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first great practical realities which are at stake in that long battle which has raged around the Church, and sometimes within it, from the earliest times to the present hour, respecting the nature of our Lord. We may sometimes hear that question discussed as if it were to a large extent a speculative one. That is the manner in which it was represented by Arian writers in the time of St. Athanasius; and the first ages of the Church, and the very lifetime of the Apostles, were at least as rife as the present day with attempts to create some other image of our Lord than that which is furnished by the records of His miraculous birth in St. Matthew and St. Luke, of His eternal Godhead in St. John, and of His Ascension to sit on the right hand of the Father in the Acts of the Apostles. If He were only a teacher, such attempts might not vitally conflict with His authority. But He claims to be much more than a teacher. In the very first place He claims to be a judge; and thus a debate respecting His nature involves a debate respecting His jurisdiction. He asserts a prerogative and power to which it would be blasphemy, as the High-priest declared, for a mere man to aspire, and He has indissolubly united this claim with His whole moral and spiritual teaching. That is the character in which, at the very outset as at the end of His ministry, He came before the Jews; that is the character in which His angels revealed Him as

He departed from earth; that is the character in which He comes before us now. It must, moreover, be observed that the acknowledgment or rejection of Him in that character is declared by Him to be a point on which His judgment at the last day will be pronounced with special solemnity. It was in connection with His claim to be the Christ of God, divine amidst all His humiliation, that He uttered the solemn warning, 'Whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels.'

Accordingly we find that this principle occupies as prominent a place in the preaching of the Apostles as in that of our Lord Himself. In the crucial example of St. Paul's preaching to the Gentiles-his speech at Athens we observe that he employs this truth as the very lever with which he would move the world. 6 The times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent; because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.' In writing to the Romans, the Apostle's argument at the outset speaks of the day in which God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according

to his Gospel. The day of the Lord Jesus is ever prominent in his thoughts. He reiterates that we must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ; and he looked forward to that day for the crown of righteousness of which, at the close of his life, he could indulge a confident hope. But the Apocalypse shows us most conclusively how vast a space this truth occupied in Apostolic thought and teaching. The New Testament may almost be regarded as summed up in this vision of our Lord's return to judgment, and in His revelation as Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.

In fact, the prominence which this belief occupies in Apostolic thought is so evident, that it has even been made a ground of objection to the Apostles' authority, that they lived in an expectation, which proved to be unfounded, of our Lord's immediate return. It is probable, indeed, if we take the most natural interpretation of some of their expressions, that they were mistaken on this point. But it is the very point on which our Lord expressly said that they would be left in ignorance, and therefore liable to be mistaken; and it would seem that the particular time at which He would return to judgment in no way affects, as respects individuals, the supreme import of the fact itself. If it be a fact, it is equally important to us all, whether it be near or far off; and even if the Apostles had not been in

the error supposed in point of time and date, the intensity with which their thoughts were preoccupied with the subject would have been none the less justifiable and inevitable; and we ought ourselves to enter into their feelings and share them to the full. The truth that the consummation of all things will involve a moral judgment upon every human being, and that this judgment will be pronounced by our Lord, and in accordance with His revealed will and word, is one which, wherever it is accepted, must needs overpower all other considerations. It establishes once for all a fixed and central point for human life and for each individual soul.

We may reflect with advantage upon the bearing of the principle in this respect upon the circumstances in which it was first proclaimed. The world to which the Apostles were commissioned to preach was distracted by the most various views of the object of life, the good of life, and the rule of life. As Horace describes himself, men fluctuated backwards and forwards between one philosophy and another, as thought, or fancy, or pleasure led them. The end of life was as obscure as its origin; and amidst all this doubt and vague speculation, moral energy and resolution were continually growing feebler. this state of thought and feeling, the Apostles were able to proclaim an absolute certainty to every soul; and a certainty of the most clear and vivid cha


racter. They proclaimed, not merely in general terms, a judgment to come-a belief which all the most thoughtful heathen had anticipated-but a judgment by a particular Person, whose character and will they were able to describe, and whose claim to submission was accompanied by the most gracious assurances. All else would pass away; it would pass away to the individual, and it would come to an end in itself. But our Lord had declared that those who believed in Him, and strove to obey Him, were building their houses on an eternal rock, and that He would return to give them everlasting life, and honour, and blessing. What wonder that, in proportion as this assurance was accepted, and believed as a certainty, it absorbed the souls of men, and overbore all other influences? It gave to Christian life at once its peculiar moral character, and its special vigour and confidence. The principle of duty, of following right because of right, can never, indeed, in any decay of society, lose its hold over the more noble souls. But as the world is constituted, such a principle cannot, standing by itself, exert the same inspiring influence as when invigorated by the personal assurances of our Lord, and sustained by the conviction that He will certainly vindicate it and reward obedience to it. Alike in the old world and in the present day, in the absence of Christian faith, too many men can only do their duty in sadness of

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