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uninterrupted and harmoniously unfolded, and that His “inner development took place without violent crises.” Jesus represented a publican as saying, “God be merciful to me, a sinner ;” but we do not find that He Himself ever said, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” He taught His disciples to pray, “Forgive us our trespasses,” but He never offered this prayer for Himself. There is one long prayer of His on record,-in the seventeenth chapter of St. John,—but there is not a breath of contrition in it from beginning to end, not a sigh of conscious shortcoming or imperfection ; but, on the contrary, “I have glorified Thee on the earth ; I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do.” Within a few hours after we find Him in Gethsemane, praying to the Father with strong crying and tears, but all His agony fails to wring from Him one word of confession of sin. The mystery of the trouble of His soul in that terrible hour is not relieved or explained by the slightest indication of conscious demerit. “We feel that in this one life," says Godet, “remorse has no place. And this fact is so much the more remarkable and decisive, in proportion as Jesus was more humble than other men, and His conscience more sensitive than theirs. The more advanced we are in the life of holiness, the more painfully do we feel the stains of sin. If the slightest defilement had existed in Him, He would have been more affected by it than we are by the gravest faults into which we fall.” »
My next extract is from F. W. Robertson’s Sermons, second series, third edition, p. 216. The author is speaking of 'Christ's estimate of Sin,' the text being Luke xix. 10: “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Mr. Robertson says he perceives in the text three peculiarities distinguishing Christ from ordinary men, the first of which is a peculiarity in the constitution of the Redeemer's moral nature, as manifested in that peculiar title which He assumed, 'the Son of man. He goes on to say: 'It implies fairly His Divine origin; for it is an emphatic expression, and, as we may so say, an unnatural one. Imagine an apostle, St. Paul or St. John, insisting upon it perpetually that he himself was human. It would almost provoke a smile to hear either of them averring and affirming, “I am a son of man :" it would be unnatural, the affectation of condescension would be intolerable. Therefore, when we hear these words from Christ, we are compelled to think of them as contrasted with a higher nature. None could without presumption remind men that he was their brother and a son of man, except one who was also something higher, even the Son of God. It implies the catholicity of His Brotherhood. Nothing in the judgment of historians stands out so sharply distinct as racenational character : nothing is more ineffaceable. The Hebrew was marked from all mankind. The Roman was perfectly distinct from the Grecian character; as markedly different as the rough English truthfulness is from Celtic brilliancy of talent. Now these peculiar nationalities are seldom combined. You rarely find the stern, old Jewish sense of holiness going together with the Athenian sensitiveness of what is beautiful. Not often do you find together severe truth and refined tenderness. Brilliancy seems opposed to perseverance. Exquisiteness of taste commonly goes along with a certain amount of untruthfulness. By Humanity, as a whole, we mean the aggregate of all these separate excellences. Only in two places are they all found together-in the universal human race; and in Jesus Christ. He having, as it were, a whole humanity in Himself, combines them all. Now this is the universality of the Nature of Jesus Christ. There was in Him no national peculiarity or individual idiosyncrasy. He was not the Son of the Jew, nor the Son of the carpenter ; nor the offspring of the modes of living and thinking of that particular century. He was the Son of man. Once in the world's history was born a man. Once in the roll of ages, out of innumerable failures, from the stock of human nature, one Bud developed itself into a faultless Flower. One perfect specimen of humanity has God exhibited on earth. The best and most catholic of Englishmen has his prejudices. All the world over our greatest writer would be recognised as having the English cast of thought. The pattern Jew would seem Jewish everywhere but in Judea. Take Abraham, St. John, St. Paul, place them where you will, in China or in Peru, they are Hebrews : they could not command all sympathies ; their life could not be imitable except in part. They are foreigners in every land, and out of place in every country but their
But Christ is the King of men, and “ draws all men,” because all character is in Him, separate from nationalities and limitations. As if the life-blood of every nation were in His veins, and that which is best and truest in every man, and that which is tenderest, and
gentlest, and purest in every woman, in His character. He is emphatically the Son of man.'
Years ago the conservative, or Channing section of the American Unitarians, brought out a periodical called The Monthly Religious Magazine, from vol. 39 of which, p. 89, the following extract is taken : * Jesus stands supreme and alone amongst men in cherishing, uttering, and living from the calm conviction that He shared the Divine consciousness, that His thought was the Divine thought, and His love the Divine love, and His kingdom the Divine kingdom. Between the human, however exalted, and the Divine, there is a difference, not only of degree, but of kind. The word and the work of man may be very gracious and precious, but it is not the word and the work of God. They shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted, is “God with us." It is one of those descriptive names, like Isaiah, or the “Salvation of Jehovah,” of which the Old Testament is full. Others, before and since, have borne the name; but it has been fulfilled only in Him. In Him was life,—life in this supreme and transcendent sense. The sacred writers never leave out of sight the essentially Divine in the Gospel. They have no story of a man who, in obedience to conscience, and in the strength of the devout sentiment, and in the abundance of a loving heart, and through that grace which is granted unto all, had lifted himself nearer heaven than the rest of the world, and had become the prophet of humanity. Large portions of the Gospel are devoted to the sweet humanities of the Lord's life ; but these humanities are all pervaded with Divinity. We enter into no metaphysical discussion of the mystery of the Divine Nature. We recognise no division in the Object of Divine worship. Enough that, in the account of the ministers of the word, the one God over all, the Person of persons, the Father as truly as the Son, the Son as truly as the Father, spake out His loving thought, and poured out His loving Spirit in Mary's blessed child. Whatever else we may be able to gather concerning this Son of Mary from the most ancient records of His life, we gather this. Strangely silent upon many points, and strangely fragmentary, they are eloquent and complete upon this. We are not sure that what we call incompleteness in these priceless histories, may not be best explained as the inevitable overshadowing of all else in the story by that which transcends it all The Gospels seem to be, in some sort, a justifica
tion of a saying current in the Saviour's time : “When the Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence He is.” They have not given the day, the season, nor so much as the year of the Lord's birth. From St. John we learn only by implication that He was born at all. In the present state of inquiry as to the time of the Nativity, the two best authorities are as far apart as autumn and spring, whilst tradition and the poet Milton tell us "'twas the winter wild.” It has been impossible as yet to make a proper harmony of the Gospels, to arrange the events in the order of time, to determine the length of the Saviour's ministry, or to write a satisfactory Life of Jesus ; and, where we crave the brightness of perfect day, we have only patches of light. St. John tells us that only the least part of what the Lord said and did had been set down. And yet they who tell us so little of Christ after the flesh steadily present Him to us in the glory and beauty of the Eternal Spirit, the Father knowing the Son, the Son knowing the Father, all else shut out from direct Divine knowledge, -the Master's word and work, altogether Divine in its source. We may believe them or not ; but what they have written they have written, and their writings will, in the long run, be explained by candid readers only in one way. Moreover, we are persuaded that, even though our records should be subjected to a much more searching criticism than the ordeal through which they have already so triumphantly passed, this testimony, concerning the essentially Divine in Jesus, would remain to be a bond of union for all who profess and call themselves Christians, and a rallying word against rationalists and naturalists of every name.'
In the year 1873, the Rev. Dr. George Sexton, who had for many previous years worked among the Secularists, and was accepted by them as one of their most eminent leaders, renounced the Secularist position, and avowed his belief in the Personal Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the August of the same year, he preached my anniversary sermons at New Swindon, and received the Holy Communion of the Lord's Supper at my hands. Three years afterwards, he delivered two sermons in Augustine Independent Church, Clapham Road, London, of which the Rev. Dr. David Thomas, editor of the Homilist, was then the minister. Those sermons were afterwards published in a little volume, entitled Reasons for renouncing Infidelity, and from that volume I make the following extract, p. 35: 'The wide difference between Christianity and all other systems will be seen in the fact that in the whole of the latter there is a possibility of drawing a line of demarcation between the teacher and his teachings. You may remove Socrates from his ethics, Plato from his philosophy, Buddha from his religion, and Mahomet from his so-called revelation, without, in the smallest possible degree, affecting the systems thus severed from their originators. What I mean is that Buddhism and Mahometanism would remain quite as perfect as they are, even though Buddha and Mahomet should be proved never to have existed ; just as the writings of Shakespeare would be equally valuable if Shakespeare himself were demonstrated to be, as some maintain he really was, a mythical character. But with Christianity it is utterly impossible to adopt this course. If you remove Christ from His religion, you have nothing left. Christianity, in fact, is Christ, not His teachings merely, but Himself. His whole life and being are so thoroughly incorporated with the religion which He taught, that the one has become a part and parcel of the other. The cause of this is to be found in the peculiar character of His teachings, and in that peculiarity He is distinguished from every other man that ever lived in the world's history. Even the Old Testament Prophets, in whose footsteps He might naturally be supposed to some extent to have walked, never issued their mandates in the terms and tones employed by Him. With them, the whole burden of their message was Thus saith the Lord,” but with Christ it was “I say unto you.” And this language He employed when sometimes drawing a distinction between His own teaching and the teaching of the past, in a manner that must necessarily have brought upon Himself the charge of blasphemy on the part of His countrymen. For when He said “It hath been said so and so, “but I say unto you" something different, the “hath been said ” referred, not unfrequently, to that very law which was given amid the thunder and smoke of Sinai from God Himself. And here, therefore, He at once, in the plainest terms possible, asserted the power on His own part to repeal the code thus supernaturally given. His whole demeanour was that of a Being whose power was from Himself, and from Himself alone. In the miracles which He wrought, we do not find Him, like the Old Testament worthies, praying to God for help; He performed them from a power which was evidently centred in His own Being. He