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and separating God, what the might of his own spirit had begun, but had not completed."
As the greatest of the prophets, he had completed the prophets' unfinished work, perfected the harmony of their broken inspiration, and had been raised thereby to such nearness with the Father, as to have become the Messiah whom God had commissioned to found upon earth the kingdom of heaven. This kingdom was, indeed, already among men; but the days of the Son of man were not yet. " Art thou the Christ?" –" Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven."
If the view of the plan of Jesus which we have so inadequately set forth be correct, it results in nothing which can disturb a rational Christian faith. We have lost what Jesus never claimed for himself, — his intellectual infallibility; but we have made a double gain in rescuing his sincerity, which the old accommodation theory had seriously impaired,t and in preserving the substantial accuracy of the earlier Gospels, as histories of the life of Jesus. The Messianic beliefs and expectations of Jesus throw no shadow upon his unapproached character. They are veil and drapery, not essence and individuality; husk and rind, which the Spirit of truth may break, without injury to the precious fruit. Hitherto we have denied that the teachings of Jesus could have either rind or husk; and, transferring our ideal Christ to the pages of the evangelists, have made sad havoc with truth and nature by our violent theories of accommodation and substitution. A constructive criticism of the gospel records is the field of labor which now invites the Christian scholar. The
* Keim, Der Geschichtliche Christus, S. 66.
† We are glad to be able to quote, in this connection, a passage from a recent work, by one of the most eminent Unitarian divines of England, the Rev. J. J. Tayler, of Manchester College, London. “Any supposition,” he says, "is less offensive to the moral sense than the old rationalistic theory of conscious and deliberate accommodation, on the part of our Lord and his apostles, to errors and prejudices which they knew to be such. A vain effort was thus made to spare their intellectual infallibility at the cost of their moral integrity.” – The Fourth Gospel, p. 187.
failure of this or that artist does not prove the true portrait impossible. The Jesus of Renan is as false to criticism as to faith. The conjectures of Schenkel are often suggestive, but seldom satisfy. The enthusiasm of Furness has made the character of Jesus glow with new life for this age; but we miss from his always charming and inspiring pages the great prophet of Nazareth, whom all the ages have crowned King of Truth. The brochure of Keim, from which we have quoted, gives perhaps the best account to be found of the human development of Jesus, written from the point of view of a positive, but thoroughly impartial, criticism. We have hardly begun to apply such criticism to the Gospels, and may not anticipate its future results. Of one thing, however, we may be sure. No legitimate study of the life of Jesus will attempt the task, for which neither criticism nor philosophy is competent, of laying bare the mystery of his moral and spiritual power. We may unveil the mystery of the dogma of the Incarnation, by denying the fact on which it rests, – that the child of Joseph and Mary was at the same time the Almighty Maker of the universe. But our criticism, in its farthest reaches, will leave unexplained the mystery embodied in the great central fact of the world's history, that this child of the Jewish synagogue, who taught as the prophets, and was cheered by the Messianic ideals, of his race, was also the very Christ of God, the truth, life, and way of heaven.
ART. VII. - A LIBERAL MINISTRY.
QUESTIONS respecting the Christian ministry, and especially of the making of ministers, are deservedly attracting very earnest and wide attention. One of the most conservative divines in the communion of strict orthodoxy has made, in a volume * just from the press, an extremely valuable contribution to this
* Homiletics, and Pastoral Theology. By W. G. T. SHEDD, D.D., Baldwin Professor in Union Theological Seminary, New-York City. Scribner & Co. 1867.
inquiry, which agitates all branches and wings of the recognized “ Christian Church.” We refer to the “ Homiletics and Pastoral Theology” of Dr. William G. T. Shedd, formerly of Auburn Theological Seminary, afterward of Andover Theological Seminary, and now of Union Theological Seminary in the city of New York. Although the work of an Augustinian Calvinist, and here and there marked by the dogmatic peculiarities of its author, “ Homiletics and Pastoral Theology” is just the book which we would put into the hands of every young minister. No one can read it without finding evidence, on almost every page, of the singular ability and profound consecration of its author. The Unitarian minister, in particular, will find the sustained earnestness with which Professor Shedd writes, and the clear rules which he lays down for raising the sermon from a mere essay to a sacred oration, precisely the helps which he needs under the influences and temptations of the liberal pulpit. Without attempting to lay before our readers the contents of a volume every page of which will repay conscientious study, we propose to make Professor Shedd's first chapter, which he entitles “The Relation of Sacred Eloquence to Biblical Exegesis," the text of some remarks on the present condition and needs of education for the ministry of liberal faith.
Exegesis, says Dr. Shedd, demands a written revelation. He fails, however, to prove that this revelation should be any thing different from literature at large, and the religious conviction which reading and meditation awaken in the human mind. The objective reality of Truth is really the point which is well taken by Professor Shedd in this connection, although he assumes that Truth is identical with " the mass of truth contained in the Christian Scriptures.” Truth is not created by the teacher of truth. The mind of man, in relation to the moral truth of God revealed to it, is recipient, as the eye is recipient of the image of the object set over against it: it takes an impression which issues inevitably from the nature and qualities of fixed and eternal Truth. In the presence of revelation, man is a minister and interpreter, and not a creator and master.
Professor Shedd makes, in passing, the assertion, that “ gesis implies a leading forth (esnyéoucu), into the light of a clear perception, of an idea that is shut up in human language,” and so“ implies a written word.” Yet he gives ample evidence, as we will presently show, that by “written word” ought to be signified every revelation impressed upon the mind of man, or expressed in human literature. Exegesis should be made to mean with him, if he will be consistent with himself, a leading forth into clear perception of ideas shut up in the indistinct perception of human thought, whether written or unwritten. It should mean, to every student of religion, the leading forth into correct expression, whether of conviction in the mind or of utterance on the lips, of that eternal Truth not yet rightly apprehended in the mind, or not yet rightly uttered in human literature. To confine it to the interpretation of a particular written word is singularly inconsistent with a correct idea of the relation of the human mind to God's revelation of himself.
Professor Shedd nowhere discloses the radical depth of his conceptions more than in his treatment (pp. 7-10) of the topic of originality in the knowledge of truth. No absolute originality, he says, belongs to man. That aboriginality, which belongs to one who finds and discloses truth, is the prerogative of the Creator alone; and the results of it always are a revelation, in the strictest sense of the term. The first truths of ethics, the necessary forms of logic, the fixed principles of physics, which we find in the contemplative, the profound, the ever-fresh and living Plato, were not the sheer make of his intellectual energy, but rather an emanation and efflux from a mental constitution which is as much ours as his. They were inlaid in his rational structure by a higher Author, and by an absolute authorship; and his originality consists solely in their exegesis and interpretation. There is a community in reason, a partnership in the common ideas of humanity. The first truths of science and morals are no strange and surprising dogmas. Originality in man is simply exegesis, genial, and accurate exposition of ideas and truths already existing, already communicated, already possessed. A Plato interprets his own rational intelligence: he was not the author
of that intelligence. He expounds his own mental and moral ideas; but those ideas are the handiwork of God. They are no more his than ours. We find what he found, if he and we are truthful exegetes, - the truth which God has conveyed to the race through its mental and moral structure, which the creative hand has wrought into the fabric of human nature. The original thinker is he who is most successful in reading this truth just as it reads, and expounding it just as it stands, in the revelation which God has impressed upon the intelligence of man. The ideas and principles which are wrought into our mental and moral constitution are a divine communication, a revelation having all the authority of fixed truth. They are immutable in their nature, and wholly independent of man's will and prejudices. From the first moments of clear moral consciousness, we find ourselves already under their just domination and righteous despotism.
We have used the terms employed by Professor Shedd. They assert, with sufficient distinctness and force, that reason, so far as it goes at least, is true revelation. Professor Shedd then passes “from the question concerning human duty to the question concerning human salvation,” from “the principles of ethics and natural religion” to “the promises of Christianity," from “ morality” to “mercy,” from “ ethics" to “evangelism ;” and, with this change of the subject of thought, he introduces, as the foundation of thought, written revelation, as contrasted with the unwritten word wrought into the mind of man, and declares that wise and docile recipiency of the fixed and eternal truth contained in the Christian Scriptures is the foundation of perennial youth and freshness for the sacred orator. In giving incidentally his reasons for this position, he announces notions, the mischief of which cannot well be exaggerated. He says that the principles and methods of human salvation are settled in the heavens, and are more entirely dependent upon the divine option and volition than the principles of morality, inasmuch as the Deity must punish sin, but is under no necessity of pardoning it; and so man, while he “must take morality just as it is communicated in reason and conscience,” “must, most certainly, take mercy