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the natural law.
And as the first exercises
of conscious action are assertions of individuality, which this imperfect rule arbitrarily suppresses, so the newly conscious man, in his first conscious contact with the supreme Ruler, is inclined to resist His rule as suppressive and not fostering. In many cases the infancy is passed without rule, so that the only part of the nature which has development is its individuality. But as our life in this world is not only individual, but social also, by this abnormal development man finds himself opposed to his conditions from the beginning of his full life. Thus the influence which tends to the development of the true and full life is contrary to the self already formed, which with the full power of habit follows its own selfishness. The existence of habits opposed to the tendency of the quickening light, before its full power is felt in the mature man, renders that first appearance a crisis in his life, bringing him fully under the Divine inward rule, or causing him deliberately to follow his own way, afterwards, or never, to be recovered to God.
Such a crisis is the common experience of men at the first consciousness of responsibility to the supreme King.
All through the period of immaturity the incipient restraint and prompting of the Divine quickening is felt; consciously, when the human teaching has called attention to its operation, and declared its source, but not the less really, when a knowledge of its design has not existed. The evidence of this early influence and operation of the life-giving Redeemer we have, not only in the examples of early piety, which have been coeval with the opening of life, and have given beauty and power to its whole course; in the readiness with which the infantile mind receives all its teaching and influence; but also, in the memory of such influence in multitudes who did not till after years follow the drawings of the Heavenly Father.
The above describes the incipient stages of the spiritual life, or, more properly, the Divine means of begetting it within us. But it is evident that in order to see the full influence of the Incarnation, we must look at cases in which the operation, at any rate, approaches maturity. The New Testament is our most complete historic record of the spiritual life, in its origin, nature, modes, and results, and here the influence of the Incarnation is represented as conscious, constant, and thorough.
The Saviour says, 'I am the vine, ye are the branches. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit ; for without me ye can do nothing.' In the prayer which He offered to the Father, immediately after the valedictory address from which the above passage is quoted, we find Him saying, Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me.' In these passages, not only is the most direct and intimate intercommunion between the Saviour and His individual disciples declared, but their union with each other also, that the holy and spiritual brotherhood, which the Incarnation made manifest, might be fully realized in their union with Him.
Paul declared that the subject of his ministry was 'Christ in you, the hope of glory.' Writing to the church at Corinth, he said, ' Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?'
and again, ‘What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?' To the church at Ephesus, he set forth the duty and privilege of the whole brotherhood to be 'growing up into Him in all things, who is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body to the building up of itself in love.' His own experience of this influence he described thus: 'I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me.' John sums up the scriptural testimony in these words: And this is the record, that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life: he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.' And he concludes his testimony thus: 'And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.'
Comment on these passages is out of question, because they are taken simply as historic testimony. But it must be evident that we have
here an intimacy of intercommunion that has no parallel, to which the most intimate human fellowship can only be compared at a long distance. This, also, is in some of the passages shown to be the source of the whole life of the individual and of the entire church, which is the living body of Christ. These are facts, not opinions facts given us by those whose own consciousness declared them, and whose lives demonstrated their reality. The whole of the New Testament record of facts is in harmony with these, so that we have not to put others on the opposite side, and deduct from their value, as we strike a balance. We have therefore, in the Incarnation, an event, a Divine act, which penetrates to the depths of our nature, and which is capable of transforming us after the Divine model 'unto all the fulness of God.'