Charles Chapman Grafton.

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are not to let our appetites run riot, God gave them
and takes delight in their right exercise. God desires
His children to be happy, and religion comes to bless
and sanctify every enjoyment. To the true child of
God all nature speaks of Him. Home is a different
thing to him. Wife and children are better loved.
Friendships are stronger and more unselfish. Re-
ligion fills him with joy, and its joy is renewed day by
day. It is like the fabled music that issued from
Memnon's Tower, that day by day welcomed the
coming dawn. It reveals to man a heavenly Father
whose delight is to be with the children of men.


THE revelation of Himself which God primarily
makes in nature and man, He has given more
fully to the race through philosophers, poets, seers,
in all lands and times, unfolding more and more His
divine purpose, man's destiny and His Love. Soaring
above their fellows like great mountain tops, these
chiefs among men first caught the rays of the coming

It has been a gradual and progressive revelation
adapted to the races' childhood, maturity, needs.
God gave to different nations their separate work in
the progress of humanity. He overruled their an-
tagonisms and their successions in power. He gave
to each a special mission. He made Israel the world's
religious lighthouse. He made the Hebrew prophets
the organs of the revelation of His Oneness. There
were not, as pagans held, gods of the rivers and of the
mountains and of the plains. The Olympian deities
of man's creation had no existence. " The Lord thy
God is one God." This was Israel's message. It was
something more. The childish idea of God is a God
of power, a God Almighty. In apprehension the
quantitative precedes the qualitative. The earlier
man-created deities were thus gods of force. They
hurled vast mountains together, forged fated armor,


ruled the bellowing clouds, and on bent shoulders
upheld the world. But Israel's God was not only the
Almighty One. He was the God of Truth and
Righteousness. The Indian Law of Karma, the Greek
Nemesis, issued from His judgment seat. He pun-
ished the guilty. He watched over the oppressed.
But He ordereth all to ends beyond any individual's
rights or needs, for He was for all and over all. He
was the God for all time and of all people. The mark
of limitation, showing its transitory character, rested
on all pagan worship. It was so bound up with cer-
tain nationalities that it could never have a universal
application. But the revelation of Israel not only
declared the Oneness of God but foretold its own
development. It enshrined the great prophecy of a
Teacher to whom all nations would come. A light
was to break forth as the sun from the clouds and
illumine the world. With man's advancing prepara-
tion, the daylight gradually increased, and at last that
fuller light came in the person of Jesus Christ

Before, however, considering Him we must recog-
nize the fact that religion, being an element of our
nature, presents itself in several forms besides that of

We can but pause here to remark how its revelation
of God, man's destiny, and the aids it brings, denotes
its superiority. It has elevated and enriched man-
kind more than any other religion. It has been an
invigorating force in man's progressive elevation.
Under its benign influence slavery has been abolished,
the horrors of war have been mitigated, woman has
risen in position and dignified companionship. Multi-


form philanthropies have extended their alleviating
blessings into every byway of human misery. It has
enriched man's intellect and been the mother of art.
It has left an ennobling impress on. the character of
every Christian nation in Europe. It has tended to
the unity of the human family, and made man more
considerate of the rights of his brother man. In its
principles are to be found the only solution for the de-
structive contests between labor and capital. Christ
was not, as some modern socialists have declared, a
failure. He was not a mere ideal philanthropist
preaching an impractical religion. He set in motion
an agency for the benefit of mankind which has
achieved a permanent success, and is extending itself
with a self-productive energy. He has revealed and
made possible an elevation of man in a final union
with God beyond aught that any other religion has
conceived. Christianity offers an end to man, beyond
that of any scheme of human progress, an end worthy
of God and most ennobling to man.

It presents us with the noblest conception of God,
as not only an Almighty and Omnipresent Being,
but as Wisdom, Goodness, Love, Beauty itself. It
represents Him not as a merely ever-existing Ancient
of Days, but as Eternal Youth. It condemns Him
not to the misery of an eternal solitude, but reveals
Him as having, in the self-consciousness of each of His
necessary eternal activities, of Being, Knowing, Lov-
ing, a triple personality, so that He has ever an
adequate object and return to His own Infinite Love.
It solves best the purpose of creation by the revela-
tion of its destined progress to the evolution of a new


heaven and earth from which all evil and sin shall be
forever banished. It explains best the permission of
temptation with its consequent evils in this preparatory
stage, as necessary to the development of the charac-
ter of a nature endowed with free will. It offers the
highest conceivable end to man in the attainment of
such a further union with God, as, without destroying
his personality, will secure him in permanent right-
eousness and consequently everlasting bliss. It comes
to him with a free offer of pardon for all his errors
and sins, a blotting out of the guilty past, an elevation
and transformation of his nature, fitting it for eternal
glory. It sets all this before him, in and through
union with Christ.

And so we come to a question it behooves us to
seriously consider. It was a question once put by
the great Master Himself. " What think ye of Christ? "
If you think at all favorably about Christianity, what
do you think of its Founder? Nothing is more
certain than that Jesus Christ lived in Palestine and
was publicly put to death there by the Roman gov-
ernor. It is as certain as the life and death of any
recorded in history, as that of Socrates or Julius
Caesar or Abraham Lincoln. " Not to be interested
in the life of Jesus Christ is to be," said Liddon, " I
do not say irreligious, but unintelligent. It is to be
insensible to the nature and claim of the most power-
ful force that has ever moulded the thought and
swayed the destinies of civilized man." Listening,
at St. Helena, to the bells that called to church
attendance on Sunday, Napoleon said he recognized
in Christ a power greater than he or any of the


world's conquerors possessed. A modern French
orator, speaking of the motive forces of late centuries,
how liberty had been the watchword of the eigh-
teenth century and progress that of the nineteenth,
exclaimed, " But, gentlemen, Jesus Christ is Progress."
By the acclaim which all nations have accorded Him,
He stands as a Religious Teacher, matchless and
supreme. If we accept this in any fair degree, we
may well ask ourselves, what has given Him this
pre-eminence, and what are His credentials for it?

The first characteristic concerning Him, and that
differentiates Him from all other of the world's
renowned religious teachers, is that He came as the
fulfilment of prophecy. In this He is unique.
Modern critical research may show us how the Bible
grew into its present shape. It may show us how
many were its writers or redactors. How, as it inti-
mates, in its composition they used ancient myths and
legends. How they made selections from various
sources. How they rewrote history. The Bible
ends in a revelation of the wonderful mystery of
Grace and Glory, just as it begins with an inspired
allegory which sets forth the mystery of Creation,
But all the way through there is from the beginning
to the end of the Old Testament the promise of a
Messiah who shall enlighten and redeem Mankind.

In the light of that wonderful revelation wherein
we first learn of man's relation to His Maker and the
dire results of separating himself from God, we read
also of man's promised Deliverer. One would come
who should " bruise the serpent's head." God put
man outside of the garden where he had access to


the Tree of Life, to teach him that sin separates from
God. Separation indeed from God's power man
cannot accomplish, for that were to annihilate himself;
and annihilation would be an act of omnipotence
equal to creation itself. Man can, however, separate
himself from the Grace of God, and to do this is to
bring upon himself spiritual death. Of this God lov-
ingly forewarned him. " In the day thou eatest thereof
thou shalt surely die." Given the possibility, to pass
after trial into a state of secured sinlessness and so
bliss, man lost the special grace by which alone that
supernatural end could be secured. This grace being
a superadded gift to his nature, when forfeited, man
could not regain the prize he had lost. A super-
natural end cannot be attained by natural effort.
The flaming Cherubim of Righteousness and Justice
stood guard over the sacred way. But a Deliverer
coming for man and as man, could retrieve man's
defeat, and for human nature, win its re-entrance into
paradise and its renewed union with God.

" O loving wisdom of our God !

When all was sin and shame
A second Adam to the fight

And to the rescue came.
O Wisest love ! that flesh and blood

Which did in Adam fail
Should strive afresh against the foe,

Should strive and should prevail."

The promise that a Deliverer should come is next
narrowed by promise that he shall be of a particular
race. He shall be of the seed of Abraham. " In thy
seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed."


This S. Peter quoted on the day of Pentecost as
applicable to Christ, whom S. Matthew tells us was
descended from Abraham. The same promise was
renewed to Jacob, who by like authority is recorded
as the ancestor of Christ. Subsequently it was fur-
ther narrowed to a tribe. He was to come of the
tribe of Judah. Then as God in guarded wisdom
revealed His purpose, a special family was designated.
The Messiah was to be a rod out of the stem of Jesse.
The Lord also declared to David that He would
" establish his throne for ever " ; and this promise the
Angel Gabriel quoted to the Blessed Virgin concern-
ing her offspring, saying, " The Lord God shall give
unto Him the Throne of His father David : and of
His Kingdom there shall be no end."

His threefold offices also were prophetically set
forth; slowly God drew the .portrait of the coming
One. He was to be a prophet like unto Moses, the
great leader of Israel out of bondage : " The Lord thy
God will raise up unto thee a prophet like unto me,
unto whom ye shall hearken." Of this special prophet,
unlike all others and for whom the nation looked, the
Pharisees made inquiry of John Baptist, " Was he that
prophet?" To this promise S. Peter and S. Ste-
phen both appealed, and claimed that Jesus was that
prophet that should come into the world. He was no
mere teacher revealing truths, but a mighty leader
like unto Moses. So He came to the Jewish sheep-
fold and led His people out from Judaism into the
broader Christian pastures and the brighter day.

It was also prophesied that the Great Deliverer
should wear the vestment and character of a priest.


He should be a high priest for ever after the order of
Melchisedek. The order of Melchisedek was a priest-
hood unlike that of Aaron, in that it had an assigned
supernatural descent. The person of Melchisedek ap-
pears as a mysterious figure upon the stage of history.
He was as if a supernatural being without father,
without mother. The writer of Genesis omits, perhaps
by ignorance or forgetfulness, his genealogy. It is an
interesting and instructive instance of how God makes
use even of the ignorance and imperfection of His
creatures to declare His message. The omission
was an inspired mistake. Thereby was set forth the
eternal character of Christ's priesthood. He was to
come not only after the order of Aaron and offer a
bloody sacrifice, but like Melchisedek to bring forth an
offering of Bread and Wine. In the upper chamber
Christ fulfilled this type. On the Cross and at the
Institution we recognize Christ as our High Priest.

He was also to be a King. The Jewish heart beat
wild with delight as they dwelt on this element of the
promised Deliverer. He was to occupy the throne
of His father David, and of His kingdom there was to
be no end. The Kingdom He founded was indeed
unlike the worldly one they expected ; nevertheless it
was a Kingdom. It was so heralded, and the gospel
He preached was " the gospel of the Kingdom."
Asked by Pilate if He was a King, He declared He
was, Thou sayest, that I am, a King.

He was to be certified to the world by a special
herald. A special messenger, a second Elijah, was to
precede Him. " I will send my messenger and he
shall prepare the way before me." " I will send you


Elijah the prophet before the day of the Lord."
Speaking of John Baptist, Christ said this is Elias
which was for to come. Moreover, the place was
designated where he was to be born. He was to
be born in Bethlehem of Judea. To this the priests
and scribes bear witness, quoting the prophecy, " and
thou, Bethlehem," etc. He was to come, so Isaiah
foretold, preaching good tidings, healing the broken-
hearted, bringing deliverance to captives, recovering
of sight to the blind. This He claimed to have done,
and to it every account of His life bears witness.
His manner and His method were preannounced and
so also was His rejection. The incidents of the final
tragedy are by different prophets most minutely fore-
told. We could gather its history from the prophets
alone. They give a connected story from His entry
into Jerusalem, " Behold thy King cometh unto thee,"
to the " My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken
me?" He will be betrayed by a friend and for thirty
pieces of silver, and abandoned by His disciples.
" Smite the shepherd and the sheep shall be scat-
tered." He is to be treated as a criminal, " numbered
with the transgressors," and He is to be despised and
rejected of men. False witnesses are to rise up against
Him and He is to be oppressed and afflicted, yet
openeth not His mouth. He will be grievously in-
sulted and scourged. He will hide not His face from
shame and spitting, and He will give His back to the
smiters. He shall be put to a most cruel death of
crucifixion. "They pierced my hands and my feet,"
and "They shall look on Him whom they have
pierced." The scene on Calvary is minutely de-


scribed. " They part my garments among them and
cast lots upon my vesture." " They shall stand
jeering upon me." " They gave me gall to eat, and
when I was thirsty they gave me vinegar to drink."
These and other details are given by the prophets.
Daniel declares that the expected " Monarch shall be
cast off." Isaiah sees Him as One who was wounded
for our transgressions. " He was bruised for our in-
iquities. He was oppressed and afflicted. He was
cast off out of the land of the living, and He made
His grave with the wicked and with the rich in His

Nor by these alone, but by a series of connected
types, and by the whole Jewish ceremonial law, its
worship and sacrifices, was the coming Deliverer and
His offices and work proclaimed. We may not ac-
cept the application of all these many and sometimes
mystical references to Christ, but a Mind other than
the writer's evidently moved them, age after age, to
depict with increasing particularity the Person of
Christ, His advent, character, life, and death. The
critical spirit of our day in its rigid demand for
proof rejects the spiritual exegetical methods of the
fathers. But enough and more than enough remains,
in a broad view of Jewish history, to justify the
contention, that Israel looked forward to a great
Deliverer. He was to be anointed from on high,
and God's purpose to bless mankind through Israel
was to find its fulfilment through Him. Any reason-
able view of the life of our Lord so conforms to these
multiform predictions as to show that Christ was He.

And not alone did Hebrew pjophets proclaim His


advent, but aided by that divine light that lighteth
every man that cometh into the world, heathen poets
and philosophers saw, in their better moments of
inspiration and through their tears over the falling
fortunes of mankind, the coming of One who should
restore its lost nobility and usher in a brighter day.
So through the haze of hopes and fears Plato and
Virgil and others, kindling with aspirations for hu-
manity's betterment, discerned a shadowy outline of
a Heaven-sent Ideal and to the pagan world foretold
of Christ. Ancient prophecy thus becomes focussed
on Him. As has been well said, " Prophecy takes off
its crown and lays it at the feet of One who is to be."
Thus Christ stands out on the luminous background
of prophecy, peerless and supreme, among the
world's religious teachers. He alone comes authen-
ticated by the cumulative evidence of a series of
converging lines of prophecy. It is then a fair and
reasonable conclusion, believing that there is a God,
that Christ is a Teacher sent by Him. Not merely
like those not so authenticated, but with the tran-
scendant authority of One, specially certificated to be
the Prophet and Light of the world.

Is it then wise, O man, not to think of the future,
and to grope thy way alone? Sphinx-like thy destiny
confronts thee and by natural powers thou canst not
solve the riddle. Does the idea of the unknowable
rise up like an adamantine barrier and baffle thee?
It may appal but need not lead thee to sit down
in contented unbelief. In philosophy and religion
truths polarize. There are truths and counter-truths.
Wisdom lays hold of each. Man can apprehend what


he cannot wholly comprehend. To his aid God has,
we have seen, sent a Teacher. All sensible persons
accept gladly the assistance of those wiser than them-
selves. In religious matters, the intellectual more
than others, need it. It is spiritual suicide to reject
the Great Teacher's help. Shall we be like logs
drifting on the stream of life ignorant of our origin,
careless of our destiny? When a light is seen shining
out on the waters, is it the dictate of prudence or
common sense for the shipwrecked to ignore it?
Shall we be like the fools who say, "if God made
me, He will take care of me," when we neglect the
means which His care and Love has provided? How
long shall we persist in saying we cannot believe
when we really do not want to, and do not try?

Belief lies largely in the power of our predispositions
and our will. If we are willing to believe, God will
give the light. It is as clear as the shining of the
sun that Christ is the most truth-unfolding teacher
the world has ever known. If we do not mean to
throw our souls hopelessly away, if we have gotten
any control over our brutish passions, if there is any
spark of unworldly and divine aspiration in us, if we
have any conception of our eternal and royal destiny,
we shall willingly accept from the Great Teacher the
help He proffers. We shall let His words be a light
to our path, and His Spirit direct our conduct. Un-
like all other Teachers He extends His aid most
generously. Why refuse it? Why stand apart in the
vanity of our self-conceit, criticising and accepting
and rejecting this or that portion of His teaching?
Why not be a real and loyal disciple, humbly sitting


at His Feet as learners? If He is a Teacher sent
from our Heavenly Father, why not trust Him as a
child trusts the wider wisdom of his parents? If we
do this He will be then our Companion, a Friend, a
more than Lover. He will be to thee a shield and
castle and a sure defence. He will be thy comfort in
life, thy support in death, thy reward in Eternity.


THAT Christ was a teacher divinely sent is thus
stated in the Acts : " God anointed Jesus of
Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power, Who
went about doing good, and healing all that were
oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him."
And in the midst of the present tumult and strife of
tongues, the cry is not unfrequently heard, " Let us
get back to Christ. What we men of the twentieth
century want is, not the Christ overladen with dogmas,
not the Christ of the churches; we want the real
Christ, Christ with His own rich purposes for mankind,
with His own inner life, the Christ who having known
our nature in all the range of trial and temptation can
sympathize with it. Give back to us, O theologians,
the Christ you have seemingly taken away; the
Christ indomitable in His courage before the Ro-
man governor and Jewish high priest, Who could
for others' sake suffer poverty and wretchedness and
die on the cross, yet Who loved the flowers and birds
and little children."

The writer is very far from being able to set forth
that life. He has a feeling that it is a subject the
contemplation of an eternity cannot exhaust. He is
neither worthy nor able to enter into so holy a sanc-
tuary. He would put his shoes from off his feet, and


bow his head to the dust, before the glory of this
burning mystery. But as God ofttimes uses the weak
things of earth, so it may please Him to let these
words be of service.

What has been commonly observed respecting
Christ is His freedom from the prejudices of His race
and time. On all of the world's great heroes we see
more or less distinctly traced their national predilec-
tions and those of their age. No child of man is inde-
pendent of or superior to his environment. The age
out of which a man is born is the mother of his mind,
and she impresses her features more or less distinctly
on the features of her child. The greatest of the
world's conquerors are themselves conquered. The
Caesar is ever the great Roman conqueror ; the reform-
ing Mahomet remains the uncultured Arab. With
philosophers or poets, statesmen or seers, it is the
same. But of Christ it has been said, " No Jewish
sect could claim Him as its adherent; no Jewish
teacher has left on Him a narrowing impress. No
popular errors among the people received any sanc-
tion at His hands. He will not hear of their su-
perstition about Sabbath observance. He will not
sanction their intolerance of the Samaritans." Here
is one, born amongst the most prejudiced and bigoted
of people, with prejudices so bitter and deep that
nineteen centuries of oppression have not effaced
them, Who rose superior to them all, Who came and
announced a religion, which set at naught all the
intense convictions of the Jewish heart, Who taught
a doctrine that swept away all the barriers between
Jew and Gentile, Who declared the Fatherhood of


God over all the race and the universality of His
religion. He, in a word, proclaimed a religion such
as had never entered into the mind of Hebrew prophet
or Greek philosopher to conceive or dream.

You are ready, in the presence of this great marvel,
to say that Christ was the greatest of all religious
teachers, that He was the greatest of men. But do
we not fall into a logical fallacy in saying this? For
the question is whether He was merely a man or no.
If He was merely man, why had He not some of those
prejudices of age or race, that no other known man
has been without? The most logical inference is
that this Teacher is in some way different from the
children of men. We cannot put ourselves into His
category. He stands apart from our own. He is

Gazing also at the beauty and harmony of His
character we see why by almost universal acclaim He
is recognized as the Ideal Man. " It is impossible,"
said Liddon, " to maintain with any show of reason
that some one particular temperament shapes His
acts and words, that He is cynical, or choleric, or
melancholy, or phlegmatic." He is not a sanguine
person, who, carried away with His own enthusiasm,
sees only a bright future to His enterprise. He calmly
foretells His own crucifixion, the martyrdom of His

Online LibraryCharles Chapman GraftonThe works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 1) → online text (page 3 of 25)