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reach the old point of friendship. Not so with the reconciliation between man and God. The Infinite has nothing to concede. He can never change. All the concession and the change must be on man's part. It is worthy of remark, that the Greek word karaλλayn, which is translated ciliation" in our version, never means an alteration in the two divided parties, but in one only. This is the word which the New Testament writers employ to represent the work of Christ in bringing man back into fellowship with God.
In Christ, as the reconciler or as the remover of this felt distance between man and his Maker, we discover a twofold adaptation of the most perfect kind.
I. IN HIM WE SEE A SPECIAL APPROACH OF GOD TO MAN. Though there is no change in the Divine nature or character. yet in Christ there is a change in the Divine manifestation. Instead of continuing to manifest Himself to the human soul in the forms and operations of universal nature, He in Christ comes to man in man's own nature. "God is manifest in the flesh." In man He reveals the image of His invisible self, He radiates the brightness of His own glory. In this manifestation, two great obstructions to man's union to God are removed.
First: The obstruction of inappreciableness. God, abroad in nature, rolling the systems of immensity, beating in all forces and pulsating in all life, is so vast as to be inappreciable by man, but in the man Christ He comes within our horizon and within the compass of our faculties. He is a person; more, a human person; He stands before us in our nature, He looks at us with human eyes, He speaks to us in human words, He thinks our thoughts, He feels our emotions, He condescends to our necessities. Thus He comes near to us. God is nearer to humanity in the Gospel than He is in nature. He is one with it-EMMANUEL.
The other obstruction to the union of man to God isSecondly: Guilty dread. Was there an obstruction to this union on God's part? If so, who shall describe its nature? Some would-be theological standards speak of
it as a wrathful passion of the Divine mind which required an appeasement; some, as an immense debt contracted by a sinful world which required a dischargement; some, as a governmental difficulty in the Divine policy requiring the introduction of an elaborate expedient to obviate.* I confess my utter inability to reconcile any such theories with my fundamental ideas of the Infinite Father, with the analogy of the universe, or general tenor of the Inspired Word. At the same time, that the intervention of Christ for sinners had a bearing on the Divine procedure, I accept as a fact a fact, however, so transcending my understanding, that I feel I must set it forth, not in my own language, but in the words of that God who alone understands it.
Our point at present, however, is the obstruction to union on man's part. What is it? It may be comprehended in two words. A guilty dread. Men, the world over, feel that they have sinned, and are liable to a terrible punishment. This sense of guilt hangs as a portentous cloud over the soul of the world. Men, by millions, often stagger with horror under its black shadow, and anxiously seek some shelter from the threatened storm. This guilty dread first drove man from his Maker. "I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid." The soul, from the laws of its nature, flees from the object of its dread. Fear is the centrifugal force of the spirit; it drives it from its Maker. This dread of God is as universal as sin, and as deep as the heart of humanity. It accounts for all the horrid views that men have of their Maker, and for all their hostility to Him in heart and life.
Now, how does God in Christ remove this? He comes to man in just such a form as is adapted to expel fear, and inspire hope and trust. In what form could He come but in the form of a man to effect this? Would a revelation of Himself in all His absolute glory do it? Language which we have elsewhere used may be employed here in answer to the question. No! this, if it could be borne
* See various opinions of the Atonement, under "The Pulpit and its Handmaids," of the present Number.
by mortals, would only raise the terror to a more overwhelming degree. Would a revelation of Himself through angelic natures do it? Poets and painters represent angels as charming creatures. The cherub is a lovely babe; the archangel a beautiful woman. All have countenances which beam with sentiments that enchant the heart; their forms are exquisite symmetry; they travel on wings streaked with celestial lustre. But this is all imagination. This is not true to man's moral conception. An angel is a terrible object to human nature. Angels, when they have appeared to men, have always evoked the utmost terror. Men feel like Eliphaz; their flesh creep, their bones tremble, and their hair stands erect with horror. The mariner may sing of "the sweet little cherub that sits up aloft ; " but were that "sweet little cherub" to show his face, no tempest that could beat on the barque would awaken more panic.
How then? The Eternal, to disarm man of this terrible fear, comes to him in man's own nature. Are you afraid of a babe? Go to Bethlehem, and see that infant-type of beauty and innocence, before whom the Magi are bowing with mysterious reverence. God is in that lovely babe, and in it He says, "It is I, be not afraid." Are you afraid of a beautiful, frank, benign, pure-minded boy? Go into the temple at Jerusalem, and see Him sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them speak, and asking them questions. God is in that charming boy, and through Him He says, "It is I, be not afraid." Are you afraid of a poor, but honest, amiable, and noble-minded young man? Go into the carpenter's shop at Nazareth, and see Him earning His daily bread by the sweat of His brow. God is in that right manly young man. Are you afraid of a Teacher, who, free from all assumption of superiority, scholastic stiffness, and pedantic utterance, mingles with the crowd, and utters truth the most lofty to the imagination, the most reasonable to the intellect, the most real to the conscience, the most inspiring and ennobling to the heart? Transport yourselves in thought to the, mountains of Capernaum, and the shores of Galilee, and listen to Him who speaks as 66 never man spake." God is in
that Teacher, and through Him He says, "It is I, be not afraid." Are you afraid of a philanthropist, the most tender in heart, the most earnest in affection, the most race-wide in sympathy? Follow Jesus of Nazareth during the three years of His public life, as He goes about doing good." Count the diseased that He heals, the hungry that He feeds, and the disconsolate that He comforts. See Him at the grave of Lazarus, giving back from the grave the beloved brother of Mary and Martha. See Him arrest the funeral procession of Nain, and restore to the broken-hearted widow her only son. See Him on the Mount of Olives raining tears on the apprehended doom of Jerusalem. See Him in Gethsemane, suffering for others; and on the Cross, dying as a sacrifice for others; and with His dying breath, praying for His murderers. God is in that great philanthropist. Thus God in Christ removes this dread that repels the soul from His presence, and inspires the hope that attracts. He, in Christ, says to the world, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth."
II. IN HIM WE SEE A SPECIAL ATTRACTION OF MAN TO GOD. This is another step. He not only comes to man, but He attracts man to Himself. He does thisFirst By awakening the highest gratitude. Gratitude attracts, draws the soul into loving sympathy with its benefactor. Kindness is a magnet that draws the object to its author. God in Christ displays such infinite mercy as is adapted to inspire the soul with the strongest gratitude. Where is there mercy like this? He loved us and gave Himself for us. "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich."
Secondly: He does this by awakening the highest love. Love attracts, love draws us into the presence of its object and makes us one with it, feel as it feels, and move as it moves. God in Christ is moral beauty in its sublimest form. All conceivable virtues centre there, and radiate thence, in
infinite perfection. Holiness, as it streams directly from the Absolute One, would be too strong for our vision, would dazzle and confound us, but in Christ it comes mildly and fascinatingly, reflected through the humanities of our nature.
Thirdly: He does this by awakening the highest hope. Hope draws the heart to its object. He from whom we expect good, will often have much of our thoughts and sympathies. What good does the Eternal hold out to us in Christ? Victory over death; eternal life ; a heaven of everlasting joys; HIMSELF.
Thus we are drawn to Him. We feel that "our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ."
The few thoughts which I have thus roughly and hastily sketched, are, I venture to hope, sufficient to show that the response of the Bible to "Man's Cry Concerning the Method of Union with God," is all that is needed, and all that can be desired. Through Christ, man may enjoy this at-one-ment with God.
a Homiletic Glance at the Acts of the Apostles.
Able expositions of the ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, describing the manners, customs, and localities, described by the inspired writers; also interpreting their words, and harmonizing their formal discrepancies, are, happily, not wanting amongst us. But the eduction of its WIDEST truths and highest suggestions is still a felt desideratum. To some attempt at the work we devote these pages. We gratefully avail ourselves of all exegetical helps within our reach; but to occupy our limited space with any lengthened archæological, geographical, or philological remarks, would be to miss our aim; which is not to make bare the mechanical process of the study of Scripture, but to reveal its spiritual results.
SECTION NINTH.-Acts iii. 1—11.
"Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said,