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Again the cross appeals to the common feelings of our nature, which, whether men fully understand them or not, crave forgiveness and reconciliation with God. A sense of sin, careless as men seem about their conduct, lies in every breast, slumbering perhaps but not extinct. This sense of sin may meet the doctrine of the cross as an enemy which would take from it its lustrations and sacrifices, or would alarmingly enhance the guilt of sin, but the gospel is an enemy which can conquer it and win it over. There is no other way of appealing to heathens than to dwellers in Christian lands; both have the same kind, if not degree, of preparation for Christ, in a sense of distance from God and of falling short of the end for which they were made. The heathen needs little or no training before he is ready to receive Christ, and indeed, is better off than one who for years, by sophistries, has shielded himself from the truth.
Thirdly, the cross satisfies the rational nature of all. We do not mean that all men or that any man can give a full explanation of Christ, or of his work, nor can we suppose that in a great scheme, involving relations of the deepest kind between God and man, complete explanation and removal of difficulties is possible. Nay more, if this were possible it would not be desirable, for the soul is not saved by clear understanding of truth, but by the awakening of feelings and purposes that are good, and these do not demand a perfectly definite statement. But we mean that however men explain the cross, they are convinced when they receive it that it is the wisdom of God. It is not something clothed in Jewish drapery, which a person of another race needs to strip naked and put into the abstractest form, in order to welcome it; but it makes an appeal to all classes of minds everywhere, to all who have noticed the part which vicarious action plays in the world, and the good which vicarious suffering brings to thousands, and even to the undeserving.
And if there were no adequate solution of the atonement we fall back on this which our whole race can appreciatethat in Christ living and dying there is a union of holiness and love. Holiness alone could not satisfy man, for he stands in dread and distrust aloof from a God of holiness. Love alone could not satisfy him, for it could alone, without revelation of God's feeling toward sin, work no transformations. But loving holiness, holy love, can bring God and man together, can make man like God by winning him to God, as God became like man in order to win him. With this deep impression that in Christ's offer of pardon, holiness and love are united,-an impression which the cross makes on the heart of mankindwe have the outlines of a doctrine which, under various forms, cominends itself to all.
We may add that the condescension of Christ carries with it a power over mankind. There is no more moving form of love than this, which gives to divine Providence and grace its principal sweetness. This quality shines in all of Christ's life and actions, for we go back in all to the incarnation of the Son of God. The height of this attractive glory of character reaches us at the lowest point of Christ's lowliness, at the iguominious cross itself. When we contemplate him on the cross we have the strongest promptings to give him our love, and the stronger, the lower we feel ourselves to be in sin, and the deeper in our depression. His condescension commends him thus to all, and most to the mass of mankind.
Another obvious cord which binds him to all mankind is his brotherly sympathy, which indeed is nothing else but love in his state of humiliation. It is not the sympathy of man, which would have comparatively but little value and power, nor the love of God, but the feeling entertained towards man by the incarnate Saviour, who has made himself their fellow. It unites thus all the power of love divine and human,
Nor would the work of Christ as the world's Savioar be complete, if we were to stop at the cross. His exaltation carries the power of his death into his life in glory, attracts the faith and hope of man towards heaven, shows to his wondering eye the great scale and wide extent of the plan of grace, and exhibits him as an all sufficient ever ready helper.
IV. The life and death of Christ are the foundation of Christian morality, which is in some of its features unlike all other forms of morality, Jewish or philosophical, and commends itself, as a model, to all mankind. Here we see the passive virtues first raised to a level with or above the active, and a kind of heroism exhibited in action which the lowest can admire and imitate. Here we see action under the sway of such virtues taking the place of the contemplation of the philosopher, and therefore possible for all. Here we find a new idea of lifethat its purity consists not in religious observances or withdrawal from the world, but in ennobling all the scenes and relations of life, great and small, by a spirit of consecration to God. The divine and human are blended in the life of the Christian, as they are in union in the person of the Saviour. The great characteristics of Christian morality are such as to appear possible for all; they wear a human garb which is attractive to all. The life of Christ, and a life such as Christ's, however it rebukes sin, commands the respect and attracts the love of the world.
V. We add, fifthly, that the brotherhood of Christians, implied in Christian privileges and taking form in the church, greatly helps the system to become universal. A religion of castes, or one with a priestly class, divides society and degrades its lower members. A religious philosophy is not fitted for mankind. A national religion puts up a bar against human brotherhood. But as all differences of men are infinitely small before God, and as Christ came for the whole race, there was laid up in true religion, especially in its form of redemption, a fraternal spirit. All are brethren even as Christ is the brother of all. A common redemption involves a community of believers, who are one every where and through all classes. This one Catholic church, in which all share alike, is the only society spreading through the world that has ever been conceived of. Imagine, instead of it, vari. ons branches of a church, or various churches for different ranks, and you will feel that in such a system, if it were possible, the Gospel would defeat itself, and limit its own spread from land to land, and from one stratum of society to another.
We have confined our attention to the question, What there is in Christianity itself to gain access for it among men every where and at all stages of culture ? Did not the subject stretch beyond our limits, we might put this quality of the Gospel to the test of fact and observation. We might draw notice to its power of attraction for all kinds of minds and of sensibilities, for the intellectual and the warm-hearted, for the hopeful and the desponding, for the practical and the contemplative, for the mind of coarser and that of finer mould, the manly and the feminine, the experienced and the inexperienced. We might show its sympathies with art, science, and political liberty. We might gather the testimonies of history, which tells us how neither the degradation nor the refinement of a race, neither its inaptness for reflection nor its worn out civilization, nor even its self-conceit can neutralize the force of Christianity. Every where, and in all classes, it shows its restorative, formative, creative power. As “ there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither bond nor free, neither male nor female, but all are one in Christ Jesus," so its aim is to make one family of God, one kingdoin of heaven to which all nations are to belong, and this the proof of facts shows that it can accomplish.
But dismissing these considerations thus briefly, we go on to close our discussion with a few reflections; the first of which is that this universal character of Christianity is best taught by experience. The man who receives it in its power into his heart knows that it has transformed him not by its sway over civilized men, nor over those who are imbued with Old Testament ideas, but by its sway over him as a man, by its appeals to that in him which he shares in common with all mankind. If, having exalted his conception of the universal Ruler, and deepened his sense ef obligation and of sin, it now speaks to him of the worth of his soul, of his wants, of the Christian redemption, and the Christian life of holiness, he knows that the plea is as applicable to all who bear the human name; and if it can transform and purify him, it can do the same for men in Africa, or Labrador, or China—it is a religion for the world. Its truths, under the impressive form of facts and of life, he knows to be universal truths, and to be designed for all. He therefore believes in a Catholic church, in the feasibility of missions, in the future spread of Christianity in every clime. The Christian spirit that is in him makes him hopeful; he, more than all men besides, believes in the capacity of man to
rise above the present confusion of the world, and to approach nigh to perfect manhood. It is not civilization that he believes, nor governments, nor the nineteenth century, but the Gospel, this which has made civilization what it is more than all causes besides, and is purifying governments, this which can carry civilization where it goes and make all things new there, while if civilization went alone it would but increase the capacity of savages to do evil.
2. The Gospel is no republication, and authorized exposition of the religion of nature, as some persons, called Christians, have accounted it. It is something more, or else nothing. It claims to contain a method of recovering inan from his ruins through the life and death of the Son of God, which, by its startling nature, proves that it must be some new additional revelation, or some marvelous imposture. The power with which it has acted on man, through what is novel in it and superadded to the old religion, shows that it was no new edition merely of the religion of Adam, Abraham, and Moses, but a mystery of godliness hid from ages and generations. It claims to be a religion adapted for the fulness of times, the patriarchal religion and Judaism being but messengers sent to prepare its way; to be a religion for those who had been trained already under the divine law and the system of the Old Testament; to be a religion of the latter days, of the last stage of man's historical progress in this world, -in other words, to be man's religion until the coming again of Christ for judgment.
And if so, it is idle, it is unchristian to try to recommend Christianity by rounding off its corners and sharp points, in order to have as little that is positive about it as possible. He cannot understand or love the Gospel who makes such an attempt. He cannot understand man who does not perceive that there are principles in him and wants every where, through all races, in civilized life and in savage, which Christianity with its dying redeemer, and its future retributions, and its Divine Spirit in the world, meets and satisfies ; so that if a civilized country or age should perchance show a spirit alien from the Gospel, the fault would not lie in the Gospel's want of universality but in the godlessly corrupt character of the age or civilization. How foolish, how cowardly, to bring