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the other. In the apostolic age the greatness and glory of the Exalted Christ was so real to believers, that many could not grasp along with it the thought that He who was now in possession of Divine prerogatives could ever have stooped so low as to be born into the world and to share in the humiliating experiences of a human life. They doubted whether His suffering and death had been real—whether, after all, the Son of God had been a man in more than the appearance. Paul did not share that doubt; but we can see from the Epistle to the Hebrews, which was written to those who were familiar with His teaching, that it was shared by some who took his lofty views of the Person of Christ. And his reserve in regard to the earthly life of Jesus, which, as we have seen, is so characteristic of his Epistles, proceeded, one is almost disposed to think, from a lingering feeling in his mind of the incongruity between the two pictures. With our altered conception of things, our difficulty is not where the primitive Christians found theirs. It is in the opposite direction. To us Christ is so manifestly human, our perception of the moral beauty and conformity to the highest standard of human action, of that spirit of self-denial that bore shame and death for us is so keen, and our conviction of His oneness with us in every human experience and in every sympathy that belongs to manhood is so strong, that we are apt to stumble at the idea that One who was so unmistakably a Son of man can have risen to that height of glory in the heavenly places in which He is set before us in the Epistles. The danger is that, in our intense realisation of His human life, we may lose hold of the truth of His present life as the Exalted Son of God.
Christian experience, however, brings these two pictures together and makes them one, or shows us at least that we are dealing simply with two aspects of one and the same Personality. For the life of faith in Him reveals a Power working in us that makes for holiness and is stronger than sin and the flesh and the world, pointing thereby to the Supremacy of Him from whom it comes, and to His identity with God. While the effects of that power on the character and life of believers, the resemblance to Jesus in His lowliness and love and purity and manly strength which it works out in them, points to its identity with the personal life of the Son of Man, who embodied in so distinctive a form these and all other graces of true character. What the spirit of Christ does in the hearts of His people now is seen to be the continuation of that same gracious Activity whose achievements are narrated in the Gospels. The knowledge of Christ that is fruitful is that which is derived at once from history and from faith—history revealing to us the personal grace of the Head of His people, faith disclosing to us the Power by which He reigns still and repeats in us the characteristic qualities of His Life.
In that movement that has riveted the minds of men in these days to the human life of Jesus, and to the memoirs in which the Picture of that human life is preserved, we may surely see the hand of God, the striving of the very Spirit of Christ leading us into a fuller apprehension of what He is and is able to do for us. No doubt it has been needed to correct the tendency to a dogmatic understanding of Christ and of Christianity, that finds itself more at home in the Epistles than in the Gospels, and in consequence apprehends the truth that dogma represents in a form which, however accurate and scientific, is without warmth and conveys no conviction. It is reported of the late Professor J. Ch. K. v. Hofmann of Erlangen, that towards the end of his life he said, “Paul has had his day, it is time the Gospels had theirs.”1 And Hofmann was a devout man, a profound believer in the
My authority for this statement is Naumann in his little book, Was heisst Christlich Social, p. 47. His words are : “Der selige Professor v.
truth of God's word, and an exegete to whom students owe more for the light he has thrown on Paul's Epistles than to any other modern expositor. We believe that good must come of all the study and labour that are expended on the Gospels in order to bring out into clearness the great thoughts of Jesus, and the revelation of the Divine Will that is given to us in His life and character. We will be made to realise more vividly than before that the great instrument for the moral quickening and elevation of humanity is the personal influence of Jesus Christ on the heart and life, and that we are in possession of that knowledge of Him, of His aims and purposes, of His sympathies and moral judgments, that is indispensable in order that His Personal influence upon us may lead to the highest results. But while the gain from all the inquiry that is directed toward the Christ of history is in this way unquestionable, it cannot make Paul's interpretation superfluous, or lessen its value for the Christian life. Nor are we to understand the words of v. Hofmann as if he meant to suggest this. Paul himself was the most signal instance of a character that reached, we might say, the very pinnacle of human greatness through the influence of Jesus Christ upon his inner life, and the perfect sympathy of mind and feeling with His Lord that flowed from his fellowship with Him. So dominant was this influence, so absorbing the attachment that grew out of it, so assimilating a power did it prove in his conscious experience, that he could say, “I live no more, but Christ lives in me.”1 But this same Paul, who illustrates so strikingly the elevating influence of Christ on the life and character, attributes it all to the living Christ who had laid the human race under an eternal debt of gratitude by His work of atonement for sin and His victory over death, and who is clothed with the power of
Hofmann in Erlangen hat einmal gesagt, 'nach der Zeit des Paulus müsse eine Zeit der Evangelien kommen.""
i Gal. ii. 20.
the Spirit of God to reproduce, in all who surrender themselves to His love, the characteristic qualities of His own perfect manhood. And in order that our knowledge of Jesus Christ in His human manifestation may become vital in our experience, and may prove an influence conforming us to what He was, we must add to it the faith of Paul in a Christ Risen and Exalted. As long as there are those who are burdened with memories that are a continual reproach, and who feel the power of evil appetites they are unable to rise above,-as long as there are those who tremble before that event that seems to mock all their efforts after a higher life, and who crave an assurance that death has not separated them for ever from friends whom they have lost but cannot cease to love,-men will turn with thankfulness to this teacher who shows us what God made Jesus to be when He raised Him from the dead, who announces a Christ who has put away sin, who has vanquished death, who is now by the grace of God the Head of a new Humanity, and able to repeat in as many as believe in Him the wonder of His own Holiness and Immortality