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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.

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 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!

C. $.



The Eonstitution of the Apostolic Churches.

By M. DE


Wast, 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 a 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


with a certain amount of imperfection. With St. Paul the former is the Church, such as Jesus Christ wills her to be, in accordance with its type; it exists on earth in the same measure in which true faith and charity themselves are found there. It is the illuminated, celestial hemisphere of the visible church. Consequently, the invisible church is found in different degrees in each particular church, but is absolutely identical with none of them.

According to these principles, so simple and incontrovertible, it would be a serious piece of self-deception to see in the primitive Church a vast hierarchical establishment like the Church of the fourth century. She is no Mother Church-Mater Ecclesia-imposing the yoke of her external unity on each local church. This idea is quite foreign to the apostolic age. The invisible church is realized or incarnated in the particular churches. These churches organize themselves on their own account, on the same foundations, it is true, but with noteworthy differences as regards all that is of secondary importance; they are linked together amongst themselves, but the tie which they have formed is entirely spiritual; it is never a chain. Each of them is a little republic, a society of believers, an association of Christians, which governs itself in a sovereign manner without waiting for the directions or inspirations of other churches. Neither at Corinth, nor in Galatia, nor at Ephesus, does Paul invoke the authority of the Church, taken as a whole. The questions raised are finally resolved within the bosom of the local church; the local church is competent to govern itself as sovereign on condition of conforming to the truth. The conferences held at Jerusalem are no infringement upon this rule. It was necessary that the apostles should come to an understanding amongst themselves in the grave circumstances of the case. Besides, we have seen that the pretended council issued no absolute decrees; it contented itself with advising a compromise, which was not of an obligatory character.

It is impossible to discover in this period any traces of a general organization of the churches so much as bordering on an external unity. There are no common and periodical assemblies; above all, there is no centre of unity. Those who descry it at Rome are guilty of a strange anachronism. We know, too, how subordinate a part was played at this epoch by the apostle out of whom men have fabricated the head of the pretended ecclesiastical monarchy. If the churches had then, as at a later period, sought for a religious centre, they would certainly have chosen Jerusalem, which had been the glorious cradle of Christianity. But the church of this city, so far from exercising any great influence on the development of Christian thought during the age of St. Paul, did but follow at a distance the movement inaugurated by the great apostle. The churches planted in the bosom of paganism made no scruple of breaking with the usages of Mosaism; they did not deem themselves obliged, for the sake of uniformity, to preserve the forms of Jewish worship like the Christians of Jerusalem; but these divergencies in secondary matters did not


hinder the preservation of essential unity; the theologians who pretend that these differences assume the shape of veritable opposition and declared hostility* deceive themselves no less than the partisan's of hierarchy. We have a touching proof of the union which subsisted between the churches of Asia Minor and Greece on the one hand, and those of Palestine on the other, in the liberal collections made in Galatia and at Corinth for the poor saints of Judæa, at the reiterated and pressing solicitation of St. Paul. The churches of Asia Minor, and of Macedonia and Achaia, sent delegates to Jerusalem for the purpose of carrying thither their offerings, and along with their gifts a living testimony of their brotherly love. Never was unity more real than at this time, when it was based on liberty without any restraint. The agreement which subsisted between the apostles contributed to maintain it. Peter writes to the churches founded by St. Paul in Asia Minor, just as Apollos, the disciple of Paul, writes to the Christians of Jerusalem.f Thus we bave, in the first age, a true Christianity, based on a common faith, but exerting no pressure, unless we must except that of charity, upon the particular churches, which have each their own physiognomy and distinctive character. Men had not as yet invented this impersonal church, which is something different from the complex of the local churches and from the free association of believers, and which, claiming as it does a divine and arbitrary right to govern despotically the people of God, is not rooted in individual faith. The local church, or the congregation, united by a living tie to all the Christians scattered throughout the world, that is the visible church of apostolic times. The grand and holy image of the invisible church is seen through the veil of the different local churches as the sun is seen through the clouds which obscure its rays; in order to contemplate it we must rise above the miseries and imperfections which find their way into these churches. The apostles knew of no other terrestrial realization of the Church than the local church or congregation.

Thus understood the Church could only be considered as the society of Christians. It opened its gates to believers only, or at least only to those who professed the true faith. It could not hinder false Christians from creeping into its bosom surreptitiously, but in principle it recognised as its members those only who named themselves after the name of Jesus Christ, and gave evidence of a personal faith in him. We have only to read the letters written by the apostles to the various churches to become convinced that they address themselves not to a confused multitude, in which indifference, or even unbelief, have found a place side by side with piety and a living faith, but to a fellowship of Christians, to a religious self-governing society, which does not lay claim to the possession of two classes of members—the converted and the unconverted. In such a society serious disorders can break out and

* The allusion is to the so-called Tübingen school.

† M. de Pressensé, it will be scen, is amongst those who attribute the Epistle to the Hebrews to Apollos.

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