Page images

of God. This historical evidence is of value. If ever such a book as the “History of Testimony” is worthily and fairly written, the Apostles will take very high rank among the world's witnesses' (p. 74). They were fitted for their work

. by their character and training, as 'plain men who could receive the impress of facts; who could tell a simple, plain tale, and show by their lives how much they believed it, as 'trained to be witnesses' by our Lord, Who “intended His Gospel to rest upon facts' (pp. 74, 75). They bore their testimony in a sceptical atmosphere, not likely to produce delusion. The testimony was of an original type, speaking of miracles not easily to be accounted for as the creation of men's minds. The witnesses exhibit the fairness to opponents which is a mark of trustworthiness. There is one event which does not rest primarily on their words, the virgin-birth of Jesus' (p. 77). There is evidence for it in the concurrence of the narratives of St. Matthew and St. Luke evidently embodying the information received from St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin, and in the 'firm place' the event holds' 'in the earliest traditions of East and West' (p. 78). And 'when we approach it on the basis of the apostolic testimony already accepted, with confidence in the evangelical narrative already secured, we find good reason for believing, and no good reason for doubting, this element of the Christian creed constantly emphasized from the beginning

We Christians, then, may say our Creed in the confidence that we can face the facts. The primary motive to belief is the appeal which Jesus makes to our heart, and conscience, and mind. The power to believe, or to maintain belief, is the gift of God, which we must earnestly solicit in prayer ; it is the movement of the Spirit. “No man can say Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Ghost.” But belief-Christian belief-is justified and supported by the evidence' (p. 79).

The fourth and fifth lectures are on the relation of the dogmatic decisions of the Church on the Incarnation to the teaching of Holy Scripture, and on the revelation of God in Christ. It is clearly shown how the definitions of the four great Councils protect, without adding to, the faith of the Apostles; were gradually worked out under the pressure of attack and through outward confusion; are of permanent value because the truths they express are of vital moment. They are to be regarded as leading to the Bible, not taking its place, as the outcome of necessity, and therefore rightly few in number, as not appealing to a shallow logic such as

that of the heretical teachers, but issuing 'in a deeper, more rational position' (p. 110). Christ is the manifestation of the Father because He is Himself very God. It is the practical importance of the Nicene decision that it maintains the fact that union with Christ is union with God and 'the Christian revelation''the unveiling of God' (p. 114). That man was made in the image of God implies that in him is the 'counterpart and real expression of the divine' qualities, and affords the possibility 'that God can really exist under conditions of manhood without ceasing to be, and to reveal, God; and man can be taken to be the organ of Godhead without one whit ceasing to be human' (pp. 116, 117). Christ reveals the personality and love and justice and truth of God; He exhibits in His teaching about faith and prayer the method by which God works in the spiritual world as a law akin to those of the natural world ; He discloses the doctrine of the Holy Trinity which, though it is agreeable to reason,' is 'not discoverable by reason' (p. 134). He opens the way for the true worship of God and the rightful confidence of man.

The subject of the sixth lecture is Jesus Christ as the revelation of manhood,' as exhibiting 'man to God and to himself '(p. 142). It is pointed out that on three separate occasions--the condemnation of Apollinaris, of Eutyches, of the Monothelites--the Church took pains to protect the doctrine of the Manhood of Christ. It is regarded as a sign of the working of the Providence of God in the decisions of the Church that these decrees 'were framed with such emphasis on the human nature of Jesus in an age when the tendency of Catholic thought was certainly not humanitarian' (p. 143). Yet the truth of Christ's Manhood, always part of the doctrine of the Church, has, Mr. Gore thinks, been at various times obscured in practical treatment. This he ascribes partly to the failure of many to realize properly Christianity as a way of life for man—"the way”—and Christ as "the living law of righteousness,” partly to the metaphysical treatment of the Incarnation common in mediæval theology, partly to the fact that in the sixteenth century discussions about justification, predestination, and the atonement were allowed a disproportionate share of attention '(pp. 143, 144). After this introduction, he proceeds to consider the teaching of the Gospels on the human knowledge of our Lord. In His thirteenth year, ‘in the temple courts He impressed the doctors as a child of marvellous insight and intelligence,' and

even then' possessed the consciousness of His unique Sonship.' Yet

Yet 'He grew so truly as a human child that

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

Joseph and His mother had not been led to expect from Him conduct incompatible with childhood,' and 'there was a real growth in mental apprehension and spiritual capacity, as in bodily stature' (p. 145). From His Baptism onwards it is clear that He knew His eternal pre-existence and Sonship (p. 146); He frequently exhibits a supernatural knowledge, insight, and foresight' (p. 147). Yet there is in Him the

. really human development of life'

'He receives as man the unction of the Holy Ghost ; He was led as man “of the Spirit into the wilderness," and hungered, and was subjected as man to real temptations of Satan, such as made their appeal to properly human faculties, and were met by the free employment of human will. . . . When He goes out to exercise His ministry, He bases His authority on the unction of the Spirit .... If His miraculous power appears as he appropriate endowment of His person, it was still a gift of God to Him as man. . . . St. John, in recording the words of Jesus before the raising of Lazarus, would teach us to see in some at least of His miracles, what is suggested also elsewhere by our Lord's gestures, a power dependent on the exercise of prayer. . . . He does not appear to teach out of an absolute divine omniscience, but rather as conditioned by human nature.' His 'supernatural illumination is, if of higher quality, yet analogous to that vouchsafed to prophets and apostles. It is not necessarily Divine consciousness. And it coincides in our Lord with apparent limitations of knowledge' (pp. 146, 147). This limitation of knowledge in our Lord is stated to be shown in the surprise He expressed and the questions He asked on many occasions, in His exercise of prayer, which is the characteristic utterance of human faith and trust '(p. 148). in the fourth Word from the Cross, and in His ignorance of the day and the hour of His second coming.

'A similar impression is left on our mind by the Gospel of St. John. Unmistakably is our Lord there put before us as the eternal Son of the Father incarnate, but it also appears that the Son of the Father is living and teaching under human conditions. He speaks the words of God, St. John tells us, because God "giveth not the Spirit by measure”—that is, because of the complete endowment of His manhood. He Himself says, that He accomplishes “what the Father taught Him :" that He can do only “ what He sees the Father doing :” that the Father makes to Him a progressive revelation, “He shall show Him greater works than these :” that the Father “gave Him” the divine “ Name," that is, the positive revelation of Himself, to communicate to the Apostles : that he has made known to them “all things that He had heard of the Father,"


or “the words which the Father had given Him.” The idea is thus irresistibly suggested of a message of definite content made over to our Lord to impart. Now, even though we bear in mind to the fullest extent the eternal subordination and receptivity of the Son, it still remains plain that words such as have been quoted express Him as receiving and speaking under the limitations of a properly human state. ... Our Lord exhibits insight and foresight of prophetic quality. . . . He never enlarges our stock of natural knowledge, physical or historical, out of the divine omniscience. . Up to the time of His death He lived and taught, He thought and was inspired and was tempted, as true and proper man, under the limitations of consciousness which alone make possible a really human experience' (pp. 149, 150). For these reasons Mr. Gore rejects as a merely 'à priori picture, not a representation of the historical Christ, the conception of the human knowledge of our Lord which is found in the scholastic and later dogmatic theologians' (pp. 151-153, He rejects also as equally abstract and unhistorical the theory of others, belonging to very modern ways of thought,' that Christ' was 'peccable or liable to sin, and fallible or liable to make mistakes '

Place yourself face to face with the Christ of the Gospels ; let His words, His claim, His tone, make upon you their natural impression ; and you will not, I believe, find that He will allow you to think of Him as either liable to sin or liable to mislead. never fears sin, or hints that He might be found inadequate to the tremendous charge He bore ; He does not let us think of Him as growing better or as needing improvement, though He passes through each imperfect stage of manhood to completeness. He challenges criticism, He speaks as the invincible emancipator of man. ... He appears in no relation to sin, but as the discerner, the conqueror, the judge of it, in all its forms and to the end of time. In the same way, whenever and whomsoever He teaches, it is in the tone which could only be morally justifiable in the case of one who taught without risk of mistake ; claiming by His own inherent right the submission of the conscience and will and intellect of men... When men suggest fallibility in our Lord's teaching, or peccability in His character, it is as much in the teeth of the Gospel record as when, on the other hand, they deny Him limitation of knowledge, or the reality of a human, moral trial, in the days of His flesh' (pp. 153, 154).

The life of Christ is therefore regarded as a double life of infallible authority and of human limitation' (p. xvi.), and as, in this respect, to some extent 'analogous' to the life of a prophet like Jeremiah' (p. 155). The unity of the two elements will, it is said, be understood as we keep in view the motive of the Incarnation as a means for the recovery and


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

perfecting of man, requiring a pure life and an infallible voice, yet requiring also‘a true example of manhood—tried, progressive, perfected' (p. 157), and the method of the Incarnation as the 'self-beggary' which 'St. Paul describes' (p. 158), while this self-limitation, as our Lord's voluntary act, involves no dishonouring of the eternal Son' (pp. 159, 160). It is added that if the view of our Lord's human knowledge which is thus advocated is contrary to the express teaching of many of the Fathers' and almost all mediæval theologians,' it receives a great deal of sanction from the best early theologians,' and from some of the best theologians of the Anglican Church since the Reformation' (p. 163). Moreover, the mediæval writers were necessarily affected by their inferior critical knowledge and lower standard of truth, and were influenced to no small extent by very questionable theology.

In the concluding part of this lecture, points in which Christ in His humanity is unlike other men are noticed, His necessary sinlessness and entire moral freedom, His perfection as 'man completely in the image of God, realizing all that was in the Divine idea for man' (p. 168), His 'catholic manhood' 'exempt, not from the limitations which belong to manhood, but from the limitations which make our manhood narrow and isolated, merely local or national” (pp. 168, 169).

The seventh lecture is on authority in religion. ‘Authority is of different types. It may be 'despotic,' aiming at producing in the intellect simple acceptance,' 'in the conduct unquestioning obedience;' or 'fatherly,' seeking to produce conformity of character, sympathy of mind, intelligent cooperation in action.' 'Christianity is authoritative, partly 'because it is an educational system, partly because it is a revelation of the most high God' (p. 177), but its authority, unlike that of the Old Testament, is fatherly, not despotic.

“The characteristic note of the New Testament authority is that of the father over the son, and for this very reason it is moderate. This moderation is noticeable both in its range and in its method. ... However our Lord's silence is to be interpreted, at any rate it did not fall within the scope of His mission to reveal His omniscience by disclosures in the region of natural knowledge, or His eternity by information about history, otherwise inaccessible, in the past or in the future. . . . Moreover, within the spiritual region how reserved are His communications. ... The reserve which is noticeable in the content is noticeable also in the method of our Lord's communications. . . . Our Lord ... taught, and especially taught His disciples, so as to train their characters and stimulate their intelligences ; He worked to make them intelligent sons and friends, not obedient VOL. XXXIII.-NO. LXVI.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »