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but it is far harder to believe that on any other supposition He would have spoken as He did. It is altogether incredible that so unassuming a character would have unwarrantably laid claim to so absolute a supremacy. "It is common in human history," says the author of ' Ecce Homo,' "to meet with men who assert some superiority over their fellows, but they dream of nothing greater than some partial control over the actions of others for the short space of a lifetime. To a few, indeed, it is given to influence future ages. Some have appeared who have been as levers to uplift the earth and roll it in another course. Homer by creating literature, Socrates by creating science, Caesar by carrying civilisation inland from the shores of the Mediterranean, Newton by starting science in a steady career of progress, may be said to have attained this eminence. But these men gave a single impact, like that which is considered to have first set planets in motion. Christ claims to be a perpetual attractive power, like the sun which determines their orbits. They contributed to men some discovery, and passed away: Christ's discovery is Himself. To humanity, struggling with its passions and its destiny, He says, 'Cling to me—cling ever closer to me.' He commanded men to leave everything and attach themselves to Him; He declared Himself King, Master, and Judge of men; He promised to give rest to all the weary and heavy laden; He instructed His followers to hope for eternal life from feeding on His body and blood. Further, these enormous pretensions were advanced by One whose special peculiarity, not only among His contemporaries, but among the remarkable men that have appeared before and since, was an almost feminine tenderness and humanity. He had been called by the Baptist, you remember, the Lamb of God. Yet so clear to Him was His own dignity and importance to the race, that in the very same breath in which He asserts it in the most unmeasured language, He alludes also to His humility. 'Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.' Meek and lowly He was!—naturally content with obscurity; wanting the restless desire for distinction and eminence which is common in great men; fond of what was simple and homely, of children and poor people; occupying Himself so much with the concerns of others, with the relief of sickness and want, that the temptation to exaggerate the importance of His own thoughts and plans was not likely to master him. And yet we find that He laid claim persistently, with the calmness of entire conviction, in opposition to the whole religious world, in spite of the offence which His own followers conceived, to a dominion more transcendent, more universal, more complete, than the most delirious votary of glory ever aspired to in his dreams."
If Christ were not in a very unique sense divine, Socrates and Mahomet, and a host of others, were far wiser and better than He. The Grecian sage declared that his only wisdom was a consciousness of ignorance; and he constantly confessed to his hearers that he was merely a fellow - seeker with them after truth and goodness. The Nazarene maintained, on the contrary, that He was the light of the world, the shepherd of the souls of men, the way to eternal life, the vine or the life-tree of humanity. The prophet of Islam never allowed an expression to escape him which could be construed into a request for human worship. The whole tenor of Christ's teaching, on the contrary, was in harmony with His own explicit demand, that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. Either, then, Christ was more than a good man, or He was a very bad man. He must be placed either far above the world's noblest teachers, or far below the meanest. Either He was inordinately conceited—so conceited as to be continually guilty of the grossest blasphemy,—or He was the brightness of the Father's glory, the express image of His person. Either He had a selfish paltry thirst for popularity, which led Him to demand from men, at the risk of their soul's perdition, a worship to which He had not the slightest claim,—or else He was God manifest in the flesh, the only begotten of the Father.
We must choose between these alternative suppositions. Which do you suppose is the more reasonable of the two?
Christianity and Pre-Christian
"God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself." -2 Cor. V. 19.
npHE word atonement is synonymous with re-1- conciliation. It means etymologically, as you see, at-one-ment—the bringing to an understanding those who have misunderstood one another, the reconciling those who had previously been at enmity. Hence it is manifest that all revelation is in a greater or less degree atoning. It will attract men towards God, in so far as they can learn from it what He really is. But the pre - Christian revelations were vague and difficult to interpret. Nature, for example, is sometimes beautiful and benef