The Divinity of
He That spared not His Own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?—ROM. viii. 32.
Of late years we have been familiarized with cautions and protests against what has been termed by way of disparagement ‘Inferential Theology.’ And no one would deny that in all ages of the Church, the field of theology has been the scene of hasty, unwarrantable, and misleading inferences. False conclusions have been drawn from true premisses; and very doubtful or false premisses have been occasionally assumed if not asserted to be true. Moreover, some earnest believers have seemed to forget that in a subject-matter such as the creed of Christendom, they are confessedly below truth and not above it. They have forgotten that it is given us here to see a part only, and not the whole. In reality we can but note the outskirts of a vast economy, whose body and substance stretch far away from our gaze into infinitude. Many an intercepting truth, not the less true because unseen and unsuspected, ought to arrest the hardy and confident logic, which insists upon this or that particular conclusion as following necessarily upon these or those premises of which it is already in possession. But this caution has not always been kept in view. And when once pious affection or devout imagination have seized the reins of religious thought, it is easy for individuals or schools to wander far from the beaten paths of a clear yet sober faith, into some theological wonderland, the airiest creation of the liveliest fancy, where, to the confusion and unsettlement of souls, the wildest fiction and the highest truth may be inextricably intertwined in an entanglement of hopeless and bewildering disorder.
But if this should be admitted, it would not follow that theology is in no sense ‘inferential.’ Within certain limits, and under due guidance, ‘inference’ is the movement, it is the life of theology. The primal records of revelation itself, as we find them in Scripture, are continually inferential; and it is at least the business of theology to observe and marshal these revealed inferences, to draw them out, and to make the most of them. The illuminated reason of the collective Church has for ages been engaged in studying the original materials of the Christian revelation. It thus has shaped, rather than created, the science of theology. What is theology, but a continuous series of observed and systematized inferences, respecting God in His Nature and His dealings with mankind, drawn from premises which rest upon God’s authority? Do you say that no ‘inference’ is under any circumstances legitimate; that no one truth in theology necessarily implies another; that the Christian mind ought to preserve in a jealous and sterile isolation each proposition that can be extracted from Scripture? Do you suppose that the several truths of the Christian creed are so many separate, unsuggestive, unfruitful dogmas, having no traceable relations towards each other? Do you take it for granted that each revealed truth involves nothing that is not seen plainly to lie on the very surface of the terms which express it? In short, are the doctrines of the Church to be regarded now as only so many barren abstractions, which a merely human speculation on divine things has from age to age drawn out into form and system? If so, of course it is natural enough to deprecate any earnest scrutiny of the worth and consequences of these abstractions; you deprecate it as interfering with moral and practical interests; you deem an inferential theology alike illusory and mischievous. If I here touch the secret of your thought, at least, my brethren, I admit its consistency; but then your governing premise is of a character to put you out of all relations with the Christian Church, except those of fundamental opposition. The Christian Church believes that God has really spoken; and she assumes that no subject can have a higher practical interest for man than a consideration of the worth and drift of what He has said. Of course no one would waste his time upon systematizing what he believed to be only a series of abstract phantoms. And if a man holds a doctrine with so slight and doubtful a grasp that it illuminates nothing within him, that it moves nothing, that it leads on to nothing beyond itself, he is in a fair way to forfeit it altogether. We scan anxiously and cross-question keenly only that which we really possess and cherish as solid truth: a living faith is pretty certain to draw inferences. The seed which has not shrivelled up into an empty husk cannot but sprout, if you place it beneath the sod; the living belief, which has really been implanted in the soil of thought and feeling, cannot but bear its proper flower and fruit in the moral and intellectual life of a thoughtful and earnest man. If you would arrest the growth of the seed, you must cut it off from contact with the soil, and so in time you must kill it: you may, for awhile, isolate a religious conviction by some violent moral or intellectual process; but be sure that the conviction which cannot germinate in your heart and mind is already condemned to death1.
If theology is inferential, she infers under guidance and within restricted limits. If the eccentric reasonings of individual minds are to be received with distrust, the consent of many minds, of many ages, of many schools and orders of thought, may command at least a respectful attention. If we reject conclusions drawn professedly from the substance of revelation, but really enlarging instead of explaining it, it does not follow that we should reject inferences which are simply explanatory, or which exhibit the bearing of one revealed truth upon another. This indeed is the most fruitful and legitimate province of inference in theological enquiry. Such ‘inference’ brings out the meaning of the details of revelation. It raises this feature to prominence; it throws that into the shade. It places language to which a too servile literalism might have attributed the highest force, in the lower rank of metaphor and symbol; it elicits pregnant and momentous truths from incidents which, in the absence of sufficient guidance or reflection, may have been thought to possess only a secondary degree of significance.
To-day we reach the term of those narrow limits within which some aspects of a subject in itself exhaustless have been so briefly and imperfectly discussed. And it is natural for any earnest man to ask himself—‘If I believe in Christ’s Divinity, what does this belief involve? Is it possible that such a faith can be for me a dead abstraction, having no real influence upon my daily life of thought and action? If this great doctrine be true, is there not, when I am satisfied of its truth, still something to be done besides proving it? Can it be other than a practical folly, to have ascertained the truth that Jesus is God, and then to consign so momentous a conclusion to a respectful oblivion in some obscure corner of my mind, as if it were a well-bound but disused book that could only ornament the shelves of a library? Must I not rather enshrine it in the very center of my soul’s life? Must I not contemplate it, nay, if it may be, penetrate it, feed on it by repeated contemplation, that it may illuminate, sustain, transfigure my whole inward being? Must I not be reasonably anxious till this great conviction shall have molded all that it can bear on, or that can bear on it—all that I hold in any degree for religious truth? Must not such a faith at last radiate through my every thought? Must it not invigorate with a new and deeper motive my every action? If Jesus, Who lived and died and rose for me, be indeed God, can my duties to Him end with a bare confession of His Divinity? Will not the greatness of His Life and of His Death, will not the binding force of His commands, will not the nature and reality of His promises and gifts, be felt to have a new and deeper meaning, when I survey them in the light of this glorious truth? Must not all which the Divine Christ blesses and sanctions have in some sense about it, the glory and virtue of His Divinity?’
Undoubtedly, brethren, the doctrine of Christ’s Godhead is, both in the sphere of belief and in that of morals, as fruitful and as imperious as you anticipate. St. Paul’s question in the text is in substantial harmony with the spirit of your own. St. Paul makes the doctrine of a Divine Christ, given for the sins of men to a Life of humiliation and to a Death of anguish, the premise of the largest consequences, the warrant of the most unbounded expectations. ‘He That spared not His Own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?’ Let us then hasten to trace this somewhat in detail; and let us remark, in passing, that on the present occasion we shall not be leaving altogether the track of former lectures. For in studying the results of a given belief, we may add to the number of practical evidences in its favor; we may approach the belief itself under conditions which are more favorable for doing justice to it than those which a direct argument supplies. To contemplate such a truth as the Godhead of our Lord in itself, is like gazing with open eyelids at the torturing splendor of the noon-day sun. We can best admire the sun of the natural heavens when we take note of the beauty which he sheds over the face of the world, when we mark the floods of light which stream from him, and the deep shadows which he casts, and the colors and forms which he lights up and displays before us. In like manner, perchance, we may most truly enter into the meaning of the Divinity of the Sun of Righteousness, by observing the truths which depend more or less directly on that glorious doctrine,—truths on which it sheds a significance so profound, so unspeakably awful, so unspeakably consoling.
There are three distinct bearings of the doctrine of our Lord’s Divinity which it is more especially of importance to consider. This doctrine protects truths prior to itself, and belonging both to natural and to revealed theology. It also illuminates the meaning, it asserts the force of truths which depend upon itself, which are, to speak humanly, below it, and which can only be duly appreciated when they are referred to it as justifying and explaining them. Lastly, it fertilizes the Christian’s moral and spiritual life, by supplying a motive to the virtues which are most characteristically Christian, and without which Christian ethics sink down to the level of Pagan morality.
I. Observe, first, the conservative force of the doctrine. It protects the truths which it presupposes. Placed at the center of the faith of Christendom, it looks backward as well as forward; it guards in Christian thought the due apprehension of those fundamental verities without which no religion whatever is possible, since they are the postulates of all religious thought and activity.
1. What, let us ask, is the practical relation of the doctrine before us to the primal truth that a Personal God really exists?
(a) Both in the last century and in our own day, it has been the constant aim of a philosophical deism to convince the world that the existence of a Supreme Being would be more vividly, constantly, practically realized, if the dogma of His existence were detached from the creed of Christendom. The pure Theistic idea, we are told, if it were only freed from the earthly and material accessories of an Incarnation, if it were not embarrassed by the ‘metaphysical conception’ of distinct personal Subsistencies within the Godhead, if it could be left to its native force, to its spirituality of essence, to its simplicity of form,— would exert a prodigious influence on human thought, if not on human conduct. This influence is said to be practically impossible, so long as Theistic truth is overlaid by the ‘thick integument’ of Christian doctrine. Accordingly a real belief in God is to be deepened and extended, and atheism is to be expelled from the minds of men, by the destruction of dogmatic Christianity. But has any such anticipation as yet been realized by deism? Is it in the way to be realized at this hour? Need I remind you, that throughout Europe, the most earnest assaults of infidelity upon the Christian creed within the last ten years have been directed against its Theistic, as distinct from its peculiarly Christian elements? When the possibility of miracle is derided; when a Providence is scouted as the fond dream of man’s exaggerated self-love; when belief in the power of prayer is treated as a crude superstition, illustrative of man’s ignorance of the scientific conception of law; when the hypothesis of absolutely invariable law, and the cognate conception of nature as a self-evolved system of self-existent forces and self-existent matter, are advancing with giant strides in large departments of the literature of the day;—it is not Christianity as such, it is Theism, which is really jeopardized and insulted. Among the forces arrayed against Christianity at this hour, the most formidable, because the most consistent and the most sanguine, is that pure materialism, which has been intellectually organized in the somewhat pedantic form of Positivism. To the Positivist the most etherealized of deistic theories is just as much an object of pitying scorn as the creed of a St. John and a St. Athanasius. Both are relegated to ‘the theological period’ of human development. And if we may judge from the present aspect of the controversy between non-Christian spiritualists and the apostles of Positivism, it must be sorrowfully acknowledged that the latter appear to gain steadily and surely on their opponents. This fact is more evident on the continent of Europe than in our own country. It cannot be explained by supposing that the spiritualistic writers are intellectually inferior to the advocates of materialism. Still less is an explanation to be sought in the intrinsic indefensibility of the truth which the spiritualists defend; it is really furnished by the conditions under which they undertake to defend it. A living, energetic, robust faith, a faith, as it has been termed, not of ether, but of flesh and blood, is surely needed, in order to stand the reiterated attacks, the subtle and penetrating misgivings, the manifold wear and tear of a protracted controversy with so brutal an antagonist. Can deism inspire this faith? The pretension of deists to refine, to spiritualize, to etherealize the idea of God almost indefinitely, is fatal to the living energy of their one conviction. Where an abstract deism is not killed out by the violence of atheistic materialism, it is apt, although left to itself, to die by an unperceived process of evaporation. For a living faith in a Supreme Being, the human mind requires motives, corollaries, consequences, supports. These are not supplied by the few abstract considerations which are entertained by the philosophical deists. Whatever may be the intellectual strength of their position against atheism, the practical weakness of that position is a matter of notoriety; and if this weakness is apparent in the case of the philosophers themselves, how much more patent is it when deism attempts to make itself a home in the heart of the people! That abstract and inaccessible being who is placed at the summit of deistic systems is too subtle for the thought and too cold for the heart of the multitudes of the human family. When God is regarded less as the personal Object of affection and worship than as the necessary term of an intellectual equation, the sentiment of piety is not really satisfied; it hungers, it languishes, it dies. And this purely intellectual manner of apprehending God, which kills piety, is so predominant in every genuine deistic system as to bring about, in no long lapse of time, its impotence and extinction as a popular religious force. The Supreme Agent, without whom the deist cannot construct an adequate or satisfactory theory of being, is gradually divested of all personal characteristics, and is resolved into a formula expressing only supreme agency. His moral perfections fall into the background of thought, while he is conceived of, more and more exclusively, as the Universal Mind. And his intellectual attributes are in turn discarded, when for the Supreme Mind is substituted the conception of the Mightiest Force. Long before this point is reached, deistic philosophy is nervously alarmed, lest its God should still be supposed to penetrate as a living Providence down into this human world of suffering and sin. Accordingly, professing much anxiety for his true dignity and repose, deism weaves around his liberty a network of imaginary law; and if he has not been previously destroyed by the materialistic controversialists, he is at length conducted by the cold respect of deistic thinkers to the utmost frontier of the conceivable universe, where, having been enthroned in a majestic inaction, he is as respectfully abandoned. As suggesting a problem which may rouse a faint spasmodic intellectual instinct, his name may still be mentioned from time to time in the world of letters. But the interest which he creates is at the best on a level with that of the question whether the planets are or are not inhabited. As an energetic, life-controlling, life-absorbing power, the God of deism is extinct.
Now the doctrine that Jesus of Nazareth is the Incarnate God protects this primal theistic truth which non-Christian deism is so incapable of popularizing, and even of retaining. The Incarnation bridges over the abyss which opens in our thought between earth and heaven; it brings the Almighty, Allwise, Illimitable Being down to the mind and heart of His reasonable creatures. The Word made Flesh is God condescending to our finite capacities; and this condescension has issued in a clear, strong sense of the Being and Attributes of God, such as is not found beyond the bounds of Christendom. The last prayer of Jesus, that His redeemed might know the only true God, has been answered in history. How profound, how varied, how fertile is the idea of God, of His Nature and of His attributes, in St. John, in St. Paul, in St. Gregory Nazianzen, in St. Augustine! How energetic is this idea, how totally is it removed from the character of an impotent speculation! How does this keen, strong sense of God’s present and majestic Life leave its mark upon manners, literatures, codes of law, national institutions, national characters! How utterly does its range of energy transcend any mere employment of the intellect; how does it, again and again, bend wills, and soften hearts, and change the current and drift of lives, and transfigure the souls of men! And why is this? It is because the Incarnation rivets the apprehension of God on the thought and heart of the Church, so that within the Church theistic truth bids defiance to those influences which tend perpetually to sap or to volatilize it elsewhere. Instead of presenting us with some fugitive abstraction, inaccessible to the intellect and disappointing to the heart, the Incarnation points to Jesus. Jesus is the Almighty, restraining His illimitable powers; Jesus is the Incomprehensible, voluntarily submitting to bonds; Jesus is Providence, clothed in our own flesh and blood; Jesus is the Infinite Charity, tending us with the kindly looks and tender handling of a human love; in Jesus is the Eternal Wisdom, speaking out of the depths of infinite thought in a human language. Jesus is God making Himself, if I may dare so to speak, our tangible possession; He is God brought ‘very nigh to us, in our mouth and in our heart;’ we behold Him, we touch Him, we cling to Him, and lo! we are 'qeioj koinwnoi fusewj,2' partakers of the Nature of Deity through our actual membership in His Body3; we dwell, if we will, evermore in Him, and He in us.
This then is the result of the Divine Incarnation: it brings God close to the inmost being of man, yet without forfeiting, nay, rather while guarding most carefully, in man’s thought, the spirituality of the Divine Essence. Nowhere is the popular idea of God more refined, more spiritual, than where faith in the Divinity of Jesus is clearest and strongest. No writers have explained and asserted the immateriality, the simplicity, the indivisibility of the Essence of God more earnestly, than those who have most earnestly asserted and explained the doctrines of the Holy Trinity and of the Divine Incarnation. For if we know our happiness in Christ, we Christians are united to God, we possess God, we consciously live, and move, and have our being in God. Our intelligence and our heart alike apprehend God in His majestic and beautiful Life so truly and constantly, because He has taken possession of our whole nature, intellectual, moral, and corporeal, and has warmed and illuminated and blessed it by the quickening Manhood of Jesus. We cannot reflect upon and rejoice in our union with Jesus, without finding ourselves face to face with the Being and Attributes of Him with Whom in Jesus we are made one. Holy Scripture has traced the failure and misery of all attempts on the part of a philosophical deism to create or to maintain in the soul of man a real communion with our heavenly Parent. ‘Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father4.’ And the Christian’s practical security against those speculative difficulties to which his faith in a living God may be exposed, lies in that constant contemplation of and communion with Jesus, which is of the essence of the Christian life. ‘God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ5.’
(b) But if belief in our Savior’s Godhead protects Christian thought against the intellectual dangers which await an arid Deism, does it afford an equally effective safeguard against Pantheism? In conceiving of God, the choice before a pantheist lies between alternatives from which no genius has as yet devised a real escape. God, the pantheist must assert, is literally everything; God is the whole material and spiritual universe; He is humanity in all its manifestations; He is by inclusion every moral and immoral agent; and every form and exaggeration of moral evil, no less than every variety of moral excellence and beauty, is part of the all-pervading, all-comprehending movement of His Universal Life. If this revolting blasphemy be declined, then the God of pantheism must be the barest abstraction of abstract being; He must, as with the Alexandrian thinkers, be so exaggerated an abstraction as to transcend existence itself; He must be conceived of as utterly unreal, lifeless, non-existent; while the only real beings are these finite and determinate forms of existence whereof ‘nature’ is composed6. This dilemma haunts all the historical transformations of pantheism, in Europe as in the East, to-day as two thousand years ago. Pantheism must either assert that its God is the one only existing being whose existence absorbs and is identified with the universe and humanity; or else it must admit that he is the rarest and most unreal of conceivable abstractions; in plain terms, that he is no being at all. And the question before us is, Does the Incarnation of God, as taught by the Christian doctrine, expose Christian thought to this dilemma? Is God ‘brought very nigh to us’ Christians in such sort, as to bury the Eternal in the temporary, the Infinite in the finite, the Absolute and Self-existent in the transient and the relative, the All-holy in the very sink of moral evil, unless, in order to save His honor in our thought, we are prepared to attenuate our idea of Him into nonentity?
Now, not merely is there no ground for this apprehension, but the Christian doctrine of an Incarnate God is our most solid protection against the inroads of pantheistic error.
The strength of pantheistic systems lies in that craving both of the intellect and of the heart for union with the Absolute Being, which is the most legitimate and the noblest instinct of our nature. This craving is satisfied by the Christian’s union with the Incarnate One. But while satisfying it, the Incarnation raises an effective barrier against its abuse after the fashion of pantheism. Against the dogma of an Incarnate God, rooted in the faith of a Christian people, the waves of pantheistic thought may surge and lash themselves and break in vain. For the Incarnation presupposes that master-truth which pantheism most passionately denies. It presupposes the truth that between the finite and the Infinite, between the Creator and the Cosmos, between God and man, there is of necessity a measureless abyss. On this point its opposition to pantheism is as earnest as that of the most jealous deism; but the Christian creed escapes from the deistic conception of an omnipotent moral being, surveying intelligently the vast accumulation of sin and misery which we see on this earth, yet withal remaining unmoved, inactive, indifferent. The Christian creed spans this gulf which yawns between earth and heaven, by proclaiming that the Everlasting Son has taken our nature upon Him. In His Person a Created Nature is joined to the Uncreated, by a union which is for ever indissoluble. But what is that truth which underlies this transcendent mystery? What sustains it, what even enhances it, what forbids it to melt away in our thought into a chaotic confusion out of which neither the Divine nor the Human could struggle forth into the light for distinct recognition? It is, I reply, the truth that the Natures thus united in the Person of Jesus are radically, by their essence, and for ever, distinct. It is by reason of this ineffaceable distinctness that the union of the Godhead and Manhood in Jesus is such an object of wondering and thankful contemplation to Christians. Accordingly, at the very heart of the creed of Christendom, we have a guarantee against the cardinal error of pantheism; while yet by our living fellowship as Christians with the Divine and Incarnate Son, we realize the aspiration which pantheism both fosters and perverts. Christian intellect, so long as it is Christian, can never be betrayed into the admission that God is the universe; Christian faith can never be reduced to the extremity of choosing between a denial of moral distinctions and an assertion that God is the parent of all immoral action, or to the desperate endeavor to escape this alternative by volatilizing God into non-existence. And yet Christian love, while it is really Christian, cannot for one moment doubt that it enfolds and possesses and is united to its Divine Object. But this intellectual safeguard and this moral satisfaction alike vanish, if the real Deity of Jesus be denied or obscured: since it is the Deity of our truly human Lord which satisfies the Christian heart, while it protects the Christian intellect against fatal aberrations. Certainly a deism which would satisfy the heart, inevitably becomes pantheistic in its awkward attempts to become devotional; and although pantheism should everywhere breathe the tenderness which almost blinds a reader of Spinosa’s ethics to a perception of their real character, still pantheism is at bottom and in its results not other than a graceful atheism. But to partake of the Divine Nature incarnate in Christ is not to bury God in the filth of moral pollution, nor is it to transcendentalize Him into an abstraction, which mocks us, when we attempt to grasp it, as an unsubstantial phantom7.
2. One more sample shall be given of this protective efficacy of the doctrine before us. If it guards in our thought the honor, the majesty, the Life of God, it also protects the true dignity and the rights of man. The unsettled spirit of our time, when it has broken with the claims of faith, oscillates, whether from caprice or in bewilderment, between the most inconsistent errors. If at one while its audacity would drive the Great God from His throne in heaven to make way for the lawless intellect and will of His creature, at another it seems possessed by an infatuated passion for the degradation of mankind. It either ignores such features of the higher side of our complex being as are the powers of reflection and of inference, or it arbitrarily assumes that they are only the products of civilization. It fixes its attention exclusively upon the graduated variety of form perceptible in a long series of crania which it has arranged in its museum, and then it proclaims with enthusiasm that a Newton or a Herschel is after all only the cultivated descendant of a grotesque and irrational ape. It even denies to man the possession of any spiritual nature whatever; thought is asserted to be inherent in the substance of the brain; belief in the existence of an immaterial essence is treated as an unscientific and superstitious prejudice; virtuous and vicious actions are alluded to as alike results of purely physical agencies8; man is to all intents and purposes a soulless brute. My brethren, you will not suppose that I am desiring to derogate, however indirectly, from the claims of that noble science which patiently investigates the physiology of our animal nature; I am only protesting against a rash and insulting hypothesis, for which science, if her sons could speak with one voice, would be loath to make herself responsible, since by it her true utterances are piteously caricatured. It cannot be said that such a theory is a harmless eccentricity of over-eager speculation; for it destroys that high and legitimate estimate of God’s natural gifts to man which is an important element of earnest and healthy morality in the individual, and which is still more essential to the onward march of our social progress.
But so long as the Christian Church believes in the true Divinity of our Incarnate Lord, it is not probable that theories which deny the higher aspects of human nature will meet with large acceptance. We Christians can bear to be told that the skull of this or that section of the human family bears this or that degree of resemblance to the skull of a gorilla. We know, indeed, that as receivers of the gift of life we are simply on a level with the lowest of the lower creatures; we owe all that we are and have to God. Do we not thank Him for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life? Might He not have given us less than we have? Might He not have given us nothing? What have we, what are we, that we have not received? The question of man’s place in the universe touches not any self-achieved dignity of our own, but the extent and the nature of the Divine bounty. But while we believe the creed of Christendom, we cannot view such a question as open, or listen with any other feelings than those of sorrow and repugnance to the arguments of the apostles of human degradation. We cannot consent to suppose ourselves to be mere animal organisms, without any immaterial soul or future destiny, parted by no distinctive attribute from the perishing beasts around us. For the true nobility of our nature has received the seal of a recognition, which forbids our intellectual complicity with the physics or the ‘psychology’ of materialism. Do not we Christians call to mind, often, every day of our lives, that God has put such high and distinctive honor upon our common humanity as to clothe Himself in it, and to bear it to heaven in its glorious and unsullied perfection, that for all eternity it may be the partner of His throne?
Tremunt videntes angeli
Versam vicem mortalium;
Peccat caro, mundat Caro,
Regnat Deus Dei Caro.
But this exaltation of our human nature would be the wildest dream, unless Jesus were truly God as well as Man. His Divinity is the warrant that in Him our race is ‘crowned with glory and honor,’ and that in taking upon Him ‘not the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham,’ He was vindicating our individual capacity for the highest greatness. Apart from the phenomena of reflection and reason, the hopes which are raised by the Incarnation utterly forbid speculations that would degrade man to the level of a brute incapable of any real morality. If we are told that such hopes are not direct replies to the arguments of physiology, we answer that physiology can and does often correct by her scientific demonstrations, the eccentricities of those who would force her to take part against man’s best hopes and instincts. But, as a practical matter of fact, Christendom maintains its faith in the dignity of man amidst the creatures of God by its faith in the Incarnation of the Divine Son. ‘Beloved, now are we the Sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is9.’
II. These are but a few out of many illustrations of the protection afforded by the doctrine of Christ’s Divinity to sundry imperilled truths of natural religion. Let us proceed to consider the illuminative or explanatory relation in which the doctrine stands to truths which are internal to the Christian revelation, and which themselves presuppose some definite belief respecting the Person of Christ.
Now our Lord’s whole Mediatorial work, while it is discharged through His assumed Humanity, is efficacious and complete, simply because the Mediator is not merely Man but God. As a Prophet, His utterances are infallible. As a Priest, He offers a prevailing sacrifice. As a King, He wields an authority which has absolute claims upon the conscience, and a power which will ultimately be proved to be resistless.
(a) A sincere and intelligent belief in the Divinity of Jesus Christ obliges us to believe that Jesus Christ, as a Teacher, is infallible. His infallibility is not a gift, it is an original and necessary endowment of His higher Nature. If indeed Christ had been merely man, He might still have been endowed with an infallibility such as was that of His own apostles. As it is, to charge Him with error is to deny that He is God. Unless God’s wisdom can be foolishness, or His veracity can be sullied by the suspicion of deceit; unless God can Himself succumb to error, or can consent to deceive His reasonable creatures; a sincere believer in the true Divinity of Jesus Christ will bow before His words in all their possible range of significance, as before the words of a literally infallible Master. So obvious an inference would only be disputed under circumstances of an essentially transitional character, such as are those which have perplexed the Church of England during the last few years. Deny that Jesus Christ is God, and you may or may not proceed to deny that He is infallible. But confess His Godhead, and the common sense of men of the world will concur with the judgment of divines, in bidding you avoid the irrational as well as blasphemous conception of a fallible Deity. To maintain, on the one hand, that Jesus Christ is God, and, on the other, that He is a teacher and propagator, not of trivial and unimportant, but of far-reaching and substantial errors;—this would have appeared to ancient Christendom a paradox so singular as to be absolutely incredible. But we have lived to hear men proclaim the legendary and immoral character of considerable portions of those Old Testament Scriptures, upon which our Lord has set the seal of His infallible authority10. And yet, side by side with this rejection of Scriptures so deliberately sanctioned by Christ, there is an unwillingness which, illogical as it is, we must sincerely welcome, to profess any explicit rejection of the Church’s belief in Christ’s Divinity. Hence arises the endeavor to intercept a conclusion, which might otherwise have seemed so plain as to make arguments in its favor an intellectual impertinence. Hence a series of singular refinements, by which Christ is presented to the modern world as really Divine, yet as subject to fatal error; as Founder of the true religion, yet as the credulous patron of a volume replete with worthless legends; as the highest Teacher and Leader of humanity, yet withal as the ignorant victim of the prejudices and follies of an unenlightened age.
It will be urged by those who impugn the trustworthiness of the Pentateuch without denying in terms the Divinity of Christ, that such a representation as the foregoing does them a certain measure of injustice. They do not wish to deny that Christ, as the Eternal Son of God, is infallible. But the Christ Who speaks in the Gospels is, they contend, ‘a Son of man;’ and as such He is subject to the human infirmities of ignorance and error11. ‘Does He not profess Himself,’ they ask, ‘in the plainest words, ignorant of the day of the last judgment? Does not His Evangelist assure us that He increased in “wisdom” as well as in stature? This being so, was not His human knowledge limited; and was not error possible, if not inevitable, when He passed beyond the limits of such knowledge as He possessed? Why should He be supposed to speak of the Pentateuch with a degree of critical acumen, to which the foremost learning of His day and country had not yet attained? Take care,’ so they warn us, ‘lest in your anxiety to repudiate Arius and Nestorius, you deny the reality of Christ’s Human Soul, and become the unconscious associate of Apollinaris or of Eutyches. Take care, lest you make Christianity answer with its life for the truth of a “theory” about the historical trustworthiness of the Old Testament, which, although it certainly was sanctioned and put forward by Jesus Christ, yet has been as decidedly condemned by the “higher criticism” of the present day.’
Let us remark in this position, first of all, the, indirect admission that Christ, as the Eternal Son of God, is strictly infallible. Obvious as such a truth should be to Christians, Arianism, be it remembered, did not confess it. Arianism held that the Word Himself was ignorant of the day of judgment. Such a tenet was perfectly consistent with the denial that the Word was consubstantial with the Omniscient God; but it was utterly at variance with any pretension honestly to believe in His Divinity12. Yet it must be recorded with sorrow, that some writers who would desire nothing less than to uphold the name and errors of the opponent of Athanasius, do nevertheless at times seem to speak as if it were seriously possible that the Infallible could have erred, or that the boundless knowledge of the Eternal Mind could be really limited. Let us then note and welcome the admission that the Eternal Son of God is literally infallible, even though it be made in quarters where His authority, as the Incarnate Christ, teaching unerringly substantial truth, is directly impugned and repudiated.
It is of course urged that our Lord’s Human Soul is the seat of that ‘fallibility’ which is insisted upon as being so fatal to His authority as a Teacher. Let us then enquire what the statements of Scripture on this mysterious subject would really appear to affirm.
I. When St. Luke tells us that our Lord increased in wisdom and stature13, we can scarcely doubt that an intellectual development of some kind in Christ’s human Soul is indicated. This development, it is implied, corresponded to the growth of His bodily frame. The progress in wisdom was real and not merely apparent, just as the growth of Christ’s Human Body was a real growth. If only an increasing manifestation of knowledge had been meant, it might have been meant also that Christ only manifested increase of stature, while His Human Body did not really grow. But on the other hand, St. Luke had previously spoken of the Child Jesus as ‘being filled with wisdom14,’ and St. John teaches that as the Word Incarnate, Jesus was actually ‘full of truth.’ St. John means not only that our Lord was veracious, but that He was fully in possession of objective truth15. It is clearly implied that, according to St. John, this fullness of truth was an element of that glory which the first disciples beheld or contemplated16. This statement appears to be incompatible with the supposition that the Human Soul of Jesus, through spiritual contact with Which the disciples ‘beheld’ the glory of the Eternal Word, was Itself not ‘full of truth.’ St. John’s narrative does not admit of our confining this ‘fullness of truth’ to the later days of Christ’s ministry, or to the period which followed His Resurrection. There are then two representations before us, one suggesting a limitation of knowledge, the other a fullness of knowledge in the human soul of Christ. In order to harmonize these statements, we need not fall back upon the vulgar rationalistic expedient of supposing that between St. John’s representation of our Lord’s Person, and that which is given in the three first Gospels, there is an intrinsic and radical discrepancy. If we take St. John’s account together with that of St. Luke, might it not seem that we have here a special instance of that tender condescension, by which our Lord willed to place Himself in a relation of real sympathy with the various experiences of our finite existence? If by an infused knowledge He was, even as a Child, ‘full of truth,’ yet that He might enter with the sympathy of experience into the various conditions of our intellectual life, He would seem to have acquired, by the slow labor of observation and inference, a new mastery over truths which He already, in another sense, possessed. Such a coexistence of growth in knowledge with a possession of all its ultimate results would not be without a parallel in ordinary human life. In moral matters, a living example may teach with a new power some law of conduct, the truth of which we have before recognized intuitively. In another field of knowledge, the telescope or the theodolite may verify a result of which we have been previously informed by a mathematical calculation17. We can then conceive that the reality of our Lord’s intellectual development would not necessarily be inconsistent with the simultaneous perfection of His knowledge. As Man, He might have received an infused knowledge of all truth, and yet have taken possession through experience and in detail of that which was latent in His mind, in order to correspond with the intellectual conditions of ordinary human life. But, let us suppose that this explanation be rejected18, that St. John’s statement be left out of sight, and that St. Luke’s words be understood to imply simply that our Lord’s Human Soul acquired knowledge which It did not in any sense possess before. Does even any such ‘increase in wisdom’ as this during Christ’s early years, warrant our saying that, in the days of His ministry, our Lord was still ignorant of the real claims and worth of the Jewish Scriptures? Does it enable us to go further, and to maintain that, when He made definite statements on the subject, He was both the victim and the propagator of serious error? Surely such inferences are not less unwarranted by the statements of Scripture than they are destructive of Christ’s character and authority as a teacher of truth!
2. But it may be pleaded that our Lord, in declaring His ignorance of the day of the last judgment, does positively assign a specified limit to the knowledge actually possessed by His Human Soul during His ministry. ‘Of that day,’ He says, ‘and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father19.’ ‘If these words,’ you urge, ‘do not refer to His ignorance as God, they must refer to His ignorance in the only other possible sense, that is to say, to His ignorance as Man.’
Of what nature then is the ‘ignorance’ to which our Lord alludes in this much-controverted text? Is it a real matter-of-fact ignorance, or is it an ignorance which is only ideal and hypothetical? Is it an ignorance to which man, as man, is naturally subject, but to which the Soul of Christ, the Perfect Man, was not subject, since His human intelligence was always illuminated by an infused omniscience20? or is it an economical as distinct from a real ignorance? Is it the ignorance of the Teacher, who withholds from His disciples a knowledge which He actually possesses, but which it is not for their advantage to acquire21? or is it the ignorance which is compatible with implicit knowledge? Does Christ implicitly know the date of the day of judgment, yet, that He may rebuke the forwardness of His disciples, does He refrain from contemplating that which is potentially within the range of His mental vision? Is He deliberately turning away His gaze from the secrets which are open to it, and which a coarse, earthly curiosity would have greedily and quickly investigated22?
With our eye upon the literal meaning of our Lord’s words, must we not hesitate to accept any of these explanations? It is indeed true that to many very thoughtful and saintly minds, the words, ‘neither the Son,’ have not appeared to imply any ‘ignorance’ in the Son, even as Man. But antiquity does not furnish any decisive consent in favor of this belief; and it might seem, however involuntarily, to put a certain force upon the direct sense of the passage. There is no sufficient ground for questioning the correctness of the text23; and here, as always, ‘if a literal explanation will stand, the furthest from the letter is commonly the worst.’ If elsewhere, in the course of these lectures, we have appealed to the literal force of the great texts in St. John and St. Paul, as yielding a witness to the Catholic doctrine, can we substitute for the literal sense of the passage before us, a sense which, to say the least, is not that suggested by the letter? If then we should understand that our Lord in His Human Soul was, at the time of His speaking, actually ignorant of the day of the last judgment, we shall find ourselves sheltered by Fathers of unquestioned orthodoxy24. St. Irenaeus discovers in our Lord’s Human ignorance a moral argument against the intellectual self-assertion of his own Gnostic contemporaries25; while he attributes Omniscience to the Divine Nature of Christ in the clearest terms. St. Athanasius insists that the explanation which he gives, restricting our Lord’s ignorance to His Human Soul, is a matter in which the faithful are well instructed26. He is careful to assert again and again our Lord’s omniscience as God the Word; he attributes Christ’s ‘ignorance’ as Man to the condescending love by which He willed to be like unto us in all things27, and compares it, accordingly, to His hunger and thirst28. ‘To whom,’ exclaims St. Gregory Nazianzen, ‘can it be a matter of doubt that Christ has a knowledge of that hour as God, but says that He is ignorant of it as Man29?’ St. Cyril of Alexandria argues that our Lord’s ‘ignorance’ as Man is in keeping with the whole economy of the Incarnation. As God, Christ did know the day of judgment; but it was consistent with the law of self-humiliation prescribed by His infinite love that He should assume all the conditions of real humanity, and therefore, with the rest, a limitation of knowledge. There would be no reasonable ground for offense at that which was only a consequence of the Divine Incarnation30. You will remark, my brethren, the significance of such a judgment when advanced by this great father, the uncompromising opponent of Nestorian error, the strenuous assertor of the Hypostatic Union, the chief inheritor of all that is most characteristic in the theological mind of St. Athanasius. It is of course true that a different belief was already widely received within the Church: it is enough to point to the ‘retractation’ of Leporius, to which St. Augustine was one of the subscribing bishops31. But although a contrary judgment subsequently predominated in the West, it is certain that the leading opponents of Arianism did not shrink from recognizing a limitation of knowledge in Christ’s Human Soul, and that they appealed to His own words as a warrant for doing so32.
‘But have we not here,’ you ask, ‘albeit disguised under and recommended by the sanction of great names, the old heresy of the Agnoetae?’ No. The Agnoetae attributed ignorance not merely to our Lord’s Human Soul, but to the Eternal Word. They seem to have imagined a confusion of Natures in Christ, after the Eutychian pattern, and then to have attributed ignorance to that Divine Nature into which His Human Nature, as they held, was absorbed33. They were thus, on this point, in agreement with the Arians: while Eulogius of Alexandria, who wrote against them, admitted that Catholic fathers before him had taught that, as Man, Christ had been subject to a certain limitation of knowledge34.
‘At any rate,’ you rejoin, ‘if our Lord’s words are to be taken literally, if they are held to mean that the knowledge of His Human Soul is in any degree limited, are we not in danger of Nestorian error? Does not this conjunction of “knowledge” and “ignorance” in one Person, and with respect to a single subject, dissolve the unity of the God-man35? Is not this intellectual dualism inconsistent with any conception we can form of a single personality? Cannot we understand the indisposition of later theologians to accept the language of St. Athanasius and others without an explanation, even although a sense which it does not of itself suggest is thereby forced upon it?
The question to be considered, my brethren, is whether such an objection has not a wider scope than you intend. Is it not equally valid against other and undisputed contrasts between the Divine and Human Natures of the Incarnate Son? For example, as God, Christ is omnipresent; as Man, He is present at a particular point in space36. Do you say that this, however mysterious, is more conceivable than the co-existence of ignorance and knowledge, with respect to a single subject in a single personality? Let me then ask whether this co-existence of ignorance and knowledge is more mysterious than a co-existence of absolute blessedness and intense suffering? If the Scriptural words which describe the sufferings of Jesus are understood literally, without establishing Nestorianism; why are we in danger of Nestorianism if we understand Him to be speaking of His Manhood, when He asserts that the Son is ignorant of the day of judgment? If Jesus, as Man, did not enjoy the Divine attribute of perfect blessedness, yet without prejudice to His full possession of it, as God; why could He not, in like manner, as Man, be without the Divine attribute of perfect knowledge? If as He knelt in Gethsemane, He was in one sphere of existence All-blessed, and in another ‘sore amazed, very heavy, sorrowful even unto death;’ might He not with equal truth be in the one Omniscient, and in the other subject to limitations of knowledge? The difficulty37 is common to all the contrasts of the Divine Incarnation; but these contrasts, while they enhance our sense of our Lord’s love and condescension, do not destroy our apprehension of the Personal Unity of the Incarnate Christ38. His Single Personality has two spheres of existence; in the one It is all-blessed, undying, and omniscient; in the other It meets with pain of mind and body, with actual death, and with a correspondent liability to a limitation of knowledge. No such limitation, we may be sure, can interfere with the completeness of His redemptive office. It cannot be supposed to involve any ignorance of that which the Teacher and Savior of mankind should know; while yet it suffices to place Him as Man in a perfect sympathy with the actual conditions of the mental life of His brethren39.
If then this limitation of our Lord’s human knowledge be admitted, to what does the admission lead? It leads, properly speaking, to nothing beyond itself. It amounts to this: that at the particular time of His speaking, the Human Soul of Christ was restricted as to Its range of knowledge in one particular direction.
For it is certain from Scripture that our Lord was constantly giving proofs, during His earthly life, of an altogether superhuman range of knowledge. There was not merely in Him the quick and penetrating discernment of a very holy soul,—not merely ‘that unction from the Holy One’ whereby Christians instinctively ‘know all things’ that concern their salvation. It was emphatically a knowledge of hard matters of fact, not revealed to Him by the senses, and beyond the reach of sense. Thus He knows the exact coin which will be found in the mouth of the first fish which His apostle will presently take40. He bases His discourse on the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, on an accurate knowledge of the secret communings in which His conscience-stricken disciples had indulged on the road to Capernaum41. He gives particular instructions to the two disciples as to the finding of the ass on which He will make his entry into Jerusalem42. He is perfectly cognizant of the secret plottings of the traitor, although no human informant had disclosed them43. Nor is this knowledge supernaturally communicated at the moment; it is the result of an actual supra-sensuous sight of that which He describes. ‘Before that Philip called thee,’ He says to Nathanael, ‘when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee44.’ Do you compare this to the knowledge of ascribed to Elisha45, to Daniel46, to St. Peter47? In these instances, as eminently in that of Daniel, the secret was revealed to the soul of the prophet or apostle. In the case of Christ we hear of no such revelation; He speaks of the things of heaven with a calm familiarity, which is natural to One Who knows them as beholding them ‘in Himself48.’
Indeed, our Lord’s knowledge embraced two districts, each of which really lies open only to the Eye of the Most High. We will not dwell on His knowledge of the unsuspected future, a knowledge inherent in Him, as it was imparted to those prophets in whom His Spirit had dwelt. We will not insist on His knowledge of a strictly contingent futurity, such as is involved in His positive assertion that Tyre and Sidon would have repented of their sins, if they had enjoyed the opportunities of Chorazin and Bethsaida49; although such knowledge as this, considering the vast survey of motives and circumstances which it implies, must be strictly proper to God alone. But He knew the secret heart of man, and He knew the hidden thought and purpose of the Most High God. Such a ‘discerner’ was He ‘of the thoughts and intents’ of human hearts50, so truly did His Apocalyptic title, the ‘Searcher of the reins and hearts51,’ belong to Him in the days of His historical manifestation, that ‘He needed not that any should testify to Him of men, for He knew what was in man52.’ This was not a result of His taking careful note of peculiarities of action and character manifested to the eye by those around Him, but of His ‘perceiving in His Spirit’ and ‘knowing in Himself53’ the unuttered reasonings and volitions which were taking shape, moment by moment, within the secret souls of men, just as clearly as He saw physical facts not ordinarily appreciated except by sensuous perception. This was the conviction of His apostles. ‘We are sure,’ they said, ‘that Thou knowest all things54.’ ‘Lord, Thou knowest all things,’ cries St. Peter, ‘Thou knowest that I love Thee55.’ Yet more, in the Eternal Father Jesus encounters no impenetrable mysteries; for Jesus no clouds and darkness are round about Him, nor is His way in the sea, nor His path in the deep waters, nor His footsteps unknown. On the contrary, our Lord reciprocates the Father’s knowledge of Himself by an equivalent knowledge of the Father. ‘As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father56.’ ‘No Man knoweth Who the Son is, but the Father; and Who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him57.’ Even if our Lord should be speaking, in this passage, primarily at least, of His Divine omniscience, He is also plainly speaking of a knowledge infused into and possessed by His Human Soul, and thus His words supply the true foil to His statement respecting the day of judgment. If that statement be construed literally, it manifestly describes, not the normal condition of His Human Intelligence, but an exceptional restriction. For the Gospel history implies that the knowledge infused into the Human Soul of Jesus was ordinarily and practically equivalent to omniscience. ‘We may conjecture,’ says Hooker, ‘how the powers of that Soul are illuminated, Which, being so inward unto God, cannot choose but be privy unto all things which God worketh, and must therefore of necessity be endued with knowledge so far forth universal, though not with infinite knowledge peculiar to Deity Itself58.’ St. Paul’s assertion that ‘in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge59,’ may practically be understood of Christ’s earthly life, no less than of His life of glory. If then His Human Intellect, flooded as it was by the infusion of boundless light streaming from His Deity, was denied, at a particular time, knowledge of the date of a particular future event, this may well be compared with that deprivation of the consolations of Deity, to which His Human affections and will were exposed when He hung dying on the Cross. If ‘the Divine Wisdom,’ as Bishop Bull has said, ‘impressed its effects upon the Human Soul of Christ pro temporum ratione, in the degree required by particular occasions or emergencies60,’ this would be only one application of the principle recognized by St. Irenaeus and Theodoret, and rendered familiar to many of us in the language of Hooker. ‘As the parts, degrees, and offices of that mystical administration did require, which He voluntarily undertook, the beams of Deity did in operation always accordingly restrain or enlarge themselves61.’ We may not attempt rashly to specify the exact motive which may have determined our Lord to deny to His Human Soul at one particular date the point of knowledge here in question; although we may presume generally that it was a part of that condescending love which led Him to become ‘in all things like unto His brethren.’ That He was ever completely ignorant of aught else, or that He was ignorant on this point at any other time, are inferences for which we have no warrant, and which we make at our peril.
But it is not on this account alone that our Lord’s Human ignorance of the day of judgment, if admitted, cannot be made the premiss of an argument intended to destroy His authority, when He sanctions the Mosaic authorship and historical trustworthiness of the Pentateuch. That argument involves a confusion between limitation of knowledge and liability to error; whereas, plainly enough, a limitation of knowledge is one thing, and fallibility is another. St. Paul says that ‘we know in part62,’ and that ‘we see through a glass darkly63.’ Yet St. Paul is so certain of the truth of that which he teaches, as to exclaim, ‘If we or an angel from heaven preach any other Gospel to you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed64.’ St. Paul clearly believed in his own infallibility as a teacher of religious truth; and the Church of Christ has ever since regarded his Epistles as part of an infallible literature. But it is equally clear that St. Paul believed his knowledge of religious truth to be limited. Infallibility does not imply omniscience, any more than limited knowledge implies error. Infallibility may be conferred on a human teacher with very limited knowledge, by a special endowment preserving him from error. When we say that a teacher is infallible, we do not mean that his knowledge is encyclopaedic, but merely that, when he does teach, he is incapable of propounding as truth that which, in point of fact, is not true65.
Now the argument in question assumes that Christ our Lord, when teaching religious truth, was not merely fallible, but actually in serious error. If indeed our Lord had believed Himself to be ignorant of the authorship or true character of the Book of Deuteronomy, we may presume that He would not have fallen below the natural level of ordinary heathen honesty, by speaking with authority upon a subject with which He was consciously unacquainted. It is admitted that He spoke as believing Himself to be teaching truth. But was He, in point of fact, not teaching truth? Was that which He believed to be knowledge nothing better than a servile echo of contemporary ignorance? Was His knowledge really limited on a subject-matter, where He was Himself unsuspicious of the existence of a limitation? Was He then not merely deficient in information, but fallible; not merely fallible, but actually in error? and has it been reserved for the criticism of the nineteenth century to set Him right? It must be acknowledged that our Lord’s statement respecting the day of judgment will not avail to sustain a deduction which supposes, not an admitted limitation of knowledge, but an unsuspected self-deception of a character and extent which, in the case of a purely human teacher, would be altogether destructive of any serious claim to teach substantial truth66.
Nor is this all. The denial of our Lord’s infallibility, in the form in which it has come before us of late years, involves an unfavorable judgment, not merely of His intellectual claims, but of the penetration and delicacy of His moral sense. This is the more observable because it is fatal to a distinction which has been projected, between our Lord’s authority as a teacher of spiritual or moral truth, and His authority when dealing with those questions which enter into the province of historical criticism. If in the latter sphere He is said to have been liable and subject to error, in the former, we are sometimes told, His instinct was invariably unerring. But is this the case, if our Lord was really deceived in His estimate of the Book of Deuteronomy, and if further the account of the origin and composition of that book which is put forward by His censors be accepted as satisfactory? Our Lord quotes Deuteronomy as a work of the highest authority on the subject of man’s relations and duties to God67. Yet we are assured that in point of fact this book was nothing better than a pious forgery of the age of Jeremiah, if indeed it was not a work of that prophet, in which he employed the name and authority of Moses as a restraint upon the increasing polytheism of the later years of king Josiah68. That hypothesis has been discussed elsewhere and by others on its own critical merits. Here it may suffice to observe, that if it could have been seriously entertained it would involve our Lord in something more than intellectual fallibility. If Deuteronomy is indeed a forgery, Jesus Christ was not merely ignorant of a fact of literary history. His moral perceptions were at fault. They were not sufficiently fine to miss the consistency, the ring of truth, in a document which professed to have come from the great Lawgiver with a Divine authority; while, according to modern writers, it was only the ‘pious’ fiction of a later age, and its falsehood had only not been admitted by its author, lest its ‘effect’ should be counteracted69.
When, in the middle of the ninth century, the pseudo-Isidorian decretals were first brought from beyond the Alps to Rome, they were almost immediately cited by Nicholas I. in reply to an appeal of Hincmar of Rheims, in order to justify and extend the then advancing claims of the Roman Chair70. We must then either suppose that this Pope was really incapable of detecting a forgery, which no Roman Catholic writer would now think of defending71, or else we must imagine that, in order to advance an immediate ecclesiastical object, he could condescend to quote a document which he knew to have been recently forged, as if it had been of ancient and undoubted authority. The former supposition is undoubtedly most welcome to the common sense of Christian charity; but it is of course fatal to any belief in the personal infallibility of Pope Nicholas I. A like dilemma awaits us in the Gospel history, if those unhappy theories respecting the Pentateuch to which I have alluded are seriously adopted. Before us is no mere question as to whether Christ’s knowledge was or was not limited; the question is, whether as a matter of fact He taught or implied the truth of that which is not true, and which a finer moral sense than His might have seen to be false. The question is plainly, whether He was a trustworthy teacher of religious no less than of historical truth. The attempted distinction between a critical judgment of historical or philological facts, and a moral judgment of strictly spiritual and moral truths, is inapplicable to a case in which the moral judgment is no less involved than the intellectual; and we have really to choose between the infallibility, moral no less than intellectual, of Jesus Christ our Lord on the one hand, and the conjectural speculations of critics, of whatever degree of critical eminence, on the other.
Indeed, as bearing upon this vaunted distinction between spiritual truth, in which our Lord is still, it seems, to be an authority, and historical truth, in which His authority is to be set aside, we have words of His own which prove how truly He made the acceptance of the lower portions of His teaching a preliminary to belief in the higher. ‘If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things72?’ How indeed? If, when He sets the seal of His authority upon the writings of Moses as a whole, and upon the most miraculous incidents which they relate in detail, He is really only the uneducated Jew who ignorantly repeats and reflects the prejudice of a barbarous age; how shall we be sure that when He reveals the Character of God, or the precepts of the new life, or the reality and nature of the endless world, He is really trustworthy—trustworthy as an Authority to whom we are prepared to cling in life and in death? You say that here your conscience ratifies His teaching,—that the ‘enthusiasm of humanity’ which is in you sets its seal upon this higher teaching of the Redeemer of men. Is then your conscience in very truth the ultimate and only teacher? Have you anticipated, and might you dispense with, the teaching of Christ? And what if your conscience, as is surely not impossible, has itself been warped or misled? What if, in surveying even the moral matter of His teaching, you still assume to exercise a ‘verifying faculty,’ and object to this precept as ascetic, and to that command as exacting, and to yonder most merciful revelation of an endless woe as ‘Tartarology!’ Alas! brethren, experience proves it, the descent into the Avernus of unbelief is only too easy. There are broad highways in the life of faith, just as in the life of morality, which a man cannot leave without certain risk of losing his way in a trackless wilderness. To deny our Lord’s infallibility, on the precarious ground of a single known limitation of knowledge in His human intellect, is not merely an inconsequence, it is inconsistent with any serious belief in His real Divinity. The common sense of faith assures us that if Christ is really Divine, His infallibility follows as a thing of course. The man who sincerely believes that Jesus Christ is God will not doubt that His every word standeth sure, and that whatever has been sealed and sanctioned by His supreme authority is independent of, and unassailable by, the fallible judgment of His creatures respecting it.
(b) If the doctrine of Christ’s Divinity implies that as a teacher of truth He is infallible, it also illuminates His suffering death upon the Cross with an extraordinary significance.
The degrees of importance which are attributed to the several events and stages of our Lord’s life on earth, will naturally vary with the variations of belief respecting His Person. With the Humanitarian, for instance, the dominant, almost the exclusive, interest will be found to center in Christ’s Ministry, as affording the largest illustrations of His Human Character and of His moral teaching. The mysteries which surround His entrance into and His departure from our human world, will have been thrown into the background as belonging to questions of a very inferior degree of importance, or possibly, as at best serving to illustrate the legendary creativeness of a subsequent age. Perhaps a certain historical and chronological value will still be allowed to attach to Christ’s Birth. Perhaps, if His Resurrection be admitted to have been a matter of historical occurrence, a high evidential significance will continue to be assigned to it, such as was recognized by Priestley and by all Socinians of the last generation. And to a Humanitarian, the interest of Christ’s Death will be of a yet higher kind. For Christ’s Death enters into His moral Self-manifestation; it is the heroic climax of His devotion to truth; it is the surest seal which a teacher can set upon his doctrine. Thus a Humanitarian will admit that the dying Christ saves the world by enriching its stock of moral life, by setting before the eyes of men, for all future time, the example of a transcendent sacrifice of self. But in the bare fact that Jesus died, Humanitarianism sees no mystery beyond that which attaches to the death of any ordinary man. The Crucifixion is simply regarded as a practical appendix to the Sermon on the Mount. And thus to the Socinian pilgrim, the mountain of the beatitudes and the shores of the Sea of Galilee will always and naturally appear more worthy of reverence and attention, than the spot on which Mary brought her Son into the world, or than the hill on which Jesus died.
Far otherwise must it ever be with a sincere believer in our Savior’s Godhead. Not that he can be insensible to the commanding moral interest which the Life and teaching of the Perfect Man ever rouses in the heart of Christians. That Life and that teaching have indeed for him a meaning into which the Humanitarian cannot enter; since the believer knows that it is God Who lives and speaks in Jesus. But contemplating Jesus as the Incarnate God, he is necessarily attracted by those points in our Lord’s earthly Life, at which the contrast is most vividly marked between His Divine and Eternal Nature and His state of humiliation as Man.
This attraction is reflected in the believer’s religious thought, in his devotions, in the instinctive attitude of his interest towards the Life of Jesus. The creed expresses the thought of the whole company of the faithful. After stating that the Only-begotten Son, consubstantial with the Father, for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was made Man, the creed proceeds to speak of His Crucifixion, Sufferings, Burial, Resurrection, and Ascension. The creed makes no allusion to His example, or to the nature and contents of His doctrine. In an analogous sense the Litany gives utterance to the devotion of the collective Church. In the Litany, Jesus, our ‘Good Lord,’ is entreated to deliver us ‘by’ the successive mysteries of His earthly Self-manifestation. Dependent on the mystery of His holy Incarnation are His ‘holy Nativity and Circumcision,’ His ‘Baptism, Fasting, and Temptation,’ His ‘Agony and Bloody Sweat,’ His ‘Cross and Passion,’ His ‘precious Death and Burial,’ His ‘glorious Resurrection and Ascension.’ Here again there is no reference to His sinless example, or to His words of power. Why is this? Is it not because the thought of the Church centers most persistently upon the Person of Jesus? His teaching and His example, although they presuppose His Divinity, yet in many ways appeal to us independently of it. But the significance of His birth into the world, of His varied sufferings73, of His death, of His rising from the tomb, and of His ascent to heaven, resides chiefly, if not altogether, in the fact that His Person is Divine. That truth illuminates these features of His earthly Self-manifestation, which else might be thrown into the shade by the moral beauty of His example or of His doctrine. The birth and death of a mere man, and even the resurrection and glorification of a mere man, would only be the accessories of a higher interest centering in the range and influence of his ideas, in the force and consistency of his conduct, in the whole bearing of his moral and intellectual action upon the men of his time. But when He Who is born, Who suffers, Who dies, Who rises and ascends, is known to be personally and literally God, it is inevitable that the interest of thought and devotion should take a direction in which the ‘mystery of godliness’ is most directly and urgently felt. Christian devotion necessarily hovers around those critical turning-points in the Self-manifestation of the Infinite and Almighty Being, at which His gracious and immeasurable Self-humiliation most powerfully illustrates His boundless love, by the contrast which it yields to the majesty of His Divine and Eternal Person. No one would care for the birthplace or grave of the philosopher, when he could visit the scene of his intellectual victories; but the Christian pilgrim, in all ages of the Church, is less riveted by the lake-side and mountains of Galilee, than by those sacred sites, where his God and Savior first drew human breath and where He poured forth His Blood upon the Cross of shame.
Let us imagine, if we can, that our Lord’s life had been written, not by the blessed Evangelists, but by some modern Socinian or Humanitarian author. Would not the relative proportions assigned to the several parts of His life have been very different from those which we find in the New Testament? We should have been presented with an analytical exposition of the moral greatness of Christ, in its several bearings upon the individual and social life of man; and His teaching would have been insisted upon as altogether eclipsing in importance any questions which might be raised as to His ‘origin’ or His ‘place in the world of spirits.’ As for His Death, it would of course have been introduced as the natural result of His generous conflict with the great evils and corruptions of His day. But this closing episode would have been treated hurriedly and with reserve. The modern writer would have led us to the foot of Calvary. There he would have left us to our imagination, and all that followed would have been summarized in a couple of sentences. The modern writer would have avoided any appearance of giving prominence to the ‘physical aspects’ of the tragedy, to the successive insults, cruelties, cries, which indicated so many distinct phases of mental or bodily agony in the sufferer. He would have argued that to dwell intently on these things was unnecessarily harrowing to the feelings, and moreover, that it might distract attention from the general moral interest to which the Death of Jesus was, in his judgment, only subsidiary. Clearly he would not have followed in the track of the Evangelists. For the four Evangelists, while the plan and materials of their several narratives present many points of difference, yet concur in assigning an extraordinary importance, not merely to the general narrative of the Passion, but to its minute details. This is more in harmony with the genius of St. Mark and St. Luke than with that of St. Matthew; but considering the scope and drift of the fourth Gospel, it is at first sight most remarkable in St. John. For instead of veiling the humiliations of the Word Incarnate, St. John regards them as so many illustrations of His ‘glory;’ and, indeed, each of the four evangelical narratives, however condensed may be its earlier portions, expands into the minute particularity of a diary, as it approaches the foot of the Cross.
Now this concurrent disposition of the four Evangelists is eminently suggestive. It implies that there is a momentous interest attaching, not merely to the Death of Christ as a whole, but to each stage and feature of the great agony in detail. It implies that this interest is not merely moral and human, but of a higher and distinct kind. The moral requirements of the history would have been satisfied, had we been compendiously informed that Christ died at last in attestation of the moral truth which He taught; but this detailed enumeration of the successive stages and shades of suffering, both physical and mental, leads the devout Christian insensibly to look beneath the varying phases of protracted agony, at the unruffled, august, eternal Person of the insulted Sufferer; and thus Christian thought rests with more and more of anxious intensity upon the possible or probable results of an event so stupendous as the Death of Christ.
Upon such a problem, human reason, left to itself, could shed no light whatever. It could only be sure of this:—that much more must be involved in the Death of Christ than in the death of the best of men. Had Christ been merely human, greater love among men, greater enthusiasm for truth as truth, greater devotion to the sublimest of moral teachings and to the Will of the Universal Father, greater contempt for pleasure when pleasure is in conflict with duty, and for pain when pain is recommended by conscience, would certainly have followed upon His Death. These effects follow in varying degrees upon every sincere and costly act of human self-renouncement; and the moral kingdom of God is a vast treasure-house of saintly and living memories, in which the highest place of honor is for ever assigned to those who exhibit the most perfect sacrifice of self. Nor, most assuredly, is any the least and lowest act of sacrifice destined to perish: it thrills on in its undying force through the ages; it kindles, first in one and then in another unit of the vast company of moral beings, a new devotion to truth, to duty, to man, to God. But when we know that Jesus Christ is God, we are prepared to hear that something much more stupendous than any moral impulse, however strong and enduring, must have resulted from His Death—something (as yet we know not what) reaching far beyond the sphere and laws of history, beyond the world of sense and of time, of natural moral sequence, and of those ascertainable or hidden influences which pass on from man to man and from age to age.
Nowhere is the illuminative force of Christ’s Divinity more felt than here. The tremendous premiss, that He Who died upon the Cross is truly God, when seriously and firmly believed, avails to carry the believer forward to any representation of the efficacy of His Death which rests upon an adequate authority.
‘No person,’ says Hooker74, ‘was born of the Virgin but the Son of God, no person but the Son of God baptized, the Son of God condemned, the Son of God and no other person crucified; which one only point of Christian belief, the infinite worth of the Son of God, is the very ground of all things believed concerning life and salvation by that which Christ either did or suffered as man in our behalf.’ ‘That,’ says Bishop Andrewes, ‘which setteth the high price upon this Sacrifice is this, that He which offereth it to God, is God75.’ ‘Marvel not,’ says St. Cyril of Jerusalem, ‘if the whole world has been redeemed, for He Who has died for us is no mere man, but the Only-begotten Son of God76.’ ‘Christ,’ says St. Cyril of Alexandria, ‘would not have been equivalent [as a sacrifice] for the whole creation, nor would He have sufficed to redeem the world, nor have laid down His life by way of a price for it, and poured forth for us His precious Blood, if He be not really the Son, and God of God, but a creature77.’
This, as has been already noticed, is St. Peter’s meaning when he says that we were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious Blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and immaculate78. This underlies St. Paul’s contrast between the blood of bulls and goats and the Blood of Christ offering Himself without spot to God79. This is the substance of St. John’s announcement that the Blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God cleanseth us from all sin80. Apart from this illuminating doctrine of the Godhead of Jesus Christ crucified, how overstrained and exaggerated are the New Testament representations of the effects of His Death! He has redeemed man from a moral and spiritual slavery81; He has made a propitiation for our sins82; He has really reconciled God and His creatures83. But how is such a redemption possible, unless the price be infinitely costly? How could such a propitiation be offered, save by One Whose intrinsic worth might tender some worthy offering from a boundless Love to a perfect Justice? How was a real reconciliation between God and His creatures to be effected, unless the Reconciler had some natural capacity for mediating, unless He could represent God to man no less truly than man to God? How could He ‘exchange’ Divine glory for human misery, or raise man in his misery to companionship with God, unless He were Himself Divine? Alas! brethren, if Jesus Christ be not God, the promises of redemption to which penitent and dying sinners cling with such thankful tenacity, forthwith dissolve into the evanescent forms of Jewish modes of thought, and unsubstantial misleading metaphors. If Jesus be not God, we stand face to face in the New Testament, not with the unsearchable riches, the boundless mercy of a Divine Savior, able ‘to save to the uttermost those that come unto God by Him,’ but only with the crude and clinging prejudices of His uneducated or semi-educated followers. But if it be certain that ‘in this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent His Only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him84,’ then the disclosures of revelation respecting the efficacy of His Death do not appear to be excessive. Vast as is the conclusion of a world of sinners redeemed, atoned for, reconciled, the premiss that Jesus Crucified is truly God more than warrants it. And the accompaniments of the Passion are such as might have been anticipated by the faith of the Church. Why those darkened heavens? Why that rent veil in the temple? Why those shattered rocks? Why do those ‘bodies of the saints which slept’ return from the realms of death to the city of the living? Nature, could she speak, would answer that her Lord is crucified. But her convulsive homage before the Cross of Christ is as nothing when compared to a moral miracle of which the only sensible symptoms are an entreaty and a promise, uttered alike in human words. ‘Not when Christ raised the dead, not when He rebuked the sea and the winds, not when He expelled the devils,—but when He was crucified, pierced with the nails, insulted, spit upon, reproached, reviled,—had He strength to change the evil disposition of the robber, to draw to Himself that soul, harder though it were than the rocks around, and to honor it with the promise, ‘To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise85.’ That promise was a revelation of the depth and height of His redemptive power; it was a flash of His Godhead, illuminating the true meaning of His humiliations as Man. If then we believe Him to be God, we bow our heads before His Cross, as in the presence of fathomless mystery, while we listen to His apostles as they unfold the results of His Death. If we are perplexed with some difficulties in contemplating these results, we may remember that we are but hovering on the outskirts of a vast economy of mercy reaching far away beyond our furthest sight, and that the seen will one day be explained by the unseen. But at least no magnitude of redemptive mercies can possibly surprise us, when the Redeemer is known to be Divine; we say to ourselves with St. Paul, ‘If God spared not His Own Son, but freely gave Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?’
(c) As our Lord’s Divinity is the truth which illuminates and sustains the world-redeeming virtue of His death, so in like manner it explains and justifies the power of the Christian Sacraments, as actual channels of supernatural grace.
To those who deny that Jesus Christ is God, the Sacraments are naturally nothing more than ‘badges or tokens’ of social cooperation86. The one Sacrament is only ‘a sign of profession and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened87.’ The other is at best ‘only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have one towards another88.’ Thus sacraments are viewed as altogether human acts; God gives nothing in them; He has no special relation to them89. They are regarded as purely external ceremonies, which may possibly suggest certain moral ideas by recalling the memory of a Teacher who died many centuries ago90. They help to save His name from dying out among men. Thus they discharge the functions of a public monument, or of a ribbon or medal implying membership in an association, or of an anniversary festival instituted to celebrate the name of some departed historical worthy. It cannot be said that in point of effective moral power they rise to the level of a good statue or portrait; since a merely outward ceremonial cannot recall character and suggest moral sympathy as effectively as an accurate rendering of the human countenance in stone, or color, or the lines of an engraving. Rites, with a function so purely historical, are not likely to survive any serious changes in human feelings and associations. Men gradually determine to commemorate the object of their regard in some other way, which may perhaps be more in harmony with their personal tastes; they do not admit that this particular form of commemoration, although enjoined by the Author of Christianity, binds their consciences with the force of any moral obligation; they end by deciding that it is just as well to neglect such commemorations altogether.
If the Socinian and Zwinglian estimate of the Sacraments had been that of the Church of Christ, the Sacraments would long ago have been abandoned as useless ceremonies. But the Church has always seen in them not mere outward signs addressed to the taste or to the imagination, nor even signs (as Calvinism asserts) which are tokens of grace received independently of them91, but signs which, through the power of the promise and words of Christ, effect what they signify. They are ‘effectual signs of grace and God’s good-will towards us, by the which He doth work invisibly in us92.’ Thus in baptism the Christian child is made ‘a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven93.’ And ‘the Body and Blood of Christ are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the Lord’s Supper94.’
This lofty estimate of the effective power of the Christian Sacraments is intimately connected with belief in the Divinity of the Incarnate Christ. The importance attached to the words in which Christ institutes and explains the Sacraments, varies concomitantly with belief in the Divinity of the Speaker. If the Speaker be held to be only man, then, in order to avoid imputing to him the language of inflated and thoughtless folly, it becomes necessary to empty the words of their natural and literal force by violent exegetical processes which, if applied generally, would equally destroy the witness of the New Testament to the Atonement or to the Divinity of Christ. But if Christ be in very truth believed to be the Eternal Son of God, then the words in which He provides for the communication of His life-giving Humanity in His Church to the end of time may well be allowed to stand in all the force and simplicity of their natural meaning. Baptism will then be the layer of a real regeneration95; the Eucharist will be a real ‘communion of the Body and Blood’ of the Incarnate Jesus96. If, with our eye upon Christ’s actual Godhead, we carefully weigh the momentous sentences in which He ordained97, and the still more explicit terms in which He explained98, His institutions; if we ponder well His earnestly enforced doctrine, that they who would have part in the Eternal Life must be branches of that Living Vine99 whose trunk is Himself; if we listen to His Apostle proclaiming that we are members of His Body, from His Flesh and from His Bones100; then in a sphere, so inaccessible to the measurements of natural reason, so absolutely controlled by the great axioms of faith, it will not seem incredible that ‘as many as have been baptized into Christ’ should really ‘have put on Christ101,’ or that ‘the Body of Jesus Christ which was given for us’ should now, when received sacramentally, ‘preserve our bodies and souls unto everlasting life102.’ In view of our Lord’s Divinity, we cannot treat as so much profitless and vapid metaphor the weighty sentences which Apostles have traced around the Font and the Altar, any more than we can deal thus lightly with the precious hopes and promises that are graven by the Divine Spirit upon the Cross. The Divinity of Christ warrants the realities of sacramental grace as truly as it warrants the cleansing virtue of the Atoning Blood. If it forbids our seeing in the Great Sacrifice for sin, nothing higher than a moral exemplar, it also forbids our degrading the august institutions of the Divine Redeemer to the level of the dead ceremonies of the ancient law. And conversely, belief in the reality of sacramental grace protects belief in a Christ Who is really Divine. Sacraments, if fully believed in, furnish outworks in the religious thought and in the daily habits of the Christian, which necessarily and jealously guard the prerogatives and honor of his adorable Lord.
That depreciation of the Sacraments has often been followed by depreciation of our Lord’s Eternal Person is a simple matter of history103. True, there have been and are earnest believers in our Lord’s Divinity who deny the realities of sacramental grace. But experience appears to show that their position may be only a transitional one. History illustrates the tendency to Humanitarian declension even in cases where sacramental belief, although imperfect, has been far nearer to the truth than is the bare naturalism of Zwingli104. Many English Presbyterian congregations, founded by men who fell away from the Church in the seventeenth century, were, during the eighteenth, absorbed into Arianism or Socinianism105. The pulpit and the chair of Calvin are filled by teachers who have, alas! much more in common with the Racovian Catechism than with the positive elements of the theology of the Institutes106. The restless mind of man cannot but at last press a principle to the real limit of its application, even although centuries should intervene between the premiss and the conclusion. If we imagine that the Sacraments are only picturesque memorials of an absent Christ, we are already in a fair way to believe that the Christ Who is thus commemorated as absent by a barren ceremony is Himself only and purely human. Certainly if Christ were not Divine, the efficacy of Sacraments as channels of graces that flow from His Manhood would be the wildest of fancies. Certainly if Sacraments are not thus channels of His grace, it is difficult to show that they have any rightful place in a dispensation, from which the dead forms and profitless shadows of the synagogue have been banished, and where all that is authorized is instinct with the power of a heavenly life. The fact that such institutions as the Sacraments are lawful in such a religion as the Gospel, of itself implies their real efficacy: their efficacy points to the Godhead of their Founder. Instead of only reviving the thought of a distant past, they quicken all the powers of the Christian by union with a present and living Savior; they assure us that Jesus of Nazareth is to us at this moment what He was to His first disciples eighteen centuries ago; they make us know and feel that He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, unchanging in His human tenderness, because Himself the unchanging God. It is the doctrine of Christ’s Divinity to which they point, and which in turn irradiates the perpetuity and the reality of their power.
(d) It is unnecessary for us to dwell more at length upon the light which our Lord’s Divinity sheds upon His Priestly office. We know that as His promise and presence make poor human words and simple elements the channels of His mercy, by taking them up into His kingdom and giving them a power which of themselves they have not, so it is His Divinity which makes His Intercession in Heaven so omnipotent a force. He intercedes above, by His very presence; He does not bend as a suppliant before the Sanctity of God; He is a Priest upon His Throne107. Nor may we linger over the bearings of His Divinity upon His Kingly office. The fact that He rules with a boundless power, may assure us that, whether willingly or by constraint, yet assuredly in the end, all moral beings shall be put under Him108. But you do not question the legitimacy of this obvious inference. And time forbids us to linger upon the topic, suggestive and interesting as it is. We pass then to consider an objection which will have been taking shape in many minds during the course of the preceding discussion.
III. You admit that the doctrine of Christ’s Godhead illuminates the force of other doctrines in the Christian creed, and that it explains the importance attributed to her sacramental ordinances by the Christian Church. But you have the interests of morality at heart; and you are concerned lest this doctrine should not merely fail to stimulate the moral life of men, but should even deprive mankind of a powerful incentive to moral energy. The Humanitarian Christ is, you contend, the most precious treasure in the moral capital of the world. He is the Perfect Man; and men can really copy a life which a brother man has lived. But if Christ’s Godhead be insisted on, you contend that His Human Life ceases to be of value as an ethical model for humanity. An example must be in some sense upon a level with those who essay to imitate it. A model being, the conditions of whose existence are absolutely distinct from the conditions which surround his imitators, will be deemed to be beyond the reach of any serious imitation. If then the dogma of Christ’s Godhead does illuminate and support other doctrines, this result is, in your judgment, purchased at the cost of practical interests. A merely human savior would at least be imitable; and he would thus better respond to the immediate moral necessities of man. For man is, after all, the child of common sense; and before he embarks upon a serious enterprise, he desires to be reasonably satisfied that he is not aiming at the impracticable.
1. Now this objection is of an essentially a priori character. It contends that, if Christ is God, His Manhood must be out of the reach of human imitation. It does not deny the fact that He has been most closely imitated by those who have believed most entirely in His true Divinity. in fact it seems to leave out of sight two very pertinent considerations.
(a) The objector appears to forget, on the one hand, that according to the terms of the Catholic doctrine, our Lord is truly and literally Man, and that it is His Human Nature which is proposed to our imitation. His Divinity does not destroy the reality of His Manhood, by overshadowing or absorbing it. Certainly the Divine attributes of Jesus are beyond our imitation; we can but adore a boundless intelligence or a resistless Will. But the province of the imitable in the Life of Jesus is not indistinctly traced. As the Friend of publicans and sinners, as the Consoler of those who suffer, and as the Helper of those who want, Jesus Christ is at home among us. We can copy Him, not merely in the outward activities of charity, but in its inward temper; we can copy the tenderness, the meekness, the patience, the courage, which shine forth from His Perfect Manhood. His Human Perfections constitute indeed a faultless Ideal of Beauty, which, as moral artists, we are bound to keep in view. What the true and highest model of a human life is, has been decided for us Christians by the appearance of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Others may endeavor to reopen that question. For us it is settled, and settled irrevocably. Nor are Christ’s Human Perfections other than human; they are not, after the manner of Divine attributes, out of our reach; they are not designed only to remind us of what human nature should, but cannot, be. We can approximate to them, even indefinitely. That in our present state of imperfection we should reproduce them in their fullness is indeed impossible; but it is certain that a close imitation of Jesus of Nazareth is at once our duty and our privilege. For God has ‘predestinated us to be conformed’ by that which we do, not less than by that which we endure, to the Human Image of His Blessed Son, ‘that He might be the Firstborn among many brethren109.’
(b) Nor, on the other hand, may it be forgotten that if we can thus copy our Lord, it is not in the strength of our fallen nature. Vain indeed would be the effort, if in a spirit of Pelagian self-reliance, we should endeavor to reproduce in our own lives the likeness of Christ. Our nature left to itself, enfeebled and depraved, cannot realize the ideal of which it is a wreck, until a higher power has entered into it, and made it what of itself it cannot be. Therefore the power of imitating Jesus comes from Jesus through His Spirit, His Grace, His Presence. Now, as in St. Paul’s day, ‘Jesus Christ is in us’ Christians, ‘except we be reprobates110.’ The ‘power that worketh in us’ is no mere memory of a distant past. It is not natural force of feeling, nor the strength with which self-discipline may brace the will. It is a living, energizing, transforming influence, inseparable from the presence of a ‘quickening Spirit111’ such as is in very deed our glorified Lord. If Christ bids us follow Him, it is because He Himself is the enabling principle of our obedience. If He would have us be like unto Himself, this is because He is willing by His indwelling Presence to reproduce His likeness within us. If it is His Will that we should grow up unto Him in all things Who is the Head, even Christ112; this is because His life-giving and life-sustaining power is really distributed throughout the body of His members113. Of ourselves we are ‘miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked114.’ But we take counsel of Him, and buy of ‘His gold tried in the fire;’ and forthwith we ‘can do all things through Him That strengtheneth’ us115. It is the Spiritual Presence of Christ in the Church and in Christian souls which makes the systematic imitation of Christ something else than a waste of energy116. But if the Christ Whom we imitate be truly human, the Christ Who thus creates and fertilizes moral power within us must be Divine. His Divinity does not disturb the outline of that model which is supplied by His Manhood; while it does furnish us with a stock of inward force, in the absence of which an imitation of the Perfect moral Being would be a fruitless enterprise.
2. Indeed, it is precisely this belief in the Divinity of our Lord which has enriched human life with moral virtues such as civilized paganism could scarcely have appreciated, and which it certainly could not have created. The fruitfulness of this great doctrine in the sphere of morals will be more immediately apparent, if we consider one or two samples of its productiveness.
(a) When Greek thought was keenest, and Greek art most triumphantly creative, and Greek political life so organized as to favor in a degree elsewhere unknown among men the play of man’s highest natural energies, Greek society was penetrated through and through by an invisible enemy, more fatal in its ravages to thought, to art, to freedom, than the sword of any Persian or Macedonian foe117. And already in the age of the early Caesars, Rome carried in her bosom the secret of her impending decline and fall in the coming centuries. Christian moralists detected and exposed it in terms118 which are fully borne out by writers devoted to the old pagan society. The life-blood of a race may be drained away less nobly than on the battle-field. Every capacity for high and generous exertion, or for the cheerful endurance of suffering at the bidding of duty, all the stock of moral force on which a country can rely in its hour of trial, may be sapped, destroyed, annihilated by a domestic traitor. So it fared with imperial Rome. The fate of the great empire was not really decided on the Rhine or on the Danube. Before the barbarians had as yet begun to muster their savage hordes along the frontiers of ancient civilization, their work had wellnigh been completed, their victory had been won, in the cities, the palaces, nay, in the very temples of the empire. And upon what resources could the old Pagan Society fall back, in its alarm at, and struggle with this formidable foe? It could not depend upon the State. The Emperor was the State by impersonation; and not unfrequently it happened that the Emperor was the public friend and patron of the State’s worst enemy. Nor could any reliance be placed upon philosophy. Doubtless philosophy meant well in some of its phases, in some of its representatives. But philosophy is much too feeble a thing to enter the lists successfully with animal passion; and, as a matter of fact, philosophy has more than once been compelled or cajoled into placing her intellectual weapons at the disposal of the sensualist. Nor did religion herself, in her pagan guise, supply the needed element of resistance and cure. Her mysteries were the sanction, her temples the scene, her priests the ministers of the grossest debaucheries: and the misery of a degraded society might have seemed to be complete, when the institutions which were designed to shed some rays of light and love from a higher sphere upon the woes and brutalities of this lower world, did but consecrate and augment the thick moral darkness which made of earth a very hell119.
Now, that Jesus Christ has breasted this evil, is a matter of historical fact. His victory is chronicled, if not in the actual practice, yet in the conventional standard of modern society. Certainly the evil in question has not been fairly driven beyond the frontiers of Christendom; the tone of our social intercourse, the sympathies of our literature, the proceedings of our law-courts, would remind us from time to time ‘that the Canaanite is yet in the land.’ But if he is not yet expelled from our borders, at least he is forced to skulk away from the face of a society which still names the Name of Jesus Christ. The most advanced skepticism among us at the present day does not venture with impunity to advocate habits which were treated as matters of course by the friends of Plato: even the licence of our sensuous poetry does not screen such advocacy from earnest and general indignation. This is because, far beyond the circle of His true worshippers, Jesus Christ has created in modern society a public opinion, sternly determined to discountenance and condemn moral mischief, which yet it may be unable wholly to prevent. This public opinion is sometimes tempted to disown its real parentage and its undoubted obligations. Instead of rejoicing to confess itself the pupil of Christ, it imagines schemes of independent morality framed altogether by human thinkers, which may relieve it of its sense of indebtedness to our Lord. But as a matter of fact, all that is thus true and wholesome in the national mind is an intellectual radiation from that actual mass of living purity, wherewith the Healer of men has beautified the lives of millions of Christians. And how has Jesus made men pure? Did He insist upon prudential and hygienic considerations? Did He prove that the laws of the physical world cannot be strained or broken with physical impunity? No. For, at least, He knew human nature well; and experience does not justify the anticipation that scientific demonstrations of the physical consequences of sensual indulgence will be equal to the task of checking the surging impetuosity of passion. Did Christ, then, call men to purity only by the beauty of His Own example? Did He only confront them with a living ideal of purity, so bright and beautiful as to shame them into hatred of animal degradation? Again I say, Jesus Christ knew human nature well. If He had only offered an example of perfect purity, He would but have repeated the work of the ancient Law; He would have given us an ideal, without the capacity of realizing it; He would have at best created a torturing sense of shortcoming and pollution, stimulated by the vision of an unattainable standard of perfection. Therefore He did not merely afford us in a Human form a faultless example of chaste humanity. He did more. He did that which He could only do as being in truth the Almighty God. He made Himself one with our human nature, that He might heal and bless it through its contact with His Divinity. He folded it around His Eternal Person; He made it His own; He made it a power which could quicken and restore us. And then, by the gift of His Spirit, and by sacramental joints and bands, He bound us to it120; He bound us through it to Himself; nay, He robed us in it; by it He entered into us, and made our members His own. Henceforth, then, the tabernacle of God is with men121; and ‘corpus regenerati fit caro Crucifixi.’ Henceforth Christian humanity is to be conscious of a Presence within it122, before which the unclean spirit cannot choose but shrink away discomfited and shamed123. The Apostle’s argument to the Corinthian Christians expresses the language of the Christian conscience in presence of impure temptations, to the end of time. ‘Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid124.’ From that day to this, the recoil from an ingratitude which a Christian only can exhibit, the dread of an act of sacrilege which a Christian only can commit, the loving recognition of an inward Presence which a Christian only can possess—these have been the controlling, sustaining, hallowing motives which by God’s grace have won the victory. But these motives are rooted in a doctrine of Christ’s sacramental union with His people, which is the veriest fable unless the indwelling Christ be truly God. The power of these motives to sustain us in purity varies with our hold on the master-truth which they so entirely presuppose. Such motives are strong and effective when our faith in a Divine Christ is strong; they are weak when our faith in His Divinity is weak; they vanish from our moral life, and leave us a prey to our enemy, when the Godhead of Jesus is explicitly denied, and when the language which asserts the true incorporation of an Almighty Savior with our frail humanity is resolved into the fantastic drapery of an empty metaphor.
(b) If the civilized pagan was impure, he was also proud and self-asserting. He might perhaps deem overt acts of pride an imprudence, on the ground that they were likely to provoke a Nemesis from some spiteful deity. The fates were against continued prosperity; and it was unwise to boast of that which they waited to destroy,—
‘Invida fatorum series, summisque negatum
Stare diu, nimioque graves sub pondere lapsus125.’
But when this prudential consideration did not weigh with him, the pagan gave full scope to the assertion of self in thought, word, and act. The sentiment of pride was not in conflict with his higher conscience, as would be the case with Christians. He indulged it without scruple, nay rather upon principle,—
‘Secundas fortunas decent superbiae126.’
He was utterly unable to see intrinsic evil in it; and it penetrated in a subtle but intense form into the heart of those better ethical systems which, like the later Stoicism, appeared most nearly to rival the moral glories of the Gospel. Pride indeed might seem to have been the misery of paganism rather than its fault. For man cannot detach himself from himself. Man is to himself, under all circumstances, an ever-present subject of thought; but whether this thought is humbly to correspond to the real conditions of his existence, or is to assume the proportions of a turgid and miserable exaggeration, will depend on the question whether man does or does not see constantly and truly That One Being Who alone can reveal to him his true place in the moral and intellectual universe. Paganism was not humble, because to paganism the true God was but a name. The whole life and thought of the pagan world was therefore very naturally based on pride. Its literature, its governments, its religious institutions, its social organization and hierarchy, its doctrines about human life and human duty—all alike were based on the principle of a boundless self-assertion. They were based on that cruel and brutal principle which in the end hands over to the keenest wit and to the strongest arm the scepter of a tyranny, that knows no bounds, save those of its strongest lust, checked and controlled by the most lively apprehensions of its selfish foresight. Now how did Jesus Christ confront this power of pride thus dominant in the old pagan world? By precept? Undoubtedly. ‘The kings of the Gentiles,’ He said to His followers, ‘exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so.127’ ‘Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted128.’ By example? Let us listen to Him. ‘Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls129.’ ‘If I your Lord and Master have washed your feet, ye ought to wash one another’s feet130.’
But why was His example so cogent? What was it in Jesus Christ which revealed to man the moral beauty and the moral power of the humiliation of self? Was it that being a Man, Who had within His grasp the prizes which are at the command of genius, or the state and luxuries which may be bought by wealth, He put these things from Him? If He was only Man, did He really forego wealth and station? Were they ever—at least on a great scale—within His reach? Even if it be thought that they were, was His renunciation of them a measure of ‘that mind which is in Christ Jesus131,’ to which St. Paul directs the gaze of the practical Christian? St. Paul, as we have seen, meant something far higher than the refusal of any earthly greatness when he drew attention to the self-renunciation of his Lord and Master. ‘Being in the form of God, . . . He emptied Himself of His glory, and took on Him the form of a slave132.’ Historically speaking, it is not Christ’s renunciation of earthly advantages which has really availed to make Christians humble. The strongest motives to Christian humility are, first, the nearer sight of God’s Purity and Blessedness which we attain through communion with His Blessed Son, and next, or rather especially, as the Apostle points out, the real scope and force of Christ’s own example. Christ left the glory which He had with the Father before the world was, to become Man. He ‘took upon Him our flesh, and suffered death upon the Cross, that all mankind might follow the example of His great humility133.’ Therefore the manifestations of humility in Christendom have varied, on the whole, correspondingly with earnestness of belief in that pre-existent glory from which the Redeemer bent so humbly to the Cross of shame. Certainly, in Jesus this deepest of humiliations was the fruit of His charity for souls; whereas, in us, humble thoughts and deeds are the necessary because the just expression of a true self-knowledge. Yet, nevertheless, the doctrine of Christ’s true Godhead, discerned through the voluntary lowliness and sufferings of His Manhood, braces humility, and rebukes pride at the bar of the Christian conscience. Can men really see God put such honor on humility, and be as though they saw it not? Can a creature, who has nothing good in him that he has not received, and whose moral evil is entirely his own, behold the Highest One thus teaching him the truthful attitude of a created life, without emotion, without shame, without practical self-abasement? What place is there for great assertions of self in a man who sincerely believes that he has been saved by the Death of the Incarnate Son of God? Who has the heart to vaunt his own opinion, or to parade his accomplishments, or to take secret pleasure in income or station or intellectual power, when he reflects upon the astonishing grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who, when He was rich, for our sakes became poor134? It is the Incarnation which has confronted human pride, by revealing God clearly to the conscience of men, but also, and especially, by practically setting the highest possible honor upon extreme self-humiliation. It is the Incarnation which has led men to veil high gifts, and to resign places of influence, and to forego the advantages of wealth and birth, that they might have some part, however fractionally small, in the moral glories of Bethlehem and Calvary. It is the Incarnation which has thus saved society again and again from the revolutionary or despotic violence of unbridled ambitions, by bringing into the field of political activity the corrective, compensating force of active self-denial. An enthusiasm for withdrawal from the general struggle to aggrandize self has fascinated those worshippers of an Incarnate God, who have learnt from Him the true glory of taking the lowest place at the feast of human life. But the motive for such repression of self is powerful only so far as faith in Christ’s Godhead is clear and strong. The culture of humility does not enter into the ordinary schemes of natural ethics; and Humanitarian doctrines are found, as a rule, to accompany intellectual and social self-assertion. It has been true from the first, it is true at this hour, that a sincere faith which recognizes in the Son of Mary, laid in His manger and nailed to His Cross, none other than the Only-begotten Son of God, is the strongest incentive to conquer the natural pride of the human heart, and to learn the bearing of a little child135— that true note of predestined nobility—in the Kingdom of Heaven.
(c) Let us take one more illustration of the moral fruitfulness of a faith in the Divinity of our Savior. There is a grace, to which the world itself does homage, and which those who bend neither heart nor knee before the world’s Redeemer admit to be the consequence of His appearance among men.
Heathenism, as being impure and proud, was consistently unloving. For as the one vice eats out the delicacy and heart of all true tenderness, so the other systematically enthrones self upon the ruins of the unselfish affections. Despite the Utopian sketches which have been drawn by the philosophers of the last century, the sentiment of ‘humanity’ is too feeble a thing to create in us a true love of man as man. Man does not, in his natural state, love his brother man, except it be from motives of interest or blood-relationship. Nay, man regards all who are not thus related to him as forming the great company of his natural rivals and enemies, from whom he has nothing to expect save that which the might or the prudence of self-interest may dictate.
'to gar oikeion piezei
panq omwj euquj d aphmwn kradia
kadoj amf allotrion.136'
Such is the voice of unchristianized nature: man’s highest love is the love of self, varied by those subordinate affections which minister to self-love: and society is an agglomeration of self-loving beings, whose ruling instincts are shaped by force or by prudence into a political whole, but who are ever ready, as opportunity may arise, to break forth into the excesses of an unchecked barbarism. Contempt for and cruelty towards the slave, hatred of the political or literary rival, suspicious aversion for the foreigner, disbelief in the reality of human virtue and of human disinterestedness, were recognized ingredients in the temper of pagan times. The science of life consisted in solving a practical equation between the measure of evil which it was desirable to inflict upon others, and the amount of suffering which it might be necessary to endure at their hands. Love of mankind would have seemed folly to a society, the recognized law of whose life was selfishness, and whose vices culminated in a mutual hatred between man and man, class and class, race and race, thinly veiled by the hollow conventionalisms which distinguish Pagan civilization from pure barbarism137.
How did Jesus Christ reform this social corruption? He gave the New Commandment. ‘This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you138.’ But was His love merely the love of a holy man for those whose hearts were too dull and earthly to love Him in return? Could such a human love as this have availed to compass a moral revolution, and to change the deepest instincts of mankind? Is it not a fact that Christians have measured the love of Jesus Christ as man measures all love, by observing the degree in which it involves the gift of self? Love is ever the gift of self. It gives that which costs us something, or it is not love. Its spirit may vary in the degree of intensity, but it is ever the same. It is always and everywhere the sacrifice of self. It is the gift of time, or of labor, or of income, or of affection; it is the surrender of reputation and of honor; it is the acceptance of sorrow and of pain for others. The warmth of the spirit of love varies with the felt greatness of the sacrifice which expresses it and which is its life. Therefore the love of the Divine Christ is infinite. ‘He loved me,’ says an apostle, ‘and gave Himself for me139.’ The ‘Self’ which He gave for man was none other than the Infinite God: the reality of Christ’s Godhead is the truth which can alone measure the greatness of His love. The charities of His earthly life are but so many sparks from the central column of flame, which burns in the Self-devotion of the Eternal Son of God. The agonies of His Passion are illuminated each and all with a moral no less than a doctrinal meaning, by the momentous truth that He Who is crucified between two thieves is nevertheless the Lord of Glory. From this faith in the voluntary Self-immolation of the Most Holy, a new power of love has streamed forth into the soul of man140. Of this love, before the Incarnation, man not only had no experience; his moral education would not have trained him even to admire it. But the Infinite Being bowing down to Self-chosen humiliation and agony, that, without violating His essential attributes, He might win to Himself the heart of His erring creatures, has provoked an answer of grateful love, first towards Himself, and then for His sake towards His creatures. Thus ‘with His Own right Hand, and with His holy Arm, He hath gotten Himself the victory141’ over the selfishness as over the sins of man. ‘We love Him because He first loved us142.’ If human life has been brightened by the thousand courtesies of our Christian civilization; if human pain has been alleviated by the unnumbered activities of Christian charity; if the face of Christendom is beautified by institutions which cheer the earthly existence of millions; these results are due to Christian faith in the Charity of the Redeemer, which is infinite because the Redeemer is Divine. And thus the temples of Christendom, visibly perpetuating the worship of Christ from age to age, are not the only visible witnesses among us to His Divine prerogatives. The hospital, in which the bed of anguish is soothed by the hand of science under the guidance of love; the penitentiary, where the victims of a selfish passion are raised to a new moral life by the care and delicacy of an unmercenary tenderness; the school, which gathers the ragged outcasts of our great cities, rescuing them from the ignorance and vice of which else they must be the prey;—what is the fountain-head of these blessed and practical results, but the truth of His Divinity, Who has kindled man into charity by giving Himself for man? The moral results of Calvary are what they are, because Christ is God. He Who stooped from heaven to the humiliations of the Cross has opened in the heart of redeemed man a fountain of love and compassion. No distinctions within the vast circle of the human family can narrow or pervert its course; nor can it cease to flow while Christians believe, that Christ crucified for men is the Only-begotten Son of God.
It is therefore an error to suppose that the doctrine of our Lord’s Divinity has impoverished the moral life of Christendom ‘by removing Christ from the category of imitable beings.’ For on the one hand, the doctrine leaves His Humanity altogether intact; on the other, it enhances the force of His example as a model of the graces of humility and love. Thus from age to age this doctrine has in truth fertilized the moral soul of human life, not less than it has guarded and illuminated intellectual truth. How indeed could it be otherwise? ‘If God spared not His Own Son, but freely gave Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?’ Who shall wonder if wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption are given with the gift of the Eternal Son? Who shall wonder if by this gift, a keen, strong sense of the Personality and Life of God, and withal a true estimate of man’s true dignity, of his capacity, through grace, for the highest forms of life, are guarded in the sanctuary of human thought? Who shall gainsay it, if along with this gift we inherit a body of revealed and certain truth, reposing on the word of an Infallible Teacher; if we are washed in a stream of cleansing Blood, which flows from an atoning; fountain opened on Calvary for the sin and uncleanness of a guilty world; if we are sustained by sacraments which make us really partakers of the Nature of our God; if we are capable of virtues which embellish and elevate humanity, yet which, but for the strength and example of our Lord, might have seemed too plainly unattainable?
For the Divinity of God’s Own Son, freely given for us sinners to suffer and to die, is the very heart of our Christian faith. It cannot be denied without tearing out the vitals of a living Christianity. Its roots are struck far back into the prophecy, the typology, the ethics, of the Old Testament. It alone supplies a satisfactory explanation of the moral attitude of Jesus Christ towards His contemporaries. It is the true key to His teaching, to His miracles, to the leading mysteries of His life, to His power of controlling the issues of history. As such, it is put forward by apostles who, differing in much besides, were made one by this faith in His Divinity and in the truths which are bound up with it. It enters into the world of speculative discussion; it is analyzed, criticized, denounced, proscribed, betrayed; yet it emerges from the crucible wherein it has been exposed to the action of every intellectual solvent that hostile ingenuity could devise; it has lost nothing from, it has added nothing to, its original significance; it has only been clothed in a symbol which interprets it to new generations, and which lives in the confessions of the grateful Church. Its later history is explained when we remember the basis on which it really rests. The question of Christ’s Divinity is the question of the truth or falsehood of Christianity. ‘If Christ be not God,’ it has been truly said, ‘He is not so great as Mohammed.’ But Christ’s moral relation to Mohammed may safely be left to every unsophisticated conscience; and if the conscience owns in Him the Moral Chief of humanity, it must take Him at His word when He unveils before it His superhuman glory.
But the doctrine of Christ’s Divinity does not merely bind us to the historic past, and above all to the first records of Christianity; it is at this hour the strength of the Christian Church. There are forces abroad in the world of thought which, if they could be viewed apart from all that counteracts them, might well make a Christian fear for the future of humanity. It is not merely that the Church is threatened with the loss of possessions secured to her by the reverence of centuries, and of a place of honor which may perhaps have guarded civilization more effectively than it can be shown to have strengthened religion. The Faith has once triumphed without these gifts of Providence; and, if God wills, she can again dispense with them. But never since the first ages of the Gospel was fundamental Christian truth denied and denounced so largely, and with such passionate animosity, as is the case at this moment in each of the most civilized nations of Europe. It may be that God has in store for His Church greater trials to her faith than she has yet experienced; it may be that along with the revived scorn of the old pagan spirit, the persecuting sword of pagan hatred will yet be unsheathed. Be it so, if so He wills it. The holy city is strong in knowing ‘that God is in the midst of her, therefore shall she not be removed; God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen make much ado, and the kingdoms are moved; but God hath showed His Voice, and the earth shall melt away.’ When the waters of human opinion rage and swell, and the mountains shake at the tempest of the same, our Divine Lord is not unequal to the defense of His Name and His Honor. If the sky seem dark and the winds contrary; if ever and anon the strongest intellectual and social currents of our civilization mass themselves threateningly, as if to overwhelm the holy bark as she rides upon the waves; we know Who is with her, unwearied and vigilant, though He should seem to sleep. His presence forbids despondency; His presence assures us that a cause which has consistently conquered in its day of apparent failure, cannot but calmly abide the issue. ‘Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.’
Would that these anxieties might in God’s good providence work out a remedy for the wounds of His Church! Would that, in presence of the common foe, and yet more by clinging to the common faith, Christians could learn to understand each other! Surely it might seem that agreement in so stupendous a belief as the Divinity of our Crucified Lord might avail to overshadow, or rather to force on a reconciliation of the differences which divide those who share it. Is it but the indulgence of a fond dream to hope that a heartier, more meditative, more practical grasp of the Divinity of Jesus will one day again unite His children in the bonds of a restored unity? Is it altogether chimerical to expect that Christians who believe Christ to be truly God, will see more clearly what is involved in that faith, and what is inconsistent with it; that they will supply what is wanting or will abandon what is untenable in their creed and practice, so that before men and angels they may openly unite in the adoring confession of their Divine Head? The pulse quickens, and the eyes fill with tears, at the bare thought of this vision of peace, at this distant but blessed prospect of a reunited Christendom. What dark doubts would it not dispel! What deep consolations would it not shed forth on millions of souls! What fascination would not the spectacle of concordant prayer and harmonious action among the servants of Christ exert over the hearts of sinners! With what majestic energy would the reinvigorated Church, ‘terrible as an army with banners,’ address herself forthwith to the heartier promotion of man’s best interests, to the richer development of the Christian life, to more energetic labors for the conversion of the world! But we may not dwell, except in hope and prayer, upon the secrets of Divine Providence. It may be our Lord’s purpose to show to His servants of this generation only His work, and to reserve for their children the vision of His glory. It must be our duty, in view of His revealed Will, and with a simple faith in His Wisdom and His Power, to pray our Lord ‘that all they that do confess God’s Holy Name, may agree in the truth of His Holy Word, and live in unity and godly love.’
But here we must close this attempt to reassert, against some misapprehensions of modern thought, the great truth which guards the honor of Christ, and which is the most precious feature in the intellectual heritage of Christians. And for you, dear brethren, who by your generous interest or by your warm sympathies have so accompanied and sustained him, what can the preacher more fittingly or more sincerely desire, than that any clearer sight of the Divine Person of our glorious and living Lord which may have been granted you, may be, by Him, blessed to your present sanctification and to your endless peace? If you are intellectually persuaded that in confessing the true Godhead of Jesus you have not followed a cunningly-devised fable, or the crude imagination of a semi-barbarous and distant age, then do not allow yourselves to rest content with this intellectual persuasion. A truth so sublime, so imperious, has other work to do in you besides shaping into theoretic compactness a certain district of your thought about the goodness of God and the wants of man. The Divine Christ of the Gospel and the Church is no mere actor, though He were the greatest, in the great tragedy of human history; He belongs not exclusively or especially to the past; He is ‘the Same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.’ He is at this moment all that He was eighteen centuries ago, all that He has been to our fathers, all that He will be to our children. He is the Divine and Infallible Teacher, the Healer and Pardoner of sin, the Source of all graces, the Conqueror of Satan and of death—now, as of old, and as in years to come. Now as heretofore, He is ‘able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by Him;’ now, as on the day of His triumph over death, ‘He opens the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers;’ now, as in the first age of the Church, He it is ‘that hath the key of David, that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth143;’ He is ever the Same; but, as the children of time, whether for good or evil, we move onwards in perpetual change. The hours of life pass, they do not return; they pass, yet they are not forgotten; ‘pereunt et imputantur.’ But the present is our own; we may resolve, if we will, to live as men who live for the glory of an Incarnate God. Brethren, you shall not repent it, if, when life’s burdens press heavily, and especially at that solemn hour when human help must fail, you are able to lean with strong confidence on the arm of an Almighty Savior. May He in deed and truth be with you, alike in your pilgrimage through this world, and when that brief journey is drawing to its close! May you, sustained by His Presence and aid, so pass through the valley of the shadow of death as to fear no evil, and to find, at the gate of the eternal world, that all the yearnings of faith and hope are to be more than satisfied by the vision of the Divine ‘King in His Beauty!’
7. M. Renan’s frequent mention of ‘God’ in his ‘Vie de Jésus’ does not imply that he believes in a Supreme Being. ‘God’ means with M. Renan only ‘the category of the ideal,’ and not any existing personal being whatever. Questions contemporaines, p. 224: ‘Les sciences historiques ne différent en rien par la méthode des sciences physiques et mathématiques: elles supposent qu’aucun agent surnaturel ne vient troubler la marche de l’humanité; que cette marche est la résultante immédiate de la liberté qui est dans l’homme et de la fatalité qui est dans la nature; qu’il n’y a pas d’être libre supérieur a l’homme auquel on puisse attribuer une part appréciable dans la conduite morale, non plus que dans la conduite matérielle de l’univers.’
10. Colenso on the Pentateuch, vol. iii. p. 623: ‘[In Matt. iv. 4, 7, 10] we have quotations from Deut. viii. 3; vi. 16; vi. I3; x. 20. And it is well known that there are many other passages in the Gospels and Epistles, in which this book is referred to, and in some of which Moses is expressly mentioned as the writer of the words in question, e.g. Acts iii. 22; Rom. x. 19. And, though it is true that, in the texts above quoted, the words are not, indeed, ascribed to Moses, but are merely introduced with the phrase ‘It is written,’ yet in Matt. xix. 7 the Pharisees refer to a passage in Deut. xxiv. 1 as a law of Moses; and our Lord in His reply, ver. 8, repeats their language, and practically adopts it as correct, and makes it His own.
11. Colenso on the Pentateuch, vol. i. p. xxxi: ‘It is perfectly consistent with the most entire and sincere belief in our Lord’s Divinity to hold, as many do, that, when He vouchsafed to become a “Son of Man,” He took our nature fully, and voluntarily entered into all the conditions of humanity, and, among others, into that which makes our growth in all ordinary knowledge gradual and limited. We are expressly told, in Luke ii. 52, that “Jesus increased in wisdom,” as well as in “stature.” It is not supposed that, in His human nature, He was acquainted, more than any educated Jew of the age, with the mysteries of all modern sciences; nor, with St. Luke’s expressions before us, can it be seriously maintained that, as an infant or young child, He possessed a knowledge surpassing that of the most pious and learned adults of His nation, upon the subject of the authorship and age of the different portions of the Pentateuch. At what period, then, of His life upon earth, is it to be supposed that He had granted to Him, as the Son of Man, supernaturally, full and accurate information on these points, so that He should be expected to speak about the Pentateuch in other terms than any other devout Jew of that day would have employed? Why should it be thought that he would speak with certain Divine knowledge on this matter, more than upon other matters of ordinary science or history?’
12. St. Athanasius comments as follows upon St. Mark xiii. 32,'oude o Uioj.' Contr. Arian. Or. iii. c. 44: 'dia touto kai peri aggelwn legwn ouk eirhken epanabainwn, oti oude to Pneuma to agion, all esiwphse, deiknuj kata duo tauta, oti ei to Pneuma oiden, pollw mallon o Logoj h Logoj estin oide, par ou kai to Pneuma lambanei, kai oti peri tou Pneumatoj siwphsaj faneron pepoihken, oti peri thj anqrwpinhj autou leitourgiaj elegen; oude o Uioj; kai toutou tekmhrion, oti anqrwpinwj eirhkwj, oude o Uioj oide, deiknusin omwj qeikwj eauton ta panta eidota. on gar legei Uion thn hmeran mh eidenai, touton eidenai legei ton Patera; oudeij gar, fhsi, ginwskei ton Patera ei mh o Uioj. paj de plhn twn Areianwn sunomologhseien, wj o ton Patera ginwskwn pollw mallon oiden thj ktisewj to olon, en de tw olw kai to teloj esti tauthj.'
Olshausen observes, in Ev. Matt. xxiv. 36, Comm. i. p. 909: ‘Ist aber vom Sohne Gottes hier die Rede, so kann das von ihm prädicirte Nichtwissen der 'hmera' und 'wra' kein absolutes seyn, indem die Wesenseinheit des Vaters und des Sohnes das Wissen des Sohnes und des Vaters nicht specifisch zu trennen gestattet; es muss vielmehr nur von dem Zustande der 'kenwsij' des Herrn in Stande seiner Niedrigkeit verstanden werden.’
17. In the same way, every man’s stock of opinions is of a twofold character: it is partly traditional and partly acquired by personal investigation and thought. The traditionally received element in the mind, may be held, as such, with the utmost tenacity; and yet there is a real 'increase in wisdom,’ when this element is, so to speak, taken possession of a second time by means of personal inquiry and reflection. This is, of course, a very remote analogy to the Sacred Subject discussed in the text, but it may serve to suggest how the facts of an infused knowledge and a real 'proekopte sofia' in our Lord’s Human Soul may have been compatible.
18. The following remarks of Dr. Klee will be read with interest. Dogmatik, p. 511: ‘Der Menschheit Christi kann keine absolute Vollendung und Imperfectibilitat der Erkenntniss von Anfang an zugelegt werden, weil dann Christus im Eingange in seine Glorie in Bezug auf sie unverherrlicht geblieben ware, was nicht wohl angenommen werden kann; weil ferner dann in Christo eine wahrhafte Allwissenheit angenommen werden müsste, was mit der menschlichen Natur und dem menschlichen Willen nicht wohl zu vereinbaren ist; und wenn Einige sich damit helfen zu können glaubten, dass diese Allwissenheit immer nur eine aus Gnade mitgetheilte ware, so ist dagegen zu bemerken, dass die Menschheit dann aus Gnade auch die andern gottlichen Attribute, z. B. Allmacht haben könnte, und wenn man dieses mit der Entgegnung aus dem Felde zu schlagen glaubt, dass die Allmacht die Gottheit selbst, mithin absolut incommunicabel ist, so muss erwidert werden, dass die Allwissenheit ebenso Gottes Wesen selbst, somit unmittheilbar ist.’
21. St. Aug. de Trin. i. 12: ‘Hoc enim nescit, quod nescientes facit, id est, quod non ita sciebat ut tunc discipulis indicaret.’ St. Ambros. de Fide, v. § 222 : ‘Nostrum assumpsit affectum, ut nostra ignoratione nescire se diceret, non quia aliquid ipse nesciret.’ St. Hil. de Trin. ix. 62. See the passages accumulated by Dr. Newman, Select Treatises of St. Athanasius, p.464, note f, Lib. Fath.
24. Klee says: ‘It was impossible, in virtue of the Hypostatic Union, to ascribe to the Human Soul of Christ an absolute science and a perfect knowledge. On this subject, however, there is a very marked difference between the Fathers.’ Dogmengeschichte, ii. 4. 7. Of the Fathers cited by Klee the majority assert a limitation of knowledge in our Lord’s Human Soul.
25. St. Iren. adv. Haer. ii. 28, 6: ‘Irrationabiliter autem inflati, audaciter inenarrabilia Dei mysteria scire vos dicitis; quandoquidem et Dominus, ipse Filius Dei, ipsum judicii diem et horam concessit scire solum Patrem, manifestè dicens, “De die autem illa et hora nemo scit, neque Filius, sed Pater solus.” (Marc. xiii. 32.) Si igitur scientiam diei illius Filius non erubuit referre ad Patrem, sed dixit quod verum est; neque nos erubescamus, quae sunt in quaestionibus majora secundum nos, reservare Deo. Nemo enim super Magistrum est.’ That St. Irenaeus is here referring to our Lord’s humanity is clear from the appeal to His example. Of His Divinity he says (ii. 28, 7): ‘Spiritus Salvatoris, qui in eo est, scrutatur omnia, et altitudines Dei. Cf. Bull, Def. Fid. Nic. ii. 5, 8.
26. St. Athan. contr. Arian. Orat. iii. c. 45: 'oi de filoxristoi kai xristoforoi ginwskwmen, wj ouk agnown o Logoj h Logoj estin elegen, ouk oida, oide gar, alla to anqrwpinon deiknuj, oti twn anqrwpwn idion esti to agnoein, kai oti sarka agnoousan enedusato, en h wn sarkikwj elegen.' Dr. Mill resents the suggestion ‘that when even an Athanasius could speak (with the Scriptures) of the limitation of human knowledge in the Incarnate Son, the improved theology of later times is entitled to censure the sentiment, as though impeaching His Divine Personality.’ On the Nature of Christianity, p. 18.
27. Ibid. c. 43: 'amelei legwn en tw euaggeliw peri tou kata to anqrwpinon autou; Pater, elhluqen h wra; docason sou ton Uion; dhloj estin oti kai thn peri tou pantwn telouj wran wj men Logoj ginwskei, wj de anqrwpoj agnoei; anqrwpou gar idion to agnoein, kai malista tauta. alla kai touto thj filanqrwpiaj idion tou Swthroj. epeidh gar gegonen anqrwpoj, ouk epaisxunetai dia thn sarka thn agnoousan eipein, ouk oida, ina deich oti eidwj wj Qeoj agnoei sarkikwj. ouk eirhke goun, oude o Uioj tou Qeou oiden, ina mh h qeothj agnoousa fainhtai; all aplwj, oude o Uioj, ina tou ec anqrwpwn genomenou Uiou h agnoia h.'
28. St. Athan. contr. Arian. Orat. iii. c. 46: 'wsper gar anqrwpoj genomenoj meta anqrwpwn peina kai diya kai pasxei, outwj meta men twn anqrwpwn wj anqrwpoj ouk oide, qeikwj de en tw Patri wn Logoj kai Sofia oide, kai ouden estin o agnoei.' Cf. ad Serap. ii. 9.
29. St. Greg. Naz. Orat. xxx. I5: 'kaitoi pwj agnoei ti twn ontwn h Sofia o poihthj twn aiwnwn, o suntelesthj kai metapoihthj, to peraj twn genomenwn;...h pasin eudhlon, oti ginwskei men, wj Qeoj, agnoein de fhsin, wj anqrwpoj, an tij to fainomenon xwrish tou nooumenou;....wste thn agnoian upolambanein epi to eusebesteron, tw anqrwpinw, mh tw Qeiw tauthn logizomenouj.'
30. St. Cyril. Alex. Thesaurus, Op. tom. v. p. 221: 'wsper oun sugkexwrhken eauton wj anqrwpon genomenon meta anqrwpwn kai peinan kai diyhn kai ta alla pasxein aper eirhtai peri autou, ton auton dh tropon akolouqon mh skandalizesqai kan wj anqrwpoj legh meta anqrwpwn agnoein, oti thn authn hmin eforese sarka; oide men gar wj Sofia kai Logoj wn en Patri; mh eidenai de fhsi di hmaj kai meq hmwn wj anqrwpoj.' But see the whole discussion of the bearing of St. Mark xiii. 32 upon the Homoousion (Thesaurus, pp. 217-224). Certainly St. Cyril refers to the 'oikonomia,' and he speaks of Christ’s ‘saying that He did not know, on our account,’ and of His professing not to know ‘humanly.’ But this language does not amount to saying that Christ really did know, as Man, while for reasons of His own, which were connected with His love and 'filanqrwpia,' He said He knew not. St. Cyril’s mind appears to be, that our Lord did know as God, but in His love He assumed all that belongs to real manhood, and, therefore, actual limitation of knowledge. The word 'oikonomia' does not seem to mean here simply a gracious or wise arrangement, but the Incarnation, considered as involving Christ’s submission to human limitations. The Latin translator renders it ‘administrationi sive Incarnationi.’ St. Cyr. Op. v. p. 218. St. Cyril does not say that Christ really did know as Man; he must have said so, considering the bearing of his argument, had he believed it. He thus states the principle which he kept in view: 'outw gar ekaston twn legomenwn en th oikeia tacei keisetai; oute twn osa prepei gumnw tw Logw kataferomenwn eij to anqrwpinon, oute mhn twn anqrwpinwn anabainontwn eij ton thj qeothtoj logon.' Thes. p. 253.
31. Quoted by Petavius, De Incarn. xi.; c. 1, § 14. Leporius appears to have answered the Arian objections by restricting the ignorance to our Lord’s Human Soul, after the manner of St. Athanasius. He retracts as follows: ‘Ut autem et hinc nihil cuiquam in suspicione derelinquam, tunc dixi, immo ad objecta respondi, Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum secundum hominem ignorare: sed nunc non solum dicere non praesumo, verum etiam priorem anathematizo prolatam in hac parte sententiam.’ Leporius, however, seems really to have anticipated Nestorius in teaching a complete separation of our Lord’s Two Natures. Klee, Dogmengesch. ii. 4. 4.
33. See Suicer in voc. 'Agnohtai,' i. p. 65: ‘Hi docebant divinam Christi naturam (hanc enim solam post Unionem agnoscebant, tanquam absorpta esset plane humana), quaedam ignorasse, ut horam extremi judicii.’ Eulogius of Alexandria, who wrote against them, denied any actual limitation of knowledge in Christ’s Manhood, but admitted that earlier Fathers had taught this, 'proj thn twn Areianwn manian antiferomenoi;' but, as he thinks, because 'oikonomikwteron edokimasan epi thj anqrwpothtoj tauta ferein h paraxwrein ekeinouj meqelkein tauta kata thj qeothtoj.' Apud Photium, Cod. 230, ed. Bekker. p. 284, 6, sub fin. Klee distinguishes between the teaching of those Fathers who denied that the Human Soul of Christ possessed unlimited knowledge, and that of the Agnoetae, who ‘speaking of the Person of Christ without any limitations,’ maintained that He did not know the day of judgment. Dogmengeschichte, ii. 4. § 7.
34. It is remarkable that ‘die Ansicht dass Christi Menschheit gleich nach der Vereinigung mit dem Logos Alles wusste, als Irrthum des Arnold von Villanova 1309 formlich verurtheilt worden.’ Klee, Dogmatik, p. 511. Arnold attempted to maintain that his opinion was a necessary consequence of the Hypostatic Union. ‘Quantum cito anima Christi fuit unita Divinitati, statim ipsa anima scivit omnia, quae Deus scit; quia alias, ut dicebat, non fuisset cum ea una persona, praecipuè quia scire est circumstantia pertinens ad suppositum individuale, et non ad naturam.’ Eimeric. Direct. inquis. ii. qu. 11. qu. by Klee, Dogmengesch. ii. 4, 8.
36. Scotus Erigena first taught the ubiquity of our Lord’s Manhood; in more recent times it was prominently put forward by Luther, as an explanation of his teaching on the Eucharist. See Hooker, E. P. v. 55. 2-7.
37. Bishop Ellicott, in Aids to Faith, p. 445: ‘Is there really any greater difficulty in such a passage [as St. Mark xiii. 32] than in John xi. 33, 35, where we are told that those holy cheeks were still wet with human tears, while the loud Voice was crying, “Lazarus, come forth!”’
38. See Leibnitz’s reply to Wissowatius, quoted by Lessing, Sammtl. Schrift. ix. 277: ‘Potest quis ex nostra hypothesi simul esse ille qui nescit diem judicii, nempe homo, et ille qui est Deus Altissimus. Quae hypothesis nostra, quod idem simul possit esse Deus et homo, quamdiu non evertitur, tamdiu contrarium argumentum petit principium.’
39. See Klee, Dogmatik, p. 511: ‘Auch das kann nicht gesagt werden, dass die menschliche Natur, wenn sie nicht absolut vollkommen und imperfectibel ist, dann mit Unwissenheit behaftet ist; denn nicht-allwissend ist nicht unwissend, sonst war Adam vor seinem Falle schon, und sind die Engel und Heiligen in ihrer Glorie immerfort in der Unwissenheit. Unwissenheit ist Negation des nothwendigen und ziemenden Wissens, und solche ist in der Menschheit Christi nicht, in welche die ihr verbundene Gottheit alles zu ihrem Berufe gehorige und durch sie alles zum Heile der Menschheit gehorige uberströmte. Darum war auch die Steigerung der Wissenschaft der Menschheit keine Erlosung derselben, und fallt der Einwand, dass, wenn die Menschheit etwas nicht gewusst hätte, sie eine erlosungsbedurftige gewesen ware, was doch nicht angenommen werden könne, weg.’
60. Bull, Def. Fid. Nic. ii. 5, 8: ‘Quippe divinam Sapientiam menti humanae Christi effectus suos impressisse pro temporum ratione, Christumque, qua Homo fuit, 'prokoyai sofia,' profecisse sapientia (Luc. ii. 52) adeoque pro tempore suae 'apostolhj,' quo ista scientiâ opus non habebat (this seems to hint at more than anything which the text of the New Testament warrants) diem judicii universalis ignorare potuisse, nemini sano absurdum videbitur.’
65. Cf. Bishop H. Browne, Pentateuch and Elohistic Psalms, p. 13: ‘Ignorance does not of necessity involve error. Of course in our present state of being, and with our propensity to lean on our wisdom, ignorance is extremely likely to lead to error. But ignorance is not error: and there is not one word in the Bible which could lead us to suppose that our blessed Lord was liable to error in any sense of the word or in any department of knowledge. I do not say that we have any distinct statements to the contrary, but there is nothing like a hint that there was such a liability: whereas His other human infirmities, weakness, weariness, sorrow, fear, suffering, temptation, ignorance, all these are put forward prominently, and many of them frequently.’
66. If a human teacher were to decline to speak on a given subject, by saying that he did not know enough about it, this would not be a reason for disbelieving him when he proceeded to speak confidently on a totally distinct subject, thereby at least implying that he did know enough to warrant his speaking. On the contrary, his silence in the one case would be a reason for trusting his statements in the other. The argument which is under consideration in the text would have been really sound, if our Savior had fixed the date of the day of judgment, and the event had shown Him to have been mistaken.
68. Colenso on the Pentateuch, vol. ii. p. 427: ‘Supposing (to fix our ideas) that Jeremiah really wrote the book, we must not forget that he was a prophet, and, as such, habitually disposed to regard all the special impulses of his mind to religious activity as direct inspirations from the Divine Source of Truth. To us, with our inductive training and scientific habits of mind, the correct statement of facts appears of the first necessity; and consciously to misstate them, or to state as fact what we do not know or believe from external testimony to be fact, is a crime against truth. But to a man who believed himself to be in immediate communication with the Source of all Truth, this condition must have been reversed. The inner voice, which he believed to be the voice of the Divine Teacher, would
become all-powerful—would silence at once all doubts and questionings.
What it ordered him to do, he would do without hesitation, as by direct
command of God, and all considerations as to morality or immorality would
either not be entertained at all, or would only take the form of misgivings
as to whether, possibly, in any particular case, the command itself was
‘Let us imagine, then, that Jeremiah, or any other contemporary seer, meditating upon the condition of his country, and the means of weaning his people from idolatry, became possessed with the idea of writing to them an address, as in the name of Moses, of the kind which we have just been considering, in which the laws ascribed to him, and handed down from an earlier age, which were now in many respects unsuitable, should be adapted to the present circumstances of the times, and re-enforced with solemn prophetical utterances. This thought, we may believe, would take in the prophet’s mind the form of a Divine command. All question of deception or fraus pia would vanish.’
69. Colenso on the Pentateuch, vol. ii. p. 429: ‘Perhaps, at first, it was felt to be difficult or undesirable to say or do anything which might act as a check upon the zeal and energy which the king himself exhibited, and in which, as it seems, he was generally supported by the people, in putting down by force the gross idolatries which abounded in his kingdom. That impulsive effort, which followed immediately the reading of the “Book,” might have been arrested, if he had been told at once the true origin of those awful words which had made so strong an impression on him. They were not less awful, indeed, or less true, because uttered in the name of Moses by such a prophet as Jeremiah. But still it is obvious that their effect was likely to be greatly intensified under the idea that they were the last utterances of Moses himself.’
76. Catech. 13. 2: 'mh qaumazhj ei kosmoj oloj elutrwqh, ou gar hn anqrwpoj yiloj, all Uioj Qeou monogenhj o uperapoqnhskwn.' St. Proclus, Hom. in Incarn. c. 5: 'edei toinun duoin qateron, h pasin epaxqhnai ton ek thj katadikhj qanaton, epeidh kai pantej hmarton; h toiouton doqhnai proj antidosin timhma, w pan uphrxe dikaiwma proj paraithsin. Anqrwpoj men oun swsai ouk hdunato, upekeito gar tw xreei thj amartiaj. Aggeloj ecagorasasqai thn anqrwpothta ouk isxuen, hporei gar toioutou lutrou. Loipon oun o anamarthtoj Qeoj uper twn hmarthkotwn apoqanein wfeilen; auth gar eleipeto monh tou kakou h lusij.' c. 6: 'w twn megalwn pragmatwn'! 'alloij epragmateusato to aqanaton, autoj gar uphrxen aqanatoj. toioutoj gar alloj kat oikonomian oute gegonen, oute hn, oute estai pote, h monoj ek thj parqenou texqeij Qeoj kai anqrwpoj; ouk antitalanteuousan monon exwn thn acian tw plhqei twn upodikwn, alla kai pasaij yhfoij uperexousan.' c. 9: 'anqrwpoj yiloj swsai ouk isxue, Qeoj gumnoj paqein ouk hdunato. ti oun; autoj wn Qeoj o Emmanouhl, gegonen anqrwpoj.' (Labbe, iii. 13 sq.)
81. 'Apolutrwsij' presupposes the slavery of humanity, from which Christ our Lord redeems us by the 'lutron' of His precious Blood. St. Matt. xx. 28; 1 Cor. i. 30; Eph. i. 7, 14; iv. 30. The idea of purchase out of bondage is vividly expressed by the verb 'ecagorazein,' Gal. iii. 13; iv. 5.
82. 'ilasmoj' presupposes the unexpiated sin of humanity, for which Christ makes a propitiation. 1 St. John ii. 2; iv. 10; Heb. ii. 17. Our Lord Himself is the 'qusia,' the 'prosfora' (Eph. v. 2; Heb. x. 12); He is the 'pasxa' (1 Cor. v. 7).; He is the sacrificial 'amnoj' (St. John i. 29, 36; 1 St. Peter i. 19); He is the slain 'arnion' (Rev. v. 6, 8, 12, 13; vi. 1).
83. 'katallagh' presupposes the existence of an enmity between God and man, which is done away by Christ’s ‘exchanging’ His glory for our misery and pain, while He gives us His glory. Rom. v. 10; 2 Cor. v. 18, 19.
90. Ibid. Qu. 334: ‘Christi institutum ut fideles ipsius panem frangant et comedant, et e calice bibant, mortis ipsius annuntiandae causa.’ Ibid. 337: ‘Nonne alia causa, ob quam coenam instituit Dominus, superest? Nulla prorsus. Etsi homines multas excogitarint.’
92. Art. XXV. Cf. P. Lombard, lib. iv. d. i. 2: ‘Sacramentum est invisibilis gratiae visibilis forma. . . . Ita signum est gratiae Dei, et invisibilis gratiae forma, ut ipsius imaginem gerat et causa existat.’ Church Catechism: ‘An outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ Himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof.’ See Martensen, Christ. Dogm. p. 418, Clark’s Transl.: ‘The essential difference’ [between Prayer and Sacraments] ‘consists in this: the sacred tokens of the New Covenant contain also an actual communication of the Being and Life of the risen Christ, Who is the Redeemer and Perfecter, not only of man’s spiritual, but of man’s corporeal nature. In Prayer there is only a unio mystica, a real, yet only spiritual, psychological union: but in the Sacraments the deepest mystery rests in the truth that in them Christ communicates Himself, not only spiritually, but in His glorified corporeity.’
94. Ibid. Mr. Fisher observes that ‘out of twenty-five questions of which the Catechism now consists, no less than seventeen relate exclusively to the nature and efficacy of the Sacraments.’ Liturgical Purity, p. 293, 1st ed.
95. Tit. iii. 5: 'dia loutrou paliggenesiaj.' Common Prayer-book, Office of Private Baptism: ‘This child, who being born in original sin and in the wrath of God, is now by the laver of regeneration in Baptism received into the number of the children of God.’ For the connection between Baptismal grace and our Lord’s Divinity, see St. Cyril Alex. de Recta Fide, c. 37: 'Ti draj, w outoj, katakomizwn hmwn eij ghn thn elpida; bebaptismeqa gar ouk eij anqrwpon aplwj, all eij Qeon enhnqrwphkota, kai anienta poinhj kai twn arxaiwn aitiamatwn touj thn eij auton pistin ekdedegmenouj....apoluwn gar amartiaj ton autw proskeimenon, tw idiw loipon kataxriei pneumati; oper enihsi men autoj, wj ek Qeou Patroj Logoj, kai ec idiaj hmin anaphgazei fusewj.' He quotes Rom. viii. 9, 10.
96. 1 Cor. x. 16: 'koinwnia tou aimatoj tou Xristou. . . . koinwnia tou swmatoj tou Xristou.' St. Just. Mart. Apol. i. 66: 'Ou gar wj koinon arton oude koinon poma tauta lambanomen; all on tropon dia Logou Qeou sarkopoihqeij Ihsouj Xristoj o Swthr hmwn kai sarka kai aima uper swthriaj hmwn esxen, outwj kai thn di euxhj logou tou par autou euxaristhqeisan trofhn, ec hj aima kai sarkej kata metabolhn trefontai hmwn, ekeinou tou sarkopoihqentoj Ihsou kai sarka kai aima edidaxqhmen einai.' Cf. Dorner, Person Christi, Erster Theil, p. 435, note 47: ‘Justin denkt sich den ganzen Christus in Verbindung mit dem Abendmahl. Auch so kann er sich diese unter dem Bilde der Incarnation denken, indem Christus die Elemente zum sichbaren Organ seiner Wirksamkeit und Selbstmittheilung macht, und das durch seine Erhohung verlorne Moment der Sichtbarkeit seiner objectiven Erscheinung sich in jedem Abendmahl durch Assumtion der sichtbaren Elemente wieder herstellt.’ For the connection between the Holy Eucharist and our Lord’s Divinity, see St. Cyril Alex. Epist. Synod. ad Nestorium, c. 7: 'Thn anaimakton en taij ekklhsiaij teloumen qusian, prosimen te outw taij mustikaij eulogiaij kai agiazomeqa, metoxoi genomenoi thj te agiaj sarkoj, kai tou timiou aimatoj tou pantwn hmwn Swthroj Xristou; kai oux wj sarka koinhn dexomenoi (mh genoito) oute mhn wj androj hgiasmenou kai sunafqentoj tw Logw kata thn enothta thj aciaj, hgoun wj qeian enoikhsin esxhkotoj, all wj zwopoion alhqwj kai idian autou tou Logou. Zwh gar wn kata fusin wj Qeoj, epeidh gegonen en proj thn eautou sarka, zwopoion apefhnen authn.' This epistle, given in Routh, Scr. Opusc. ii. 17, ed. 3, was written Nov. 430, and read with tacit approval, as it seems, at the General Council of Ephesus in 431. (See Bright’s Hist. Ch. pp. 326, 333.) A similar passage is in St. Cyril’s Explanatio xii. Capitum (tom. vi. p. 156), to the effect that the Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist are 'oux enoj twn kaq hmaj kai anqrwpou koinou,' but 'idion swma kai aima tou ta panta zwogonountoj Logou; koinh gar sarc zwopoiein ou dunatai, kai toutou martuj autoj o Swthr, legwn, H sarc ouk wfelei ouden, to pneuma esti to zwopoioun.' So in his Comm. in Joan. lib. iv. (tom. iv. p. 361) he says that as Christ’s Flesh, by union with the Word, Who is essentially Life, 'zwopoioj gegone,' therefore, 'otan authj apogeusomeqa, tote thn zwhn exomen en eautoij.'
104. Zwingli de Vera et Falsa Relig. Op. iii. p. 263. n. A: ‘Est ergo sive eucharistia sive synaxis, sive coena dominica nihil aliud quam commemoratio, qua ii, qui se Christi morte et sanguine firmiter credunt patri reconciliatos esse, hanc vitalem mortem annunciant, hoc est laudant, gratulantur et praedicant. Jam ergo sequitur, quod qui ad hunc usum aut festivitatem conveniunt mortem domini commemoraturi, hoc est annunciaturi, sese unius corporis esse membra, sese unum panem esse ipso facto testentur . . . . . Qui ergo cum Christianis commeat, quum mortem domini annuntiant, qui simul symbolicum panem aut carnem edit, is nimirum postea secundum Christi praescriptum vivere debet, nam experimentum dedit aliis, quod Christo fidat.’ Here God does and gives nothing; the ceremony described is not a ‘means of grace’ but only and simply an act of man, a human ceremonial action, expressive of certain ideas and convictions, shared by those who take part in it. It is substantially the same account as that which is given in the formal documents of early Socinianism. (Cat. Rac. qu. 334, 335, 337.) It would be an extreme injustice to Calvin to identify his belief on the subject with these unspiritual errors. Calvin even says: ‘Quicquid ad exprimendam veram substantialemque corporis ac sanguinis Domini communicationem, quae sub sacris coenae symbolis fidelibus exhibetur, libenter recipio; atque ita ut non imaginatione duntaxat aut mentis intelligentia percipere, sed ut re ipsa frui in alimentum vitae aeternae intelligantur.’ Instit. iv. 17, 19. The force of this language was, however, practically destroyed by Calvin’s doctrine of Divine decrees, which made sacramental grace wholly dependent upon the sense of election, that is to say, upon the subjective state, upon the feelings, of the believer, instead of upon the promise and word of Christ. Thus it happened that humble minds among Calvinists would naturally, in virtue of their very self-distrust, tend to adopt a Zwinglian estimate of the Eucharist: and, historically speaking, Calvinism has in this matter shown a consistent disposition to degenerate in a Zwinglian direction. Belief in the reality of Sacramental grace is only secured, when men believe that such grace depends not on themselves but on the promise and words of their Savior, in other words, that it is objective. And the objectivity of Sacramental grace implies of necessity an Omnipotent Savior, Whose grace it is. St. Augustine’s famous saying, ‘Accedit verbum ad elementum, et fit Sacramentum,’ is hopelessly unintelligible, unless He who institutes the Sacrament and warrants its abiding efficacy be indeed Divine.
105. See Bogue and Bennett’s History of Dissenters, iii. 240, 319; iv. 319, 383; and the Law Magazine, vol. xv. (May, 1836,) p. 348. In our own country, other Calvinistic communions have in general been happily preserved from such a fall. But the case of English Presbyterianism finds parallels in Geneva, in Holland, in France, and in America. Such loss of truth by others can never give Churchmen any ‘controversial’ satisfaction; the more truth is held by Dissenters, the better both for them, and for the honor of Christ. But the subject may suggest warnings to ourselves.
107. Zech. vi. 13. Christ’s perpetual presentation of Himself before the Father is that which constitutes His Intercession. It lasts until the Judgment, as the enduring antitype to the High Priest’s presentation of the victim’s blood in the Holy of Holies. Heb. viii. 3; ix. 24.