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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, -a Christ with articulate utterance and manual performance,there was a still, interior, meditating, musing Christ, a soul 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
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. He is a VOL. LXXIII. -5TH S. VOL. XI. NO. III. 29
Proteus. The truth seems to be that the Spirit creates its form according to its need, and drops its forms one after another, as the old ones become exhausted and new ones are required. The Church of any period was not manufactured; it grew. De Quincey, speaking of the dense obscurity that hangs about the early period of the Christian Church, and, indeed, clouds the history of Christianity for some hundreds of years, rendering it extremely difficult to trace events to their causes, or to find the threads by which operations were guided, attempts to account for it on the ground that the moving power was supernatural. Its machinery was not, therefore, like ordinary mechanism, open to human inspection, but was concealed by its very nature. The footprints of the god cannot be traced on the ground. Even if they could be seen, it would be necessary to cover them up, that men might not be utterly confounded by such close contact with the immortals: but to cover them up was needless; they covered themselves up, and in so doing left vast spaces of vacancy where active causes should be found. De Quincey's explanation of this very remarkable fact is purely fanciful, but it falls in with the idea we are advancing; namely, that the Spirit took possession of such forms as were waiting to receive it, filled them as long as they would contain it, then abandoned them to their fate. The Christ's coming was without observation: silently he pushed open the door of the deserted temples, made them his Shekinah for the time, then departed, and mysteriously glided on. The creeds were accretions; the sacraments made themselves; the "conscious stones" grew to beauty under the hand of architects who builded better than they knew. Protestants are generally of opinion that the forms under which the Church of the Middle Ages presented Christ are now but empty vessels, with just the faintest aroma of the spirit they once contained hanging about them. In passing from one phase of Protestantism to another, from Lutheranism to Calvinism, from Calvinism to Socinianism, from Socinianism to Unitarianism, from Unitarianism to Rationalism, from Rationalism to Transcendentalism, the Christ Spirit has been continually dropping its old garb, and putting on new, without giving the least
symptom of exhaustion in so doing, or intimating that it passes through any change save a change from glory to glory.
Why fear, then, that the destruction of any particular form, or of any particular set or system of forms, or of all existing and prevailing forms, is to be the destruction of the real Christ? He is indestructible as humanity. A form of some kind he will be sure to have, he must have. If it is a mighty form, he will fill it. If it is a slender form, he will swell it out to his own proportions. The infinite is in the atoms. It may be an organization or an individual. If an organization, he will be able to animate it with a single soul; if an individual, he will be able to give it the force of a multitude of souls. It may be a literature, as the New Testament is, or it may be a spoken word passed along on the breath of tradition. If it is a literature, the various books which compose it will be made to repeat the same image; if it is a word, the heavens and earth shall pass away while that endures. Yes, the heavens and the earth of Jesus's day have passed away in all but their material aspect. They are not what they were to the minds of men. The stars are not groups of spirits; the moon is not a goddess; the sun is not a divinity; the prince of the powers of the air has taken his flight from the empyrean with his foul band of demons; the centre of the earth is not a realm of ghosts; Sheol has gone; Tartarus has vanished. There are the same skies; there is the same earth; but all that made them what they had been to the human soul, has passed irrecoverably. There are literally new heavens and a new earth; but the word which he committed to the air speeds on with that ripple whose movement never ceases. The tiny pulsations beat the mind's ear, and knock with light finger at every heart; the eternal doors fly open at the airy touch; the Teacher comes in, the Comforter, the Inspirer; the angelic train follows, filling the soul's outer court with the rustling of wings, and making the dome ring with chanting choirs. Is the word inaudible? It has but gone within. The Spirit may not read to you from holy book, but it will look at you from holy eyes, it will breathe upon you in holy atmospheres, it will communicate itself to you through holy characters. "The true Shekinah is man." No church is so magnificent as a