Imatges de pàgina

separate, nor are they separable. Christ saves because He is the Son of God, and though it is conceivable that men might be saved, as it were, against their will by the mere external operations of a Person whom they neither knew nor understood, yet that is not the regular Divine method. Men are brought into a state of salvation when they are united with the Son of God, and to deny that Christ is the Son of God is to deny the possibility of salvation. The doctrines are not merely interesting intellectual speculations, they are intellectual exhibitions of practical truth. This, we think, is the result of a consideration of S. Paul's method in the particular case quoted. The force of Church tradition had better be left aside, perhaps, till we come definitely to discuss the Church.

The fact presented to the Apostles' experience, and by them proclaimed to the world, was that the Man Jesus of Nazareth, whom they knew and accompanied in His ministry throughout Judæa, was none other than the Son of God. The nature of the problem thus offered to the intellect of the Church was as follows: to explain so far as might be how these two natures were united in the one Person. Neither was to be infringed, neither to be robbed of its just rights, the characteristics of both were to be preserved. To describe accurately the way in which the Church approached and dealt with this problem, would be to write the history of the first five centuries. Nothing so elaborate as this need be feared here. We shall endeavour to indicate generally the outlines of the controversy, and point out its practical importance.

It is not without significance that the Incarnation occurred, and was first preached in Judæa. The Jewish

mind, as we have already seen, felt no attraction towards the elaborate metaphysical discussions which exercised the Greeks. Their notion of God was simple and direct; it contained no elements which made it difficult to imagine activity of God in very close connexion with the material world. The chief interest of their theology was, as we have said, a moral interest. At the same time they clearly recognized that in the material world, the world of nature, the hand of God was to be traced. His power was revealed in the complex order; He was concealed 'in a pavilion of dark waters, with thick clouds to cover Him;' 'He came flying upon the wings of the wind,' but the whole was ordered and directed by Him. 'Wind and storm fulfilled His word.' He makes 'darkness that it may be night, wherein all the beasts of the forest do move the sun ariseth, and they get them away together and lay them down in their dens, so that man may go forth to his work and to his labour until the evening.' When 'God taketh away their breath they die and turn again to their dust; when He sends forth His breath they are made, and the face of the earth is renewed.' The Lord rejoices in His works, and throughout them blesses the righteous, and roots out the sinner. And nature sympathizes with His holy will; the strife and war in it are dependent upon the evil which has entered; but in the new heaven and earth in which the Messiah's kingdom shall be reared, these wars shall cease; 'they shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.'1 The same point may be illustrated by reference to the ease with which the Jews used strongly anthropomorphic expressions in regard of God, without feeling

1 Ps. xviii. 10, 11, cxlviii. 8, civ. 20-23, 29, 30, 35; Is. xi. 9.

their difficulty (if the recent theories as to the date of the Pentateuch are true) till a very late period of their history.

In all this their position forms a strong contrast with the feeling prevalent both in Greece and in the further East. To the Greek mind, determined in this direction by Plato, matter was the cause of the confusion in the world, and the soul's one chance of obtaining true knowledge and true good was to free itself from the trammels of the body. This point of view had already been brought to bear upon the Jewish Scriptures at Alexandria, and the contact of the two strains of thought had resulted in a sort of compromise. The Jewish Scriptures were still regarded as the preeminent source of truth, but side by side with them Greek philosophy was raised almost to a position of equality. For the Scriptures, though still authoritative, were explained in a Hellenistic sense by the method of allegory, their anthropomorphisms were toned down, and the freedom with which the Hebrew writers had spoken of God was balanced by a theory of an absolutely transcendent God, revealed through grades of intermediary beings, of whom one was the Logos.1

1 It is a keenly disputed question, into which we cannot fully enter, whether the Logos-doctrine which we find in S. John's Prologue is or is not a development of this Alexandrine idea. There are reasons apart from the identity of the name for supposing that the Apostle had met with the Alexandrine doctrine, and had been influenced by it. And there is a great difficulty about the opposite view, viz. that the Logos-doctrine in S. John belongs to an independent development in the Palestinian schools, and not at all to Alexandrine Judaism. It is difficult to prove positively the existence of such a doctrine in Palestine, as the evidence for the history of Jewish thought between the Captivity and the coming of Christ is extremely fragmentary; and the Targums, in which such a use is found, are of uncertain date. That the Jewish notion of God tended to become transcendent during this period certain, both from the fact that they gave up using the great

From the countries east of Palestine, especially Persia, there came a strongly dualistic influence-a tendency to regard the world as the scene of a conflict between two forces of evil and good, matter being in later days regarded as the seat of the former. It is probable that this theory is directly assailed in the later Isaiah in the passage containing the words, 'I form the light and I create darkness' (Isa. xlv. 7), where God is represented as vindicating to Himself the unrivalled supremacy over the universe.

It is clear that when the doctrine of the Son of God made flesh reached such convictions as these, a struggle must necessarily take place: it could not be rationally accepted without. It is not conceivable that a person who held that matter was the cause of moral evil or intellectual error, could allow that a Divine Person should take upon Him the robe of our humanity. The appearances, therefore, to which the Apostles witnessedespecially the Crucifixion-had to be explained. This could be done in one of two ways. It could be maintained that the flesh of Christ was not real, that it was a mere show. This was the view of those who are called Docetists, against whom S. Ignatius writes1 so passionately. Or it could be argued, that an ordinary human person, born in the ordinary way, was made the home for a time of a special indwelling of Deity. Thus it was maintained by Cerinthus 2 that the Christ descended

name Jehovah, and from the evidence of the Sapiential Books, especially Proverbs and the Book of Wisdom. In whatever way this question may be decided, it is certain that the Logos-doctrine in S. John must have belonged to a theology in which the Incarnation of the Word would not have seemed incredible; and it is equally clear that the Alexandrine doctrine as stated by Philo would not have admitted the possibility of such an event.

1 S. Ign., ad Trall. 9-11; Smyrn. 1-6. 2 Hipp. adv. Hær. vii. 33.

upon Jesus at His Baptism, and left Him before the Crucifixion, so that the works of power were done by this Divine Force or Person, temporarily resident in the man Jesus, whereas the humiliation of the Passion was suffered by the man alone. This position was held in slightly different forms by various heretics, e.g. the Ebionites, and was obviously put forward as a way of solving the difficulty arising in connexion with matter. It results, as may be seen at once, in a purely humanitarian conception of Christ. Roughly speaking, the former view is prominently characteristic of heretics who are influenced by pagan modes of thought, the latter falls in more naturally with Judaizing speculations. For it would be comparatively easy to the Jewish mind to conceive Christ on the analogy of a prophet, distinguished by a specially full inspiration. But if it be true that the followers of Basilides held this view, it shows that it solved the pagan difficulty as well. Closely allied with these are the more elaborate systems of Gnosticism, which extend a chain of æons or intermediary beings between the incomprehensible God and the world. It would be beyond our purpose to describe these more fully.

We have already indicated by anticipation the practical failure of such theories as these. They utterly destroy the whole meaning of the Incarnation. The idea of redemption from sin, as apart from the emancipation of the soul from matter, is left out completely, and what is more, the whole theory of the nature of God has to be changed. The Christian doctrine of the Incarnation rests upon the assumption that God made the world out of His love and cares for it, and that men's actions here are important far beyond their ex

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