網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

dawn? Remember what persecution surged around the Church out of which came these words, with a tone that belongs only to spiritual greatness of the first rank:

“Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours; and when he had at length suffered maiytrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after b-ing seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world; and, come to the extreme limit of the west, he suffered martyrdom under the prefects.”—P. 11.

"We are struggling in the same arena, and the same conflict is assigned to us.” -P. 12.

What historic majesty there is in this language ! "Wherefore (whit? Here is revealed the martyr's inner sky] let us give up vain and fruitless cares, and approach to the glorious and venerable rule of our holy calling. Let us attend to what is good. pleas ny, and acceptable in the sight of Hiin who formed us. Let us look steadfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God, which, having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the whole world.-P. 12.

Will Boston in this far day listen to Clement of Rome, speaking in the year 97 ?

When I turn to that really sublime document, the epistle of Diognetus, which scholars here will thank me for citing, I come upon this passage, written in the second century:

“ Truly. God himself, who is almighty, the Creator of all things and invisible' has sent froin Heaven and placed among men (hiin who is] the truth, and the holy and incomprehensible Word, and ha- firmly established him in their hearts. He did not, as on- might have imagined. send to men any servant or angel; but the very Creator and Fashioner of all things, by whom he made the heavens, by whom he enclosed the sea within its pr per bounds, whưse ordinances all the stars faithfully observe, from whom the sun has received the measure of his daily course to be observed, whom the moon obeys, being commanded to shine in the night, and whom the stars also obey, follywing the moon in her course; by whoin all things have been arrauged and placed within their proper limits, and to whom all are subject--the heavens and the things that are therein, the earth and the things that are therein, the sea and the things that are therein – fire, air, and the abyss—the things that are in the heights, the ihings which are in the depths, and the things which lie between. This [inesseng r] he sent to them. As a king sends his son, who is also a king, so sent he him; as Gol, he sent him; as to men, he sent him; as a Saviour, he sent him."-Pp. 309, 310.

If this amazing passage asserts the Deity of our Lord, does not the next copiously teach the atonement ?

“ He himself took on him the burden of our iniquities. He gave his own Son as a ransom for us – the Holy One for transgressors, the Blameless One for the wicked, the Righteous One for the unrighteous, the Incorruptible One for the corruptible, the Iminortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than his righteousness ? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, i han by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! Ounsarchable operation ! O benefits surpassing all expectation! That the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One; and that the righteousness of one should justify many transgressors ! Having, therefore, convinced us in the foriner time that our nature was unable to attain to life, and having now revealed the Saviour who is able to save even those things which it was, formerly, impossible to save, by both these facts he desired to lead us to trust

[ocr errors]

in his kindness, to esteem hiin our Nourisher, Father, Teacher, Counsellor, Healer, our Wisdom, Light, Honour, Glory, Power, and Life.”—Pp. 312, 313.

This is He who was from the beginning, who appeared as if new, and was fonnd old, and yet who is ever born afresh in the hearts of the Saints. This is Ha who, being from everlasting, is to-day called tre Son; through whoin the Church is enriched, and grace, widely spread. increases in the saints, furnishing understanding, revealing mysteries, announcing times, rejoicing over the faithful, giving to those that seek, hy whom the limits of faith are not broken through, nor the boundaries set by the fathers passed over. Then the feir of the low is chanted, and the grace of the prophets is known, and the faith of the Gospe's is established, and th: tradition of the apo tles is preserved, and the grace of the Church exults.”—P. 315.

But now I open another document of equal interest, and real in the epistle of Polycarp, written about the middle of the second century:

“Our Lord Jesus Christ, to him all things in heaven and on earth are subject. Him every spirit serves. He comes as the judge of the living and the dead. But he who raised him up from the dead will raise up us al-o. if we do his will, and walk in his commandments, and love what he loved."--P. 70.

I turn on, my friends, and find in the shorter recension of the epistles of Ignatius-notice, I say the shorter—this statement:

“He who possesses the word of Jesus is truly able to hear even his very silence, that he may be perfect, and may both act as he speaks, and be recognized by his silence. There is nothing whi.h is bil from God; but our very secrets are near to him. Let us, therefore, do all things as those who have him dwelling in us, that we may be his temples, and he may be in us as our God, which inde d he is.”—P. 163.

Is there nothing in this early religion at which modern culture may sneer? In all my readings of antiquity outside the Scriptures, I never met a chapter in prose equal for poetic power to the one I am about to pronounce before you, nor one that is half as worthy as this to be held up in the light of modern science:

“ The heavens, revolving under his government, are subject to Him in peace. Day and night run the course appointed by him, in no wise hindering each other. The sun and moon, with the companies of the stars, roll on in harmony according to his command, within their prescribed limits, and without any deviation. I he fruitful earth, according to his will, brings forth fuod in abundance at the proper seasons, for man and beast, and all the living beings upon it, never hesitating, nor changing any of the ordinances which he has fixed. The un earchable places of the abys es and the indescribable arrangements of the lower world are restrain d hy the same laws. The vast immeasurable sea, gathered together by his working into various basins never passes beyond the hounds placed around it, but does as He his commanded. The ocean, impassable to man, and the worlds beyond it, are regulated by the same enactments of the Lord. The seasons of spring, summer autumn, and winter peacefully give place to one another. The winds, in their several quarters, fulfil, at the proper time, their service without hindrance.

The everHowing fountains, formed both for enjoyment and health, furnish without fail their breasts for the life of men. Take heed, beloved, lest his many kindnesses lead to the condeinnation of us all."— Pp. 21, 22.

" The Creator and Lord of all himself rejoices in his works. For by his inanitely great power he established the heavens, and by his incomprehensible wisdom be adorned them. He al o divided the earth from the water which surrounds it, and fixed it upon the immovable foundation of his own will. The animals, also which are upon it, he commanded by his own word into existence. So, likewise, when he had formed the sea, and the living creatires which are in it, he enclosed i bem wiihin their proper bounds by his own power. Above all, with his holy and und -fil d hands he forned man. '- P. 30.

“How blessed and wonderful, beloved, are the gifts of God! Life in immortality, splendour in righteousness, truth in perfect confidence, faith in assurance, self-control in holiness! And all these fall under the cognizance of understanding (now). What then shall those things be which are prepared for such as wait for Him? The Creator and Futher of all worlds, the Most Holy, alone knows their amount and their beauty.”—Pp. 31, 32.

Dois Concord furnish anything better than that? It is Pantheism, you say. It is Christian theism in the first century, uttering itself in majestic tones fit to be matched with the anthems of the last investigation.

So spoke Clement, and he is a pupil of Paul, and is to be interpreted in part by his master; and, if you put Paul and Clement together, the meaning of one and of the other is doubly clear, as is the light in two mirrors when they face each other.

Old Rome is alive. When I entered for the first time the Eternal City, I purposely came in by the last light of day and under the earliest stars. I took pains not to meet at first with anything inartistic or triiial. I put myself in a carriage, and kept my eyes inside of it until I reached my rooms, and next morning kept my eyes inside a carriage until I was in presence of the Coliseum. That was the first object I saw in Rome. Mrs. Browning's words were constantly in my thoughts:

“And the mountains in disdain
Gather back their lights of opal,

From the dumb despondent plain,

Heaped with jaw-bones of a people.” Cæsar and Antony were near, and Cicero, and Sallust, and Horace, and Virgil, and Cato, and Seneca, and Nero, and the rest. After days and weeks of trance, I obtained a better historic sense. Suddenly, among the marbles in St. Clement's Church, I remembered Mrs. Browning's other words:

“ Cæsar's work is all undone." But Clement's is not; Peter's not; Paul's not. The feet of these men, too, fell on the seven hills, and their work endures. In the Catacombs the gray crypts of volcanic stone seemed to be the nursery of America, because the cradle of Christianity when it was preparing to ascend that throne of the Cæsars from which it has not yet come down. When in the Coliseum at midnight and in the Forum at noon, the tallest of the historic forms that filled the living air seemed to be those of the Christian martyrs, for they have ruled the world as Cæsar has not. In the Coliseum I came at last to understand Richter's words: “Here coiled the giant snake five times about Christianity. But the Serpent and the bear crouch. Broken asunder are the gigantic spukes of the wheel which once the stream of the ages drove."* In the azure lights of the outer and inner sky the wheel of the universe moves without variableness in its motion or shadow of change.

Was the Holy Spirit to the Early Christians present Christ?
To them was God as three and one, omnipresent in natural law ?

All history since the Ascension proclaims that the Holy Spirit breathed out to-day is one with that which eighteen hundred and a few years ago was breathed upon the disciples with the words “ Receive ye the Holy Ghost."

on

Titan

« 上一頁繼續 »