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83. (Eph. iii. 19.) “The breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.' The language is, of course, paradoxical, though not contradictory. But why should the love of Christ be spoken of as 'passing knowledge,' if it were the love of a human being? That the element of the infinite must enter into all human love that is worthy of the name, is most true; but that remark would apply to man as man, and not to Jesus Christ peculiarly, unless He were something more than man. It may also be asked, in what respect, apart from the personal divinity of our Lord, did He show that His love passed knowledge? What, as a mere human being, did He do to earn the right of having this wonderful language applied to Him?
84. (Eph. iv. 13.) 'Till we all attain . . . unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.' So then, according to St. Paul's conception, Christ is the ideal of perfected humanity, beyond which the race is not called upon to go, after which the race is called upon to aspire ! But if Christ were but a human being, by what right does St. Paul suppose that perfection was reached in Him? Some one in the future may excel Him as much as He is acknowledged to have excelled others. There can be no finality in the moral and spiritual perfection of Christ, considered as a human being, nor is it right to present Him as an ideal example, which cannot possibly be excelled. The very fact that St. Paul thought of Christ, and presented Him as 'rounded perfection, suggests to me that the apostle did not hold the humanitarian view of Him.
85. (Eph. v. 2.) Walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us (or you), an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odour of a sweet smell.' The persons to whom this Epistle was written were Gentiles. In what particular respect did Christ love them, and why should so much significance be given to His life and death here represented as an offering and a sacrifice to God, if He simply lived a martyr's life and met with a martyr's doom?
86. (Col. i. 27, 28.) 'Christ in you, the hope of glory, whom
we proclaim, admonishing every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ.' Here is a repetition of the thought found in the Ephesians, of Christ as the perfected ideal of humanity, towards whom man is to conform himself, as he would not be called upon to do if Christ were a man only.
87. (Col. ii. 10.) "Who is the Head of all principality and power.' On these suggestive words, I cannot do better than refer to a sermon by the late Dr. Bellows, of New York, in his Re-statements of Christian Doctrine, p. 319, in which that truly Christian and lamented divine expounds these words with singular force and loyalty to the gospel of Christ.
88. In reading this Epistle to the Colossians, one cannot but be struck with the fact that St. Paul interweaves the thought of Christ into all his thoughts about redeemed man. We are to receive Him, to walk in Him, to be rooted and built up in Him; we are to hold Him fast as the Head, we are raised together with Him, our life is hid with Him in God; He is our life, He is all and in all; it is His peace which is to rule in our hearts, His word which is to dwell in us; whatsoever we do, in word or in deed, we are to do all in His name, giving thanks through Him; our marriage relations, our home relations, and the relations between servants and masters, are all to be regulated by a reference to Him ; He is our Master in heaven, as He was our Master on the earth; we are to serve Him, and from Him we are to receive the recompense of the inheritance. In fact, Christ and man are so indissolubly bound up together, that in the apostle's idea they refused to be separated. Of what man--past, present, or future—could such an idea as this be predicated ? I venture to suggest that the Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians should be read at one and the same time, and compared with each other, when it will be seen that the position the writer assigns to the Lord Jesus is not only eminent, but pre-eminent, exclusive, and all-embracing.
89. Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers puts St. Paul's Epistle to Philemon, as next in the order of composition. It will suffice for me to suggest that 'this letter of one Christian gentleman to another' derives its chief force and value to Christians from the fact that it makes Christ the great argument by which the apostle presses home upon Philemon the claim of the newly-converted slave Onesimus (the Greek word means helpful') to be received back by his master, as a runaway slave indeed, but as now more than a servant, a brother beloved.' In fact, read where you will in the Epistles of St. Paul, you will always find Christ as the master argument by which he presses home, first or last, every consideration he desires to present to his readers.
We now come to two Epistles, those of St. Paul to Timothy, which are exceedingly rich in 'indirect references to the personal divinity of Christ.'
90. (1 Tim. i. 12.) 'I thank Him that enabled (some ancient authorities read 'enableth ') me, even Christ Jesus our Lord, for that He accounted me faithful, appointing me to His service.' But when the apostle wrote these words, Jesus Christ had been dead for many years, had died, as the humanitarian theory supposes, because He was a man, and must die at some time or other; and, being dead, His relations with this world would not necessarily continue, certainly not to the extent of appointing such a man as Paul the Pharisee to be a Christian apostle. One can understand all this being done, out of the heavens, by a Divine Person, but certainly not by a merely human one.
91. (1 Tim. i. 16.) 'Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me as chief might Jesus Christ show forth all His longsuffering, for an ensample to them who should hereafter believe on Him unto eternal life.' There are no direct proofs that Jesus and Paul ever came into personal relations with each other during our Lord's mortal life. The long-suffering,' therefore, would be shown after His death, and from the heavenly state. But how could a human being, even though he were in the heavenly state, 'show forth long-suffering' to a fellow-mortal on the earth? While we are here, we can manifest forbearance towards those who offend and injure us; but, once we have
passed the border-land,' whatever we may feel towards those whom we have left behind, there would seem to be no means of
showing forth' our long-suffering 'towards them. Christ Jesus might do this-did do it-towards the former persecutor and blasphemer; but He did it by virtue of His divine personality, and the Divine powers inherent in Him.
92. (1 Tim. ii. 5.) 'For there is one God, one Mediator also between God and men, Himself man, Christ Jesus.' In the previous verses, St. Paul exhorts that intercessory prayer should be made for all men,' and says that such prayer would be 'good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who willeth that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.' I think that phrase "all men’ really refers to Gentiles as well as Jews, for the ancient grudge between both parties had not died out, although it had become weakened, and it was needful that the apostle, who was the apostle of the Gentiles, although himself a Jew, should insist upon a community of good wishes as between the parties. But he bases his exhortation upon the fact that there was one God for both, and not one for the Jew or the Gentile only, and that there was one Mediator also between God and men, adding ‘Himself man. The word 'Himself' is in italics, and therefore is not in the original, but was inserted by the translators to give a more forcible rendering to St. Paul's words. The point, however, is this. Why should St. Paul state that Christ was man ? There was no need to state it, for it was a fact about which there could be no dispute. The reference seems to be wholly unnecessary, except upon the hypothesis that the manhood of our Lord was peculiar, not ordinary.
93. (2 Tim. i. 12.) `For the which cause I suffer all these things : yet I am not ashamed; for I know Him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to guard that which I have committed unto Him (or 'that which He hath committed unto me;' the Greek is 'my deposit ') against that day.' The place is Rome, the time is the year of our Lord 66, the writer is Paul, the Christian apostle,-a short, spare, bald-headed man, with an aquiline nose, weak eyes, and a long beard. He is an
old man, a prisoner in charge of a Roman soldier, and with the prospect of death before him. When he threw in his lot with the Christians, or, far more correctly, and as he himself had said, when God 'called him by His grace, and revealed His Son in him,' he gave up all that was involved by way of privilege in his Jewish life and prospects; and now for many a long year he has been suffering hunger, thirst, nakedness, poverty, defamation of character, treachery, imprisonment, stoning, and almost every outward evil to which human life can be exposed; for all his Christian life he has been a wanderer, and now in his old age
and in his imprisonment he is neglected, left there to die, with just here and there a friend to visit him and cheer him. A selfish man with such a retrospect and such a prospect would be bitter of soul and heart and speech; but this man is satisfied in every fibre of him; he is not only not ashamed, but he feels that all is well, that he has made no mistake, that the Master who first called him has been faithful all along, is faithful now, and will be faithful to him at the Judgment. What did he mean by my deposit ’? Was it something with which the Lord had entrusted him, or with which he had entrusted, or was about to entrust the Lord? Some will take one view, and some the other. It is immaterial. I think he meant that he was committing now, as he had all along committed, the Churches he had planted, the general cause in which he was engaged, his own vindication, his own welfare, absolutely everything, into the hands of Him whom he had believed, and whom he knew.' Not, as I take it, into the hands of a Jewish rabbi, a Jewish reformer, a Jewish philosopher, a mere brother man; but to the Son of God, God's Image, the Power and Wisdom of God, the one Mediator between God and men, the risen One, the Reconciler, the Head of all things, the Chief Corner-stone, man's Master, man's Saviour, man's Judge, man's Owner, our Life, our Hope, our Inspirer, God's unspeakable Gift; the One whose love is the constraining power in every true Christian's life; the One whose love passes knowledge, whose grace is always sufficient for all His own; the Divine Being who had stopped Saul of Tarsus on his road to Damascus, and changed