Imágenes de páginas

stitution as made up of two parts, spirit and Alesh. This is, of course, not a metaphysical definition, it is a religious account of the matter. It has respect to man as a religious being, having a nature that connects him with God and the spiritual world, as well as one that connects him with the world of sense and the material order of things. In virtue of his power of choice, man may determine himself either in the one direction or the other; he may obey the higher law of his being, or he may surrender himself to the desire and impulse of his sensuous nature; and, according to the choice he makes, he becomes either a spiritual or a carnal man. In point of fact he has made his choice in favour of the flesh, and this choice is repeated in every member of the human race, so that owing to the preponderating influence of the appetites and desires that have their seat in the material part of us, we are now carnal in character and mind, conformed to the principle of the flesh. Paul denies to human nature in its actual condition the possession of the Spirit of God. He recognises, of course, the presence and working in human nature

1“Not till faith with its consequences begins," says Holtzmann in expounding the doctrine of Paul, “does the transcendent Spirit become an immanent principle in man.” But it is going too far to assert, as he does, that the spiritual is the exclusive attribute of God, and is, “apart from our renewal by Christ, which is essentially our elevation to a higher stage of being, alien to the nature of man" (N.T. Theol. p. 16). Gloel is more cautious : “If the apostle nowhere expressly mentions the spirit of man when he speaks of our carnal state, the reason is that in his view man's 'spirit' does not unfold itself in its religious susceptibility and religious self-activity till it comes into contact with the Divine Spirit” (Der Heilige Geist, p. 80). The spirituality of man's nature even as fallen is demonstrated by the activity of the nous or faculty of moral cognition and will (practical reason) which is the organ of the Spirit of God, by which the latter finds access, under the Gospel, to the springs of our being to renew us in knowledge and reinforce our wills (Rom. xii. 2; Eph. iv, 23). These and other points relating to the psychologia sacra of the apostle are well put in the useful monograph of Simon on Die Psychologie des Ap. Paulus, i Rom, v. 6.

of spiritual elements, the activity of the nous, or mind, with its perception of a law that coerces the animal nature, the existence, in short, of an Inner Man that responds to the voice of God and duty. But when he speaks of Spirit, there is present to his mind the idea of power, energy, a principle of life and activity, and there is no such principle in man's nature. We are “without strength," 1 though we strive after the Ideal we cannot reach it. The flesh is supreme, and if elements that are spiritual are still found in us, we are without the Spirit of God whose energy is needed to make them vital and dominant. Without this indwelling of God man is now a moral failure, and the highest capacities of his nature remain undeveloped.

In contrast is Jesus Christ, the Man in whom God is Immanent, and who, in consequence, realises the Ideal of our being. In Him also were Spirit and Flesh, but related to each other as they ought to be—the Spirit of God controlling the flesh and determining all the activities of the personal life, so that He became the Type of the Spiritual Man. To this peculiarity in the Person of Christ, the indwelling of the Spirit of God, is to be referred the fact, so fundamental in Paul's thought of Christ, of His personal holiness and entire freedom from sin. What distinguished Christ from all other men in the view of the apostle, and constituted the secret of His power to save, was His sinlessness. And in referring this exceptional position of Christ in humanity to His supernatural endowment by the Spirit of God, we are not to understand him as implying that it was not also the personal attainment of Christ. The apostle, indeed, says nothing explicit as to the process by which Christ achieved holiness, but that the latter was in no sense a ready-made virtue, or the result of a natural and necessary process, may, I think, be inferred from the fact that the apostle asserts the solidarity of Christ with mankind in sharing with them the flesh or material nature, with its weakness for good, its openness to temptation, its mortality.

I can refer only in passing to the controversy on which so much has been written as to what precisely is meant by the term “flesh ” in Paul's writings. A certain class of writers maintain that he was influenced in his use of the term by the usage of Greek philosophy, and that he held the essential evil of matter. According to them, his teaching is that the flesh, in virtue of its being material, is in itself evil, and that assumed by Christ it was in Him, as in us all, the seat of sinful passions and desires ; His personal sinlessness being conserved by the admission that while it was an objective reality in His flesh it never became sin subjectively, or His own personal act, having been kept from passing into an act of will by the opposite principle of the Spirit. There is no proof, however, that Paul used the term in this metaphysical sense, while the strong probability is that he held the Old Testament view of the historical connection between the flesh and sin. The two things are separable in idea, although in concrete experience and in the life of the race the flesh is sinful; but the distinction leaves us free to hold that the flesh of Christ was that of unfallen human nature. It is another question whether it really was so. The doctrine that Christ was not born by ordinary generation seems to secure for Him a participation of flesh

1 Rothe has discussed the process by which Christ achieved holiness in his speculative construction of the idea of the Second Adam in his Ethik (iii. pp. 135-170). But there is much force in Kähler's remarks on attempts to explain this matter : “The inner course of a sinless development is as inconceivable to us as life on the Sandwich Islands is to a Laplander. How can we, who are so different from Him in the very roots of our being that we need to undergo a new birth in order to acquire an element of likeness to Him, pretend to apply human measures to His development, its stages and course?" (Der Sogenannte Historische Jesu, 1896, pp. 53, 54).

exempt from sin. But whatever Paul's view was concerning the supernatural origin of Christ's life, this doctrine was not taught by him, and we can scarcely proceed upon it in the interpretation of his language on the subject under consideration. Some accordingly have held, not on speculative grounds but on grounds of Scripture, and what appear to them the necessities of the case, that the flesh attributed by the apostle to our Lord in His humilation was in itself, and apart from His personal will, identical with ours,— convinced that unless we take this view we cannot hold that His temptations were ours, or that His victory over evil is available for us. On the other hand, we have statements of the apostle's that make us pause before we go so far. We are told that “ Christ knew no sin ” ;? and such an aloofness of it from His very consciousness is scarcely consistent with its presence as an active principle or power in His material frame. Again, we read that He came in the " likeness of sinful flesh,” 3 a phrase that seems to have been chosen to guard against the idea of a perfect identity between the flesh of Christ and that of ordinary men. Two things may be like without being the very same. And the similarity between Christ's flesh and our own may well have been accompanied by a difference affecting the experience of the moral life, when we remember the strength of the Divine consciousness in Him. At the same time, the dissimilarity must not be pressed. The likeness was real enough to involve Him in a conflict with sin in the flesh that called forth His active “condemnation": of it. For whatever else the apostle may mean to imply by that expression, he points to a dealing on the part of Christ with sin, in which he practically denied its right to rule in human nature, and demonstrated that a man who has the Holy Spirit for his life and strength is superior to the flesh, and need not succumb to its weakness. And this practical condemnation of sin in the flesh involved a continual resistance to it in its manifold approaches and forms of assault on His integrity, that establishes a community of feeling and experience between the sinless One and His brethren of a very real description.

i See Note A on St. Paul and the Supernatural Birth of Christ. ? 2 Cor. v. 21. 3 Rom. viii. 3.

4 Rom. viii. 3.

If the flesh of Christ was not in itself sinful, the being in the flesh was nevertheless a humiliation to Him, and marked a lower stage in His history compared with that which followed. The flesh is a hindrance to the full unimpeded activity of the Spirit; it is weak, mortal, perishable, and the death of Christ is spoken of as significant of a new and higher step in the development of His Person; for, rising again, He became wholly spiritual, filled and pervaded by the unbounded power of the Spirit of God, which, although given to Him without measure when He was in the world, was then restrained by the material conditions of His earthly life, and could not till death took place glorify every part of His humanity. He became, then, in the fullest sense a Spiritual Man, so identified with the Spirit of God indeed that He is called Spirit. “The Lord is the Spirit.” 1 It was as Spirit that Christ was first known to Paul, and it was the impression of Him as thus apprehended that ruled his thought of Christ to the end. Not that there is intended any negation of body. Paul does not conceive of Spirit apart from corporeity. He refers to the “Body of Glory”? in which the Risen One is clothed. Nor is the manhood lost sight of in his conception of the Exalted One. It is noticeable that he often applies to Him the name of Jesus, redolent of earth and of human memories. But withal, Christ as Exalted is in His very nature in a pre-eminent sense Spirit, free from the limitations of sense and flesh, the “Life12 Cor. iii. 17.

? Phil. iii. 21.

« AnteriorContinuar »