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self to another must be of an apprehensible nature. A Frenchman may talk the most perfect French, and it will be intelligible to those who understand the language, but not to an Englishman who does not. So, too, if I ask the next Christian man I meet whether he believes the words, 'O Theos agape estin,' he may reply that he does not understand them, that they convey no clear ideas to his mind, and that he neither believes nor disbelieves them,—that, in fact, his mind is a blank with respect to them, as of course it must be, if the words have not been translated for him into other words which he does understand. But when I tell this Christian man that the words are taken from the Greek Testament, and that they mean ‘God is love,' he says at once, the light having dispelled his darkness, that he not only believes them, but that they are the joy and rejoicing of his heart. And so I argue that God, to be known, must reveal Himself; while it is not enough that the revelation be made and be perfect in itself—it must take a form or forms by which the created and finite intelligence of man may take hold on, apprehend, if not comprehend, the things of the uncreated and infinite intelligence of God. I believe that God has done this, but how?
4. One of the Psalmists has said, 'I will hear what God the Lord will speak' (Ps. lxxxv. 8). Evidently he believed that God did really speak, speak to man, and that man could hear if man would but will to do so. But through what media does He speak? To this question I reply.
5. (1) God reveals Himself in and through material nature. Behind force is the Forceful One. Behind the law and the order is the Lawgiver ånd Orderer. The laws of nature did not make themselves. Nature owes her existence, her activities, her continuity, all that she is and has, not to herself, but to the Being who conceived her, brought her to birth, and moment by moment rules her, and works in and by means of her. When we behold a natural phenomenonpleasant or painful, complex or simple—we behold an embodiment of the thought and will of God; when we trace and verify a law of nature, we have revealed to us a certain method by which God works in the world of matter. (2) God reveals Himself in and through human nature. Our entire constitution is the workmanship of God with this difference between inanimate matter and the lower animals' and ourselves, that we have, and they have not, been made capable of receiving and appreciating a revelation of God. The composition and laws of our physical structure, our whole mental apparatus, that moral power within us to which we give the name of conscience, and, above all, that part of our constitution which St. Paul calls the spirit,' are, one and all, so many expressions of the Divine mind, the Divine nature. And it is very interesting to notice that our Lord has taught us to reason from the human to the Divine, because He knows that any revelation of God addressed to man must address itself to powers in man which can identify and verify it, or the revelation must fail of its purpose.
Read the very words of Christ as they are recorded in the four Gospels, or that glorious eighth chapter of Romans, to an elephant, a horse, a dog, or a gorilla, and you would ‘labour in vain, and spend your strength for nought and in vain :' these animals were not made and constituted to receive a revelation from God or a revelation of God. But man has been.
Man can hear what God the Lord will speak,' for the very powers with which he has been endowed are so many revealers of God, while they are also the very instruments by which he receives other revelations of God. (3) I-look upon the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, not indeed as verbally infallible, or as plenarily inspired, but as containing records of revelations made by God to man, through certain inspired servants of His; while I am bound to add my conviction that all the other ‘Sacred Books' of the world contain Divine revelations, although the vessels' in which the treasures' are to be found are often very earthen' (2 Cor. iv. 7), and one has to wade through a vast amount of rubbish to get at anything that is manifestly Divine. If there is any book, or collection of books, to which the title Word of God' may be applied, -although, strictly speaking, Christ, and He only, is the
Word of God, -I would give it unhesitatingly to the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, because they deserve it as no other collection does, as between what we call the Bible' and other ‘Sacred Books' the relation is one of contrast, and only in a very slight degree one of comparison. I now go on to say (4) that God revealed Himself in an especial manner through the Jews. Not that they were the only chosen people' of God, although evidently they thought they were, but that they were set apart and trained to receive and hand down through the ages the threefold doctrine of
God's unity, holiness, and spirituality, as against the lords many and gods many of the Gentile nations, the horrible evils inseparable from idolatry, and the idols of man's own handicraft, or other material and sensible objects of worship. Say that the Jews were brutal, ignorant, cruel, narrow of mind and heart,-say what you will of them that can be proved to be true,-and the fact will be all the more wonderful that a handful of slaves, so low in the scale of civilization, were Monotheists in creed if not always in practice, and believers in the one God as holy and unseen. The heavier the indictment you can frame against the Jews, the more steadily are you confronted with their place in the world's history, and the work which as religious teachers and reformers they succeeded in doing. The hypothesis which assumes that the peculiar mission of the Jewish people was that of revealing the character of God as it had not been revealed to other people, seems to me to be the only one that covers all facts of the case. It remains for me to add, in this connection, my belief that (5) all miracles, (6) all portions of the administrations of the Divine Providence, (7) all the eminently good and true of all ages and countries, (8) all things true, and right, and wise,– literally, all such things, and wheresoever found, -are but so many translations of the thoughts of God, outcomes of His disposition and will, revelations of Himself.
6. But all these modes by which Deity comes out of Himself and draws near to man, good and useful as they are and must necessarily be, are not enough. After all it is man himself who has to interpret the universe of matter, his own world of humanity, and all other manifestations of the Divine to the human. But man is a sinner and he knows it. What shall we do then ? Shall we ask that God unveiled, God as He is in His own absoluteness, shall reveal Himself to us, not mediately, but immediately ? Shall the limited, conditioned, imperfect, weak, and erring, ask for that which, even if it were granted, could not be realized and borne for a moment ? Whom no man hath seen, or can see,' says St. Paul ; and the apostle is a true witness. Shall we ask for man? But man feels quite difficulty enough in making self-revelations,-as the deepest natures know only too well,—while the awful fact of his sinnership precludes him from being a transparent medium. The varieties of the workings of man's reason, and the changing modes and colours
of his passions and volitions, make him, not indeed incapable of revealing God, for I have already consented to the very contrary, but of being an absolutely trustworthy medium for the Divine. We want, yes, we want, not things alone, useful as they may be and are, but the Personal. We want also some one in whom is to be found the Divine and the human, the human and the Divine. We want one who shares the very nature of God, as we do not,-for only the Divine can adequately revieal the Divine,-and we want the human, for only through the human can man adequately apprehend the Divine. We want a Personality-a Divinely human Personality-Divine on the side of God, human on the side of man. We want the ‘God-Man, to reveal to man's intelligence, his conscience, and the spiritual within him, that Being whom man ‘seeks after, if haply he may feel after Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us, for in Him we live, and move, and have our being' (Acts xvii. 27, 28). Does the Christ of the New Testament-and it is with the New Testament Christ only that I am here dealing-supply us with what we want ? I think He does. Let us read for ourselves what the New Testament says of Him. It tells us of what the writers themselves, and others, believed about Jesus of Nazareth ; and, still better, it records what He Himself said about Himself. I think we are here on solid ground. Let us stand upon it awhile.
7. Of what are we in search ? the existence, or otherwise, of God? No, we are not Atheists. We are in search of the facts concerning the character of God. What kind of being is He? There are relations between God and man which make it a matter of immeasurable importance to us to answer this last question. But we have already seen some of the difficulties in arriving at a true answer, and have come to the conclusion that God Himself must be His own revealer. We have glanced at some of the modes by which God has revealed Himself, and these, as far as they have gone, have been fairly satisfactory. But they have not gone far enough. The personal element has been absent, or only imperfectly presented. It now remains for us to go, with open minds and
pure and earnest hearts, to the New Testament, in which are contained four brief, but, on the whole, trustworthy biographies or memoirs of Him, and a number of epistles or letters written by the chief apostles and teachers of His gospel, and written at a time when the facts were fresh in the memories of the writers,
and the new life which Christ had brought into the world was being felt with an intensity which it is sometimes hard for us at this distance of time to realize. What do these books of the New Testament say about Him, and what do they record of what He said about Himself? If we can answer these two questions, we shall know what Christ and His inspired apostles did really say and believe about the Incarnation.
8. The books of the New Testament all assume our Lord's humanity. He had a human body; He ate and drank, He was athirst and weary; He walked, and talked, and slept; He lived a true human life, and
was found in fashion as a man. About all this there is and can be no difference of opinion as between humanitarians and believers in our Lord's Personal Divinity. But while these books emphasize the humanity of our Lord, do they teach His Divinity also ? I think they do, and I will now tell you why I think so. As for His humanity, they teach that it was a perfectly sinless one, and, equally strange, that it was an assumed one. You may search, but you will search in vain, throughout the whole of the New Testament for one particle of evidence that Jesus was a sinner, in thought, or word, or deed. "Without sin;' 'He knew no sin ;' He was 'holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.' Clearly it never occurred to the New Testament writers or the apostles to connect sin with their Lord. The entire strain of their teachings uniformly points in exactly the contrary direction. They also thought of His humanity as assumed one. "God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh ;' 'He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor ;' 'But emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, being found in fashion as a man;' 'Since, then, the children are sharers in flesh and blood, He also Himself in like manner partook of the same ;' "Wherefore it behoved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren. These words, and such as these, refuse to be interpreted by any independent exegesis on any other hypothesis than that of an assumed humanity. They cannot be fairly made to yield any other doctrine. But St. Paul and St. John 1 say other and still more wonderful things about Him. Listen
1 I confine myself to the writings of these two apostles, not because I think the other New Testament writers contradict them, but purely to keep the statement within bounds.