Зображення сторінки


a sombre giant and a deceiver, who accepted the Utopias of his time and race. He holds him up as a model that can never be replaced by a superior, yet declares his reasonings, tried by the logic of the Stagyrite, weak and insipid. “ Time has changed the power of the great Founder,” he says, in a simulated tearfulness, " into something very grievous to us; for when the worship of Jesus grows feeble in the heart of humanity, it will be because of the very acts which made men believe in him.” Thus this French romancer kisses the world's great benefactor, and then betrays him into the hands of his enemies. He first crowns and then crucifics

almost deifies, and then meanly assassinates, him whom the best adore and the purest love.

So inveterately hostile are all the phases of the one-substance philosophy to the sinlessness of Jesus, - a most vital point in the Christian faith, on which there can be neither surrender, concealment, nor compromise. It is this sinless human that distinguishes the Messiah from all other founders of religion and all other men, and that makes him the example of virtue which we need. Without this there could be no true sacrifice, no atonement. Only the just could suffer vicariously for the unjust. Hence the explicitness of the scriptures. It is as a logical necessity of Christianity that he was the “holy child,” “the Holy One and the Just,” “ who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth," that he did always those things which pleased, the Father, and was able to say “ Which of you convinceth me of sin ?"

No, finitude is not an evil, nor is sin a necessary quality of the finite. Holiness is man's normal state, the original law of his being. It is God's image in which he was finitely constituted. Sin is a rupture of his moral nature, a disorder, and a disaster. Therefore it was possible for God to take hold of the fallen nature without taking the fall. He who made that nature could mend it, could restore the broken image to its original coloring and beauty, and reset it in the same material frame. Whether Jesus was unable to sin, or

1“ Nam si sol quem ille fecit et nos contuemur, dum in caelo volvitur, terres

merely able not to sin, is a question on which some differ who are agreed that he did not sin. To say that he was able not to sin, and did not, is an inadequate statement. It is no more than was true of Adam before the fall. It expresses only the human side of his character. But taking into account the divine, as the dominating force, a moral inability to sin is essential to the whole truth. We may say he was able to sin if he willed to; but considering that his whole moral being was strongly set against it, and that it was the purpose of God to destroy sin in the world through sinlessness in him, we are obliged to say, in justice to his divinehuman person, he could not will to sin. Yet not by physical restraint or force, but in the freedom of his holy nature, and in the bias of his whole being towards God. The inner man unfolded by a free, divine-human impulse, in spotless purity and perfect self-harmony — the affections with the appetites, the imagination with the reason, the will with the understanding.

From the very starting-point of Christ's existence, where the divine first touches the human germ, and bias to evil became possible, the stain of the fall was carefully warded off. In his entire human there was no defect or redundance. Rectification or amendment was not needed, and was impossible. Addition would have disfigured, and alteration marred it. The closer our approach to it in our devout contemplations, the more it draws and subdues us. Nearness, which dispels the enchantment that distance lends to most characters, enchains us to his. It is the most real and truest human life, the most pure, and most free, after no model, yet “ the original of all time,” the determining centre of all true humanity and the starting-point of moral progress. The loftiest aspirations can desire nothing more exalted to strive tria corpora attingendo non maculatur, nec tenebris obscuratur, sed potius cuncta ipse illuminat et purgat; multo magis sanctissimum Dei Verbum solis effector et dominus, cum se ir. corpore cognoscendum praebebat, inde non inquinabatur; sed potius ipse corruptionis expers, corpori mortali vitam et munditiam conferebat, qui peccatum, inquit, non fecit, nec inventus est dolus in ore ejus.” – Athanasius de Incarnatione Verbi Dei, p. 62.

after, nor does the humblest struggler in the conflicts of life need anything more sympathetic and tender. No pang of regret ever troubled him, and no prayer for pardon escaped him. How is this? Was that eye so clear to sin in others blind or blurred to it in himself, — that spirit, so sensitive to evil at the circumference, apathetic to it at the centre? Oh no! Jesus is the spotless and the holy; the world's tempted and sinless One, grappling with sin for, and in the place of, the sinner. He suffers evil, but in a way to subdue the prince of evil. In bearing sin, he destroys it. By yielding, he conquers; and in giving himself for the world, he saves it.

Thus the life of Jesus demonstrates his complete Adamic and his sinless humanity. Behold the man in whom virtue finds its unity and totality, and the world, the universal morality, august yet winning, breathing an eternal beauty, but refreshing to the faint and the feeblest. What a combination of work and worship, of self-denial and self-affirmation,

a teacher whose life is his doctrine, an example in which all duties, delights, and denials mingle in heavenly harmony! What is such a man? What can he be, but “ the man Christ Jesus," “the Mediator between God and man"?

But the most difficult part of my subject remains to be considered. How do these two natures, the divine and human, stand related in Christ? In what sense was the Word made flesh in him ?

The answer is more than intimated by the separate ideas of God and man which his life shows to be indispensable to his work and person. The Word was made flesh by the vital union of the two natures in the one divine-human Christ and Saviour. This union is not a speculation, or a philosophy of Christianity, but its accomplished and central fact. It is not a mode of explaining the incarnation, but the incarnation (évoápkwois) itself, the personal and permanent entrance of God into the human nature for its redemption. So it stands in the evangelic narratives, and in the faith of the saints, broadly distinguished from diverse theories which have been Vol. XXIV. No. 93.


mistaken for it, but which it excludes from the category of Christian doctrine.

Let me allude to a few of these excluded theories.

1. The identity of the two natures. According to this view, the terms “human” and “divine,” “God” and “man,” are interchangeable and synonymous. It allows neither faith nor philosophy, for there can be no communion or relatedness where there is no distinction; and no possibility in what is identical of being made anything other than it is in its own unchangeable sameness.

2. The conversion of the divine nature into the human. For the Word to be made flesh, on this theory, is the same as for the divine nature, by transubstantiation, to become the human. “Jehovah became Jesus,” says an essayist, writing in behalf of this transmutation dogma, “and is, therefore, the human soul." God fell away from his own infinite nature in the incarnation, and became finite. He is shut out from his attributes ; his knowledge is obliterated, and all ability to re-acquire it lost, except through the bodily organs of the soulless Jesus, to which he is restricted.1

How preposterous the idea of such a fall of the Divine ; such a disintegration and dissolution of the Infinite! Can the human mind even be so shut out from its faculties, and in such an absolute dependence on a merely physical organism ? Has it no pure intellections, or exclusively intellectual functions? Do our thoughts never go farther nor faster than the powers of bodily locomotion carry them ? And the reason, - does it get nothing from God, or concerning him of law, liberty, and immortality, except through sensation ? Much less, then, can the limitless Divine mind be so rent from its attributes — the Godhead so cramped and imprisoned in the darkness and emptiness of man's mortal tenement. To what an orphanage would the universe be subjected in such a bereavement of its Ruler! The conception is gross and heathenish. It is a disturbance to all Christian

1 “Ncc divinitatis mutationem, sed humanitatis innovationem arbitrio suo ctfecit.” – Athanasius contra Apollinarium, p. 943.

sensibilities, and it falls out from the circle of Christian thought, by the gravity of its essential error, almost as soon as it comes in.

3. The transmutation of the human into the divine. This is the converse of the explanation just referred to. Both are drawn out on the same pantheistic background, and are set aside by the same class of objections. In the exuberant rhetoric of his gratitude, Augustine exclaims, “ God became man, that man might become God.” But it is as impossible to change man into God as God into man. Finitude and creatural dependence are as indispensable to manhood as infinitude and independence are to the Godhead. God can create finite beings, but not an infinite one. He is, but is not created or capable of being created. Unless the infinite can produce another infinite, which is an absurdity, and could produce him out of the finite, the deification of the human in Christ is an absolute impossibility. What would such another God be but a fabricated deity, a finite Infinite ?

Christ's human nature was, indeed, perfected by the action of the divine upon, and in it. It was glorified. But this was only its completeness, its perfection as human, not its deification or dissolution. The fire which separates the silver from the dross in the furnace, penetrates, pervades, and melts it, but does not change its metallic nature. The human soul is in the most vital connection, the most mysterious interaction with the body, impelling and regulating all its motions; but there is no conversion of matter into mind, nor the least approach to it. Faintly thus may be shadowed the influence of the divine upon the human in Christ. It takes hold of it, raises it up, unfolds, illumines, invigorates, and completes, but does not change its substance. It is human still, and must remain so forever, God's idea of man realized in man's Redeemer.

4. The mixture of the two natures in a third nature, neither human nor divine.

As a theory of the divine-human in Christ, this encounters the objections which are fatal to all transmutation schemes.

« НазадПродовжити »