Imágenes de páginas

believer is said to be the " Image of God"; that is His prerogative. He alone answers to the idea of perfect resemblance to God. The most that can be said of us is that we partake of His Image: we are fragmentary resemblances. This realisation in Christ of the Divine idea in its completeness, in contrast with its incomplete realisation in His people, is strikingly illustrated in what is said of the " Fulness of God." While believers share this distinction with Him, and are also called the " Fulness of God," it is to the body of believers that this term is applied, never to the individual; the truth conveyed being, that only the Church as a whole can appropriate that fulness of spiritual life which, found in Christ personally, entitles Him to be called the *' Fulness of God." It is the body of believers that is destined through the ministry of the various agencies given for this end, to attain " to the Perfect Man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."1 No individual, however closely he may resemble his Master, can reveal all that is in Christ. A body, a society of men, is the only adequate receptacle for His fulness. The truth suggests the inexhaustible energy of the Spirit of Christ and His adaptation to the manifold varieties of type in the human race. While, then, it gives us an idea of the Greatness of His Personality that goes beyond anything that we find in the early Epistles, it is yet altogether in keeping with the position that is there assigned to Him as the Second Adam. For as the successive generations of men are simply the unfolding of the possibilities of natural life contained in the First Man, so that not until the race is exhausted can we form any proper conception of the power and faculty that lay in him at the first in germ, — we are warranted in saying of Christ, the Second Adam, or Spiritual Head of Mankind, that no adequate representation can be furnished of the

1 Eph. iv. 13.

possibilities of spiritual manhood and likeness to God of which He is the Germinant Principle and the Pledge, till Humanity as a whole has been brought into living union with Him, and every variety of human nature and culture has come under the influence of His Spirit.1 The " Fulness " of Christ can be contained in and expressed by a Redeemed Humanity only, which will then become the counterpart of Christ in sharing with Him the glory of being the " Fulness of God."

This magnificent conception of the Church or Redeemed Humanity as being the " Fulness of God" is expounded in the Epistle to the Ephesians. The theme of that Epistle is the Grandeur of the Church, that new Brotherhood, in which men of every nationality and of the most diverse religious training were bound together by the one Spirit. To the imposing spectacle of this Body in living fellowship with God and with one another, the apostle directs the attention of his readers, who at the time were being enamoured of that idea which false teachers were holding before them of an invisible host of angels mediating between God and men. Not to that world of angelic intelligences were they to look; not from it would they learn what the "Pleroma" of God was, but from the Church of Christ, the new Brotherhood of men, filled with love and holiness, the true recipient, through the presence and working of its Divine Head, of the Fulness of" Him who filleth all in all."2

1 Canon Gore in his Bampton Lecture (p. 170) insists that only a really Catholic society can be "the fulness of Him that filleth ' all in all.'" He adds these words, which I gladly indorse: "Thus we doubt not that when the day comes which shall see the existence of really national churches in India and China and Japan, the tranquillity and inwardness of the Hindu, the pertinacity and patience of the Chinaman, the brightness and amiability of the Japanese, will each in turn receive their fresh consecration in Christ, and bring out new and unsuspected aspects of the Christian life; finding fresh resources in Him in 'whom is neither Jew nor Greek, neither male nor female, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ all in all'" (Gal. iii. 28; Col. iii. 11).

J Eph. i. 23, iii. 19.


This leads us to the second point, the account we have in these Epistles of the Work of Christ as compared with that which the earlier Epistles contain. We find, then, that here, as there, supreme importance is attached to the Death of Christ, both in relation to the forgiveness of sin and to deliverance from its power. It is set forth as the means of reconciliation to God, and as the Power of our dying to sin itself, as well as of our being quickened to a new moral life.1 But besides what they have in common with the teaching of the early Epistles, they contain two new points of view from which the Cross is regarded, that are most instructive as opening up fresh fields of thought.

In the Epistle to the Ephesians the dominant idea is the RECONCILIATION effected by the Gospel BETWEEN MAN anD MAN, the removal of the old antagonism between Jew and Gentile, and the union of both in one brotherhood or family. At the time it was written Christianity was showing itself to be a great social power. The groups of Christians that sprang up in every place to which the Gospel came were communities in which all alienations of race and religion were forgotten in the enthusiasm of a new love. The Church was presenting itself in this light. It was drawing to itself the wonder and admiration of the world because of this striking feature of its life; and in his letter Paul dwells on it, and points out that the reconciliation of man to man, the unification of the different sections of the human race that had been effected, was the result of Christ's Death, and the in

1 Reconciliation—Col. i. 14, 19-20, ii. 13-14; Eph. ii. 13; Quickening—Eph. ii. 5 ; Col. ii. II, 12, 20, iii. 3. The enlarged conception of the Person of Christ in these Epistles is observed in the fact that He is spoken of as the Agent in certain Divine acts in which the earlier Epistles speak of the Father as the Agent. Compare 2 Cor. v. 18 f. with Eph. ii. 16. The subordination of the Son to the Father is implied in i. 17 (" The God of our Lord Jesus Christ").

tended result of it. "He is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in His Flesh {i.e. His body offered in death) the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that He might create in Himself of the twain one new man, so making peace; and might reconcile both in one body {i.e. the mystical body of believers) unto God through the Cross, having slain the enmity thereby."1 Formerly Paul had dwelt on the efficacy of the death of Christ in removing the dualism between man and God, as well as that in human nature itself, between the higher and lower elements of our being,—a dualism which in both cases he showed had been intensified by the law working on a nature opposed to it. This dualism had been taken away by the Cross, and by the removal of the law that had been effected by the Cross. And now we find it is still this same effect of the death of Christ, the abolition of the law, that is insisted on, only it is followed by a new effect, by the removal not only of the dualism between God and man, but also of that between man and his brother man. For the law had created a breach between the Jew who had it and the Gentile who was without it, fostering a pride in the former that was resented with contempt on the part of the latter. But the Cross "broke down the middle wall of partition between the two," removed the law, liberated men from the obligation of ordinances affecting the flesh, and restored them to a fellowship of love with one another. It is an instructive fact that we have an entire Epistle devoted to the exhibition of Christ as the Reconciler of men to one another, and to emphasise the intention of His death to sweep away all customs and ordinances, however sacred, that divided man from man. Most instructive is it, also, to observe that His Church is held up to our admiration as the Society in which has been realised this ideal of a new Brotherhood, where all differences are 1 Eph. ii. 14-16.

merged in the consciousness of one faith and one love. Subsequent history shows that the Church has often proved a Divider rather than a Reconciler, falling sadly short of the apostolic ideal. This Epistle is an abiding witness to the Catholicity of the Church; it is a perpetual protest against those who exalt ordinances and dogmas to a place of supremacy, only to produce discord and division thereby. Ritual and sacrament and formularies of belief are matters of secondary importance, and are mischievous when they alienate us from our fellow-men, and hinder the realisation of the New Testament ideal of a Church, in which love and brotherhood, based on equality of religious privilege, is everything. We need to catch anew this vision of Christ as the Breaker of all the bonds of creed, ritual, caste that mar human fellowship, as the "Opener of men's hearts to one another, the well-spring, never to be dry, of a new humanity."1

The Epistle to the Colossians goes still further in its account of the consequences of the death of Christ, for it attributes to it an efficacy in removing the DUALISM Between Man And Angelic INTEllIGENCES, and, it would seem, between these angelic intelligences and God Himself. In chap. i. 19 we read, " it pleased the Father that in Christ should all the fulness dwell; and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood ol His Cross; through Him, I say, whether they be things on the earth or things in heaven." Here the reconciling power of the Cross is extended so as to embrace the intelligences of the unseen world who were hostile to man, and who, till the effects of the Cross reached them, had stood outside the harmony that was to prevail among God's creatures. A further light is shed on the matter in chap. ii. 13—15, where we read that God has forgiven all our trespasses, " having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us which was contrary to us; and He hath taken it out of the way, nailing

1 Dean Church.

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