Puslapio vaizdai

We are thus called to contemplate a fact of utmost importance, not only as regards all religious truth, but especially as concerns the teachings of Jesus and the dogmas of Christianity. And the reader will not unreasonably demand to know its bearing.

Some would have it that our Bible becomes a sort of Chinese puzzle for ingenuity to pick oat, a magic mirror or a crystal globe in which conjurors can discern the signs of the times and predict the future Millennium and the Second Advent—a land of dreams in which the imagination may run riot at will.

Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. Jesus was intensely, and even unto death, in earnest. It would be quite impossible to show that He ever uttered one syllable for mere curiosity to puzzle over, or pictured one symbol for mere ingenuity to decipher. The parables of righteousness lend themselves to no purpose of divination, and appeal only to spirituality.

It certainly does result from this great fact upon which attention has been fixed: that creeds, however well they may temporarily serve certain purposes, must be ever very imperfect either for profound or for lasting expression of dogmatic truth.

Moreover, this great fact that Jesus spoke in

parables forever deprives dogmatism of logical standing-room. Dogmatism and persecution thrive only on such hard and fast and narrow statements as can be used for standards of judgment and condemnation. A truth which needs spirituality to discern its meaning can never become a reasonable ground for anathemas, thumb-screws and the stake.

But pre-eminently the lesson of the great fact is the thesis of this entire treatise. Divine things, though clearly revealed, need patience, reverence and spirituality.




"Jesus Christ is not only, as many at the present day would have it, a great question: He is far rather the divine Answer to all human questions and complaints. If we look at Him merely as a question, He becomes more and more unintelligible."-CHRISTLIEB.

IF, in this chapter, we question the authority of Jesus as Teacher and Saviour of Men, it will be only that He Himself may answer.

Christ declared His inspiration prophetic and His authority absolute as the truth itself.

"I came forth from the Father." "Whom He hath sent, Him ye believe not." "My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me." "As my Father hath taught me I speak these things." "I have not spoken of myself, but the Father which sent me, He gave me a commandment, what I should say and what I should speak. Whatsoever I speak, therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak." "The Word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me." Like the Hebrew prophets

of old, He was a Mouthpiece of Jehovah, a "Man of the Spirit."

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It is customary in Apologetic Theology to base the argument for the validity of Christian revelation upon Christ's miracles. Doubtless these served as divine vouchers during His lifetime and did much to give to the new religion a vigorous start. It may be fairly questioned, however, whether the old method is equally available with the skeptics of to-day. difficulty of proving that the miracles actually occurred in the face of modern Biblical criticism and of the hostile attitude of science has become very great. Nay, rather a strange reversion of method is impending, and the miracles instead of guaranteeing Christ are likely to be themselves accepted only on the authority of Christ.

This is not to be regretted. It brings us to the heart of the matter. Jesus of Nazareth, as a Divine Teacher and Saviour, must, in the last analysis, appeal to the minds and hearts of men on the strength of Himself. What He said and was for all mankind must form the challenge to spirituality. His Revelation, His Mission, Himself, all taken in their unity and simplicity as one Religious Phenomenon, must be accepted or rejected on inherent merit.

Jesus laid great stress upon the mind-quickening and soul-convicting power of what He in

various ways revealed. The Truth carried its own conclusiveness.

"The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." He considered His system of truth so persuasive and irresistible, that men who rejected it thereby condemned themselves. "If any man hear and believe not, I judge him not, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me and receiveth not my words hath one that judgeth him: the Word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself." Jesus herein, as elsewhere, appealed to His teachings as being not the speculations of a philosopher, but selfevidently the eternal truth. He spake from God to the religious nature. Hence there can be no authoritative go-between, no final pope, council nor creed. The inmost soul must de

cide upon His claims.

This showed a truly marvellous faith in the capacity of the human soul to appreciate vital truth; and yet did not go beyond the provable facts of the case.

There is, surely, within us a trustworthy response to religious truth. Joubert has said: "When a nation gives birth to a man who is able to produce a great thought, another is born

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