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The number of political teachers who understand
that national selfishness is as wicked as indivi-
dual selfishness, and that that nation only can



The Growing Revelation of Christ. 209

truly live which is willing to lose its life in
behalf of righteousness and truth, is increasing,
and the number of political prophets who see
that the nation is called to co-operate with
Christ in His work of salvation is not small.
But what do you mean by such teachings ? We
do not understand them. We mean that the
nation, when it realises its divine ideal, will
make laws and administer them in the Spirit of
Jesus Christ ; that it will not ask how may its
borders be extended and its citizens enriched,
but how the Kingdom of God may be advanced.
That the State exists simply to protect itself is
a low and unworthy ideal ; that its chief mission
is to enrich its citizens is barbarism. Such
teachings do not attract the intelligence and
humanity of the young and enthusiastic students
who are being trained in the universities, and
who will be the statesmen of the future ; but
the thought that the Christ-message may be
realised in the nation as in the individual is
worthy of immortal enthusiasm. It has inspired
the Luthers and Wickliffes, the Brights and the
Gladstones, the Howards and the Gordons, and
a host who have dared to be martyrs in the
service of God and man. That which is so well
begun is sure to go forward. Jesus said, " And
I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me."
Slowly but surely He for whom there was no
room in the inn is finding large recognition in
the pohtics of the world.

14



210 The Growing Revelation of Christ.

There is a growing revelation of Christ in
political economy. He getting a large place in
business when trusts and monopolies are being-
multiplied ? When great cities are filled with
armies of men living from hand to mouth, with-
out work, without hope, without aspirations 9
Christ* getting a large place when the wage-
earning class is terribly oppressed ? Yes, His
growth into business theories and systems is as
remarkable as into any other department of
human affairs. This will appear when a few
facts are recalled. Every business which
degrades a man is now opposed by thousands
who will fight it until it is overturned ; states-
men are discovering that they cannot long
ignore social abuses ; while the pulpit of the
world is ringing with frequent appeals in behalf
of justice and brotherhood. Those who insist
that the spirit of Christ should control the mart
and the exchange, and that the Sermon on the
Mount is the most exhaustive treatise on politi-
cal economy ever penned are called theorists,
but such men have never been troubled by hard
names. They face the future with confidence,
for they remember Emerson's words, " The test
of a leader is his ability to bring men around to
his way of thinking twenty years later."

Listen ! In all the civilised world the hours
of labour are being shortened. It is now recog-
nised that a man has a right not only to a
livelihood, but to some little time in which to



The Growing Revelation of Christ. 211

improve, to grow, and to enjoy himself. Large
firms are giving attention to the question of
suitable dwellings for their employees. Children
are no longer allowed to work in factories when
they ought to be in school. Factories are
inspected, and the rights of women are beginning
to be guarded. The sweat-shop is felt to be a
blot on civilisation. The influence of Jesus is
seen in the improved tenement houses ; in
dining-rooms where operatives secure food at
cost price ; in lectures and entertainments which
make more beautiful the lives of those who know
not how to improve themselves ; in the insist-
tence that equal justice in the making and
execution of laws shall be meted to all. A
touch of light has come even into the wintry
realm of political economy, and added a little
of warmth and beauty to bank and factory.
There are great abuses, but they are met by
organised and persistent opposition. In the
pulpit, in the press, on the platform, and in the
club the doctrine is preached that nothing is
right in business which is wrong in religion, and
that every man ought to regard his competitor
as his brother, and love him and his interests as
his own.

There is a growing revelation of Christ through
His Church. The Church has not always
correctly represented the Christ. It conquered
the Roman Empire, but the Roman Empire
invaded it. For centuries it was a ruling Church,



212 The Growing Revelation of Christ.

gradually it is becoming a serving Church. For
centuries authority was exalted ; gradually the
responsibility of the individual is coniing to the
front. For centuries the Church was an
institution competing with the State ; now it
realises its true life only in the spirit. In the
old days the Church was considered an end in
itself ; now it is coniing to be seen that it is
only one means for advancing the kingdom of
God. In the old days it asked reverence ; now
it is asking only for opportunities to serve and
save men. When it realises its ideal it will be
the complete revelation of the Christ.

How is the Church becoming more Christlike ?
In its desire for unity. Even the common
people are insisting that the time has come to
exalt the things in which Christians agree, for
co-operation in their common work. Sectarians
are regarded now with amusement and now
with pity. They have had their day, and will
cease to be. Denominations mean little to most
Christians. The people go where they can get
most good and do most good. They are
Methodists in one place, Episcopalians in
another, Presbyterians in another ; and detect
little difference in their spiritual food.

There is also a larger revelation of Christ in
the unselfish service of humanity — the sublime
" crusade of charity," which is the glory of our
century. The Church which lives for itself is a
laughing-stock; the society of the Good



The Growing Revelation of Christ. 213

Samaritans is taking its place. The Church is
realising its privilege of ministry to the whole
life of man, and it has to do with bodies as well
as souls. It feeds the hungry before preaching
to them, and is learning that it must be as
loving as Christ before it can help any to love
Christ. From being a ruling body it is
becoming a serving body ; from seeking its own
interests it is finding its true mission and power
in the amelioration of the human condition, and
in the proclamation of " the blessed Evangel."
That ideal is far from realisation, but it shines
like a star in the horizon. What Christ was
His Church ought to be. He went about doing
good. He spent His life in seeking to improve
and save men. He felt the burden of the woes
and sins of the race. He esteemed it a joy even
to die if thus men might live as becomes
children of God and heirs of immortality.
Slowly that ideal is breaking through the clouds.
No other form of Church will long be tolerated.
Even the unbelieving acknowledge the power
and beauty of the Christian life. Where that
appears it wins. The true Church, the Church
of the Good Samaritan, the Church of the Holy
Cross, the Church of the Holy Ghost, is the
revelation of Jesus Christ in the life of
individuals and of the community. That is
growing, and sometime the body which bears
His name will be what He was on the earth.
It follows from what has been said that there



214 The Growing Revelation of Christ.

is a growing revelation of Christ in the world
and through the world. Not even now do we
understand clearly the glory and loveliness of
our Lord, for His plans are not yet revealed in
life ; but enough of them is visible to enable us
to see that He not only offers a new ideal for man
and society, but that it is a part of His purpose
actually to recreate the whole social world.
Those who have not known Him are able to see
something of what He will sometime appear, in
institutions, in the books they read, in the
changing and improving political and social
conditions, in the more unselfish business
methods, in the fact that the Church is becom-
ing a serving and sacrificial society, and in the
growing and conquering consciousness of
brotherhood. This is not the same world that
it was eighteen centuries ago. The civilisation
of the time of Christ would be intolerable in the
nineteenth century. Cruelties like those in
Armenia are exceptions now ; they were common
then. In every land thousands without thought
of gain are helping to bring in the better order.
Missionaries are going around the world ; hoary
barbarisms are falling, and effete superstitions
giving place to a reasonable religion. It is
now evident that vicarious sacrifice is the
eternal and universal law for God and man.
The desert begins to blossom as the rose.
The people insist that war shall cease. The
interests of one land are becoming the interests



The Growing Revelation of Christ. 215

of every land. The Divine Fatherhood as the
reverse side of Divine Sovereignty, and human
brotherhood as essential to ethical religion, are
preached in the pulpits and published among the
people. Men are seeing God in nature and
history as well as in the Church and the Bible,
and understanding that every act should be
brought to the test of His will. Slowly there
is rising before the vision of those who have
faith a world in which laws, literature, institu-
tions, states, and individuals continue the
service of Christ; a world whose Deity is a
sacrificing God, pleased only with the worship
of pure hearts and the adoration of loving deeds.
The struggle upward is painful and slow ;
animal conditions are not easily sloughed off;
but the beast is yielding to the man, the animal
becoming the slave of the spirit. The development
of humanity is the revelation of Christ. His
teachings are already the inspiration of laws,
the enthusiasm of statesmen, and the passion
of Christians. Theology often still misrepre-
sents Him, for the wisest men are human ;
politics is still often an arena in which men
fight one another ; business has not entirely
passed the brute stage ; and the Church itself is
still hampered by worldly ideals. But into teach-
ing concerning God has come something that
touches the heart of man ; the duty of the
nation to help advance the kingdom is widely
recognised ; the privilege of service in business



216 The Growing Bevelation of Christ.

is eagerly embraced by enough to show that it
is universally possible ; while the Church has
power even with an unbelieving generation
because through it shines at least a little of the
spirit of the loving Christ.

As Jesus came to wisdom and stature along
the slow and hard paths of growth, so He is
coming to His true place in thought and life
along the harder ways of human history. At
first neither His mother, His brethren, nor His
disciples understood Him; but later most
became vital with His spirit. For centuries
theologians confused His teachings with Boman
philosophy, and priests made a tyranny of His
Church ; but in each generation He is better
understood. His revelation in history is like
the progress of the light from a single grey
streak to high noon. Such is the Divine plan.
The world is ordained to be the abode of Christ,
and sometime He will fill and glorify it as an
electric arc glorifies a lantern. Of that there
can be no doubt, because it is right it should be
so, and right must ever win. There need be no
anxiety about the issue of the conflict between
right and wrong. As the sun touches moun-
tains, meadows, waters, and pours its splendour
into valleys and all dark places, so the love of
Christ will humanise systems of thought, trans-
form institutions, drive out selfishness, make
the Church a continual incarnation, and show
history to be the procession of the Holy Ghost.



The Growing Bevelation of Christ. 217

This is the eternal decree. But there is a ques-
tion all should ask, it is this : " What part am I
having in this process ? As the years go by does
the world see more of the Christ in me?"
What more terrible fate can overtake any man
than at the last to look upon the world, its con-
flicts ended, its tumult hushed, its sorrows gone,
its evil conquered, its joy complete, and be
obliged to confess to himself : " Not one tear
have I wiped away ; not one soul has been saved
through any effort of mine ; not one note in all
this music has been added by me."



XIV.
CHRIST AND THE CREEDS.



XIV.

CHEIST AND THE CREEDS.

In the beginning Christianity was one man.
Historically it dates from Jesus of Nazareth.
The Christian Church believes that in a unique
way the Divine life was in that Man. The
Church is a growth and not a mechanism. At
the beginning it had no constitution, no by-
laws, no definite plan of operation, and gave no
indication of future greatness. As in the
natural world a germ develops through varying
cycles of existence, so the spiritual life in Jesus
has grown into humanity until there is to-day
the Church visible and invisible, and until the
kingdom of God seems to be no more a dream.,
but a vivid and ever-extending reality. In a
cathedral the style may be pure Gothic, Per-
pendicular, or Romanesque, and we argue that
one part was erected in one century, and another
in a later century. But it is impossible to
account for the variations in the Church in any
such way. Its spirituality among the Hebrews,
its intellectual and ethical forms among the
Greeks, and its more practical manifestations
among occidental peoples are to be explained by
the adjustment of life to environment. In our



222 Christ and the Creeds.

study of Christ and the Creeds we begin with
the inquiry, Who was Christ ?

The historian sees a Galilean peasant who
died a violent death in the early years of his
manhood. He was a working carpenter. Sud-
denly He emerged from obscurity, and began to
attract others to Himself by personal power and
spiritual teaching concerning profoundest
themes, unexampled for its positiveness, its
spirituality, and its application to the needs of
humanity. Poor, and unappreciated by most,
He moved among the people with a strange
magnetism for the sick and outcast, speaking-
words of superlative wisdom, talking of the
Infinite as of a personal friend, and insisting
that brotherhood was a reality. The Eomans in
Jerusalem hardly noticed His presence, and
ascribed the commotion which He excited to
Jewish bigotry. Thus Jesus lived and died. He
had been out of sight but a little while when
those who before were not able to understand or
appreciate Him, by a strange influence seemed to
realise that He was the fulfilment of the prophe-
cies of their nation. This thought possessed and
inspired them, and they told it to their country-
men. Soon the conviction, which at first had
been confined to Jews, reached other minds,
and those who dwelt on the banks of the
Orontes, in Cyprus, and on the highlands
of Asia, found in the teachings of this
Man a message from the unseen and eternal.



Christ and the Creeds. 223

Wonderful changes in individual character were
wrought ; those who had been provincial became
broad, loving, and filled with a passion to carry
their knowledge to the world. And so, across to
Greece, into the midst of the decaying glories of
Athens and the sensuous splendour of Corinth,
moved men in whom Jesus had aroused a con-
sciousness of kinship with the Divine, and a
faith that all men are brothers. Their numbers
increased, and that which had been spoken in
Syria, Asia, and Greece reached Rome, and by
a process swift and mysterious the faith that
that Carpenter had come to the earth with a
revelation from the spiritual world won cre-
dence, not only among ignorant and outcast, but
also among cultered and powerful. In three
centuries the Empire acknowledged nominal
allegiance to Jesus. From that day His sway
has continued to expand. Those spiritually dead
have been raised by faith in Him, and filled with
a passion to speak of Him to others, going from
land to land, penetrating equatorial forests, and
singing songs to the praise of the Master among
the ice-floes of the North and in the jungles of
the South.

Two or three facts should be noticed in con-
nection with this unique movement. When the
story of Jesus has been told with the most sim-
plicity, and has had its natural results, it has
always worked a change in the direction of
righteousness. This young Galilean drove out



224 Christ and the Creeds.

narrowness, bigotry, dishonesty, impurity, tra-
ditionalism, and brought in reverence for God,
love for man, purity of heart, and holiness of
life. Thus many who reject the churches
acknowledge the mastery of Jesus. Christ and
righteousness are always together, and wherever
He has triumphed, more spiritual individual
life, sweeter home life, and purer public life have
always been found.

Another line of influences are associated with
this Carpenter of Galilee. At first His story
won its way into human hearts, made them
loving, trustful, and reverent ; but, as it came
in contact with philosophy and institutions, as men
attempted to account for His existence and His
teachings, wrangling began, feuds grew up, wild
and terrible wars, and persecutions, fierce and vin-
dictive, seemed to follow in His train. One class
of facts is as evident as the other, and yet the
second is never to be confused with the first.
The diabolism of Constantine, the butcheries of
Torquemada, the bigotry of the Puritans of the
Commonwealth, were not the natural fruits of
the Christ-life; they were rather the dying
paroxysms of old institutions or half -understood
truths. Jesus, apparently, was only a common
man, living a peasant's life, speaking enig-
matic words, a fanatic or a lunatic, who died a
criminal's death, but from Him have gone influ-
ences which have changed history and are
growing more vital after two thousand years.



Christ and the Creeds. 225

The human mind sees facts, and seeks for
their explanation. The way in which men ex-
plain what they see or know is called theory.
The creeds of Christendom are crystallised
theories concerning Christ and the Christian
revelation. It was inevitable that a man who
being dead retained such power, should be the
subject of speculation. This tendency was
manifest while Jesus was alive, for Peter told
Him that men were asking who He was. The
Master, without answering, asked Peter for his
opinion, eliciting the reply, "Thou art the
Christ, the Son of the living God." After His
death there was recognition of the historicity
of Jesus and of the vitality of His words. Men
believed in Him. If they were Jews they would
add, with emphasis which only a Jew could give,
"I believe in Jesus the Christ, the Son of the
living God." If they were Gentiles, without
the Messianic expectation, their creed was
simply belief in Jesus and in His message con-
cerning God and man. Theories in regard to
the new Teacher, and attempts to adjust His
words to current philosophy, quickly multiplied.
The next step was to make acceptance of the
theories as important as recognition of the life.
The Teacher had associated His own name with
the Father and Holy Spirit ; and disciples had
been received into His fellowship by saying
they believed in the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Ghost. It was then asked, How can these

15



226 Christ and the Creeds.

names be classed together without an assertion
of equality and unity ? and then, How can the
Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be different
beings and yet one? Thus almost in a day
speculations pushed themselves into the little
community and usurped the chief place. Em-
phasis had been upon a Person and the sequent
moral life inspired by Him ; but the Person was
soon obscured by clouds of words. Creeds are
formulated theories concerning Divine facts.
They are inevitable and desirable. In the early
time Jesus was the supreme reality, and men
confessed faith in Him ; but with the attempt
to adjust His person and teachings to other facts,
simple confession was exchanged for complicated
formulae of belief. The earliest creeds were
confessions — 'acknowledgments of loyalty to
Christ, and belief in Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit. Then slight additions of theory were
made, as in the Apostles' Creed, which is the
oldest, the most nearly ecumenical and generally
acceptable epitome of Christian faith. It is
purely confessional, the voice of devout spirits,
an outburst of the common Christian experience.
Gladness, hope, victory, thrill through it until
the great and growing music culminates in the
life everlasting. When speculation was fully
started the Apostles' Creed was enlarged, not
only with the acknowledgment of Jesus as the
fountain of spiritual life, but with attempts to
explain God, to show how three personalities



Christ and the Creeds. 227

inhere in the Divine nature, and how the work
of salvation is accomplished. Later the process
was more complicated, and the Nicene Creed
was followed in succession bj those of Chal-
cedon, of Athanasius, and many others. Thus
the early confession of Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit gave place to speculations on the Trinity
and the universe, until at last the Westminster
Confession was fashioned, which, with all its
richness of expression, grandeur of conception,
and terrible horrors may be regarded as the
culmination of an effort to adjust and put into
credal form the contents of the Christian re-
velation. The early creeds were confessional ;
the later, whole bodies of divinity, crystallisa-
tions of what has been thought concerning
infinity and eternity from the foundation of the
world. Only when the confession is crowded
out by the standard, when truth is made of less
importance than theories concerning it, is there
reason for criticism and revolt.

We now face two facts. One man has lived,
and one alone, to whom the words of Kenan may
be appropriately applied. He "remains to
humanity an inexhaustible source of moral
regenerations." Before Him an increasing
majority of the civilised world adoringly
bow; in Him they behold the Divine life
manifesting itself in and through humanity.
Concerning this Man there have been many
speculations, and we now ask, What is their



228 Christ and the Creeds.

significance, and what should be our attitude
toward them ?

The first question can be answered by a brief
examination of a few of the Christian creeds.
For this purpose we have selected the Apostles'
Creed, the Mcene, that of Chalcedon, the West-
minster Confession, the Thirty-nine Articles of
the Church of England, and the Creed issued
by the National Council of Congregational
Churches of the United States in 1883. Leaving
other inquiries, we come to the documents them-
selves, and ask, What place has Christ in them?

The Apostles' Creed summarises the early
history of Jesus Christ as narrated in the
Christian Scriptures. It neither tries to
harmonise nor explain any statements of the
New Testament, and contains no theories. Its
language is almost entirely Scriptural. It
possesses elements of endurance in its simplicity
and rhythmic quality. It may be spoken or
sung, easily adjusts itself to liturgies, and
belongs to the whole Church of Christ.

The Nicene Creed, like the Apostles', is
grouped around the baptismal confession, but
is more complex and philosophical, while it has
the same rhythmic form, and fits itself easily to
a simple or elaborate ritual. It seems to belong*
to a later century than the fourth, because it is
so rich in its liturgical quality. In it the
tendency to speculate is clearly manifest. The
facts are narrated, but each is loaded with a



Christ and the Creeds. 229

burden of philosophy. " Jesus Christ. . . .
begotten of the Father before all worlds (God of
God), Light of Light, very God of very God,
begotten not made, being of one substance with
the Father." The remainder of the article on
the person of Christ is a narration of facts, like
the Apostles' Creed, and needs no attention. In
the Nicene Creed we are introduced to inferences
from Scripture : Christ was begotten before all
worlds ; He is very God of very God ; He is
begotten not made ; He is of one substance with
the Father. The Apostles' Creed makes no
mention of the Deity of Christ ; the Nicene
puts it in the forefront, and the Nicene
theology and phraseology have influenced the
thinking of the Church until our time. The
value of such articles of faith depends on what
use is to be made of them. For purposes of


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