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utterly inexplicable, and that he has not yet seen the person of Jesus Christ. Though His biographers attempt no such portraiture, it comes of itself, and gathers consistence, clearness, and brightness in the imagination, as we read their story. It is that of a supernal power and majesty, always in reserve under these lineaments of moral beauty and gentleness. This comes to us from casual expressions which they let fall here and there, and more yet from the impression which His person and manner made upon their minds, and the minds of the multitudes. We are to remember that they seldom understood the import of His doctrine, while their sensibilities were stirred sometimes to their lowest depths; and that this effect, therefore, must be ascribed to the tone and manner of its utterance. At the close of the Sermon on the Mount, crowds were struck with astonishment because He taught as one having authority, and not as the teachers of the law. To get the whole meaning of this, we must reproduce the scene to ourselves. Moses was the supreme authority in all the teaching of that day; as binding and as sacred as if they heard it audibly from Mount Sinai. Here is a man who quotes no precedent, acknowledges no authority, but, standing up before the people, pushes Moses and all his special code clean out of
and with only the formula, “I say unto you,” legislates to the world from the immediate conceptions and revelations of His own mind. What amiable young Jew could have done this? What man of ordinary presence could have done it, without raising a shout of derision from the multitude ? This man did it in such wise as to fill them with a sense of wonder. And it shows that they had some vision, however dim, of a moral power and majesty towering above Sinai itself. It is no explanation of the authority of Jesus over the crowds that came to Him, to ascribe it to the miracles which He wrought. If the miraculous power was merely something adjoined to Him as a common man, He would have excited the same curiosity as the wonder-workers and jugglers of His day. His miraculous works were plainly the emanations of His own being, the forthgoing of that Divine force which gave command to His words. Not merely the works themselves, but the mind and grace beaming through them so as to deterniine their manner and adaptation, impressed the multitude and held them as with a spell. Hence people approach Him as one clothed with royalty. They come “worshipping" that is,
bowing in adoration, or they come "kneeling," or they come "falling at His feet,” or “trembling and falling down to Him.” Remembering the air of command and authority, felt always in His presence, and its subduing power over the minds of men, many passages in His biography otherwise inexplicable need no explanation,—the moneychangers vacating the temple courts at His word ; the police officers going to arrest Him, but cowering before Him as they come into His presence; His walking unharmed among the enraged multitude, as at Nazareth, where they were prompted to throw Him down a precipice, but did not dare to lay hands on His person; the fear and vacillation of Pilate in the palace at His final examination. Often He speaks to the people and holds them by the power of His words, when it is plain that His meaning is quite above their range, and that it is the manner not the subject-matter that amazes and even convinces them. On the great day of the Feast of the Tabernacles, for instance, when they were pouring out water around the altar, Jesus arrests the ceremony, standing above it and calling aloud, “If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink!" "He that believeth on me, out of his breast shall flow rivers of living water." Not a word of this could His hearers have understood as to its interior meaning. But many of the crowd said to one another on hearing it, “This is certainly the Prophet.” " This is the Christ." And His enemies present, and wishing to arrest Him, did not dare to lift a hand against Him. Even after His arrest there was a lingering fear in the minds of His enemies, lest some supernatural agency should take Him out of their hands, for even on the cross, when the drugs were brought to Him to drink, some of them said, “Hold ! let us see whether Elijah is coming to take Him down.” Though His biographers do not describe to us the expression of His eye and countenance, they more than intimate their efficacy and influence. Sometimes when His hearers were astounded at His words, the Evangelist says He spake “looking around" or "looking at them ;” or again, when the cavillers came to ensnare Him, He “looked at them with anger ;” or again, when the young ruler came kneeling to Him, He loved him, “looking upon him,”—passages which plainly imply that power and grace went out from Him, not merely in His words, but in the beamings and flashings of His countenance. In the walk of Jesus with His disciples, we find none of that kind of
intercourse which they had with each other. There is confidence, love, tenderness ; none of that entire interchange of mind and lighter sentiment which we find among familiars. True, they stand with Him on the common ground of humanity and friendship, but they are conscious all the while of a Divine sphere of being rising above them, and beyond their sight and comprehension, beneath which they are held in mysterious awe. This feeling seems to have grown deeper and stronger after His transfiguration. It was their sense of His power and majesty, always felt, but never understood, which drew them to Him at the first in the bonds of discipleship, made them forsake their business at once and follow Him, and held their minds in daily expectation that, in some way unknown to themselves, He was to break upon the world as the Conqueror of the Roman power. No personal attractions or amiability of deportment could have thus wrought upon the minds of the people ; no power of working miracles could have invested an obscure peasant of Galilee in those attributes which so separated Him from all other men as to inspire a reverence and fear more profound and pervading than any inspired by the glare of earthly royalties. The tones of voice in which a man's words are spoken, generally measure the extent and the depth of his moral power and influence. They are the soul of all speech. The grandest speech without them may fall frigid and powerless, whereas truth which had seemed commonplace and worn out, may be so re-inspired with them as not only to become new, but pierce the soul with depths of meaning never before dreamed of, and fill it with tremblings of hope and fear. Tones can neither be assumed nor imitated ; nor can they be reported. Their power can only he represented by the effect which they produce. Whitefield's preaching, which so shook the crowds and swayed them, owed its power primarily to the tones that inspired it, for his printed sermons contain nothing but the commonplaces of the received Christianity. We may faintly conceive, but we cannot adequately represent, how truths new-born in such a nature as that of Jesus would be toned and uttered ; nay, how the most common and familiar speech of a nature so inspired would vibrate through the hearts of His hearers. If we take into full account this element of moral and spiritual power, we shall be saved a great deal of futile criticism pertaining to the miracles wrought by “the voice of the Son of man.” His manner
evidently was simple and undemonstrative, but the tones of His voice searched the very centres of being, melted their frozen springs of life, and set them free. How careful the Evangelists are to preserve the very words He spoke, to which such wonderful effects were traced ; rather how the words clung to the memory, and would not go out of it, and, though common words, were untranslateable into any other language! The little girl who had expired, He takes by the hand, with the words, “ Talitha cumi,” and the little girl came back to life and rose up. To the deaf man He says, “Ephatha," and his ears are opened. These were Syriac words; the language spoken by our Saviour in His intercourse with men. They were common words. Why does the Evangelist retain them when writing in Greek? Because, as Dr. Furness has said, "they were severed as by a stroke of lightning from all other words," not merely, however, because the disciples saw the effect which they produced, but because the tones in which they were uttered made them untranslateable; tones which so searched the very life-centres as to touch the fountains of existence, and make them flow with healing power through the physical frame. These tones, not because of their loudness, but because a Divine compassion more pervading and farreaching than ever vibrated in a human voice was thrilling through them, found Lazarus in his death-sleep. Jesus “cried with a loud voice," says the Evangelist ; literally, with a great voice, great because of its power to reach the seat of consciousness and make the frozen currents of life to melt and start anew.
And in that cry upon the
cross, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani,” there seems no other reason for preserving the original words, unless it be that the tones, not the words, shivered through the hearts of the standers-by, and startled them with thoughts of a suffering that was more than mortal, as if the heart then breaking had drawn into its Divine recesses the woes of a whole race, which found utterance in its expiring wail. With these conceptions of the power and majesty of Jesus, we cannot look with satisfaction, or even patience, on those paintings and
gravings designed to represent His person, and which are put into so many picture frames, and so many “Lives of Christ.” The features of some of them are feminine, some of them Jewish, all of them the feeble conceptions of artists who ought to keep their poor ideals out of sight. The only portraiture, it seems to us, which any earnest believer can regard with satisfaction, is the one which dawns upon his rising faith ; nor will that satisfy him as anything which he can fix and frame, for it will change as he changes, and as the Christ of consciousness grows into the image and likeness of the living God.'