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1. The primary aim of Christianity is practical; it seeks first of all to influence the life, the conduct; its action on the intellect, as such, is secondary, and, though inevitable, not a necessity of the first order. This was particularly the case at its first appearance. The Jewish and heathen worlds were sunk in utter corruption, and cried out, not so much for new intellectual activity, as for a new moral life. The first Christians, therefore, with the correctness of instinct, devoted their thoughts and labors to Christianity as a redemption from sin and as the principle of a new, righteous social order. They themselves had found deliverance, peace, harmony, and their first impulse was to propagate these blessings in the enslaved, troubled, and discordant world around them. Christianity can never be introduced on a wide scale, or get firm footing among men, unless it be first viewed and proclaimed in its purely practical features. To take its theoretical aspects as the starting-point is equiv alent, in fact, to a complete reversal of its essence and mission. If this be the case, then Clement and his contemporaries deserve the praise of having done precisely the work which required immediately to be done-a praise they would not have merited had they been productive in the manner deemed necessary by the Tübingen school.

2. Christianity is undoubtedly intended to assume the form of a system of truth in the intellect of man; but it can only do so by first taking root in his moral and spiritual nature. Even now it is not communicable as a mere intellectual system, apart from certain spiritual conditions; and yet we have grown up under its influence, and it has determined both the form and substance of our thought. He who would truly understand-intellectually, scientifically understand the Christian system, must have felt the power of Christ's redeeming love. Till then he stands outside of it; and, as such, may perhaps have some inkling of its inner beauty and self-consistency; but a vital comprehension, never. How much truer must this have been at its first appearance in the world! What folly to have pre

sented it as a system of truth glorious though it be, to the corrupt and sceptical contemporaries of the apostles! The way to its intellectual appreciation lay through the heart and life. Not only was it natural, therefore, that those who had experienced the power of the new Gospel should be absorbed in the praise, meditation, and diffusion of its practical effects; but even in relation to the development of the truths of Christianity as an intellectual, as a scientific, matter, their course was the only one appropriate to the circumstances of the case. Any such immediate attention to the doctrinal aspects of Christianity as is demanded by the Tübingen school would have defeated its own ends. Instead of a generation of men being prepared for taking up the work in a living manner, the existing thinkers would have wasted their efforts on each other, and, like all systems predominantly and permanently theoretical, Christianity would shortly have become a dead letter, instead of being a living power in the world.

3. If the central feature of Christianity be Christ and the deeds he wrought for the redemption of men, then we can fully account for both the vagueness as to form, and the loftiness as to substance, of the utterances regarding Christ and other matters contained in the apostolic and post-apostolic writings. The doctrinal distinctness we now demand would have been unnatural. How was it possible for those who had come into personal contact with Christ, and had experienced his marvellous saving power, to enter at once into those investigations which are presupposed by a formal doctrine? They all-and for our present purpose we may include the generation to which the apostles preached -believed in the person whom they had felt and handled; their conversion to Christ had been brought about by personal contact or by news from the lips of such as had themselves seen. They had not, like us, previously received cold, formal instruction; the gospel came, simultaneously, as news for the head and news for the heart.

In illustration of these remarks, let us adduce one point:

Was it to be expected that all who had lived with Christ and heard of his life, as a human being, should at once be prepared distinctly to designate him God? His immediate disciples and their converts-for example, Clement -- did. indeed employ the most manifold terms to exalt him and express his dignity, short of styling him God. We find, however, in confirmation hereof, that precisely those books which were written latest, bear the strongest traces of a doctrinal, a speculative, estimate of the person of Christ; and why? because as time elapsed, the direct, personal impression wore off, and the mind became more free to inquire into the nature and constitution of the marvellous being who had revealed God and redeemed their life from death. We have here only repeated in another form, what theologians long ago expressed, to wit, that though the canonical books contain all the concrete materials out of which the doctrines of the church may be fairly formed, they do not give us the doctrines themselves, as such. And this holds as completely good of the post-apostolic writers.

From this point, also, light is thrown on the question of Ebionism, of which so much has been made by the Tübingen school. They assert, namely, that Ebionism was the first form of belief regarding the person of Christ, and that the higher forms of belief are the result of the conflict, marriage, and development of the original and of new elements. It may be true that it was one of the first forms of belief, especially after reflection had begun; but it is by no means so clear that it was the only form, or the truest form. That some of the first disciples might have been, or at any rate became, Ebionites, may be safely allowed by him whose impression of the glory of the only begotten of the Father is even now as profound as possible; and for the following additional reasons: The disciples of Christ were content at first simply to believe in him who had lived before their eyes; he had occupied the highest possible position in their minds; few if any of them had found it necessary to undertake & more precise definition of his position in rela

tion to God and man; in other words, they had formed no doctrine of his person. But in course of time, especially when it became incumbent on them to give reasons why others should believe in Christ, who had never seen him, many found it necessary to come to some decision. The simple-minded would then, as now and ever, rest satisfied with saying, I have experienced this and that. Those of higher intellectual force and culture would divide into two classes such as were of a more spiritual, meditative, speculative cast of mind, would take the step recognizing Christ to be the Son of God - a step logically and practically inevitable to all who fairly weigh the facts and have proper insight into their own needs; such, on the contrary, as were of a colder, more matter-of-fact cast of mind would at first desire to remain where they were, but afterwards fall back, recognize merely the man in Christ, and thus constitute the Ebionitical party.

4. It is in harmony with the ordinary course of history that the development of religious life and thought under the apostles should be unusually full and varied, and that there should be a comparative falling off immediately afterwards.

Great eras in the history of mind are seldom such in merely one aspect. The rich life that has been accumulating manifests itself in many directions almost simultaneously. So was it at the age of Socrates; so at the age of the Refor mation: poetry, philosophy, art, theology, suddenly attained a height to which the majority of men have never since been able to climb. Indeed, every nation that has borne a part in the culture of humanity has had its golden age; in other words, an age when it evinced unusually profound and varied productiveness, and gave an impulse to coming generations.

Why, then, should it be otherwise at that great crisis in the religious history of humanity, the appearance of the Son of God on earth? It is true, neither this nor any other golden era has appeared without preparation; but all experience is against the Tübingen position, that the work done

in less than one century must have extended over nearly double the time; and experience is equally favorable to the supposition that, within the life of the first apostles, seeds of systems were sown, antagonisms were brought to light, and reconciliations effected, for whose full development long centuries would be necessary. Had it not been the case, we might fairly doubt whether a new divine life had been really poured through the perishing organism of humanity.

History, too, equally teaches that such extraordinarily fruitful eras are usually followed by periods of comparative calm and sterility. It is so in the inner life of every earnest thinker and earnest believer; he has his times of sudden manifold growth and expansion, followed by times of dearth and seeming relapse. There is not a real falling-off in either case; but time is required to bring the great mass of humanity up towards the point which its heroes have reached, as it were at a single bound; this, in fact, is the specific mission of such heroes; they appear, not for their own sake, but for the sake of others. In other words, a productive, is, and must ordinarily be succeeded by, a digestive and reproductive age. But for this the history of humanity would present the spectacle of a series of brilliant flashings forth of intellectual and religious life, but would not be marked by a steady progress of all classes from a lower to a higher state.

Religious revivals, also, are generally followed by seasons of apparent relapse; but the relapse is not real. The suddenly-received convictions and life have to be incorporated with the entire man, and the new power for influence acquired has to be brought to bear on others; both which are slow and gradual processes. Humanity as a whole may be likened to a traveller wandering towards the highest point of a mountain-range. Sometimes he plainly and rapidly rises, for the scenes on which he looks back grow suddenly wider and grander. At other times he pursues his path along level plateaus, or even descends into vallies, and then it is as though he were losing ground and going back; but

VOL. XXII. No. 87.


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