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every form. He teaches that Perfection is reached not by avoiding intercourse with the world, but by claiming the world and all the interests of human life for Christ, and in giving effect to the universal supremacy of His Love and Righteousness. With our changed way of looking at the world, indeed, the ascetic ideal has little charm for us. Nor are we in danger of setting Christ aside from an anxiety to attain to the spirituality of angelic beings. Our danger is that we may become enslaved under that false ideal of conduct that results from the exclusive study of natural law, an ideal that has nothing moral in it, that exalts mere strength and selfishness. As against this tendency we are to hold up Christ, in Whom the supremacy of Love and Goodness is manifested, in Whom we see the true idea of Personality realised, and made triumphant over all hostile powers.
What has been said of the Supremacy of Christ over all will help us to understand the meaning of the apostle in the claim he makes for Him in his Epistle to the Colossians as the END or goal of creation itself,1 where a still higher view of the Greatness of Christ is presented. In Ephesians the God of redemption is said to have for His aim in the work of Christ, " to sum up all things in Him," 2 that is, to bring all things under Christ as their Head; where the truth darkly hinted at seems to be, that He is the intended Bond or principle of universal harmony in the universe, representing the law of life for all moral beings, and revealing the one ground of health and stability in the moral world, in subjection to Whom all are united to God and one another. In Colossians a different phrase is used to express much the same thought: "it pleased God by Him to reconcile all things in 1 Col. i. 16. 2 Eph. i. 10.
heaven and earth."1 Instead of "recapitulation," the idea of "reconciliation" is chosen here in order to describe the effect of Christ's work on the "all" of created existence, because the Colossians imagined that the angels had a part to play in reconciling them to God, which made the cultus of them obligatory on believers; and the apostle would point out that so far was this from being the case, that the angels owed to Christ their own standing in full harmony with God, and that it lay in the Divine Plan that He should be the instrument of a universal reconciliation, that all might realise their perfect harmony with God in their common subjection to His Son.
This, the apostle says, was a result of the work of Christ that was intended from the first. "All things were created unto Him,"2 that is, with a view to Him, to the universal acknowledgment of His Supremacy and His claim on the worship and obedience of created intelligences. This doctrine, that Christ is the End or Final Cause of creation itself, is criticised by some as extravagant, and as un-Pauline in going beyond what the apostle has elsewhere said. But, as it seems to me, the mind welcomes this conception as in keeping with the whole idea of Christ in the Pauline writings, and as introducing a unity into our thoughts of God's government. It means that redemption is not an after-thought of the Divine mind consequent on the Fall, but that the thought of it was present in the very act of creation. It means that the natural order does not stand alone, does not exist for its own sake, but that from the very beginning it was intended to be followed by that spiritual order which explains it, and which has Christ for its Head. As the first Adam, according to Paul's earlier teaching, looked to the Second, and was the Type of " Him that was to come," so now we find him advancing to the position that the creation of 1 Col. i. 20 * Col. i. 16.
the Kosmos itself looked to Him who was to be supreme, and under whom all created intelligences were to rank themselves. This grand view is in full harmony with the trend of modern thought. Man, science tells us, must be regarded as the object or end of creation—the culminating point in the ascending series of forms of life, in whom is explained all that went before. What is it but an enlargement of this idea to regard Man in Christ, the Risen and Exalted Man, as the end of the human development that began with the appearance of the first Adam on the scene? The Supremacy of Christ then becomes the goal of the previous history of mankind, and at the same time the instrument or agency by which is reached the final end, which is the glory of God.
Thus are we to reconcile the apparent divergence of view in this passage, which declares that Christ is the "End " to whom creation and redemption had regard, from the statement of Paul in an earlier Epistle,1 that the universal sovereignty of God is the end, and that Christ's mediatorial glory is but the means to its realisation. From one point of view, and looking at the matter from the close of the present dispensation of Grace, the Glory of God is indeed the true end of Redemption, and Christ's Supremacy is the means by which it is advanced. While, from the point of view of the present order, and remembering that Christ is God's Vicegerent, and that all things are intended to advance the interests committed to Him, we may say with equal truth that His Supremacy is the object or end of all. In the passage in 1 Cor. the apostle is speaking of the close or consummation of all things. The issue is the Glory of God. In Colossians he has before him the dispensation that is running its course, whose object is to illustrate and extend • 1 Cor. xv. 24-29•
the present Sovereignty of Christ. The point of view is different, but there is no discrepancy of thought.
From this account of the Christological doctrine which these Epistles contain, it must be evident there is ascribed to Christ by their author a greatness in the scale of Being, a Dignity and Pre-eminence of position in the universe of God, that surpasses all we find in the early ones; but it must also, I think, be evident that the loftier views are but the full expression and development of truths present to the apostle in the early stage of his spiritual history, and that they, too, have their root in his experience as a Christian man. It is often said, regarding the exalted conceptions of Christ contained in these later writings of Paul, that they are testimonies to the feelings of love and admiration that he and his fellow-believers had for their Master, and to the profound impression made upon their minds by His Personality, but that they cannot be regarded as objectively true. "They are but sallies of love and admiration," says Emerson, "which in our ecclesiastical theology have been petrified into official titles that kill all generous sympathy and liking."1 It may be true that we do often empty the expressions that bear on the superhuman Greatness of Christ, of the power they possess to stir our affections, by our theological treatment of them. But, on the other hand, it is doing them less than justice to view them simply as the language of ardent love dwelling with a natural exaggeration on the worth of its object. It is nearer the truth to say that in such language we have the utterance of convictions regarding Christ's Divine Power and all-sufficiency that are inseparably connected with the experience of the new life He quickens in the soul. They have more than a
1 In his address delivered before the senior class in Divinity College, Cambridge, 1883.
subjective value. They state what is true of Christ in His relation to us; and however lofty such statements may be, and however inappropriate to any but Himself, they come with the force and authority of truth to those who believe in Him as Living and Supreme. Experience of what Christ is to us decides what we believe to be true regarding Him. Our conceptions of Him will be exalted in the measure in which He is realised by us as a Power in our life of thought and action. The thoughts of others regarding Him may seem to us strange, and may be difficult to make our own, but the reason of that may be explained by the meagreness and poverty of our experience.1 It is not too much to say that the representation of the Christ contained in these Epistles has found an echo in the minds of most who have attained to the largest discoveries of His Redeeming Power, and who have been led by the strength and light He has brought into their lives to rest in Him as both the Wisdom and the Power of God, the solution of the problem of the world as well as of the contradictions of the human soul.
1 My revered teacher, Professor J. T. Beck of Tubingen, used to insist on patience with ourselves in the study of Scripture, inasmuch as the understanding of spiritual truth depends not on processes of logic, but on processes of life; and with the deepening of the higher life our horizon of truth widens and things become plain that before we doubted the reality of. I have given in the Appendix an extract from one of his opening lectures to his students in which he enforces this lesson. See Note B on Beck on Truth and Life.