Monday, August 23, 2010

Napoleon Bonaparte on Jesus Christ

Napoleon confessed that while he and other world
conquerors founded their empires on physical coercion,
Jesus Christ founded his empire on love.  
Whether the world conquerer Napoleon Bonaparte ever became a Christian or not, he did understand the superiority of Christ's empire to his own:

“When conversing, as was his habit, about the great men of the ancient world, and comparing himself with them, he turned, it is said, to Count Mon-tholon with the inquiry: ‘ Can you tell me who Jesus Christ was?’

“The question was declined, and Napoleon proceeded: 
‘Well, then, I will tell you. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I myself have founded great empires; but on what did these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions would die for Him.

‘. . .I think I understand something of human nature, and I tell you, all these were men, and I am a man; none else is like Him; Jesus Christ was more than man. I have inspired multitudes with such an enthusiastic devotion that they would die for me . . . but to do this it was necessary that I should be visibly present with the electric influence of my looks, of my words, of my voice.

‘When I saw men and spoke to them, I lighted up the flame of self-devotion in their hearts . . . Christ alone has succeeded in so raising the mind of man towards the Unseen that it becomes insensible to the barriers of time and space.

Whether the world conquerer Napoleon
Bonaparte ever became a Christian or
not, he did understand the
superiority of Christ's empire
to his own
‘Across a chasm of eighteen hundred years Jesus Christ makes a demand which is beyond all others difficult to satisfy. He asks for that which a philosopher may often seek in vain at the hands of his friends, or a father of his children, or a bride of her spouse, or a man of his brother.

‘He asks for the human heart; He will have it entirely to Himself; He demands it unconditionally ; and forthwith His demand is granted. Wonderful! In defiance of time and space, the soul of man, with all its powers and faculties, becomes an annexation to the Empire of Christ.

“All who sincerely believe in Him experience that remarkable supernatural love towards Him. This phenomenon is unaccountable; it is altogether beyond the scope of man’s creative powers.

‘Time, the great destroyer, is powerless to extinguish this sacred flame; time can neither exhaust its strength nor put a limit to its range. This it is which strikes me most; I have often thought of it. This it is which proves to me quite convincingly the divinity of Jesus Christ.’”

Cited in: Christopher West, Canada and Sea Power (Toronto: McClelland & Goodchild, Limited, 1913.  Digitized Dec. 5, 2007), 149-150.


John H. said...

These are great and eloquent words; no Christian would object or reject them. My question is how many notice the "it is said" in reference to the quote being Bonaparte's. How could such a lengthy quote come down to us? There were no tape recorders then. Did Napoleon have a scribe tagging along side, taking down each and every word in order to save for posterity?

My point is that Christians often fall into the trap of immediately latching onto things such as this when they appear to support the cause of Christ. What makes this quote significant is who ostensibly said it. Not that it loses its meaning if it were not him. Just that we should not jump on a bandwagon because we think it promotes our cause.

Anonymous said...

It was common in Napoleon's time to be more aware of the spoken word and not uncommon for the written word to be noted and written. Especially that of great substance or even that coming from a narcissist like Napoleon wanting his words cemented in history. Only in our recent era of the last 100 years have we lost the conciousness, attention, and desire to note the spoken word or even read the written word for that matter. Napoleon has been quoted with some brilliant statements and observations. Although other quotes may not be directly correlated with the divinity of Christ, the consistency is in the profound insight and observation of the human condition and heart. This is why I for one can believe that Napoleon did in deed speak of such reflective things, especially being at the end of his own time and life.

Brandon Durham said...

Many great orators, especially preachers, had their speeches and sermons transcribed verbatim. Spurgeon and Calvin for example.