Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

failure. Its spectral Jesus of Nazareth stands beyond the precincts of reality ; our Christ of Bethlehem is the Prince of history and the King of the ages.

For him, again, we ask the first place on the domain of philosophy and religion. Atheism or pantheism, these are-according to the nature of the case and the experience of all times—the two opposite poles between which the pendulum of human thought ever vacillates ; they are the Scylla and the Charybdis for our philosophy, often shipwrecked by one when it has escaped the other. No guide leads us safely between both, through the narrow channel of truth, save the Light of the World and the compass of God's Word. But this Sun of the highest truth does not rise before our eyes, as long as the fountain of the highest life has not been opened in our hearts, and this life can only originate from him. Christianity is not merely a religion surpassing all others; it is the only true religion for mankind and men, because it alone manifests the special, the accomplished rcuclation of God's grace and our salvation. To the Christ of this revelation does not belong a place, as once was given to his statue in the Lararium of the Emperor Alexander Severus in Rome, amongst, or even above, the most renowned heroes of religious life. No; the truth is, as has been well written on the obelisk of the Saint Peter's place in the same metropolis : “Christus vincit; Christus regnat ; Christus suum populum ab omni malo defendit” (Christ triumphs ; Christ reigns ; Christ defends his people against all evil).

For this Christ we claim the first and central place on the ficld of thcology, more especially of doctrinal and moral truth. If we are, indeed, to hold Christ for a mere natural product of sinful humanity, then Christian theology (the doctrine of God) has lost the very ground and reason for its existence. The former queen of sciences, by the grace of God, loses the crown together with the king, and in the best possible case becomes a science of religion by the grace of men, clad in a philologic, historical or philosophic robe, which would better suit other sciences, because when theology itself has not any proper, independent principle of its own to signalize or maintain, it cannot own any of those scientific departments of whose sphere it ought to be the

:

centre. On the contrary, from our stand-point, theology is and remains an independent, self-relying science, as the science of the faith in Him, who, as being the true Life, makes the true Light radiate from the centre he occupies into all directions. Doctrinal and moral truth, no longer are they now separated, still less divided by a wide gap. They are one and indivisible now by the same Christocentric character. Christ himself is the fountain and the focus of both,

Lastly, for him we require, with an undeniable claim, the first and central place in every sphere of individual and social life. It may be possible to know God in some measure by nature, but we can possess him only by Christ. Christ, and he alone, the King for heart and soul, in the family and the society, in arts and science, in the free Church and in the free State! Who could name all where Christ has a right to reign, or, rather, who would be able to indicate any region of human life where this Son of Man should not be the Alpha and the Omega? We have only just named the titles of some chapters in the great Book which God is evidently writing before our eyes, partly perhaps through our hands. Certainly, this Book is far from being achieved, but still it can be already stated now what its motto, or, if we like better, what its final conclusion, will be that word of Daniel : “To the Son of Man was given dominion, and glory, and the kingdom ; his dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and his kingdom shall not be destroyed.

The dominion and glory of this Son of Man-how often has it been disavowed, how fiercely contested! When shall it be more generally acknowledged again ? when at last universally believed and honored? We hinted already at Christ's certain and final triumph ; with regard to the importance of the subject we add one word more. We began our essay with an anecdote from the history of unbelief ; we wish to conclude it now by an illustration taken from the history of faith. About the middle of the sixteenth century, in the cathedral of a small town in Germany (Frauenburg), a grave was opened for an eminent and renowned Frauenburg scholar on whom science,

1

· Dan. 7:13, 14.

even in our days, looks still with unfeigned admiration. Copernicus, the famous astronomer, was respectfully brought to his grave.

He deserved that respect not for his science alone. His eye had searched the mysteries of the visible heaven, but it had been opened too for other depths and another light than those of the firmament and its stars, and his own hand had written down before it was stiffened by death the epitaph which is still seen on his tomb in those Latin verses :

“None parem Pauli gratiam requiro,
Veniam Petri neque posco, sed quam
In crucis ligno dederas Latroni

Sedulus oro,”
which I hazard to render in these lines :

“No crown as for a holy Paul once glowed,

No grace like that on Peter was bestowed,
But what the thief from Jesus' cross was vowed,

That I beseech." Oh ! all of you, Christians of the old faith and of modern views, learn from this Prince of modern Astronomy to know, feel, and show true humility of heart. Then verily I say unto you, erelong for your faith, too, Christ shall conquer his right place, and, after having asked doubtfully first, “Who is this Son of Man ?”' you will once utter with heartfelt conviction the triumphal shout, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God !”

J. J. VAN OOSTERZEE.

RECENT CHANGES IN JURISPRUDENCE AND

APOLOGETICS.

THE
HE influence of jurisprudence on the doctrinal side of

Christianity has been frequently recognized. The term "Imputation,” for instance, was taken by St. Paul, himself a Roman citizen, from the Roman law; and the theory of imputation, as elaborated by St. Augustine, who was bred a jurist, may be found, almost as he states it, in the classical text of Roman jurisprudence. The suretyship feature in our theology, as exhibited by Tertullian, who was also educated as a jurist, and who for some time practised law at Rome, is built on the Roman system of sponsorship. The legal analogies which were used to illustrate the atonement, came, after a while, to be regarded as part of the doctrine as taught in the sacred text. Less familiar, however, is the influence of jurisprudence on apologetics; but though less familiar, this influence has been by no means less potent. It is by jurisprudence that the popular idea of proof is furnished. What jurisprudence declares to be the true mode of proof, the community is apt to accept as such ; what jurisprudence declares to be an incompetent instrument of proof, the community is apt to regard as incompetent. Aside from this, the evidential side of jurisprudence adapts itself, though somewhat slowly, to the settled logic of the times; and what jurisprudence, after due reflection, says on this topic, we may regard as the practical utterance of logic. Hence it has been that Christian apologists have at all times been disposed, if not to adapt juridical tests, at least to appeal to juridical evidential standards. It so happens, however, that the evidential principles of jurisprudence have in the last few years

materially changed. The effect of these changes on Christian apologetics I now propose to consider.

I. The first change to which I call attention is that which abolishes the old tests of competency, and opens the witnessbox to all persons, no matter how much interested, who may have knowledge pertinent to the issue. By the old system, not only parties, but all persons having the slightest pecuniary interest in a case, were excluded. Now these restrictions are removed. The change is acknowledged on all sides to be beneficial. It abolishes an arbitrary test, which, while it let in, and invested therefore with an artificial grade of credibility, witnesses under every kind of bias which was not pecuniary, silenced witnesses often of the highest integrity, from whom alone, in many cases, primary knowledge of the facts could be obtained. We have established, to view the question in another light, the principle that it is from the parties to a transaction that its character can be best elicited.

How, then, does this great change affect Christian apologetics? Perhaps not very materially; yet at the same time it is impossible that so deep a conviction as that on which the old rule rested, could be unsettled without affecting other departments beside that to which it particularly belongs. Certainly by the earlier English apologists, who wrote with this principle of exclusion before their eyes, we find that the testimony of Christ as to himself is put in the background, while undue prominence is given to the testimony of others, comparatively uninstructed as to the true nature of the system of which they spoke. however, since the shackles of this limitation are loosened, we are led to turn more reliantly to the testimony of Christ as to himself. He is indeed the one party plaintiff to the suit, of all others the most important, contesting the dominion of the world as against secularism and false ecclesiasticism. But beyond this, he is the only primary witness as to his own spiritual mission. Let us, then, inquire what, according to the tests now invoked as to the logical weight of testimony, he has to command our belief.

The first condition of credibility in a witness is disinterestedness. So far as concerns Jesus, we find this condition satisfied to an eminent degree. He gives up his life to those and for

« PredošláPokračovať »