Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

THE RAINBOW:
I Magazine of Christian Literature, with Special Reference to the

Revealed future of tge Church and tge World.

MAY, 1879.

THE GRAND CHALLENGE.
“If God be for us, who can be against us?"-Rom. viii. 31.

is IT to !

in the face of difficulties, “groaning within ourselves,” in sad harmony with a groaning creation around us, it is every thing to say this ! It is profanity to criticise the eighth of Romans! It is above and beyond literary art,--divine, unapproachable, glorious ! It draws back for a moment the curtain which graciously hides the splendour of the divine palace from human gaze, and shows us the settled purpose of God in relation to His children. No merely human composition is this chapter. He who wrote it was under an influence which genius cannot bring to its service, which scholastic culture cannot secure, and intellectual power cannot command. Divine inspiration, however,-otherwise divine light upon the human mind regarding things supernatural, -asserts its presence without changing the mental characteristics of the man so enlightened. Even in this magnificent piece of writing, though the thoughts that sparkle in it are celestial gems of priceless value, the style, and manner, and logic of our apostle are all his own. Paul speaks God's thoughts, and Paul is so overwhelmed with the holy burden that, having given us flash after flash of pure revelation, he looks like one exhausted, and finds relief in two pregnant questions: “What shall we then say to these things ? If God be for us, who can be against us ?”

Of course, the latter question answers itself, if you think of omnipotence on the side of feeble men exposed to ruthless foes and constant perils; for however weak the exposed and strong the adversary, almightiness is not a thing of comparison. It matters not how strong or how numerous the foes of the adopted and justified -the “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” -may be, their numbers and strength can avail nothing against unlimited power. And this conclusion is obvious and irresistible in favour of the final safety and victory of God's children when we remember a

[ocr errors]

most important part of the previous revelation, namely, that they are all known by Him “who searcheth the heart, and knoweth the mind of the Spirit.” There can be no mistake or failure when omnipotence and omniscience are allied. The safety of the redeemed, and of each of them, of the sorely tried family of God, and of every member of that family, is a divine certainty. It is in the purpose of God, our Father. It is clearly revealed in Scripture. It is necessary to the reward of Christ, and the realisation of the eternal design of God. You need not turn to your creeds and catechisms regarding this thing. No matter what they say, for or against. If they speak with Paul, they have got their wisdom from him, and therefore their testimony is superfluous. If they contradict him, the wastepaper basket is their righteous destiny. In either case, men who wish to be strong in the Lord and the power of His might, will deny that they have the slightest authority, whilst cherishing becoming respect for the memory of their well-meaning compilers.

But is the idea of omnipotence charging itself with the care of weakness-divine power sheltering human feebleness—the prominent thought in this wondrous list of Christian privileges ? Happily, no ! Irresistible energy, enormous force that rends rocks and mountains, simply appals us. We reverentially bend in its presence, even though we are personally safe, and are unconscious of fear, in the midst of its terrible results.* We wish to discover the motive of the power that shields us.

Is there a heart, warm, loving, paternal, at the centre of this arrangement, by which all things co-operate for our good ? Surely, yes. Ay, this is it! The great challenge springs from the knowledge that the Father's power is moved by GRACE. The gems of heavenly splendour that form the constellation in the eighth of Romans are all of grace. Omnipotence waits upon the Father's love; salvation in Christ regulates the movements of providence. * We are more than conquerors because He loves us !

Thus we reach the intelligible and delightful reason for all that has been done, is doing, and will yet be done for those for whom “there is no condemnation.” They are “in Christ Jesus.” What a fathomless depth of meaning there is in these few words! In Christ Jesus,-one with Him, chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, and destined to share His glory in the ages to come, and in the kingdom of God, who can be against them? Is their path through life, then, always strewn with flowers, music in the air, clear skies over head, health of body, domestic joy, and worldly prosperity? No temptations, griefs, bereavements, heartrending visitations, sometimes driving them to the verge of despair ? But why ask foolish questions? Their Father loves them too

1

* This fact is from my experience. Many years ago I was at sea, in a tempest which strewed the coast with the wrecks of stately ships. It was awfully sublime !

"

[ocr errors]

much to ruin them by such miserable prosperity. “The prosperity of fools destroys them;"'* but “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” Some of them are placed at times in very hot furnaces indeed, and feel as if they were utterly forsaken-all springs of comfort dried up, all hope gone; their prayerful plans frustrated, their holiest desires denied, and their nearest kindred piercing their very hearts with thorns. Who can be against them, indeed ? Why, what does the illustrious apostle mean? No one knew better than he, that everybody, every thing is most decidedly against them! The world and Satan are against them, and not unfrequently some of their fellow Christians belong to the school of Job's comforters, and manage to sting when they ought to soothe.

But the noble Apostle is right, as usual ! We adopt the grand challenge! It is part of the “ earnest” of the inheritance, and is to be joyfully used now. We fling that challenge in the face of all the beings and all the things that are doing their worst against us, and in the Redeemer's name, we defy them to hurt us! The complete, splendid, eternal victory of the child of God is assured before hand. There is no peradventure about the matter, no contingency, no half finished portion of the arrangement which, in the hands of a skilful

а Satan, may yet rob God of a child, Christ of one of His brethren, and a Christian of immortality. Every thing is “ well-ordered and sure.” We know,- and earnestly implore any reader who may not be sure that he is in Christ to ponder it,—we know that there are hundreds, thousands, nay—but we have no heart to go farther in this painful arithmetic-who bear the Christian name without the slightest title to it. Sham Christians will as surely come short of the prize, as rogues who adopt an alias come short of social respectability. The lapidary easily distinguishes a gem from a counterfeit; and Christ who is a perfect judge of His “ jewels," values them too highly either to lose one of them, or to admit bits of worthless paste into His casket. The challenge must come from the soldiers, not from the camp followers; for thus our authority puts it :

“What shall we then say to these things ? If God be for us,

* “Excess has ruined many a foolish man; for it is difficult to keep the mean when good things abound.”—Theogos. v. 693.

Many who, possessing a part, not being contented, but desirous to be lords of all, have by this means lost what was their own; and many who have acquired the much wished for metal, gold, have been destroyed by it."-XEN. Cyrop.

“To men incurably vicious, no part of things simply good is beneficial, but all of them are noxious." --ARISTOT. Ethic.

“Great and unexpected success is apt to hurry weak minds into extravagancies.”—DEMOSTH. Olynth. iii. c. 9.

• Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked; thou art waxen fat; thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God who made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.”—Deut. xxxii. 15.

who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things ? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? Shall God that justifieth? Who is he that condemneth ? Is it Christ that died, yea, more, that is also risen again, who is also at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword ? Even as it is written, For Thy sake we are being killed all the day long ; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord."

ED.

LIFE IN CHRIST, IN THE LIGHT OF THE EARLIEST TRANSLATION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.

(Continued from page 179.)

Syriac renders the Greek terms translated, by the authorised version, saved and salvation, etc. A question may be raised as to the

, real worth of the earliest rendering. Is it a good and true version of these terms? If it be so there will be harmony between its rendering of those words and the connection of a number of them quite large enough to confirm it.

Did evangelists and apostles use these Greek words with the purpose of expressing the ideas which the Syriac gives them ? Let us ask Matthew. He tells us in chapter xix. 16, of one who came to our Lord, and said unto him. “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life ?" The answer of Christ sent him away sorrowful. Seeing this, our Lord remarked to his hearers, “Verily, I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for å rich

to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, and said, Who then can live?" Our rendering is, “Who then can be saved ? ” Which is the better one ?

Matthew had heard his Master utter the solemn warnings against causing offences which are recorded in Mark ix. 43-48, in the enforcement of which our Lord uses "entering into life" twice, and in a like connection varies the form of words to “enter into the kingdom of God.” With this case in mind, Matthew could rightly represent his brethren and himself as wondering who could attain life, if it

[ocr errors]

man

a

:

a

were so difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Let us see how the use of the same form of expression will look ? Master: Verily, I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter

Ι into the kingdom of heaven. Disciples : Who then can enter into the kingdom of heaven ? or, thus : Master : It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. Wondering disciples : Who then can enter into the kingdom of God ? or, again ; Our Lord: Verily, I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into life. Disciples : Who then can enter into life? Here there is harmony which is confirmed by the fact that “eternal life” was the very thing about which the rich man had just before been asking. Matthew and Mark therefore both support the propriety of rendering sozo by the words “ obtain life.”

Again, Matthew xxvii. 41-42 : “ The chief priests mocking him with the scribes and elders said, He gave life to others; his own life he cannot preserve.” What did they mean by“ he gave life" to others ? Ask Jairus, whose daughter he raised to life in her father's house. Ask the widow, whose only son he raised to life in the street of Nain. Ask Martha and Mary, whose brother he called from the grave after he had been dead four days. The resurrection of Lazarus drove the majority of the Sanhedrim to frenzy, and determined them to put Christ to the most humiliating death which they could compass. Where Matthew reports their taunting cry by the Greek sozo, they clearly intend to refer to his restoring actual literal life. Here again our Syriac is excellent. Let us ask Luke about the meaning of soteria. He reports the venerable priest Zacharias, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, turning to his son with these words, " And thou child shalt be called the prophet of the Highest, for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His way, to give the knowledge of life to His people by the putting away of their sins.” It is not the putting away of their sins, but that higher gift which comes after it. This statement is another form of what Paul calls Justification of Life (Rom. v. 18). John the Baptist was to preach the approaching kingdom of heaven, and we have seen that to enter this kingdom is interchangeable with to enter into life. Compare what John actually preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come nigh," with what his father foretold he should do, and we see harmony in this rendering of soteria by “life.” Now let us question John, the only biographer of our Lord, whom we have not yet called into court. (John iii. 17.) “That the world might live by his hand,” is only a variation in words from ver. 16, where we have “might not perish but have eternal life.” Read together 16, 17, and mark the harmony: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that every one believing on him may not perish, but have life everlasting. For God sent his Son into the world not that he might judge the world, but that the world might live by

« PoprzedniaDalej »