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This truth of Christ's immanence has always been a most influential one in the life of the Church. It is true, indeed, as T. H. Green reminds us, “that in a generation or two the intuition of the present Christ, which Paul even seems to have been unable to convey to others as it was to himself, had faded away, and that in its stead came the belief in past events or in present mysteries, transactions external to the man which had to be stated in a creed."1 But it is also true that the intuition has been recovered again and again in the course of the Church's history;2 and that in times especially when the religious life has been crushed under the weight of tradition and ecclesiastical observance, this truth of the Spiritual Presence of Christ has come home with wonderful power to devout souls who sought God in secret, restoring to their hearts that Gracious Figure that had become a tradition of the past or a mere formula of theology. Wearied with the arid notions and verbal definitions of scholastic theology, men have turned to the revelation of the Indwelling Christ as the traveller turns to a well of water in the desert, finding themselves brought thereby into direct communion with the living God for whom their souls thirsted, and made glad by the contact of their hearts with the realities of the spiritual world. It is a truth very congenial, especially to all forms of Mystical Piety ; and some of the most precious works on heart religion that have come from the school of the Mystics owe their power to move us as they do to the experiences they contain of communion with the Christ within. There are certain dangers indeed that accompany the onesided cultivation of a religious life in which this truth is all in all. And these may be mentioned if only to point out how Paul, the first evangelical Mystic and the greatest of them all, escaped the dangers of mysticism, and what further view of Christ's Exalted Activity it was that saved him from the exaggeration and error into which many of his successors have fallen.
1 The Witness of God, p. 27.
2 In speaking of this doctrine of the inward Christ, Gore says, “ Mystical as it is, and transcending, as it does, our faculties of intellectual analysis, it has been ridiculed as fit only for enthusiasts in a rationalistic age such as the last century; but every revival of vital Christianity brings it to the front again, and roots it anew in the consciousness of serious and devout Christians, though they be 'plain men' and unimpassioned ” (Bampton Lecture, p. 221).
3 The intensity that characterised the religious life and experience of the late General Gordon was due to his vivid realisation of the Indwelling Christ. He often refers to it in his Letters to his Sister. He speaks
It is doubtless true that with those who make much of the Mystical Christ and of communion with Him, the picture of the historic Jesus is apt to fall into the background. Their impressions of Him come to be determined by what they are too ready to accept as private communications made to their souls by the Exalted Christ, more than by the truth that is conveyed through the facts of the historic life ; and the abiding value of Christ's historic work suffers in other ways when the Indwelling of the Spirit of God is emphasised. The mediatorial office of Christ comes to be dispensed with, and the individual is tempted to feel that being in a sense an incarnation of the Spirit of Christ he is also a Christ to himself, and to say, with a certain Quaker of old, “I too am Christ.” It is inevitable, also, that the habit of dwelling exclusively on the Spirit's presence should tend to dissolve the connection that ought to subsist in our minds between the Spirit and the historic Christ. Dependence on a vague impersonal Spirit or principle of life, in minds predisposed to pantheistic exaggeration of the Divine side of our nature, comes to take the place of trust in the living Personal Saviour. There is nothing of all
of our “realising our identity with and absorption in Christ,” of “the Holy Spirit being incarnated in us,” of “the power and peace that flows from the truth that God dwells in us.” It is to be remembered, too, that this type of religious experience was associated in his case with extraordinary efficiency in the practical affairs of life and in the management of men.
this, however, it must be noticed, in the thought of the apostle. His conscious possession of the Spirit of God never broke down in his mind the sense of his absolute dependence on the historic Christ for that Divine Gift; nor does he ever use language that betrays the faintest consciousness that he stood on a level with his Master because possessing a measure of the same Spirit of God. He could indeed say to his converts, “Be ye followers of me,”? because he was conscious that his own life, being an interpretation of Christ's and inspired by His Spirit, was an example to them ; but he hastened to add the words, “as I am of Christ,” recognising the supremacy of his Master and of His example for all alike. Now, what saved the apostle from any exaggeration to which the view of Christ as the Immanent principle of life in His people might have led, was his equally vivid apprehension of His Transcendent relation to His people as their Lord. It belongs to Paul's greatness as an interpreter of Christ that he set forth His relation to men as being not only of the nature of a mystical union, but also as a practical fellowship based on a community of aim and purpose that calls into exercise their independent energy as moral beings,—a fellowship in which He is Lord or Master and they are servants. This truth of Christ's Lordship has a large place in the thought of Paul. He was a mystic indeed; he was conscious of a oneness with the Exalted Christ that finds expression in words that are startling to us who lag so far behind him in religious feeling and intuition. But he was also a practical teacher; he never forgot for a moment that he was a servant or a "slave" of Christ, as he delighted to call himself, recognising thereby the separateness of Christ from His people, their mystic union with Him notwithstanding, and His Lordship over them giving Him a supreme claim on their obedience and service.
1 ; Cor. xi. 1,
We pass on then to consider the teaching of Paul on the TRANSCENDENCE or LORDSHIP (Kupiórns) of Christ. The term “ Lord” occurs hundreds of times in the Epistles, and expresses the conviction of the Supremacy of Christ which the apostle shared with the entire primitive Church. From the moment they received the evidence which was furnished by the gift of the Spirit that Jesus was Risen and Exalted, He was to them Lord. Supremacy, universal dominion, entered into the very conception of the Christ or Messiah ; and to believe in the Lordship of Jesus was to confess Him to be the Christ. “This Jesus whom ye crucified,” was Peter's solemn declaration to the people, enforcing the message of the resurrection, “God hath made Lord and Christ.”] The terms were synonymous, and the wider currency which “ Lord” obtained was due to the influence of Paul, who made large use of it, not only because it was more acceptable to Gentile believers, for whom the term “Christ” had a Jewish-national significance, but because it so well expressed the authority of Christ and the relation of believers to Him as His servants (doürol). Paul's conception of the Lordship of Christ did not differ from that of his fellow-believers, but it was a larger and fuller one, as was to be expected from his richer experience of Christian truth; and at a later stage it was characterised by a breadth and comprehensiveness that went far beyond the content of the original faith. His conjunction of God and Christ in his stated greetings to the Churches indicated his belief that a co-partnership of Divine power and honour was included in the exaltation of Christ to be Lord. And that there was nothing accidental in this conjunction we infer from the express
1 Acts ii. 36.
statement in which he contrasts the polytheism and idolatry of the heathen world with the pure religious faith of the Christian : “ Though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth ; as there are gods many and lords many; yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through Him."1 In the Christian religion there is one Father = God, to whom the term cós in its integrity is applied, and One who possesses the nature and measure of Divinity that Kúplos describes. In the nomenclature of the apostle the Father is ο Θεός, Christ is Κύριος.3
This name, as well as the dignity and authority denoted by it, belong to Christ as Exalted. He is not spoken of as Lord absolutely, or on the ground of the authority of His teaching as the historic Christ. At the same time, His Lordship is the appropriate result of the entire life-work of Jesus on earth, and is the Divine recognition of its Worth. It was the intended issue of all that He underwent in the flesh. “He died and rose again that He might be Lord both of the living and the dead.” 4 The confession that He is Lord is regarded as inspired by faith in the almighty power of God who raised Him up from the dead ; 5
li Cor. viii. 5, 6. Weizäcker's translation brings out the sense better than our R.V. Gibt es für uns nur Einen Gott, den Väter, den Schöpfer aller Dinge, der unser Ziel ist, und Einen Herrn Jesus Christus, den Mittler aller Dinge, der auch unser Mittler ist.
The Christian conception of God as related to us contains, as this passage shows, two elements-Fatherhood and Lordship. They constitute one God (ver. 4), but ó Osós is applied to the Person of the Father ; • Küpros to the Person of the Exalted Christ.
3 The term “Lord,” except where he quotes from the 0. T. (in which case Kypros is used of God, being the Septuagint translation), uniformly denotes Christ in Paul's Epistles. That he regards it as Christ's proper designation we see from the above passage, also from Eph. iv. 5; I Cor. xii. 5. Wherever “Lord” occurs we are to understand him as referring to Christ. 1 Cor. iv. 19, iii. 5, vii. 17; Rom. xiv. 4, which Weiss adduces as exceptions, are so only in appearance. * Rom. xiv. 9.
5 Rom. x. 9.