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ecclesiastic, is the

The bread and the

Christ of the formalist, the ritualist, the spiritual Christ, if it is any Christ at all. wine would be inoperative if they were not the body of God. The prayer is not addressed to the image, but to the divinity behind the image.

True, it is replied; but the divinity would be nothing to us without the image. How could we see the spiritual Christ, if he had not flesh and bones as we have? How could we find him, if he had not a local habitation? How should we know him to be the person we were looking for, if he did not present himself with open credentials of a very unmistakable kind? The spirit must be authenticated, otherwise we shall find ourselves believing every spirit, and shall miss the true one. Now there is no mistake. This book, we know, contains the literal fact; this article, we are certain, embodies the pure truth; this shrine holds the real divinity. Are you sure of that? It seems to us that, if spirit possesses one quality above another, it is this of being self-evidencing. It is its own witness, and its own demonstration. They who know it, know it under one form as well as another. It knows its own, and is known of them. Instead of being authenticated by the form, it authenticates the form. The doctrine proves the miracle, not the miracle the doctrine. We do not accept Beelzebub on the strength of wonders, nor would any number of marvels convince us that Judas was the Christ. Scepticism always assails the letter first, even if it carries its assault further. It is harder to verify the history, than to accredit the person of whom the history tells; it is harder to legitimate the creed, than to assent to the truth it embodies; it is harder to justify the rite, than to receive the idea which the rite symbolizes. The beauty of the Christ's moral character needs no evidence; it burns through the ages like a star; it sails through the cloudy skies of controversy like the moon. However it may have been with those who saw its earliest appearing, it has been so long with us that we know it without putting our hands into its side. That person stands out plain to all eyes, serene, majestic, well defined, not a feature erased, not a line weakened, every trait fairly and broadly marked, its glory confessed by all lookers-on, its truth ac

knowledged, its beauty admired; but among those who lovingly bend before it are some who have torn his historical garb all to tatters, who have stripped him of his Messianic robes, taken off his crown of miracle, made huge rents in the tissue of narrative on which his figure is painted, and abandoned the hope of ever knowing how he looked to the eyes of his contemporaries. The seamless coat of his history can no more be reproduced; but the spirit it clothed is abroad in Christendom. Is that spirit nothing, because the date of its advent on the stage of time is lost, and the accurate record of its deeds has been rubbed out by the flowing years? Is it nothing, because the antiquarian cannot identify the sacred places, and the historian cannot vouch for the authenticity of every recorded incident? Is it nothing, when it has become idealized by the loving sentiment and transfigured by the adoring imagination of mankind? Is it nothing, when the mind surrounds it with a halo of splendor, when the heart clings to it with its tenderest affections, when the soul sits at its feet in humility? Is it nothing, because it is universal? Spiritual things are not only spiritually discerned, they are spiritually propagated. Great souls require no history; it is of no consequence where they were born, when they lived, what dress they wore, what fortune they met, what wealth they possessed. Of some of them it may be said that they had no history whatever; hardly a cord of trustworthy tradition holds them attached to the earth. We have them, nevertheless; they lived, they are ours; the scantiness of their clothing permits us to see the majestic grace of their march. To be born into the spiritual world one needs not an earthly father or mother. Was not the Christ born of the Holy Ghost? The Muse of history never introduced anybody to a child of God. The best she can do is to bring one to the door. He may come to the door, and yet not be seen.

A question of priority is raised between spirit and form. One says, form precedes and creates spirit; spirit is an ef fluence from matter. The Church preserves the mind and generates the life of the Christ. It is by joining the Church that one puts himself in communication with that august soul. It is by believing in the creed that one appropriates


a soul

the truth which the creed contains. It is by studying the New Testament that the impression of the image fixed there is retouched and revived. Not only does the Spirit Christ live for us in these symbolical forms and doctrines and books; he is perpetually created anew by them in the hearts of believers, and without them he would not exist. Suppose the Church gone, the sacraments gone, the creed gone, the Gospels gone, where would be the Christ? We reply, where he was before church, sacrament, creed, or Gospel came into being. There was a time when he was, and these were not. There were churches before there was a New Testament; and very living, faithful churches, too. There were apostles before there were churches. There was a teaching, working, self-sacrificing Christ before there were apostles; and before there was a teaching, working, self-sacrificing Christ, Christ with articulate utterance and manual performance, there was a still, interior, meditating, musing Christ, communing with the Infinite, breathing in the Eternal, fortifying itself with faith, hope, and charity, and accumulating the virtue which afterward streamed in loving light from his form, dropped beneficently from his fingers' ends, and flowed, a healing power, from the hem of his garment. This fair image reproduced itself by its own sunlight on the hearttablets which were sensitive enough to receive the impression, and was again and again reproduced from the "negative," which never faded. The friends of Jesus had no New Testament. It is not likely that they put together his sayings and doings, and so made a comparative estimate of his character; for there was much in those sayings and doings which they could not understand; much that conflicted with their prejudices; much that grieved them, and in spite of which they must love him, if love him they did. It must be that a virtue came out of him, too fine to be articulated or demonstrated in acting; an aroma, in which this great soul transpired and communicated itself. His friends knew more of him than he showed them, had a more perfect likeness of him than he painted.

They attempted to describe him afterwards in the Gospels of the New Testament; not very successfully, being unskilled in

verbal description, and out of the abundance of the heart being unable to say much. They described him much better in their obedience to him, in their personal and social virtues, in their hopes, aspirations, endeavors, in their love-feasts, their care for the poor and sick, their respect for the slave, their earnest humanity that made the Gentiles stare, the nobleness and willingness of their self-sacrifice, the beautiful ideal of character which they cherished, and their daily prayer that the kingdom of God might come on the earth. They showed whom they had been with, and in that way exhibited him. The longer this image was in the world, the clearer it became, and the more powerfully it wrought on mankind. The Spirit Christ wrote his autobiography in large letters that burned with light. He moved Augustine, Bernard, Gerson, Tauler, Kempis, Fénelon, to illustrate him in their writings. He wrote many a hymn, he dictated many a sermon, he inspired many a prayer, each of which brought out into relief some lineament of his, or drew a delicate line of that divine countenance which grew more divine as the light of larger intelligence fell on it.

The doctrine that Christ the Spirit, as a living person, precedes in point of time the historical Christ, is quite in accordance with the tradition of the Church. It is suggested in the story of his being the child of a virgin by the Holy Spirit, his birth being the advent of a spiritual person, who needed only this much of mortal parentage for his manifestation. It is directly taught in the dogma of the pre-existence. Christ the Spirit had been already in the world. Before Abraham was he was, - not as a conscious individual, but as the soul of many individuals; his features not all set together in one countenance, but distributed among many; his attributes not gathered up in one soul, but animating a long line of souls, and pouring their brilliancy from numerous centres of light. The elements of which he was composed were elements that had been floating in the moral atmosphere from the first dawn of the conscience, and only waited the touch of Time's finger to crystallize in this diamond point. The perfect beauty of that crystallization we probably appreciate better than the men of any former period. The New Testament does not


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show us all the facets of this eminent gem. We need the full radiance of our modern knowledge to flash them all. We speak of the historical Christ; but the true historical Christ is the Christ of modern history, the Christ who is painted for us by the experiences of the last ten centuries, who has come to men living and real since the fall of the Roman Empire. The scepticism which assails the authenticity of the New Testament, so far from touching the genuine Christ of history, does but touch the records, which tell feebly and partially. how partially and feebly few pause to think what befell before his historical career had fairly opened; the facts which it disturbs are but so many literary statements committed to paper concerning him, statements exceedingly interesting and valuable, but comparatively unimportant by the side of the ideas he has planted, the institutions he has reared, the monuments of faith he has upraised, the churches he has builded, the massive lives he has placed like granite sphinxes along the avenues of civilization, the groups of lives that he has gathered in knots and set in all the desert places of the earth.

But the Christ Spirit must have a form? Surely. A visible form? Undoubtedly. A form palpable to the touch? We do not deny it. We only deny that he is confined to this form or that. We assert that he is seen under numberless forms, and equally well seen. He dwells in the Duomo of Milan and in the Quaker meeting-house in Salem. The Catholic priest presents him in the sacrament of Transubstantiation; the Unitarian "communes" with him in his simple memorial rite; the silent Friends have him nearest of all. The creed of thirty-nine articles, or the creed of five points, or the creed of "Love your neighbor," each may contain him if either may. Here he is dressed out in glory as the King of heaven; there he is pictured as walking barefoot among the poor, in the garb of a mechanic. Here he is adored as the ideal of humanity; there he is revered as humanity's loftiest saint; in another place he is honored as the world's martyred reformer; elsewhere, again, he is loved as the friend and comforter of the needy. He is portrayed as second person in the Trinity, Saviour, Mediator, son of the carpenter, Christ the Spirit in all, and as much in one as in another. VOL. LXXIII. - 5TH S. VOL. XI. NO. III.


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