Setting aside the scandal caused by His Messianic claims and His reputation as a political firebrand, only two accusations of personal depravity seem to have been brought against Jesus of Nazareth. First, that He was a Sabbath-breaker. Secondly, that He was “a gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners” — or (to draw aside the veil of Elizabethan English that makes it all sound so much more respectable) that He ate too heartily, drank too freely, and kept very disreputable company, including grafters of the lowest type and ladies who were no better than they should be. For nineteen and a half centuries, the Christian Churches have laboured, not without success, to remove this unfortunate impression made by their Lord and Master. They have hustled the Magdalens from the Communion-table, founded Total Abstinence Societies in the name of Him who made the water wine, and added improvements of their own, such as various bans and anathemas upon dancing and theatre-going. They have transferred the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, and, feeling that the original commandment “Thou shalt not work” was rather half-hearted, have added to it a new commandment, “Thou shalt not play.”
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