Slike strani
PDF
ePub

at this stage of their discipleship the Master desired far more than private faith. Circumstances demanded public confession. A crisis in His ministry had come that required more than believers (whether few or many) in His eternal divinity. He needed confessors of it also. One at least of the twelve must now avow it frankly and openly, or there would be a check in His progress; and “Simon, surnamed Peter," proved to be that one absolutely necessary confessor. In this way the great doctrine of Christ's perfect Divinity was "established," "at the mouth of two witnesses," of his who spake it, and of His who sanctioned the words and their speaker. It remained for the Master, "from that time forth," to manifest and prove it. And the same words and works, even to His resurrection and ascension, that would show Him, Jesus of Nazareth, to be their true Messiah, were likewise to show that their true Messiah was, from all eternity, God with "the Highest."

SECTION VIII.

The Secret of the Ages.

"The Son of the living God!" "Flesh and blood" had not revealed it to Simon, for flesh and blood knew it not. It was "the mystery" (or secret) that had been "hid from ages and from generations," "which none of the princes of this world knew, for had they known it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;" and it was but now begun “to be made manifest to His saints." That the Messiah, the promised "Seed of the woman," should also be the LORD incarnate, had been hidden from the Jewish Church. God had ordained it for the glory of the Christian. Consequently "the riches of this glory "-the generation of His Divine in connection with His human life, and all the grand results thereof-had also been hidden. And so, too, had the fact been concealed that this regeneration, or "Christ in you the hope of glory," should not only "be made known," but boldly offered "among the Gentiles."

As the beginning of this secret (Christ's life twofold) had

been revealed to Simon Bar-Jona first of all men, so Simon was the first subject of it, as his words proved, for only like can recognize like. This revealing was indeed for his own salvation; but primarily it was that he, the out-spoken, might confess Christ's one twofold life. And since he was to be thus distinguished is it surprising that he alone was personally named for and appointed to offer it to all men publicly, on the day of Pentecost, in the words, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost?" "No man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." Therefore the primacy above all men, which was given to Simon Peter, and can never be taken from him, is this: He was the first to whom God revealed (by conviction through begetting) the eternal and incarnate divinity of the Messiah; the first He called upon to confess it; and the only one He ordained to open formally, and to the whole world, the visible Christian Church. For, said their Messiah, when Peter showed his birth by his confession, "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." This promise was literally fulfilled when St. Peter, carried away by the irresistible spirit of the new dispensation-which is for "all nations" and "every creature "-closed the exclusively Jewish and opened the universal Christian church by offering, not only to the Jews, but to the Gentiles, all the privileges of the gospel, in the comprehensive words, "For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." After this closing and opening the government and jurisdiction passed equally into the hands of all the apostles, and their successors, according to Christ's secondary promise, “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Though twelve apostles were called, to only one was it given to speak the words that should make but one, in this respect, immortal. The son of Jonas was elected; and since God uses "the foolish things of the world to confound the wise," and "the weak things of the world to confound the mighty," the election, as far he was concerned, was no doubt based on his gifts of receptivity, frankness and impulsiveness; gifts that are good and natural and not uncommon, but which were surely given to him, at his creation of the first Adam, for this definite purpose. Like Isaiah and Jeremiah and John the Baptist, he may have been, before he was born, "ordained a prophet unto the nations." But he was not chosen for his "maturer knowledge," since this was the result, and not the cause of his election. The other apostles were, possibly, as mature as he, though in different directions. He was only advanced in this one (a superior conception of Christ's personality) and that was for a particular purpose. And having been chosen and taught, he proved, as God knew he would, obedient to the heavenly impulse. Very different from Jonah who fled, and Isaiah who faltered, and Moses who demurred, he uttered frankly and fearlessly the conviction, which he afterward sealed with his blood, when Jesus the Master had set him the example of keeping his faith at the price of his life. While eleven were silent, Simon Bar-Jona spake; and of all the twelve, elect, foundation-stones, hewn in darkness and fashioned in secret, the words "The Son of the living God" -revealed as with a flash the one most precious.

IX.

NOTICES OF NEW BOOKS.

INSTITUTES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION. By Emanuel V. Gerhart, D.D,, LL.D., Professor of Systematic and Practical Theology in the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Church at Lancaster, Pa. With an Introduction by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D., New York: A. C. Armstrong & Son, 51 East 10th Street, near Broadway. 1891. Price, $3.00.

The publication of this work is an event in the Reformed Church. During the last half century the Reformed Church has been developing a theology consonant with the spirit and genius of her life and confession. In order to justify its separate existence as a denomination, it was felt that this Church should be able to present a phase of Christian truth peculiarly its own. Having one of the oldest of the Reformation Confessions, and the most oecumenical of them all, the effort has been to produce a theology commensurate with the spirit of this Confession. The work of developing this theology began under the earlier professors in her Theological Seminary, Drs. Rauch, Nevin and Schaff, and was carried forward on the foundation then laid by their successors. The leading principle adopted was that brought out by the leading German theologians since the time of Schleiermacher, the principle that makes the living person of Christ the centre and norm, as well as the source of Christianity. Christianity is essentially and fundamentally, not merely doctrine, nor law, but life. It is founded on truth, but if we ask what truth is, Christ Himself furnishes the answer, I am the Truth. Truth, therefore, is personal. Dr. Patton defines truth as the agreement of the statement with the objective fact. But this definition makes truth a mere abstraction. Truth is objective, it is an objective reality, it is living. When, therefore, the author of this work takes the Christological principle as central and normative in theology, he takes the truest and best course in developing his system. This principle is coming more and more to rule in our later theology, and its adoption will work for the unification of all evangelical churches. While the author finds the ultimate source of revealed truth in the living person of Christ, he nevertheless makes room for the inspired Scriptures, the written word, as the only infallible rule of faith and practice. He also gives Christian consciousness its proper place in the development of truth in the Church. Thus the two Protestant principles, the Word of God and

Justification by Faith, find their union in the person of Christ. The written word is the utterance of the Incarnate Word, and the consciousness of the truth comes from the glorified Christ, through the written word by the operation of the Holy Spirit.

Our notice of this work is necessarily brief. In a general way its leading principles are so well known in our Reformed Church, that for the readers of this REVIEW, a lengthy notice is scarcely necessary, but in the theological world in this country and outside of our Church, it presents a new standpoint. It will be welcomed, therefore, we think, as a new and vigorous contribution to theological science. And in this view its publication comes at a propitious time. Views of theology, of Scripture, of Confessions, are undergoing changes. The age seems to be ripe for an advance movement in the theological world. May not the Christological principle adopted in this work aid in solving some of the new problems that are agitating the Churches?

To do this work proper justice would require an article. Our present purpose is merely to express our great satisfaction with its contents, and to commend it to the reading public, not only in our own, but also in other churches.

THE PSALMS. A new Translation with Introductory Essay and Notes. By John DeWitt, D.D., LL.D., L H.D., Senior Biblical Professor in the Theological Seminary at New Brunswick, Ñ. J., and a Member of the Old Testament Revision Company. New York: Anson D. F. Randolph & Co. 1891. Price, $2.00.

We can unhesitatingly commend this volume to our readers, as a work of unusual merit. The new translation of the Psalms which it presents, is a most admirable one on account of its faithfulness to the original, and its superior metrical qualities. It adds new beauty for the English reader to the praise songs of Israel and so increases their attractiveness and power. The introductory essay is a valuable one, and the notes which preface and explain the different psalms, though brief, are all very scholarly and instructive. The book ought to find a place in the library of every Christian family. THE PEOPLE'S BIBLE: Discourses upon Holy Scripture. By Joseph Parker, D.D., Minister of the City Temple, Holborn Viaduct, London; Author of "Ecce Deus," "The Paraclete,' etc., etc. Vol. XIV. Ecclesiastes-The Song of Solomon-Isaiah, xxvi. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, Publishers, 18 and 20 Astor Place. 1891. Price $1.50.

[ocr errors]

These discourses are possessed of the same brilliant qualities that characterize those of the preceding volumes of the series. They are not critical dissertations, but practical expositions of the important truths of that portion of Scripture to which they relate. They cannot be read without profit, and will be sure to promote "high thought and holy living." Those of our readers who have the earlier volumes of the work will of course desire this volume also.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »