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religious error connected therewith—all that they really imply is successive development, development according to time. And surely we are able to conceive of a perfect development, in thoroughly natural conditions, as being the free unfolding of healthful energies, whose native fulness constitutes them self-sufficient. .
We need not, and must not, however, suppose that anything sinful attached to him on the ground of his human finiteness, and of the kind of development which, according to the divine order, is inseparable from it; provided only, that he was perfectly what the nature of that state required him to be; provided that that which he was potentially became actual in him, in its own proper time and in a normal way. ... An orderly, faultless development, we must remember, is proper to nature, when interfered with by no inward or outward restraint. At its origin in God, nature is purity itself. We should be on our guard, therefore, against introducing anything unnatural into the spiritual culture of Jesus, by representing him as premature as a child, and ascribing to him, as a boy, the knowledge of truth-the moral earnestness and the depth of a man. That would be a miracle unworthy of God, monstrous and unnatural. At every period of his existence he realised just that measure of intellectual culture and moral life of which human nature is at that point capable, and no more. In a word, he was exactly and fully what a man can be at each successive step of his life. As he was a perfect man, so was he also a perfect boy and youth ; and, of a certainty, no stranger to the modes of thought and observation which are peculiar to childhood and youth, yet all was characterised by a holy simplicity and beauty. His progress was like that of a beautiful flower, to whose free growth there is no hindrance; we should never dream of requiring from it that, whilst in the germ, it should bud, and, whilst budding, possess the glory of perfect bloom : but only that at each step in its development, it be then what in every step it should be.'*
4. The sinlessness of Christ was maintained in opposition to great temptation. As a man, 'He was tempted in all points, like as we are. He suffered being tempted.' He suffered temptation of various kinds in the wilderness; he suffered temptation when Peter suggested escape from threatening death; he suffered temptation in the garden in the immediate prospect of death. Now, here are two things-real temptation and pain in the achievement of victory.
In order to understand this, we must repeat that the human nature of Christ was real and complete. That is, he had all the passions and desires that belong to man as man. He was really and trulyó made like unto his brethren. He had the love of life ; he felt the passion of anger at injustice; he was susceptible to physical pain ; he felt hunger when left without food. Sin, therefore, does not consist in having the natural passions and impulses, nor in feeling pain when these passions and impulses are denied their gratification. But when the vill aban
* Ullman's • Sinlessness of Jesus. A safe German work for any one wishing to see this subjeet rigorously and evangelically treated.
dons the guidance of the desires, and they are gratified under forbidden circumstances, then sin has commenced, and the desires have become sinful. Let it be granted that Christ had this truly human nature, then there can be no doubt that he was really tempted like as we are. And they were great temptations; i. e., a strong appeal from without was made to the inward principles of his nature. The temptations in the wilderness were of this kind. We do not trouble ourselves here to arbitrate between the different theories that have been maintained in explanation of that remarkable passage of our Lord's experience. Most of these theories admit that in some way suggestions were offered to him from without, which called forth successive acts of resistance from his will. But the temptation in the garden must have been the climax of all his other temptations. But here again was that prompt reference to the divine will, to which he always yielded instantaneous submission. * Not as I will, but as thou wilt.'
But the Scriptures affirm that he endured pain, that he suffered in obtaining the conquest. Is it meant that this pain sprang from the difficulty of the struggle; from any secret inclination towards evil coming into conflict with the stern decision of the will, which held his mind in suspense, and made it difficult for him to decide? This thought is not to be tolerated for an instant; that would imply a sinful bias utterly inconsistent with the perfect sinlessness of his nature. In supplying what we consider to be the true answer to the question, we cannot get out of our mind a passage in one of Robertson's sermons, and therefore we quote it:
• There were in him all the natural appetites of mind and body. Relaxation and friendship were dear to him- so were sunlight and life. Hunger-paindeath—he could feel all, and shrunk from them. Conceive, then, a case in which the gratification of any one of these inclinations was inconsistent with his Father's will. At one moment it was unlawful to eat though hungry, and without one tendency to disobey, did fasting cease to be severe? It was demanded that he should endure anguish; and willingly as he endured himself, did pain cease to be pain? Could the spirit of obedience reverse every feeling in human nature? When the brave man gives his shattered arm to the surgeon's knife, will may prevent even the quiver of an eyelid; but no will and no courage can reverse his sensations, or prevent the operation from inflicting pain.
So that in every one of These cases—not by the reluctancy of a sinful sensation, but by the quivering and the anguish of natural feeling when it is trampled upon by lofty will— Jesus suffered being tempted. He was “tempted like as we are.” Remember this. For the way in which some speak of the sinlessness of Jesus, reduces all his suffering to physical pain, destroys the reality of temptation, reduces that glorious heart to a pretence, and converts the whole of his history into a mere fictitious drama, in which scenes of trial were represented, not felt.'
How are we to account for the character of Christ, to what must we look for an explanation of the sinlessness of his nature and the holiness of his life? To two things mainly-to his uncorrupted human nature, and to the wonderful constitution of his person.
1. To his uncorrupted human nature. Universal man, with this single exception, has come into the world with a moral nature diseased at its very birth-biassed or bent towards evil in such a degree, that as soon as moral action begins every individual of the race begins to sin. We may vary the statement of this fact as we please, to suit our different theological systems, but the fact remains. We may account for it in such a way as shall square with our philosophy or theology; but the fact itself remains untouched, as a huge mournful fact in the history of the race. This is what divines call original sin. But now Christ was born into this world as an unfallen being, with a nature free from the universal depraved bias, a perfectly healthful soul, without any germ of moral disease in it. Once more for this world the question was to be tried in the person of Christ, which had been tried before in the person of Adam with such disastrous issue, i. e.-Whether a will created free would surrender or retain its freedom; and this time the solution of the question brought redemption to the world. The second Adam opened the gates of Paradise to a banished race. But still we have to ask the question, how was human nature restored to integrity and soundness in the person of Christ? How came he to be born pure, free from original sin, when all other persons were born subject to it? The only possible answer we can conceive is, that his birth was miraculous. A new special act of creative power was put forth in the production of the human nature of Christ. By no other conceivable means could he begin to be, as man, free from that moral disorder, which was the condition of every other creature's birth into the world. And in this way the Scripture represents this marvellous fact:- The power of the Most High, in some special sense, is the explanation given of the manner in which he came into existence here. He took our nature as it existed in Adam before he fell; he took our unfallen, not our fallen nature: but as this was out of the ordinary course of nature, it was a miracle of the most wonderful sort we are acquainted with
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This conclusion can be evaded in two ways; either by denying the perfect sinlessness of Christ, or by accounting for his sinlessness in some other way. In regard to the first way, all we have to say in defence of the perfect holiness of Christ is, that if the enemies of Christianity have generally acknowledged it, we are not going to argue for it with the professed friends of Christianity. And as to any other mode of accounting for his sinlessness, we say this-It must have reference to some influence exerted upon the childhood of Jesus; for if he was sinful, even at the earliest stages of his earthly being, we must give up the doctrine of his perfect holiness. But any change wrought upon the moral nature of Jesus, during his childhood, involves the miraculous as much as the theory which assigns miracle to the cause and manner of his birth, and, inasmuch as the Scriptures speak only of his miraculous conception, of his being the Holy Child Jesus, we prefer the record of inspiration to any conjectures on the subject.
2. The perfect sinlessness of Christ is also to be referred to the wonderful constitution of his person. Christ's human nature being born absolutely pure would be no infallible warrant that he would never, under any circumstances, be guilty of sin. Adam was created upright, and he fell. The possession of a moral nature implies the possibility of sinning. But Christ's nature was not simply human nature, it was divine as well. • God was manifest in the flesh.' • He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.' 'I and my Father are one.' Now this mysterious union of the divine and human in the person of Christ is the guarantee that he was sinless and holy. Here are two all-sufficient grounds on which the structure of a perfect human life could be raised
a soul born pure and sustained pure by the presence of an indwelling Deity.
To maintain that there were no real points of contact between the two natures in Christ would be to deny the reality of the incarnation ; or to assert that the contact was only such as takes place ordinarily between a good man and God, would be essentially a Socinian idea, abhorrent to all the teaching of the New Testament. And
And yet, if any one were to ask for an explanation of the real nature of the union, and how it could be effected and maintained, we would honestly tell him we do not understand it, and that we bow down before an awful, impenetrable mystery. We cling to a recorded and evident fact, and abjure all theory on the question.
Affirming, then, the complex nature of Christ—that he was Son of God, truly divine, and Son of man, truly human, and that there was a real, though mysterious, union of these two natures, we can now account for the phenomenon of such a life as his—beginning, continuing, and ending a perfectly spotless life. Because God was in Christ, the divine upheld and supported the human, and enabled it to exhibit the God-life before the eyes of the human race. Here is the great significance of the life of Christ-a manifestation of God to the world. It was a sublime sight, the spectacle of the perfect man showing us what our nature is when unfolded according to the will of the Great Creator; but He, the Redeemer, who has life in himself to bestow on the morally dead, who is the Truth itself for the enlightenment of the dark, who is the wonder-worker in the regions of the dead, amid the elements of nature, and in the wrecked chaos of man's spiritual being — he is more than the perfect man, he is the God-man—the Mediator between God and man—the Founder of the kingdom of God amongst men—the Sacrifice for the sins of the world—the Resurrection, and the Life, and the Judge of all mankind. May he draw us by the attraction of his love to himself, and assimilate our characters to his perfect life!
The Eonstitution of the Apostolic Churches.
By M. DE
Whilst, during the first period of the apostolic age, the predominance of the miraculous element in the Church stood in the way of her acquiring a fixed organization, we can distinguish in the second period (A.D. 50–65) the essential features of her constitution. What had at first been but sketch now receives the strokes necessary to complete the picture. Even the idea of the Church is formulated with a precision altogether new. So long as the Christians were held fast in the bonds of Jewish particularism they did not clearly comprehend that they were called to form a religious society quite different from the old theocracy. They felt that a tie of a very peculiar kind linked together those who had been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, but they looked upon themselves rather as the true Israel than as the Christian Church. In proportion as Christianity extended its con. quests within the bosom of paganism, their ideas expanded, and the true notion about the Church, the idea of the people of emancipated will (de franche volonté) gathered from the whole world, of a true humanity constituted anew in Jesus Christ, was one of the most precious results of the apostolic mission. Being no longer shut up within a single city, but spread beyond the walls of Jerusalem over the entire surface of the Pagan world, the Church ceased to be regarded as tied to purely external conditions. The spiritual fact disengaged itself from the material fact, and through the veil of the visible churches began to shine the invisible church, which transcends them all, and remains their ideal type.
It is this invisible church that Paul contemplates with the eyes of faith when he speaks of the pure and spotless spouse of Christ ; she alone possesses the unity of love so often broken by the sin of the various visible churches. Doubtless the apostle knew too well the miseries of these churches, he had probed their sores with too courageous a hand to recognise in any of them the Church, "glorious,' holy,' and 'without blemish,' of which he speaks to the Christians of Ephesus. He who characterised with so much energy the disorders which had broken out at Corinth and at Colossæ in the bosom of communities to which he yet gives the name of churches, must evidently have admitted the distinction between the visible and the invisible church. In his eyes the invisible church was the body of Christ, indissolubly united in all its parts, and deriving its substance from its Divine Head. Where he found rendings and schisms there he could not recognise this mystical body in its normal state. When he wrote to the church of Corinth, in condemnation of its divisions, the words, “Is Christ divided ?' that church no longer presented to him the faithful image of the ideal fellowship in which perfect union reigns; he drew a distinction, then, between the invisible church and these particular churches which do not reproduce its lineaments save