Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

That the Father is God is conceded, so, also, that the Spirit is God, and then, between these terms on either hand, we have, dropped in, the Son,' a man, we are told, a mere human creature, who is one of ourselves! This, too, in a solemn formula that is appointed for the consecration of a believing soul to God.

It appears evident to me that our Unitarian brethren impose upon themselves in the construction they give to this formula, by collecting about the person of Christ associations that do not belong to His proper humanity, associations which really belong to our view of His person, not to theirs. Were they to read “In the name of the Father, A. B. the carpenter, and the Holy Ghost,” they would be sensible, I think, of some very great violence done to the words by any construction which holds the strict humanity of Christ.'

44. (1 Cor. i. 7.) Waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye be unreprovable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.' I believe it to be abundantly evident that St. Paul, and, indeed, all the Christians of his day, were penetrated by the conviction that the Lord would return to the earth in their own generation, that when He did so the living and the dead would be summoned before His tribunal, that He would be their Judge, and that by His awards their respective destinies would be decided. I cannot now stop to state the grounds upon which I hold this opinion, or, rather, what is to me a positive conviction ; nor is it necessary for me to do so to make clear the point I desire to present. Did the Apostle Paul believe that it was a man, simply a man, sharing his own nature, and with all the limitations of that nature, who was to be the future Judge of the universe of human beings ? Considering the qualifications that are absolutely necessary in one who should have to fill such an office as Universal Judge, is it credible that the apostle could have supposed a man to be equal to the task? It will be said that St. Paul himself supplies an answer to my question in his own words spoken at Athens (Acts xvii. 31), when he said, 'He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom He hath ordained, whereof He hath given assurance unto all men in that He hath raised Him from the dead.' Undoubtedly these are the words of the apostle ; undoubtedly, too, Paul himself believed in what we should call the humanity of the Lord; but what I contend for is that the apostle taught the doctrine of an assumed humanity, that Christ was not in Himself a man, strictly a man, and a man only, but that He was 'made in the likeness of sinful flesh,' that ‘He was found in fashion as a man,' that 'He humbled Himself' to our condition, that the divine was revealed through this very humanity which He assumed, and, therefore, that Christ might be spoken of as a man without the implication that the person so speaking believed in the Lord's humanity as only like our own. Will my readers look carefully at those passages in St. Paul's Epistles in which he speaks of what we now call the second coming of Christ'? and I think they will arrive at the conclusion that the apostle is expecting the advent, not of a man like himself, but of the second Man who is of heaven' (xv. 47).

45. (1 Cor. i. 24.) 'Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.' Would it not be something bordering very nearly upon the profane if any Christian, past or present, however eminent for saintliness, were spoken of in these terms ? why not, if Christ were a man and a man only, as to His nature ?

46. (1 Cor. vi. 11.) 'And such were some of you : but ye were washed (or washed yourselves), but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.' It seems very like an insult to ask whether such tremendous blessings as these are to be considered as coming to men 'dead in trespasses and in sins,' and making them alive again, from a man of like passions with ourselves.

47. (1 Cor. viii. II, 12.) 'For through thy knowledge he hat is weak perisheth, the brother for whose sake Christ died. And thus, sinning against the brethren, and wounding their conscience when it is weak, ye sin against Christ.' If the death of Christ were the death of a martyr only, one who had merely witnessed a good confession, as thousands of men had done before the Advent, and thousands have done since, why this stress upon the death of Christ as the great argument by which we should be constrained to respect the conscience of another, and not unnecessarily endanger his moral welfare? Suppose we were to say that we should be very tender in our treatment of the weak, and be careful what stumbling-blocks we put in their way, because John the Baptist died rather than be faithless, or because the Apostle Paul suffered death on account of his Christian faith and profession?

48. (1 Cor. x. 16.) "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of (or participation in) the blood of Christ?' The bread which we break, is it not a communion of (or participation in) the body of Christ?' No doubt among the heathen there were commemorative feasts, having reference to their

lords many and gods many.' But it has often struck me that if the belief of the early Church and all subsequent Christian belief had been in the simple humanity of Christ, what we now call Holy Communion' would long ago have died out, and certainly would never have gathered around it associations so unutterably sacred and divine ; while it is a manifest fact that in the Unitarian churches of to-day, where the humanity of Christ, pure and simple, is persistently urged, the observance of the Sacrament' is becoming 'small by degrees and beautifully less ;' and that suggestions have been made from time to time among certain portions of the Unitarian body that 'the Sacrament' may very well be dispensed with, as no longer having a meaning in it which it once possessed. For myself, I do not profess to see why the observance of the Lord's Supper should be continued from time to time, if it is a mere commemoration of mere human virtue, even though it proved its fidelity even unto the death.

49. (1 Cor. xv. 3.) 'For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. If Jesus Christ was only a man, in what efficient way was His death connected with our sins? The death of no other man establishes any such connection : why, therefore, does it exist in the case of Christ, but that Christ was more than a man, was, in fact, the objective self-sacrifice of God?

50. (1 Cor. xv. 55-57.) 'O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin ; and the power of sin is the law : but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.'. How can a man give his fellow-men victory over death, with all that death includés ? He himself will need that some one shall give him the victory over death.

It is nowhere said that we should be thankful to God who gives us the victory through Peter, or Paul, or John, or any other great Christian saint.

51. (1 Cor. xvi. 22.) 'If any man loveth not the Lord Jesus, let him be Anathema Maran-atha. Would you think it a fitting thing to use such words as these in reference to any mere man? Human presumption could scarcely go farther.

52. (1 Gal. iv.) "Our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.' There is no doubt a clear distinction here drawn between Christ and God, while I think the ascription with which the verse ends refers to God. But if our Lord Jesus Christ were only a man, what propriety is there in speaking of Him as one who gave Himself for our sins'? Who then gave Himself for His sins? Deliverance from the love, and therefore the power of sin, and the forgiveness of sin, are all bound up in the New Testament with Jesus Christ; yet I cannot perceive upon what principle they are so if Jesus Christ were a simple man.

53. (Gal. i. 11, 12.) 'For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the gospel which was preached by me, that it is not from man.

For neither did I receive it from man (or a man), nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ.' Here the antithesis is clearly between 'man, or a man,' and Jesus Christ, and would have no force if Jesus Christ were Himself a 'man.'

54. (Gal. ii. 20.) 'I have been crucified with Christ, yet I live'; and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me; and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself up for me.' This is not the language of cold logic, but of passionate emotion. Christ is to the Apostle Paul a kind of second personality, who not only inspires him, but fills his whole being, satisfies him, is the life of his life. Of course there are cases in human life, in the experience of human beings, where in a measure such an experience is realized; but I think no person, however deep the human love may be, would, in sober moments, adopt such language as St. Paul here uses, and say that it did no more than express the facts with respect to himself. In what way, too, did Jesus Christ-show that He loved Paul, and gave Himself up for Paul? Is this the language of one man respecting another man? is it not rather the language of a sinner saved, with respect to his Saviour, and that Saviour a divine one?

55. (Gal. iii. 13.) 'Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us : for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.' Whether the law' here referred to is the moral law, or, as I think, the Jewish law of ritual, one thing is perfectly clear, that Christ, according to the flesh,' was born under the law,' the law of Moses, and amenable to it; and one fails to see in what way He redeemed us from that law unless He were superior to it. A subject, as such, does not repeal a statute; it must be repealed by an authority above the subject. If Christ were merely an unusually good man, a transcendent Jew, nothing He could have done or suffered could have relieved Him, or any one else, from the obligation of the Jewish law.

56. (Gal. iv. 4, 5.) 'But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that He might redeem them who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.' Let me just say, en passant, that there is an extremely able and suggestive sermon on the phrase, 'born of a woman,' by Canon Liddon, in No. 531 of the

« ÎnapoiContinuați »