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Power that said “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Our Lord reminds His contemporaries that the latter of these Divine aspects is as permanent as the former. Nay, by the phrase “ till heaven and earth pass," He would almost seem to suggest that the pre-eminence in this respect lies with the latter. He would seem to say that physical law, however enduring, is the product merely of Divine will, and therefore contingent on the existence of that will, whereas moral law being the expression of the Divine nature is incapable of change. He says in effect, it is possible to imagine a time when the constitution of nature was different from what it is now. We cannot believe that it was always so in the past; we are not bound to believe that it must be always so in the future. There is no contradiction in conceiving a time in which the heavens shall pass away with a loud noise and the elements shall melt with fervid heat. But no imagination can conceive a time, no fancy can picture a day, in which virtue shall cease to be virtuous or purity be deemed impure. It is impossible that as long as man continues to be man the laws of conscience can ever be other than they are now. A change in the heavens and the earth would alter climate, soil, products, perhaps even human longevity; but it would not alter morality. It would not make truth false or charity selfish ; it could not give peace to the wicked or impart remorse to the upright heart. One jot or one tittle can in no wise pass from this law, though the earth be removed and the mountains be cast into the midst of the sea.

Such in the abstract is the principle of Christ's teaching in this passage. But the question now is, What is His teaching in the concrete ? He not only tells His disciples that the new regime is to be a reign of moral law; He declares that He Himself is to be the prime mover in the inauguration of that reign : “I am come to fulfil.” These words are very remarkable. What renders them remarkable is the fact that they constitute the first deliberate, determinate consciousness of a mission on the part of Jesus—the first, not indeed in order of chronology, but in the authorized order of our Gospels. It seems to me well worthy of consideration that this earliest expression of Christ's belief in a destined mission should have been made in the midst of a sermon which is commonly supposed to be distinguished by an absence of the evangelical element, a sermon which is repeatedly quoted as furnishing indisputable evidence of the fact that the primitive type of Christianity was a type of pure practical morality, altogether independent of theological culture. If in the heart of a discourse devoted mainly and almost exclusively to the common things of life we are yet confronted by a statement which carries us instantaneously into a region of theological sentiment, we are surely warranted to conclude that the region of theological sentiment must have occupied from the very beginning a prominent and commanding place in the development of the Christian consciousness.

What, then, is this consciousness on the part of Jesus? He expresses distinctly and unequivocally His conviction that He had a mission to fulfil. What was that mission ? One thing is clear at the outset; it was the fulfil

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ment of a duty to the past—an atonement for something left in arrears. The work set before Him originally presented itself rather as something which was to supplement the life of the Jewish nation than as something which was to open up a new vista into humanity. Nor do the words of this passage exhibit Christ's consciousness of His mission in any isolated or abnormal light. On the contrary, on every occasion in which that mission is alluded to throughout the Gospels it is uniformly based upon the fulfilment of a duty to the past. When the child Jesus is represented as waking up to the conviction that He must be about His Father's business, that business is made to centre in devotion to the courts of the Temple of Jerusalem. When the youth of Jesus wakens up still further to the realization of a more detailed service which awaits Him in the field of humanity, He still recognizes that service mainly as a fulfilment of Judæa's prophetic ideal, and quotes the words of His commission from the book of the national Isaiah. When the manhood of Jesus takes, under the shadow of death, a retrospect of that work which He was sent to do, and a view of those steps by which it was to be accomplished, He again contemplates Himself as fulfilling the theocratic aspirations of His country and vindicating His right to sit on the throne of David. “Thou sayest that I am a King. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world that I should bear witness unto the truth.”

Now, I ask special attention to this last passage, because I believe it to contain the explanation of those corresponding words in St. Matthew which we are now considering. I have purposely altered the authorized punctuation, because it seems to me that to insert a comma after the word "world" is to break the continuity of the passage, and to divert the mind from the sense of Christ's meaning In His words before the judgment-seat of Pilate our Lord's design is to affirm that His mission was to be a King—the Messianic King. He says that in order to fulfil that mission two things were necessary-He must be born into the world, and He must pass through the world as a witness-bearer to the truth. The first is obvious, the second demands consideration. It will be observed that there is a close parallel between the connection of the words in St. John and the connection of the words in St. Matthew. In both cases the main subject of Christ's discourse is the nature of the kingdom of heaven. In both cases a transition is made from the exhibition of the coming kingdom to the statement of a moral condition, which must be fulfilled ere it can come. St. John says that in order to be a King, Christ had first to be a moral witness; St. Matthew says that in order to establish His kingdom, Christ had first to manifest in His own person the perfection of moral law: “I am come to fulfil.”

Now, if we would understand the true significance of these passages, we must consider how deeply they expressed the spirit of their age; how profoundly they were in harmony with the Messianic expectation. It is a great mistake to imagine that the Jew looked forward to the coming of his Messiah as to something which might happen any moment, irrespective altogether of

NO. VI.-VOL. 1.—THE THINKER.

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the prevailing conditions of the time. It is a great error to believe that he regarded the advent of the Christ as an event whose soonness or lateness depended solely on the arbitrary will of God. On the contrary, nothing was more clear to the mind of the Jew than that the will of God was always ready for this catastrophe ; it waited for the will of man. It was distinctly borne in upon the heart of the Israelite that the Messiah would not come until there had appeared in the world a perfect human soul. As long as the moral law remained unfulfilled by any man, it was felt impossible that the day of the Lord should dawn. The dawning of that day was to be coeval with the time when a human soul should be able to say “it is finished ”; when a human heart should have achieved the task of keeping, from beginning to end, the circle of the Divine commandments. The Messianic age was to be preceded by an act of reconciliation between the human and the Divine ; was to be preceded by the advent of a life which was to keep in its fulness the requirements of the law of God. And hence it is that, thoughout the history of the Jewish nation, we are perpetually confronted by two seemingly opposing ideals-an ideal of majestic power and an ideal of deep humility. Side by side with the conception of the coming King there appears another conception, apparently its opposite—the conception of one whose leading characteristic was to be, not the King, but the “servant of God.” From the days of Isaiah, in the eighth century, on to the days of that great unknown prophet who predicted in captivity the coming comfort of the people, there rises, with ever-increasing clearness, the figure of that " servant of God," until, in the utterances of this latter prophet, it seems almost to eclipse the figure of Messiah Himself. The servant of God is here the predominant form; he overshadows everything else; he leaves no room for aught beside. The eyes of men, which were wont to be attracted by the pageantry of the coming kingdom, are fixed and riveted on the selfsurrender of a human soul—a soul which yields itself unto the uttermost, and, in the sense of love to the Divine, pours itself out even unto death. And if in the background the Messianic kingdom shines, it shines only as an appendage to this life of humiliation; it comes to the servant of God because he has been a servant, and it is given to him purely as a reward for his service. “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong.”

Such was the thought which permeated the Jewish air at the time when Christ entered on the earthly scene. It was impossible that in His human relationship He too should not have been permeated by that air. At whatever time in His earthly life the consciousness of His Messiahship dawned upon Him, it was inevitable that there should have also dawned upon Him the consciousness of a servant's life and a servant's work. The Messianic dignity was only to be given to one for whom it had been “prepared of the Father," and the preparation of the Father consisted in the perfect obedience of the human soul which should receive it. The dignity could not be separated from the service; the prayer “ Thy kingdom come” could only be answered to the man whose life had realized the petition, “ Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Nothing can more clearly exhibit this consciousness on the part of Jesus than the scene on the Mount of Temptation. The Tempter would have divorced the two ideals, would have offered a Messianic dignity without service : “command that these stones be made bread," "cast Thyself down," "all these kingdoms of the world will I give Thee.” Christ tells him that he has left out the other half of the Messianic ideal, that the life of reigning must be preceded by a life of obedience, and the throne of the universe conquered by a surrender of the will: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve."

As to the form which this self-surrender was to take, I think that in the human consciousness of Jesus it was as yet indefinite. From the moment of His Messianic conviction He felt that His life on earth must be a life of sacrifice, but the special mode of that sacrifice was, I believe, the special thing in which “He grew in wisdom and in knowledge.” What He felt at the outset was simply that through His Messianic consciousness there was laid upon Him the necessity of a perpetual and unwavering surrender to the Father's will; He said to that will, “ I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest.” I do not think He had a definite conviction from the outset of His Messianic consciousness, that the will of the Father must necessarily lead Him in one direction. I am speaking of course of the human soul, of that part of Christ's nature which was subject to the limitations of our

But looking exclusively to this side of His being, it seems natural to

suppose that the road over which He travelled was a road whose purpose and plan were progressively revealed to His own mind. The work set before Him from the beginning was to do the will of His Father, whatever that will might be, wherever that will might lead. As long as the will was indefinitely revealed, it was always within His province to say, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me." But even while the revelation was indefinite, the mission of the Son of Man was felt to be a mission of selfsurrender. His very consciousness of being the Messiah was the consciousness of being a servant. He felt that He must go, and only go, where the Spirit should drive Him. The direction in which the Spirit should drive Him may have been often concealed from His view. It may have been often doubtful whether the Divine impulse was to lead Him up to a mount of transfiguration or into a wilderness of trial. His province was to be in expectancy of either fortune, to hold Himself meantime in suspense till the will of the Father should be declared, and at the moment of its declaration to arise and go. The cup given him to drink may have been only gradually exhibited, but there never was a doubt that a cup had been given Him whatever its form might be, its essence at least was clear—the implicit and unwavering obedience to the will of the Heavenly Father.

Such, then, was the sense in which almost at the opening of His

On the very

ministry Christ uttered the words, “I am come to fulfil.” threshold of His earthly journey He declared Himself to be conscious of a mission. Not in spite of, but by reason of His Messianic conviction He felt that He had a servant's part to play. He did not say, as yet, that He came to die. The form of the coming cross may have been at this stage hid from His human soul. But He realized even now the essence of that cross. He declared that it consisted in the very acceptance of the indefinite, in the very surrender to a will whose full purpose had not appeared, and the details of whose plan had not yet been manifested. But if, even at this early stage, there was this consciousness on the part of Jesus, let us consider well what it amounts to. If in this most practical, most untheological sermon, marking the initial stage of Christ's teaching, and wholly free from dogmatic colouring, we are yet confronted by the evidence of a conscious mission dominating the soul of Jesus, it is impossible to escape the conclusion that the Christ of history is at the same time the Christ of theology. It has been the common practice with modern writers of the life of Jesus to approach the study of the subject by clearing away what they call the incrustations of Paulinism. They tell us that, to get a pure picture of the life of Jesus, we must sweep from our minds the accretions lent to Christianity by the theology of St. Paul, must divest our imagination of all those dogmatic prepossessions derived from the succeeding age, and must fix our thoughts exclusively on the portrait of a man of Galilee. They forget that the portrait of a man of Galilee must of necessity be the portrait of a theologian. In any other country than Palestine there would be force in the contrast between the historical and the theological spirit. But in Palestine the historical and the theological are one. That land has its secular place in history by reason of that which is not secular. The environment in which the Jew lived was an environment of ideas; everything around him owed its significance to the presence and the purpose of an unseen God. The writer of the life of Jesus has a perfect right to clear away from his mind the aftergrowths of the Pauline theology, but he must remember that there was a theology before the Pauline; a theology inseparable from Jewish history, and specially inseparable from the idea of the Jewish Messiah. He must remember that the idea of the Jewish Messiah involved at its very root the thought of atonement to the God of Israel, the conception of a life which should merit the favour of heaven by a complete observance and a perfect fulfilment of the law. Every attempt to write the life of Christ from a purely untheological standpoint has only ended in producing a modern instead of an ancient picture. If the most recent lives of Jesus have freed themselves from Pauline prepossessions, they have placed in their room the prepossessions of the nineteenth century. The Christs of this century have no Jewish atmosphere. The Christ of Schenkel has the atmosphere of Berlin; the Christ of Renan has the atmosphere of Paris; the Christ of “ Ecce Homo" has the atmosphere of London; the Christ of Strauss has no atmosphere at all, either in heaven, or on earth, or in the waters under the earth. If we

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