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beyond our conception if we try to realize them as spoken of Jehovah. And yet the Apostle writes down these assertions with all the convictions of one who has assured knowledge of what he states : “We know," &c.

If St. John referred to Jehovah, whence learned he these amazing facts ? Not from the Old Testament, for in the prologue of his Gospel we have his own deliberate declaration, “ No man hath seen God at any time.” Not certainly as far as we know, from Christ; for on the one hand He most emphatically taught that Jehovah, in His own peculiar and absolute existence, had never been seen by man (cf. St. John v. 37; vi. 46); whilst on the other hand He also declared plainly, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” It seems to us quite impossible that one who had learned such lessons could even imagine that one day he himself and others would be like the essential Being of God, except so far as that Being had been made visible in the person of Christ. The true conception of God, when stripped of limitations of form or anthropomorphic ideas in which we have clothed it for readier perception, is that which Jesus declared true to the Samaritan woman, “God is a Spirit"; "He is without body, parts, or passions.” Nevertheless, He hath appeared to us in the person of His Son. That Son we are distinctly told “ was the express image of His Father's person, or substance.” Here, then, is the point at which we are in closest likeness to God, viz., when we are like Christ. That we shall be like Him when our salvation is perfected is most plainly taught throughout the New Testament. One line of Divine truth points out unmistakably that our ultimate salvation will result in inward and moral likeness to Christ. As an example of this evidence, take Rom. viii. 29, “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son." Another distinct, though parallel, line of truth emphasizes the outward similitude which will exist finally between Christ and the fully saved. Phil. iii. 21 is typical. “Who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory.” Thus to predicate that we shall be like Christ is as much in harmony with Scripture truth as the conception of being like God in His real and incorporeal nature is opposed to it.

The other assertion is equally difficult if we take it as referring to Jehovah. The verb (tóueba) emphasizes the outward object of sight rather than the inward perception of the subject, whereas the sight of God's Being is a pure inward conception only helped objectively by representations. Again, the words “ καθώς έστιν,” as He is,” point out that that which is to be seen will be absolute existence or the proper and essential character, rather than mere representation of however perfect a kind. St. John had seen the Saviour in His glorified body ascend into heaven; he had also heard the two angels declare that “ This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” He thought naturally of his Lord as seated in glory “retaining all things appertaining to the perfection of man's nature”; a Divine Person, with a real though glorified body, who would again become the object of his sight

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when, as St. Austen said, He should return "in eadem forma atque substantia." Thus he could easily conceive of seeing the Christ as He then was, i.e., in His bodily though withal glorified nature. Could he, not only easily but in any way whatever, hope in the same manner to see Jehovah ? We think not. If so, his hopes were groundless, at any rate according to the theology of St. Paul, and, we think, the whole of Scripture. Cf. 1 Tim. vi.

“ That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ : which in His times shall shew the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the Light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see; to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”

As Christ during His ministry of reconciliation declared, revealed, or showed forth the God of grace, so in His own times He, i.e., Christ, will declare the God of glory. We shall see Jehovah in our glorious Jesus.

We therefore take our text to mean, first, the second advent of Christ will seal the full salvation of those who shall have passed away or still be living in the true character of adopted children of God ; secondly, that full salvation will consist (1) of likeness to Him both outwardly and inwardly, (2) of blessed communion and admiration, both of which will be complete through perfect knowledge. And thus in Christ, and thus alone, so we think, shall we see God.

THE CONSERVATISM OF THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT." By Rev. GEORGE MATHESON, M.A., D.D., F.R.S.E.

MATT. v. 17-20. In the previous part of our Lord's discourse there was much that to the national mind might have conveyed the idea of innovation. The duty of being poor in spirit was not a new thing, but the reason assigned for it was entirely new. The Rabbins had based it on the remembrance that we would soon be food for worms; Christ based it on the opposite ground that we were heirs of an immortal kingdom. The practice of mourning was not new in Judæa any more than elsewhere, but it was a very uncommon thing in Judæa to see in mourning itself a source of blessedness. The promise of tuition to the meek was as old as the days of the Psalmist, but it was contrary to popular expectation that the meek should " inherit the earth." The blessedness of the undefiled had been a theme for the songs of Israel, but these songs had not promised more than the encampment of God's angels around them, had not ventured to say, "They shall see God.” The beatitudes have in them an air of originality. The originality lies not in the precepts, but in the rewards; not in the things commanded, but in the reason given for the command. In the old regime, the law is a provision for human degradation ; in the new, it is the privilege of elevated men. In the

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old, it is spoken to the world on the plain; in the new, it is addressed to humanity on the mount.

Nevertheless, from its very key-note, the Sermon on the Mount is conservative. Its very opening word, “ blessed," is suggestive of, and was perhaps suggested by, that initial chord in the harp of the Psalmist, in which he proclaims the beatitude of the man who meditates on God's law day and night. The transition, therefore, from the blessings of the future kingdom to the requirements of the ancient law is in our Lord's mind swift and easy. If at the outset He had seemed to place His disciples on a higher platform than the old régime, He hastens to tell them that the platform is itself based upon the soil of the past.

Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets.” “Do not imagine that the movement I am inaugurating is one of unqualified liberalism. Do not suppose that I design to cut your feet from the past and usher you into a world wholly new. On the contrary, I claim to restore the old, to bring back the elements of Judaic life to their primitive simplicity. I profess to build My temple upon the stepping-stones of your dead selves. I propose to realize your national ideal; not by leading you forward against the Romans, but by leading you. back into the recesses of your former history to gather up the fragments that remain. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

Now, the question is, why did our Lord deem it necessary to assert. the conservatism of His mission? Why did He say on the very threshold . of His great sermon, “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil ?”How could any one imagine that He came to destroy the law? It is true that in the next age we find His disciple Paul using similar language, "do we then make void the law through faith ? nay, we establish the law." But then Paul is speaking in the next age—an age which confessedly exhibited. the struggle between a conservative and a liberal theology ; law was then popularly regarded as the antithesis of faith. At the time when Christ spoke the Sermon on the Mount there could, in the popular mind, have been no such antithesis ; faith in the Pauline sense had not become an object of the Christian consciousness. Paul as the distinctive Apostle of faith had good reason to warn his followers that he came not to destroy the law. But where was the reason in the present instance? The terms. " law” and “

grace were not yet in the air. The question of justification. by faith or justification by works had not yet been formulated. There was no room for a party who said, “I am of Apollos,” and a party who said, “I am of Cephas.” One would think that the defence of a conservative principle was an anachronism, and that the writer of the first Gospel had. transferred to an earlier age the experience familiar to his own later day.

But we forget that the word “ law” in the New Testament has. another antithesis ; it is not only opposed to faith, but to lawlessness. It will be remembered that in addressing the Thessalonians on the nature of that very kingdom of heaven which is placed in the foreground of the Sermon on the Mount, Paul has to warn his audience of a danger in their

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expectation. He fears they are getting to look upon the advent of the future kingdom as a mere relaxing of old bonds, a mere compensation for ancient burdens. He tells them, on the contrary, that the main object of the kingdom shall be to tighten old bonds, to bind things which are now relaxed. He says that there is in the world “a hidden lawlessness," only kept in check by the beneficial despotism of the Roman Empire, and ready to be revealed the moment that restraint is withdrawn, that before the new kingdom can be established there must be an unearthing and a destroying of this spirit of lawlessness; it must be first unmasked and then annihilated. The inauguration of the kingdom of God must be a re-establishment, not a relaxation of law, a restoration of the ancient discipline, a confirming of those ancient ties which were meant to bind man to man and man to God. The restraint which the Roman Empire had imposed from without was indeed to be supplanted, but it was to be supplanted, not by a reign of licence, but by a restraint imposed from within; the future kingdom of heaven was to be built upon a renovated law.

Now, the temptation which Paul censures among the Thessalonians is, it seems to me, precisely the same as that which our Lord censures in the Sermon on the Mount—the temptation to look upon the coming kingdom as a state of lawlessness. By lawlessness here, I mean a state not of immorality, but of non-morality. To the popular mind in Christ's day, the kingdom of heaven was ever more and more presenting itself as a world of rewards for work already done. Men had come to think of it not as a scene where there would be enlarged powers of life and action, not as a sphere where there would be increased capacities for the performance of duty, but as a region where those who had done their duty would reap pleasures for evermore. They had been long oppressed by the burdens of the law. From these burdens they expected that the kingdom of heaven would set them free, and they were right in this expectation. But it did not occur to them any more than to the Thessalonians that a freedom from the burdens of law could be found in any other way than in a relaxation of the law. It did not occur to them that they might obtain release from these burdens by exactly the opposite process—by binding the law so close around the heart that its commands should become their vital air, and its service should be their perfect liberty. This was the thought which Christ desired to impress upon them—the idea that what they wanted to make them free was not less moral light, but more.

This is really the view which breaks forth in the words “except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." The emphatic term in the sentence is the word “exceed." The men of that age had been lamenting the excess of Pharisaic morality; Christ tells them that it erred not by excess, but by defect. He tells them that the men of the new regime shall be distinguished from their predecessors not by having less, but by having more of the sense of moral obligation. The Christian must fill up that which

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is behind in the life of the Jew, must pay the outstanding arrears of the old dispensation. Our Lord says that where the old dispensation failed was in those things nearest to the earth—“the least of these commandments." Christianity was to exceed Judaism in power of flying downwards. The Pharisee was concerned with the things of the temple, but he neglected the things of the market-place; he paid tithes to heaven above, but he had little care for men below. Christ says that in the new regime there shall be a reversal of this judgment as to what constitutes the true greatness of religion. He says that, in the kingdom He is to found, the great men shall be those who have best fulfilled the duties nearest to the wants of common day, “whosoever shall do and teach them," i.e., these least commandments, “ the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” The sphere of man's lawlessness was in his dealings with his fellow-man. He paid tithes of mint and anise and cummin because he believed these things to be for the service of God, but he omitted judgment, mercy, and faith because they were only for the service of man. To the wonder of His contemporaries, Christ proclaimed that these hitherto least commandments were really the weightier matters of the law-that the absence of false judgment, the practice of forgiveness, and the observance of fidelity in the conduct of life were more truly religious acts than the keeping of sacred times or the purifying of holy vestments. It is in this sense, I believe, that He uses the words, “whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” What he says in effect is this, A man is not now deemed great for doing these things, because these things are themselves counted amongst the least commandments. But a time is coming in which the secular shall be seen to be the divinest part of the sacred, and in which the provision for the wants of man shall be recognized as the highest homage paid to God. Then shall the valleys be exalted, then shall the last be first, then shall the least be called the leaders of the age, for men shall be measured by their reverence for things beneath and around them; and in their power of finding God below, the righteousness of the Pharisees shall be exceeded.

Let it be observed that throughout this passage our Lord takes it for granted that the morality of the Old Testament is an absolute morality. By absolute He does not mean that it must of necessity comprehend all that ever has been said in the sphere of morals, but that, so far as it goes, it is independent of the changes of space and time. He claims for the moral law of the Old Testament a character which is not temporary, but permanent, a character whose permanence may be measured by the duration of nature itself : “I say unto you that until heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law until all be fulfilled.” He here puts together the two most immutable things in the consciousness of the Jewish nation, the same two things which were afterwards placed side by side in the philosophy of Kant—the starry heavens above, and the principle of duty within. To the Jew, as to the German thinker, God was known by His two names of Elohim and Jehovah—the Power that created the world, and the

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