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into the free world confined Him within a narrow form which does not harmonize with the freedom and the seriousness of the sayings and parables of Jesus.

But in spite of all this, Christianity only became a' great spiritual power in the world through the theology of St Paul. For through him it obtained a cosmology as a foundation, which enabled it to compete with Greek philosophies and Oriental myths. Through him the Jewish idea was annulled and so Christianity was set free to enter the world. Yes, and at the same time its spiritual character is assured for all eternity. Ceremonies have no value as means of salvation. St Paul grasped the worldhistoric greatness of Jesus, and compared Him with the first man.

The Messianic element is forced into the background; with Jesus a new humanity begins. Paul placed the two great ideas of the Fatherhood of God and the freedom of the Spirit in the centre, as the Christian ideal in religion, and has thereby laid down the safest canon of criticism for every form of religion.

Finally he placed love and practical results higher than enthusiasm and theology, and thereby found the eternal in the transitory. As one surveys the whole of what he achieved, one stands in silent amazement at his greatness as a thinker.




WE can recognize the effect of Jesus upon His disciples directly from the Gospels. Here we see all that was great and new in Jesus that seemed worth recording. It was this at the same time that struck root and further developed. The effect of St Paul, on the other hand, we can only discern quite indirectly. We can gather what it was, partly from his letters, and partly from those documents of the succeeding age which were clearly influenced by him. Even though these conclusions are mostly hypothetical, we cannot entirely disregard them. Our present object, then, is to discover the characteristics of the earliest Christianity in heathen countries.

Wherever the Christians are gathered together in fully organized communities, there they feel that they are sharply divided not only from the popular religion of their heathen neighbours, but also from the Jewish synagogue. Both constitute for them that world to which they have bidden farewell. Indeed it is contrast with the world that determines the signification of the term Christian. In the first place comes the

difference of faith and hope. As compared with the heathen, the Christian confesses the unity of God the Creator, and denies that the gods of the heathens are such to whom worship is due. The great text-book of monotheism is the Old Testament. As compared with the Jews, the Christian confesses that Jesus is the Lord ; nay, more, the Son of God who came down from heaven in order to die for our sins, and to guarantee our hope through His Resurrection. This same Jesus shall come again in the near future, as the Saviour of those that believe on Him. Of Him, too, the whole of the Old Testament prophesies. He is now sitting on the right hand of God, and nearest to God, greater than all angels. Besides this, the Christian believes that the Spirit of God or of Christ, called also the Holy Spirit, is given to all believers in the Christian Church. These are the dogmatic propositions which St Paul securely established in all his Churches. He often summarized them as the essence of the faith upon which all depends. As yet the Spirit occupies the least prominent position in the creed, which is natural while he is still an object of experience. There is no need as yet to believe in him first. St Paul himself, however, employs expressions from time to time, in which the threefold formula Father, Son, and Holy Spirit already occurs.

The important point to notice here is the theoretical character of the faith, which is guaranteed by the contents. Neither mystical nor ethical elements are contained therein. It consists in assent to the

propositions of the preaching. In this assent a certain amount of trust is contained as well. But the

question already arises, whether this act of trust was considered as important by the Greeks as it is by us. They believed in the facts of the Gospel, in the fulfilment of the prophecies, in the unity of God, all purely theoretical objects of belief in the first place. “ The devils also believe, and tremble,” we read in a later document. We may much rather add in our thoughts hope to the word faith, for faith in Jesus for the purpose of salvation is as much as hope. Thereby it receives a very great accession of value. He that believes may hope to be saved in the approaching day of judgment. “ Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou and thy house shall be saved,” says the Paul of the Acts. Faith saves, justifies, blesses,

expressions such as these obtained currency wherever St Paul had been. Often they were turned into harmful party cries, against the use of which later leaders had emphatically to protest. They went so

. far as to consider all that were without—the unbelievers as such, for lost, whatever their works and their character might be.

Other characteristics of the Christian in opposition to the world may be noticed in addition to this the first; e.g: participation in the holy rites of the Church. This would appeal especially to the Greeks, to whom the Christians were, above all else, the saints, i.e. the congregation participating in the true worship. The later ·Sacraments,' Baptism and the Lord's Supper, were in very early times valued by the Greeks as mysterious rites connected with the world beyond. In baptism, the new birth is symbolized by a dying and a rising again. An implanting in Christ takes place whilst the convert passes through

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the water. The baptized convert is now a citizen of the world that is above: he has a certain claim upon that which is to come. The Lord's Supper then leads him to an even closer and more intimate communion with Christ. But the Spirit of God descends even in the ordinary meetings for divine service, and testifies to His presence

, by mysterious and miraculous manifestations. St Paul never failed to subject these workings of the Spirit to ethical principles, but his Churches did not always follow his example. The Spirit and the miraculous continued to be interchangeable conceptions for them; only the theological mysteries were counted to be just as certain revelations of the Spirit as ecstasy. Thus the apostle's rich inheritance was at once considerably impoverished. Of all the manifold manifestations of the Spirit two only were in reality preserved, and those the most opposed to each other

ecstasy and theology—both unpractical and morally indifferent.

The way is paved for a radical transformation from this point onwards. The greatness of the earliest form of Christianity was essentially constituted by two historical realities—Jesus and the community which attached itself to Him. All that deserves the name of salvation is the effect of these two realities. They were also the two main factors in St Paul's missionary work—the incarnation of the grace of God. But in the Pauline Churches the place of the person of Jesus is occupied by statements concerning the Son of God, the Cross and the Resurrection, which are accepted in faith. Where Jesus stood before, there now stands the dogma of Christ. The social

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