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conducting Himself upon certain public occasions, M. Renan says: “His harmonious genius was wasted in insipid argumentations upon the law and the prophets. He lent Himself with a condescension we cannot but regret, to. the captious criticisms to which the merciless cavillers subjected Him." 1 But why so? Why does M. Renan express such regret? The answer may be gathered from his references for illustration, which are Matthew xxii. 36 and following, and verse 42 and following, in one of which Christ appropriates to Himself a passage from the 110th Psalm in proof of His Divinity; and in the other, He asserts the Divine origin of the Old Testament Scriptures by affirming in answer to the question, “ Which is the great commandment in the law?” that on the two great commandments of love to God and our neighbour hang all the law and the prophets. This then, is the objectionable part of our Lord's conversation with the Pharisees; and this is why it has proved so offensive to the refined taste of Monsieur Renan.
The moral law Jesus declares to be the law of God; but M. Renan is pleased to differ with Him, and on page 40 pronounces it the work of man—"the work of men penetrated with a high ideal of the present life, and believing that they had found the best means of realizing it.” Christ also asserts that man can do nothing in the way of keeping this law according to its true spirit, without Him; thus asserting at once M. Renan's moral impotency, and His own Omnipotence, or Divinity, at which, being very humiliating to the gentleman's self-righteousness, he also takes decided umbrage. The law, as explained by Jesus, is doubtless also too perfect for him, too perfect even for him-for Jesus literally epitomizes it into the Law of
1 Page 241.
Paradise, the law of perfect obedience and love. We may here observe that this law merely specifies the particulars of that moral law which was always binding on man as a creature related to his Creator, and constituted by Him a rational, intelligent, and free moral agent. It was written at first, not upon tables of stone, but upon the table of man's heart. Every particular in the Decalogue or ten commandments, therefore, both as regards our duty to God and to one another, would have been kept, even though they had not been thus particularized, had man retained his primitive innocency. The moral law being thus adapted to man's nature when in a state of pristine perfection, it was brought in by Moses, and its spiritual nature explained by Jesus, to show, in part, what God required of perfect humanity--of man as he came from the hands of his Maker, and between whose unsullied nature and the perfect law there was therefore then a perfect adaptability. By the introduction of this law, then, as the Apostle tells us, is “the knowledge of sin ; " the knowledge that by a comparison of man's moral conduct with the standard of requirement, we are enabled to discover that sin has entered the world, that man has become a fallen, guilty creature.
All repugnant enough to the Pharisaic and self-righteous, no doubt; but hence follows also the beautiful adaptability, through grace, of the atonement of Christ to man's present condition. Man having broken the law needs a Saviour; for it is written, “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” And he that offends or breaks the law though only “ in one point,” is in one sense “guilty of all ;” for he thereby snaps the chain of perfect obedience and righteousness by which alone he could be justified. One link broken
in the chain which holds the ship to her moorings as effectually casts her adrift as if every link in the chain were broken ; and so, by breaking one link in the chain of commandments, the transgressor as effectually separates himself from the favour of God as though he had broken the whole. By snapping the one link he in effect breaks the entire chain, and casts himself utterly adrift.
But although we have all thus violated the holy law of God, as embodied in the Ten Commandments, and the whole world thereby become guilty before Him—through the abounding mercy of God, we may yet be freely justified by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, Christ having redeemed us from the curse of the broken law, “being made a curse for us.” He who knew no sin was made a sin-offering for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him; so that through the atonement thus provided in the sacrifice of His Son, God can now be just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. And being thus “made free from the law of sin and death”-free from the penalty of the law which convicts us of sin and death--we become servants to God, bear fruit unto holiness, and the end to every true believer is
everlasting life.” Let us, then, be grateful to our Father in heaven for having thus pitied our fallen condition, and provided so suitable a remedy. Why should we be rebellious still? Why should we longer live in a state of sin and condemnation, since it is written, “He hath borne our sins and carried our griefs for us, and thắt there is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit”.? Arise, then, fellowsinner, arise, if consciously oppressed with guilt and sin, and with the true humility of the prodigal go to thy Father and
say, “I have sinned, and am no more worthy to be called thy son, make me as one of Thy hired servants,” and see if He will not with Fatherly love receive thee with open arms, and bid thee, through Christ, “go in peace and sin no more." A child-like faith and confidence in the word and promise of God will instantly remove all sense of condemnation; and “walking not after the flesh but after the Spirit” will be the means of our retaining an assurance and a consciousness of our election unto eternal life.
A continued hungering and thirsting after righteousness, a stant longing after entire conformity to the image and will of God in all things, will be the means, moreover, of filling the soul with a degree of heavenly peace, love, and joy, of which the unbelieving world knows absolutely nothing, and compared to which their joys are but passing, unsubstantial shadows. It will also enable the believer to meet his last enemy, death, in triumphant anticipation of an immediate entrance into the kingdom of glory, where, met by its King, he shall hear from His own lips the well-known but heartthrilling words, “ Come in, ye blessed of My Father, come in, to go no more out for ever !” Who would not aspire to this-to such a greeting from heaven's great King as an introductory to a state of blessedness which shall know no end, rather than to the ephemeral, fading glories of earth?
But the trouble is “all men have not faith.” In condemnation of a faithless, unbelieving people, Jesus exclaims, “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not !”? And, sad to relate, Renan, poor, talented, unbelieving Renan, is among the number. “Learn of Me," said Jesus. Has M. Renan learnt of Him? Oh, no; for if he had he would not have been "So slow to believe" what
1 Matthew xxiii. 37.
the prophets have said; he would, like Jesus, have unhesitatingly believed Moses and the prophets. But the Law of Moses is holy, pure, and perfect, and he does not like it. And the prophets tell him that he has a deceitful heart and one that is “desperately wicked," and he winces at the idea. But in thus doing he but proves the prophets' words true, who knowing, by the inspiration of God, man's native blindness to his heart's inherent wickedness and deceit, exclaims, “Who can know it? Who can know it? Not certainly the self-righteous one who, ignoring man's fall in Adam, and inherited corruption through him, thinks himself naturally pure and good ; or, if not exactly perfect in purity, thinks himself able to put the finishing stroke to God's handiwork and perfect it for Him-not the man whose pride of virtue, pride of intellect, and pride of innate all-sufficient moral power, leads him to reject all the fundamental, vital, and saving doctrines of Holy Scripture. No, not to such a man is it given to understand and know his own heart; this wisdom is, by the decree of God, reserved for the humble, the lowly, and the contrite, while he who, through the pomp of position, pride of intellect, or from any other cause, trusts to his own heart, the Scriptures assure us, “ fool.” And Jesus, tender and loving, meek and lowly, as He is, nevertheless in the following words pronounces the doom of all such as are not only thus deceived themselves, but who, assuming the character of “blind leaders of the blind," seek to lead others into the same whirlpool of sin and destruction : “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyle.”—How much sea and land has philosopher Renan compassed between Paris and Jerusalem, with a view to making proselytes to his visionary theories ?—"ye compass