Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

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 crucitied 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 Redeemer, as the Personal Christ, Lives 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 mysticism. The Apostles felt that their call to preach Christ crucified came from the Saviour himself: the same now. The true minister of the Gospel must be fully and clearly self-con

scious of his direct and personal relation to Christ, to whom, and to no other, he is bound to hold hiinself responsible. To the Redeemer must account he 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-consciousness. 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 mother 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 grace" 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

IF ANY

HIM

follow any other.
other. Jesus says:

“ FOLLOW ME." MAN WILL COME UNTO ME, LET DENY HIMSELF, TAKE UP HIS CROSS, AND. FOLLOW ME."

This cross is no imagination : it is no idea or theory: it is an intensely personal death unto sin and a living unto Christ. Here is the most concrete of all realities. The Apostle says: “I die daily.” Again : “our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed.” Freedom from sin, in the most comprehensive sense, is the end of the Christian life; death shall be swallowed up in victory. He who is unwilling to take up his cross, the intensive death unto sin, cannot follow Christ. Flesh and sense must be denied : passion and lust must be overcoine, and if not given up or overcome, there inust be a want of personal godliness in the actual struggle of life. Thousands have gone to priests whose daily life proves that they are not the disciples of Christ. These may be obedient to priests : they are not lovers of Christ! “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Never were words more striking than the saying of Strauss: “Where priests rule, there infidelity abounds."

The scheme advocated by Dr. Nevin is fallacious. It is not based upon the creed as such : but upon a private judgment, “idea, or theory,” as a principle, put into the creed. Speaking of this creed, the eminent Danish divine, Dr. Martensen, says: “ Its whole inner form and contents are such as to prove its insufficiency to serve as the highest critical standard of the church.

It is quite clear too, that without the Scriptures, we should derive from the Apostles' Creed a poor support. . It gives us not the slightest information concerning the sacramental significance of baptism. We are, therefore, unable to see in this theory of the Apostles' Creed, any improvement upon the Reformation.”-See Mar. Dog., Clarke's Ed., pp. 40-1.

No theological scholar finds any fault with Dr. Nerin for attempting to construct a scheme of theology; his fearful mistake centres in trying to identify a purely human “idea or theory” of the Person of Christ with the existence of the Christian Church. This abstract notion he pnts into the creed, as the principle of his scheme, in his own way; and

then confounds his own private judgment creed with the “old and historical sense of the creed."

The church question finds no solution in the speculative notion advanced by Dr. Nevin. He has labored hard to defend his so-called churchly theology; all his efforts must fall to the ground. A principle being false, the superstructure is worthless. This scheme is like Romanism, it makes formal baptism the condition of salvation. Reflection must convince every profound mind that ground and condition being correlative terms, it must follow that both the ground and the condition are in Christ, and can be nowhere else.

Let Christians come to realize, as they should, the Gospel meaning of the cross, and at once every priestly “idea or theory” will be swept into oblivion ; and Christ will reign supreme in every heart. Personal activity in the spirit of the cross will become, as it should, the watch-word of the Christian Church. Ministers of the Gospel will arouse themselves to a more earnest sense of self-consecration to Christ. Dr. Nevin ought to see that his notion of a mediated life is positive pantheism; and as such, must lead, like Romanisın, to a sort of self-glorification. Priestly conceit will take the place of apostolic devotion to Christ. The Saviour speaks to persons, not throngh priests, and much less through a human “idea or theory" of sacra nental grace. The Holy Ghost, who is a person, works in the sphere of self-consciousness. This priestly abstraction virtually denies the personal presence of the Spirit. All is made to turn upon the pantheistic notion of a life mediated through priests. This life, it is said, is communicated in the form of a germ. Now the scientific scholar knows that a germ is not a tree. Without the correlative condition the ground or germ can never become a tree. By analogy it is the tree, and not a germ, that forms the vital point in the parallel. The tree grows ; the germ passes away in the organic unity between ground and condi. tion.

Christian unity centres in no priestly order ; it is dependent upon no human “idea or theory” of the so-called Apostles' Creed, -it is the power of that which is divine: “The love of Christ constraineth us." The cross is the manifestation of

Divine love: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him might not perish, but might have everlasting life.” Personal faith in Christ is here, as in other places, clearly affirmed to be the only bond of unity between Christ and Christians. This liv. ing faith finds its condition in Christ himself, and not in an “idea or theory" of what is called sacramental grace.

True Protestantism, like Apostolic Christianity, goes directly to Christ himself. A blind and superstitions reverence for human notions, ideas, or theories, forms no part of the Christian system. Christ is more to Christians than all the world beside. It is Jesus himself who says: “ COME UNTO ME, ALL YE THAT LABOR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST."

A. S. V.

Art. V.-The Jesus of the Evangeliste: His Historical

Character Vindicated ; or, an Examination of the Internal Evidence for Our Lord's' Divine Mission, with reference to Modern Controversy. By the Rev. C. A. Row, M. A., of Pembroke College, Oxford, late Head Master of the Royal Free Grammar School, Mansfield ; author of "The Nature and Extent of Divine Inspiration,” etc. London:

Williams & Norgate, 1868. It is more than two years since this work was published, but it is little known as yet in this country. In England it has received the highest praise from a number of the most competent judges. Dr. R. Payne Smith, in lis Bampton Lectures for 1869, which have only been printed a few months, says of it, “For fulness of thought, and terseness and accuracy of reasoniny, I do not know its equal. No man can read it without being convinced, I should imagine, not merely of our Lord's historical existence, which is what Mr. Row undertakes to prove against Strauss, etc., but also of his uvapproachable perfectness.” And yet, even in England, it does not seem

« ElőzőTovább »