Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

Preface to the Four teenth Edition. xxvii

nothing but a foregone conclusion and doctrinal prepossession could have blinded any one to the perception of it. That Gospel is regarded, -and rightly by those who admit its authenticity-as a completion, from an Apostolic Source, of the inadequate conceptions of the Person of Christ conveyed by the Synoptic narration. On a point so vital as this, no authority could equal that of the beloved disciple, who leaned on the bosom of the Lord, and was admitted to His inmost privacy of thought.''

English scholars, and notably the late Bishop of Durham, have taught us what to think about the judgment of the school of Tübingen respecting the origin of the Gospel of St. John. But their labours became the property of the world at too late a date to be read by Mr. Tayler, and they are not noticed by Dr. Martineau, who apparently still accepts without reserve and in their most unmodified form the Tübingen theories. When he is discussing the doctrinal import of the Fourth Gospel, Dr. Martineau can write more strongly,—perhaps at times less guardedly,—than Mr. Tayler. Thus, he asserts that 'in the Johannine view the Revealer is Himself one with the Object revealed, the manifested God, the apprehension of whom fulfils the meaning of the dispensation and is Eternal Life.'' And after summarising the peculiarities, as he appreciates them, of this Gospel, he observes that they 'converge upon one result, viz. to make the whole Christian revelation consist in lending to the world the Divine Personality of the Son, as an object of faith, and a power of sanctification.' Again, “Take away, he writes, 'the Godhead of Christ as the entire real meaning of even His Ministry in Palestine, and there is not an incident or a speech in the Fourth Gospel which does not lose its significance.'' Dr. Martineau, it may be justly urged, is not sufficiently alive to the recognition of Our Lord's Manhood in

* Tayler, Attempt to Ascertain, etc., p. 181. 9 Seat of Authority, p. 441, comp. 443.

the Fourth Gospel. But forty years ago such an admission as he makes would have implied an acceptance of the Scriptural, and therefore the sufficient, warrant of the Faith of the Church on the subject of Our Lord's Divine Person. It does not imply this in the case of Dr. Martineau, because, in his judgment, the Fourth Gospel only represents the point of view of an Alexandrian Christian in the fourth decade of the second century.''

Mr. Tayler had apparently taken it for granted that in view of the exegesis of the School of Tübingen, the difficulties of Socinianism with respect to the New Testament centred in the Fourth Gospel, and that the first three Gospels might be accepted without prejudice to a Humanitarian Creed. Had we,' he observes, only the synoptists, though undoubtedly they invest the person of Christ with very extraordinary powers, and place Him in a most intimate relation to God, we should hardly have claimed for Him a nature higher than the human, however wonderfully endowed.'? But Dr. Martineau's critical and moral instincts could not rest altogether satisfied with this conclusion; and he sees clearly that the first three Gospels represent our Lord as saying too much about Himself to be consistent with a purely human ideal of excellence. Besides this, he is scarcely less dissatisfied with the supernatural incidents attaching more especially to our Lord's Human Nature in the first three Gospels than with the distinct assertion of His Incarnate Godhead in the fourth. Accordingly he sets himself to strip off what he terms the mythological element from the narratives of the three earlier evangelists, 'It would,' he regretfully observes, ‘be much easier to untwine the mythological attributes from the Person of Jesus, were it not that the process of investing Him with them had begun, long before our New

Seat of Authority, p. 435. It should perhaps be added that Dr. Martineau does not conceive the identity of the Logos and God to involve co-equality. His reasoning on pp. 431, 432 is hardly convincing; and the Church is not concerned to deny a subordination katà táčiv.

? Attempt to Ascertain, etc., p. 181.

2

Preface to the Fourteenth Edition.

xxix

2

Testament books assumed their form.'' He holds indeed that the whole theory of Christ's person; that He was the Messiah; what was the meaning of His death; what the range of His kingdom ; and when would be the time of His return to take it up was a posthumous and retrospective product worked out by disciples.'

Indeed the most original, and it may be added the boldest, of Dr. Martineau's negations is the opinion that 'the Messianic theory of the Person of Jesus was made for Him, and palmed upon Him by His followers, and was not His own.'' In this he is conscious of fairly distancing some of the least scrupulous of recent critics; who are alive to the fact that if on such a subject the three first Gospels are not trustworthy, it is difficult to assign to them, on reasonable grounds, any historical value whatever. There is of course no pretence that the state of the text warrants any doubt as to the great Messianic passages : indeed Dr. Martineau admits that the authors of these Gospels, or of the materials of which they were composed, ‘had long convinced themselves not only that Jesus was the appointed Messiah, but that He knew Himself to be

sufficient signs of His authority as such.' How they could all have arrived at such a conviction, if it had no basis whatever in our Lord's language and action; how they could have agreed to invent so gigantic and sustained a fiction, penetrating their entire narratives through and through, Dr. Martineau does not at all satisfactorily explain. But that so acute and accomplished an author should have committed himself to such a paradox is in fact more noteworthy than the considerations by which he attempts to support it. For it shows that he feels how much was really involved in a claim which Socinian writers had heretofore treated as consistent with the theory of a merely human Christ; how the outworks, so to speak, of the great doctrine of Christ's Divinity are traceable in the language and action which is appropriate to our Lord's Self-proclamation as the Messiah; how the prophecies which thus belong to Him, how the language which He utters, how the temper and bearing which befit Him in this capacity really point to a higher truth beyond. The Messianic claim was indeed the first step towards the announcement of our Lord's Divinity; or, in Dr. Martineau's phrase, 'the identification of Jesus with the Messianic figure' is the first act of Christian mythology.'

80,
and
gave

1 Seat of Authority, p. 360.

• Ibid., p. 331. It is difficult to understand how any one who believes that Jesus of Nazareth did not even claim to be the Messiah, should still cling to the name of Christian. Whatever he may believe about Jesus, he does not believe that Jesus is the Christ. Would he not be more exactly

3 Ibid.

There is no necessity to attempt to measure the number or extent of the excisions from the text of the first three gospels, which would be necessary in order to satisfy the theory that our Lord never claimed to be the Messiah. In point of fact when these excisions had been duly made, very little indeed would remain. And this can hardly surprise us, since Dr. Martineau himself reflects that 'the theory of a gradual disclosure and advance of Messianic pretension' on the part of Jesus was the very theory of the Evangelists themselves." But then the Evangelists are taken to have known less of the truth of the subject on which they wrote than does their modern reviewer, who believes himself to be in possession of a 'critical chemistry which is not without resources for recovering at least some fragments of the first faithful record.' At the bidding of this chemistry,' we must it seems, bid adieu not only to the Nativity and the Resurrection; to the promise to Peter, and the prediction of the last judgment; but even to such moral and spiritual treasures as the invitation, Come unto Me all ye weary, and I will give you rest'; since it is truly felt that the unspeakable tenderness of this invitation is associated with an attitude on the part of the Speaker which places Him by implication outside and above the circle of our common humanity *. 1 Seat of Authority, p. 355.

, Ibid., p. 346.

Preface to the Fourteenth Edition.

xxxi

God employs many methods for making His way plain before the face of man: and among these methods are the demonstrations which He affords or permits from time to time of what is involved in rejecting it. The sincere and able writer before us unintentionally illustrates the real connection between the New Testament and the doctrine of Our Lord's Divinity, when in order to get rid of the approaches to as well as the statements of that doctrine, he finds himself obliged to tear the writings of the Evangelists to shreds. He thus teaches us that if we would read the gospels as they stand and with our eyes open, we cannot but read in their pages the truth which was reasserted for all time by the Catholic Church at Nicæa, because it was inextricably bound up with the first and only trustworthy record of Him who is the Object as well as the Author of our faith.

CHBIST CHURCH,

6. Peter's Day, 180o.

« AnteriorContinua »