Imagens das páginas

deyil. He is more than our antecedent in evil; he is tempter and seducer and tyrant. Man's sin is his own; he is fully responsible for it; yet it is a work of the devil, in some sense as real as that it is his own work. This connection of man's sin with the devil must be studied profoundly by those who would understand John's doctrine. Sin, having this twofold origin, is to be conceived of as “lawlessness," and therefore in antagonism to the revealed Will of God; as a “lie," and therefore in antagonism to Truth; as “ darkness," and therefore in antagonism to Light: as “ hatred," and therefore in antagonism to Love; as “death," and therefore in antagonism to Life. This mani. fold antagonism is set forth in some of its aspects in John's Gospel, in other of its aspects in his Epistles, and in other aspects still in his book of Revelation. He silently takes for granted throughout, that there is no possibility of self-help for the world ; man cannot free himself by his own power, even if he would, or be his own saviour ; apart from Christ, he abideth in death. This is the sphere of the manifestation of the Son of God,-a sphere wherein eyil seemed to be victorious.

The character of the manifestation is variously represented, inasmuch as no single representation can convey the full truth. Historically, the manifestation is set forth by John in his Gospel; theologically, in his Epistles; prophetically, it is set forth in the Apocalypse. He is manifested as the Eternal Life in a world of death. He is manifested as the True Light in a world of darkness. He is manifested as the Messenger and Interpreter of God in a world that was either ignorant of Him, or that. believed in falsehoods respecting Him,—the message being summed up in the two kindred expressions, God is Light, and God is Love ; Light, not merely as clear intelligence, bot as, holiness ; Love, not merely as tender affection, but as the purpose of creating' goodness ; Light without any mingling of darkness ; Love revealing itself in grace and salvation. He is manifested as the sinless Lamb, who taketh away the sin of the world. He is manifested as the Saviour, the destroyer of the works of the deyil, the giver of eternal life, the channel of the infinite and everlasting good Which the Father means for us, the sender of the Comforter-even the Spirit of truth, who convinces the world of sin and righteousness and judgment, and who abides with the Church for ever,-the seed that falls into the ground and dies, that it may not abide alone but may bring forth much fruit. -Cain hated his brother, and slew him; Christ loved his enemies, and died for them. His blood cleanseth from all sin. As the Righteous One, He is our Advocate with the Father and the Propitiation for our sins, and in Him the fulness of the love of God is disclosed. His saving energy still continues after His ascension, even as it preceded His incarnation. There is no break or interruption. "I am He that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of hell and of death.” “Behold, I make all things new."

This manifestation of the Word brings in a “judgment,” that is to

ways: Christ

[ocr errors]

say, a distinguishing, a separating, so that men take sides either with God or against Him. “For judgment am I come into the world,”– for separating men into two classes, the children of light, truth, love God, and the children of darkness, falsehood, hate, the devil. Thi action pertains not merely to His ministry on earth, but likewiset the present and the future, through the perpetual energy of His Spirit Here are so many human beings related to one another not merely b their common share of Adam's blood, but in other special and intimat



among them, and at once there is a taking of sides, an arraying of themselves under different banners. In this world men do not indeed always range themselves outwardly and visibly under their proper colours; there is self-deception, false pro fession, the traitor's kiss. John recognises this when he


The went out from us, but they were not of us ; for if they had been of us they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out tha they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.'

None th less real is the division, that it cannot be perfectly discerned by the es of man, but only by the Heart-Searcher.

T line that divides the two classes is drawn by the apostle wil the utmost distinctness and firmness. “He that saith, I know Him and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.' “Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not; whosoerer sinneth,” that being the account of his life, "seeth Him' not, neither knoweth Him." There must be no tampering with this principle there must be no saying about a man who is living a life of sin, te i God's child. Let no man deceive you ; he that doeth righteousness i righteous ; he that committeth sin is of the devil:"-in this very thin the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil

. It whatever


these words may be explained, there must be no putting of darkness for light or evil for good; we must hold firmly by this that the devil's children are known by their sinning, and God's by their not sinning.

It is in faith or unbelief in the Son of God that the distinction between the two classes is fundamentally exhibited. No deeper, mort compressed, or more vital account is it possible to give of the object ol Christian faith, than that which John gives—That Jesus is the Son o God.Whosoever has this faith surrenders himself to the Redeemer and enters into communion with Him. Ere the distinction betweel the children of God and the children of the devil exhibits itself in lif and action, it exhibits itself to the eye of God and to men's 011 consciousness in faith or unbelief. Here is the living root of heaver or hell. Every man's attitude toward God and goodness is expresser by his attitude toward Jesus Christ. No one can study John's ings without seeing that he is as clear as the Apostle Paul in his forth setting of the place occupied by faith, that he exalts it as highly, tha he brings it into the same connection with Christian emotion, strength patience, victory.

The unbelieving are represented as “under condemnation, '


condemned already," with this condemnation," that light is come into be world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their eeds were evil.” They “shall not see life; but the wrath of God bideth on them.” They are ripening for judgment. And in the wful hereafter, " the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.”

Those who believe in the Son of God are born of God,"?“ overcome he world,” and “have eternal life” as a present possession,-not in onsequence of an arbitrary award, but as a natural and vital issue. This new condition is in contrast at every point to the old condition. They are children of God, not merely, as it might be, by an act of adoption, but by a new birth-relationship. Not merely are they owned as children by God, but the fact of sonship is realized in their own consciousness. All that belongs to sonship is assured to them. Their sins are forgiven for His name's sake. His blood cleanseth them from all sin. If they sin, they have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous, who is the propitiation for their sins. They are enabled

, in the presence of an evil world, to keep God's commandments, which are all involved in the one old, yet ever-new commandnient which bids us love even as Christ loved us.

They have fellowship-common sharing--partnership-with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ; the fellowship limited only by the finiteness of our nature. They have an unction from the Holy One and know all things. The sonship, indeed, is not yet manifested; but in the day of its manifestation, they shall be like Him, seeing Him as He is. He is the perfect ideal of all the sons; as He is, so are we in this world;":

standing, our standing; the good pleasure of the Father toward Him, embracing us; His holy personality, the image (if I may use such an expression) of what the Father sees in us potentially. Thus a love takes possession of us which casteth out fear; and a joyful, unfaltering confidence in God is inspired within us, which exhibits itself in our prayers, and which we retain even in the day of judgment. Abiding in Him,

we have confidence and are not ashamed before Him at His coming. Thus believers in the Son of God form the family of

“ brethren in the profoundest sense of the word, are one power

of love. The ethical teaching of John does not follow his doctrinal teaching in separate chapters, but is so interwoven with it that the one cannot be detached from the other. Being children, we are to realize our sonship, to bear it ever in mind, to act it out in all ways, to use its privileges, to cherish its hopes. Having life, we are to live, reproducing and showing forth the life of Christ among our fellow-men. Being the children of light, we are to walk in the light, abiding therein con

Supremely—everything being involved in this—we are to love

, purely, self-sacrificingly, lastingiy. As the sun shines,-—its beams going forth on all sides without asking for an object, and there



God, are in the



is nothing hid from the heat thereof,-80 God's children are to be loving, God-ward, brother-ward, man-ward; the love we show being the love of God in us. We speak, --we cannot help speaking of the love of God.” John, however, conceives of the case more simply still

. He does not conceive of love as something belonging to God, something in God, something that characterizes God; but as what God is. He does not speak of God having love ; he says, “ God is love." When I think of God, I think of love. To say, I believe in God, is the same thing as to say, I believe in love. When I know God, I know love, When I abide in God, I abide in love. When I love God, I love love. Now the love I know in knowing God, is love that lays hold of my being and communicates itself; not as flame, shining through a window, reddening the surface of a frozen pool without warming it; but as flame seizes

upon the wood it touches, and kindles it, setting it aflame, so the love of God does with me; it lays hold, flame-like, upon my heart, and kindles it into the very ardours of God. My love is not something separate from God’s, resembling it, but having no conneetion with it; rather, it is God's love laying hold upon me, kindling making me in a most real sense a partaker of the Divine nature. Now the very essence and sum of all duty is, that I should love.

As to the “ last things,” there are many weighty and suggestire hints in John's epistles; but it is in the book of Revelation that the fullest disclosure is given. The Divine fellowship of believers is to be consummated in the appearing of Christ. His appearing is no occasion of terror to them, but is the object of their most joyful hope. Preceding it and leading up to it there is a peculiar course of development unfolded in the book of Revelation. Within the Church, antichristianism develops itself; while the world, onward to the last, exhibits impenitence and deadly hostility against God and His Christ

, It goes on from age to age-war, struggle, hate against

the Lamb, and all device and violence to ruin His cause. In vain. The “ Word of God," who is called Faithful and True, the King of kings and Lord of lords, followed by the armies of heaven, is victorious; the deril is bound and shut up in the bottomless pit; the martyr souls live and reign with Christ a thousand years ; at the end of that period the imprisoned foe of God and man is unloosed for a time, and returns to his old work; the final victory at length is won,

and the devil is cast into the lake of fire ; the judgment of the great white throne follows in which the dead, small and great, stand before God, and are judged every man according to his works; and the eternal state is introduced in which God is all in all.

From this necessarily brief account of the great lines laid down in John's writings, it will be seen that in his conception the whole of Christian theology is involved in the person of Christ, the Eternal Word manifested in the flesh and exerting His power throughout human history. I would only add that, just as the true and the ethical are vitally connected in his writings, -as faith and life are not merely allied, but vitally one,-so no man can be a Christian theologian is not also living a Christian life.





ABOVE the dull sounds of Deansgate his brow, at the same time giving a here rang out, clear and shriii, a kick to the prostrate woman.

Tim hild's voice, crying “Murder ! mur- noticed the kick, and said, ler!" As this was no strange cry “Now, me broth of a boy, stop that nly a few paid any heed to it, and if you plase, or I'll perhaps be afther hose few were chiefly the idlers of a puttin' yer feet a bit higher than neighbouring lodging-house. Fore- your head in a quarter less than no nost among the rescuing party was time." l'im Flannagan, who made his living Tim had just uttered this threat, by selling odds and ends when he and again began to roll up his shirt could not steal safely.

Like his sleeves, when the rays of a lantern countrymen, ever ready for the fray, announced that the august repreTim rushed over to the house whence sentative of law, vulgarly called a came cries of“ murder,” and, burst- Bobby,” had just made his appearing open the door, saw a man dragging a woman by the hair and “Clear the way there,” said the kicking her. He was swearing and policeman, with the voice of one in she was screaming: he in a furious authority. The way was cleared, passion, she almost dead. The little and the law stood upon the floor fellow who cried · murder” stood on looking sternly at the lawbreaker. one side of the room in his shirt. “What have you been doing?" When Tim entered, the human said the policeman, looking at the brate had just seized a poker, and bleeding woman, and addressing the was about to strike with it the fallen cowardly brute, who in silence woman when his arm was arrested awaited his doom. There was no

answer until Tim said, “ Now then, be aisy, my child; be Why, he has been and gone and

done for her.” The brute looked around with “ Come with me,” said the policeglaring eyes upon the intruder, and allowed his victim to fall upon the

The brute yielded and went. The floor with a dull thud. He scowled woman was carried to the infirmary, upon Tim, but as the latter very and the child was left alone. Law coolly began to roll up his shirt grasps the father, charity picks up sleeves for action, and as several

the mother, and Satan waits for the other faces became visible at the child. Such is our beautiful order of doorway, he contented himself with the nineteenth century!

Between Satan and his prey comes “What do you want here?” our friend Tim, who, looking at the “Want, honey?" said Tim, with a cowering child who had gone to a sly shrug; "why fun, to be sure. corner of the room in terror, says, Only try on me that same bit of a “ Come here, my heartie. What's trick as you are a tryin' on that

“ Chuckie's my name,” was the "What business have you in my

hesitating reply. house? I can do what I like with “Well, Chuckie,” said Tim, “it's my own,” said the brute, sitting down coolly to wipe the sweat from

my private opinion that you had better come wid me, else the rats

by a,






your name?"

« AnteriorContinuar »