Imatges de pÓgina


in the Gospels. Certainly not the fishermen of Galilee, certainly not St. Paul, . . . and still less the early Christian writers." Equally certain is it that many writers among a narrow and credulous people, separately inventing memoirs of Jesus, could not originate the material or transmit legendary traditions whose possible combination or juxtaposition would enshrine and reflect the unity, purity, elevation, symmetry, and faultlessness of Jesus of the Gospels. Leaving thus all questions of inspiration aside, and over and above all theories of criticism, there is no possible explanation of the portraiture except as a genuine delineation of a historical reality, a true and consistent record of a personal history." This historically assured character, to which there is no antecedent or subsequent parallel, the supreme miracle, self-testifying before the gaze of mankind, is an imperishable witness to Christianity.

3. The Supernatural Truths and Doctrines of the Bible. The value of truth, in our times, has received its supreme emphasis. This is because it means reality, and realities are the things with which life has to do and in which all welfare and destiny are concerned. Doctrines, as exhibitions of truth, must, therefore, bring us into the presence of God who is the ground and source of all truth. As, by concession of all theists, man, as "the offspring of God," is a creature with rational personality in His image, he is capable of reading God's thoughts after Him in nature and history, and also of recognizing His thought as it may be given in special self-revelation. It is particularly to doctrines and truths distinctively

1 "Three Essays on Religion" (Holt), p. 253.

For presentation of this point, see Row's "Bampton Lectures," 1877, pp. 178-198.

religious that we here refer. Some of these, indeed, impress themselves upon the human mind through the light of nature. Others may be wholly undiscoverable by reason merely from the natural constitution of the world. But through whatever channel they reach us, they bear in their own character the divine signature. A few illustrations will suffice.

For instance, the pure theism of the Scriptures shines in unmatched pre-eminence. The result of the last century's almost exhaustive investigation of all the ethnic religions of the world has been to make this pre-eminence more striking and indisputable. Take the best of them, in their highest reaches, among the most developed races of ancient or modern times, and their conceptions of God, crude, confused, partial, everywhere passing into the corruption of multitudinous polytheisms, are found to be in every way inferior. They cannot be compared with the lofty and pure theism that shines out of the Biblical disclosure, whose very first pages exhibit Him as, through the free word of His power, the Creator of all things, almighty, holy, and good, and then in progressive teachings illuminate the conception with all the attributes of perfect being and character, until in the New Testament Scriptures He is seen in the full, precious, inspiring light of His eternal fatherhood, love, and redeeming goodness. There is nothing like it round the world. Even the Christian thought of many centuries has been only gradually comprehending the full meaning of this revelatory teaching. Measuring the possibilities of the natural human reason for forming a doctrine of God by the outcome of its world-long endeavor, as found in the crudeness, uncertainty, and inadequacy of its best achievements, we are compelled to regard the Scripture doctrine, in its

distinct, positive clearness and unequaled elevation, as supernatural. Our reason, created as an open recipiency into which the divine may reflect itself, distinctly recognizes the "true God" in this teaching, and the teaching itself as from above.

Similarly the Scripture doctrine of God's relation to the world bears witness to itself. Outside of the illuminating reach of these Scriptures even His relation as Creator has ever remained under darkness or confusion. Where creatorship has been attributed to Him, His position has been reduced to mere demiurgism, fatalistic necessity, or something else far inferior to the truth of His being the free and absolute Author of the entire cosmic existence and order. With respect to the further truth of His continuous and abiding relation to the universe, non-Christian thought or theory has ever oscillated between pantheistic identification of God with nature, substituting blind, unpurposive energy for the divine personality; and the extreme contrast to this, a deistic separation of God from the world, placing Him off somewhere in empyrean isolation, without active connection with cosmic progress or human history, an "absentee God" simply observant of the movement, exercising no purposive providence for the welfare of mankind, revealing Himself in no instruction, answering no cries of prayer, drawing near in no help against want or misery. Between these two extreme tendencies, the conception has run into almost endlessly diversified forms, alike degrading to the nature and character of God and wanting the prime and essential adaptations to the condition and necessities of His bewildered children, groping through the mysteries of life and anxious concerning the mysteries that may lie beyond. But when we open

the Christian Scriptures and receive their teaching, new and definite light breaks over the momentous question. God has not withdrawn nor forgotten His creation. The contrasted transcendence and immanence come into unity in the reality of omnipresence. Everywhere in these Scriptures, as the Creator of the world, God is both before and above it-a supreme transcendence. Everywhere, as its Preserver and providential Ruler, He is also in it, a living immanence-the power of His abiding Will being the energy that upholds and continues the whole created system, the so-called "laws of nature" expressing the uniformities of that Will for the physical universe. He is free to act everywhere-for moral and spiritual purposes with respect to man for whose use, well-being, and happiness He prepared the earth, and to whose right destiny He is looking in the preservation and government of it. It is made clear that in His supremacy over nature and pervasive efficient presence in it, He has come so near to us that "in Him we live and move and have our being "—that while He has made nature plastic to our touch and use, He has kept it responsive to His own touch, and has been approaching mankind from His transcendent place with supernatural moral and spiritual instruction, soteriological provision and administration. We are assured that He has related Himself in an attitude of unspeakable love toward the world, revealing the laws of duty and welfare, guiding with precepts and warnings, sending grace and truth for safety and holy life, and exercising such a providential care that, while holding the issues of the earth's whole history to His plan of love, He numbers the hairs of His children's heads.

No equal to this doctrine of God's relation, in its spe

cific parts or as a whole, can be found elsewhere in the literature of the world. It is above all the sages of naturalistic philosophies and religions. Its pure preeminence attests the supernatural source of Christianity.

A like superhuman light brightens the Biblical doctrine concerning man. His origin, as the "offspring" of God; his endowment, in the "image" of God; his position, as meant to establish a dominion of reason and goodness over all order and life on earth; his destination, as formed for an immortality of blessedness, lift up the anthropological view into a definiteness and elevation nowhere else found. While pagan peoples have ever groped in bewildered uncertainty as to whence man came and whither he is going, hearing no assuring word from nature as to his destiny, the revealed doctrine at once exhibits his divine lineage, and completes its showing by giving to this brief life a horizon that reaches beyond and widens under eternal skies. The divine constitution of the family, the value and sacredness of the individual in his rights and responsibilities, the law of natural brotherhood, which, with its unitary force and harmonizing power, is adjusted to bind the whole race in bonds of good-will and peace in an all-embracing happiness-these are teachings that distinguish Christianity above all non-inspired anthropologies. Man has never been adequately revealed to himself apart from this Biblical revelation.

But it is especially in the great doctrine of redemption that the superhuman range and quality of teaching become self-evident. There is no necessity for human life and character more profoundly recognized in the consciousness of the race than that of deliverance from the bondage of moral evil and its blight upon the nobler

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