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Let the life which He has given you empower you to look steadily on the convulsions that shall come upon the world, and also work in you all holy conversation and godliness.
The fifth and last use of soter in this letter is in 2 Peter iii. 18. “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Life-giver Jesus Christ." The food, which is the means by which the higher life which Christ gives grows, is the Word of God. Both Peter's epistles have urged upon believers attention to that word contained in the teachings of prophets, the commandments of Christ, the epistles of St. Paul, which he specially recommends to the churches, and those of the rest of the apostles. “Desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby,” is found in this letter. He would have them know more of Christ, and become more like Him. Who, then, can say that Life-giver is not a fit translation of soter in this verse and in every other occurrence of it in this epistle ?
The Epistle of Jude contains one instance of soter, spoken of God, in a doxology. Its connection is such as might have led the translators of the Peshito to render it Liberator, for Jude is speaking of preservation from falling and from fault, and of uplifting into glorious liberty.
An old tradition speaks of Jude and a certain king of Edessa as joining in procuring a copy of the Scriptures in the Syrian tongue, but this points in the direction of Jude's own epistle being placed at the end of the roll containing the Peshito, and the only case in which he wrote soteria is translated just as the ancient version did render this word. It is in the 3rd verse, where our authorised version has common salvation. There it is the high life or the elect life. The rendering here, if it be of the date of that of 2nd Peter, is very strange ; but if made when the bulk of the New Testament was, it is perfectly natural. Leaving out the possible fiction of the King of Edessa, internal evidence and tradition both poicit to a very early translation of the Peshito under apostolic supervision. Have we not, then, one inspired translation to which we can turn when we ask what is salvation ? Looking, then, to the abundance of instances in which soter is rendered Life-giver, and to the very few exceptions to this rendering, the connection of some of which exceptions clearly teach the doctrine of life in Christ, we maintain the Syriac version to be a most weighty witness to that glorious truth.
So much has been written to awaken attention to this ancient field of research, because it is studded with diamonds which glitter with the light of life. Soteria and sozo), salvation and save, are mines in this field which should be explored because of the great riches which they will be found to contain. Perhaps some other excavator may be disposed to turn his energies into this field of research.
JAMES HOLDING. Note. In the interest of truth, and of the doctrine of life in Cbrist, we must correct one oversight in our first parer. In the RAINBOW for April, page
178, we have spoken of soter in John iv. 42, as being rendered Liberator in the Syriac, but this is not so, it is Life-giver. The Samaritans use the words, “We have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is truly the Soter-Life-giver-of the world.” And this rendering is very fitting to the whole connection, for it is reasonable to assume that they had heard Him atter the very truths which He had spoken to the woman before she ran to call them to Him. But, if so, they had heard Him declare that He would give them that ask of Him living water, such as whoever drinks never thirsts again, such as sball be in Him a fountain of water springing ap into life everlasting. Those who heard this and believed it, as many of them did, (see John iv. 41,) could do no less than give Him the title, Life-givor of the World.
GOD'S WISDOM VERSUS MAN'S WISDOM. THE NHE Wisdom of God and the Wisdom of Man form the subject
of repeated contrasts in the beginning of the First Epistle to the Corinthians; and the reason is not far to seek. Corinth was one of the most highly cultured cities in Greece, and one of the most licentious. Paul, when there, had experienced great difficulties. In his eyes it was an important place, for he had remained there eighteen months preaching that “ Jesus is the Christ.” By his teaching, having aroused the prejudices of the Jews, a great riot ensued which compelled him to leave the city.
The Wisdom of God which he preached was a stumbling block to Jews, and a matter of simple foolishness to Greeks. It is no wonder then to find the Apostle drawing a parallel between the two; and one point on which he evidently intended to rest great weight is his explanation of the fact that not many of earth's great ones had become obedient to the message he was proclaiming. The Corinthian church had not on its roll the names of many who were regarded as great, in a literary or political sense.
How was this ? Was it because the gospel was suitable only for those whose intelligence was not very keen, and whose days and nights had not been consecrated to the study of philosophy ? Was it because the great thinkers of the time had discovered the weakness and baselessness of the truths they exhorted the people to believe ?
These questions would very naturally cause some uneasiness in the minds of some of the Corinthians, and for their establishment Paul directs special attention to this, showing that God's wisdom was in man's eyes foolishness; and reminding them that, however foolish some of God's purposes appeared in man's estimation, they would be fulfilled in such a way as to show man's utter impotence to frustrate the Divine will. What, although not many wise were allying themselves to the cause of Christ? That did not show that there was anything unworthy of credence in the Christian faith, but arose simply from conceit, or an extravagant idea of what man by his unaided (and hence misdirected) reason could discover, or from supreme indifference. Paul does not deny the existence of several things, the wisdom and expediency of which seem unsatisfactory to men of the world. But God knows the end from the beginning, and has all power to fulfil His word. Let them be satisfied then, for through a crucified Christ, God was saving those who believed. If through belief in this once crucified, but now risen and exalted Redeemer, their salvation would be secured, the opinion of the world on the means employed by God or the conditions attached to the receiving of this salvation, would matter little. If they should be found in peace of the Lord Jesus when He came, would that not be more than sufficient for them ? Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called ; but did not they who had received the testimony become wise, not after a carnal manner, mighty and noble ? For were they not united to Christ who was made to them wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption ? Yes! they were : and all because of their union with their Lord and Saviour, by following in His steps, actuated by His Spirit (without which no man is His), working that which would obtain the reward of the Highest, and looking unto Him as the Coming King who should give to His servants according to their faith and works. Their patent of nobility could not be traced back for hundreds of years until their ancestors could not be seen in the mists of antiquity, nor did it bestow on them a title or station so great and overpowering as to claim homage from the vulgar throng and respect from their superiors. Their position and state infinitely exceeded all the pomp and outward circumstance of earth; for each of them could
“Look abroad into the varied field
And smiling, say: 'My Father made them all.' They were the song and daughters of God Almighty. What dignity, what honour is here ! adopted into the family of Him who dwelleth in light and glory unapproachable; whom no one hath seen nor can see—the self-existent Jehovah. Could they fully realise their status they might well be able to smile at the sneers levelled against their foolish doctrines. They had in prospect an everlasting inheritance, in the everlasting kingdom of their Saviour; and compared with that, what were the greatest possessions of Earth's sovereigns, possessions which might be seized at any moment by the hand of some one stronger than their rightful owners, ay, and they themselves seized and imprisoned by one greater than themselves,-DEATH!
The remembrance of such things must have inspired the Corinthians with fresh courage and determination to hold fast their begun confidence, and to press onward toward the mark, striving to win their Heavenly Father's approval. Let earth's wise ones declaim against their worship as they pleased; their faith in Him would never wane, and on His promises they could rest, feeling assured thet He who had promised would not deceive those who had trusted in Him. The world might rail, sneer, and persecute; but they would look away to their Faith's Princely Leader and Completer, unto Him who was seated at the Father's right hand. They might be driven from home, and friends, and country ; but their Master--the Lord of All-had, in the days of His humiliation, nowhere to lay His head; and the servant is pot above his master. Dea: h, even, they might be called upon to taste; their Lord had drained to the dregs that bitter cup. “In the world ye shall have tribulation ; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
All Scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable for us, and I think the lessons we in our day may draw from contrasting the World's Wisdom and God's Wisdom, shall minister to strength and encouragement.
One aspect of the World's wisdom is seen in the idea that man by his own efforts will regenerate himself and convert the world. No matter, although his plans in the past have resulted in gigantic failures, and though the present shows no symptom of the amelioration of the race, he confidently predicts a total change in the far-distant future. He does not wish God to interfere and work out His purpose, for that would be giving glory to the Creator instead of to the creature: the creature will overtake the task and crown himself with the glory. Scheme after scheme-all perfect according to man's wisdom-has been tried, resulting in making this latter half of the nineteenth century, an age of swindlers, liars, murderers, and infidels, -and all very good. Yes! very good : Satan exults and urges his unconscious tools to fresh exertions in his cause.
War shall end, for all our disputes we shall settle by arbitration; and as ammunition and infernal engines become more and more costly, and regiments decimated or annihilated by merely causing an electric current to flow in a certain direction, we shall find it to be for our advantage to sheathe our swords and study war no more; and to encourage these peaceful and humane objects, our legislature rewards with honours and pensions those who discover the simplest, speediest, and surest means of converting into atoms the greatest possible number of human beings. And so, for the same peaceful ends, we see Europe armed to the teeth; for is not the old Latin maxim true :—" If you wish for peace, PREPARE FOR WAR ?" until the whole is ready at a moment's notice to wage universal war.
As another example of the world's wisdom, we are made painfully aware every now and again, of the belief held by a large number of our leading scientific men regarding the creation of the world, and who write and speak of Nature in such a way as to show that they imagine Nature to be a living power and not an exhibition of such. They are so much occupied with analyses and experiments to obtain some groundwork on which to build the theory of spontaneous generation that they have no time apparently to think of One, the Maker of all, and the Source of all life, in whom all things subsist. If once it could be proved that dead matter could give birth to living matter, then a Creator might be dispensed with, could we tell the genesis of the matter producing life. But the most advanced and persistent advocates of this theory are the first to admit that there is not the slightest proof, as yet, of the evolution of the living from the dead - life must precede life. Listen to these words of Professor Tyndall, summing up the result of eight months of incessant study, *—" From the beginning to the end of the inquiry there is not, as you bave seen, a shadow of evidence in favour of the doctrine of spontaneous generation. There is on the contrary, overwhelming evi 'ence against it," and concludes, " When in our day, I seek for experimental evidence in favour of the transformation of the non-living in'o the living, I am led inexorably to the conclusion that no such evidence exists, and that in the lowest as in the highest of organised creatures, the method of nature is that lite shall be the issue of antecedent life.”
We are continually reading of the "inexorable laws” of nature, so fixed and uralterable that all things must bend to their operation; but it does not appear very reasonable to see incessant reference to laws, without any reference to a Lawgiver. Surely it is not illogical to infer the existence of a Lawgiver from the existence of laws; and if the laws of this Lawgiver be so perfect and harmonious in their working, how great must be His power ! He must be above and superior to the laws He has appointed. But there is need for predicating so often the immutability of Nature's laws, for this immutability renders miracles impossible. A miracle, they say, is a violation of one or more of Nature's laws; Nature's laws are inviolable and unchanging : therefore a miracie cannot occur. The boldest savant, in the light of discoveries chronicled every now and again, when the secret things of Nature are ransacked and her hidden forces compelled to do man servicethe boldest savant, I say, would not dare to affirm in the face of such facts that all Nature's laws are thoroughly known; and with such an admission (which must be made), how can any one have the audacity to say that some law must be broken before a miracle can occur ? There may be laws hitherto undreamt of, the operation of which might result in a miracle. Hence the proposition, that a miracle is a violation of the laws of Nature, proceeds on the pure assumption that all Nature's laws are fully known.