« ÎnapoiContinuați »
APPENDIX No. 1.
ON THE PERSON AND WORK OF CHRIST.
ON examining the preceding chapters, it will be found that I have studiously avoided all references to what may be called 'proof texts' of our Lord's 'Personal Divinity,' and have confined myself the • Indirect Evidences' which the New Testament supplies to that great fundamental fact. I now desire to offer certain extracts from authors, living and dead, bearing upon the same general subject, and which may be helpful to those of my readers who may wish to use this little volume to aid them in their public work, as well as in their private reading
Schaff, on the Person of Christ, says in his Preface : ""What do ye think of the Son of man?” This is the religious question of the age. The result of the renewed struggle cannot be doubtful : in all theological controversies, truth is the gainer in the end. Though nailed to the Cross and buried in the tomb), it rises again triumphant over error, taking captivity captive, and changing at times even a bitter foe, like Saul of Tarsus, into a devoted friend. Goethe says : “The conflict of faith and unbelief remains the proper, the only, the deepest theme of the history of the world and mankind, to which all others are subordinated.” This very conflict centres in the christological problem. The question of Christ is the question of Christianity, which is the manifestation of His life in the world ; it is the question of the Church which rests upon Him as the immoveable rock; it is the question of history, which revolves around Him as the sun of the moral universe ; it is the question of every man who instinctively yearns after Him as the object of his noblest and purest aspirations; it is a question of
personal salvation which can only be obtained in the blessed name of Jesus. The whole fabric of Christianity stands or falls with its Divine-human Founder; and if it can never perish, it is because Christ lives the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.'
Dr. Van Oosterzee, of Utrecht, in his work on the Person of Christ, quotes from a French work, by M. Pecaut, entitled Le Christ et la Conscience, the following words : ‘To what height does the character of Jesus Christ rise above the most sublime and yet ever imperfect types of antiquity! What man ever knew to offer a more manly resistance to evil? Who endured vexation and contradiction better than He? Where is such a development of moral power united with less severity? Was there ever one seen who made Himself heard with such royal authority? And yet no one ever was so gentle, so humble and kind, as He. What cordial sympathy at the sight of misery, and the spiritual need of His brethren ! and yet, even when His countenance is moistened by tears, it continues to shine in indestructible peace. In His spirit He lives in the house of His Heavenly Father. He never loses sight of the invisible world ; and at the same time reveals a moral and practical sense possessed by no son of the dust. Which is more wonderful—the nobility of His princely greatness spread over His Person, or the inimitable simplicity which surrounds His whole appearance ? Pascal had seen this heavenly form when describing it in a manner worthy of the object. Jesus Christ has been humble and patient; holy, holy, holy before God; terrible to devils ; without any sin. In what great brilliancy and wonderful magnificence He appears to the eye of the spirit which is open to wisdom! To shine forth in all the princely splendour of His holiness, it was not necessary that He should appear as a King ; and yet He came with all the splendour of His standing. He was the Master of all, because He is really their Brother. His moral life is wholly penetrated by God. He represents virtue to me under the form of love and obedience. In our part we do more than esteem Him: we offer Him love.'
Miss Frånces Power Cobbe, in her Broken Lights, has these words : 'The view which seems to be the sole fitting one for our estimate of the character of Christ, is that which regards Him as the great REGENERATOR of humanity. His coming was, to the life of humanity, what regeneration is to the life of the individual. This is not a conclusion doubtfully deduced from questionable biographies, but a broad plain inference from the universal history of our race. We may dispute all details ; but the grand result is beyond criticism. The world has changed, and that change is historically traceable to Christ. The honour, then, which Christ demands of us, must be in proportion to our estimate of the value of such regeneration. He is not merely a moral reformer, inculcating pure ethics ; not merely a religious reformer, clearing away old theological errors, and teaching higher ideas of God. These things He was; but He might, for all we can tell, have been them both as fully, and yet have failed to be what He has actually been to our race. He might have taught the world better ethics and better theology, and yet have failed to infuse into it that new life which has ever since coursed through its arteries and penetrated its minutest veins. What Christ has really done is beyond the kingdom of the intellect and its theologies ; nay, even beyond the kingdom of the conscience, and its recognition of duty. His work has been in that of the heart. He has transformed the law into the gospel. He has changed the bondage of the alien for the liberty of the sons of God. He has glorified virtue into holiness, religion into piety, and duty into love. . . . When the fulness of time had come, and the creeds of the world's childhood were worn out, and the restless question was on every lip, “Who will show us any good ?” when the whole heart of humanity was sick of its sin, and weary of its wickedness,—then God gave to one man, for mankind at large, that same blessed task He gives to many for a few. Christ, the elder Brother of the human family, was the Helper and (in the highest philosophic sense) the Saviour of humanity.'
The following is taken from Geikie's Life and Words of Christ, vol. i. chap. i. :—'The life of Jesus Christ must ever remain the noblest and most fruitful study for all men of every age. It is admitted, even by those of other faiths, that He was at once a great Teacher, and a living illustration of the truths He taught. The Mohammedan world give Him the high title of the Masih (Messiah), and set Him above all the prophets. The Jews confess admiration of His character and words, as exhibited in the Gospels. Nor is there any hesitation among the great intellects of different ages, whatever their special position towards Christianity; whether its humble disciples, or openly opposed to it, or carelessly indifferent, or vaguely latitudinarian. We all know how lowly a reverence is paid to Him in passage after passage by Shakespeare, the greatest intellect known, in its wide, many-sided splendour. Men like Galileo, Kepler, Bacon, Newton, and Milton, set the name of Jesus Christ above every other. To show that no other subject of study can claim an equal interest, Jean Paul Richter tells us that "the life of Christ concerns Him who, being the holiest among the mighty, the mightiest among the holy, lifted with His pierced hand empires off their hinges, and turned the stream of centuries out of its channel, and still governs the ages.” (Ueber den Gott in der Geschichte und im Leben Sammt. Werke 33, 6.) Spinoza calls Christ the symbol of Divine Wisdom; Kant and Jacobi hold Him up as the symbol of ideal perfection, and Schelling and Hegel as that of the union of the divine and human. “I esteem the Gospels,” says Goethe, “ to be thoroughly genuine, for there shines forth from them the reflected splendour of a sublimity, proceeding from the Person of Jesus Christ, of so divine a kind as only the Divine could ever have manifested upon earth.” (Conversations with Eckermann, III. 371.) “How petty are the books of the philosophers, with all their pomp," says Rousseau, "compared with the Gospels! Can it be that writings at once so sublime and so simple are the work of men ? Can He whose life they tell be Himself no more than a mere man? Is there anything in His character of the enthusiast or the ambitious sectary? What sweetness, what purity in His ways, what touching grace in His teachings! What a loftiness in His maxims, what profound wisdom in His words ! What presence of mind, what delicacy and aptness in His replies! What an empire over His passions! Where is the man, where is the sage, who knows how to act, to suffer, and to die without weakness and without display? My friend, men do not invent like this; and the facts respecting Socrates, which no one doubts, are not so well attested as those about Jesus Christ. These Jews could never have struck this tone, or thought of this morality; and the Gospel has characteristics of truthfulness so grand, so striking, so perfectly inimitable, that their inventors would be even more wonderful than He whom they portray.” “Yes, if the death of Socrates be that of a sage, the life and death of Jesus are those of a God.” (Emile, I. iv. 109, iii.) Thomas Carlyle repeatedly expresses a similar reverence. "Jesus of Nazareth," says he, "our divinest symbol! Higher has the human thought not yet reached.” “A symbol of quite perennial, infinite character, whose significance will ever demand to be anew inquired into, and anew made manifest.” (Sartor Resartus, 137, 140.) Dr. Channing, of Boston, the foremost man in his day among American Unitarians, is equally marked in his words. 6. The character of Jesus,” says he, “is wholly inexplicable on human principles." (Channing's Works, one vol., 241.) Matthias Claudius, one of the people's poets of Germany, last century, writes to a friend (Briefe an Andres, Pt. vi. 98): “No one ever thus loved (as Christ did), nor did anything so truly great and good as the Bible tells us of Him ever enter into the heart of man. It is a holy form, which rises before the poor pilgrim like a star in the night, and satisfies his innermost craving, his most secret yearnings and hopes." "Jesus Christ,” says the exquisite genius Herder, “is in the noblest and most perfect sense the realized ideal of humanity.” (Art.“ Herder," Herzog's Encyclopædia, vol. v. 751.) No one will accuse the first Napoleon of being either a pietist or weak-minded. He strode the world in his day like a Colossus, a man of gigantic intellect, however worthless and depraved in moral sense. Conversing one day, at St. Helena, as his custom was, about the great men of antiquity, and comparing himself with them, he suddenly turned round to one of his suite and asked him, “ Can you tell me who Jesus Christ was ?" The officer owned that he had not yet taken much thought of such things. “Well, then,” said Napoleon, “I will tell you.” He then compared Christ with himself, with the heroes of antiquity, and showed how Jesus far surpassed them. “I think I understand somewhat of human nature,” he continued, “and I tell you all these were men, and I am a man, but not one is like Him; Jesus Christ was more than man. Alexander, Cæsar, Charlemagne, and myself founded great empires; but upon what did the creation of our genius depend ? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions would die for Him.” (Bertrand's Memoirs, Paris, 1844.) “ The gospel is no mere book," said he at another time, “ but a living creature, with a vigour, a power, which conquers all that opposes it. Here lies the Book of books upon the table (touching it reverently); I do not tire of reading it, and do so daily with equal pleasure. The soul, charmed with the beauty of the gospel, is no longer its own : God possesses it entirely: He directs its thoughts and faculties; it is