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meadows and wild woods beneath, glowing in the clouds, and in the dew, shimmering on the water, and glinting on the moss, and moving with radiant pomp every where before the vision: so the great mystery of grace in Christ, awakening the ecstasy of the angelic hosts, unfolds its own increasing fulness in every relation of our life, to the vision of faith, an encompassing light and glory as from the Sun of righteousness, risen with healing in his wings.
The mystery of grace referred to, first apprehended humanity, when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The apprehension here, was not an influence, reaching individuals of the race numerically here and there; but it was of such character as to organically lay hold of human nature itself. In other words, in the person of Christ, by supernatural conception and real birth, humanity was recapitulated and redeemed. There is a common life of the race, over and above the individual, and in which the individual is comprehended-in which he lives and moves and has his being. Humanity is a whole, and not a mere aggregation of individualsan organism, and not an abstract generality in way of logical conception. It has its generic head in Adam, and in Adam therefore fell. Sin lays hold of its order of life. But in Christ it is reheaded, if the term may be allowed, and in Him rises from the fall, and is glorified. Christ perfecting himself through suffering, conquering death, and carrying his victorious grace into Hades, rises again above all opposing forces—the whole law of sin and death, and leading captivity captive, and having all power in heaven and in earth, opens the way for the descending gift of the Holy Ghost (as breathed from Him thus exalted and glorified) and thus becomes the exhaustless source of the commission, “Go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations.” The redemptive grace of Christ's person through the gift of the Holy Ghost, comes now to apply itself to men, apprehending them in a new order of life—in a new and supernatural kingdon—a life communion, no longer resting in the first and fallen Adam, but in the second and risen one, as its living head, and its vital plastic principle. This supernatural order is the Holy Catholic Church, and the Communion of saints. In this supernatural kingdom, the consciousness of which is alone made possible by faith, individuals are apprehended of Christ Jesus, through the Holy Ghost. To this inystery the Apostle refers beyond all question in the text.
This apprehension, from the very nature of the case, is sacramental, and not in the order of nature as such. Flesh has no possibility of grasping the reality, though we may conceive that the mystery in question was integrally in the plan of creation from the start, and that man originally was to find here the proper completion of the whole order of the universe in its relation to God, and therefore of himself, yet there can be no grasping of the reality. The will cannot be operative here in the way of origination, and there can be no congruous or condign merit in any human activity. The earthly cannot of itself transcend its own limits. It cannot move beyond the base, on and in which it stands. The fall is of such overwhelming character also, as to leave the individual hopelessly lost in the general wreck, though travailing in pain with the whole creation, waiting for redemption. The word of God, with profound depth of meaning, after the command, Go ye therefore and make disciples, adds “by baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
There is a baptism for the remission of sin. There is, in other words, a sacramental apprehension of men, never lost sight of by the Apostle, wherein the kingdom of grace comes into contact with the order of their life. St. Paul says to the Galatians, "for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.” To the Colossians,—“buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him.”
In such sacramental apprehension, vast issues are involved. Men are called and elected-risen with Christ-placed in the order of Grace, and pointed heavenward in a way quite beyond the reach of nature. The whole after process of sanctification and glorification in faith here finds its foundation. The resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting all the while rest upon this antecedent reality. Such we say is the order of St. Paul's faith : such also is the order of the Apostles' Creed. Thus far we have only looked at the mystery of grace as apprehending
The text, however, refers us to our apprehension of it also. This apprehension must be in the sphere of grace. Faith, not as abruptly related to man, but a gift of God finding lodgment in us, as originally allied to the heavenly world, brings home to our consciousness this reality of apprehending grace. Here it authenticates itself and really enters the will generating virtue, and covers the intellect, giving us knowledge not falsely so called. Thus in the apprehension of grace, neither the will nor the intellect, though following after, are blindly controlled by an overwhelming authority which is all the while foreign and apart with no inward relation.
In view of this, given in such brief and imperfect outline, the Apostle declares of himself, “I follow after, striving to apprehendstriving to bring fully into the sphere of consciousness that for which, namely the great mystery of grace in the direction and end of its activity -that for which I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”
We have said that the whole order of St. Paul's epistles are just of this character; and we may here add that there is an awful solemnity surrounding all his exhortations and rebukes from just this reason. claims, "What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in
ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” It is impossible, however, to regard these exhortations as even intelligible, without the accompanying truth, that it is quite possible to fail in a proper and continuous self-apprehension of this apprehending grace-to fail in following after and in making such election and high calling sure. This possibility seems always present to the Apostle's mind, filling him with such solemn pastoral anxiety. In our own catechism there is the same underlying conception, more or less clearly brought to our view. It may be impossible for us to bring it into harmony with those theories of predestination which mark the speculations of Ursinus (if his commentaries be true to the original lectures): and whether the full force of it were definitely before the mind, when placed in the catechism, may perhaps be questioned, and form a theme of legitimate controversy and earnest examination: but by no means can we question the fact that it was felt, nor are we called upon to set it aside in the interest of more private speculations. The catechumen, as already apprehended in the sphere of grace, is challenged at once to speak from it, “I belong to Christ,” and just for this reason is challenged again to see to it that in such possession and comfort he live and die happily.
But time forbids us to pursue this theme further; and there is an application involved in the method of thought brought to view in the text, appropriate to this official close of our Tercentenary Jubilee, which claims attention.
We cannot keep too steadily before our minds, that in the onward developments of the Christian Church we are as individuals all the while consciously or unconsciously apprehended by its mystery. The general ever goes before to take us up into its compass of action, not, of course, as a blind and outwardly overruling authority, but as that, in which freely we come to live and move. Out of it we are slaves to self. In it we should and can be free and active. We should follow after not blindly, but to apprehend.
Nothing can be more evident to any one acquainted with the matter, than that in our own Church, especially for the past twenty years, there
ave been tendencies whose force has been of such apprehending character, as to have seized upon the leading minds of the whole body-tendencies on the one hand negative, as earnestly opposing the extensively prevalent rationalistic spiritualism of American Protestantism, and on the other hand positive, as bringing into clearer consciousness and hence into more active influence those truly catholic conceptions of the Church and sacramental grace, which bind us in harmony with the primitive Church and the fundamental creeds of Christendom. It is quite impossible to single out any individual as in the proper sense of the term, originating them. Rather must we recognize that, in the genius of our Church itself, a power more comprehensive and profound, has made itself so felt as to draw into its movement those who now stand so conspicuously forward in their apprehension of it. The whole idea of what is called Mercersburg theology, the whole profound liturgical agitation, the peculiar theological earnestness which marked the opening of this Jubilee at Philadelphia-all this is not accidental—not a matter of happy suggestion and fortunate concert merely: but rather the outward utterance of a truly great movement whose source is generically in the genius of the Church itself. Though such a movement from just this reason should generate conflict, earnest controversy, and even bitter persecution, making many waver, and feel doubtful of the issue: yet in the very midst of all this, it is not only apprehending us, but coming to move us to more or less powerful momentum in the whole sphere of American Protestantism.
It is quite unjust then, and equally unphilosophical to feel for a moment that such theological earnestness—such solemn graspings of speculative thought as we have engaged in, confine themselves to the sphere of intellect alone. They apprehend the will, lay hold of the whole practical energy of the Church. What we now see around us in this jubilee--the awakened interest in, and the enkindled love for our catechism, wreathing it with laurels, and marking our gratitude by a wide-spread and still spreading liberality, endowing our seats of learning, and quickening all the benevolent operations of our whole Church—these are the practical results—these are the legitimate fruits which after the toil, as they ripen, we gladly gather.
It is here then, in this inner movement, to which reference has been made, more than any where else, that we may, as a Church, discover after all the real mission in which we are called to labor. Shall we carry it on to its proper consummation in the years to come? Shall we strive to ap
prehend it, and apprehending give it free course to manifest its power in our order of worship, in our discipline, in our thinking, and in the whole compass of our practical life? Gathered together here, as we are, to close officially this festival year, shall we close it as with a bar, or shall we close it, as the flower-bud closes, holding the germ as a base of continuous growth and reproduction?
Our theological earnestness should be perpetuated, gaining fresh impulse from the year gone by. There is a monument here more enduring than marble or brass, and no Church is more loudly called upon to rear it amidst the sandy waste around than are we. Concentrated resolution, nerved by an intelligent apprehension of the issues, should give to this inner thought mission of our Church every aid and every facility for conquest. The widespread and awakened liberality of our people, which has gathered its offerings and brought them here to be consecrated for God's glory, should be encouraged to repeat itself with a growing perseverance; and the offerings themselves should with intelligent prudence be made to go hand in hand in aiding to accomplish the peculiar mission which the genius of our Church now so forcibly presses upon us. Let us follow after, while looking thankfully to the past, and strive with earnest endeavor to apprehend that for which we are apprehended in the onward developments of the kingdom of Grace, confidênt that having kept the faith (not made it), and having finished our course, we may rest in the glorious hope of our crown, even if it be a martyr's crown.—Amen.
It may never come. To some persons it will never come. If it should come to you, how do you anticipate spending it for pleasure or for profit, in the service of self and the world, or in the service of God? Every man should have a purpose and fixed habits, not only through the week, but also on the Sabbath, which has its appropriate duties. How many wisely make their calculations for the week, and leave the Sabbath to chance! They have no plan about it. The first they economize well, the second, they thoughtlessly squander. Upon the one, may depend temporal interests, upon the other, his eternal condition. Then do not leave the matter to accident. Let not another Sabbath be wasted. If you are forty years old, almost six years of Sabbaths have gone, and the man of seventy has had ten. If all these were improved, what would be the result? The Jews termed the Sabbath the day of light;" the Africans, "Ossaday, the day.of silence;” the Creek Indians, “the praying day;” the early Christians, “queen of days;" all significant. It is the Lord's day, the day of of rest. How will you spend the next?— Morning Star.
VOL. XVI.-MARCH, 1865.-No. 3.
THE CHILDHOOD OF JESUS-ITS SIGNIFICANCE
BY REV. SAMUEL H. GIESY.
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”Luke ii. 52.
“Is there any mediatorial virtue in the childhood of Jesus ?” This question, proposed to a ministerial brother, was very emphatically answered in the negative. “In what facts or features of His person and work did such saving merit reside ?” Promptly the answer came: “In His passion and death on the cross.” “Then, you make, of
little account of the Incarnation, and stand in plain opposition to the Scriptures, which make His power to save start in His supernatural conception and birth of the Virgin Mary. Starting there, His youth, even as His active manhood, must have carried with it atoning virtue and merit.” Let us see whether the point was not well put.
The broad negative given to the first question is in full keeping with our modern habit of theological thought, which sees little significance in anything but the words and works of Christ—the sufferings and death of Christ. So exclusively is pulpit instruction engaged with these topics, that currency, and, without intending it, perhaps, authority even has been given to the opinion, that all the virtue and merit of the great atonement are comprised in the above prominent facts.
This much is clear, the power of salvation is not linked to the words, but the person of Christ. Truth cannot save. Its office is only to make clear our need of salvation, and bring us to the Saviour. Hence the little anxiety which He manifested to give His teachings any permanent form. We have no full and formal statement of doctrine prepared by his own hand. The Evangelists, in their biographies of that wondrous Life, had