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The whole work of redemption is summed up in these words. They testify that it is in its very essence a manifestation of the love of the Father, of that eternal love which formed the design of saving us, and of renewing us in true righteousness. Before describing the work of Christ, Paul is very explicit as to its nature. We have already said that he recognizes the eternal existence of the Son of God, "the image of the invisible God, by whom and for whom all things were created, who was before all things, and by whom all things consist."289289Εἰκὼν τοῦ Θεοῦ. Col. i, 15-17. The expression πρωτότοκος (first-born of every creature,) has often been used in disproof of the divinity of Christ. M. Reuss himself regarded it as an inconsistency in the language of Paul. We find no difficulty in it. In the writings of Paul, words constantly receive a special and partial significance from the context. Here, the sense of the word πρωτότοκος is defined by the general meaning of the passage in which it occurs. The accent is not upon τοκος, but upon πρωτος. Paul regards the Son as the eldest of all beings. His right is pre-eminently the right of seniority; but it does not follow because he is before all other beings that he is not himself eternal. The word τόκος in no way excludes the idea that IIe was begotten from all eternity. It would be as reasonable to argue against the divinity of Christ from the word υἱός as from the word τόκος. This Eternal Son took 272upon him a body like our own. Being in the form of God, not having to win by conquest a Godhead which was already his by right, he humbled himself, taking the form of a servant, and being found in fashion as a man.290290Ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἰ̂ναι ἴσα Θεῷ (he did not regard equality with God as a prey to be taken) ἀλλὰ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσε. Phil. ii, 6, 7. Comp. 1 Cor. x, 4; viii, 6; Rom. viii, 3; Gal. iv, 4; 2 Cor. viii, 9. In this state of humiliation, or rather of self-annihilation, there still dwelt in him "all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." Col. ii, 9. Thus the Apostle unhesitatingly applies to him the title of God; he calls him "God over all, blessed for ever."291291Ὁ ὢν ἐπὶ πάντων Θεὸς. Rom. ix, 5; Titus ii, 13. See Reuss ii, 101. While thus recognizing the divinity of Christ, the Apostle admits, however, a certain subordination of the Son to the Father. This cannot, in our view, be restricted to the time of his manifestation upon earth, and be supposed to originate solely in his temporary abasement, since Paul declares that in the end of time, that is, when the Son shall have reassumed all his glory, he will even then himself be subject unto God, that God may be all in all.292292Καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ υἱὸς ὑποταγήσεται τῷ ὑποτάξαντι αὐτῷ τὰ πάντα. 1 Cor. xv, 28. Is not this subordination implied in the very name of the Son, the image of the Father, and the brightness of his glory? From all eternity he has received all the fullness of the Godhead, but still he has received it. Now, he who receives is subordinate to Him who gives; his subordination to the Father may have been more marked in the days of his humiliation; 273nevertheless, it subsisted before all time, and will subsist when time shall be no more.
St. Paul speaks no less clearly with reference to the humanity than to the deity of Christ. If he is declared to be the Son of God according to the Spirit, he is no less the seed of David according to the flesh.293293Γενομένου ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σάρκα, τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ Θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει κατὰ πνευ̂μα. Rom. i, 3, 4. God sent his own Son in flesh like that of sinful men,294294Ἐν ὁμοιώματι σαρκὸς ἁμαρτίας. Rom. viii, 3. that is to say, in all the frailty and feebleness of earthly life, to suffer and to die.2 Cor. xiii, 4; i, 5; Phil. ii, 8.
But Christ did more than simply assume human nature; he became the head of a new humanity, and its representative before God. Paul establishes a parallel between the first Adam and him whom he calls the second Adam. "If by the offense of one," he says, "many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift which he hath given us by his grace, of one man, shall abound unto many." Rom. v, 15. Thus, the second Adam comes to repair the wrongs done by the first. Between him and man there is a bond of strict solidarity. The difference between the first Adam and the second does not consist simply in this, that the first Adam brought sin and condemnation upon earth, while the second Adam wrought the world's redemption. "The first Adam was made a living soul, but the last Adam is a quickening spirit."295295Ὁ πρῶτος ἄνθρωπος Ἀδὰμ εἰς ψυχὴν ζῶσαν, ὁ ἔσχατος Ἀδὰμ εἰς πνεῦμα ζῳοποιου̂ν. 1 Cor. xv, 45. In other words, the second Adam possesses in himself the creating spirit which gives and sustains life. 274He is able, therefore, to restore life to those who have lost it, and to kindle a new and living flame in the cold hearts of a condemned race. It remains for us to see in what way he restored the true relations between man and God, which are those of perfect righteousness.
Redemption is not, with Paul, simply the declaration of the love of God and of his pardon; it is a positive work, a great and bleeding sacrifice. Jesus Christ "was delivered for our offenses."296296Παρεδόθη διὰ τὰ παραπτώματα ἡμῶν. Rom. iv, 25. It is clear from the epistles of the Apostle that the death of Christ is the basis of our salvation, that his blood was shed for us, and that his sufferings have effected our reconciliation with God. "I have determined," he says emphatically, "to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified." 1 Cor. ii, 2. In order to understand the close relation which he establishes between the sufferings of Christ and the work of redemption, it must be remembered that the cause of man's ruin was the transgression of the first man. "By one man sin entered into the world." "By the disobedience of one many were made sinners." Rom. v, 12-19. Sin has thus interrupted the normal relations between man and God; it is needful that these should be restored. Now, of these true relations obedience is the essence. It is therefore necessary that the representative of the new race should present it prostrate before God in unreserved submission, and should thus cancel the effects of Adam's rebellion. The redemptive act is essentially one of obedience. "It is by the righteousness of one that all shall receive the righteousness which gives 275life."297297Ἑνὸς δικαιώματος εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους εἰς δικαίωσιν ζωῆς. Rom. v, 18. The death of Christ being a proof of absolute obedience is the supreme reparation of the rebellion of Adam. The second Adam saves us because he was "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."298298Γενόμενος ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου, θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ. Phil. ii, 8. Thus is the harmony re-established between man and God. But while the discord of the moral world was thus resolved by the second Adam, the condemnation resulting from sin was as effectually removed by him. Here it is that his suffering becomes so important an element in his work. Death had been the consequence of sin. "By sin death entered into the world." Rom. v, 12. In the language of Scripture death is the wages of sin,299299Τὰ γὰρ ὀψώνια τῆς ἁμαρτίας θάνατος. Rom. vi, 23. the terrible sanction attached to the law of God, the solemn vindication of his disregarded authority. Christ, in submitting to death, submitted to the conditions under which humanity had placed itself by sin; he thus became its true representative. By dying for us he was made a curse for us; he was made sin, for, in so far as it was possible for a sinless being, he endured the penalty of sin. "He who knew no sin was for our sake treated by God as a sinner, that by him we might be made righteous before God."300300Ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἁμαρτίαν ἐποίησεν. 2 Cor. v, 21.
This death, being undeserved, was on his part a free sacrifice, and an act of obedience; hence, its redemptive value. In making his death an offering to God, an act of free and holy love, Christ reunited the broken link between man and God; his death thus 276produced life and salvation. He, the Holy One and the Just, received the wages of transgression, but he yielded himself to death only to extract its sting, which is sin; by dying he gained the mightiest of victories over the powers of evil. He took upon him our condemnation; but, so assuming it, he transformed and subdued it. "He condemned sin in the flesh."301301Περὶ ἁμαρτίας κατέκρινε τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ἐν τῇ σαρκί. Rom. viii, 3. The righteousness of God is written in letters of blazing light upon his cross, since, having come down to. our sin-stained earth and joined himself to the human race, he must needs die in spite of his holiness. That holiness, however, at the same time made his death a satisfaction of the divine justice—a reparation of Adam's disobedience.
After a careful study of the declarations of St. Paul, we find ourselves unable to derive from them any other conception of redemption than this The death of Christ is a demonstration of the righteousness of God, since it gives proof that the representative of the sentenced race of man cannot save it without submitting to the penalty of sin; but the penalty thus endured is accepted by God as a sufficient reparation, because of the perfect obedience which it manifests. It is in this sense a redemption, a propitiation; this is the entire theory of Paul. Theology may find some links wanting in this dialectic chain; it may attempt to explain and to enlarge upon the great doctrinal statements of the Apostle, but it has no right either to suppress or to add any. The judicial theory, according to which the suffering of Christ consisted in the feeling of rejection and of the wrath of God, is altogether alien to the conception 277of Paul.302302In favor of this view, Gal. iii, 13, is quoted: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us," (γενόμενος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν κατάρα.) But the Apostle is careful to add in explanation, "For it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." It is the outward fact of the crucifixion, therefore, which is the mark of the curse. It is so as suffering and death; it is so in itself, without the addition of the idea of damnation. Schweizer, in the third number of "Studien und. Kritiken," (1858,) regards this curse as simply the anathema of the synagogue which repudiated Christ; and by the same act cut off and set at large the Jewish Christians. But this explanation is altogether inadequate. That given by us is much more in harmony with the whole theology of St. Paul. He always represents the Father as acting in harmony with the Son. "God," he says, "was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself."303303Ἦν ἐν Χριστῷ κόσμον καταλλάσσων ἑαυτῷ. 2 Cor. v, 19. If he was in Christ he could not be against him. The judicial theory of Anselm is in contradiction with the general views of Paul on salvation. In Anselm's system it is no longer free grace, a realization in time of the purpose of eternal love. The law of retaliation receives, on this theory, the supreme sanction of the cross; forgiveness is robbed of its freeness. We are on the ground of legal right, not on that of mercy. It is, further, an erroneous conception of the work of redemption which disjoins the death of the Saviour from his life; the two are closely connected—the former the consummation of the latter. If he was obedient unto death, he was not obedient only in death. If He who knew no sin was treated as a sinner in the crucifixion, so was he no less in all the sufferings going before his death, and his death appears to us as the culminating point of the redemptive work which comprehends his whole life on earth.304304There is no subject more fraught with grave and weighty considerations than that on which we have thus briefly touched. Impartial men, who are familiar with the history of theology, will admit that the theory of Anselm is so obscurely derivable from the words of St. Paul, that for centuries the Church had no conception of it. We must be on our guard against identifying with the truth of Scripture that which has become a current and popular notion. To do so would be to give a lamentable application to the famous adage, Vox populi, vox Dei. This theory has against it the gravest moral objections. It is enough for us at present to show that it is also opposed to the teaching of the Apostles. It has been sustained by a legitimate dread of falling, if it were abandoned, into the rationalistic conception of redemption, according to which the Cross has no significance beyond the simple declaration of the love of God. Clearly, in spite of its exaggerations, Anselm's theory is much more in harmony with the scriptural representation of redemption than the rationalistic idea. But we are not reduced to any such alternative. A thoughtful study of the Scriptures will lead to a conception deeper and more consonant with moral claims, one which is alike honorable to God and satisfying to the conscience.278
The salvation achieved on the cross is consummated by the glorification of the Redeemer. The resurrection is, in Paul's view, an essential condition of our justification.305305Ἠγέρθη διὰ τὴν δικαίωσιν ἡμῶν. Rom. iv, 25; 2 Cor. v, 15. "If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." 1 Cor. xv, 14. Such is his argument. The resurrection is, in truth, the divine pledge of the acceptance of the redeeming sacrifice. The risen Christ has entered into glory; he is now at the right hand of God the Father, and he carries on his redeeming work by bestowing mediatorily upon us all the graces gained by his death. Rom. xiv, 9; Phil. ii, 11. The grace which comprises all the rest is the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the living God, which is also the Spirit of Christ.306306Πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ. Rom. viii, 9. The Spirit is sent by the Saviour to his Church by virtue of his death, which has made an open way of access to the Father, casting 279down every obstacle and barrier between us and him. Ephes. ii, 18. This Spirit is the "Spirit of adoption," (Gal. iv, 6; Rom. viii, 15;) the great agent in conversion and sanctification. It is he who quickens us, (Ephes. ii, 5,) by him it is we receive power and might from God, (Phil. ii, 13;) it is he, in a word, who helps all our infirmities. Rom. viii, 26. True righteousness is restored by the new Adam; but we have yet to ascertain how sinful man may become a partaker in it—in other words, how he may be justified. Paul's reply is included in a single word: "The just shall live by faith."307307Ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται. Rom. i, 17. Let us examine more closely this ideal of justification, for it is that which attaches the special seal of originality to the doctrine of Paul. To justify, is, with him, to declare to be just. Rom. ii, 13; iii, 24; Gal. ii, 16. This declaration may be made either as a matter of law or of grace. As a matter of law, it can be obtained only by perfect righteousness. As a matter of grace, it is a gift of God, and may be bestowed on the sinner.308308Δικαιούμενοι δωρεὰν τῇ αὐτοῦ χάριτι. Rom. iii, 24. But if justification is gratuitous, it is not unconditional; it is granted only to faith, and we find here the moral element which permeates the whole theology of the Apostle. Rightly to understand what he intends by faith, it is necessary to inquire what is its origin, its nature, its object. Its origin is twofold, according as we regard it in eternity or in time. In eternity it originates, as does the whole of salvation, in the decree of eternal love, that is, in election, of which we have already defined the significance and bearing. Every Christian has been the 280 object of God's love from all eternity, and the cause of his salvation is not in himself, but in the will of the Father.309309Οὓς προέγνω, καὶ προώρισε. Rom. viii, 29. In time, faith is necessarily preceded by the divine call: "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."310310Ἡ πίστις ἐξ ἀκοῆς. Rom. x, 17. But it is only produced in the heart by the Holy Spirit. It "is the gift of God."311311Οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν· Θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον. Ephes. ii, 8. We must not, however, for a moment entertain the idea of any magical operation upon man without the participation of his own moral power. A consideration of the nature and object of faith will suffice to exclude any such idea. Faith commences by the drawing of the Spirit, a belief in the promises of God, a knowledge of the truth, (2 Cor. v, 7;) it is in this sense a firm and joyful confidence, to which Christian experience bears most distinct testimony; (2 Cor. iv, 12, 13;) it rests on the assurance that God has forgiven us in his Son. But it does not stop there; in the language of the Apostle it has a deep and mystical meaning. Faith establishes between us and the Saviour a real and mysterious union, which makes him dwell in our hearts by faith, which keeps us rooted and grounded in him,312312Κατοικῆσαι τὸν Χριστὸν διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν. Ephes. iii, 17, 18. and enables us to say: "It is no more I that live, but Christ who liveth in me." The commencement of the sixth chapter to the Romans shows us Paul's view of this subject. He sees in the act of baptism a true representation of faith. As in baptism the neophyte is plunged beneath the water, soon to come forth again bearing 281 the seal of consecration; so the soul which embraces salvation is buried, at it were, in the death of Christ, and at once rises, again with him into newness of life. It has grown to be one with him in his death and resurrection.313313Εἰ γὰρ σύμφυτοι γεγόναμεν τῷ ὁμοιώματι τοῦ θανάτου αὐτοῦ, ἀλλὰ καὶ τῆς ἀναστάσεως ἐσόμεθα. Rom. vi, 5. To believe is then to be closely united to Christ, by dying to ourselves, and becoming partakers of his divine life. This does not imply that we may not be assured of our salvation until this union with Christ is complete. No, his righteousness covers us before God so soon as we have accepted the pardon it has procured; but on the other hand, this acceptance is only real when a bond is formed between our souls and him; when we have begun to die and to live again with him; when we have been engrafted into his death and resurrection. We are not justified by the works of the law, but by the work of Christ, inwrought in our hearts by a living and sanctifying faith. Our whole salvation is of grace, and yet God, in order to save us, makes a powerful appeal to the living forces of our moral being. He consents to accept the appropriation of the work of redemption wrought by faith in our hearts, however imperfect it may be, if it be but in reality begun. Thus the very condition imposed upon us is itself an effect of his love, and a proof of the freeness of his gifts.314314See the beautiful analysis of the word faith in Reuss, ii, 21.
The natural consequence of faith is conversion, or the renewing of the inner nature. Thus understood, it is inseparable from sanctification. If St. Paul repudiates strongly justification by works, he does so 282because the works of the law do not truly realize the righteousness of God, but either cherish pride or lead to despair. Holiness springs from faith; faith contains it in the germ, for sanctification consists simply in putting on Jesus Christ as sin is more and more put off. Self-mortification pierces the rebellious flesh of the Christian, as it were with the nails which wounded the Saviour on the accursed tree; it is a true crucifixion,315315Χριστῷ συνεσταύρωμαι. Gal. ii, 20. and like that of the Redeemer, it leads to a resurrection. The new man, created in the image of God, takes the place of the old, and is changed from glory to glory into the likeness of Christ. The ideal and the end of holiness is to be able to say, "For me to live is Christ." Phil. i, 21. We know with what strong and solemn eloquence Paul incites Christians to seek this salutary death and blessed resurrection, urging them to identify themselves with that Saviour whose life he himself manifested, and the mark of whose wounds he rejoiced to bear. This is indeed the highest morality; that which comes down from above, which finds its law in the heart of the God who is love, and reads it written afresh in characters of blood upon the cross. Love is its Alpha and Omega. "Be ye imitators of God;"316316Γίνεσθε οὖν μιμηταὶ τοῦ Θεοῦ, . . . καὶ περιπατεῖτε ἐν ἀγάπῃ, καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς. Ephes. v, 1, 2. this is its principle. "The love of Christ constrains us: if one is dead, all are dead;" (2 Cor. v, 14;) this is its motive. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit; " (Gal. vi, 18;) this is its power. It is as efficacious as it is perfect; for the love which is its supreme ideal is communicated 283as it is revealed. Paul has celebrated this love in language truly sublime. No poetry can surpass his paean on charity. We feel that this is the highest attainment possible even to inspired human thought, for love in man, responding to the eternal love of God, is the glorious re-establishment of righteousness upon earth; it is restoration perfected, salvation realized.
The Apostle, however, goes further than a merely individual appropriation of salvation. It being the purpose of God to reconstitute a true humanity in Christ, it was necessary that a new people of God should be formed, and a religious society organized, in which faith and love should be essential elements of the mutual relations between men. This new people of God is the Church. Paul compares it sometimes to a temple of which Christ is the corner-stone; (1 Cor. iii, 16, 17; 2 Cor. vi, 16; Ephes. ii, 20, 22;) sometimes to a body of which he is the head. Rom. xii, 5; 1 Cor. xii, 12; Ephes. i, 23. It thus forms a living organism, a holy community, differing widely from such an institution as was the Jewish theocracy. It is entered, not by birth, but by faith; all external distinctions are thus abolished. Here there is "neither Jew nor Greek, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all in all."317317Τὰ πάντα καὶ ἐν πᾶσι Χριστός. Col. iii, 1. The Apostle recognizes in all his letters that the Churches to which he writes present a melancholy admixture of good and evil; but he urges upon them as a duty to purify themselves from all the corrupt elements which defile and bring dishonor upon them. 1 Cor. v, 11-13. The sign of admission into the Church is baptism, which symbolizes the two 284phases of conversion, and thus is no less significant of death unto sin than of the new life to which the Christian is called. Rom. vi, 4. The holy communion is the Lord's Supper, taken in remembrance of his redeeming death. 1 Cor. xi, 25. It draws closer the bonds of brotherhood, for by it all the members of the Church drink of the same cup of blessing. 1 Cor. x, 16, 17. It is at once the solemn symbol of the divine love, and the pledge of Christian oneness. The Church, the holy community of the redeemed of Christ, whose calling it is to strive against sin and to fulfill the law of love, represents to us humanity as it is to be formed anew according to the will of God. It is thus the fulfillment of Him who fulfills all in us all318318Τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν πληρουμένου. Ephes. i, 23.—the fulfillment, that is, of that eternal purpose of divine love which was frustrated in the fall and is realized in redemption.
But the kingdom of God extends far beyond this world. The family is in heaven as well as upon earth. Ephes. iii, 15. The angels form, with the redeemed, the heavenly host of which Christ is the Captain, (Col. ii, 10; Ephes. i, 20, 21; iii, 10,) which is perpetually at war with the dark kingdom of evil, with the malignant spirits of the air sent forth on the behests of the prince of this world. Ephes. ii, 2; vi, 12;2 Cor. iv, 4. These powers of darkness, though vanquished at the cross of Christ, (Col. ii, 15,) continue to fight against the Church, but they are doomed to inevitable defeat. 1 Cor. xv, 24-26.
We shall not dwell at length upon the picture drawn by St. Paul of the last times. He has not done more than paraphrase the prophecies given by 285Christ. He proclaims a wide diffusion of the Gospel light, which is to spread first over the Gentile world, then to return to enlighten also that people of the Jews, who will have thus so strikingly verified in their pride the saying of the Master, "The first shall be last." Even this tardy illumination is to come to them only on condition that they abide not still in unbelief.* Rom. xi, 23-25. The prophecy being that the whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the truth as the waters cover the sea, the country which was the cradle of revelation cannot remain forever in darkness. The grief of a temporary rejection, and the privileges granted to the Gentile world, will in the end stir up Israel to jealousy, and bring it back to God. Rom. xi, 31.
When the Gospel shall have thus subdued the obduracy of the Jews its final triumph will be at hand, and the conversion of Israel will be the precursive sign of the glorious consummation of the kingdom of God. Rom. xi, 15. Before this, however, a terrible conflict will take place between the Church and Antichrist personified in the " man of sin;" (2 Thess. ii, 3-8;) and the close of this conflict will be the return of Christ in the clouds to judge the world, and to raise the dead. 1 Thess. iv, 14-18. He is himself the first-fruits of the resurrection; we shall be made like him. Our body, like the grain of corn which dies in the ground to live again as the golden ear, shall be raised glorious and incorruptible. 1 Cor. xv, 42-45. The Christians who shall be living at the coming of the Lord shall be changed without dying.3193191 Thess. iv, 13-16. The idea of a first resurrection has no foundation in Paul's epistles. The passage 1 Thess. iv, 16, makes no allusion to it. Πρωτώς (first in order) applies to the Christians already dead, who shall be raised before the Christians still living are changed; but the two events will transpire on the same day. The judgment is called παρουσία. (1 Thess. ii, 19; see 2 Tim. iv, 1, where it is said that Christ will judge the quick and the dead at his appearing.) 286The judgment will follow immediately on the resurrection; it is spoken of as the great day of the Lord.2 Cor. v, 1O; 2 Tim. iv, 1; Rom. ii, 5. When death, the last enemy, shall have been destroyed, then shall the Son restore the kingdom to the Father, that he may be all in all.320320Ἵνα ᾐ̂ ὁ Θεὸς τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν. 1 Cor. xv, 28. This expression seems to open before us a boundless view of the compassions of God. It is limited, however, by the words of St. Paul as to the eternal punishment of the wicked in the day of the Lord.321321Ὄλεθρον αἰώνιον. 2 Thess. i, 9. We have thus two distinct assertions which we do not find brought into harmony in the theology of the Apostle. He associates nature herself with the grand consummations of redemption; he represents her as groaning and travailing in pain for the deliverance of the sons of God,322322Πᾶσα ἡ κτίσις συστενάζει καὶ συνωδίνει ἄχρι τοῦ νῦν. Rom. viii, 22. and he leads us to anticipate a sort of resurrection of the material world as the abode of glorified humanity.
The views of the Apostle as to the nearness of this closing period of history, which is to be inaugurated by the personal return of Christ, seem to have undergone some modifications. In the, first stage of his apostolical career he supposes, with all the Christians of that time, that but a very few years will intervene before the coming of the day of the Lord; he is even persuaded that it will arrive before his own 287death.323323Ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες. 1 Thess. iv, 15. Subsequently, in the Roman prison, on the eve of sealing his testimony with his blood, he receives new light. This is very evident from his Epistle to the Philippians. Phil. i, 20-25. He learns before his death that centuries are to be granted to the Church for the fulfillment of its work, and for sowing the seed of the Gospel in the vast field opened to missionary labor.
This exposition of the doctrine of St. Paul anticipates the solution given by him of the great question of the relation of the two covenants. We have seen that he fully recognizes the divine and preparatory value of the Old Testament; (Gal. iii, 19-23; iv, 1-6;) but he regards it as only the shadow and type of the salvation of which the Gospel brings us the substance. Col. ii, 17. He contrasts the new law with the old.2 Cor. iii, 6-9. The old law, which includes the whole Mosaic dispensation, was external; it was the law of the letter, the law of precepts regulating the life in detail, but not reaching to the inner nature. It was graven on stone, not in the heart; and it remained external to man, because it could exercise only the ministry of death, and bring man under condemnation. It had no transforming power; its character of terror forbade its being received into the heart. The new law, on the contrary, is a ministry of life, because by it true righteousness (2 Cor. iii, 9) is realized in our salvation; thus it is written on the living table of the heart. It is the ministry of the Spirit which quickens. It has finally taken the place of the law of precepts and of ordinances, which was nailed to the cross of Christ. Col. ii, 14. The Christian is entirely 288set free from that law, but he is so much the more dependent on the law of the Spirit of life, which is in Christ Jesus.324324Διακόνους καινῆς διαθήκης, οὐ γράμματος ἀλλὰ πνεύματοσ. 2 Corinthians iii, 6. Thus all ceremonial observances, all legal distinctions, are done away; Christianity is settled on its true, broad basis, and all the exclusiveness of the ancient law melts before the manifestation of eternal love. The Apostle of grace raises us to such an elevation that the questions bearing upon the circumcision of converted Gentiles and the observance of the law, which so long engaged the Church, sink out of sight. Christianity appears in its true character; the edifice of doctrine built up by St. Paul is so vast that within it all the revelations of God range themselves in majestic proportions; so that being "rooted and grounded in love, we may be able to comprehend with all saints what is their breadth, and length, and depth, and height." Eph. iii, 18.
The apology of the Apostle is closely connected with his doctrine; it is animated by the same spirit, and in it also grace occupies the foremost place. Truth is alien to the soul in its natural state. "The natural man discerneth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him." 1 Cor. ii, 14. The preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness, (1 Cor. i, 18;) but it is none the less the wisdom of God to them that are saved-to those, that is, who have received the Spirit of God, and whose hearts he has opened. Paul, however, while recognizing in every man an element of the divine life, bases his apology for Christianity on the 289need of redemption, of which the soul is painfully conscious, and of which he traces the manifestations even in the midst of the Gentile world. In his discourse at Athens he constantly appeals to this secret aspiration of the human heart after the true God. "Whom ye ignorantly worship him declare I unto you." Acts xvii, 23. Thus the Apostle avers, on the one hand, that man cannot, by his own wisdom, arrive at the possession of the truth, and throws down the challenge to all the philosophy of the ancients, in the noble words, "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" 1 Cor. i, 20. On the other hand, he admits the existence of spiritual cravings in the unconverted man, who is at once desirous and powerless to find God. Hence results a state of sadness and unrest, which should prepare him to receive the Gospel, But he will not receive it unless he suffers himself to be influenced by the Holy Spirit; and we find here, in their indissoluble union, grace and freedom, the operation of God, and the responsibility of man—in one word, the great and legitimate dualism of the teaching of Paul. Let us observe that in addressing the heathen, he dwells more upon the internal than upon the external evidences of his message. He limits himself to relating in its solemn simplicity the fact of redemption, while his great endeavor is to bring the soul into contact with Christ; he even goes so far as to place in the same category the Jew who requires a sign, and the Greek who seeks after wisdom.325325Ἰουδαῖοι σημεῖα αἰτου̂σι καὶ Ἕλληνες σοφίαν ζητου̂σιν. 1 Corinthians i, 22. In 290truth, faith founded simply upon miracle is no more faith but sight, quite as much as the faith which is founded only on philosophic reasoning. It is no longer that seeing of the invisible, that mystic union with Christ, which lifts us above the sphere of the outward and sensible into that of the divine life.
In addressing the Jews, Paul based his arguments chiefly on the sacred Scriptures, of which he distinctly acknowledges the full inspiration. 2 Tim. iii, 16. He quotes them with great freedom,326326See, for example, Gal. iii, 16. and his exegesis is sometimes very bold, sometimes very minute, sometimes almost rabbinical in its method; (See Gal. iv, 22-26;) but taken as a whole it displays a deep and admirable comprehension of the Old Testament. It is with the exegetical method of St. Paul as with the incorrect language which he speaks; he turns both to the best possible account, and expresses the highest truths of revelation while making use of an instrument for the imperfection of which he was not responsible, since he received it from those who went before him.
We are now in a position to estimate the views of the Tübingen school on the theology of St. Paul. To that school it appears a system entirely new, and differing widely from the doctrine of Christ. To us, on the contrary, it seems evident that the teaching of Paul is based entirely on that of the Master. It would be easy to connect all the essential points in Paul's theology with words of Christ, contained in the first two Gospels. It is, in the first place, universally admitted that his prophetic delineation of the last times is in all points in conformity with the 291last discourses of the Saviour. We have already shown that his rich and ample tribute to the majesty of Christ as the Son of God is but an expansion of the doctrine contained in germ in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. The rejection of the Jews as a nation is clearly foretold in the parables. Matt. xix, 30; xx, 16; Mark x, 31. Faith is set forth in the synoptics, no less than in the epistles of Paul, as the condition of the forgiveness of sins. Matt. ix, 28; xxi, 22; Mark xi, 24. Jesus Christ repeatedly insisted on the importance of his death; and the account of the passion is the sublime commentary on his words. We may add that Paul was equally familiar with that portion of evangelical tradition which has come down to us in the fourth Gospel, and that being so near the source, he doubtless drew copiously from it. He does, in fact, quote words of the Master of which we have no record apart from his writings. 1 Cor. vii, 10; Acts xx, 35. Paul never passed the line laid down by Him who said, "I am the truth." But it was given him by the Divine Spirit to discern most important applications of those words; enlightened by a special revelation, he definitively solved the great question of the relation of the two covenants, and he successfully asserted, both by his powerful arguments and by his missionary activity, the complete independence of Christianity. He achieved its recognition as the ultimate religion, which had broken down the wall of partition between man and God, and at the same time had leveled all barriers between man and man—the religion of mankind redeemed by the blood of the cross. Jesus Christ had died to give it birth; Paul in 292preaching it was the most faithful and the most docile of his disciples.
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