" To the Law and to the Testimony• " isaiah 8:20
A Testimony to the Truth
Compliments of Two Christian Laymen
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This book is the first of a series which will be published and sent to every pastor, evangelist, mis sionary, theological professor, theological student, Sunday school superintendent, Y. M. C. A. and Y. W. C. A. secretary in the English speaking world, so far as the addresses of all these can be obtained. Two intelligent, consecrated Christian laymen bear the expense, because they believe that the time has come when a new statement of the funda mentals of Christianity should be made. Their earnest desire is that you will carefully read it and pass its truth on to others.
CHAPTER PAGE y \ . T he V irgin B irth of C hrist .................................... 7 Rev. Prof. James Orr, D. D., United Free Church College, Glasgow, Scotland A t : T he D eity of C hrist ................................................. 21 Prof. Benjamin B. Warfield, D. D., LL. D., Princeton Theological Seminary 1 *y T he urposes of the ncarnation IIL P I ........................... 29 Rev. G. Campbell Morgan, D. D., Pastor Westminster Chapel, London, England I S . . W- T he P ersonality and D eity of the H oly S pirit .55 Rev. R. A. Torrey, D. D. V. T he P roof of the L iving G od ....................... ......... 70 Rev. Arthur T . Pierson, D. D. ■ »''VI. H istory of the H igher C riticism ............................87 Canon Dyson Hague, M. A., London, Ontario
I i/VTI. A P ersonal T estimony ................................................123 Howard A. Kelly, M. D.
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THE FUNDAMENTALS VOLUME I.
CHAPTER I. THE VIRGIN BIRTH OF CHRIST.
BY THE REV. PROF. JAMES OER, D. D., UNITED FREE CHURCH COLLEGE, GLASGOW, SCOTLAND.
It is well known that the last ten or twenty years have been marked by a determined assault upon the truth of the Virgin birth of Christ. In the year 1892 a great controversy broke out in Germany, owing to the refusal of a pastor named Schrempf to use the Apostles’ Creed in baptism because of disbelief in this and other articles. Schrempf was deposed, and an agitation commenced against the doctrine of the Virgin birth which has grown in volume ever since. Other tendencies, especially the rise of an extremely radical school of historical criticism, added force to the negative movement. The attack is not confined, indeed, to the article of the Virgin birth. I t affects the whole supernatural estimate of Christ—His life, His claims, His sinlessness, His miracles, His resurrection from the dead. But the Virgin birth is assailed with special vehemence, because it is supposed that the evidence for this miracle is more easily got rid of than the evidence for public facts, such as the resurrection. The result is that in very many quarters the Virgin birth of Christ is openly treated as a fable. Belief in it is scouted as unworthy of the twentieth century in telligence. The methods of the oldest opponents of Christianity are revived, and it is likened to the Greek and Roman stories, coarse and vile, of heroes who had gods for their fathers. A
8 The Fundamentals. special point is made of the silence of Paul, and of the other writings of the New Testament, on this alleged wonder. THE UNHAPPIEST FEATURE. It is not only, however, in the circles of unbelief that the Virgin birth is discredited; in the church itself the habit is spreading of casting doubt upon the fact, or at least of re garding it as no essential part of Christian faith. This is the unhappiest feature in this unhappy controversy. Till recently no one dreamed of denying that, in the sincere profession of Christianity, this article, which has stood from the beginning in the forefront of all the great creeds of Christendom, was included. Now it is different. The truth and value of the article of the Virgin birth are challenged. The article, it is affirmed, did not belong to the earliest Christian tradition, and the evidence for it is not strong. Therefore, let it drop. THE COMPANY IT KEEPS. From the side of criticism, science, mythology, history and comparative religion, assault is thus made on the article long so dear to the hearts of Christians and rightly deemed by them so vital to their faith. For loud as is the voice of denial, one fact must strike every careful observer of the conflict. Among those who reject the Virgin birth of the Lord few will be found—I do not know any—who take in other respects an adequate view of the Person and work of the Saviour. It is surprising how clearly the line of division here reveals itself. My statement publicly made and printed has never been con futed, that those who accept a full doctrine of the incarnation —that is, of a true entrance of the eternal Son of God into our nature for the purposes of man’s salvation—with hardly an exception accept with it the doctrine of the Virgin birth of Christ, while those who repudiate or deny this article of faith either hold a lowered view of Christ’s Person, or, more commonly, reject His supernatural claims altogether. It will ( \
The Virgin Birth of Christ. 9 not be questioned, at any rate, that the great bulk of the oppo nents of the Virgin birth—those who are conspicuous by writ ing against it—are in the latter class. A CAVIL ANSWERED. This really is an answer to the cavil often heard that, whether true or not, the Virgin birth is not of essential im portance. It is not essential, it is urged, to Christ’s sinlessness, for that would have been secured equally though Christ had been born of two parents. And it is not essential to the incar nation. A hazardous thing, surely, for erring mortals to judge of what was and was not essential in so stupendous an event as the bringing in of the “first-begotten” into the world! But the Christian instinct has ever penetrated deeper. Rejection of the Virgin birth seldom, if ever, goes by itself. As the late Prof. A. B. Bruce said, with denial of the Virgin birth is apt to go denial of the virgin life. The incarnation is felt by those who think seriously to involve a miracle in Christ’s earthly origin. This will become clearer as we advance. THE CASE STATED. It is the object of this paper to show that those who take the lines of denial on the Virgin birth just sketched do great injustice to the evidence and importance of the doctrine they reject. The evidence, if not of the same public kind as that for the resurrection, is far stronger than the objector allows, and the fact denied enters far more vitally into the essence of the Christian faith than he supposes. Placed in its right set ting among the other truths of the Christian religion, it is not only no stumbling-block to faith, but is felt to fit in with self- evidencing power into the connection of these other truths, and to furnish the very explanation that is needed of Christ’s holy and supernatural Person. The ordinary Christian is a witness here. In reading the Gospels, he feels no incongruity in passing from the narratives of the Virgin birth to the won-
The Fundamentals. derful story of Christ’s life in the chapters that follow, then from these to the pictures of Christ’s divine dignity given in John and Paul. The whole is of one piece : the Virgin birth is as natural at the beginning of the life of such an One_ the divine Son—as the resurrection is at the end. And the more closely the matter is considered, the stronger does this impression grow. It is only when the scriptural conception of Christ is parted with that various difficulties and doubts come in. A SUPERFICIAL VIEW. I t is, in truth, a very superficial way of speaking or think ing of the Virgin birth to say that nothing depends on this be lief for our estimate of Christ. Who that reflects on the subject carefully can fail to see that if Christ was virgin born—if He was truly “conceived,” as the creed says, “by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary”—there must of necessity enter a supernatural element into His Person ; while, if Christ was sin less, much more, if He was the very Word of God incarnate, there must have been a miracle—the most stupendous miracle in the universe—in His origin? If Christ was, as John and Paul affirm and His church has ever believed, the Son of God made flesh, the second Adam, the new redeeming Head of the race, a miracle was to be expectèd in His earthly origin ; with out a miracle such a Person could never have been. Why then cavil at the narratives which declare the fact of such a miracle? Who does not see that the Gospel history would have been in complete without them ? Inspiration here only gives to faith what faith on its own grounds imperatively demands for its perfect satisfaction. THE HISTORICAL SETTING. It is time now to còme to the Scripture itself, and to look at the fact of the Virgin birth in its historical setting, and its relation with other truths of the Gospel. As preceding the
The Virgin Birth of Christ. 11 examination of the historical evidence, a little may be said, first, on the Old Testament preparation. Was there any such preparation? Some would say there was not, but this is not God’s way, and we may look with confidence for at least some indications which point in the direction of the New Testament event. THE FIRST PROMISE. f One’s mind turns first to that oldest of all evangelical prom ises, that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent. “I will put enmity,” s^ys Jehovah to the serpent- tempter, “between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15. R. V.) J It is a forceless weaken ing of this first word of Gospel in the Bible to explain it of a lasting feud between the race of men and the brood of ser pents. /T h e Serpent, as eVen Dr. Driver attests, is “the repre sentative of the power of evil”—-in later Scripture, “he that is called the Devil and Satan” (Rev.: 12:9)-—and the defeat he sustains from the Woman’s seed is a moral and spiritual victory. The “seed” who should destroy him is described em phatically as the ‘woman’s seed. It wás the woman through whom sin had entered the racé; by the seed of the woman would salvation come. The early church writers often pressed this analogy between Eve and the Virgin Mary. We may re ject any element of over-exaltation of Mary they connected with it, but it remains' significant that this peculiar phrase should be chosen to designate the future deliverer. I cannot believe the choice to be of accident. The promise to Abraham was that in his seed the families of the earth would be blessed; there the male is emphasized, but here it is the woman —the woman distinctively. There is, perhaps, as good scholars have thought, an allusion to this promise in 1 Timothy 2:15, where, with allusion to Adam and Eye, it is said, “But she shall be saved through her (or the) child-bearing” (R. V.),:-
THE IMMANUEL PROPHECY. fThe idea of the Messiah, gradually gathering to itself the attributes of a divine King, reaches one of its clearest ex pressions in the great Immanuel prophecy , extending from Isaiah 7 to 9 :7, and centering in the declaration: “The Lord Himself will give you [the unbelieving Ahaz] a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14; Cf. 8:8, 10 )J This is none other than the child of wonder extolled in chapter 9 :6, 7: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Won derful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, [Father of Eternity], The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom,” etc. This is the prophecy quoted as fulfilled in Christ’s birth in Matt. 1 :23, and it seems also alluded to in the glowing promises to Mary in Luke 1 :32, 33. It is pointed out in objection that the term rendered “virgin” in Isaiah does not necessarily bear this meaning; it denotes properly only a young unmarried woman. The context, however, seems clearly to lay an emphasis on the unmarried state, and the translators of the Greek version of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) plainly so understood it when they rendered it by parthenos, a word which does mean “virgin.” The tendency in many quarters now is to ad mit this (Dr. Cheyne, etc.), and even to seek an explanation of it in alleged Babylonian beliefs in a virgin-birth. This last, however, is quite illusory.1 It is, on the other hand, singular that the Jews themselves do not seem to have applied this prophecy at any time to the Messiah—a fact which disproves the theory that it was this text which suggested the story of a Virgin birth to the early disciples. 1For the evidence, see my volume on “The Virgin Birth,” Lecture VII.
The Virgin Birth of Christ.
ECHOES IN OTHER SCRIPTURES. I t was, indeed, when one thinks of it, only on the supposi tion that there was to be something exceptional and extraor dinary in the birth of this child called Immanuel that it could have afforded to Ahaz a sign of the perpetuity of the throne of David on the scale of magnitude proposed (“Ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.” Ver. 10). We look, therefore, with interest to see if there are any echoes or sug gestions of the idea of this passage in other prophetic scrip tures. They are naturally not many, but they do not seem to be altogether wanting. There is, first, the remarkable Beth lehem prophecy in Micah 5 :2, 3—also quoted as fulfilled in the nativity (Matt. 2:5, 6 )—connected with the saying: “Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she who travaileth hath brought forth” (“The King from Bethlehem,” says Delitzsch, “who has a nameless one as mother, and of whose father there is no mention”). Micah was Isaiah’s con temporary, and when the close relation between the two is con sidered (Cf. Isa. 2:2-4, with Micah 4:1-3), it is difficult not to recognize in his oracle an expansion of Isaiah’s. In the same line would seem to lie the enigmatic utterance in Jer. 31:22: “For Jehovah hath created a new thing in the earth: a woman shall encompass a man” (thus Delitzsch, etc.). TESTIMONY OF THE GOSPEL. TThe germs now indicated in phophetic scriptures had ap parently borne no fruit in Jewish expectations of the Messiah, when the event took place which to Christian minds made them luminous with predictive import.! In Bethlehem of Judea, as Micah had foretold, was bom o f a virgin mother He whose “goings forth” were “from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5 :2; Matt. 2 :6). (Matthew, who quotes the first part of the verse, can hardly have been ignorant of the hint of pre-exist ence it contained. This brings us to the testimony to the miraculous birth of Christ in our first and third Gospels—the
The Fundamentals. only Gospels which record the circumstances of Christ’s birth at all. By general consent the narratives in Matthew (chap ters 1, 2) and in Luke (chapters 1, 2) are independent—that is, they are not derived one from the other—yet they both affirm, in detailed story, that Jesus, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, was bom of a pure virgin, Mary of Nazar eth, espoused to Joseph, whose wife she afterwards became. The birth took place at Bethlehem, whither Joseph and Mary had gone for enrollment in a census that was being taken. The announcement was made to Mary beforehand by an angel, and the birth was preceded, attended, and followed by remarkable events that are narrated (birth of the Baptist, with annuncia tions, angelic vision: to the shepherds, visit of wise men from the east, etc.)J The narratives; should be carefully read at length to understand the comments that follow. THE TESTIMONY TESTED. There is no doubt, therefore, about the testimony to the Virgin birth, and the question which now arises is—What is the valuep i these parts of the Gospels as evidence? Are they genuine parts of the Gospels ? Or are they late and untrust worthy additions? From what sources may they be presumed to be derived? It is on the truth of the narratives that our belief in the Virgin birth .depends. Can they be trusted? Or are they mere fables, inventions, legends, to which no credit can be attached ? The answer to several of these questions can be given in very brief form. The narratives of the nativity in Matthew and Luke are undoubtedly genuine parts of their respective Gospels. They have been there since ever the Gospels themselves had an existence. The proof of this is convincing. The chapters in question are found in every manuscript and version of the Gospels known to exist. There are hundreds of manuscripts, some of them very old, belonging to different parts of the world, and many versions in different languages (Latin, Syriac,
The Virgin Birth of Christ. 15 Egyptian, etc.), but these narratives of the Virgin birth are found in all. We know, indeed, that a section of the early Jewish Christians—the Ebionites, as they are commonly called —possessed a Gospel based on Matthew from which the chap ters on the nativity were absent. But this was not the real Gospel of Matthew: it was at best a mutilated and corrupted form of it. The genuine Gospel, as the manuscripts attest, always had these chapters. Next, as to the Gospels themselves, they were not of late and non-apostolic origin; bu t.were written by apostolic men, and were from the first accepted and circulated in the church as trustworthy embodiments of sound apostolic tradition. Luke’s Gospel was from Luke’s own pen—its genuineness has recently received a powerful vindication from Prof. Hamack, of Berlin—and Matthew’s Gospel, while some dubiety still rests on its original language (Aramaic or Greek), passed without challenge in the early church as the genuine Gospel of the Apostle Matthew. Criticism has more recently raised the question whether it is only the “groundwork” of the dis courses (the “Logia” ) that comes directly from Matthew. However this may be settled, it is certain that the Gospel in its Greek form always passed as Matthew’s. It must, there fore, if not written by him,, have had his immediate authority. The narratives come to us, accordingly, with high apostolic sanction. SOURCES OF THE NARRATIVES. As to the sources of the narratives, not a little can be gleaned from the study of their internal character. Here two facts reveal themselves. The first is that the narrative of Luke is based on some old, archaic, highly original Aramaic writing. Its Aramaic character gleams through its every part. In style, tone, conception, it is highly primitive—emanates, appar ently, from that circle of devout people in Jerusalem to whom its own pages introduce us (Luke 2:25, 36-38). It has, there-
The Fundamentals. fore, the highest claim to credit. The second fact is even more important. A perusal of the narratives shows clearly— what might have been expected—that the information they convey was derived from no lower source than Joseph and Mary themselves. This is a marked feature of contrast in the narratives—that Matthew’s narrative is all told from Joseph’s point of view, and Luke’s is all told from Mary’s. The signs of this are unmistakable. Matthew tells about Joseph’s diffi culties and action, and says little or nothing about Mary’s thoughts and feelings. Luke tells much about Mary—even her inmost thoughts—but says next to nothing directly about Joseph. The narratives, in short, are not, as some would have it, contradictory, but are independent and complementary. The one supplements and completes the other. Both together are needed to give the whole story. They bear in themselves the stamp of truth, honesty, and purity, and are worthy of all acceptation, as they were evidently held to be in the early church. UNFOUNDED OBJECTIONS. Against the acceptance of these early, well-attested narra tives, what, now, have the objectors to allege? I pass by the attempts to show, by critical elimination (expurging Luke 1:35, and some other clauses), that Luke’s narrative was not a narrative of a Virgin birth at all. This is a vain attempt in face of the testimony of manuscript authorities. Neither need I dwell on the alleged “discrepancies” in the genealogies and narratives. These are not serious, when the independence and different standpoints of the narratives are acknowledged. The genealogies, tracing the descent of Christ from David along different lines, present problems which exercise the minds of scholars, but they do not touch the central fact of the belief of both Evangelists in the birth of Jesus from a vir gin. Even in a Syriac manuscript which contains the certainly wrong reading, “Joseph begat Jesus,” the narrative goes on,
The Virgin Birth of Christ. 17 as usual, to recount the Virgin birth. It is not a contradiction, if Matthew is silent on the earlier residence in Nazareth, which Luke’s object led him fully to describe. SILENCE OF MARK AND JOHN . The objection on which most stress is laid (apart from what is called the evidently “mythical” character of the narra tives) is the silence on the Virgin birth in the remaining Gos pels, and other parts of the New Testament. This, it is held, conclusively proves that the Virgin birth was not known in the earliest Christian circles, and was a legend of later origin. As respects thè Gospels—Mark and John—the objection would only apply if it was the design of these Gospels to narrate/as the others do, the circumstances of the nativity. But this was evidently not their design. Both Mark and John knew that Jesus had a human birth—an infancy and early life—and that His mother was called Mary, but of deliberate purpose they tell us nothing about it. Mark begins his Gospel iwith Christ’s entrance on His public ministry, and says nothing of the period before, especially of how Jesus came to be called “the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). John traces the divine descent of Jesus, and tells us that the “Word became flesh” (John 1 :14) ; but how this miracle of becoming flesh was wrought he does not say. It did not lie within his plan. He knew the church tradi tion on the subject: he had the Gospels narrating the birth of Jesus from the Virgin in his hands : and he takes the knowl edge of their teaching for granted. To speak of contradiction in a case like this is out of the question. SILENCE OF PAUL. How far Paul was acquainted with the facts of Christ’s earthly origin it is not easy to say. To a certain extent these facts would always be regarded as among the privacies of the innermost Christian circles—so long at least as Mary lived— and the details may not have been fully known till the Gospels
18 The Fundamentals. were published. Paul admittedly did not base his preaching of his Gospel on these private, interior matters, but on the broad, public facts of Christ’s ministry, death, and resurrec tion. I t would be going too far, however, to infer from this that Paul had no knowledge of the miracle of Christ’s birth. Luke was Paul’s companion, and doubtless shared with Paul all the knowledge which he himself had gathered on this and other subjects. One thing certain is, that Paul could not have believed in the divine dignity, the pre-existence, the sinless perfection, and redeeming headship, of Jesus as he did, and not have been convinced that His entrance into humanity was no ordinary event of nature, but implied an unparalleled miracle of some kind. This Son of God, who “emptied” Him self, who was “born of a woman, born under the law,” who “knew no sin” (Phil. 2:7, 8; Gal. 4:4; 2 Cor. 5:21), was not, and could not be, a simple product of nature. God must have wrought creatively in His human origin. The Virgin birth would be to Paul the most reasonable and credible of events. So also to John, who held the same high view of Christ’s dignity and holiness. C h r is t ’ s s in l e s s n e s s a proo f . It is sometimes argued that a Virgin birth is no aid to the explanation of Christ’s sinlessness. Mary being herself sinful in nature, it is held the taint of corruption would be conveyed by one parent as really as by two. I t is overlooked that the whole fact is not expressed by saying that Jesus was born of a virgin mother. There is the other factor—“conceived by the Holy Ghost.” What happened was a divine, creative miracle wrought in the production of this new humanity which secured, from its earliest germinal beginnings, freedom from the slightest taint of sin. Paternal generation in such an origin is superfluous. The birth of Jesus was not, as in ordinary births, the creation of a new personality. It was a divine Per son—already existing—entering on this new mode of exist-
The Virgin Birth of Christ. 19 ence. Miracle could alone effect such a wonder. Because His t i nm a n nature had this miraculous origin Christ was the “holy” One from the commencement (Luke 1:35). Sinless He was, as His whole life demonstrated; but when, in all time, did natural generation give birth to a sinless personality? THE EARLY CHURCH A WITNESS. ^The history of the early church is occasionally appealed to in witness that the doctrine of the Virgin birth was not primi tive. No assertion could be more futile. The early church, so far as we can trace it back, in all its branches, held this doc trine. No Christian sect is known that denied it, save the Jew ish Ebionites formerly alluded to. The general body of the Jewish Christians—the Nazarenes as they are called—accepted it. Even the greater Gnostic sects in their own way admitted it. Those Gnostics who denied it were repelled with all the force of the church’s greatest teachers. The Apostle John is related to have vehemently opposed Cerinthus, the earliest teacher with whom this denial is connected. 4 DISCREDITED VAGARIES. What more remains to be said ? It would be waste of space to follow the objectors into their various theories of a mythical origin of this belief. One by one the speculations advanced have broken down, and given place to others—all equally base less1. The newest of the theories seeks an origin of the belief in ancient Babylonia, and supposes the Jews to have possessed the notion in pre-Christian times. This is not only opposed to all real evidence, but is the giving up of the contention that the idea had its origin in late Christian circles, and was un known to earlier apostles. THE REAL CHRIST. DoctrinaUy, it must be repeated that the belief in the Vir gin birth of Christ is of the highest value for the right appre hension of Christ’s unique and sinless personality. Here is
The Fundamentals. One, as Paul brings out in Romans 5 :12 ff., who, free from sin Himself, and not involved in the Adamic liabilities of the race, reverses the curse of sin and death brought in by the first Adam, and establishes the reign of righteousness and life. Had Christ been naturally born, not one ©f these things could be affirmed of Him. As one of Adam’s race, not an entrant from a higher sphere, He would have shared in Adam’s cor ruption and doom—would Himself have required to ' be re deemed. Through God’s infinite mercy, He came from above, inherited no guilt, needed no regeneration or sanctification, but became Himself the Redeemer, Regenerator, Sanctifier, for all who receive Him. “Thanks be unto God for His un speakable gift” (2 Cor. 9;15).
CHAPTER II. THE DEITY OF CHRIST. BY PROF. BENJAMIN B. WARFIELD, D. D., LL. D., PRINCETON THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY.
A recent writer has remarked that our assured conviction of the deity of Christ rests, not upon “proof-texts or passages, nor upon old arguments drawn from these, but upon the general fact of the whole manifestation of Jesus Christ, and of the whole impression left by Him upon the world.” The antithesis is too absolute, and possibly betrays an unwarranted distrust of the evidence of Scripture. To make it just, we should read the statement rather thus : Our conviction of the deity of Christ rests not alone on the scriptural passages which assert it, but also on His entire impression on the world ; or perhaps thus: 1Our conviction rests not more on the scriptural asser tions than upon His entire manifestation. Both lines of evi dence are valid ; and when twisted together form an unbreak able cord. The proof-texts and passages do prove that Jesus Was esteemed divine by those who companied with Him ; that He esteemed Himself divine ; that He was recognized as divine by those who were taught by the Spirit; that, in fine, He was divine. But over and above this Biblical evidence the impres sion Jesus has left upon the world bears independent testimony to His deity, and it may Well be' that to many minds this will seem the most conclusive of all its evidences. I t certainly is very cogent and impressive. EXPERIENCE AS PROOF. The justification which the author we have just quoted gives of his neglecting the scriptural evidence in favor of that borne by Jesus’ impression on the world is also open to criti cism. “Jesus Christ,” he tells us, “is one of those essential 21
The Fundamentals , truths which are too great to be proved, like God, or freedom, or immortality.” Such things rest, it seems, not on proofs but on experience. We need not sto'p to point out that this experience is itself a proof. We wish rather to point out that some confusion seems to have been fallen into here between our ability to marshal the proof by which we are convinced and our accessibility to its force. It is quite true that “the most essential conclusions of the human mind are much wider and stronger than the arguments by which they are sup ported;” that the proofs “are always changing but the beliefs persist.” But this is not because the conclusions in question rest on no sound proofs; but because we have not had the skill to adduce, in our argumentative presentations of them, the really fundamental proofs on which they rest. * A man recognizes on sight the face of his friend, or his own handwriting. Ask him how he knows this face to be that of his friend, or this handwriting to be his own, and he is dumb, or, seeking to reply, babbles nonsense. Yet his recog nition rests on solid grounds, though he lacks analytical skill to isolate and state these solid grounds. We believe in God and freedom and immortality on good grounds, though we may not be able satisfactorily to analyse these grounds. No true conviction exists without adequate rational grounding in evidence. So, if we are solidly assured of the deity of Christ, it will be on adequate grounds, appealing to the reason. But it may well be on grounds not analysed, perhaps not analysable, by us, so as to exhibit themselves in the forms of formal logic. We do not need to wait to analyse the grounds of our convictions before they operate to produce convictions, any more than we need to wait to analyse our food before it nour ishes u s ; and we can soundly believe on evidence much mixed with error, just as we can thrive on food far from pure. The alchemy of the mind, as of the digestive tract, knows how to UNCONSCIOUS RATIONALITY.
The Deity of Christ. 23 separate out from the mass what it requires for its support; and as we may live without any knowledge of chemistry, so we may possess earnest convictions, solidly founded in right reason, without the slightest knowledge of logic. The Chris tian’s conviction of the deity of his Lord does not depend for its soundness on the Christian’s ability convincingly to state the grounds of his conviction. The evidence he offers for it may be wholly inadequate, while the evidence on which it rests may be absolutely compelling. TESTIMONY IN SOLUTION. \The very abundance and persuasiveness of the evidence of the deity of Christ greatly increases the difficulty of adequately stating it. This is true even of the scriptural evidence, as pre cise and definite as much of it is. j For it is a true remark of Dr. Dale’s that the particular texts in which it is definitely asserted are far from the whole, or even the most im pressive, proofs which the Scriptures supply of our Lord s deity. He compares these texts to the salt-crystals which appear on the sand of the sea-beach after the tide has 'receded. “These are not,” he remarks, “the strongest, though they may be the most apparent, proofs that the sea is salt ; the salt is present in solution in every bucket of sea-water.” iThe deity of Christ is in solution in every page of the New Testament. Every word that is spoken of Him, every word which He is reported to have spoken of Himself, is spoken on the assump tion that He is God. And that is the reason why the “criti cism” which addresses itself to eliminating the testimony of the New Testament to the deity of our Lord has set itself a hopeless task. The New Testament itself would have to be eliminated. Nor can we get behind this testimony. Because thè deity of Christ is the presupposition of every word of the New Testament, it is impossible to select words out of the New Testament from which to construct earlier documents in which the deity of Christ shall not be assumed. The assured
The'Fundamentals. conviction of the deity of Christ is coeval with Christianity it self. There never was a Christianity, neither in the times of the Apostles nor since, of which this was not a prime tenet, j A SATURATED GOSPEL. Let us observe in an example or two how thoroughly satu rated the Gospel narrative is with the assumption of the deity of Christ, so that it crops out in the most unexpected ways and places. In three passages of Matthew, reporting words of Jesus, He is represented as speaking familiarly and in the most natural manner in the world, of “His angels” (13:41; 16:27; 24:31).' In all three He designates Himself as the “Son of man ; and in all three there are additional suggestions of His majesty. “The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that cause stumbling and those that do iniquity, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire.” I Who is this Son of man who has angels, by whose instru mentality the final judgment is executed at His command? The Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then shall He reward every man according to his deeds.” Who is this Soil of man surrounded by His an gels, in whose hands are the issues of life? The Son of man “shall send forth His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Who is this Son of man at whose behest His angels winnow men? A scrutiny of the passages will show that it is hot a peculiar body of angels which is meant by the Son of man’s angels, but just the angels as a body, who are His to serve Him as He com mands. In a word, Jesus Christ is above angels (Mark 13:32) —as is argued at explicit length at the beginning of the Epistle to the Hebrews. “To which of the angels said he at any timp, Sit on my right hand, etc.” (Heb. 1 :13).
The Deity of Christ.
HEAVEN COME TO EARTH. There are three parables recorded in the fifteenth chapter of Luke as spoken by our Lord in His defence against the murmurs of the Pharisees at His receiving sinners and eating with them. The essence of the defence which our Lord offers for Himself is, that there is joy in heaven over repentant sin ners ! Why “in heaven,” “before the throne of God” ? Is He merely setting the judgment of heaven over against that of earth, or pointing forward to His future vindication? By no means. He is representing His action in receiving sinners, in seeking the lost, as His proper action, because it is the normal conduct of heaven, manifested in Him. He is heaven come to earth. His defence is thus simply the unveiling of what the real nature of the transaction is. The lost when they come to Him are received because this is heaven’s way; and He can not act otherwise than in heaven’s way. He tacitly assumes the good Shepherd’s part as His own. THE UNIQUE POSITION. fAll the great designations are not so much asserted as as sumed by Him for Himself. He does not call Himself a prophet, though He accepts this designation from others: He places Himself above all the prophets, even above John the greatest of the prophets, as Him to whom all the prophets look forward. If He calls Himself Messiah, He fills that term, by doing so, with a deeper significance, dwelling ever on the unique relation of Messiah to God as His representative and His Son. Nor is He satisfied to represent Himself merely as standing in a unique relation to God: He proclaims Himself to be the recipient of the divine fullless, the sharer in all that God has (Matt. 11:28). He speaks freely of Himself indeed as God’s Other, the manifestation of God on earth, whom to have seen was to have seen the Father also, and who does the work of God on earth. He openly claims divine prerogatives—
The Fundamentals. the reading of the heart of man, the forgiveness of sins, the exercise of all authority in heaven and earth. Indeed, all that God has and is He asserts Himself to have and be; omnipo tence, omniscience, perfection belong as to the one so to the other. Not only does He perform all divine acts; His self* consciousness coalesces with the divine consciousness. If His followers lagged in recognizing His deity, this was not be cause He was not God or did not sufficiently manifest His deity. I t was because they were foolish and slow of heart to believe what lay patently before their eyes. \ . THE GREAT PROOF. The Scriptures give us evidence enough, then, that Christ is God. But the Scriptures are far from giving us all the evidence we have. There is, for example, the revolution which Christ has wrought in the world, jflf, indeed, it were asked what the most convincing proof of the deity of Christ is, per haps the best answer would be, just Christianity. The new life He has brought into the world; the new creation which He has produced by His life and work in the world; here are at least His most palpable credentials. \ Take it objectively. Read such a book as Harnack’s “The Expansion of Christianity,” or such an one as Von Dobschiitz’s “Christian Life in the Primitive Church”—neither of which allows the deity of Christ—and then ask, Could these things have been wrought by power less than divine? And then re member that these things were not only wrought in that heathen world two thousand years ago, but have been wrought over again every generation since; for Christianity has re conquered the world to itself each generation. Think of how the Christian proclamation spread, eating its way over the world like fire in the grass of a prairie. Think how, as it spread, it transformed lives. The thing, whether in its objec tive or in its subjective aspect, were incredible, had it not actually occurred. “Should a voyager,” says Charles Darwin,
The Deity of Christ. 27 “chance to be on the point of shipwreck on some unknown coast, he will most devoutly pray that the lesson of the mis sionary may have reached thus far. The lesson of the mis sionary is the enchanter’s wand.” Could this transforming in fluence, undiminished after two millenniums, have proceeded from a mere man? It is historically impossible that the great movement which we call Christianity, which remains unspent after all these years, could have originated in a merely human impulse; or could represent today the working of a merely human force. THE PROOF WITHIN. • Or take it subjectively. Every Christian has within him self the proof of the transforming power of Christ, and can repeat the blind man’s syllogism: Why herein is the marvel that ye know not whence He is, and yet He opened my eyes. “Spirits are not touched to fine issues who are not finely touched.” “Shall we trust,” demands an eloquent reasoner, “the touch of our fingers, the sight of our eyes, the hearing of our ears, and not trust our deepest consciousness of our higher nature—the answer of conscience, the flower of spirit ual gladness, the glow of spiritual love? To deny that spiritual experience is as real as physical experience is to slander the noblest faculties of our nature. I t is to say that one half of our nature tells the truth, and the other half utters lies. The proposition that facts in the spiritual region are less real than facts in the physical realm contradicts all philosophy.” The transformed hearts of Christians, registering themselves “in gentle tempers, in noble motives, in lives visibly lived under the empire of great aspirations”—these are the ever-present proofs of the divinity of the Person from whom their inspira tion is drawn. ffhe supreme proof to every Christian of the deity of his Lord is Vthen his own inner experience of the transforming power of his Lord upon the heart and life.3 Not more surely
28 The Fundamentals. does he who feels the present warmth of the sun know that the sun exists, than he who has experienced the re-creative power of the Lord know Him to be his Lord and his God. Here is, perhaps we may say the proper, certainly we must say the most 'convincing, proof to every Christian of the deity of Christ; a proof which he cannot escape, and to which, whether he is capable of analysing it or drawing it out in logical state ment or not, he cannot fail to yield his sincere and unassailable conviction. Whatever else he may or may not be assured of, he knows that his Redeemer lives. Because He lives, we shall live also—that was the Lord’s own assurance. Because we live, He lives also—that is the ineradicable conviction of every Christian heart.
CHAPTER III . THE PURPOSES OF THE INCARNATION: BY REV. G. CAMPBELL MORGAN, D. D., PASTOR OF WESTMINSTER CHAPEL, LONDON, ENGLAND.
The title of this meditation marks its limitation, and indi cates its scope. Here is no attempt at defense of the statement of the New Testament that “the Word was made flesh.” That is taken for granted as true. Moreover, here is no attempt to explain the method of the Holy Mystery. That is recognized as Mystery : a fact revealed which is yet beyond human comprehension or explanation. The scope is that of considering in broad outline the plain teaching of the New Testament as to the purposes of the Incarnation. Its final limitation is that of its brevity. If, however, it serve to arouse a deeper sense of the wonder of thè great central fact of our common Faith, and thus to inspire further meditation, its object will be gained. THE INCARNATION. > SThe whole teaching of Holy Scripture places the Incarna tion at the center of the methods of God with a sinning race. Toward that Incarnation everything moved until its accom plishment, finding therein fulfillment and explantion. The messages of the prophets and seers and the songs of the psalm ists trembled with more or less certainty toward the final music which announced the coming of Christ. All the results also of these partial and broken messages of the past led toward the Incarnation. V 29
The Fundamentals. I t is equally true that from that Incarnation all subse quent movements have proceeded, depending upon it for direc tion and dynamic. The Gospel stories are all concerned with the coming of Christ, with His mission and His message. The letters of the New Testament have all to do with the fact of the Incarnation, and its correlated doctrines and duties. The last book of the Bible is a book, the true title of which is The Unveiling of the Christ. . N.ot only the actual messages which have been bound up in this one Divine Library, but all the results issuing from them, are finally results issuing from this self-same coming of Christ. I t is surely important, therefore, that we should un derstand its purposes in the economy of God. There is a fourfold statement of purpose declared in the New Testament: the purpose to reveal the Father; the purpose to put away sin; the purpose to destroy the works of the devil; and the purpose to establish by another advent the Kingdom of God in the world. Christ was in conflict with all that was contrary to the pur poses of God in individual, social, national, and racial life. There is a sense in which when we have said this we have stated the whole meaning of His coming. His revelation of the Father was toward this end; His putting away of sin was part of this very process; and His second advent will be for the complete and final overthrow of all the works of the devil. I. ¡ To Reveal the Father. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18). “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). This latter is Christ’s own statement of truth in this regard, and is characterized by simplicity and sublimity. Among all the things Jesus said concerning His relationship to the Father, none is more comprehensive, inclusive, exhaustive, than this.
The Purposes of the Incarnation. 31 The last hours of Jesus with His disciples were passing away. He was talking to them, and four times over they interrupted him. Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us”. Philip’s interruption was due, in the first place, to a conviction of Christ’s relation in some way to the Father. He had been so long with Jesus as to become familiar in some senses with His line of thought. In all probability Philip was asking that there should be repeated to him and the little group of disciples some such wonderful thing as they had read of in the past of their people’s history; as when the elders once ascended the mountain and'saw God; or when the prophet saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple; or when Ezekiel saw God in fire, and wheels; in majesty and glory. I cannot read the answer of Jesus to that request without feeling that He divested Himself, of set purpose, of anything that approached stateliness of diction, and dropped into the common speech of friend to friend, as,—looking back into the face of Philip, who was voicing, though he little knew it, the great anguish of the human heart, the great hunger of the human soul,—He said, “Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father”. That claim has been vindicated in the passing of the centuries. REVELATION TO THE RACE. We will, therefore, consider first, what this revelation of God has meant to the race; and secondly, what it has meant to the individual. First, then, what conception of God had the race before Christ came ? Taking the Hebrew thought of God, let me put the whole truth as I see it into one comprehensive statement. Prior to the Incarnation there had been a growing intellectual apprehension of truth concerning God, accompanied by a diminishing moral result. It is impossible to study the Old
The Fundamentals. Testament without seeing that there gradually broke through the mists a clearer light concerning God. The fact of the unity of God; the fact of the might of God; the fact of the holiness of God; the fact of the beneficence of God; these things men had come to see through the process of the ages. Yet side by side with this growing intellectual apprehension of God there was diminishing moral result, for it is impossible to read the story of the ancient Hebrew people without seeing how they waxed worse and worse in all matters moral. The moral life of Abraham was far purer than life in the time of the kings. Life in the early time of the kings was far purer than the conditions which the prophets ultimately described. In proportion as men grew in their intellectual conception of God, it seemed increasingly unthinkable that He could be inter ested in their every-day life. Morality became something not of intimate relationship to Him, and therefore something that mattered far less. Think of the great Gentile world, as it then was, and as it still is, save where the message of the Evangel has reached it. We have had such remarkable teachers as Zoroaster, Buddha, Confucius; men speaking many true things, flashing with light, but notwithstanding these things a perpetual failure in morals and a uniform degradation of religion has been universal. The failure has ever been due to a lack of final knowledge concern ing God. At last there came the song of the angels, and the birth of the Son of God, through Whose Incarnation and ministry there came to men a new consciousness of God. He included in His teaching and manifestation all the essen tial things which men had learned in the long ages of the past. He did not deny the truth of the unity of God; He re-empha sized it. He did not deny the might of God; He declared it and manifested it in many a gentle touch of infinite power. He did not deny the holiness of God; He insisted upon it in
The Purposes of the Incarnation. 33 teaching and life, and at last by the mystery of dying. He did not deny the beneficence of God; He changed the cold word beneficence into the word throbbing with the infinite heart of Deity— Love. He did more. That which men had imperfectly expressed in song and prophecy He came to state— “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father”—not Elohim, not Jehovah, not Adonai; none of the great names of the past, although all of them are suggestive. In and through Him that truth of the Fatherhood was revealed. Fatherhood means a great deal more than we sometimes imagine. I t is not merely a term of tenderness; it is also a term of law and discipline. But fatherhood means supremely that if the child have wandered away, the father will suffer everything to save and bring it home again. Within the realm of revealed religion this truth emerged, that the one God, mighty, holy, beneficent, is the Father who will sacrifice Him self to save the child. There man found the point of contact, in infinite love which never abandons him, never leaves him. That is the truth which, coming into revealed religion, saved it from being intellectual apprehension, minus moral dynamic, and sent running through all human life rivers of cleansing, renewal, regeneration. Wherever Christ comes to people who have never had direct revelation, He comes first of all as fulfillment of all that in their thought and scheme is true. He comes, morever, for the correction of all that in their thought and scheme is false, f All the underlying consciousness of humanity concerning God is touched and answered and lifted into the supreme conscious ness whenever God is seen in Christ. All the gleams of light which have been flashing across the consciousness of humanity merge into the essential light when He is presented. 1 Christ comes not to contradict the essential truth of Bud dhism, but to fulfill it. He comes not to rob the Chinaman of his regard for parents, as taught by Confucius, but to fulfillPage 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78 Page 79 Page 80 Page 81 Page 82 Page 83 Page 84 Page 85 Page 86 Page 87 Page 88 Page 89 Page 90 Page 91 Page 92 Page 93 Page 94 Page 95 Page 96 Page 97 Page 98 Page 99 Page 100 Page 101 Page 102 Page 103 Page 104 Page 105 Page 106 Page 107 Page 108 Page 109 Page 110 Page 111 Page 112 Page 113 Page 114 Page 115 Page 116 Page 117 Page 118 Page 119 Page 120 Page 121 Page 122 Page 123 Page 124 Page 125 Page 126 Page 127
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