Imágenes de páginas

off," it says to each of us, "the disguise which hides thee from thy real self; and dare to look thy God in the face. One day thou wilt die; thou wilt pass into another world alone. Art thou now what thou wouldest be then? Dismiss fancy-standards of goodness, and look higher and deeper for the measure of thy life. Cease to move in a vicious circle of morals, even as thou wouldest not knowingly reason in a vicious circle of argument. Cease to judge thyself by a self-made measure: cease to legislate when thou shouldest be standing at the bar of judgment. Dare to meet the law of moral truth. Thou art not a Pagan, that thou shouldest be judged by the twilight of thy natural conscience: thou art not a Jew, that thou shouldest read thy acquittal or thy condemnation in the two tables of stone. Thou art a Christian Christ's Cross was traced once upon thy forehead : Christ's Creed and Law have sounded in thine ears, and been confessed by thy lips: nay, Christ's Nature has been given thee, whether thou retainest, or hast lost, that gift of gifts. Thou art a Christian: and as a Christian thou must be judged, thou must judge thyself, by a standard which Pagan and Jew knew not. The Sermon on the Mount, the law of love and of sacrifice-this, this only, is thy positive standard. Thou art not by rights a slave, grudgingly yielding the stinted meed of service which just escapes punishment: thou art by inheritance a son, upon whom a generous Spirit of freedom has descended, that thou mayest obey the law, not of bondage but of liberty. The fruits of that Spirit are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance against such there is no law of reproach and condemnation. Before thou canst bear these fruits, thy lower nature must be trodden down and killed. They. that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affec


tions and lusts. This is the standard of the conqueror of sin is it thine?"

Is it so, my brother, that thou hidest thy face, and wouldest fain sink to the very dust for fear and shame? Is it so, that not in the New Testament merely, but in the Decalogue, not in the Decalogue alone, but in the light of thy natural conscience, thou tracest the sin of Judah written with a "pen of iron and with the point of a diamond?" Dost thou hear the sentence which Eternal Justice must needs utter against thyself? Canst thou only tremblingly murmur: "The enemy hath persecuted my soul, he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath laid me in the darkness, as the men that have been long dead. Therefore is my spirit vexed within me, and my heart within me is desolate." "Out of the deep have I called unto Thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice." Then take heart, for it is well with thee thou, too, art ready for the Advent, or rather for the return of thy Lord as conqueror of thy spiritual enemies. There would be but little hope for thee, if thou wert still dreaming of thy personal excellence: as it is, thou knowest that thou art "miserable, and poor, and blind, and lame." Cease, then, from thy despondency: He, thy Redeemer, calleth thee. If thou wilt, He is ready not merely to forgive the guilty past, but to bid thee rise with Him to newness of life. Ask, and it shall be given thee: seek, and thou shalt find. His Cross and Wounds, His words of pardon, His robe of righteousness, His sacraments of grace and power are within thy grasp. He hath not given thee over unto death; thou shalt not die but live, and declare the works of thy conquering Lord.


The Victor, manifest in the Flesh.

ROMANS viii. 2.

"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made
me free from the law of sin and death."


'HERE is a remarkable likeness in these words of St. Paul, to those with which St. John concludes the preface to his gospel. When the Evangelist has told us of the Word becoming flesh and dwelling amongst men, he goes on to tell us how the fulness of that incarnate life passed, "grace for grace," into the life of men. And he contrasts this "grace and truth," which came by Jesus Christ, with the law which came by Moses, and which, though itself a divine gift, brought no such gift of life as that which God has bestowed upon us in His only-begotten Son.

This idea of a life which saves us, thus contrasted with the idea of a law which has no power to save, is evidently the same with that which St. Paul sets forth in our text, and which appears so frequently in all his writings.

The "fulness" which St. John declares that he received from the Incarnate Word, is the same with that "spirit of life in Christ Jesus" which St. Paul declares has made him "free from the law of sin and death." The

[ocr errors]

"law" which St. John contrasts with "grace and truth," is that same law which St. Paul pronounces too "weak through the flesh" to effect his deliverance. Those whom St. Paul describes as walking "not after the flesh, but after the spirit," are those same "sons of God" whom St. John describes as "born not of flesh, nor of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God."

One and the same idea, taught them by one and the same revealing Spirit, is evidently present to the mind. of each Apostle. It is the new idea of the deliverance of humanity, by the transforming power of a life, which Christianity has added to the older one of deliverance by the efficacy of an atoning death.

But though they teach thus the same truth, and almost in the same words, they have arrived at it by very different ways.

St. John begins with the contemplation of the Divine nature which was made flesh. He tells us of " the Word which was in the beginning with God, and was God;" how "by Him were all things made," and how in Him was that life which is the only light of men; and so he comes down to the idea of that Word becoming flesh and dwelling amongst men, and of their receiving from Him grace and truth. St. Paul, on the other hand, begins by contemplating that human nature which the Word came to redeem. He studies it in its infirmities, its sins, its struggles, its aspirations, and from these he rises to the conception of that new life which it is to gain from the Incarnate Word.

St. John defines for us our Saviour; St. Paul describes the salvation that we need. St. John, as it were, ascends to heaven to bring Christ down to us; but St. Paul descends first into the very innermost parts of his own being, and learns what manner of a Saviour

he must be, who is to deliver him from the evil that he finds there. The one, with his calm, deep, solemn words, so full of mystery, and yet so full of love, seems like some angel messenger just lighted upon earth, strong and beautiful, the track of his path through the heavens still bright with the light from the throne of God. But the other, with his words of passionate agony, his all but despairing cry for a deliverer, seems rather like some traveller through a dark, trackless forest, earth-stained, toil-worn, wounded by each entangling thicket through which he fights his way; but fighting it still resolutely, desperately, through every difficulty, on to the light and freedom that in his darkest hour he still believes he yet shall reach!

And we, brethren, who stand beneath the Cross where these two ways meet-we who hear the divine harmony that these two widely-differing tones make as they blend in their utterance of the Church's hymn to Christ as God-we feel how ill we could afford the loss of either. We feel how inestimably precious to the Church is this twofold aspect of this great central truth of all her faith and all her life.

In the great theological definitions of St. John, we possess a fixed standard of dogmatic truth, by which we may test and correct our erroneous and imperfect conceptions of it. We see how the Spirit of God has lifted. up in these for all time a sculptured likeness of our Lord, that stands clearly and sharply defined, high above the distorting mists and fogs of error and ignorance and doubt, that are ever rising in the lower region of our fleshly nature. On the other hand, in this close, searching analysis of that very nature by St. Paul, in the clear light that he has thrown upon its essential elements, in the profound perceptions he gives us of

« AnteriorContinuar »