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moral dignity and honour. All perfection, both present and prospective, was thus at an end. Left to his own resources, man had no power of self-restoration. He could not regain the height from which he had fallen; he must rather continue to fall ever lower. The punishment of his sin was an immutable necessity. If there was any escape from it, the way to this must be made by Him with whom the infliction of the punishment rested as an imperative obligation ; it could not be made by the sinner himself. Besides, if it could, there was still the sin, in its natural effect on the conscience and the heart. This was not to be dealt with by a mere act of remission. An effort of will, were that conceivable, would have as little power over it as would a like effort on the part of a merciful physician over a virulent and fatal disease. And sin became and is a disease. It is not an act only, but that which the act always and inevitably leaves behind. There is poison in it as well as a sting. The soul becomes infected by it, and so in fact does the body ; and this infection, once received, can be expelled by no human means, but is transmitted onward, according to the ordinary law of generation, with the nature in which it resides.
Now the question is, How far is it possible to remedy the evil thus existing ?-bow far is it possible to restore man to a condition answering in some virtual and substantial way to his primitive perfection ? To restore him to what he precisely was, whether in position or in nature, is of course not possible. He can never again, at least in the present life, converse with God in a paradise on which no blight has fallen. He can never again look up to Him as one who has known nothing of guilt, nothing of condemnation, nothing of sin. Nor in truth need he now regret the impossibility. However the mystery may be explained, the fall was not the defeat of the Divine purpose with respect to our world. It did not cause the shadow on the dial of time to move backward by one single degree. It was a tremendous evil in itself, and a sore and sad degradation to our race, but it became the occasion nevertheless for the providing of some better thing for us. What then is this better thing, and to what extent may it now be enjoyed ? Is it possible to effect for man a deliverance so complete from the evil that has taken possession of him that he shall, in Apostolic phrase, and in the fullest meaning of the words, be made free from sin," and so “perfect, even as our Father which is in heaven is perfect"? And if so, in what manner is this great work to be accomplished ?
To the former of these questions we are permitted to answer, through the exceeding grace of God, directly and explicitly in the affirmative. The original purpose of redemption, if redemption be supposed at all, could contemplate nothing less than this. It could not have been intended that evil should triumph, or should persistently maintain its hold in any way. Whether the introduction of sin into the world could have been prevented or not, it is not given us to say, but a complete and final conquest over it must have been anticipated from the beginning. As a matter of fact this complete and final conquest was actually provided for, and at a tremendous cost. "For this purpose was the Son of God mani. fested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” For the same purpose was the Spirit poured out from on high, that He might render effectual, in the case of every one that should believe, what had been mercifully and comprehensively intended for the whole race. What are called the “works of the devil” by one Apostle are called ibe “works.of the flesh ” by another. They are individual affections and individual acts, and to be destroyed at all they must be destroyed individually in the hearts and lives of those whose works they are. The Gospel cannot operate generally, except as it operates particularly. Its message is addressed to each person singly and alone, and its purpose is accomplished only so far as “the works of the deril" it came to destroy are destroyed personally in him. A partial destruction would leave him but partially free, and would therefore leave the Gospel but partially successful in its contemplated result.
But the question is answered best perhaps on the ground of religious privilege and duty. What is possible and practicable may, one should think, be readily and certainly inferred from what we are expressly required to do and to be. Now it needs but the smallest acquaintance with Holy Scripture to see that an experimental knowledge of Divine things is there placed before us as an attainable possession, which can mean nothing less than the very perfection of which we have spoken. Let any one take the Epistles of St. Paul and St. John, and consider, not only particular expressions in chosen places, but the general strain and purpose of their teaching, and he will find it impossible to evade the conviction that they contemplate for believers, and indeed demand of them as an imperative obligation, nothing short of entire purification from sin and maturity in personal holiness. But if single passages be selected, where the argument of the Apostle presses onward to its conclusion, or where his eager thought seeks at once for full and decisive expression, then the fact becomes abundantly and even superfluously clear. Take the following as examples.
In 2 Cor., vi., St. Paul, with singular boldness and energy of language, warns. the Corinthians against all contact and fellowship with evil and with evil-doers. His course of thought seems to be this. He first beseeches them that they receive not the grace of God in vain, enforcing this admonition by suggestions arising out of his own apostolic labours and sufferings. Returning to his primary exhortation, he then urges them, in order to give it practical effect, to separate themselves entirely and universally from the unbelieving and ungodly world, and to do this for the very obvious reason that light can have no communion with darkness, that Christ can bave no concord with Belial, that the temple of God can have no agreement with idols. And then, finally, having encouraged them to the performance of this duty by exceedingly great and precious promises, he concludes thus (the first verse of the seventh chapter being logically the last of the sixth) : “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Now what is this but a demand for entire sanctification? What is it but an earnest exhortation to Christian perfection in its two distinctive elements of purgation from all defilement and attainment to complete and perfect holiness? And how shall this demand be rendered less exacting, or reduced to smaller dimensions, except by such a dilution of the Apostle's language, or such a diversion from the straight line of his argument, as would divest them both of all adequate meaning and purpose ?
An exbortation of precisely similar import is given in Ephesians iv., 22–24. The Apostle had before called the Ephesians "saints," and “ faithful in Christ Jesus." He had told them that he had heard of their “faith in the Lord Jesus," and of their “love unto all the saints.” He had assured them that he “ceased not to give thanks for them, making mention of them in his prayers." He had even spoken of them as “quickened ” from their " death in trespasses and sins," and as “raised up together and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” And yet, as though this was a small part of what was possible, and but the beginning of a much more glorious achievement and result, he now strenuously exhorts them to "put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts," and, - renewed in the spirit of their mind," to put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Language could not be more energetic, nor figuring more pregnantly expository and suggestive. For what does the Apostle require of the Ephesians, but that they literally strip themselves, by one complete and decisive act, of their remaining polluted self, and by another equally decisive act, through renewal of their innermost spirit, replace it by another self that shall be distinctly and truly divine ? What does he wish but to urge them forward to such a height and depth of spiritual attainment, as that the “ verminous rags” of sin sball be utterly cast aside and the “ beautiful garments " of righteousness and true holiness shall be assumed and worn instead ? A twofold action is specified and enjoined, just as before-a negative and a positive. There is something to part with and something to acquire. They are to "put off” and to put on”; they are to cleanse themselves and also to perfect themselves. Not that the two can be wholly separated, or become even strictly consequent and successive. The two forms of personal activity run into each other, and the results of both are but different aspects or correlative sides of substantially the same individual state. This state-this divine transformation-moreover, when fully arrived at is explicitly called the “new man,” the “old man ” having disappeared, and is further said to be created “after God," or as the directly parallel passage in Colossians iii., 10, has it, “after the image of God," "in righteousness and true holiness." The language is not a little remarkable, and its meaning is not soon exhausted. For what else does it teach us but that paradise may be regained ; that what was lost by sin may be found in Christ; that the brightness and glory of the Divine image impressed upon man at the beginning, but dimmed and blurred by the fall, may be so far recovered and even heightened, as that, in other words of the same Apostle, he shall “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God”?
Indeed, these very words themselves, thus incidentally introduced, might almost be trusted to sustain our whole argument. They certainly lend considerable support to it, especially as harmonising so well with the general strain of the Apostle's teaching. First to be, and then to "stand perfect and complete” in all that God ordains and wishes for us, is to have a very real and very eminent degree of Christian holiness—to come, in fact, not far short of “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Nor would this conclusion be, greatly modified if, according to another reading of the sacred text, " fully established" were made to take the place of “complete," though the accepted reading is undoubtedly the one that is supported by the greatest authority. All the five English versions previous to the authorised one render the Greek phrase "perfect and full,” the latter, though not with greater exactitude of meaning, preferring "complete" to "full,"*
From the exhortations of the Apostle, let us pass to his prayers which are, if possible, still more to our purpose. They are conceived in the same spirit, and support even more strongly the same doctrine. Among these might have been classed the passage just referred to, but for the accident which suggested its immediate consideration; for, though it is not formally a prayer itself, yet the high religious experience it specifies is one for which he assures the Colossians that he “ labours fervently" in his “prayers" on their behalf.
Take, then, first of all the following : “For this cause I bow my knees onto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith ; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians iii., 14-19.)
To see the full meaning of this comprehensive invocation, it is necessary to connect it directly with the Apostle's previous thought. This is given, not in the verses immediately preceding, which in fact form one of those parenthetical digressions so characteristic of his style, but in the concluding verses of the preceding chapter. He had before spoken, in pregnant and glowing language, of the purpose of the Father, anciently hidden from the world, but now revealed in His Son, to unite by the same means both Jews and Gentiles into one Church. These means included, with “the blood of Christ," by which both were to be reconciled, the effectual operation of His lifegiving Spirit, by which both were to be renewed. Into the possession of these gracious privileges the Ephesians, he now said, had themselves come. Though once afar off, they were now nigh ; though once without God and without hope, they had now access by one Spirit upto the Father ; though once strangers and foreigners, they were now fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; though once aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers
to the covenants of promise, they were now built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone. “On this account,” then, he continues-taking up the thread of thought apparently dropt at the beginning of the third chapter, but continues in the language of most fervent supplication“ Because ye are thus called unto Christ, and thus built up together with Him for a habitation of God through the Spirit, I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” &c., &c. He prays, in other words, that the spiritual inheritance obtained for them by Christ Jesus, and of which he had before spoken, may be received and enjoyed by them in all the fulness and completeness of its immeasurable and manifold blessings.
How large this reception and enjoyment would in that case be is seen from the terms of the prayer itself; or rather it cannot well be seen, as the terms are such as to escape very precise and definite exposition. The Apostle desires first of all that what he prays for may be given by the Father“ according to the riches of His glory"; that is, according to the abundance and plenitude of His own infinite perfections, and therefore in a measure beyond all that the Ephesians could either ask or think. He desires that the realised effect of this gift may be to each of them a vast accession of spiritual strength to their inner man, and with this the constant, and so conscious, indwelling in their hearts of Christ through the medium of their faith. He desires yet further that, being by this means rooted and grounded in love”--rooted as a tree in the soil, grounded as a building on a rock--they may be “fully able (Ecoguote) to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height”-what, that is, are the several dimensions of the great privileges and blessings which God has provided and designed for them ; and again that they may “know"-know as by an inward sense, which lies in fact much deeper than simple intellection—"the love of Christ which passeth knowledge," and so “ be filled up even to all (eis Tār) the fulness of God.” More, surely, words could not express ; more the heart of man could not conceive. To be filled in every power, and throughout the whole capacity, with divine wisdom, and might, and love-what is this but to be perfect, even as our Father which is in heaven is perfect ?
Substantially the same prayer is offered in behalf of the Thessalonians. The form of it is different, but the essence is in all material respects identical. It is shorter than the other, and less varied in detail, but certainly not less remarkable in its terms, or less comprehensive and suggestive in its meaning. “And the very God of peace,” says the Apostle, “sanctify you wholly ; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess. V., 23.)
The connection of the former prayer, we saw, was doctrinal ; the connection of this is ethical. The conclusion of both, however, drawn from different premises, is just the same.
The Apostle had been discoursing on the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ from heaven. His observations, commenced in the fourth chapter, are extended into the fifth, and continued onward up to the twelfth verse. From this point he diverges, if divergence it is,