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How, then, does the Apostle conceive of Christ, as effecting this redemption ? All these evils Christ himself encounters and goes through; he passes through them unhurt. He comes into immediate contact with evil, and yet triumphs over it;—poverty, ignominy, suffering, he submits to with calm and patient trust; the whole law he fulfils, yet with the consciousness that the law must finally be done away ;-tempted like other men, he stands forth a model of perfect righteousness; he cheerfully encounters an agonizing death, but only as the passage to a higher life. The reward of this successful conflict with evil was the glory and felicity of heaven. Christ vanquished the evil one; broke his sceptre; and drove him from his dominions.—The effect of the whole conception is to place in strong contrast the transient evils of the present, and the lasting glories of the future, world; to exalt the spiritual above the material, the eternal above the temporal; to inculcate the great truth, that the painful and arduous discipline of this life should be used as a means of wisdom and purification—of preparation for a higher state of things to come. If, in the calmer view of our present advanced civilization, the contrast should sometimes seem to be overwrought, and to favour the excitements of a fanatical enthusiasm, we must make allowance for the glowing conceptions of a new faith, in the progress of its earliest triumphs: we must remember the need of strong present effect and impressiveness—and that state of deep moral corruption in which the mass of mankind were then sunk, and out of which nothing but the most powerful excitement could have availed to raise them.
With the more general views which modified the Apostle's conception of the mission of Christ, was blended the deep and uneffaceable notion of sacrificial propitiation. No one at all acquainted with the history of opinion can have failed to notice, how deeply this notion pervades the religious belief of antiquity. In itself, it is not to be reconciled with the pure doctrine of the fatherly character and gratuitous mercy of God; since it supposes him to do that, in consideration of suffering voluntarily incurred, which otherwise he would not or could not have done. But the fatherly character of God is, after all, the essential element in the religious system of Paul, which sacrificial notions only served to introduce into minds else unprepared to receive it, and which was destined, finally, to extricate itself by its inherent vitality from every notion originally associated with it, by which its force and purity were impaired. This great principle of Christianity the Apostle brought home to the minds of his contemporaries, by the following considerations. Men were far gone in sin, and had deviated widely from the will of God.
He was displeased with them and wroth. The life and death of Christ, constituting, from the incessant conflict with evil which they involved, one prolonged sacrifice, (his death being the crown and completion of his sufferings,) propitiated God. Accepting the sacrifice of Christ, God admitted all who relied on its sufficiency to the fulness of his paternal mercy. He himself devised this means of reconciling a sinful world to himself. And, this sacrifice once made, no others were necessary again. It was a complete, final, all-sufficient, propitiation. The love of Christ in dying for the world, and the simple reliance on himself, which, under God, he constituted the means of justification,-superseded for ever the sacerdotal observances of less perfect forms of religion-abolished the sacrifice, destroyed the temple, and abrogated the priesthood. For the painful and fruitless endeavour to obtain justification by entire conformity to the requirements of an outward law, was substituted the inward justification of a mind reconciled to God by faith and the spirit of love.*
* It is impossible to disguise the difficulty which embarrasses this subject of atone. ment and propitiation. The radical idea involved in it is closely mixed up with all the earliest representations of Gospel teaching, -as well in the Evangelists (Matthew XX. 28. nút povarti. 1 Tim. ii. 6. årtia ut pov.) Mark x. 45. Matthew xxvi. 28. John vi. 51.) as in the epistles of Paul, John, and Peter, and in that to the Hebrews, and seems to enter to their very substance. All the religions of antiquity are deeply imbued with the same notion ; and those forms of Christianity which have put it forth most prominently in their doctrinal system, however we may deem them chargeable with error and extravagance, have been uniformly distinguished by the power and decision of their spiritual influence. This idea therefore, whatever we may think of it metaphysically, must certainly possess some latent affinity with very deep wants and tendencies of the human soul, which divines of a certain school have passed over with undue neglect, and which a more thorough acquaintance with the psychology of religion would probably set in a clearer point of view.
On the assumption, that this idea is metaphysically inconsistent with the full recognition of the paternal character of God,--the suggestion has been thrown out in the text, that in the preaching of the Apostles it was an idea of the time, a form in which their thoughts spontaneously clothed themselves, and that it thus served as a medium for effectually introducing the latter doctrine into the general mind. To this subject we shall probably recur again in a subsequent article ; but in the meanwhile we wish the suggestion alluded to, to be regarded in no other light than as one of those thoughts, which furnish a temporary resting-place for the mind in its way towards a complete and satisfactory determination of opinion.
It has been argued, that as atonements, under the old dispensation, with one slight and seeming exception, were only available for the removal of ceremonial impurities, while moral transgressions, till otherwise atoned for, remained under the full penalty of the civil law and the Divine displeasure,-the consideration of Christ's death as a sacrifice could only have been figurative, since it did not in fact correspond to the Mosaic type, and that therefore it would not have included the idea of a real propitiation. But there is an obvious reason, why no society could have allowed any breaches of morality, which were fit subjects for public animadversion at all, to be compounded for by the observance of a mere ceremony. Order could never have been maintained in the state under so lax a system of penal justice; and the foundations of morality must have been destroyed by the sanction of such easy methods of satisfying the conscience. The civil power must have felt too deeply its own responsibility to per
In Paul's doctrine of a Future Life, we find the same involution of a spiritual and eternal truth in the conceptions of a particular age, which we have noticed in other of his doctrines. Paul viewed the Gospel as the only means of spiritual redemption and moral purification, and consequently as the only preparation for the happiness of the future world. Holiness was the condition of salvation; but holiness he regarded as unattainable, in that age, without the spirit of the Gospel. Hence the promise is to them only who believe and obey. They only have admission into the heavenly kingdom. With regard to the rest of mankind, the system of Paul decides nothing as to their ultimate state; they are left by it to uncovenanted mercies. The Apostle's vision is here indistinct and dark. He sees only the light that was immediately revealed to him ; in that light he rejoices, and to that he confines his eye. He rests in the simple, practical conclusion, that disobedience and wickedness must be punished, and that all the works of the devil and his angels will be finally destroyed. The effect and impressiveness of his doctrine mit such a state of things; and even under a sacerdotal government, the priesthood would in this case have assumed the functions of the civil magistrate. If, after undergoing the penalty of the law, and satisfying the claims of justice, the offender bad been further required to offer in the temple a religious atonement, such a demand might have subjected the sacerdotal authority to invidious animadversion, and would certainly not have increased its influence or its popularity.-- It does not however follow from this unavoidable necessity of civil society, that, when human relations came to be considered under a religious point of view,- as in the preaching of Christianity,—the notions of propitiation, which a sacerdotal order and ritual kept constantly before the mind, might not have great influence in modifying the conception of them. Nor is this inference at all weakened by the earnest expostulations which we find in the Prophets, on the uselessness of sacrifices, without clean hands and a pure heart. We meet with similar sentiments among the poets of the heathen; though the whole of their public and private life was based on the idea of a I ropitiatory intercourse with the Gods. Immunis aram si tetigit manus, &c., (Hor. Carm, iii. 23, 17.) is the only passage which we can immediately call to mind; but many such will occur to the classical student. Such instances only exhibit the momentary reaction of good sense and natural feeling against the influences of a sacerdotal form of religion, which may at the very time have been acting most powerfully on the general sentiment of the community.
Fully to understand this question in its connection with Christianity, we ought to know what ideas had grown up, and penetrated into the belief of the Jews, in the centuries preceding the preaching of the gospel, especially among the Rabbins, who were the formers of the public mind. Gfrörer says (Geschichte des Ur-Christenthums, I. viii.) that the idea of expiation for the sins of the guilty, by the merits of the righteous, prevailed in the old synagogue,-sometimes associated with the notion of sacrifice, but less frequently, after the destruction of the temple, in consequence of the disuse of sacrifices,-that nevertheless great importance was always attached by the Jews to the expiatory efficacy of the sacrifice of Isaac. Gfrörer's statement is confirmed by that of Jost, who observes (Geschichte der Israeliten, B. III. 6. ix.) that a Rabbin was often reverenced by the people like God himself, and that it was believed a Rabbin could expiate by his prayers and death, the sins of the people, so that at last, not only the judicial power of the Sanhedrim, but the atoning efficacy of the High Priests was believed to be lodged in the Rabbins.—The feelings entertained towards a Rabbin would be naturally transferred by Jewish Christians to Jesus.
depended, probably, at the time, on its being limited to this one view. Its relation to the wider views of a humane and religious philosophy, coming into existence at a later day, under the inspiration of other and deeper doctrines of Christianity, it did not fall within the limits of the Apostle's vocation in this life to contemplate. The necessity of distinguishing between the form and the spirit of a doctrine, appears clearly from the Jewish conceptions in which Paul clothes his representation of the future life-as a reigning with Christ, judging the world, and judging angels ;-as also from his evident expectation, that Christ would shortly descend from heaven, arrayed in all the outward pomp and majesty of a judge, to raise the dead, and to summon the quick and the dead to his tribunal. This is evidently but the material form in which his own sincere convictions, sympathizing with the state of public opinion, led him to invest the spiritual doctrine of future retribution.
We have thus endeavoured to exhibit, as nearly as possible in the language of the Apostle himself, his doctrine concerning God, Man, Christ, and the Future Life. It will at once be perceived, how necessary it is to make a distinction between the form and the spirit of his teachings ; and that, although our first duty is to ascertain, without regard to doctrinal conclusions, what it is that the Apostle actually taught, in the form that brought it home to the convictions of his contemporaries—yet that, when that task of simple interpretation has once been performed, another task remains, more difficult but equally necessary, imposed upon us by the law of progressive development to which God has subjected the operations of the human intellect—that of determining the relation of the form of the apostolic doctrines to our present modes of conceiving moral and spiritual truth-of distinctly recognizing amidst various outward forms, necessarily changing with the progress of human nature itself, the presence of the universal and eternal spirit of divine truth.
necessared, anoth task of onvictionsally taus
Art. VII.—THE QUESTION OF MIRACLES. 1. The Mission of Jesus Christ; a Lecture, by Thomas Wood.
London: John Green. 2. Anti-Supernaturalism Considered ; a Sermon, preached at
Stamford-street Chapel, in reference to a Lecture preached at Brixton, by the Rev. Thomas Wood. By William Hincks.
London: John Green. 3. Jesus Christ our Teacher and Lord by Divine, not by Self-Ap
pointment; a Sermon, by Joseph Hutton, LL.D. London:
John Green. 4. The Question of Miracles ; a Lecture, by Philip Harwood.
London: Charles Fox.
; by the Chapel, innsidered; a
There is a growing tendency with those who favour the idea of progress in Religion, to resolve the whole question of Christianity into the manifestations of God, and of His will for man, incorporated in the person and the life of Christ.
Their view is that Christ is Christianity,—that the man is the Image of God, the only adequate symbol of things divine, that the revelation of Deity is in the harmonized elements of the mind of Jesus,—that the revelation of Duty is in the specimen of the perfect man,—that the revelation of Destiny is in the picture that is given of a completed human Existence, in the connections of a filial spirit with God whilst upon the earth, and its ascension to Him, as to its natural home, when freed from that flesh and blood which cannot inherit the kingdom of God. The passage of Scripture which most fully expresses their views of Christianity as a Revelation is, “ the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us,”—and if the lower Criticism had left undisturbed the beautiful expression “God manifest in the flesh,” the higher Criticism would have had no inclination to evade it. To this class of disciples all the interest, all the light of Christianity is in indissoluble connection with the person of the Christ. They protest against an abstract Christianity, a set of propositions containing truths, precepts, duties, collected from the New Testament, and called the Religion of Jesus Christ in them, is their hope of Glory. They value the evangelical narratives chiefly because they enable us to recreate the living Jesus,—to bring our own souls into personal intercourse with the soul of Christ. They cherish every Word'he uttered,but chiefly because it gives vividness, force, completeness, to their conceptions of his individual mind. They treasure every record of his Works,'—but