Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

a

be confounded with this pantheistic scheme. A phantoin notion of what constitutes sacramental grace may not be allowed to pass for the Gospel view of “GRACE.” It is proper, under all circumstances, to entertain high views of sacramental grace. No mistake could be more fearful than to imagine that a human “idea or theory" of sacramental grace is identically the divine grace itself. Dr. Nevin wonld explain how the Christian life originates. As well try to explain how God creates the soul. The Saviour says: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

The scheme originated by Dr. Nevin directs its so-called priests to say to the applicant for baptism: “You have come hither seeking deliverance from the power of the devil, the remission of sin, and the gift of a new and spiritual life."-See Order of Worship, p. 199.

Christian baptism stands in no relation whatever to this pantheistic notion of a mediated life. Going to a priest of an “idea or theory” is infinitely far from being a Christian. The issue is clear. Personal beings are to love Christ himself supremely. Ancient so-called fathers may have their creeds: modern philosophers and metaphysical dreamers may entertain their own notion, theory, or idea of these creeds. All will not avail. Christ is infinitely more to the soul than the church can ever be either in idea or in reality. Theories fall worthless to the earth, where they pryperly belong. Christ is related to the sons and daughters of the race: the Church stands in no such relation. The Saviour is the Personal Redeemer : the Church sustains no directly personal relation to the soul. The Son of God requires no one to yield obedience to an abstraction. To go to a human priest, supposing that by this means an entrance into the true kingdom of heaven can be secured, is a fearful delusion. The scheme that puts forth such pretensions is of the spirit of Antichrist.

The Gospel calls persons to a life of true freedom, not according to the dictations of priests, but in Christ. “If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” There is no room to conceive of any necessity for submission,

VOL. XLII.-NO. IV. . 38

[ocr errors]

blind, ignorant, and slavish, to a so-called priestly order. Subjection to priests is abject slavery. Truth is always free. In vain attempt to defend a pantheistic philosophy, as though this could be identical with Christ himself. How can the finite mind comprehend personal being? If man cannot find out the mystery of his own person, how infinitely less can he comprehend the Person of the God-man. The Gospel is personal: it is not an idea : it is not a mere doctrine: it is Christ himself, the Saviour of sinners. The Apostles do not preach an “idea or theory” of Christ; but Christ himself. These holy men knew the Saviour: they loved him supremely. The same is true now.

The Apostles do not speak of their “priestly functions." They make no pretension to being a mediating priesthood between Christ and the human souls. None of this. Only when men have a human “idea or theory" to serve is there any need of priests. An advocate of this Mercersburg scheme says, “A priest is one whose sole object is to bring the peopole near to God."-See Mer. Rev., vol. xv., p. 477.

However this may be, what minister at all conscious of Jis responsibility to Christ, will ever put confidence in an abstraction which demands what the Saviour does not authorize! Dr. Nevin may imagine that his pantheistic notion of a whole is in harmony with facts. It may be allowed to pass for what it is worth as a philosophical curiosity: it inay not be regarded as having any reality in the sphere of that which is divine. As well suppose that Plato or Aristotle preached Christ, as to think of this Mercersburg notion being in any sense identically the Gospel. An “ideal church," founded upon a pantheistic philosophy, is no more the church of Christ than Confucius is Paul, or Zoroaster the loving John.

Dr. Nevin seems to think that his so-called Christo-centric notion is profoundly Christological. All admit that it is well to study the Gospel in the light of philosophy; human conceptions, however, are not to be confounded with divine realities. Here is where Dr. Nevin mistakes the calling of a minister of Christ. His so-called Christo-centric “idea or theory” is simply his own philosophical conception; and, as such, is subject to the vicissitudes of that which is human. His prin

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ciple compels him, in the construction of his scheme, to ignore the Gospel view of the relation the sinner sustains to Christ.

This Mercersburg scheme, it is imagined, is profoundly philosophical. Dr. Nevin assumes an unwarranted degree of self-confidence in supposing that his so-called Christo-centric abstraction must be received as the divine. This self-confi. dence, in time, works marvellously in the minds of his students, who do not perceive the principle upon which the superstructure rests. These do not seem to perceive that it is heresy to teach that priestly mediation, in the interest of a human “idea or theory," secures eternal salvation. Well, to pause and consider, no matter how fair or captivating a scheme may be, when such pernicious consequences follow. As servants of the Gospel, ministers will do well to have regard to their responsibility to Christ himself and to him only. This phantom Mercersburg invention, like Romanisin, must necessarily ignore the Gospel view of personal responsibility in its direct relation to the Saviour, substituting the notion of priestly authority. The Apostle says: “God com

. mendeth his love to us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” The Gospel is plain ; even a child can

. understand.

Well may Dr. Nevin say that he does not confound God with the world, nor Christ with the church. All know that he does not intend to do so. Nor did Fichte intend to confound his “Ego” with God; yet he lived to perceive, though not until in his old age, the utter falsehood of his phantom “ idea or theory.” The same may prove to be true in this

Dr. Nevin may come to see, sooner or later, that his imagination has led him far from the truth as it is in Jesus. His so-called Christo-centric abstraction is infinitely far froni being the divine. His philosophy is fearfully rationalistic. A life mediated through priests is little better than the doctrine of an emanated life as taught by Zoroaster.--See llis. Philos., Bruckeri, Leip. ed., tom. i., lib. 2, cap. 3.

This speculative scheme, like Romanism, will prove a delusion. Founded upon a purely philosophical abstraction, it can have no power in the sphere of self-consciousness. There can be no intuitive knowledge, certain and sure, of that which is

case.

[ocr errors]

derived from purely human sources.

Ministers may try to confound a speculative “idea or theory," be it called Christocentric or by any other name, with the Person of the Personal Christ; but in the end every such effort will fail. The servants of the Gospel may not assume to themselves priestly prerogatives in the interest of a human notion without doing violence to the Gospel itself. Ministers must have regard

. to their individual and personal responsibility to Christ himself, and to him only.

Christianity has to do with the concrete. Abstract ideas, theories, and notions, are worthless in their assumed relation to Christ. The Redeemer, as the personal God-man, possessed of a true human self-consciousness, speaks to personal beings in the sphere of self-conscious being; and not through priests. The Christology of the Gospel may not be confounded with any human Christo-centric notion. Dr. Nevin seems to entertain no higher conception of the Gospel than that the Christ himself has gone into heaven, leaving his disciples to love an “idea or theory." Not so. It is as true now as in the days of John or Paul, that Christ himself is to be loved supremely. “The love of Christ constraineth us."

Ministers of the Gospel, if true to Christ rather than the advocates of an abstraction, are to preach CHRIST CRUCIFIED. This is to be the watch-word, true and tried, of all who love the Saviour. It is the concrete reality of Christ crucified that moves the Apostle to say: “Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. And not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world." The Redeemet, as the Personal Christ, loves the children of a fallen race. Not one; but all: not the all in the sense of an abstract whole, but the all including the individual persons, and in each person the true humanity. In

, this sense, and in no other, can the Christology of the Gospel be understood. Whenever Dr. Nevin comes to see that Christ in himself is the condition as well as the ground of salvation, will he perceive the pernicious tendency of his pantheistic mysticisin. The Apostles felt that their call to preach Christ crucified came from the Saviour bimself: the same now. The true minister of the Gospel must be fully and clearly self-conscious of his direct and personal relation to Christ, to whom, and to no other, he is bound to hold himself responsible. To the Redeemer must account be made: “ For we shall all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ.

The Christian Life does not centre in the church, and much less can it be mediated through a priestly order. Practically the Christian life may be included in the words: Love Christ. All else is uncertain. The Apostle says: “In Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” The same now.

In Christ neither being formally baptized, nor being unbaptized, availeth any thing. The Apostle does not undervalue Christian baptism. By no means. He only affirms that personal union with Christ centres in a personal relation to Christ. Dr. Nevin seems to imagine that personal acts can exist outside of the sphere of self-conscionsness. In this way, it is assumed that going to a priest is being made a Christian. As well imagine that an uncreated infant could go to its supposed inother and ask to be born. The thought is an absurdity.

The Saviour calls no one to a slavish service. The Gospel view of the Christian life involves intelligence of the highest order. This intelligence is based upon the clear self-consciousness of a directly personal relation to Christ himself. Means of grace even are not the Personal Jesus. Dr. Nevin ought to be able to see that his view of “sacramental grape" is simply and only pantheistic mysticism. There can be no personal life in that which is simply a means. Why try to confound a purely sacramental transaction with the personal relation the soul sustains to Christ? To speak of the Christian Church as a self-conscious person, is contrary to the Gospel, as well as directly at variance with every kind of intelligent observation.

Sooner or later, the German Reformed denomination must come to see the vast evil of allowing a purely pantheistic principle to be held as the foundation of a scheme of theology. It is always dangerous to follow a human leader. The profoundest philosopher, after all, is only a fallible human being. Only Christ can make known the truth : only Christ is the BEAU IDEAL of true greatness. No intelligent Christian can

« ElőzőTovább »