – and gave his disciples similar power. But this power has not been in the possession of his disciples of later centuries. The preachers, and followers of Jesus, at the present day (1899) too often get ill themselves – and need a miracle to cure them. But they never ask Jesus to cure them. They have more faith in a doctor – and he, often fails them! Jesus never got ill!
Referring to his expected death, Jesus said - “Now is the judgment of this world” – “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out” – “And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me”.
According to recent Wesleyan statistics, on a pictorial leaflet, there are in the world 1424 millions of people. Out of these, the Christians, of all Sects – are numbered at 390 millions, and over one half of these do not take any personal interest in any religion at all, and hundreds of thousands of them, in the (so called) Christian lands, and in their mighty cities – in various degrees – from the palace to the cottage – are in the depths of wickedness, and the bonds of iniquity. So, after one thousand eight hundred years – out of the world’s 1424 millions – Jesus may have, now nearly 200 millions of interested followers. And the “prince of this world” – (the prince of sin) is not “cast out” – but everywhere, and still sways his dreadful power! It appears, from the foregoing facts, that the events which Jesus predicted, in John 12, as soon to occur, have only in a small measure, come to pass – up to now, 1899.
It is written that the angel said to Joseph – that, “Jesus, shall save his people from their sins”, and of course, “his people” – and all people really, would be “saved from their sins” - if they practised his teaching concerning their love to God, and love to their neighbours. But neither the angel, nor Jesus himself, ever taught, that anybody at all could be saved from the due punishment of “sins”, already committed. The changeless laws of human Existence make that impossible. God’s eternal Rule is that there can be no Escape for any being from the punishment for evils; nor from the reward for good.
Jesus said “your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead”. Jesus here, certainly meant physical death. “I am the bread of life” – “And the bread that I will give is my flesh” – “This is the bread that a man may eat thereof, and not die” – “He that eateth of this bread shall live for ever”. In their passages the Jews naturally, and logically, considered that Jesus was referring to physical death like their fathers, who “eat the manna in the wilderness” met, and his disciples just as naturally said “This is a hand saying – who can hear it”. In due time, the Jews – and the disciples also, who ate of the bread of his “body” – and drank of the cup, of his “blood” with Jesus – all died exactly as did their “fathers who ate the manna in the wilderness”.
If Jesus was referring to another kind of life and death, besides the physical – he could have made it clear to his followers – because the Jews, and his disciples, were logical, and accurate, in their questions and reasoning’s.
But, if some of the “sayings” of Jews appear to show that he did not know all things – still, the following is true – Not one of his sayings ever tended towards evil. He was never accused of any personal evil. His life was all self-denial and loving kindness for mankind. His doctrine, if lived out, would most surely “Save the people form their sins” – and from the sure punishments which follow all sins – It would bring heaven into the heart – Heaven on earth – and Heaven in the Spirit-land of Everlasting life!
The self-sacrifice of Jesus, for the good of others, was continuous – and it included his life, and his death.