JAMES M. CAMPBELL
Author of "Unto the Uttermost"
FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY,
CHICAGO. NEW YORK. TORONTO.
Publishers of Evangelical Literature.
By Prof. A. B. Bruce, D.D
Professor of Apologetic and New Testament Exegesis
Free Church College, Glasgow
Having had the privilege of reading in sheets this little treatise on "The Indwelling Christ," I am able to express an opinion of its value as a contribution on this important subject. That opinion is highly favorable. This book is the production of an author who brings to his task a thoughtful mind, enriched by extensive reading as well as by its own reflection. The style is good, simple, clear, refined. Above all, the religious spirit of the book is thoroughly wholesome. There is no trace in it of weak, sickly sentiment. A mystic vein indeed runs through its pages, but always accompanied by a practical tone, with a sure instinct for good sense and reality. The subject is well worth writing about. The indwelling of Christ in the heart of a believing man is no idle fancy. It is a spiritual fact on which much depends. Mr. Campbell has given great breadth to his treatment of the theme by asserting the immanence of Christ not merely in the individual Christian but in the world at large.
I wish for this book the extensive circulation it merits, and for all its readers that blessed indwelling it seeks to promote. Let me say to these readers that they will do well to read, along with this work, the Gospels, that they may have a well informed conception of the Christ who is to dwell in their hearts by faith.
A. B. BRUCE.
The aim of this book is to present the doctrine of the Divine Immanence from a Christological standpoint. The doctrine of the Divine Immanence requires to be rescued from pantheistic tendencies by changing the commonly accepted idea of the divine in nature, in man, and in the world, from an impersonal presence that pervades, to a personal presence that indwells. It requires also to be baptised into the name of Christ that it may be converted from a sterile field of theism into a fruitful field of evangelical truth. Theism is not Christianity. To see an Immanent God in nature, in man, and in the world, is to discern an intelligent purpose; to see in them an Indwelling Christ is to discover a redemptive purpose. If Christ is in nature, nature is included in the scope of redemption; if Christ is in man, the redemption of man is possible; if Christ is in the world, the world is on its way to redemption.
It is not enough to say that there is in man a divine element or principle; there is in him a divine personal presence, whose name is Christ. "Christ in you the hope of glory," is the Pauline explanation of the redemption of man from the power of evil; and a better one has not yet been furnished.
William Law, the English mystic, makes a heart-searching appeal, in which the doctrine of the divine indwelling, as set forth in the following pages, may be summed up and applied. "Poor Sinner!" he exclaims. "Consider the treasure thou hast within thee! The Saviour of the world, the Eternal Word of God, lies hid in thee, as a spark of the divine nature, which is to overcome sin, and death, and hell within thee; and generate again the life of God in thy soul. Turn to thy heart, and thy heart will find its Saviour; its God, within thyself. Thou seest, hearest, and feelest nothing of God because thou seekest Him abroad with thine outward eyes. Thou seekest for Him in books, in controversies, in the church and outward exercises, but there thou wilt not find Him till thou hast first found Him in thy heart. Seek for Him in thy heart, and thou wilt never seek in vain; for there He dwelleth; there is the seat of His light, and Holy Spirit."
I. A REVOLUTIONARY DOCTRINE
II. THE INWARD REVELATION OF THE INDWELLING CHRIST
III. THE MYSTERY OF THE DIVINE INDWELLING UNVEILED
IV. CHRIST FORMED WITHIN
V. INWARD SUBSTITUTION
VI. ONENESS WITH THE INDWELLING CHRIST
VII. THE INDWELLING CHRIST A FOUNTAIN OF STRENGTH
VIII. THE INDWELLING CHRIST THE ROOT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
IX. CHRIST WITHIN-HEAVEN WITHIN
X. How To COME INTO CONSCIOUSNESS OF THE INDWELLING CHRIST
XI. THE REAL PRESENCE
XII. THE ABIDING PRESENCE
XIII. THE INDWELLING OF CHRIST REALIZED
THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT
XIV. CHRIST IN EVERY MAN
XV. CHRIST INCARNATED IN CHRISTIAN LIVES
XVI. CHRIST IN THE WORLD
XVII. THE INDWELLING CHRIST THE CENTER OF THE WORLD'S UNITY
XVIII. CHRIST ALL AND IN ALL
THE INDWELLING CHRIST.
A Revolutionary Doctrine.
"Too late I loved Thee, 0 Beauty of ancient days,
yet ever new! And lo ! Thou wert within me and I
abroad searching for Thee. Thou wert with me, but I
was not with Thee."-- ST. AUGUSTINE.
The Christ who lived in Palestine upward of eighteen hundred years ago lives in the world to-day. He has direct and constant access to the spirit of man, touching sin-stricken souls with His healing power; quickening dead souls by the inbreathing of His life-giving Spirit; "combating, defeating, expelling the slow death which has crept over the body of humanity." In all His activities within the soul His seeking and saving love is manifest. The eternal love outwardly expressed in the cross, is inwardly expressed in His tireless effort to make His great salvation an actuality in human experience. The four Evangelists have given the record of His outward life; those alone, who know Him, not after the flesh but after the spirit, can give the record of His never-ending activity within the inner sphere of the spiritual nature of man.
Of the two hemispheres of truth which constitute the whole gospel-the work of Christ for us, and the work of Christ in us, the latter often suffers a well-nigh total eclipse. Many think almost exclusively of what Christ has done for them, and overlook what He is doing in them; they look at redemption upon the divine side as a finished work, and fail to look at it upon the human side as a continuous work; they are so much taken up with the idea of Christ dying upon the cross for their offenses as almost to forget that He is living in their hearts to guide, to inspire, to bless, to save.
Before Christian experience can be rounded out to completeness the Godward and manward sides of Christ's work must be embraced in a comprehensive faith; the work of Christ in its entireness must be brought within the inner sphere of personal consciousness; the outward Christ of history must become the Christ of in- ward experience; the dead Christ of Calvary must become the living Christ of the present; the Christ embalmed in a book must dwell and reign within the heart. It is not Christ upon the cross, nor Christ within the Bible, nor Christ in heaven that saves; but Christ deeply hidden in the inmost spirit; Christ constantly present in the life; Christ the inspiration of every thought and word and deed. Christ in the soul and not Christ buried in a tomb, enshrined in a temple, or seated upon a throne is the life's true Life.
The doctrine of the indwelling of Christ in the heart is revolutionary. When accepted as an article of faith, and realized as a matter of experience an uprising of the prostrate powers of the soul takes place; the outworks of the flesh surrender one by one to the thorn-crowned King, who holds in His hand the sceptre of omnipotent love; all insurrectionary forces are put down; the moral empire of God over man is fully and firmly established; and within all the borders of the goodly land which Christ has conquered there is order and peace.
Speaking of the wonderful change which takes place when the indwelling of Christ becomes a living experience, Luther says, " I have sometimes beheld Christians walking lamely and with great feebleness, but when came the hour of conflict, or of appearing before the bar of the world, Christ suddenly stirred within them, and they became so strong and so resolute that Satan fled away frightened from before their face." The sudden transformation comes; as Luther so well expresses it, from the stirring within of the Christ who has hitherto lain below the line of consciousness; and this stirring of the Christ within comes from Christians stirring themselves up to lay hold upon the One who is always at hand to impart His strength to those who seek it.
If Christ be within, there He must be sought, there is He to be found. Alas, that His presence, while not denied should so often be unrealized. Many Christians seem hardly to be aware that a Royal Guest has taken up His abode within their hearts. Their consciousness of His indwelling is at best fitful and dim. Their assurance of salvation is overcast with clouds because it lacks the important element of full assurance or faith in the Divine Indwelling Presence. They resemble a beleaguered castle from which the regular water supply has been cut off. The soldiers are suffering and dying of thirst, not aware that deep in the recesses of the fortress, cut out of the solid rock, there is a hidden well whose waters fail not. What a thrill of joy the discovery of that well would bring to the remnant of that forlorn garrison! The knowledge of that secret spring would be to them life from the dead; and its water would be in very truth the water of life. A like change would come over many a drooping heart were the discovery to be made that spiritual supplies are not to be fetched from afar; that infinite resources have been placed within easy reach; that deep within the living sanctuary of the soul there is an unfailing fountain which renders every one who avails himself of it perfectly independent of outward circumstances and surroundings. No haunting fear of future thirst-pangs can ever come to him who knows that the water which Christ has given him has "become in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life."
More important than questions touching the right directing of religious activities is the question of the hold which Christ has got upon the interior life. More important than questions of method is the question of spirit; more important than questions of form is the question of life. If Christ be supreme within, if he has his own way within the domain of the soul, all questions as to the particular shape that service ought to take are of secondary concern. To one wholly given up to Him it is all the same whether service be active or passive, whether it consists in doing or in enduring the divine will; it is all the same whether the position assigned be to lie in the divine hand or to be led by the divine hand; to stand and wait or to run and work. One thing is sure, the life which Christ possesses and directs can not miss the mark.
Into the clear consciousness of the Indwelling Christ as the secret principle of spiritual life we all require to come to experience the reality and fullness of His saving power. No distant Christ can wipe away our tears, bear our heavy burdens, crush the heads of the serpent's brood that nestle in the breast, purify our hearts from sin, and impart unto us sufficiency of strength for daily toil and sacrifice. Until the personal presence of Christ becomes the profoundest fact of consciousness no real test has been made of His power to comfort, to quicken and to save.
Only from a present Christ can present salvation come. To those in whom He consciously indwells the fullness of His redeeming energy is made immediately available. They do not need to go up to heaven to bring their Saviour down, they do not need to go down to the abyss to bring Him up. Their redemption is wrought out from within; not superimposed from without. From within their spiritual stores are constantly replenished; from within the healing, cleansing fountain of divine life forever flows; from within a holy manhood is built up, as the flower is built up from the seed, or as the body is built up from the soul; from within the glory of the heavenly life shines forth with ever increasing brightness, struggling through the grossest coverings of the earthly life as the sun struggles through the darkest clouds.
The Inward Revelation of the Indwelling Christ.
"0! Jesus! King most wonderful,
Thou Conquerer renowned,
Thou sweetness most ineffable,
In whom all joys are found!
When once Thou visitest the heart,
Then truth begins to shine,
Then earthly vanities depart,
Then kindles love divine."
E. CASWALL. (TRANS.)
The essential thing in religious experience is the inward revelation of Christ. More important than the revelation of Christ to man is the revelation of Christ in man; more important than the revelation of Christ in the Word is the revelation of Christ in the heart. For not until the outward revelation in the Word has become a subjective experience; not until the Christ of Scripture has become inwardly and personally known; not until the inner eye beholds His beauty, and the inner ear hears His voice; not until the light and glory of His spirit fills the temple of the soul, is religion anything more than an empty form. What does it profit that we see the manifestation of the divine presence in the world if we do not enjoy the manifestation of the divine presence in our hearts? \What does it profit that we profess belief in the Christ of the Scriptures, if we do not recognize our dependence upon Him as the Original Root of our being, and through personal union with Him enjoy continuous and progressive development? No outward vision of Christ, -no amount of second-hand knowledge concerning I-urn will avail anything unless the revelation of His presence and power has taken place in ourselves.
Speaking of the great spiritual crisis of His life, which took place on the way to Damascus, Paul puts special emphasis upon the point that the essential glory of his risen Lord which broke out before his sight, also broke in upon his heart. A glimpse is given into this profound experience in the words: " When it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me through his grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood." (Gal.1:15-16.) More to him than the outward vision of blinding brightness was the revelation of God's Son in him. It was when the Christ who was outwardly revealed to sight was inwardly revealed to faith that his heart was won; and prostrating himself at His
feet he inquired, " Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?"
This inward revelation of Christ is given, not mediately but immediately. It is not a thing of inference or deduction, but of immediate knowledge and consciousness. Faith is spiritual vision; spiritual perception. It brings to the soul "the evidence of things not seen." It " sees Him who is invisible." Those who possess it can say of Christ;--" Whom not having seen we love; on whom, though now we see him not, yet believing, we rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory." From those who walk by sense-perception; from those who believe in nothing that lies beyond the sphere of the senses; from those who test all evidence by the scientific method that takes cognizance of nothing outside the world of phenomena, this inward revelation of Christ is as completely concealed as the beauties of
landscape or picture are concealed from one who is color blind. "0 Lord, open mine eyes that I may see," is a proper prayer for every one who has looked in vain for this vision beatific. Paul traced the sudden inflashing of light by which he knew his Lord to the direct agency of God. It was God who revealed His Son in him. "An anointing from the Holy One" is needed to purge the eyes of mortals from every earthly film that they may see the spiritual Christ. When to Simon Peter came this inward revelation of his Lord, it was said;--" Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood bath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven."
This inward revelation of Christ is, like all the deep experiences of life, for every man by himself. It is something. which is realized in individual experience; something with which no stranger is to intermeddle. The one who receives it does not "confer with flesh and blood;" he does not take counsel with his own heart; he does not allow himself to be governed by the opinions of others. With his living Lord he holds private communication. Into the tent of his General he goes alone to receive his orders direct from His hand. Rising superior to worldly influences and interests he recognizes no rule in life save the will of his Lord. In the glory of the vision which he beholds all earthly considerations fade out of sight, as the stars fade from the sky before the brightness of the rising sun.
This inward revelation of Christ constitutes an authoritative ideal. If the historical revelation of Christ is " an objective conscience,' the inward revelation of Christ is a subjective conscience. It is an imperative law of righteousness, a sovereign power over life. It establishes Christ as Lord of the conscience in the seat of authority, sets Him upon the throne of His glory--for what more glorious throne can the King of kings occupy than a loving, loyal heart? Those who behold in the crucified Nazarene the Lord of Glory, fall down before Him; beholding in Him the grace of God, they love Him; beholding in Him the authority of God, they obey Him; beholding in Him the image of God, they copy Him. Henceforth He becomes the model of their daily imitation.
To call conscience "the Essential Christ," as Joseph Cook has done, is to confound things that differ. Conscience is not Christ. It is the mouth of the soul through which Christ speaks. It is His secret, inspoken voice witnessing for God in man. It is not the inward revelation of Christ. It is rather the mirror upon which the inward, personal revelation of Christ is reflected.
All men have a consciousness, more or less dim or distinct, of an ideal character, a character which imbodies the highest moral excellence which they can conceive. Miss Frances Power Cobbe, in her interesting " Reminiscences" quotes a remark of John Stuart Mill, to the effect that "even the most skeptical of men have an inner altar to the Unseen Perfection, while waiting for the true one to be revealed to them." That " Unseen Perfection" is their Christ. By it their conduct is to be tested; to it their lives ought to be conformed. The historical embodiment of that ideal character which floats before the minds of men as a guiding light is found in the life of Jesus Christ. In Him the ethical ideal is fully expressed. Hence, to know perfectly the ideal Christ, we must know the historical Christ; to know the Christ in man, we must know the Christ in the Bible. An Ideal is more potent in its influence when embodied in a life, than when it exists in the abstract. Actualized righteousness and incarnated love have a mandatory power, which ideal righteousness and ideal love do not possess. We speak of the power of Christianity, when what we really mean is the power of Christ. Christianity is an abstraction, Christ a potential reality. And the power of Christ over a man will always be in proportion to the measure in which he is known. Those who gain the clearest vision of His glory will be the readiest to recognize the authority with which He is vested, and to yield themselves to it. No authoritative church
or dogma will be allowed to come between them and His supreme authority. No crown rights will by them be acknowledged save those which belong to Him, who, because of the royalty of His character has become King of their lives forever.
This inward revelation of Christ brings with it a holy impulsion to complete consecration. It supplies not only an inward model, but an inward motive; not only an inward authority but an inward constraint. Truth revealed in a person is dynamic. Illumination touching the secret of a great life is inspirational. The vision of spiritual greatness always fires the heart. Hence, those who have really seen the Lord, experience His power. He lays hold upon them, controls them, compels them. Their hearts are filled with a consuming passion to carry out His will in all things. From a life of glad self-devotion to His interests nothing can hold them back. Bravely do they push out into the world's dark places to tell the wondrous things of Christ, which God bath revealed to them by His Spirit. They have not only a message to proclaim, but a testimony to give. They have seen the King in His beauty; His glories have been inwardly unveiled before their wondering eyes, and they are moved to speak of the entrancing vision, moved to tell forth the praise of Him who by being revealed in them, has, by His heart-compelling love revolutionized and redeemed their lives.
The Mystery of the Divine Indwelling Unveiled.
The ideal Christ is not a subjective idea of our own minds, nor truth and precept intellectually apprehended. Rather, if we must speak of the ideal Christ, it is the living Spirit of Christ pervading humanity with the offers and influences of redeeming grace brought into the world through Him, and revealing Him in our consciousness.1 --S. HARRIS.
There is no essential difference between the relation which Christ sustained to men in past ages, and the relation which He sustains to them in the present gospel age. Through all the ages runs one eternal purpose of grace, binding them together in continuous historical development, and bringing them at length to their consummation in the incarnation of Christ. The connection of Christ with human souls, time and place do not affect. The sphere of His redemptive activity is not a matter of latitude and longitude. With Him all men have to do, with all men He has to do. To every man He comes, before every man He stands, to every man He holds out a hand of help. From the earliest hour of time down
to the present He has never failed to bring to every sinful soul influences sufficient unto salvation. He is " the true Light which lighteneth every man coming into the world;" the one central Fountain whose waters, openly or secretly, nourish the life of every holy heart.
To unfold to men the glorious mystery of the divine indwelling; to show that from the beginning unity and universality of saving influence have come from the Immanent Christ, is affirmed by Paul to have been the object of his apostolic ministry. He says that to him " a divine dispensation was given to fulfill the word of God, even the mystery which hath been hid from all ages and generations, but now hath it been manifested in His Saints, to whom God was pleased to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you the hope of glory." (Col. 1:25-27.) That is to say, the end of his preaching was to declare unto the Gentiles that the Unseen Presence, the spell of which they had felt, was the Presence of Christ. The great mystery of religion, the indwelling of God in humanity--the mystery which it was the end of the incarnation to unfold, is now revealed in God's saints, that through them it might be made known to the world. For spiritual enlightenment and enrichment "those who sit in darkness and in the region of the shadow of death," require to know as the Christ of God their friend and Saviour, the Mysterious One before whom they have often shrunk in terror, whose help they have often vainly implored, whose favor they have agonizingly sought, and whose loving care they have sometimes feebly trusted. What joy the knowledge of this mystery is fitted to convey! What joy to know that the Universal Life, the Universal Power, the Universal Love in which all lives are rooted, is the Soul's Redeemer! What joy to know that the Immanent God; who, in His self-existent nature is ever and everywhere present, is the Christ of gospel story
Before His incarnation Christ was a mystery; veiled was His presence, dim His image, faint His voice. By His incarnation "the Christ of mystery became the Christ of manifestation." "The Life was manifested," says St. John; but before its manifestation it existed as "that Eternal Life which was with the Father." The coming of Christ in the flesh implied His pre-existence. He was in the world before the time of His " showing forth." Men felt His presence before they saw His portrait. At His coming the esoteric became exoteric; the mystery of mysteries was cleared away; the heavens were cloven; the fountain for sin and unclean- ness concealed in the heart of humanity was "opened in the House of David;" the divine manifestation for which the world was eagerly waiting was at length given. The incarnation did not indicate a change in the divine nature, it was merely a manifestation of what already existed. The great mystery of Godliness, the eternal union of God with humanity, was historically revealed in Him " who was manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, received up in glory." (I Tim. 3:16.)
Initiation into the mystery of the divine indwelling is not for a few elect souls only, but for all who hear and believe the gospel. But the Christ to whom they are personally introduced is not brought to them by those who unfold the gospel message. He has always been present with them. He always goes in advance of His heralds. His heralds do not bring Him to men. They bring to men the announcement of His appearance in the flesh; they explain to souls benighted that the Mysterious One who has been speaking to them in their deepest consciousness is the Christ who was manifested in the flesh, and is made known to them in the gospels; so that they, gazing upon His face as it looks out upon them from the sacred page, may be led to exclaim, " Lo, this is our Lord, we have waited for him
Dr. Bushnell tells of a forlorn woman discovered by a missionary in the depths of Central Africa who, when Christ was presented to her mind, broke out in the most affectionate demonstrations of joy, saying, " Oh, this is He who has come to me so often in my prayers. I could not find who He was." " How shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher ?"
The mystery which at length has been made manifest in the gospel as " Christ in you the hope of glory," is said to be revealed by God "in His saints." It is revealed in their hearts--in their inner consciousness, through the new light which has dawned upon them. The knowledge of the historical Christ is the soil out of which the revelation of the mystery of the divine indwelling grows. When in the Christ of history the Christ of the inner life is discovered; when the One already found in the heart is found in the word; when men have learned to call Him by the name of Christ; when they have come into conscious relation and personal acquaintanceship with Him, He is more to them than He ever was before. In their hearts He now dwells more richly. Out of the experience of a deeper indwelling comes a maturer and more fruitful religious life. Henceforth the supreme desire in which all lesser desires are swallowed up, is to disclose to the world the mystery of the divine indwelling, which is Christ in man the hope of glory; that the unknown One from whom many have kept away or have turned away, made manifest in human life as Friend and Brother, might win
the confidence and love of all men.
To this identification of the Christ of Scripture, with the Christ of consciousness, Mozoomdar, the leader of the Brahmo-Somaj, ascribes the great spiritual crisis of his life. In an hour of the deepest darkness and distress, he turned to the New Testament for consolation; when, looking out of the gospels into his own heart, he says;--" Suddenly it seemed to me (let me own it was revealed to me) that close to me there was a holier, more blessed, most loving personality, upon which I might repose my troubled head. Jesus lay discovered in my heart, as strange, human, kindred love, as a repose, as a sympathetic consolation, an unpurchased treasure to which I was freely invited. The response of my nature was unhesitating and immediate. Jesus from that day, to me, became a reality, whereupon I might lean. It was an impulse then, a flood of light, love, and consolation. It is no longer an impulse now. It is a faith and a principle; it is an experience verified by a thousand trials."2 How much nearer to the fullness of the truth as it is in Jesus, does the average orthodox believer come, than this ? How much less does many a Christian find in Christ? How much more does any Christian find in Him?
In this individual consciousness of Christ in the heart, the apostle finds "the hope of glory." The ground of Christian hope is Christ on the cross; the evidence of it to others is Christ in the life; the personal conviction of it is Christ in the heart. He that believeth hath the witness in himself. Christ in him is to him the hope of glory. What better evidence can any one have that he is an heir of glory than that Christ is in him, and that in him the process of salvation, which ends in eternal glory, is now going on? What better ground to hope that he will enter the land of glory than that he has begun to live the life of glory? What better reason to expect that he shall share the glory of Christ forever, than that Christ is now his light in darkness, his strength in weakness, his comfort in trouble, his hope in despair, and his triumph in defeat ? Any one who is experiencing the power of the living Christ, can no more doubt his rightful heirship to all the glory yet to be revealed, than he can doubt the coming of the sun, when already bathed in his bright foreglow. The experience of Christ dwelling within is anticipatory of all that is to come, and seals the soul that enjoys it as an heir of heavenly glory.
Thus we see that Christ in the heart is the hope of glory, because He is the earnest of it, the pledge of it, the beginning of it. Those who have Christ within find heaven begun below. They sit in heavenly places because they have been made partakers of a heavenly life; they are transfigured into the glorious likeness of Christ, because they have become possessed with His spirit. The transforming power in their lives operates from within, working from within outward. It pervades the whole nature; stimulating natural powers, and bringing them to their best. It lifts man up to a higher level than he, in his native strength, could ever have reached. To say that Christ puts himself into men as the general puts himself into his soldiers, or as the teacher puts himself into his pupils, does not express the whole truth. Christ moves upon men directly, not as one standing apart, but as one living within. He works "in them to will and to do of his good pleasure." Their acts are all their own, but the power by which they are performed is His; their wills are all their own, but they are lost in His, or rather they are found in His; in their lives His life is expressed; their activity is His activity; their patience is His patience; their love is His love; their sacrifice is His sacrifice. Receiving His very nature it is natural to them to speak His words, to perform His works, to perpetuate His influence, and to reproduce His life. Experiencing the presence and working of His Spirit in their hearts they develop a life and character foreign to their own fallen natures, but in perfect accord with the nature of Him who dwells within them. Their title to heaven consists in the meetness for heaven, which Christ inworks. God has already "translated them into the kingdom of the Son of His love," because they properly belong to it. They are in the kingdom because the kingdom is in them. The glory of the kingdom which they hope to see is a glory which has already begun to dawn within them. Now are they sons of God, but it is not yet made manifest what they shall be. Christ has not got through with them. The good work which He has begun in them He will carry on unto perfection. Their experience is germinal. The life that stirs within them is prophetic. As
" The blue eggs in the robin's nest
Will soon have wings, and beak and breast,"
so the new life moving feebly within the soul will soon become embodied goodness. Begun in weakness, the life of grace shall grow by its own expansive power until it runs on and up into the life of eternal glory.
1 "The Self Revelation of God," P. 472.
2 * "The Oriental Christ,"--P. 11
Christ Formed Within.
"Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born
If He's not born in thee, thy soul is still forlorn."
By loving and persistent effort the Apostle Paul sought to bring those Christians whose faith was as yet imperfect, into the complete consciousness of the Indwelling Christ. The divine image, already dimly visible within them he labored to develop into sharp amid strong outline. Hear him exclaim with motherly tenderness and solicitude, " My little children of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you.'' (Gal. 4:19.) The Galatian Christians, like too many in the present day, were in an embryonic state; their inner life had not come to complete development. Christ had not been fully formed in them, and therefore they had not been fully fashioned in his likeness. Paul was in continual anxiety and pain on their account, travailing in spirit to see them born into this higher life. He even intimates that His birth pangs could not come to an end until the Christ begotten within them should become the clear ideal and vital inspiration of their lives. Well did he know that only by Christ being formed within them could spiritual life be brought to maturity.
This agonizing earnestness, which characterizes every one who is instrumental in bringing souls to the birth, and which St. Paul compares to the pain of a travailing mother, is a faint reflection of the divine yearning and longing for the development in man of the divine image. " He shall see of the travail of his Soul and shall be satisfied." When? When men are perfected in His image. " 0 that men would only believe!" exclaims Tauler, "how passionately God longs to save, and bring forth His Son in them.'' " Arise, 0 man," he pleads, " realize the end of thy being and make room for God within thy soul, that He may bring forth His Son within thee !
1. Christ must be born in us. It is in this way that He comes to live in us. The divine life, like the natural life, begins with birth. "You must be born again" into the spiritual life, as you have already been born into the natural life. Of this spiritual life which begins with the new birth, Christ is the originating and sustaining principle. We are born into His life, He is born into our lives. His birth in the flesh has its counterpart in His birth in our hearts. Not until He has been born in us does He become to us a living, saving Christ; not until we are informed with His spirit do we become transformed into His likeness.
2. Christ must grow in us. He must grow in the womb of our minds, grow in the heart of our faith, grow in the very center of our being as the seminal principle of our lives. If we would cease to be babes in Christ, the Christ within us must cease to be a babe. A full-grown man in Christ is one in whom Christ has grown to manhood.
In all men there are two natures, an under and an upper nature. Between them there is eternal antagonism. "The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other." This inward dualism is described by Plato under the figure of two horses, one black, the other white, yoked to the same chariot and pulling in different directions. One or other of these natures is gaining the upper hand. As the one weakens the other strengthens; as the one grows the other decays; as the self-life like the house of Saul declines in power, the Christ-spirit like the house of David waxes stronger and stronger. A vital question then with every man is this: What part of my dual nature is growing? My baser or my better self? Is the flesh or the spirit on the top? Does the flesh absorb the spirit as a sponge water, or does the spirit rule the flesh? Am I being weaned from low desires? Have I a growing passion for purity? Has the Spirit of Christ entered into my spirit, and is it prevailing in me, overcoming animalism and selfishness, and touching my life to high and holy issues?
Upon the principle that every poison has its antidote, and every sin its opposing grace, the destruction of sin comes from the introduction into the soul of a power sufficient to neutralize, and certain to supplant it. The working of the power is thus explained by Cyril of Alexandria, "In you is Christ by the Spirit, converting that which by nature is corruptible into incorruptibility; and translating that which is liable to sin into that which has no such liability." Let Christ be born within as a spirit and principle of righteousness, and the mastery of inborn sin is broken. As His power increases the power of sin will decrease; as He gains ascendency the world, the devil and the flesh will lose their hold; as the image of the heavenly comes out the image of the earthly will fade out. The Christian will grow as Christ grows in him. Tender will grow the conscience softened by His grace; pliant will grow the will subdued by His all conquering love; full of sweet and tender affections will grow the heart into which He increasingly breathes His loving spirit. Those in whom He is alive are living Christians; those in whom He grows are growing Christians. As Christ expands within Christian life expands without; as the Christ-spirit develops Christian manhood develops; as the power of Christ increases Christian activity increases; as the place which Christ fills in the inner life enlarges the place which he fills in the outer life enlarges. When the Indwelling Christ comes to his full strength and stature the whole life becomes fashioned into the perfect type of a Christ-imaged character.
3. Christ must be formed outwardly in our lives. Reborn in our hearts He will be reproduced in our lives. His spirit will shape the outward character as the brain shapes the skull. The Christ within can not be hid. The secret of His presence will leak out. Of his invisible presence some visible outshowing will be given. Those who desire to see Him will be able to discover something of His outward form in the lives of those in whom His spirit has been born. In the disciple they will see the Master.
The Christian life consists of birth and out birth. It is at once receptive and productive. \Vhat it takes in it gives out. If it takes in Christ, it gives out Christ; if it receives His spirit, it repeats His life. Every new birth is a new incarnation. As Christ is formed in the hearts of men the Word continues to be made flesh. Christ was God incarnate, Christians are Christ incarnate. Because Christ liveth in them, for them to live is for Christ to live Himself out in them as the parent lives himself out in the child. When Christ has been formed within He will be formed without.
"Oh! for a man to arise in me
That the man that I am may cease to be."
Christian thought has concerned itself almost exclusively with the idea of outward substitution; that is, the substitution of the sufferings and death of Christ for man's offenses. It has looked upon Christ as taking the sinner's place; being wounded for his transgressions, and bruised for his iniquities; but has in too large a measure overlooked the equally important doctrine of inward substitution; that is, the substitution of Christ for self, the substitution of the new man for the old man, the substitution of Christ's will for man's will, of Christ's power for man's impotence, of Christ's righteousness for man's sinfulness. With the idea of Christ taking the sinner's place ought to be connected the idea of Christ taking His place in the sinner.
Laying bare the hidden spring of action within his own breast, Paul says, "I have been crucified with Christ, yet I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me." (Gal. 2: 20.) Does he simply mean, "I am so completely identified with Christ that when He was crucified upon the cross of Calvary for sin I was crucified with Him?" So, many interpret these words. But any interpretation which exhausts the meaning of words so profound in an identification with an outward Christ who was crucified for sinners, utterly fails to sound their depths. it is true that when Christ was crucified, all those whose sins he bore were so identified with his death as to become dead with Him to sin in a legal sense, so that His death might be said to be their death--with which agreeth the argument of St. Paul, "That if one died for all then all died "--but it is also true that all who are united to him by faith are so identified with him that they become dead with him in a spiritual sense. Not only are they dead to sin, in that they are undisturbed by the accusations of a violated law; but they are dead to sin as a reigning power; the love of sin is dead; sinful suggestions find in them no response; to the motions of sin in the flesh they refuse to yield; from the galling bondage of sin they have been graciously delivered. Sin has not only received its death sentence, it has received its death blow.
From inward crucifixion with Christ results the death of self. Nailed to the cross, self dies a lingering and painful death. The self that is destroyed is not, however, that better self which endeavors to live in obedience to the will of God, but that willful, sinful self which lives in opposition to God. The death of self is not the crushing out of self-hood, but of selfishness; it is not the annihilation of the creature, but of the creature-will. The highest existence is not found in non-existence, as the mystic supposed; the soul is not saved by being reduced to a nonentity, as the Stoic imagined; nor is spiritual life furthered by maltreating "that ass, the body," as an ascetic has been known contemptuously to call the handmaid of the soul. No part of man, as God made him, is to be dwarfed or destroyed. It is only that part of man which man has made himself---that evil moral self of which he is the creator and sustainer that is to be crushed out of existence. A man is never more himself, he is never more of a man than when he has got rid of this hateful, troublesome self. George McDonald truly says, " A man may be possessed of himself as of a devil." He may be his own worst enemy; he may be his own greatest tempter and tyrant. So long as this sinful self lives he is in slavery to himself. When it dies, and he becomes "from self-born aims and wishes free," he has obtained a happy riddance. `When the baser self is crucified to death there is a funeral in the soul,--a tearless funeral; but when the better self is crucified to death the soul's funeral takes place, and all Heaven goes into mourning.
The death of the old self, which is the instrument of sin, is followed by the quickening of the new self, which is the instrument of righteousness. When the self-life ends the Christ-life begins. Through death comes life; and the deep saying of Jacob Beohme is confirmed, that "daily dying is the path of daily living." The heart's desire of every seeker after holiness is voiced in the prayer of a pious monk, "Old Adam in me die; live Jesus!"
n this inward substitution a change of spiritual center is involved. `When the old life-center of selfishness is destroyed, a new life-center of heaven-born love is formed. Hence-forth there is within the soul a new principle of action; a new source of authority is acknowledged; a new King sits upon a throne. Self sinks out of sight, and no man is seen "save Jesus only." Said the great German reformer, "Should any one knock at my breast and say, `Who lives here?' I should reply, `Not Martin Luther, but the Lord Jesus.'" Is not every Christian heart a house in which Christ lives, a house in which He is Master? Every one in whose heart Christ is Master of the house, can say, "It is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me." His old life has become a thing of the past; no longer does he call him-self His own; no longer does he seek His own ends in life; no longer does he work out from self as a center, or work in to self as a center. Christ is now the Lord of his life; every thing within him is under His control; he has no interests separate from His; he holds himself in constant readiness to carry out His slightest wish; whereas once he proudly said, "Not His will but mine be done;" now he meekly says, " Not my will but His be done." The Indwelling Christ is the center from which he works out; the center to which he works in; he lives from Christ, he lives for Christ.
" Saul is dead!" exclaims Erasmus. Yes; but Paul lives! The old man, the old nature is dead; the new man, the new nature lives. And even the new man lives not, save in the sense that another lives in him. So deep, so radical is the change that it may be described as a change of spiritual personality. One of the ancient fathers, accosted by an evil companion with whom, before his conversion, he had lived in sin, knowing his weakness, ran away with all his might. "Wherefore runnest thou away? it is I," called out his old companion after him. Promptly he answered, " I run away because I am not I; I am a new man. "And because anew man, another man; a different man morally and spiritually; a man with different qualities; different aims; a different destiny--a totally new creation.
The figures of inward crucifixion and death, already referred to, form part of a chain of Scripture symbolism in which the successive stages of Christian experience are vividly set forth. So complete is the identification of the Christian with Christ that he is said to be crucified with Him, dead with Him, buried with Him, raised with Him. These things are an allegory, but they describe real experiences. `The Christian is crucified with Christ to sin; through crucifixion he dies unto sin; the old sinful nature, "the body of sin," being dead is buried, and the new holy nature, the body of righteousness, which takes its place, is raised from the dead to walk in newness of life. From being dead in sin the Christian becomes "dead unto sin; " from being buried in the world he becomes buried to the world; from being dead to the things of the spirit-life he becomes "alive unto God through Jesus Christ." In his experience of Christ the truth has become the life. He does not merely believe in the crucifixion of Christ, he shares in it; he does not merely believe in the death of Christ for human sin, he is "made conformable unto His death;" he does not merely believe in the burial of Christ, he is, by the Spirit's baptism "buried with Him unto death;" he does not merely believe in His resurrection from the dead, he "knows Him and the power of His resurrection." His faith is something more than the acceptance of certain historical facts concerning Christ, it is a living experience of His power in his life. This distinction between the truth believed and the truth lived is made by John Arndt the basis of the tender appeal, "If thou believest that Christ was crucified for the sins of the world, thou must with Him be crucified to the same. If thou refusest to comply with this, thou canst not be a living member of Christ, nor be united to Him by faith. If thou believest that Christ is risen from the dead, it is thy duty to rise spiritually with 1-urn. In a word; the birth, cross, passion, death and resurrection of Christ must, after a spiritual manner, be transacted in thee." The German mystic, Scheffler, has said,
"The cross of Golgotha thou lookest to in vain,
Unless within thyself it be set up again."
And what is true of the cross of Golgotha is true of every other part of the drama of the life of Christ. It must all be reinacted in the soul.
In all that pertains to forgiveness and reconciliation to God, the emphasis is put upon the death of Christ; in all that pertains to sanctification the emphasis is put upon his life. "If we have been saved by his death, how much more by his life? " If the dead Christ upon the cross has brought us deliverance from the guilt and condemnation of sin, the living Christ who dwells and reigns, within the heart will bring us deliverance from the power of sin. If Christ is a mere figure in history; a mere wonder-worker of a past age, if all that we can say of Him is that,
" Far off He lies
- In the lorn Syrian town,
And on His grave with shining eyes
The Syrian stars look down," Matthew Arnold.
He is lost to us forever. A precious memory He still may be, but not a vital power in our lives. A dead Christ has no life-power. Only the Living Christ can bring us life. Christ the risen, Christ the vanquisher of death, Christ the Lord of life, is to us "the resurrection and the life." To us and in us He is " alive forevermore." Informed with His spirit we rise above ignoble aims, " setting our minds on the things which are above, not on the things which are upon the earth." As our present resurrection-life He breathes into us a new spirit of holy aspiration, which weans from base and woos to high desires; through our souls He sends a surging tide of vital energy which urges us forward to brave and generous deeds; in our hearts He enkindles a holy, sacrificial fire, which turns to ashes every selfish thought, while accepting in its pure, white hands of flame the humblest offering laid Upon love's altar.
Oneness with the Indwelling Christ.
0 teach us, Lord, to know and own
This wondrous mystery,
That thou with us art truly one,
And we are one with thee !"--J. G. DECK.
In the Christological teaching of St. Paul the conscious indwelling of Christ carries with it something more than spiritual identification. It carries with it spiritual oneness--community of nature. " He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" (I Cor. 6: 17); he is spiritually one with Him whose life he shares; not one with Him in essential essence, but one with Him in spiritual nature. As Christ took his nature, he takes Christ's nature; as Christ became a partaker of flesh and blood, he becomes a partaker of the divine moral nature; as in Christ the divine became human, in hire the human becomes divine; as by his old nature he was a child of wrath and disobedience; by his new nature, which Christ has imparted. he is a child of meekness and obedience--a spiritual child of God.
In this oneness of the believer and Christ joint-ownership is implied. The believer possesses Christ, and is possessed by Him; he has Christ for his inheritance and he is the inheritance of Christ; the Lord is his portion and he is the Lord's portion. Claiming Christ as his own he exclaims, " My beloved is mine;" recognizing the claim that Christ has upon him he adds, "And I am His."
Out of this joint-ownership spring mutual benefits. Christ is satisfied with His share, the believer ought to be more than satisfied with his. On his side the benefits are many and great. With Christ he holds all things in cornmon; with Him he has a common standing, common interests, common glory. As joint-heir with Christ he is dowered with a spiritual fortune which he holds not in the hand but in the heart; into his poverty-stricken soul Christ pours the unsearchable riches of His spirit; the good part is given him which shall not be taken away--for that which the heart holds, that which has become part of a man's true self, is an imperishable possession.
Those who through union with the indwelling Christ are brought into participation of His life, are represented in Scripture as having the mind, the heart, and the spirit of Christ.
1. " We" says the apostle, "have the mind (nous) of Christ." (I Cor. 2:16.) Again be says, " Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 2: 5.) To have the mind of Christ is to have Christ living in our minds, the base and ground of our thinking power; the sustainer and quickener of our reason; "the master light of all our seeing; the source of all our inward illumination. It is to know the thoughts of His mind through His word that dwells in us richly; to have our minds brought into full accord with His through His spirit that dwells in us richly. Seneca caught a glimpse of the truth that it is "the breath of the Almighty which giveth us understanding" when he said, " God is present in our minds, and enters into our central thought."
"Yea, high above the limit of our seeing,
And folded far within the inmost heart
As deep below the deeps of conscious being,
Thy splendor shineth; there, 0 God, thou art."
It has been observed that two people who are living in spiritual sympathy often find themselves thinking about the same thing at the same time. They grow to be mental doubles --" two souls with but a single thought." Through the operation of the law of thought-transference each mind projects its thought into the other, so that without a word having been spoken there is an interplay of mental influence, an interfiow of mental stimulus; an actual interchange of mental energy. In some such way Christ impresses Himself upon the minds of those in whom He dwells. Working upon them through the law of suggestion He may be said to think through them. Influenced by Him they come to have His way of seeing things, His way of thinking about things. When considering any question, they fall into the habit of occupying His standpoint, and looking through His eyes. It is not so much that they enter into His thought as it is that His thought enters into them. They think His thoughts after Him, making them their own. They take His conception of God, of man, of life's true end, of the government of the race, of the world's final goal. They accept His valuation of things; His estimate of the worth of some things which men despise, and of the worthlessness of other things which men so eagerly pursue. They entertain His view and accept His solution of all the perplexing problems by which they are confronted. His thoughts are their thoughts. By them they are guided and governed in all the minutest details of conduct; they are lights in their pathway; "empires in their brains;" germinative forces in their lives; the quickeners of
their sublimest hopes, the parents of their noblest deeds.
2. We have the heart of Christ. We have the heart (kardia) of Christ as Christians, not only in the sense that He has given it to us; having flung it at our feet, so that it is ours for the taking; but in the sense that we possess it and are possessed by it, so that it may be said to beat within our breasts. What was it but the Christ-heart, the Christ love within, going out in yearning desire to help halting souls to walk in the heavenward way, that led St. Paul to exclaim, " God is my witness, how I long after you all in the tender mercies of Jesus Christ?" (Phil. i: 8.) And what is it but the Christ-heart in any one that awakens in him the spirit of unselfish ministry, so that instead of always thinking of his individual wants and interests, he thinks of others, plans for others, prays for others, works and sacrifices for others?
There is a great truth in the rhapsody of Emerson:
I am owner of the sphere,
Of the seven stars and the solar year,
Of Caesar's hand, and Plato's brain,
Of Lord Christ's heart, and Shakespeare's strain."
A grand estate is his, who, as owner of Lord Christ's heart, feels the warm pulsations of Christ's love in every part of his spiritual nature; loves as Christ loves; loves what Christ loves; loves with Christ's love.
No more searching test can be applied by any man to himself than this;--Have I Christ's heart ? Does his love burn within my breast ? Am I stirred with his compassion when I look upon the sinning, sorrowing, suffering multitudes? Do I, like Him, go about continually doing good? When I see a brother lying wounded by the roadside, do I make haste to succor him ? Do I minister with ready hand, and with a love that is blind to earth's poor distinctions, wherever human want and misery make their mute appeal? Do I deal out bread to those who are hungry of body, and sympathy to those who are hungry of soul? Do I go forth as a knight errant to rescue humanity, torn and bleeding, from the murderous grasp of a cruel selfishness? Do I repine when the sharp thorns of trial pierce my tender feet? Do I shrink back from the path of duty when the serpent of malignity strikes his poisoned fangs into my quivering flesh? Am I willing, for Christ's dear sake, to be thrown into the fiery furnace of the world's scorn? Does Christ ever weep through my eyes over doomed men? Do I ever enter Gethsemane pressed down under the heavy weight of a worlds woes, " as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves?" Do I sorrow and suffer on account of human sin, enduring many a torturing crucifixion that I may help on the world's redemption? Do I bleed and die for others, shedding my life-blood, not in one great oblation, but in unnumbered daily sacrifices? Soul of mine! what dost thou answer?
Christianity is a heart religion. Its supreme test is, " Lovest thou Me more than these ?" The heart of Christ in the heart of the Christian is the vital center of practical Christianity, the living fountain of all its healing agencies. Through heart-qualities Christ has taken hold of the world; through heart-power He is conquering the world. Whenever a man comes to see that he is dearer to Christ than to the mother who bore him; whenever he comes to see that if all the mother's hearts in the world were fused into one, that one heart would be a drop to the ocean, an atom to the universe compared with the heart that broke in agony for his offenses upon the cross; whenever he comes to see that the poured-out blood of Calvary meant poured-out life, and that poured-out life meant poured-out love, the love of Christ constraineth him; it puts him under the strain and pressure of an imperial motive; it gives direction and force to the stream of his life's activities by compressing its waters within the rock-bound banks of a settled purpose to live not unto himself but---unto Him who loved him and gave Himself for him--unto Him who continues to love him and to give Himself to him. The self-giving love of Christ awakens a responsive love in all who contemplate it. As they muse the fire burns; as they enter into Christ's love, His love enters into them. Filled \vjtl-1 the fullness of His love the pent-up floods within them are bound to find an outlet. The love of Christ is too large for any heart to hold it. It will overflow into other hearts; it will give itself out, give itself away, for the enriching of other lives. The heart of Christ is a costly thing for any one to own. It will lead those who have it where it lead him. If it cost him the cross; it will cost them no less.
3. A not her mark of the indwelling of Christ consists in the possession of His Spirit. " If any man have not the Spirit (Pneuma) of Christ He is none of His." (Rom. 8: 9.) And by parity of reasoning, if any man has the Spirit of Christ he is one of His. The absence of the Spirit of Christ from a man is evidence of his separation from Christ; the presence of the Spirit of Christ in a man marks him off as belonging to Christ. The manner of spirit a man is of determines his essential character. By his inner spirit still more than by his outward deeds he is to be judged. What a man's spirit is that the man himself is. Hence to change a man you have to change his spirit. Reform is begun from the wrong side when it is begun from without. A new disposition, a new spirit is needed to produce a new character; new men are needed to produce a new social order.
The heavenly temper, the Christly spirit, the possession of which constitutes a man a Christian, is something entirely different from " his own spirit." It is something that comes from Christ, through communion with Him. We speak of cherishing or cultivating the Christian spirit, but before that spirit can be cherished or cultivated, it must be implanted. We need to pray, "Renew within me a right spirit, 0 Lord." Then will conic the answer, "I will put a new spirit within you." " I will put my spirit within you." Pharaoh recognized in the spirit of wisdom and understanding that characterized Joseph a divine gift, when he asked, " Can we find such an one as this; a man in whom the spirit of God is ?" (Gen. iv: 30.) The king of Babylon was constrained to speak of Daniel as one "in whom is the spirit of the holy gods." (Dan. 4: 8.) About some men there is a halo of light, an aroma of sanctity that suggests to others the indwelling of a divine spirit of wisdom and holiness.
But. not to others only, to the individual himself also, the possession of a divine spirit is the one conclusive evidence of divine indwelling. " Hereby know we that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit." (I John 4:13.) His Spirit, His own spirit, that is what the Christ within produces in us. He creates in us His own holy disposition; He permeates us with His own spiritual qualities; He makes us like Himself, lamb-like and dove-like; so that when we are injured we forgive, when smitten on the one cheek we meekly turn the other to the smiter; He makes us gentle, tender and charitable, so that we do not " break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax"; He makes us heroic and chivalrous, so that we are quick to maintain the rights and redress the wrongs of others; He makes us patient under trial, so that when we mourn we do not murmur; He makes us manly and brave, so that when smitten down we are not destroyed; He makes us positive in our feelings regarding right and wrong, so that we "love righteousness and hate iniquity "; He makes us humble in heart, so that we prefer keeping quietly on doing the Master's work to stopping to tell others about it; He makes us loyal to the law which He has written in our hearts, so that we have no need of vows and pledges to keep us faithful; He makes us winsome in character, attractive in the "beauty of holiness," so that others seeing our good, that is "our beautiful works" and tracing them to their true source, may "glorify God in us."
The Indwelling Christ a Fountain of Strength.
"A sense o'er all my soul imprest
That I am weak yet not unbiest,
Since in me, round me, everywhere
Eternal strength and wisdom are."
The great need of the human heart is something upon which to lean. As the climbing plant sends forth tendrils in search of a support the soul reaches out and up for something upon which to stay itself. A dying infidel, urged by his associates to " hold on," lifted up his weary eyes and asked with a look of blank despair, " Tell me what I am to hold on to?" That is a vital question with every man when forced to go out of himself for help. He wants some one to tell him to what his sinking soul can cling securely; he wants some one to tell him to whom he is to look for help when all around his soul gives way; he wants to be sure that he is grasping a reality and not a shadow; that he is standing upon the solid rock and not upon the sinking sand.
"Man is weak," said one of the ancients, "let some one give him a hand." But he does not always feel his weakness, and hence is not always prepared to accept a hand of help, much less ask for it. For a time he may be so self-centered and self-satisfied as to have no feeling of dependence upon a higher power. Upon his complacent brow may be read " Sufficient unto myself." But sooner or later, repeated failures are certain to bring a sad revelation of weakness; the feeling of creature-sufficiency, the feeling of religious self-conceit is certain to vanish away; a collapse of power is certain to come; the need of a fixed center of rest and strength is certain to be felt; and the bitter soul-cry, " 0 wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me ?"is certain to be heard.
Over against this feeling of helplessness and impotence, which comes to every man when he comes to himself, Scripture places in the strongest possible relief the power which is made available to him through Jesus Christ. While we were yet weak, in due season Christ died for the ungodly." (Rom, 5: 6.) When we were powerless for good; destitute of all moral strength to walk in the way of uprightness; when we were in a state of spiritual infirmity "and could in no wise lift up ourselves;" when we were unable to extricate ourselves from the awful depths of misery and despair into which we had been plunged by sin, "in due season" Christ died to bring us deliverance. "It is after the manner of God," quaintly remarks Matthew Henry " to help at a dead lift." The inability of man to save himself makes divine intervention necessary. The situation is desperate. Man is " without strength." He is like a child trying to lift a load which is beyond his power to move. In his extremity his help is laid upon One who is mighty, and through His aid he succeeds in performing the impossible. Of good King Hezekiah it was said that "he was marvelously helped." All are marvelously helped who are divinely helped. When you can boldly say, "The Lord is my helper;" look out for surprises
In what way does Christ bring succor to the weak? How is his strength made available to the strengthless? Does He put himself under their burdens, or does He put himself into their souls, helping them "in their infirmities," and enabling them to bear their burdens? He helps in both ways, but the latter way is the one usually adopted. Writing to the Ephesians Paul says, " For this cause I bow my my knees unto the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he would grant you according to the riches of his glory, that ye be strengthened through His spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." (Chap. 3: 14-17.) Here the power by which self and sin are conquered and duty done is traced to the presence of the Indwelling Christ, working by his Spirit within the hidden depths of our nature, pouring His strength into our enfeebled wills, transfusing His life-blood into our diseased and lying souls, and making the flickering pulse-beat of our spiritual life firm and strong. When Christ is within, His strength is ours. Weak in ourselves we are "strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." We are "strong in the grace that is Christ Jesus." Concerning every victory won or work accomplished we thankfully acknowledge, "It is not I, but Christ who dwelleth in me." Concerning every failure and defeat we sorrowfully acknowledge, "It is not Christ, but sin that dwelleth in me." The discouragement arising from futile attempts to live the Christian life is traceable in every case to a lack of dependence upon the power of the Indwelling Christ. How often is the sad confession heard, " I have tried and failed." " You have tried and you have failed " Of course. But did Christ fail? Did He have a fair chance with you? Were you trusting for success to your native strength, or to "the strength of the Lord God?" Did you look to the Christ within you to slay your bosom sins? Did. you seek for present victory over inbred corruptions "through the blood of the Lamb?" Did you give Christ complete possession of the castle of your heart, and then trust Him to keep possession of it against all assailants ? Was there free concurrence and full co-operation with Him in all that He was doing on your behalf? Be sure that Christ did not fail; be sure that all the failure came from your unwillingness to allow Him to work unhindered. No one can ever fail who allies himself with the Indwelling Christ as the secret source of His strength; and no one can escape failure who leaves Him out, and attempts to fight against the powers of evil single-handed.
When any one has suffered an inglorious defeat, and a sense of failure has fallen upon him like a chilling shadow', he will be saved from hopeless despair by keeping in mind the cause of his failure. Were it attributable to the break down of his own strength there would be nothing to hope for. Under a similar strain he would break down again. But seeing that it has come from the giving way of faith -- from taking the eye off the Unconquerable Leader--it is something that can be remedied. The defeated soul that remembers what he has to fall back upon, rebuking his despondency, will renew the conflict saying, " Rejoice not over me, 0 mine enemy; for though I fall, yet shall I rise again;" " Out of weakness he will be made strong," as
"All noble souls through dust and heat
Rise from disaster and defeat the stronger;
And conscious still of the divine
Within them, lie oil earth supine no longer."
The consciousness of "the divine within," which to the Christian means the Christ within, nerves the impotent arm for the battle, and girds the prostrate soul with strength to triumph over every foe. And blessed is the defeat that drives the soul back to the source of her help in Him who is the Bruiser of the Serpent, the Conqueror of sin and death! Blessed is the loss of power that leads the soul to take a firmer grip upon the everlasting arm Blessed is the most humbling experience that takes the soul out of itself to Christ and enables it to say, " Most gladly will I glory in my weakness that the strength of Christ may rest upon me."
From the presence of Christ in the heart comes plenitude of power to meet every moral demand. Strong in his strength we rise into joyous and victorious life; made vigorous by the impartation of His holy energy we are able to resist temptation as the strong and healthy resist the winter's cold. Supplied by Him with overcoming grace our moral nature is braced and stiffened to withstand and master evil in every form. Experiencing the all-sufficiency of His power we can say with McCheyne: " As Christ for us is all our righteousness before a Holy God, Christ in us is all our strength before an ungodly world." Knowing that He is ever in us struggling with us against our sin, and knowing that greater is the Saviour that is in us than the sin that is in us, we know that " sin hath no more dominion over us.'' Its mastery is broken. With clear discernment of the source of the power in which the Christian evercometh, Luther aptly remarks, " How often do Christians stumble; and to look at them outwardly they seem to be all weakness and reproach. But this matters not, for beneath their weakness and foolishness dwells in secret a power that the world can not know, and which yet overcometh the world--for Christ dwelleth in them."
Strength also to endure comes from the divine within. "Through conscience of God," or more correctly, "through consciousness of God," that is, through consciousness of God's presence in the soul--" men endure griefs, suffering wrongfully." (I Peter 2: 9, marginal reading R. V.) Whatever trials they may have to bear they are conscious that One who is the very element of their lives provides, and brings within their reach strength proportionate to their need. When stooping under heavy burdens of care and trouble, when staggering under the weight of a cross too heavy for their feeble shoulders, He puts His strong arm beneath them to keep them from sinking. His aid is equal to every emergency. " My grace," He says, "is sufficient for thee; for my power is made perfect in weakness." Hearts of oak have they whom He inwardly strengthens. Although keenly sensitive to life's calamities they learn to overcome their natural shrinking of heart; and dwelling in quietness and repose they show to others "how sublime a thing it is to suffer and be strong."
From the Christ within likewise comes strength for service. When disagreeable and irksome duties fall to our lot, He matches the hardest task with strength sufficient for its performance; when spiritual life is at low-water mark He gives abundance of power to drive all the machinery which we can profitably operate; when we are spiritually infirm and can barely perform the functions of living, having no strength to spare for the productive activities of life He reinvigorates our feeble souls, filling them with an overbrimming vitality which makes labor for others a delight. The weakest soul that has his springs in Him can say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me." That is, all things I am commanded to do, all things within the circle of my prescribed duty, I can do through Him who is the present and continuous source of my help. He who appoints my task, difficult though it be, impossible though it appears, will surely supply the strength that is necessary to its accomplishment. All that I can do through Him shows what He can do with the feeblest instrument. And as His is the power, let His be the glory.
"The possibilities of the Christian life are, therefore, measured," as Dr. R. W. Dale points out, "not by our own natural resources but by the infinite perfection of Christ himself." No limit is put to the measure of our power save the limit which we put to the working of His power in us. When He is allowed to have free course in us, we can adopt the words of the prophet Micah, "Truly, I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord." What a delightful experience The life-forces within the soul at full flood Fullness of power from God, fullness of power for good! Power sufficient for daily duty; power that is replenished as often as the world drains the spirit dry; power that, renewed like the eagle's, endures in all the freshness and vigor of everlasting youth; power that enables its possessor to run swiftly in the dusty way of humble toil and not be weary, to walk steadily in the hard and stony way of self-denial, and not faint.
Full of cheer and hope is this Gospel of strength for the strengthless. An open door of deliverance from weakness and of entrance into strength stands before every man. "The Strong Son of God" proffers power to all. And where power is possible it is sinful to be weak. The feeblest saint, realizing where his strength lies, should ever be ready to join in the triumphant song; "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, (that is, the power that is now at work in us), unto Him be the glory in the church, and in Christ Jesus unto all generations forever and ever; Amen." (Eph. 3: 20, 21.)
The Indwelling Christ the Root of Righteousness.
"God in our nature, that is, Christ--the root of the
new sap or eternal life in man, without which no man
could have been righteous, and by the presence of which
in our nature every man may be righteous."--THOS. ERSEINE.
A sinful soul possesses no inherent power to live righteously. There are no natural virtues. When the Gentiles "do by nature the things contained in the law," they do them because Christ is in them working through their nature. Immanent in nature, and especially in human nature, Christ has always stood ready to supply all the necessities that arose in the condition of man as a fallen being. Historic redemption is no strange exception to what went before it. When man fell it was natural that the One who already stood in essential relation to him should be his deliverer. The fail of man gave Christ the opportunity to show Himself; it gave Him the opportunity to show that His relation to man was more original than original sin; and that His love to man antedated the first open declaration of it. In His incarnation we see Him coming into human nature that He might grapple with, and overcome the evil powers which were laying it waste; we see Him uniting himself organically with man that He might make to him larger conveyance of saving power. But we are not to suppose that He had nothing to do with man before His coming in the flesh. He has always been at work in man. As the ever-flowing Fountain of divine life and love He has always been giving himself to man; as the living Root of humanity He has always been a righteousness-producing power in the entire race. Man is not dependent for salvation upon the action or agency of his fellowmen. He is dependent upon Christ. Ensphered in His grace every life holds within itself possibilities of good which time does not limit. Enfolded in His nurturing love every life may develop qualities of moral loveliness not indigenous to the soil of a sinful nature. Sin is original, righteousness is derivative; sin is man's own, righteousness is from Christ. All graciousness of character, wherever found, is the outgrowth of the life which he imparts. As all light and heat are from the sun, all righteousness is from him who is "the Sun of righteousness." "Thy beauty was perfect through my comeliness, which I put upon thee, saith the Lord."
The best of heathen minds recognized the presence in man of a power working for righteousness. They saw that everything good in man proceeded not from himself, but from a divine power within him. Says Seneca, " God is near you, is within you. A sacred Spirit dwells within us, the observer of all our evil and our good. There is no good man with- out God." Again he says, "It is God that comes to men; yea, more, he enters into them; for no mind can become truly good but by His assistance." To the same effect are the words of Socrates; " Wheresoever virtue comes it seems to be the fruit of a divine dispensation." Every Hindu worshiper repeats the words from the Vishnu Darmottara, "I know what is righteousness, but I have not the readiness to perform it. I know what is unrighteousness, but have not the power to abstain from it. 0, Rhishikesa, thou art in my heart, dispose me as thou wouldest, and I would act accordingly."
Claiming to be the Power from which all righteousness proceeds, Christ declares to sinful men, " Apart from me," that is, separated from me, "ye can do nothing." His words are to be taken in the most absolute sense. Apart from Him, the living Vine, no one possesses a particle of fruit-bearing power. Apart from Him no one can produce, in any measure, the fruits of righteousness. Every holy life is a branch in the True Vine, and is fed from His out-flowing sap. He is the power in man that incites to righteousness, the power that makes for righteousness, the power that makes righteousness. Humanity is as dependent upon Him for spiritual life, as the branch is dependent upon the tree, the tree upon the soil, the river upon the fountain, the animal upon the air, the planet upon the sun. The branch severed from the tree, the tree uprooted from the soil wither and die, the river cut off from its fountain-head dries up, the animal excluded from the air expires, the planet separated from the sun becomes a lifeless, frozen mass, and the soul separated from Christ becomes a dead soul, incapable of doing anything morally meritorious.
If it is important to see with Herbert Spencer, that within the material sphere " we are ever in the presence of an Infinite and Eternal Energy from which all things proceed," it is equally important to see that within the spiritual sphere we are ever in the presence of an Infinite and Eternal Energy from which all righteousness proceeds. This divine power unto righteousness, resident in humanity, is not an impersonal power diffused through human nature, but a spiritual presence dwelling in human nature. Faraday reasons that because all force is in its last analysis will-force, in every heart-throb we may feel the presence of God within us; so because all righteousness is in its last analysis a divine quality, in every holy thought and deed we can trace the influence of Him who is "the Lord our righteocsness "---the sole and efficient cause of holy character.
The best that man can possibly produce by himself is an outward, mechanical righteousness--a righteousness worthless as "filthy rags; " but a vital, spiritual righteousness--a righteousness acceptable to God, is possible to him only as his spirit is penetrated and pervaded by the Spirit of Christ. It is by the touch of Christ, "the life-giving Spirit" of humanity, that the inner nature of man is quickened and renewed, and his outer life reformed and transformed. Those who be- come partakers of his Spirit become " partakers of his holiness." They are inspired to seek after, and empowered to attain, that ideal righteousness embodied in His life. From the inflow of His love into their hearts results the outflow of His righteousness in their lives. Yielding themselves up to the holy impulses which come from Him, "moving them on to noble ends," they are " made the righteousness of God in Him." Spiritually, they are not self-made, but Christ-made men. They are His workmanship. They bear upon every part of their lives the marks of His fashioning fingers. They exhibit a holy character which requires Him for its explanation. The open secret of their regenerated lives is the regenerative power which He has brought into their natures. Every holy desire they cherish, every loving deed they do bears witness to His secret presence.
Yea, every virtue they possess,
And every conquest won,
And every thought of holiness
Is His alone."
The blissful effect of the realization by the believer of the indwelling Christ as the inward law and power of righteousness, is thus stated by St. Paul, "If Christ is in you, the body is dead, because of sin; but the spirit is life, because of righteousness." (Rom. 8: 10.) That is, if the body, because of sin that dwelleth in it, has in it the seed of death, the spirit because of Christ who dwelleth in it, as the principle of holiness, has in it the germ of an endless life. Not only does the spirit live, it "is life." It has Christ's own life in it, and forms a new life- center from which sanctifying influences begin to work. It is at once the part of man that connects with Christ, the part at which Christ's life enters, and also the part from which Christ's life radiates. From the spirit the body is reached. Christ quickens the spirit, the spirit quickens the body. Christ masters the spirit, the spirit masters the body; Christ governs the spirit, the spirit governs the body. When Christ rules within, the body i~ "kept sunder," the spirit is on the top. From the throne of the spirit He holds sway over the whole man.
The life of righteousness which Christ creates within is eternal. The sanctification of which He is the author He is also the perfecter. His presence in the heart is the pledge of greater things yet to be done, the prophecy of of sublimer heights of holiness yet to be attained. Justification is an act, sanctification a process. We are justified completely at first when we came into Christ, we are sanctified progressively by having Christ abiding in us. Of His presence as of His righteousness there shall be no end. The righteousness which He has brought in for us, and which He is working out in us, is an " everlasting righteousness."
To become powerfully and progressively operative in us for righteousness Christ must gain entire possession of the heart. How often has a parent been known to say of a wayward child, " Could i only get completely into him and make him desire and choose for himself what I desire and choose for him, how easy it would be to change his life !". This is what Christ seeks to accomplish in all the out-goings of Himself for the salvation of man. He seeks to obtain a controling influence in our lives. He seeks to get into the deep places of our souls that He may change our desires, renovate our wills, and make us entirely over, by working in us a new disposition out of which shall come a new character. As Dr. A. McLaren so aptly puts it, He seeks to enter into us that He may be "the heart of our love, the will of our resolve, the source of our goodness." In a word, He seeks to be implanted deeply within our souls as the living root of the goodly tree of righteousness upon which all heavenly virtues grow.
Christ Within---Heaven Within
Infinite riches in a little room." ---MARLOWE.
All the glory and beauty of Christ are manifested
within, and there He delights to dwell; His visits are
frequent, His condescension amazing. H is conversations
sweet, His comforts refreshing; and the peace that He
brings passeth all understanding."
- -THOMAS A KEMPIS.
Heaven is where Christ is. His presence in the heart makes heaven in the heart. A Christian was asked if he was on the way to heaven. " I live there," was the reply. Heaven is not so far away as many suppose.
The door that leads to it opens inward. " The Kingdom of Heaven is among you." Wherever the King sets up his court, wherever His Spirit is regnant, wherever the richness and fullness of His indwelling is experienced, there the kingdom of heaven has come.
There are friends whose presence is a benediction. They call out the best that is in us. The overflow of their personality into ours imparts health and hope. The influence that they exert upon us affords a suggestion of the influence of Christ upon those who come within the circle of His friendship. When standing by His side life appears sublimed and transfigured. In the consciousness of His presence tears are changed into smiles, sighs into songs, night into day. " I thought of Christ," said Samuel Rutherford, "till every stone in my prison cell shone like a ruby." A prison is changed into a palace when the presence of Christ is realized. The venerable missionary, John Paton testifies to the fear-dispelling and joy-bestowing power which came to him from the felt presence of the Lord in the midst of his hard and lonely labors in the New Hebrides. Speaking of a circumstance of exceptional trial he says, " Nothing else than the abiding presence and power of my dear Lord and Saviour could have prevented roe from losing my reason and perishing miserably. His words, `Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world,' became to me so real that it would not have startled me to see Him as Stephen did, gazing down upon the scene." He adds, " O, the bliss of living and enduring, as seeing Him who is invisible !" This bliss, which is a sweet foretaste of heaven, all may have. It is not a thing of special privilege, but of universal possibility. What one receives is given to all. To every man is freely offered a friendship more precious than the choicest friendships of earth; a fellowship more sweet than the fellowship of kindred human souls. No reason is there why those now living should envy those who lived in the days when the Lord came in bodily presence to sojourn under the hospitable roof-trees of His friends. He still comes to our homes and hearts to take up His abode within them, and fill them with His resplendent glory. Every home may still be a Bethany, every heart a guest-chamber of the King.
The heart in which Christ dwells becomes the house beautiful. It is a well-ordered abode. All its plans and arrangements are under His supervision and control. Peace and joy sit around its hearth. Love is the spirit that reigns within it. By filling the heart with Himself He fills it with love; for as Sir James MacIntosh exclaimed when dying, "Jesus and love are the same thing." And this love with which Christ fills the heart has a reflexive influence in making the vision of His presence clearer. The Christ of love manifests Himself to loving hearts as He can not manifest himself to worldly selfish hearts. Love makes His presence real. " If a man love me," He says, "lie will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." Even pure earthly love, pure love to man as man helps to make God real and near. "If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us. He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, arid God in him." And he that dwelleth in Gods by dwelling in love, dwelleth in heaven and heaven in him.
This heavenly love which enters the soul when Christ enters it brings heaven with it. It begets harmony and harmony begets heaven. As Christ and love are one, love and heaven are one. Divine love in the heart brings man into complete adjustment to the moral order under which h~ lives, and of which every sin is a violation. Insubordination to the divine moral order is anarchy, and anarchy is hell; submission is peace, and peace is heaven. Not until the human will sinks into the divine will; not until the mutinous spirit of man bows before the sceptre of divine authority; not until there be a complete abdication of self in favor of Christ the soul's true King, can there be adjustment in all Godward and manward relations; and not until this adjustment has taken place can man enter into the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is first righteousness, then peace. When the fire of unholy ambition is quenched, when the fever of selfish self-seeking is subdued, when the clashing of rival interests has ceased, when the soul, standing no longer between two opposing forces, accepts the divine will in everything, when the hopeless task of putting an ill-assorted life into proper shape has been given up, and the entire management of things is put into the hands of the All-Wise, freedom is found from all perplexity and anxiety. God's will then proves to be " a pillow to rest upon, not a load to carry." Henceforth, there is in life more carefulness and less care. The friction and worry that wear life out are taken away. If there is not rest from trouble there is rest in trouble; if there is not rest from toil there is rest in toil. Amid the noisy contentions of the world, amid the fierce struggles of life the Lord ordains peace. When petty cares buzz around the head tranquility abides within the heart. Like the ship's compass which is so adjusted as to keeps its level amid all the heaving of the sea, the heart that feels the attractive power of Christ's indwelling love is kept calm and steady while tossed on the waves of earthly trouble. Without the storm may rage, within there is peace.
Christian peace and joy do not spring up of themselves; they do not come from outward things, they come directly from the presence of Christ in the heart. They are found in Him, never apart from Him. When the Master forewarns that "In this world ye shall have tribulation," He adds, " but in me peace."
Again He says, "My peace I give unto you." "These things have I spoken unto you that my joy might remain in you." If we have Christ in us we have His peace and joy in us. Therefore, we are not to seek peace and joy by themselves, we are to seek Christ and these will be added. We are not to labor to expel the darkness of doubt and sorrow from our hearts, we are to allow the light of His presence to fill our hearts, and the darkness will be put out and kept out. We are not to depend upon our own toiling and rowing when the winds are contrary; we are to receive Christ into the heart, as the storm-driven
disciples received him into the ship, and we shall speed on our way toward the heavenly shore.
Our hearts need Christ, and they are desolate until He dwells within them. The cry of St. Augustine, "O Lord, thou hast made us for thyself, and our hearts are restless till they rest in thee;" awaken within us a responsive echo. Our heart's deepest longings are outbreathed in the words of Charles Wesley:
"Love divine, all love excelling,
Joy of heaven to-earth come down!
Fix in us thy humble dwelling,
All thy faithful mercies crown;
Jesus, thou art all compassion,
Pure, unbounded love thou art,
Visit us with thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart."
How to Come into the Consciousness of the Indwelling Christ.
"Look within you; for within is the fountain of all
good, and it will ever bubble forth if thou wilt ever dig."
Into the consciousness of Christ as immanent in the heart we come by faith. The prayer of Paul for the Ephesians was "that Christ might dwell in their hearts through faith." In what other way can one spirit
come into possession of the treasures of another spirit than by faith ? What is faith but spiritual appropriation? What is faith in Christ but the appropriation of Him by the individual soul, the receiving of Him into the intelligence, the affections and the will? What is it but the giving up to Him of the keys of the castle of Mansoul, with a free and full abandonment of every claim hitherto held, and the undisputed occupancy of every room from turret to cellar? Scripture identifies the receiving of Christ with believing on Him. "To as many as received Him gave He the right to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." Those who believe on Christ receive Him, they take Him unto themselves, they make Him their own. They are able to receive Him because He has given Himself to them. They do not require to bring Him down from above; all they have to do is to bring Him in from without, that the invisible object which they have adoringly contemplated may dwell and operate within the depths of their conscious being. For this is the function of faith--to make the objective subjective; to make the outward revelation an inward voice; to make the work of Christ upon the cross a concrete experience in the life. Paul had this experimental side of things in view when he said, "We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received His atonement." The at-one-ment is here set forth, not as something wrought out by Christ outside. of man, but something inwrought into man. It is something received, something realized in personal experience.
Receiving Christ by faith we are brought into vital union with Him, and enter into possession of His righteousness and strength. Before we receive Him He is in us potentially, His righteousness being to us potential righteousness, His strength potential strength; after we receive Him He is in us in a saving sense; His righteousness becoming to us actual righteousness, His strength actual strength; before we receive Him He is an available Saviour, after we receive Him He is an actual Saviour; before we receive him we are in a salvable condition, after we have received I-Jim we are in a saved condition. Faith changes us in relation to Him, but it does not change Him in relation to us. Faith does not create, but merely finds its object; it does not bring the vision near, but merely opens the eyes to behold what
was already there for the seeing; it does not make Christ present, but it clears away the earth-born mists and clouds which hid Him from sight, and makes Him vividly present to the inner consciousness as a real and actual Saviour. An old writer remarks, that " when the boatman with his hook grapples the rock, he does not pull the shore to the boat, but the boat to the shore; so when we by faith lay hold on Christ we do not pull Christ to us, but ourselves to Him." Faith does not describe the movement of Christ manward, but the movement of man Christward; it does not describe the coming of Christ to the soul, but the reception of Christ by the soul.
Christ is the ultimate object of Christian faith, as He is also the ultimate object of God's revelation to man. The word is the medium through which Christ is known, the window through which Christ is seen. Faith must not halt at the word, but must pass on through it until it terminates on Christ. The oft repeated exhortation is," Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." It is not because the words of a book which tells us about Christ are in us that we are Christians, but because Christ himself is in us. There is no true resting place for the soul until Christ is found. The watchword of to-day, "Back to Christ," if rightly interpreted means, back behind tradition and theology, back behind the original revelation itself, that we may stand face to face with the Jesus of gospel story, and see in him the Christ of God. The word is of value as it leads beyond itself to the true object of the soul's quest. Looking through it each one should say:
"Beyond the sacred page
I seek thee, Lord
My spirit pants for thee,
0 living Word! "
--Mary A. Lathbury.
That which gives to Christian faith its saving power is its object. " Faith," says Luther, "taketh hold on Christ, and hath Him present, and holdeth Him inclosed as the ring doth the precious stone." To the same effect are the words of Flavel, "The soul is the life of the body; faith is the life of the soul, and Christ is the life of faith." Faith is not our Saviour; it is the inward condition upon which Christ becomes ours; it is the opening of the soul to Him, that He may enter into it, and fill it with all the fullness of His divine life. The power of faith depends entirely upon what it takes in. The strongest faith is a delusion and a snare if it takes into the heart that which is untrustworthy and insecure; the weakest faith is unspeakably powerful if it takes into the heart an Almighty Christ. A simple-minded Christian, who
trusted implicitly in the Lord, was asked, Are you the woman with the great faith?" "I do not know about having great faith," Was the wise reply; "but this I know, I have a great Saviour." The faith that embraces a Great Saviour, however feeble it may be in itself, will always have in it something of the power that belongs to its object, and will "have signs following."
There is need to distinguish between faith in the fact of Christ's indwelling, and the feeling which the consciousness of that fact is supposed to awaken. We walk by faith, not by feeling. We are to believe that Christ is with us when we do not feel his presence, just as we believe that the sun is shining in the sky when not a ray of light pierces the encircling gloom.
" When we in darkness walk,
Nor feel the heavenly flame,
Then is the time to trust our God,
And rest upon His name."
When Christ seems far away then is the time to believe that He is really near; when we do not feel Him in us then is the time to keep declaring to ourselves that He is in us, and to keep acting upon that faith. If Christ is in us He is in us whether we feel His presence or not. The mind, however, can not always be dwelling upon the fact of His presence, the heart can not always be in a thrill of ecstacy because of it. When we are immersed in thought we are not actively conscious of our friend's presence in the room; yet we are well aware that he is at our side; we have a sort of sub-consciousness of his presence, and we know that at any moment we can turn around and hold intercourse with him. So we ought to believe that Christ is just as near us when the thermometer of feeling is at zero as when it is at summer heat; that He is just as near when in the press of business we keep Him in the background of our thoughts, as when upon our knees in prayer we are speaking with Him face to face. To carry with us the conviction that the presence of Christ does not depend upon our feeling, and to make the fact of His presence a matter of abiding faith, in every weather, is the only way to obtain deliverance from the darkness that comes from a mistaken sense of divine desertion. It is absolutely true that Christ is with us " all the days whether we are sensible of His presence or not. Sometimes He is so close that we do not see Him; we being " dark with excess of light."
"`Oh, where is the sea?' the fishes cried
As they swam the crystal clearness through;
We've heard from of old of the ocean's tide,
And we long to look on the waters blue.
The wise ones speak of an infinite sea;
Oh, who can tell us if such there be
The lark flew up in the morning bright
And sang and balanced on sunny wings,
And this was its song; `I see the light;
I look on a world of beautiful things;
And flying and singing everywhere
In vain have I sought to find the air.'"
Oh, the pity of it that we so often fail to find God when all the time He is round about us as the circumambient air; oh, the pity of it that we are so often dead to the presence of Christ, when in these hearts of ours which He has formed for His spiritual habitation He is seeking to make Himself known, that in the consciousness of His presence we might have fullness of joy, of peace, and of strength. To deny His presence within us is a deadly heresy. " Know ye not as to your own selves," asks St. Paul, "that Jesus Christ is in you ? Unless indeed, ye be reprobate." (II Cor. 13:5.) The form in which we should have expected this inquiry to have been put is this: " Know ye not that ye are reprobates unless Jesus Christ is in you." But Paul is going back in thought to the original relation of man to Christ, and he reasons that Jesus Christ is in us unless we have thrust Him out and have persisted in keeping Him out. When man becomes separated from the True Vine to which he was originally united, the act of excision is his own; when he finds himself at a distance from Christ it is because he has forsaken Christ, and not because Christ has forsaken him. Christ never turns His back upon any man.
It is the presence of Christ and His effectual grace in the heart that places man under a probation of hopefulness, by furnishing him with all the conditions necessary to his salvation. In every heart the hand of Christ has planted a divine seed, a germ of eternal life which may be allowed to remain dormant; or may be ruthlessly crushed beneath the swinish hoof of animalism; or may be carefully cultivated, and made to yield the richest and ripest fruit of holiness. In the fact of its presence lies the possibility of redemption. But it is only when this divine seed abideth in the soul, when, in other words, it is sacredly guarded and tended, that there is developed from it a holy life which overshadows and
destroys everything that is sinful. The one point, therefore, upon which destiny turns is that of yielding up the guidance and government of the life to the divine grace already acting upon it; keeping the heart open to the constant influx of that power in man which through love makes for righteousness. In the words of another, " Having Jesus Christ given to us by the grace of God, we are under probation whether we will receive Him or not, whether we will walk in Him or not. "1
The presence of Christ in the heart is inoperative for good unless welcomed and improved. The sad admission must be made that Christ has no power over many lives; but that proves nothing whatever against the reality of His indwelling presence. Suppose that in a certain town or village there is a Bible in every house; but some one says, " I do not believe it; I do not see the proof of it; " what answer would you make? Would you not call attention to the fact that the Bible is a power for good only as men i-cad and apply it. When covered with the dust of neglect it confers no benefit whatever upon its possessor. And so Christ in the heart is a power for good only as men turn to Him, and unite themselves to Him. It is the believing or receiving soul that finds Him a magazine of grace from which every want is completely supplied. As William Penn expresses it in his preface to Fox's Journal: "The light of Jesus Christ within is the seed and leaven of the kingdom of God; a faithful and true monitor in every bosom, the gift and grace of God to life and salvation, that appears to all, though few regard it." (P. ix.) It was this truth which gave to early Quakerism its moral power. Like a fiery prophet George Fox went everywhere proclaiming to every man he met: " Brother, there is a light within thee; resist it and thou art miserable; follow it and thou art happy." As tins truth has been allowed to evaporate, Quakerism has declined.
It has often been heedlessly affirmed that "Out of Christ God is a consuming fire. But God is never out of Christ. When, however, Christ is out of man, when He has been banished from the heart, when the only one who could bring deliverance has been driven out, when His place has been given to the devil and sin is allowed to work unchecked, God is a consuming fire. The ejection of Christ draws down the judgment of God upon the soul.
And, when any one has become alienated from Him by wicked works, Christ takes the initiative in seeking to regain His former place in the heart's affections. To those who have despised and disowned Him He comes asking to be restored to the old footing; to the heart from which He has been thrust out He comes suing for readmission. Give Him the slightest opening and He will re-enter the heart from which He has been ignominiously excluded. Nor do we need, by tears and prayers, to overcome His reluctance and constrain Him to come in. In the same condescending way in which He came to the Laodicean church, from which He had been expelled, He comes to every individual heart. With a depth of interest that cannot wait in silence He calls attention to His presence, saying; " Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if any man will hear my voice and open the door I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Oftentimes His voice is drowned in the noise of turbulent passions, the clashings of a divided conscience, the din of worldly traffic. And no attempt is made to hush the noise within that He alone may be heard to speak. Sad to say, His company is not desired. The door of the Spirit home is firmly barred against Him. Yet near the fast-closed door He lingers, seeking to treat with those who want to have nothing to do with Him; showing an unfathomable interest in those who show no interest whatever in Him. He waits that He may be gracious unto them. He wants to find house-room in their hearts, He wants to bring to them a soul-satisfying feast. He longs to have them all to Himself, and He longs to give all of Himself to them. But anxious as He is to come into possession of His own, He will not come into any heart unwelcomed or unbidden. Having taken the initiative, He waits for man's response. The door has been bolted from within, and from within it must be opened. Burning with the desire to enter into us that He may enrich and beautify our lives He pleads with us to rise and let Him in. Hard indeed must be the heart that can withstand His eager, tender entreaty.
"Ah! my soul, for such a Wonder,
Wilt thou not undo the door ?"
1 "Election," Thos. Erskine, P. 144.
CHAPTER X I.
The Real Presence.
I feed by faith on Christ; my bread
His body broken on the tree;
I live in Him, my living Head
Who died and rose again for me."
The doctrine of the Real Presence can be properly understood only in connection with the doctrine of the divine immanence, Christologically interpreted. In the ordinance of the Lord's Supper witness is borne to the presence of the post-incarnate Christ, through whom, as the Eternal Logos, God keeps in unbroken communication with men. He who, as the mediating Word of God, is always and everywhere present, manifests His presence to us in a special way, when as His invited guests we partake of His Pascal Supper. The Lord's Supper is to us what it was to the twelve disciples who first partook of it--the supreme occasion of divine self-manifestation. The object for which this simple ceremony was instituted was to bring the living Christ before the thought of His people. The command of the Master, "This do in remembrance of me," means " Observe this ordinance as a memorial of me after my death; by it remember me not as dead, but as still present with you." The Lord's Supper is not a festival of death, but of life; it is not designed to commemorate a dead Saviour, but to be the means by which we are to commune with a living Saviour.
The presence of our Lord at and in the Supper is real and personal; to say that it is also spiritual and invisible does not take away from its reality or personality. Like the disciples of old many modern disciples require to be weaned from the idea of the necessity of a visible presence. They seem to think that visibility is essential to a real and personal presence. They reason with the matter-of- fact Martha that if the Lord had been present certain things would not have happened, forgetting that nothing ever happens in His absence. Although unseen, He is always present. And when we sit down at His table He is just as near to us as He was to the chosen twelve with whom He brake bread in the upper room at Jerusalem. Now that He is no longer tied down by a mortal body His power of self-manifestation is increased rather than diminished. We can get nearer to Him, and He to us than if the veil of flesh stood in the way. Having broken through the limitations of His earth-life He speaks to our faith rather than to our senses. His presence is direct and intimate. Our meeting with Him is the meeting of spirit with spirit. Our communion with Him is a thing of the soul and not of outward touch. The food of which we partake at His table is spiritual food; the act by which it is appropriated is a spiritual act; the benefits which it conveys are spiritual benefits. That surely is no " meaningless sign" in which Christ is brought before us, and through which we have fellowship with Him! What we have is not a reflection of Christ merely, cold as the moon; but a real presence, warm as the sun. The very thing that makes the Lord's Supper the crown of Christian worship is that through it we commune with the living, present Christ. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the body of Christ?"
By the Roman Catholic Church the doctrine of the Real Presence has been grossly materialized. The position taken is that the bread and wine of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper are changed " as to their essence" into the very body and blood of Christ. Hence the way to have Christ in you is to eat the wafer of the sacrament, in which he is corporeally present. This surely is to drag a spiritual feast down to a material plane, and to rob one of the most precious means of grace of its true spiritual significance
The Lutheran church holds that the body and blood of Christ are mysteriously and supernaturally united with the bread and wine; that they are--to use the words of the Augsburg Confession "in with, and under " the bread and wine; and that consequently those who receive the one receive the other. A spiritual Christ, bodily present in the eucharist, is received in the bread and wine; but he is received by the mouth, in a corporeal way.
The Roman Catholic and Lutheran doctrines are an emphatic protest against the conception of the Holy Communion of the Supper as an empty sign, or as at best the memorial of a dead Christ. They evidently had their origin in the laudable desire to keep the shell of truth from being robbed of its kernel. At bottom of both conceptions there is the recognition of the fact that it is Christ Himself who is received as the soul's true food. The heavenly treasure is conveyed in an earthen vessel. But the mistake in both theories lies in identifying the treasure with the vessel; it lies, in other words, in confining Christ to, or confusing Him with the outward things in which He is revealed, and by means of which He imparts Himself to the soul. Nothing whatever is made of the spiritual condition of the recipients; no room is left for any discrimination between those who partake "worthily" and those who partake " unworthily; " the uniform teaching of Scripture regarding faith as the organ of spiritual receptivity is ignored; the experience of those in whose inner consciousness Christ is spiritually present when there is no symbol to picture Him forth is discarded; and the value of the Supper as the sign of a covenant perpetually renewed, alike by man and God, is lost. When Christ instituted the ordinance of the Supper he did not minister His own body. He ministered Himself spiritually, through the outward emblems employed, as the living bread upon which the soul is to feed. This ministration He still continues. He as really offers Himself as the bread and wine are offered; He a~ really gives Himself as the bread and wine are given; he is as really received into the soul as the bread and wine are received into the body. In the outward emblems faith's eye sees Christ; through the outward emblems faith's mouth receives Christ. John McLeod Campbell, in his suggestive volume entitled " Christ the Bread of Life," says: " There is a spiritual eye which sees that in Christ is presented to us the appropriate food of eternal life; and to fix the thought on I-Jim in the proper office of the Lord's Supper. As long as it was itself the object on which thought and interest were concentrated, so long it was misused; and this misuse of the ordinance was as possible, if not as common, among Protestants as it was among Roman Catholics." The divine life conveyed by the blood of Christ is the wine of the Holy Chalice, which, received by faith, gives life to the soul of man. It is the Holy Grail--the new wine of the kingdom, of which all souls must drink if they would live forever.
The misuse of the ordinance which has come from the failure to see Christ with the spiritual eye, has come also from the failure to receive Christ with the spiritual mouth. He is seen that He may be received. He shows himself that He may give Himself. As it is not the wafer or the sacramental cup upon which spiritual vision is to he fixed, but Christ himself as manifested through them; so it is not the wafer or the sacramental cup which the soul is to receive, but Christ himself as ministered through them. They are the shadow, He is the substance. Not that which entereth by the mouth into the body, but that which entereth by faith into the soul nourisheth the spiritual life of man.
Using a bold, poetic figure to set forth the the mystery of His incoming into the believing heart, Jesus says, " He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood dwelleth in me and I in him." (John 6: 5, 6.) Not the physical body that hung upon the cross; not the physical blood that flowed in a crimson tide from the wounds of the Crucified, are the objects of spiritual appropriation, but the life and love of which these were the outward signs. The idea of Christ evidently is, that he who takes Him into himself and lives upon Him, makes Him a part of his own being, as bread taken into the body is taken up into the blood, assimilated, and converted into vital tissue. It is not enough to say that in this act of spiritual appropriation and assimilation Christ is received in a figurative or emblematic sense. Christ Himself is received; He becomes incorporated into us, and becomes the life of our life; His blood mingles with ours; His spirit is inwrought into our inmost being. He is taken into the mind as truth, into the heart as love, into the life as life. Spiritually present, not only with us, but in us, He becomes the central and essential element in our spiritual natures, the very substance of our spiritual lift.
An interesting side-light is thrown upon the subject before us, by Dr. Henry Clay Trumbull's remarkable book, "The Blood Covenant." It is there shown, by great wealth of historical allusion, that the custom of covenanting by blood can be traced through all the primitive races. Contracts are made by " cutting a covenant," that is by killing an animal, and spilling blood upon a stone for a witness. By interfusion of each others' blood men become blood-brothers, and enter into the" closest, the most enduring, and the most sacred of compacts." Stanley, when in Africa, availed himself of this rite to secure immunity from danger, and brotherly help. He became blood brother to about fifty African chiefs. May not Christ have had this wide-spread custom in view when He said, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is shed for many unto the remission of sins ?" His blood shed represents life given through death, for the sending away not of penalty but of sins. The life that He gives is to be received. " Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have not life in your selves." Now, the end for which the blood of Christ was shed was that it might be received. "It is the life (which the blood is)," says Dr. Trumbull, "and not the death (which is merely necessary to the securing of the blood) of the victim, that is the means of atonement, that gives the hope of a sinner's inter-union with God." 1 "The blood is the life," and hence to drink the blood of the Son of man is to receive His life into our life. Clement, of Alexandria, gives expression to this sentiment in the words, "To drink the blood of Jesus is to become partaker of the Lord's immortality." Dr. Trumbull asserts that all the religions of the world, of which we have any knowledge, look upon the blood as the symbol of life. They unite in representing "the blood as the life, the offering of blood as the offering of life, the divine acceptance of blood as the divine acceptance of life, and the sharing of blood as the sharing of life." 2
The desire to share in the blood of Christ, the desire to find inter-union and communion with Christ through the inflowing into us of His shed blood, what is it but the desire of the human for union in life and love with the divine, the desire of the human for complete inward identity with the divine! This deep, inborn desire has found fit expression in the lines:
"Take, dearest Lord, this crushed and bleeding heart,
And lay it in thine hand, thy pierced hand;
That thine atoning blood may mix with mine,
`Till laud my Beloved are all one."
1 page 245.
2 Supplement to Second Edition, page 372.
The A biding Presence.
" No fable old, no mythic lore,
Nor dream of bards or seers,
No dead fact stranded on the shores
Of the oblivious years;
But warm, sweet, tender, even yet
A present life is He,
And faith has yet its Olivet
And love its Galilee."
The familiar refrain " Jesus of Nazareth passeth by" ought to be changed into " Jesus of Nazareth standeth by." He is not here to-day and away to-morrow. He is perpetually present. He lives and moves in the midst of us. He is nearer to us than any one else, nearer to us than we are to ourselves. We do not touch His dead hand across the blind bewildering centuries; we do not reach out after Him as one whom we hope to meet when uncounted years have run their weary course; we do not need to keep gazing up into heaven hoping for His return to a forsaken and desolate world; we do not need to wait until death brings us to Him. He is something more than the Christ of history--a blessed memory; or the Christ of prophesy--a sublime hope; He is the Christ of to-day, and of every day, a living reality in our lives, a very present help in time of need. Faith lays hold upon Him as one who is ever with us in the church, in the household, and in the world. He is the close comrade of our daily lives. We walk the hard hill-roads of
life with burning hearts because He bears us company. We pass through valleys or death shade with fearless step, led by His invisible hand. In the glory of His presence toil and pain are transfigured. There is no break in our trustful intimacy. No shadow of possible change in His love mars our joyful fellowship. There is no haunting fear that the vision of His presence may prove too good to last. His coming is not a short and sudden apocalypse that is to end in darkness. It is the rising of an unsetting sun. He is here to stay. He has come to abide with us for ever that He may give Himself to us for ever.
Dr. Horatius Bonar instructs Christians of to-day to sing:
The Church has waited long
Her absent Lord to see;
And still in friendlessess she waits,
A friendless stranger she.'
An absent Lord! Think of it; and yet He has said, " Lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the consummation of the age." A friendless stranger ! Think of it; and yet He says, " I will not leave you orphans, I will come unto you." Why should the church keep mourning the absence of her Lord when she has the assurance of His abiding presence ? Why should the spouse of the Ever-Living Christ sit down in the dust, clad in the weeds of widowhood, bewailing the loss of her Lord when He is really present with her? Why should believers in a risen Christ dolefully sing " Down life's dark vale we wander till Jesus comes," when they ought rapturously to sing, "Joy to the world the Lord is come?"
In the ear of the church of to-day let the ancient call be sounded, " Cry aloud and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee."
It is told of a poor peasant in the mountains of Wales that month after month, year after year, through a long period of declining life, every morning as soon as he awoke he opened his window toward the east, and looked to see if Christ was coming. He need not have looked so long. The Christ for whose appearance he strained his eyes was present with him, an unseen guest in his humble cottage, an unimagined power for comfort in his longing heart. The Lord he sought in the skies he might have found in his soul.
With a like sense of hope deferred, which made the heart sick, St. Bernard exclaimed, Holy Lord, dost thou call that a little time in which I shall not see thee? O , this little while is a long little while." How quickly would the sorrow of St. Bernard have been turned into joy had he only come to see that Christ kept His parting promise to the very letter. Brief was the interval between His departure and His return. He came again speedily, just as He had promised. After His resurrection His disciples saw Him and their hearts were flooded with a new-found joy that no one could take away from them. After His ascension He was restored to them fully, dwelling in their hearts by the power of His Spirit, reviving their drooping hopes, and inspiring them with courage and strength for the coming conflict. And thus in their experience were the words fulfilled, " Verily I say unto you, there be some of them that stand here who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom."
Much confusion of thought has arisen from calling the Pareusia the second coming of Christ. It is not the coming or advent of Christ, but the presence of Christ. It is that stage in His self manifestation which consists in His becoming and being present. The promise given to the early Christians was "the promise of His presence." (II Peter 3: 4.) In the midst of the fiery trials by which they were beset they were enjoined " to be patient until the presence of the Lord." (Jas. 5: 7.) They were to abound in self-denying service knowing that the presence of the Lord was at hand. (Jas. 5: 3.) Their hearts were to be strengthened and comforted by the assurance of " the power and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ." (II Peter i: i6.) They were constantly to strive that " spirit and soul and body" might be " preserved entire, without blame at the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Thess. v: 12.) They were to abide in Christ that when He was made manifest They might " have boldness and not be ashamed before Him at His presence." (I John 2: 28.) The object upon which all their interest centered was the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, and their gathering together unto Him. (II Thess. 2: 1.)
The presence of Christ, once a hope, is now a blessed reality. "The Coming One," has come. And yet there are those who raise the question, " If Christ were to come to Chicago, or to Paris, or to London, what would happen?" Why that hypothetical "if"? Christ is in these great focal centers of the world's life. Of that there are many infallible proofs. He walks the streets of our modern cities just as truly as he walked the streets of ancient Jerusalem. He weeps over their sins and rejoices over their virtues. The hope, the only hope of any city is that Christ is in it, the healer of its woes, the redresser of its wrongs, the efficient power of its regeneration.
Care must be taken, however, to distinguish between the presence of Christ and the sign of His presence. The presence is unseen and spiritual, the sign was outward and visible. When the disciples asked the Lord," What shall be the sign of thy presence ?" He answered, " As the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth unto the west, so shall also the presence of the Son of Man be." The early Christians lived in the shadow of a great catastrophe. A day of fiery tribulation was impending. A storm cloud was gathering which was about to burst in a deluge of wrath. The skies were growing murky. There was deathless stillness in the air. The dreaded event for which all men waited in silence came when in desolating judgment Jerusalem was destroyed, the Jewish nationality extinguished, the Mosaic system abolished, the entire theocratic kingdom completely destroyed. These sweeping changes were not identical with, but coincident attestations of the presence of Christ. They constituted the sign of His presence. They marked the introduction of a new epoch designated "the age of regeneration--the age of the kingdom." The sign of the presence, and the presence itself, belong to two distinct classes of phenomena; the one was palpable to the senses, the other transcends the sphere of sense-perception. In the one case these were " wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth beneath," in the other, wonders in the spiritual world, and signs in the inner kingdom of the human spirit.
Equally important is it to distinguish between the presence of Christ and the revelation or manifestation of His presence. The presence is an experience, the manifestation of the presence is a hope; in the presence we are to rejoice; for the manifestation of the presence we are to wait; the presence is something which is now being realized inwardly to the believer; the manifestation of the presence is something which is to take place outwardly at the end of this world-age. There are four words in which the successive stages of the self-revelation of Christ are set forth, namely, erchomai, which means "to come," or to "approach "; parousia, which means "the presence," that is, the condition of being present, which is the result of the coming; apokalupsis, which means " the uncovering," or "unveiling" of the Christ, who, although present, is concealed from view, and epiphaneia, which means "the manifestation," resulting from the unveiling. With hearts elate the the Christians of the apostolic age stood waiting for the revelation (the unveiling) of our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Cor.1: 7.) This ought to; be the attitude of the church of to-day. She ought to keep looking forward to "the day when the Son of Man shall be revealed." (Luke 17: 30.) She ought to anticipate the the time when " his glory shall be revealed." (I Peter 4: 13.) She ought to rejoice in the time when the Lord Jesus " shall slay the lawless one" with the breath of His mouth and bring him to naught by the manifestation of His presence. (II Thess.2: 8.) She ought "to love his manifestation." (II Tim.4: 1) She ought to keep looking for the blessed hope and manifestation of the glory of the great God our Saviour Jesus Christ. (Titus 2: 13.)
It is clear that the thing for which we are to seek in the present, is not increased faith in the Lord's coming, but a fuller realization of His personal presence.' The Lord, who in His incarnation was visibly manifested to the senses, is now spiritually manifested to faith. His coming in the flesh was a temporary act, His presence in the Spirit is a permanent condition. He is always with us, but, alas, we are not always with Him. We dare not deny His presence; we ignore it. A fresh anointing of the eyes of the soul is needed, that with increased capacity to apprehend the spiritual we may come to clearer and larger conceptions of the ever-present Christ, who patiently waits upon the growth of our power to see and receive Him.
It is equally clear that the thing for which we are to look in the future is not the visible return, but the visible manifestation of our ever-present Lord. We are to look for a time of uncovering, a time of unveiling, a time when our loving Lord and conquering King shall emerge from behind the clouds that now hide Him from our longing eyes; a time when He who is now present shall make His presence openly manifest; a time when all His former weakness and humiliation shall be forgotten in the bright display of His victorious power and regal glory; a time when the meek and lowly Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with the angels of His power, in the blood-red flash of judgment, to execute vengeance upon His enemies and to openly declare and firmly establish His kingly rule over men.
The air palpitates with his presence. The veil grows thinner. Soon it will be rent asunder. With tremulous awe we await the outward manifestation of the glory of the hidden King, who is now enthroned in every holy heart. While rejoicing in His glorious and growing presence, we face the future rejoicing in hop~, "looking earnestly for our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be revealed to sight." With no diminished sense of the presence of that Blessed One from whom our eyes are holden, and "whom the heavens must receive until the restitution of all things spoken of by all the holy prophets since the world began," we watch and wait for the time when the full and final epiphany of His glory shall break upon the world's enraptured vision, ever praying, " Come Lord Jesus, come quickly!" and ever laying to
heart the word of admonishment, " Now, little children, abide in Him, that when He shall be manifested we may have boldness and not be ashamed before Him at His presence."
The Indwelling of Christ Realized Through the holy Spirit.
"Thou whose grace the church does fill
Showing her God's perfect will,
Making Jesus present still;
Hear us, Holy Spirit!'
--THOS B. P0LL0CK.
Through the Holy Spirit, the medium of spiritual communication, Christ reveals him- self to the spirit of man. It is the office work of the Holy Spirit to lead man into the consciousness of Christ as immanent in the soul. It was to the Holy Spirit that Jesus taught His disciples to look not only for the final and complete revelation of the deep things of God, but also for the full and complete interpretation of Himself as the Word of God. Hear Him declare, "I have many things to say unto you, but ye can not bear them now; howbeit, when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He shall guide you into all the truth; for He shall not speak from himself; but what things so ever He shall hear, these shall He speak, and He shall declare unto you all the things that are to come. He shall glorify me; for He shall take of mine, and shall declare it unto you." (John 16: 12-14.) Things which the Master withheld, the Spirit was to impart; new light was to be shed upon Christ's pregnant words; new meaning was to be given to Christ's person and work. The Christ who had been known after the flesh was now to be known after the spirit; the Christ who had been manifested outwardly in a human life was now to be manifested inwardly in the glory of His spiritual presence, as the indwelling life of the soul.
To say that by the Holy Spirit Christ is present representatively is to fall short of the blessed reality. By the Holy Spirit the living Lord keeps himself in close and unbroken connection with the Spirit of man, making His presence real and His help effective. The Holy Spirit is called "the Spirit of Jesus," the Spirit of Christ," "the Spirit of God's Son," because by Him Christ is carrying on His interior and spiritual method of revelation, making himself constantly, although invisibly present, and becoming personally operative for salvation.
We are not to infer from the words of Christ, "It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you," that there was gain in His departure in the sense that a better exchange was made. The gain consisted in the addition of something new. He departed in one form that He might return in another. He left in bodily presence that He might return in spiritual power. He is present now as of old, but in a more comprehensive way. No longer hampered by a mortal body, no longer limited by the narrow conditions of this earth-life, He is capable of being universally present. And being universally present, His presence is not something to be invoked, but something to be realized. His words, " Where two or three are met together in my name, there am I in the midst of them," are not a promise for the fulfillment of which we are to plead, but an absolute assertion of fact in which we are trustfully to rest.
Elaborate reasons have been adduced to show that it is to the advantage of the church to have the presence of the Holy Spirit rather than to have the Saviour personally present. But even upon a priori grounds it is difficult to see how the coming of the Comforter could ever compensate for the absence of the Saviour; it is difficult to see how the loss of the old friend could be made up by the gain of the new friend; it is difficult to see how the Holy Spirit could be a better helper than Christ. The argument is needless, as it is vain; for in gaining the Holy Spirit we have not lost Christ. The Spirit has not come to indemnify us for the absence of our Lord; He has not been deputed to fill a place made empty. He has come to bring to us the best of all evidence that our unseen Lord has not left us orphans in a forlorn world, for He has come to make the Christ whom the heavens received present in our hearts. Of the Comforter Jesus said, " He abideth with you and shall be in you." Of Himself He said, "In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me and I you." Comparing these two statements it is clear that through the indwelling of the Comforter we have the indwelling of Christ.
This inward revelation of the Indwelling Christ by the Holy Spirit is given progressively. Like every other form of revelation it follows the ordinary laws of intellectual and spiritual development. Just as in the Old Testament there is gradual increase in the knowledge of God, so in the New Testament there is gradual increase in the knowledge of Christ. We can trace this growth in the knowledge of Christ in the experience of the Apostles; we can see how that under the constant tuition of the Holy Spirit they came to know Christ better, as the years passed by; the inner light which they received at Pentecost furnished to them the true philosophy of His teachings, the key which unlocked the mystery of His life. Things concerning Himself which He had held back, because the time for their pronouncement was not ripe, were now given; whole chapters in His life which had been to them strange inigmas were now illumined; germinal truths which He had dropped into their minds were now fructified. The Spirit witnessed to them of Christ, and now they were prepared to be Christ's own witnesses. Things which they had seen and heard for themselves they were now ready to declare unto others. Out of their new experience of Christ, inwrought by the Holy Spirit, was born the whole of that body of testimony to Christ contained in those writings, which in their collective form constitute the New Testament. When Christ was made alive to the disciples they became anxious to recall and to record all that they knew about him. In their selection of material they were Spirit-guided. What they had to say was what was given them to say. As Christ grew the record grew. As the Holy Spirit gave them enlightenment He gave them utterance.
This inward revelation of Christ by the Holy Spirit still goes on. Christ continues to grow in the spiritual apprehension of men. Those who are under the tutorage of the Spirit know him more intimately every day. Through them He is being made known increasingly to others. They are the Lord's interpreters. The naked light of the glory of Christ, which is too strong for weak eyes, becomes mellowed and softened when looked at through the medium of ordinary human lives; the truth about Christ which is too large to be of use to many in its original form passes current when minted town into the concrete experience of other human souls. The bread of life which is rejected in the bulk, is accepted when broken small. The Christ whom many fail to find in the gospels is found in St. Paul's epistles; and the Christ whom many fail to find in St. Paul's epistles is found in the writings of some modern saint, to whom the Spirit has revealed something of what the Apostle Peter calls "the present truth"--that is, the truth suited to present conditions and needs. All Spirit-taught teachers are pedagogues leading men to Christ.
The enlarging Christological thought of the present day is evidence that the Holy Spirit-is at work taking the things of Christ and showing them to men. The larger place which Christ is winning in the world's thought and life, is due to His continuous effort. Never was Christ better known than He is to-day. And never was the world's interest iii Him more profound. The more men study Him the deeper grows their conviction that they have not got to the end of Him. There is no one about whom men are so anxious to know more. The inquiring spirit of the age is voiced in the simple song, " Tell me more about Jesus." Welcome, thrice welcome, any Heaven sent teacher, who can help us to larger and more exalted views of Christ ! " Christ will stand a great deal of knowing," is the quaint remark of John McNeill, the Scottish evangelist. The last discovery about him has not yet been made; all that may be known lie:; not yet been told or learned. The Holy Spirit is not a fading light, nor an expiring voice. He has not spoken his last word; He has not made His filial disclosure. " He that hath an ear let him hear what the ever-speaking Spirit of God is now saying concerning Christ, unto tile church, and through the church unto tile world."
Christ in Every Man.
He forgot his own soul for others,
Himself to his neighbor lending,
And found the Lord in his suffering brothers,
And not in the clouds descending.''
"In the brotherhood of man
`Tis Christ I see,
In each kindly world men speak
Christ speaks to me."
The great First Cause in nature, the living soul of the universe, is Jesus Christ the self-manifested God. This is Christ's world; He made it; He resides in it; He fills every part of it with the glory of His presence. In the immanence of Christ in nature we find the ground of His immanence in human nature. It can not be that He is in the world of matter and that He is shut out of the world of spirit, it can not be that He dwells in the world without, and that He is excluded from the world within. Both worlds are His; in both He dwells. He is in all things and in all souls. A man may be out of Christ, but Christ is never out of Him. Those who banish Him He does not abandon. He comes to every man as closely as He can get; He gives Himself to every man as largely as he will receive Him; He is to every man all that he will allow Him to be.
When this new vision of man in his relation to Christ is obtained a new motive to serve Him is furnished. The poor are henceforth Christ's poor, and are to be ministered to in His name; the wayward wanderer is Christ's sheep, and is to be rescued for Him; the wrong doer is Christ's friend, and is to be forgiven for His sake; the wronged one is Christ's brother, and is to be defended in His rights as if His cause were the cause of Christ. So thoroughly does Christ identify Himself with the needy and the helpless that any service done to them is accepted by Him as if done unto Himself. Because of the relation which He sustains to all men, He says of every good deed done by one man to another, " Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Because of His relation to the smallest and feeblest in the great human family He says: " Whoso shall receive one of such little children in my name receiveth me." Every act of kindness goes beyond the person to whom it is done and terminates on Christ as its ultimate object. To love and serve the humanity in which He dwells--the humanity of which He is a part--is to love and serve Him.
On the other hand, because of His intimate sympathy with men, those who turn their backs upon the oppressed and distressed turn their backs upon Him. Any injury done to another is felt by Him as if done to Himself. "Saul, Saul, why persecuted thou ME?" was the startling question which arrested Saul of Tarsus in His career of persecution. This young Pharisee was horror-stricken to discover that in harrowing the adherents of a despised sect he was persecuting Christ. Ignorant of his true spiritual attitude, ignorant of the real significance of his conduct, he was unwittingly acting as the devil's ally in injuring Christ, when he fancied that he was doing God service in punishing his enemies. Little did he dream that Christ the Lord's Anointed was in any way related to, or had personal interest in the hateful heretics he was hounding to the death. And just as little do men in general think that Christ is in any way connected with or concerned in those whom they maltreat. Little do they think that the blow aimed at the disciple strike~ the Master; that the lash that falls upon the back of innocence makes the heart of the Elder Brother smart with pain; that the cruel word spoken to another in anger or in malice cuts Him to the quick; that the heavy burdens laid upon galled and feeble shoulders weighs Him down with a sense of oppression; that the grinding poverty of. the unrequited toiler is to Him a continual distress; that the injustice done to the weak and defenseless pierces His heart like a sword. Let the merciless tyrant, the seducer of virtue, the corrupter of youth, the crafty schemer who uses men as the tools of his selfish ambition, the cruel capitalist whose wealth is coined from the life-blood of the poor--let all who in any way wrong or harm their fellow men know that they will have the Christ who looks on with pitying eyes to settle with at last. The judge of the wrong doer is the friend and brother of his victim. In a special and peculiar sense Christ identifies himself with His people, because in a special and peculiar sense they are His brethren. Natural oneness has with them ripened into spiritual oneness, natural brotherhood into spiritual brotherhood. "In all their afflictions He is afflicted." " He that touches you," says one of the prophets, "toucheth the apple of His eye." " He that despiseth you," says the Lord himself, " despiseth me." This complete identification of Christ with His own is illustrated in an incident in Scottish story. In a time of religious persecution two tender women were condemned to die because they refused to acknowledge the supremacy of any other than Christ in His church. The sentence passed upon them was that they should be tied to stakes on the Galway sands and left to perish in the rising tide. The elder of the two was placed nearer the sea, that as the water rose up, her dying agonies might move her fellow-sufferer to recant. But the heroic girl instead of being terrified when she saw her companion struggling in the overwhelming waves, exclaimed, "What do I see but Christ wrestling there? Think ye that we are sufferers? No; it is Christ in us, for He sends none a warfare on their own charges." To her anointed eyes the suffering of her companions was the suffering of Christ; and the strength which sustained her as she calmly awaited her fate, was the strength of Christ. In one of the members of His mystical body He triumphed over death and the powers of darkness.
But not to His people alone does His sympathy extend,
"In every pang that rends the heart
The Man of Sorrows has a part."
Every sufferer on earth can count upon His compassion. The friend of saints is also the friend of sinners. He numbers among His brethren all who need His sympathy and help. Everything that concerns any man concerns Him. Into His loving heart the world's trouble is gathered. No sorrow is like unto His sorrow, for no love is like unto His love. Into the depths of man's misery he entered in His incarnation, becoming one with his sin as the parent becomes one with the sin of his child; suffering for it, dying for it, that He might deliver man from its curse. Into the depths of his misery He still enters becoming one with his sorrow, bearing it upon His heart, that by his vicarious sympathy He might lighten his load of suffering and make remedial what of it must needs remain.
The poet Lowell, in his " Vision of Sir Launfal," shows the heart-moving effect of the apprehension of the presence of Christ in man. He tells of a Knight of the North Country who makes a vow to travel ever land and sea in search of the Holy Grail. Before his departure, in a vision of the night he obtains a transporting view of the glory that lies before him. As he issues on the morrow from his castle gate, clad in flashing mail, he sees a loathsome leper sitting on the ground begging with outstretched hand; and passing him in haste he tosses him a piece of gold in scorn. Years pass by and Sir Launfal, old and gray, returns from his fruitless quest to find his heir in possession of his ancestral halls. The aged senechal, failing to recognize him, and disbelieving his story, refuses him admittance. Weary and faint he sits down on the snow outside his princely abode, and muses sadly and tenderly over the events of the vanished years. His reverie is broken by a leper's voice calling out, "For Christ's sweet sake I beg no alms." Sir Launfal turns and sees again the same " gruesome thing," from which, years before, he had turned away in disgust. But a new feeling wells up within his heart as he looks upon this sufferer "in the desolate horror of his disease," and he thus addressed him:
"I behold in thee
An image of Him who died on the tree;
Thou also hast had thy crown of thorns--
Thou hast also had the world's buffets and scorns --
And to thy life were not denied
The wounds in the hands, and feet, and side;
Mild Mary's Son acknowledge me;
Behold, through Him I give to thee."
So he shared with the leper his single crust, and broke the ice on the streamlet's brink, and gave him water to quench his thirst. Then suddenly everything became changed.
"As Sir Launfal mused with a downcast face,
A light shone round about the place;
The leper no longer crouched at his side,
But stood before him gloirfied,
Shining and tall, and fair, and straight
As the pillar that stood by the Beautiful Gate--
Himself the gate by which men can
Enter the temple of God in man.
And the voice that was calmer than silence said,
`Lo, it is I, be not afraid!
In many climes without avail,
Thou hast spent thy life for the Holy Grail; -
Behold, it is here--this cup that thou
Didst fill at the streamlet for me now;
This crust is my body broken for thee,
This water His blood that died on the tree;.
The Holy Supper is kept indeed
In what so we share with another's need;
Not what we give but what we share--
For the gift without the giver is bare;
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three--
Himself, his hungry brother, and Me."
What an exalted vision of man is won, when in the outshining of the glory of the Indwelling Christ the meanest life stands transfigured! However wicked and abandoned man may be, he has much of God in him. The divine image in which He was originally created may be defaced, but can not be destroyed. He is the divinest thing that God has made. Into no other part of His creation has God put so much of Himself. There is more of God in one man than in a thousand worlds. To know man is to know the highest revelation of God; to love man is to get a heart-grip upon God at the human end of things. He that knoweth not his brother whom he bath seen, how can he know God whom he bath not seen? And he that loveth not his brother whom he bath seen, how can he love God whom he bath not seen? A child of God and a kinsman of Christ can not fail to be looked upon with a feeling akin to reverence. Every man awakens an interest as God's son and man's brother which he could not awaken on his own account. As the parent is served through the child; as the one who is loved is served through the-one he loves, God is served through man. It is told of the Rev. George Gilfillan, of Dundee, Scotland, that on one occasion when listening to a tale of distress, and discovering that the absence of his poor parishioner from church was attributable to his want of proper clothing, with characteristic generosity and impulsiveness he took off his coat and gave it to him. Shortly afterward his worthy spouse observed him engaged at his studies in his shirt sleeves, and asked, " George, what have you done with your coat ?", "Never mind, my dear, I have just given it to God," was the reply. All who give to the poor give to God; and happy are those who give to Him wittingly.
A Roman philosopher censured for showing kindness to a shipwrecked pirate, made reply;--" I honor not the man, but humanity in his person; " so the Christian in his self-denying labors for ill-deserving, sin-wrecked men, honors not the men to whom he ministers, but the Christ in whose dear name he ministers to them. Seeing Christ in them, unseals within him the deepest fountain of benevolent desire and effort. He serves them less for what they are in themselves than for what they are to Christ. The secret principle of his beneficent deeds is expressed in the apostolic motto, " Ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake."
Christ Incarnated in Christian Lives.
" May each eye that sees me, see
Something of the Christ in me,
May each man who hears me, hear
Jesus whispering in his ear."
As the incarnation of Christ was a witness to the divine indwelling, the reincarnation of Christ in his people is a witness to the presence of Christ in the world. In the lives of His Redeemed His presence is openly revealed. They are His representatives. In them His incarnation is repeated and perpetuated. By them His influence is reduplicated. The life which He lost on the cross He finds again in them. They are Christs to all they meet. It has been regarded by many as a bold thing for Whitfield to call Dr. Watts " a bit of Christ; but is not every Christian " a bit of Christ," a little Christ--Christ brought down to date, Christ extended into the present?
A child was once asked, " Where is Jesus Christ now?" The instant reply was, "He lives in our alley." . He lived there before the eyes of the world in the person of one of His followers. He always lives where his people live. The " I am " has immortal life. He multiplies himself in the lives of his followers. Every life which He inspires, every life of which He is the animating and governing principle continues His life -and work oh the earth. Those in whom He lives, not only live Him out in their daily lives, but He lives Himself out from them. They do His work, or rather, He does His work through them. The reality of His presence is confirmed by them when they say;
"That here, amidst the poor and blind,
The bound and suffering of our kind,
In works we do, in prayers we pray
Life of our life, He lives to-day."
The continuation of the life of Christ implies the continuation of His sacrifice. If in all the service His people perform for others His work is carried on, in all the suffering they endure for others His sacrifice is re-enacted. There is an element of truth in the Romanist doctrine of the perpetual sacrifice of Christ. That sacrifice is not outwardly and formally repeated in the Mass, " one sacrifice for sin for ever" having been made; but the self-giving spirit of Christ is being continually imparted, and the sacrifice of Christ continually repeated. The self-sacrificing love which is the essential thing in the character of Christ is also the essential thing in the character of every Christian. As Christ offered Himself up for others, so will every one who possesses His spirit. Every Christian ought to be able to say, "I die daily; " "I bear branded on my body the marks of Jesus;" I rejoice in my sufferings for others," and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ." He ought to desire to know Christ, and the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed unto His death." He ought to bear about in the body the dying of Jesus that the life of Jesus might be manifested in his body. Alike in active and in passive suffering he ought to be " a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God." His life ought to be poured out as a constant oblation in the service of humanity; consumed on the altar of love as a perpetual sacrifice for the salvation of humanity.
The incarnation of Christ in Christian lives makes His manifestation in the flesh something other than a transient event. From the humanity into which He comes He does not withdraw. The footing He has gained He con- tinues to hold. In human lives He continues to be revealed, through human lives He continues to speak. The tabernacle of God is not only with man; it is man. "The true shekinah," says Chrysostom, "is man." The Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands, but in the living temple of the humble, holy heart. Thus saith the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, " I dwell in the high and holy place, with Him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit." Appealing to the inner consciousness of Christians the Apostle of the Gentiles asks, " Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" Know yenot that in the inmost sanctuary of your soul the Spirit of the living God is to be found? Know ye not that there is the secret place where the Most High is to be met and worshiped? Identifying the divine immanence with the immanence of Christ the same apostle asks, "Know ye not that your bodies are members of Christ "--sanctuaries cleansed by His holy presence, instruments made fit to do His will? Know ye not that the whole man is His; that the inner and outer natures are to be under His control; that in body and spirit He is to be glorified?
The repeated inquiry " know ye not?" carries with it the implication that it is possible for Christians to remain in ignorance concerning much that is involved in the fact of the divine indwelling. Christ may be to them as one who is far away, "the king of some remoter star," instead of being a living, brooding presence; they may think of their soul as a place to which He pays an occasional visit, instead of seeing that it is a house which He has built for His permanent abode. To know that Christ is in us; to know that we were made by Him and for Him; to know that we were designed to be the living temple of His presence, is to attain to an excellent knowledge for which all things else might be counted loss. Let each one ask, "Have I attained this knowledge? Do I see that the very end for which the Lord of Glory assured my nature was that He might dwell in my poor heart? Has His incarnation become to me real and personal? Has He come into my life ? Has He taken up His abode within me Do I live in the happy consciousness of His abiding presence? Do I take Him with me wherever I go ? Is my advent His advent? Is the putting of my life into other lives the putting of His life into other lives ? Are all the outgoings of my redeemed personality the out-goings of His divine personality? Is there seen in me as His holy temple a constant out-shining of His inshining glory? Does my life so shine before men that they, seeing my good works, give glory to Him whose grace has produced them? In a word, is the Christ who lives in me, accepted, confessed, lived and glorified?
The continued incarnation of Christ realized in Christians individually, is realized still more fully in the church collectively. The whole is greater than a part. Christians are members of Christ, the church is the " body of Christ." It is His chosen dwelling place, the organism in which His fullness abides, the agency by which His truth amid grace are made known, the visible witness of His continuous presence in the world. The mission of the church is the mission of Christ. It exists to represent I-Jim, to act for Him, to do what He wants it to do. It is the center from which His recreative saving energy is to go forth over all the earth. The salvation which is to come from Him to the world, is to come from Him through His church. In all its activities the church is simply the organ of Christ; all that it does for the uplifting of the kingdom of God on the earth is what Christ enables it to do. The outpouring of its life in the service of
humanity is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which Christ has first of all in poured. The body of Christ has millions of hands to do His work; millions of feet to run His errands; millions of tongues to sing His praise. In its manifold life He continues to express Himself; through its multitudinous activities He continues to work; by its multiplying agencies He continues to make His presence and power increasingly felt in the moral advancement of the world.
Do we describe the church ideal or the church actual ? Both. It is true that there are many churches in which it would be difficult to discover any evidence of the Indwelling Christ -- Laodicean churches from which Christ has been shut out, and at whose closed doors He patiently stands knocking and pleading for admittance. There are churches that have killed their Christ; wounded Him to death; crucified Him; put Him to an open shame by ungratefully denying His claims, and by wickedly casting reproach upon His name. There are churches which have embalmed a dead Christ in their creeds; buried a dead Christ beneath their imposing ceremonials, instead of making a living reigning Christ the one object of their faith and worship. Their temple has become a mausoleum; their altar a shrine; their worship an empty form; their life an ease--loving, self-loving worldliness.. In their organized life there is nothing suggestive of Christ; nothing that compels men to think of Christ as in their midst. But in most churches, taken at their worst, there is always to be found a spiritual seed by which the spirit and life of Christ are perpetuated; hid among the cold, gray ashes of their banked altar fires are tiny sparks which the breath of the Holy Spirit can fan into a fervent flame. In many churches abundant proof is furnished of the Indwelling Christ. They are manifesting His life, and doing His works. They possess some measure of His healing, saving power. They are able to throw out the challenge to a onlooking world, " Examine our lives and our works and see if they do not bear witness to the presence of Christ within us." Taken as a whole, the church of to-day is Christian. Her light may be dim, but it is divine; her life maybe imperfect but it is from heaven; her power may be feeble, but it is from God. "The Church of the living God" is no failure, Christ is for her; and she is for Christ. Her ideal has never been fully reached; but she keeps following after, endeavoring to lay hold of that for which Christ has laid hold of her. The measure of her power for usefulness always has been, always must be, the measure in which she experiences the indwelling of Christ. Just so far as she comes to see that in representing Christ, she represents the inexhaustible power of that embodied righteousness and love by which the world is finally to be conquered, will she rise to the fulfillment of her high destiny.
Christ in the World
`Wherever men are struggling and striving and suf-
fering be sure that the life of Christ is there. For He
does not wrap Himself up in His heavenly home, and
look out of the window only upon this far-off earth; He
lives in our nature." --H. W. BEECHER.
The immanence of Christ, realized in Christian lives and in the collective life of the church, is continuously and progressively realized in the life of the world. The Christ who dwells in men is coming to dwell in man; the Christ who became incarnate in a human body is be- coming incarnate in the body of His church, that through His church He may become incarnate in the body of humanity. By the expansive power of His life in the church Christ is filling the life of the world, causing the world to become what the church now is--the living organism through which He manifests Himself. At the end of God's triumphing purpose of redemption lies a redeemed humanity The process of incarnation will not be completed until Christ fills the whole life of the world, making His spirit regnant in human society, and incarnating Himself in the world's art, literature, commerce, laws, customs, and institutions.
Of all history Christ is the central figure; His gospel the central force; His throne the central authority; His kingdom the central fact. He is the potent cause of all unity and order. All history is instinct with His presence. Everywhere the touch of his hidden hand is felt in the guidance and government of affairs. He is the supreme power for good in all the race. By Him all things are sustained and controlled; by Him the whole course of the world's life is directed; by Him all the age-periods in the great drama of human history, in all their successive unfoldings, are ordered and arranged. He is the appointed heir of all things, "through whom God made the ages;" and through whom the ages continue to be made. That He is the destined heir of the future is proved by His power to mold the thought and life of the present. Frequently it is said that Christianity is the constructive power in human society; but why give to an abstract thing called Christianity the glory which belongs to Christ? Why speak of the influence of Christianity in the world, when what is really meant is the influence of Christ in the world ? It is " but a blind philosophy of history that fails to make the person of Christ the center of its radiating lines." 1 Christ is the final word, the mystery of his mediation the final fact in the philosophy of history. Upon the foundation of the cross the temple of a redeemed humanity is being slowly and silently built up. The slain Lamb, ruling from his mediatorial throne, is reconciling the ages to God. All things are man's because they are Christ's; all things are for man's sake because they are being controlled by Him who is for ever making Himself poor that His brethren may be made rich. With Christ within the world, its history becomes not the evolution of stern, relentless law, but the evolution of a divine purpose of redemption. Through the web of human life the hand of Christ has shot the scarlet thread of a redemptive purpose. Redemption is the end for which Christ is working in the world; redemption is the goal toward which everything is tending. The immanence of Christ in the world, as its informing spirit, is the one great element of moral progress. What is termed the progress of humanity is the progress of Christ in humanity. The progress of humanity is not constant because the efforts of Christ are often thwarted. The tragedy of history is the conflict of the will of man with the will of the unseen King; the discords of earth are the warrings of man against the divine unity. The millennial glory to which faith with glowing fingers points, is the submission of the human will to the redeeming purpose of God. The purpose of God ebbs and flows like the ocean's tides, but upon the whole it advances In all moral progress--in the growth of liberty and charity, in the growth of ethical ideals, in the growth of the spirit of human brotherhood, we see signs of the growing supremacy of Jesus Christ. To believe in Christ is to believe in progress. Christ has entered into the world, and is lifting it up into participation with His life. His spirit is gaining ground; it is entering into the every-day life of man, making it sweeter and richer. He is in the politics of to-day awakening aspirations after better forms of government; He is in the industrial struggles of to-day awakening aspirations after improved conditions of living; He is in the social unrest of to-day awakening aspirations after a freer and larger life. The present-day revolt against the existing political, industrial and social systems is not essentially evil. It comes in part from the stirring in the hearts of men of the spirit of Christ; it comes from the Christ-born desire for better things; the desire of man for enlarged opportunity to make the most of himself and to get the most out of life; the desire to achieve freedom, to realize brotherhood, to actualize redemption.
It is easy now to see that the Lord was in many past movements of reform which in their days were bitterly opposed. Will the coming generations not look back with wonder at our blindness to discern the presence of the Lord iii the upward struggles of the present day? Blind we assuredly are if we fail to see that Christ is related to this age; that He is putting Himself into it; that He is ever working in it and for it; that He is the power behind all its movements of reform; that He is making His influence felt increasingly in every part of the great human whole. Where can we look for the solution of the perplexing problems that now confront us if not to Him? The ills that afflict humanity are more than skin deep; they are soul deep. If He can not cure them, who can? We trust to social evolution; but social evolution requires that into human nature there be put an altruistic spirit out of which the new social order is to be evolved. Who but Christ can awaken in the sinful, selfish heart of man that altruistic spirit which is the sina qua non of all social reform ? Leave Christ out and the main factor of reform is missing. Apart from Him the burning question of the day can never be permanently settled. " The new heavens, and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness," for which we anxiously look, can never come until His spirit and life permeate the whole life of the world. Looking out upon the world, "we see not yet all things put under Him; but we see Jesus;" --we see in the midst of earth's confusion and strife a throne, and on the throne a conquering Lamb; we see abounding wickedness, but we see also the beginning of the end of an age-long process of redemption; we see the deepening of the shadows, but we see also the brightening of the light; we see much that makes faith grow weak, much that makes courage fail, but we see also tokens of the better day gleaming upon the distant hills of promise. We have confidence in Christ. We believe that He will yet accomplish all that is expected of Him. We look to Him for the redress of our social wrongs; for the healing of our social sores; for the fulfillment of our social hopes; for the redemption of our entire social life. In cherishing these great expectations we rest upon His promise; Behold, I make all things new." He does not say; " I will make all things new; " but, I make, I am making all things new.'' He is not merely a restorer, He is a founder; He is not merely a reformer, He is a former; He is not merely an improver, He is a creator. He came not only to remake the old, but also to make the new. He is now in the world reconstructing it after God's original plan; making it a new world by becoming the reigning and regulating power in its life. And He is making it new just as fast and as far as He is gaining occupancy of human hearts, and gaining control of human affairs. He is bringing the New Jerusalem down from heaven to earth, and bringing earth into harmony with heaven just as fast and as far as He is succeeding in establishing His dominion in the seats of earthly power.
It is bad enough when worldly souls fail to see the Living Christ in the movements of the day; but it is worse when His own church fails to see Him. This failure to see Christ in the blind struggles of men after the ideal life often puts Christian people out of practical sympathy with many important reform movements; and as a result we are confronted with the sad spectacle of the Christ in the church set in opposition to the Christ in the world. And if Christ be divided against Himself, how can His kingdom come? That Christ is gaining more influence outside the church is no sign that His influence inside the church is on the wane. It is rather a sign that the plan of God is ripening and widening; it is a sign that the vine planted in the Lord's vineyard is running over the wall; it is a sign that some wind wafted seed is taking root in distant fields; it is a sign that the church is beginning to realize the kingdom, by giving needed emphasis to sociological questions in which the world-side of religion is set forth. For the kingdom the church exists; to bring in the kingdom the church prays and labors. The church is the norm, the living center of the kingdom; Christ is the living center of both. The church is His church; the kingdom is His kingdom; through the one He is ever working for the establishment of the other.
1 "Eternal Atonement," R. D. Hitchcock, P. 37.
The Indwelling Christ The Center of the
"All are one in Thee, for all are Thine."
The end to which all the progressive stages. in the development of redemption lead up is to bring all men into union with the true source of their life, that thereby they may be brought into union with each other. Through the indwelling of Christ in the world this double union of God with man, and man with man, is consummated. Christ is the one mediator--the one connecting medium--between God and man, and between man and man. He is the center of the world's solidarity, the invisible bond that binds all men together in one great brotherhood. Men are united to each other by being united to Him. The new affection which He awakens has expulsive power to dislodge from the human heart all envy and enmity, all selfishness and strife; it has impulsive power to send men forth scattering blessings broadcast over this sin-cursed earth; it has expansive power to widen human sympathy so that men shall overlook and overleap all harriers of rank and race and, identifying themselves with universal human interests carry all men's rights and wrongs upon their hearts as if they were their own.
That the union of humanity in Christ is still very far from being an accomplished fact is sadly apparent. The world is full of disorder and strife. Race is pitted against race; class against class. The cut-throat principle of unrestricted competition holds almost universal sway in the business world. Animosities and jealousies rend society. The bitter rivalry of interests converts the world into one vast battlefield. But Christ is here, at the very center of the world's discord, reducing all things to harmony. He is the unifier of the race; the power by which the most diverse elements are welded into one. By Him, as the living link between human souls, all men are being united; upon Him as the foundation stone of the social fabric, the temple of a new humanity is being built up; in Him as the cementing power in social life, all things are being held together; under Him as the Good Shepherd of men the scattered sheep of earth's
divers folds are being gathered together into
one unbroken flock; from Him as the Root of the living vine of humanity all men are deriving a common life, by which they are being kept in organic oneness; through Him as the all-inclusive Head of the race, all the shivered fragments of a fallen world are being reconstructed into a new mankind. His presence in the world is a principle and power of social order. As men are moved by Him they are brought into perfect rhythm; their lives are attuned to the laws of heaven, and blend together in one grand melody. As the vibrations of a musical note cause sand-grains to arrange themselves upon a glass plate in symmetrical and harmonious figures, so the vibrations of the dominant note of love struck by Christ cause the separate grains of humanity to come together in forms of order and beauty. Those whose hearts are touched by the love of Christ do not draw together; they are drawn together. By being drawn to Him they are drawn to each other; by being drawn into Him they are drawn into each other. They are not a mass of unrelated units. They are "members one of another." They hang together; they grow together; they decline together. They supplement and sustain each other. The welfare of each is the concern of all. If one suffers, all suffer with him; if one rejoices, all rejoice with him. United in a spiritual bond, barriers of class distinction crumble away; discordant elements are fused together; the clashing of rival interests ceases; co-operation takes the place of competition; all the forces at command are co-ordinated for the outworking of common ends; the general well-being is sought before personal gain; and men become a fellowship of brethren living together in the communion of the Holy Ghost.
Society is structural. It is not a machine operated upon from without, but a living body operated upon from within. The union of its parts is not a thing of mechanics, but of life. It is not held together by the iron hoop of constitutions or laws, or compacts, but by participation of a common spirit and life. It unfolds from within by a vital constructive power, as the tree unfolds from the seed. Before society can see the Kingdom of God it must be born again. Improved conditions come from improved character; the conversion of a man's surroundings results from the conversion of the man himself; hands are clasped when hearts are united; forces are federated for the accomplishment of common ends when hearts are moved by a common impulse.
The socialistic movement of the age has in it something of a spiritual quality. It is something deeper than a democratic tendency. It is a reaching out after spiritual fellowship; it is a Christ-born desire to translate brotherhood as a theory into brotherhood as a reality. Unwisely and wickedly as the power which comes from association and combination may often be used, the present great race movement toward union is at bottom a movement toward a spiritual democracy; a movement toward the federation of the world---a movement which has as its ultimate end the unification of all world forces for the realization on earth of the kingdom of heaven.
Of the new brotherhood which Christ is creating, the church is the nucleus--the vital core. Christian brotherhood is the means of which universal brotherhood is the end. Christ is putting Himself into His church as a power for unity, that His church may put herself into the world as a power for unity. " I in them and thou in me, that they may be perfected into one," is His prayer to the Father on behalf of His people. If the power that makes for unity is weak in the church it is weak at the center of the world's life. An ununited church stands in the way of the world's unity; a disunited church makes the world's unity an impossibility. When the church is " perfected into one " the unification of the world is not far off. She will then be prepared to fulfill her mediatorial mission by lifting up a standard for the people around which the scattered hosts of righteousness may rally; by forming a center of order in the midst of the world's turmoil; by becoming an arbitrator and peace-maker among men; by adjusting things that have got twisted out of proper relation; by pouring oil upon the troubled waters of industrial life; by applying the Balm of Gilead as a soverign cure for every wound through which the life-blood of humanity is ebbing away; by creating an atmosphere in which injustice and inhumnanty can not live; by kindling a fire in which every organized iniquity shall be consumed; by softening the hard conditions of social life, sweetening the bitter waters of social strife; by curbing and controlling the exercise of arbitrary power, so as to secure to men the enjoyment of their social rights; by brooding over the world's chaos so as to restore things to the primal order out of which they have fallen; by infusing into men a spirit of brotherliness so that there shall be made of those who were twain, one new man, thus making peace.
When the fire of heavenly love burned in the early church the social unity of which poets have dreamed was impressively foreshadowed. Never did this earth witness a nearer approach to a true Christian commune. Moved by one Spirit, " all that believed were together, and had all things common; and they sold their possessions and goods and parted them to all, according as any man bath need. And day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they did take their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people." (Acts 2: 44, 46.) Here is something better than Plato's ideal republic. Here is a society of men and women with common weaknesses and passions, knit together by something stronger than an expected exchange of benefits. Earth's poor distinctions have faded out. Social inequalities are forgotten. Community of goods obtains. All property is thrown into a common stock. The law of this sacred society is, " from each according to his capacity, to each according to his needs." Wealth is debtor to poverty. A daily ministration of goods is made to the aged and the poor. Upon a larger scale is exemplified the life which Christ lived with his disciples, when all shared out of a common purse. This community of goods is not compulsory. It is not enforced by any outward enactment. It is a voluntary act, the free impulse of warm and loving hearts. It demonstrates for all time that the only attainable co-operative commonwealth is the creation not of law but of love; that the caritative or love principle is the structural power from which alone a perfect social system can be developed. Selfishness disintegrates, love unites. Without the spirit of love the most beautiful socialistic schemes fall to pieces like a house of cards. Love is the golden chain that binds men together in a social solidarity that expands from the Christian brotherhood into the brotherhood of man.
Christ All and In All
" Above all as the Ruler;
Below all as the Sustainer;
Around all as all-embracing Protector;
Within all as the Fullness of life."
Christ is a universal Saviour. His religion is world-wide in spirit and purpose. It is the religion of man. The idea of a universal religion was original with Christ. It was no less foreign to the heathen than to the Jewish mind. A century and a half after the birth of Christ, it was scouted by the philosopher Celsus as manifest folly. The claim of Christ to universality--a claim which He is making good, is the most distinguishing feature of his religion.
1. He is universal in his personality. He is " the Son of Man," the ideal, the archetypal, the universal man, who gathers into Himself a whole humanity, and unites in Himself all human perfectability. As the Son of Man He is kinsman of all, representative of all. He is neither Oriental nor Occidental. The outer setting of His life is Jewish, but its inner and essential spirit is broad as humanity. In His sympathies He is cosmopolitan and not provincial; His all-comprehending love goes beyond the national narrowness in which He was cradled, and embraces every race, and condition, and class of men.
The Son of Man who possesses entire one ness of nature with man, is also the Son of God who possesses entire oneness of nature with God. " He is not God and man, but God in man." 1 In His human life witness is borne to His divine nature; in His human sonship His divine sonship is revealed. His relation to men is not conditioned upon place and time; it is not incidental and temporal, but essential and eternal. He is the Ever Existing One, "who was, and is, and is to come;" the Eternally Unchangeable One," who is the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever." Ever-living He lives for all; ever the same He is the same to all. As the Son of Man He is every man's friend and brother; as the Son of God He is every man's Lord and Saviour. Were He less than universal in His personality, less than universal in the compass of His sympathies and of His redeeming purpose, He would be less than divine; and were He less than divine the hopes which men have built upon Him would be vain. It takes a universal Christ to be a universal Saviour; it takes one who in the universality of his person covers every life, to meet a whole world's spiritual needs.
2. He is universal in His presence. He is " all and in all"--the immanent ground by which all things and all souls are sustained. His immanence is no abstraction. He is not diffused in all things and mixed up with them as the fragrance with the flower, or the salt with the waters of the sea." His presence is personal, " full of energies, potential, actual, active."
As the one through whom the complete manifestation of God to man is made, Christ mediates between the two conceptions of God as transcendental and immanent, bringing them into harmony. He reveals God in both aspects, as " the one God and Father of all who is over all, and through all, and in all" (Eph. 4: 6); distinct from the world yet immanent in it; above it, yet tabernacled within it; throned in the highest heavens, yet dwelling in the humble and contrite heart; present with His people so that they can look up to Him as the supreme object of worship; present in them so that they can look within upon Him as the source of their life.
His presence is particular because it is universal. He dwells in each because He dwells in all; He makes every soul glow with His presence as every dewdrop glows with the light of the morning sun. " He does not come down upon the course of our lives in spots. His whole infinite being dwells everlastingly in each atom, and in each spirit. He is universally present in all things because He is equally in each."2 He is the Universal Life which throbs in every living thing. He is the Mighty Heart at the center of things, out of which all things had their birth, and from which vital influences go forth to every human spirit, for the starting of holy impulses, for the energizing of enfeebled powers, and for the directing of spiritual activities to the highest and holiest ends. Once He came to earth in bodily form that He might dwell with us; now He comes in spiritual presence that He might dwell in us. His nearness is not an outward, but an interior thing. " Nearer is He than breathing." He is not even " so far away as to be called near." He can be felt, He can be met, He can be heard.
The healing of His seamless dress
Is by our beds of pain,
We touch Him in life's throng and press,
And we are whole again.' -- Whittier
His presence is a thing of plenary fullness. " He filleth all in all." In the words of Grotius, " He fills the mind with light, the will with goodly dispositions, the very body with powers of obedience." With His ever-expanding influence He is filling all time; all space; all kingdoms, and all hearts. His life, like leaven, is permeating the whole human lump, particle by particle. Having descended that He might fill a little space, He has " ascended that He might fill all things." His power is constantly increasing. He is occupying an ever-enlarging place in the world's thought and life. His spirit is penetrating humanity, bringing summer out of winter, and lifting the whole round world into the light and love of God.
3. He is universal in His redemptive operations. He is working in the world everywhere and always, for individual and social salvation. Into every life He enters as a creative, saving energy. He is on the side of every man who strives after righteousness; working in him to will and do all the good pleasure of the Father. The universality that belongs to sin belongs to Him as the deliverer from sin. The remedy is coextensive with the malady; the supply with the demand. " The whole race of man," says Justin Martyr, " had part in the Logos." He is the sun that is the light of every life--" the Light of the world"-- "the Saviour of all men."
The saving influence of the Spiritual Head of the race is more wide and potent than the destroying influence of the Natural Head. "If by the trespass of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God, and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound unto the many." (Rom.5: 15.) If from the first Adam has come a heritage of woe, from the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, has come a heritage of blessing. If much has been lost through the sin of our natural representative and head, more has been regained through the obedience of our spiritual representative and head. If by man has come ruin to the race, by man has also come redemption. If the offense of Adam has reached out to every man, bringing him, through its corrupting power, under condemnation and death; the grace and righteousness of Christ have likewise reached out to every man, bringing him, through the saving power, under justification and life. If there is in every man something of the Old Adam, there is also in him something of the New Adam. If beneath the inborn tendency to evil in man, which can not be accounted for apart from his relation to "the first man," who was " of the earth earthy," there is also the deeper experience of an inborn tendency to good which can not be accounted for apart from his relation to "the Second Man, the Lord from heaven." Aspirations after better things all men possess. Whence came they? From earth or from heaven? From the Old Adam or from the New Adam? Fallen though he be, man retains a tendency to the Source of his true life. There is within him an upward movement which shows whose he is, and whence he came. Below the surface play of his warring passions there is a deeper moral self which loves righteousness and desires its possession. Buried beneath the ashes of his ruined nature there are sparks of a celestial fire which may be fanned into a flame of undying devotion to the highest ends. To this interior nature, this remnant of the Divine in man, all religious appeal is made.
" Dwelt no power divine within us
How could God's divineness win us?" --Goethe
Did no congruity exist between the divine seed and the human soil, what would the most abundant sowing of the heart with truth and grace avail? Did not the divine spark find a combustible nature to alight upon, what would prevent it from going out like a lighted match falling upon ice? Did not the healing balm touch some healthy tissue, what would there be for it to work upon; what would be left to save ? Victor Hugo asks, " Is there not in every human soul a primary spark, a divine element, incorruptible in this world and immortal in the other, which good can develop, illumine, and cause to glisten splendidly, and which evil can never utterly extinguish ?" This divine, this incorruptible element, what is it but Christ in man the power of God unto salvation, to all who will receive Him? Those pulsations of a nobler purpose, which all men feel, and which the slightest touch of influence may set in motion, what are they but the life of the Immanent Christ throbbing within the soul, and quickening into life the spiritual nature of man ?
4. He is universal in kingly power. " His kingdom ruleth over all;" not openly but secretly. The kingdom of God is "among" men but it is not always discerned. It is like leaven which works silently and unseen until the whole mass is leavened. The kingdom of Heaven cometh not with outward pomp and show; but it cometh. Every beneficent movement among men indicates its growth. All social and political changes, all the developments of commerce, all discoveries in science, all progress in literature and art minister to its advancement. The most stubborn earthly forces are laid hold upon and made plastic for its purposes. In the building up of His kingdom, " Earth helps the Woman"--that is, earthly forces are made to contribute to spiritual ends; working into the hands of the church, the Spouse of Christ, in all her efforts to establish a spiritual kingdom.
Christ is now King. His reign has begun. He is seated upon the throne of His glory exercising kingly sway. His influence is in the ascendant. His quickening and transforming power is being increasingly felt. He is gaining supreme control in the inner realm of the soul; He is purifying society; molding institutions, and making His influence regnant in human affairs. His throne is the center of the new moral order; His ideas and ideals are gaining supremacy; His ethical standards are coming to be universally accepted; His teachings are coming to rule the world. Everything opposed to the law which He has promulgated is sure to have placed upon it the seal of condenination; everything opposed to His will is sure, sooner or later, to go down. He has set judgment in the earth, and the isles wait for His law. The law is going forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. The judgment of the world has begun. " Now is the judgment of this world." In the presence of the invisible King the books are opened, the judgment seat is set. Every day is a day of judgment, in which Christ is arbitrating between man and God, and between man and man. His word is the supreme law; His decision is the end of all appeal. "For judgment He has come into the world;" and He will never abdicate His throne until He has settled righteously, and therefore permanently, every dispute. Wherever He manifests Himself judgment takes place; good and evil fall asunder; and men are separated one from another as the sheep are parted from the goats.
The reign of Christ is not yet complete; His royal authority is not yet fully established. There are still many rebellious spirits who have not submitted themselves to His sovereign will. But these are finally to be conquered. " For He must reign till He hath put all His enemies under His feet." His power is to widen until He has "dominion from sea to sea." The universal sovereignty which belongs to Him by prescriptive right is yet to be realized in the government of the world. There is in all things a movement toward the universal; science is reaching for the universal law in which isolated phenomena are bound together; history is endeavoring to discover a principle of unity in a divine universal purpose; men are dreaming of a universal language; race barriers, barriers of religious separation are breaking down and the world is confidently expecting to see universal brotherhood actualized. Along these lines of progress the world's invisible King is marching toward the accomplishment of His grand design. The future is His, because the present is His. King of hearts, King of men; He is yet to become King of all kings and kingdoms. "Thou art the King of glory, 0 Christ."
1 Dr. Lyman Abott.
2 "Popular Lectures on Theological Themes," A. A. Hodge, P. 40.