« AnteriorContinuar »
from the defect that I have noticed in Schleiermacher and in those who claim to be his disciples. In Rothe's scheme of thought, the Resurrection is of first importance in liberating the Person of Christ from material limits and conditions, and in affecting its complete spiritualisation. The idea of the Second Adam is fundamental in his Christology, and is expounded in one of the most interesting and original parts of his Ethik} No one has done fuller justice to the commanding Personality of Christ as the New Beginner of the human race. An individual indeed He is, according to Rothe, but He is unlike all other individuals in His being no partial or defective realisation of human nature, but the realisation of it in the genuine union of all its special sides, related to other men as the centre is related to the different points of the circle. Not that the Second Adam exhausts in Himself the idea of humanity, but He is the principle of its realisation, inasmuch as there dwells in Him a completeness of human nature that suffices for the separate unfolding into an organic whole of the differences among the various members of the human race. He is an absolutely perfect instrument for exerting a saving, transforming influence upon the individual members of humanity, of such a kind that each man finds the fulfilment of his own separate and partial individuality by means of that which He supplies. No one has set forth more strikingly than Rothe has done in these chapters the supreme Place that Jesus occupies as the Second Adam, as the Head of a Spiritual Life that issues in the full realisation in those united to Him of the Divine Idea of humanity.2
1 Vol. iii. pp. 135-170.
2 The style of Rothe, which is heavy and dragging, is apt to deter one from the reading of his great work, the Ethik; but the massive thought well repays the effort. There is a just characterisation of him in Lichtenberg*s History of German Thought in the Nineteenth Century; "It might be said that in reading him one feels as if walking amidst fragments of rocks flung abroad at hazard, and that they arrest and
This Pauline conception has come much to the front in the theology of our own country in this century. Readers of F. D. Maurice's works and our own Thomas Erskine's will remember how much is made by these theologians of the idea of the Second Adam, although with their exposition of His universal significance for the higher life of man, there are combined in their writings Neo-Platonic speculations regarding the original relation of Christ to the human race which will appear to some of doubtful value. None have made a fuller use of this conception than the writers of the modern Sacramentarian School, from Canon Wilberforce, in whose work on The Doctrine of the Incarnation it receives a large place, to Canon Gore in our own day. Although here, too, as it appears to me, the value of their contributions is impaired by the attempt to make the Church in its ordinances, and especially in its sacramental acts, the sole channel or medium by which the supernatural Influence that flows from the new Adam or Representative of our Race, is communicated to men. Hampered by their adherence to the definitions of the Greek theologians, and understanding the life communicated by the Second Adam in a quasi-physical sense, writers of that school connect it with physical media in a way that leaves them open to the charge of taking a magical view of the operation of the grace of God in the soul.
The deep hold of the Pauline interpretation of the
historic Christ on the Christian thought of the ages is a
testimony to its truth and to its correspondence with the
actual effect of the working of Christ on human hearts and
lives. Wherever men have submitted themselves to the
wound us at every step ; yet here and there are found blocks of the purest granite, and afar off is heard the murmur of foaming cascades. And, in fact, in its substance the thought of Rothe is like granite, while his speculation produces the effect of mountain torrents, the mere sight of which refreshes and inspires power " (p. 500).
power of His Personality, the result has been the creation in them of a new type of moral and religious life, than which none higher, more fruitful of inward satisfaction, more stimulating to progress can be conceived. To awaken and sustain this new life of sonship and spirituality in men, is the Prerogative of Jesus Christ. What is wanting to the integrity of our true life can be supplied only by Him who, in His own inner life, is all that man is not. The Personal alone can heal the personal. At different periods in the world's history there have appeared men of original genius, who, in respect of the vast influence they have exerted by their lives and words on the religious destinies of their fellowmen, may be compared with Christ. The names of Paul, Augustine, St. Francis, Savonarola, Luther, Calvin, and Wesley will occur in this connection. These and such like men were endowed by nature above others with a passion for religion, an enthusiasm for God, for truth, for holiness, that accounts for their extraordinary power to impress themselves upon their fellowmen. They were in a peculiar sense organs created to influence men for God. It is part of the Divine plan to carry on the work of the Kingdom by great personalities fitted by nature for the functions they are to discharge. And Christ is sometimes mentioned in the same breath with these prophetic souls as a great religious genius, whose nature and appearance are no more mysterious than theirs. But such comparisons overlook one great point of difference. The power they exercised was derived power, and power derived from Him; His was original. They, one and all, bowed down before His supreme Personality in whom they saw the truth of religion and humanity embodied. And they recognised it as their highest, their solitary function, to interpret Him to their fellowmen. Their influence was due not to anything in or of themselves, but to the measure in which the Power and Truth and Spirit of Christ went forth through them. Christ, on the other hand, is alone in being in His own Person the Interpretation of God, and the Fountain of a Divine Life at which all others draw their inspiration. We may speak of Him, if we choose, as a Religious Genius, if we mean by such language to emphasise the fact that, as with the others so with Him, there was an original basis of endowment and nature that explains the influence that proceeds from Him on the moral and religious life of men. But the dependence upon Him of all who have possessed a measure of His power, the fact that in all alike it is derived from Him and is proportioned to their success in assimilating the contents of His Personality, points to a peculiarity of nature that no other shares with Him, and that sets Him on a platform where He stands apart, superior, supreme. Here is not a Man merely, but the Archetypal Man, and we are forced back on the recognition of a nature in Him that is an absolutely new fact, and is identified in a special way with the life of God, on an origin that is exceptional, on a function in relation to the spiritual history of the human race that is His alone.