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THE END OF OUR AGE.
that He came down from the Father to become in all things like the meanest of men ? All the difference between Christian ethics and antichristian ethics; between the ethics which treats it as the highest glory of God that He can stoop to us, and the ethics which makes it our highest glory that we can lift ourselves to be as Gods,-is latent in this question. I will not press it further upon you now.
It will come before us again in connexion with the beautiful verse which opens the next chapter. But I cannot conclude without saying that I am not so far as I may seem from those who speak of this day as one of the latter days. I cannot tell how close we may be to the end of our age, to our judgment. If we are very close to it, the hints which St. John gives us respecting the end of his age, respecting the judgment which was approaching then, will be all the more precious, and should be all the more earnestly pondered.
God gives us what we need for our necessities. We may require to be warned of antichrists, and to be told what they will be like, as much as the Ephesians. Certainly we want to know the characteristics of the true Christ as much as they did ; certainly we cannot know them unless that same anointing Spirit who abided with them, who is truth and no lie, has been assured to us and to our children for ever.
THE PLACE OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE FATHER, THE SON,
AND THE SPIRIT, IN CHRISTIAN ETHICS.
1 JOHN II. 23-28.
Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father : [but] he that
acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life. These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you : but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him. And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
OUR translators appear to have doubted whether the last clause of the 23d verse is genuine; for they have taken the very unusual course of printing it in Italics, as they print words which they insert to fill up the sense of the original. Modern scholars, I believe, do not share in this suspicion ; they suppose the words ' He that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also,' to be St. John's as much as those which precede them. Certainly, they make his meaning somewhat clearer ; but it would not be obscure, I think, if they were absent.
One peculiarity you must notice in each of these clauses.
LOGICAL PHRASES NOT THE BEST.
· He that denieth the Son hath not the Father. He that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father.' A person writing a paraphrase of the Epistle would probably render the Apostle's meaning in this way: 'He that denieth the
Son, virtually or by implication denies the Father. He • that acknowledges the Son, virtually or by implication
acknowledges the Father.' One who ventured this alteration would think that he made St. John much more intelligible. I cannot tell how others may find it; but I do not find the expressions 'virtually and by implication' half so intelligible as the little words for which they are substituted. I do not mean merely that an ignorant person might be puzzled by these logical expressions, virtually and by implication. I mean that they do not convey to any one the full sense which, if I am not mistaken, St. John did convey to his little children at Ephesus by his own words. He is writing to them,- I have told you so before, I shall have to tell you so again and again,-as members of a family, as sons of God. He is writing to them just now about certain persons who had been members of their family, but had thrown off their fellowship. Why had they done so? He says, because they did not believe Jesus to be the Christ. Because they believed in a Christ who claimed high powers for himself. Because they did not believe in a Christ who was a Son. Therefore he
says, they have not the Father. They refuse for themselves the title of sons of God. He in whom they suppose the highest glory to dwell, is not one who looked up to a Father. He is not one who has come from a Father, and gone to a Father.
He has not come to be a brother of men, and to claim His Father as your Father.
Slight as this difference may appear, I believe it is very important for the understanding of St. John. The message which he and all the Apostles brought to the Jewish and Heathen world was, ' You are not separate creatures, as you ' have taken yourselves to be. You have one Lord and Head; He being the Son of God has come into our world, stooped to our weaknesses, died our death, that He might make us one body in Himself, as we were created to be. They could not therefore say to those who separated from them, and set up another Christ, “ You are committing an error of doctrine.' They were obliged to say, 'You are choosing not to have a · Father. You are choosing not to own us common men as your
brethren.' It was no unfair charge. It was this which all their words and acts imported. They revolted from Jesus because He was lowly and meek; because He made Himself one with the most abject.
They said that in so far as He wrought miracles, He had the signs of a divine anointing; but that when He died on the cross,
if He died actually, He must have ceased to be the Christthe Spirit must have forsaken Him. Whereas St. John holds that He never so thoroughly proved Himself to be a Son--that He never so entirely showed forth GOD—as in that death.
We sometimes suppose that the temper of mind which these teachers exhibited belonged only to their age. I cannot think so. There is a disposition in many of us to hold that Jesus proved Himself to be the Christ by doing great and startling miracles, by showing that He had power to break through laws which men generally are obliged to obey. This, we affirm, was the sign that He came from God. Now, the Gospels, it seems to me, repre
OBEDIENCE AND POWER.
155 sent the mighty acts of Jesus, His healing the lepers, raising the dead, casting out devils,—in a light which is very unlike this. They say that He came to do the will of His Father; they speak of these acts as showing forth that Will, as accomplishing a part of that Will, by overcoming the enemies which had assaulted men, by breaking the fetters with which men were bound. They speak of these acts as acts of sympathy with human beings. 'Himself;' they say, ' took our infirmities, and bare our own sicknesses.' These acts, then, revealed the lowliness of Jesus, the submission of Jesus, just as His Cross and Passion revealed them. Did they not also reveal the power of God ? Wonderfully, I think. They revealed that power to be a gracious, loving power; a calm power; a health-giving, life-giving power. They revealed the very mind from which laws have proceeded, the very might by which laws are executed and enforced. They are not breaches of laws, they are assertions of laws against irregularities and disturbances. Jesus vindicated laws as no one ever did. Obedience is the characteristic of His whole life upon earth.
This is what all the Evangelists report concerning Him; this is the honour, they say, that He claimed for Himself. St. John is especially occupied throughout his Gospel in setting forth the ground and principle of this obedience. · The Spn can do nothing of Himself,' thus he speaks in the fifth chapter of his Gospel ; but what things soever He seeth the Father do, these also doeth the Son likewise.' It is filial obedience. It is the obedience of a Son to a Father, in whom He delights, and who delights in Him. And so He reveals the Father. And the Apostles receiving Him as the Christ,