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that he can be thus complete in any separate view. Christ is the central person, in whom is the fullness of life for the whole world ; his people are made complete only by being comprehended relatively in this fullness; as all the other points of a circle are made what they are, by real dependence on the centre of it, and not by bringing the centre, as such, over into themselves. The union here, is indeed spiritual ; it is wrought by the Holy Ghost; but the realness and inwardness of it are, on this account, only the more sure. It is the spiritual being of the believer, his personality, his intelligence and will, (which in the end, however, must determine the quality of the entire man,) that are poised on Christ as a perpetual living centre.
" Christ liveth in me," says Paul, “and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal. ii. 20). “In him dwelleth all the
” fullness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in him” Col. ii. 9, 10; your life, in other words, is made perfect, finds its true end and sense, in union with him, as the universal centre of the vast spiritual organism of Christianity. It is, in truth, Christ's image, that is formed in the souls of his people; but not a dead image; not an outward image; not such an image as is cut off in full from the object it represents, and comes before us as a quite different thing. It is “ Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. i. 27); Christ, who is our life" (Col. iii. 4); Christ that dwells in our hearts by faith (Eph. iii. 17); Christ formed with birth travail into our persons, (άχρις ού μορφωθη, ΧρισTos èv vuiv, Gal. iv. 19), the very thought which the critic of the New York Observer pronounces transcendentalism sounding strangely to his ears. The image of Christ thus born into his people, is like that of the vine in its branches, the power of his own life continuing itself over organically into their persons. He is the beginning of the new creation, the first-born from the dead; not as the outward cause of it simply, or its outward model; but as its principle and fontal spring; the whole flows forth really from his person (Cor. i. 15–18). Thus it is, that his life repeats itself in believers; their salvation is carried forward by a mystical reproduction in them of the grand facts of his history; he is born in them, suffers in them, dies in them, rises in them from the dead, and ascends in them to the right hand of God in heaven. This bold thought, as we all know, abounds in all Paul's writings. Our baptism buries us into Christ's death; our old man is crucified with him; we are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God who hath raised him from the dead (Rom. vi. 4-6; Col. ii. 12, 13). The sufferings of believers are the sufferings of Christ; they fill up that which is behind of these last, carry onward the sense and value of them in the world, for the sake of his body, the Church (2 Cor. i. 5; iv. 10, 11; Phil. iii. 10; Col. i. 24). In virtue of the living bond, which unites the members with the head, even that which is still future in their case, is at times spoken of as past; they are not only called and justified, but are glorified also in Christ, as potentially secure of all that is comprised in his resurrection (Rom. viii. 29, 30). They are quickened, raised up, and made to sit together with him in heavenly places (Eph. ii. 5,6). Their citizenship is in heaven; their life hid with Christ in God, and destined by its full relation hereafter, to change even their present vile bodies into the glorious image of his own (Phil. iii. 20, 21; Col. iii. 3, 4). His spirit dwelling in them now, shall in due time quicken even their mortal bodies into immortality (Rom. viii. 11). His resurrection is the guaranty and pledge of theirs, works itself out to its last result only in their recovery from the grave (Rom. viii. 23; 1 Cor. xv. 20-23, 45-49; 1 Thess. iv. 14).
But why should we go on to multiply proofs in this way, for what no unsophisticated reader of the New Testament surely will pretend to deny? What can the New Testament be said to teach at all, if it do not teach the fact of the mystical union, the true and actual formation of Christ's life into the souls of his people? Men may get rid of this teaching, if they choose, by wilfully turning the whole of it into barren metaphor and figure. But it is with a very bad grace they then turn round and say: We go by the Bible. The same system of interpretation, with less than half the same trouble, might set aside every text that is usually quoted in favor of the Trinity. The question of election, the question of the perseverance of the saints, and many other questions made to be of primary account in one orthodox system or another, are of far less clear representation in the Bible, than this view of the Christian salvation, as involving “Christ in us the hope of glory.” Nor is it, by any means, of new acknowledgment in the Church, however strange and transcendental it may now sound to some“ evangelical" ears.
It runs through the universal theology of the old Christian Fathers. It forms the key-note to the deepest piety of the Middle Ages. It animates the faith of all the Reformers. Luther and Calvin both proclaim it, in terins that should put to shame the rationalism of later times, pretending to follow them, and yet casting the mystery to the winds.
We pass on to the second point, presented in this criticism. The incarnation, we are told, is plain enough; but the critic is at a loss to make anything out of the “new principle of light and life," which it is supposed to introduce into humanity; and
asks, what new principle has been in it since the incarnation, which was not in it before.
His own idea of the incarnation is, plainly, that it did not enter into the organization of the world at all, as a fact of permanent force. Probably he has no sense whatever of this organization, as a vast whole completing itself in man, and thus reaching forward as a single historical process from the beginning of the world to its end. This too, he would take to
savor of the transcendental.” The world is for him neither organism nor history, but a vast sand-heap, in which men are thrown together outwardly, to be formed for eternity as so many separate units, each perfect and complete by itself. The incarnation, of course, in such view, becomes one of these naked units only, the man Jesus mysteriously made God for himself alone, an abstraction that comes into no real connection with our general humanity beyond the limits of his person. He stands in the world a mere theophany; not of a few hours only, as in the days of Abraham, but of thirty-three years; a sublime avatar, fantastically paraded thus long before men's eyes, only to be translated afterwards to heaven, and continued there, (for the imagination, in no real union with the world's life whatever. This, thus left behind by the transient apparition, pursues precisely its old course, including in its living stream nothing more than has belonged to it from the beginning. The incarnation, under such Gnostic view, is taken to be “plain enough;" while to conceive of it as a new principle of light and life for the world, seems a flight clear over the horizon of common sense.
But now, in the full face again of all this abstract thinking, we affirm that it finds no countenance or support whatever in the Bible. According to the first chapter of Genesis, the world is an organic whole, which completes itself in man; and humanity is regarded throughout as a single grand fact, which is brought to pass, not at once, but in the way of history, unfolding always more and more its true interior sense, and reaching onward towards its final consummation. The Jewish dispensation had respect to the wants of the universal world, and was intended from the beginning, to make room for the coming of Christ; which took place, accordingly, at last, when the “fullness of the time was come,” (Gal. iv. 4, “in the wisdow of God,” (1 Cor. i. 21,) and "according to the riches of his grace, wherein he hath abounded, toward us in all wisdom and prudence" (Eph. i. 7–10). The incarnation, in this view, was no passing theophany or avatar. It was the form, in which the sense of all previous history came finally to its magnificent outlet. This outlet, however, when it did come, involved a great deal more than was comprehended in the actual constitution of the world, the living human world, as it stood before; for it was brought to pass by the real union of ihe everlasting Word with our fallen life. The mystery of the incarnation had been coming through four thousand years; still the coming was not the presence of the fact itself; as little as the aurora which gilds the eastern heavens may be taken for the full orbed splendors of the risen sun. Christ is the sense of all previous history, the grand terminus towards which it was urged from the beginning; while in this very character, at the same time, he brings into union with it a new divine force, which was not in it before, though required from the first to make it complete. He is the true basis thus of the period going before, as well as of the period that follows. Two conceptions, in this way, enter jointly into the idea of the incarnation, as it challenges our faith throughout the New Testament. First, it is a fact which unites itself really
a with the living constitution, the actual concrete and organic history, of the world, as it existed previously; it was no phantasm, no spectrum, no abstract symbol only played off to the eyes of men supernaturally for the space of thirty-three years. Secondly,
however, it is in this form a new creation; not the continuation simply of the old, but the introduction into this of a higher life, (the Word made flesh,) which all its powers, as they stood previously, were inadequate to reach. Can there be any doubt, in regard to the scriptural authority of both these conceptions? They form the poles of the universal christian consciousness, as it starts in the Apostles' Creed. They rule the whole process of theology in the Church, from the beginning, in opposition to Gnostic supernaturalism on the one hand, and Ebionitic naturalism on the other. Both are presented to us from every page of the New Testament. Christianity, shorn of either, falls at once to the ground. To make Christ an intrinsic result simply, or an extrinsic accident only, for the old creation, is to go full in the face of the whole Bible. He must be all or nothing here; the deepest and most central fact of the world, or no fact at all; the alpha and omega of humanity, or no part of humanity whatever.
To say that no “new principle of light and life” was introduced into the world by the incarnation, that the world carried in its constitution, before Christ came, all that is carried in it since, is virtually to deny the incarnation altogether; for it overthrows the historical centrality of the fact, and, indeed, thrusts it quite out of the process of history. The fact, in this view, ceases to be immanent to the economy of our universal human life, lies on the outside of it, comes to no real union with it in any way. Surely this is not Christianity. The Word, eternally with the Father, says Jobn, became flesh in Christ, and so joined itself
through himn with our fallen nature. This he holds to be plainly the Fact of all facts, the cardo of the world's life, the pillar that upholds at last the entire sense of the moral universe. 6 The law came by Moses; but grace and truth by Jesus Christ." I baptize you, cries the Baptist, (himself greater than all the Old Testament prophets, and yet less than the least in the kingdom of heaven, Math. xi. 11,) with water only; he that cometh after me shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. So Christ himself everywhere claims to be, not the oracle simply of truth and life in force before, but the principle of truth and life made real for the world wholly and only by himself. The Spirit fell upon him, at his baptism, in full measure, to find way through him and from him subsequently to the whole family of the redeemed (Math. iii. 16; John vii. 39; Acts i. 4, 5; ii. 1-4). He is the organ of living conmunication between earth and heaven, the central point where they are first fairly united into one (John i. 51). He is the real presence in the world, of what had been proclaimed before in the way of shadow only and word (John i. 18; Math. v. 17, 18; Heb. ix. 8-12, &c., &c.). He is no moon merely to reflect, like the prophets before him, a simply borrowed light, but according to his own word, the very sun of the spiritual world, (John viii. 12,) and so, of course, a fountain and principle of light for it in his own person. He is the well of salvation, (John iv. 14; vii. 37, 38,) the manna of immortality, (John vi. 49-51,) the victory itself in which is swallowed up all the power of the grave (John v. 21-25; xi. 25, 26). He is the principle thus of life, as well as of light; the one iodeed involving the other. He hath life in himself, fontally, (John v. 26,) for the use of the world. His life is the light of mnen (John i. 4). A new order of things is proclaimed, as coming into force especially with his resurrection and glorification. Cast into the ground, he becomes the seed of a vast harvest (John, xii. 24). Lifted up from the earth, he is the nucleus of a new humanity (John xii. 32). His entrance into glory opens the windows of heaven and allows free egress for the powers of his own higher life to go forth into the general stream of human history, by the Church, as never in all ages before (John vii. 39; Mark xvi. 15–18; John xiv. 16-20, &c., &c.).
Need we say, that Paul again abounds everywhere with the same thought, in his own way? Beyond all question, he saw in Christ a new principle of light and life for the human race. In no other view, is his language at all intelligible. Christ is for him the “second Adam," more intimately related to the race, as its base and centre, than the first (Rom. v. 12–15; 1 Cor. xv. 21, 22, 45-49). He is in this character a "quickening spirit (atveja