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we say of words like these ? “ He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father.” “Behold, I am with you always.” The practicalness of the character and religion of Jesus Christ, their close connection with deeds and duties, with the realities of every day life — with things which can be ennobled or made endurable only by the spirit which is infused into them, the actual, living interpretation of existence with all its exposures and conflicts - this is a feature of our faith and of its Author, which is most frequently insisted upon and set in every light, and it is utterly inconsistent with the mythical theory.
Again, there are embraced in the very essence of the Christian scheme, and in the character of Christ, certain great, world-embracing and eternal provisions, - such as the preliminary design, the pre-determined mission of Christ, the steps of preparation, the pre-arrangement of ages so that there should be a “fulness of time," the infinite compass of means, with its range over all climes, its invitations to all classes and generations. Now by the theory of Strauss a parallel might be instituted between Jesus and Mahomet, but it must be confined to what is merely personal in life, and it would fail on all these great facts. How shall we explain, that all the rays of anticipation and desire in the past converge to Christ; that in him, as a focus, they centre, finding just what philosophy and faith, just what sorrow and hope have needed to minister to them; and that from the same focus, as the ages lengthen on this side, these rays stream out again, meeting all the deep wants of man with the sweet benediction of the spirit of Christ.
Supposing the theory which we have now examined to be true, the appearance of Jesus under the aspect in which Strauss describes him, so far from resulting in a new religion which would be equally inviting to Jews and Gentiles, would have had the effect to confirm the Jews in their old religion, and to deter Gentiles all the more from having any connection with the people of Israel of a kind which would embrace them under one faith. Indeed, all the phenomena relating to the adoption of Christianity by the Gentiles, and especially the existence of the Epistles, which are for the most part of earlier composition than the Gospels, are inexplicable by this theory. The Gentiles
had no inclination to make and no disposition to receive myths about a Jewish Rabbi, and how could they receive the full Gospel ?
The theory of Strauss presents to us most forcibly the disastrous influence of what is called philosophy, when set to serve another interest than religion. Piety has been often ridiculed for making a bug-bear of philosophy. But the fear is wise. Philosophy is the twin-sister of religion, but religion can never consent to bear the relation of a step-child to philosophy. Such speculations as those of Strauss could never have been learned in the school of Christ. It is certainly remarkable, that in a large book bearing the title of “The Life of Jesus” there is not one single tender sentiment, nor one tribute of reverence or respect to that holy and devoted Sufferer for our sakes. Neither the tender lament over Jerusalem, nor the raising of the widow's son, nor the last Supper, nor the agony in the garden, has power to draw a single sympathetic feeling from this young disciple of an atheistic philosophy, this boyish trifler with the hope and faith of civilized man.
As to the effect which will be wrought by this work of Strauss, prediction would be vain, and common sense and experience will indicate how far and how long its influence will spread. It raises the banner of infidelity for this age. Such a banner has been raised in every age, and after such banners have floated in their pride, they have faded and fallen, and been gathered in as trophies of the Christian faith. Some of the readers of this book will receive it as a new Gospel of unbelief. Over the nucleus of doubt existing in their own minds it will roll a mass of new deceptions and arguments, which will exclude from them the light of Christianity, leaving them the guesses of philosophy, and the reserve of Deism. Other readers will close the book with a feeling of relief, that they have found new confirmation of their faith in perusing the worst that can be said against it.
G. E. E.
True Idea of Priest and King
ART. II. – THE TRUE IDEA OF PRIEST AND KING.
An Address delivered before the “ Association of the Alumni of the Cambridge Divinity School,” July 17, 1846. By William B. 0. PeaBODY, D. D.
It is generally admitted that all moral and social changes are produced by ideas, suggested, diffused, and put in action; and the subject which I shall present to you, not as I wish, but as I can, is the true Christian idea of Priest and King, by which, when understood and received, our faith will regenerate the civil and religious world.
I find this great suggestion in the Scriptures: -- it is intimated, that the Saviour's purpose is to make men “kings and priests to God.” To many, these words bring up a vision of venerable men with robes and censers, standing by flaming altars, and of stately persons with crowns and sceptres, seated on golden thrones; for the external signs of worship and authority are more impressive, even in this age of the world, than the great realities of moral power and religious devotion. But such is not the impression which you will receive from those words; it was not such honors and blessings, that the religion of Jesus was to bring. The show of sanctity and the ensigns of earthly power were of small account in his estimation. When he rode in triumph to Jerusalem, saluted as their king by the multitude, he was so indifferent to what was passing, that his eyes filled with tears at the thought of that city's doom. We may be sure, then, that no elevation of this kind will be given to his followers when they are made kings and priests to God.
I am so desirous to point out the clear intimation of this great truth in the Scriptures, that I venture to bring before you an illustration, of the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, which is often passed by as if it were antiquated and had lost its significance; I mean where he compares the Saviour to Melchisedec or the holy king. It may not be an argument to our age, as it was to his own; still it can give us light, and, I believe, inspiration too. We know little of that ancient person, who appears in the morning twilight of history like a shadowy and unsubstantial form, save that he was a priest, though of no sacerdotal order,
and a king, though his lineage and birth were unknown. His office and his ancestry are both shrouded in utter darkness, and yet the father of the faithful did reverence to him as a true priest and king. For, according to the idea of royalty in those simple times, the hand that swayed the rod of empire, lifted the sacrifice too. The most sacred head was esteemed worthiest to wear the crown, and the mightiest arm, the one to present the offering. So that in this illustration, which many pass lightly over, we find a rich and expressive meaning. It gives the death-blow to all those fancies of priestly succession and hereditary right, which have held the world in long delusion. It shows that a man is not made a priest by the laying on of hands; nor is he a king simply because a king was his father. He may bear the name of either office, and may exult in the imaginary distinction which it gives ; Christianity has nothing to say to the title or the show, --so long as authority is not concerned, it allows men to plume themselves at will ; but when we pass from words to things, where all distinctions must be founded on reality, the true king is one who has extensive influence, the true priest is one who is holy; and in truth, true holiness and power are one.
In proportion to a man's excellence, is his influence with others. As God sees men, and he sees them as they are, - the holiest are the mightiest. And whatever outward respect may be paid to outward elevation, the best man does, even now, bad as the world is, exert more power than any other; not over men certainly, but within them, which is better. His holiness is his means of influence ; in his excellence of heart and life you find the secret of
It is not necessary to explain, then, that the religious teachers of modern times are no representatives of the ancient priesthood; they are no more priests, in the technical sense of the word, than active and influential men are kings. But, taking the words in their widest sense, and according to the meaning which they are destined hereafter to bear, it is interesting to see what our Saviour considered the best training for these high stations; high, not in the world's estimation, but in the work which they who fill these stations are ordained to do. And it would seem that the foundations of his own holiness were laid in want and
sorrow. It was well said, that the priest must be one who can sympathize with others, “who can have compassion on the ignorant and on them that are out of the way, for that he himself is compassed with infirmity;” and if ever a spirit was formed by contending with hardship, his was the one; for it is recorded of him, that, “in the days of his flesh, he made supplication with strong crying and tears to him who was able to save.” Having been tried in all points as we are, and remained faithful, as we have not, his heart beats in perfect sympathy with all the sons and daughters of grief. And he offers a confirmation of the truth, that there is no power over the religious affections of others, like that which suffering gives. Thus consecrated, the true man is a priest of God; he can lead others without resistance to the living waters where he has found rest to his own soul. If, as some believe, the laying on of human hands can invest him with authority, the laying on of God's hands can do more; yes, infinitely more.
The Saviour was in like manner prepared for his royal office; or, more properly speaking, to exert his kingly power. He was born in poverty; though descended from the ancient sovereigns of the land, he was so exceedingly poor, that he had not where to lay his head. And from what quarter is it that powerful spirits come? Not from kings' houses; not from luxurious homes. In early hardship and privation we trace the beginnings of almost all those characters, which have originated great reforms, accomplished wide works of love, and spoken with commanding voices to the hearts and souls of men. How natural then, that he who was to regenerate and redeem the race, should come from those places where spirits are best trained for life's battle and war; for there they form within themselves that energy which sweeps all feebler minds into its own mighty current, and thus assert and establish their supremacy as kings of men.
In the familiar experience of life we see it confirmed, that these things are so; and that any poor child of humanity may aspire to be priest and king; ay, “every inch a king;” for true sovereignty is not measured by the number of subjects, the strength of armies, or the reach of the kingdom's bounds. It depends on the power which one has with his fellow-men, to purify, elevate and inspire them,