Imagini ale paginilor

senting an ideal countenance whose lineaments might be termed handsome, replete as they are with suggestions of majesty, goodness, and grace, if they did not also betoken sadness; and yet, does he not sometimes depict a "sorrow more beautiful than beauty's self?” For the painter, with like instinct to the poet, believes "all that's good is beautiful and fair," and will quote Spenser to the effect that

Every spirit, as it is most pure,
And hath in it the more of heavenly light,
So it the fairer body doth procure
To habit in, and it more fairly dight
With cheerful grace, and amiable sight;
For of the soul the body form doth take,
For soul is form, and doth the body make.”

The man of science also, often regarding Jesus as simply a natural man, of sound mind in healthful body, will readily concede to him that manly beauty which is the necessary concomitant of such attributes.


Manly yet womanly."
“... that youth with the dark azure eyes,
And hair in colour like unto the wine,
Parted upon his forehead, and behind
Falling in flowing locks.”

“How serene his aspect is !”
“Most beautiful among the sons of men.

We have remarked a difference in the opinions

* Longfellow's "Divine Tragedy.” The source of the description is a forged letter alleged to have been addressed to the Roman Senate. See Lecky's “History of Rationalism in Europe,” vol. i. p. 234, 235.

entertained respecting even the form and features of Jesus of Nazareth, but what are the variations in these, compared with the many shades of belief existing in regard to other symbols of his inner and more essential being—his rank in the universe, his acts, his teaching, and whatever else is illustrative of his moral attributes or character ?

During his lifetime, and in the ages immediately succeeding, the judgments concerning him were as various as in modern times. He was, on the one hand, accounted "a gluttonous man and a winebibber;" a law-breaker and mover of sedition; a blasphemer (word often ignorantly pronounced); a corrupter of morals and religion (as Socrates); and, as also in the case of the Grecian sage, it was easy to raise against him the cry “He deceiveth the people!” "Away with him!” “Not fit to live!”

And even the relatives of Jesus are recorded to ave pronounced upon him a verdict of insanity, “for they said, He is beside himself.” *

His opponents accused him of exercising authority over evil spirits by a secret understanding with their chief; and, at a later period, by Jewish and heathen antagonists of his fame, he was accounted a sorcerer, an adept in magical arts and incantations.

Turning to the fairer side of the picture, we find it said of him that he was a good man," one “who did

* Mark iii. 21. We may remark that every express quotation made herein from the New Testament, i.e. where chapter and verse are indicated, is from the Revised Version, unless stated to be otherwise.

no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; "he was "perfect through sufferings." We are told that “ He went about doing good, and healing all that were possessed of the devil, for God was with him." He was termed “the Holy One and the Just;” and whereas it had been objected against him, in his lifetime, that he was "a friend of publicans and sinners," this very imputation was regarded, after his death, as his chief glory, seeing that he came "to seek and save the lost,” that he so loved sinners as to die to save them from their sins, hence arose the cry, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive the power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” He was accounted a man approved of God by powers and wonders and signs;" " Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth in Galilee." It is said that he was believed to be “ John the Baptist risen from the dead,” or, by others, one of the ancient prophets revisiting the earth.

“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” “God hath made this same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” “He is Lord of all." "Lord of lords, and King of kings." "For he must reign till he hath put all his enemies under his feet.” “And when all things have been subjected unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that did subject all things unto him, that God may be all in all." For at the end, he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father, after the final judgment of men. “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” But it is, moreover, asserted of him,* that he is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him, and he is before all things, and in him all things consist.” And again, “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”

Nor is this all, for we find in the fourth Gospel Divinity itself, in a sense, ascribed to the Nazarene, thus : “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us." We also find that the exclamation, “My Lord and my God!" is affirmed to have been uttered by the hitherto incredulous disciple Thomas, about eight days after the resurrection.

Some three centuries after his death, the Church, by her representatives assembled at Nicæa, succeeded in stating in what sense she affirmed Godhood of Jesus, and what, in the main, was her belief concerning him. Thus

“I believe ... in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father : by whom all things were made, who for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead : whose kingdom shall have no end."

* Col. i. 15-17.

Are we,

Thus we see it was affirmed of Jesus—Ist. That he was the only-begotten Son of God. 2nd. That he was God. 3rd. That he, God, became man. then, to understand that the Church, in the Nicene Creed, affirms “the conversion of the Godhead into flesh,” into manhood ? No; to prevent this, and other misconceptions, she has promulgated another creed still more strictly defining the nature of Jesus. So we find, in the series of propositions “commonly called the Creed of St. Athanasius," the following respecting Jesus :

“ Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man ; God, of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the Worlds ; and Man, of the Substance of his Mother, born in the world ; perfect God and perfect Man; of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting ; equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead ; and inferior to the Father, as touching his Manhood. Who, although he be God and Man, yet he is not two, but one Christ; one, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the Manhood into God; one altogether, not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ.”

« ÎnapoiContinuați »