Gloria Crucis - addresses delivered in Lichfield Cathedral Holy Week and Good Friday, 1907
by J. H. Beibitz
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Transcribed from the 1908 Longmans, Green, and Co. edition by David Price, email





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These addresses, delivered in Lichfield Cathedral {0} in Holy Week, 1907, are published at the request of some who heard them. It has only been possible to endeavour to reproduce them in substance.

The writer desires to express his obligations to various works from which he has derived much assistance, such as, above all, Du Bose's Gospel in the Gospels, Askwith's Conception of Christian Holiness, Tennant's Origin of Sin, and Jevons' Introduction to the History of Religion.

To the first and the last of these he is especially indebted in regard to the view here taken of the Atonement.

It seems to him that no view of that great and central truth can possibly be true, which (i) represents it as the result of a transaction between the Father and the Son, which is ditheism pure and simple; or which (ii) regards it as intended to relieve us of the penalty of our sins, instead of having as its one motive, meaning, and purpose the "cure of sinning."

So far as we can see, the results of sin, seen and unseen, in this world and beyond it, must follow naturally and necessarily from that constitution of the universe (including human nature) which is the expression of the Divine Mind. If this is true, and if that Mind is the Mind of Him Who is Love, then all punishment must be remedial, must have, for its object and intention at least, the conversion of the sinner. And, therefore, the desire to escape from punishment, if natural and instinctive, is also non-moral, for it is the desire to shirk God's remedy for sin, and doomed never to realise its hope, for it is the desire to reverse the laws of that Infinite Holiness and Love which governs the world.

Yet this must be understood with one all-important reservation. For the worst punishment of sin, is sin itself, the alienation of the soul from God, with its consequent weakening of the will, dulling of the reason, and corrupting of the affections. And it was from this punishment, from this "hardest hell," which is sin, or the character spoiled and ruined by sin, that Christ died to deliver us.

It follows that it is high time to dismiss all those theories of the Atonement which ultimately trace their origin to the enduring influence of Roman law. There is no remission of penalty offered to us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The offer which is there held out to us, is that which answers to our deepest need, to the inmost longings of the human soul, "the remission of our sins."

The idea of a penalty owing to the "justice" of God is a thoroughly legalistic one, the offspring of an age which thought in terms of law. It deals throughout with abstractions. The very word "justice" is a general notion, a concept, the work of the mind abstracting from particulars. Justice and mercy are used like counters in some theological game at which we are invited to play. "Penalty," again, is a term which serves to obscure the one important fact that God, as a Moral Person or, rather, as the One Self-Existent Being, of Whose nature and essence morality is the expression, can only have one motive in dealing with sinners, and that is, to reconcile them to Himself, to restore them to that true ideal of their nature, which is the Image of Himself in the heart of every man. Who can measure the pain and anguish which that restoration must cost, to the sinner himself, and (such is the wonderful teaching of the Cross) to God, the All-Holy One, Who comes into a world of sin in order to restore him?

There is no room here, at all events, for light and trivial thoughts of sin. That charge might be levelled, with more excuse, at the view that sin only incurs an external penalty, from which we can be cheaply delivered by the sufferings of another.

And theories of the Atonement which centre in the conception of penalty are often only modifications of the crude and glaring injustice of the Calvinistic view. The doctrine of a kind of bargain between the Father and the Son, while it revolts our moral instincts, at the same time logically leads to the purely heathen notion of two gods.

There are two main principles which are essential to a right understanding of the Atonement: (1) The oneness of Christ both with God and with humanity. In regard to neither is He, nor can He be, "Another"; (2) the death of Christ was the representation in space and time of a moral fact. It happened as an "event" in history, in order that that moral fact, of which it was the embodiment and symbol, might become a fact in the spiritual experience of mankind. That death was more than a symbol, because it was the actual means by which that which it represented might be, and has been, in the lives of all Christians accomplished. These two principles the writer has, with whatever degree of failure or inadequacy, endeavoured to embody in the following addresses.

And yet the Atonement, which is, in the broadest aspect of it, Christianity itself, is a fact infinitely greater and higher than any mere theories of it. For it is nothing less than this, the personal action of the living Christ on the living souls of men. That his readers and himself may experience this action in ever-increasing measure is the prayer of him who, as he fears, too greatly daring, has endeavoured to set forth, yet once more, "The Glory of the Cross."



"God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."—GAL. VI. 14.

There are at least two reasons, unconnected with Holy Week, why the subject of the Cross of Christ should occupy our attention.

1. The first reason is, that the Cross is commonly recognised as the weak point in our Christianity. It is the object of constant attack on the part of its assailants: and believers are content too often to accept it "on faith," which means that they despair of giving a rational explanation of it. Too often, indeed, Christians have proclaimed and have gloried in its supposed irrationality. To this latter point we shall return. But in the meanwhile it is necessary to say this: all language of harshness towards those who attack the doctrine of the Atonement is completely out of place. For the justification of their attacks has very often come from the Christian side. In former times, far more commonly than now, the sacrifice of Christ has been represented as a substitutory offering, necessary to appease the wrath of an offended God. It used to be said, and in some quarters it is said to-day, that the sins of the human race had so provoked the Divine anger that it could be appeased by nothing short of the destruction of mankind. In these dire straits of mankind, the Sinless Son of God presented Himself as the object on which the full vials of the Father's wrath should be outpoured. God having been thus placated, and His wrath satisfied, such as believe in this transaction, and rest themselves in confidence upon it, are enabled in such wise to reap its benefits that they escape the penalty due to their transgression, and are restored to the Divine favour.

Now this is the crudest representation of a certain popular theology of the Atonement. With some of its features softened down, it is by no means without its adherents and exponents at the present day. But when its drift is clearly understood, it is seen to be a doctrine which no educated man of our time can accept. We may consider four fatal objections to it.

(a) It is true that there is such a thing as "the wrath of God." It is not only a fact, but one of the most tremendous facts in the universe. It is a fact as high as the Divine purity, as deep as the malignity and foulness of sin, as broad as all human experience. It is impossible to construct a theistic theory of the world which shall leave it out. The nature of the fact we shall investigate at a later point. But we can say this at once. It cannot be such a fact as is represented by the theory under review. For that represents the wrath of God as a mere thirst for vengeance, a burning desire to inflict punishment, a rage that can only be satisfied by pain, and blood, and death. In other words, we are driven to a conception of God which is profoundly immoral, and revoltingly pagan. If we are rightly interested in missions to the heathen, are there to be no attempts to convert our fellow-Christians whose conception of God scarcely rises above the heathen one of a cruel and sanguinary deity? Not such, at least, is the New Testament doctrine of Him Who is God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(b) There is no moral quality which we esteem higher than justice. Fairness, equity, straight dealing are attributes for which all men entertain a hearty and unfeigned respect. There is no flame of indignation which burns fiercer within us than when we conceive ourselves, or others, to be the victims of injustice. But what are we to say of a view of the Atonement which represents God Himself as being guilty of the most flagrant act of injustice that the mind of man has ever conceived, the infliction of condign punishment upon a perfectly innocent Person, and that for the offences committed by others? It is a further wrong, and that a wrong done to the offenders themselves, that they are, in consideration of the sufferings of the righteous One, relieved of the merited and healthful punishment of ill-doing.

(c) A third defect of this theory of the Atonement is, that it is profoundly unethical. The need of man is represented as being, above all, escape from penalty. Whereas, at least, the conscience of the sinner himself is bearing at all times witness to the truth that his real necessity is escape from his sin, from the weakness and the defilement of his moral nature, which are of the very essence of moral transgression. We are now dealing with the matter from the moral standpoint; but we have to support us the authority of the earliest proclamation of the work of the Christ: "He shall save His people from their sins," not from any pains or penalties attached to their sins. Relief from punishment is not the Gospel of the New Testament, it is not a gospel at all.

(d) Finally, the idea of a transaction between the Father and the Son is clean contrary to the fundamental Christian doctrine of the Unity of God. Once locate justice in the Father, and love in the Son, and view the Atonement as the result of a bargain, or transaction between the Two, and once more we are left with a doctrine not Christian, but heathen and polytheistic. There is unhappily little doubt, that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity suffers, just as that of the Atonement, even more from its defenders than from its assailants. Properly understood, that doctrine is the vindication of the complete fulness of the personal life of the One God. Too often it is so held, and so preached and represented, as in this case, that monotheism is tacitly abandoned in favour of ditheism or tritheism. It needs to be plainly said, that the transaction theory is inconsistent with the trinitarian doctrine. The Three Persons are so called in our Western theology owing to defects inherent in human thought and speech. To set one over against the other as two parties to a contract, is to found a theory upon those very defects. The Miltonic representation of the Father and the Son is Arian; the popular view is, more often than not, a belief either in two gods, or in a logical contradiction.

To sum up, the view of the Atonement with which we have been occupying ourselves, is opposed to the fundamental moral instincts, and to the Christian consciousness, both as it finds expression in the New Testament, and as it reveals itself in the best minds of to-day. And this type of theory, although without some of its coarser features, is by no means extinct. There is all the more need then, in spite of all that has been so well done in this direction, to exhibit the Atonement as the supreme vindication of those instincts which are the witness of the Divine in man. There is laid on all who would preach or teach Christianity to-day to show that Calvinism, and all that is touched with the taint of Calvinism, is not the doctrine of the Atonement which is taught in the Bible or held by the Church. But, as nothing can be built on negations, there is an even greater and more imperative need to exhibit the truth of the Atonement in its beauty and majesty and transcendent moral power.

2. The second of our two reasons for the choice of the Cross of Christ as our subject, is the failure on the part of those who believe in it, trust in it, and even build their lives upon it, to realise the true vastness of its meaning. We are too apt to regard the Cross as one of the doctrines of our religion, or as supplying a motive to penitence, or to Christian conduct. Our view, when we are most in earnest, is one-sided, limited, parochial. We must rise, if we would really understand the Cross, to the height of this conception: that it contains in itself the answer to the problem of human existence, and of our individual lives. The secret of the universe, of our part of it at least, that tiny corner which is occupied by the human race, was revealed in that supreme disclosure of the Divine Mind which was made on Calvary. It was a disclosure necessarily given under the forms of time and space, else it could not have been given to us at all. But it transcends all forms and limitations, and belongs to the spiritual and timeless order, which is also the Real. But it is a disclosure which requires the thought and study, not of one generation only, but of all. It can never be exhausted. There is no view of it (including even that miserable caricature which we have just considered) that is altogether without some elements of truth. There is no view which embodies the whole of the truth. Each generation is meant to read that secret of God, which was uttered to mankind from the Cross of the Christ, a little more clearly than its predecessors. No theology of the Atonement which is not both new and old, can be a true theology. It must be old, because the disclosure was made under the form of historic facts which belong to the past. It must be new, because each age, in the light of the progressive revelation of God, interprets the disclosure under the forms of its own experience, scientific, moral, spiritual, which belongs to the present. "Therefore is every scribe that is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, like unto a householder which bringeth forth out of his treasures things both new and old."

But the present point is, that we should realise the far-reaching significance of the disclosure of God made on and from the Cross. Human history is like a long-drawn-out drama, in which we are actors. How long is that drama, stretching back beyond the long years of recorded history to our dim forefathers, who have left their rude stone implements on the floors of caves or bedded in the river drift, the silent witnesses of a vanished race. And how short is that little scene in which we ourselves appear, while, insignificant as it is, it is yet our all. And we ask, we are impelled to ask, what is the meaning of the whole vast drama? What is the meaning of our own little scene in it? No questions can be compared in interest and importance to these two. And the answer to them both, so we shall try to see, was given once in time from the Cross. That is one of the chief aspects under which we shall regard the Cross of Christ, as the key which unlocks the mystery of human existence, and of my existence. There is no more majestic or pathetic conception than that of the veiled Isis. But the Cross is the removal of the veil, the discovery of the Divine Secret.

* * * * *

Before, however, we proceed to our main subject, it will be well to set first before our minds a few elementary considerations.

The existence of God appears to be necessitated in order to account for two things: (i) the appearance of control in the universe; (ii) the facts of moral consciousness.

(i) It seems impossible to get rid of the ideas of direction and control. If we regard the world as it exists at the present moment, as one stage in an age-long process, then at least [Greek text] the facts which now appear were contained in the earliest stage of all. Man appears with his moral and spiritual nature. Then already the moral and the spiritual were somehow present when the first living cell began its wonderful course. [Greek text]. All movements have converged towards this end, and the co-ordination of movements implies control.

This then is our first reason for our belief in God. We live in a universe which seems throughout to manifest evidence of direction and control.

(ii) But I have much surer and more cogent evidence within myself. Whence comes that ineradicable conviction of the supremacy of righteousness, of the utter loveliness of the good, and utter hatefulness of the evil? I am not concerned with the steps of the process by which the moral sense may have developed. The majesty of goodness, before which I bow, really, sincerely, even when by my acts I give the lie to my own innermost convictions, that is no creation of my consciousness. Nor do I see good reason to believe that it has been an invention of, or growth in, human consciousness during the slow development of past ages. There is something deeper in my moral convictions than an outward sanction wondrously transmuted into an internal one. Moreover, in the best men, those who have really developed that moral faculty which I detect, in beginning and germ, as it were, in myself, I see no abatement in reverence for the ideal. Rather, the better and saintlier that they are, the keener do they feel their fallings off from it. A moral lapse, which would give me hardly a moment's uneasy thought, is capable of causing in them acute and prolonged sorrow. The nearer they draw to the moral ideal, strange paradox, the farther off from them does it ever appear, and they from it. It is an apostle who writes, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief." Nor can I discover any tolerable explanation of all this, except that the guiding and directive power in the world, reveals itself in the moral consciousness of men, and with growing clearness in proportion as that consciousness has been trained and educated, as the moral ideal.

I find myself then, when my eyes are opened to the realities of the world in which I live, confronted with the facts of directive control and of the moral ideal. If I seek for some interpretation and coordination of the facts, I am compelled, judging of them on the analogy of my own experience (which, being the ultimate reality I know, is my only clue to the interpretation of the ultimate reality of the universe) to regard them as the activities of a Person, Whom we call God. Certainly to call the Ultimate Reality a Person, must be an inadequate expression of the truth, for it is the expression of the highest form of being in the terms of the lower. But it is an infinitely more adequate presentation, than to represent that Reality as impersonal. For personality being the highest category of my thought, I am bound to think of God as being Personal, if I would think of Him at all. I can be confident that though my view must fall far short of the truth, it is at least nearer to the truth and heart of things than any other view I can form. It is in fact the truth so far as I can apprehend it: the truth by which I was meant to live, and on which I was made to act.

But the question of questions remains—What is the relation of the Person Whom I call God to my own personal being, to my spirit? And, in answering this question, popular theology makes a grave and disastrous mistake. It regards that Person as being isolated from all other persons, in the same way as each of us is isolated from all other persons. God, that is, is viewed as but One Person among many. Now, without inquiring as to the truth of this conception of personality, as being essentially an exclusive thing, we may at least say this, following the teaching of our best modern thinkers, as they have followed that of St. John and the Greek Fathers, that God is as truly conceived of as being within us, as external to us. His Throne is in the heart of man, as truly as it is at the centre of the universe. No view of God is tenable at the present day which regards Him as outside His own creation. His Personality is not exclusive, but inclusive of all things and all persons, while yet it transcends them. And as He includes us within Himself, as in God "we live and move and have our being," so also He interpenetrates us with His indwelling Presence as the life of our life.

To this point we shall presently return, for it is the keynote of all modern advance in theological knowledge, so far as that is not concerned with questions of literature, history, archaeology, and textual criticism. But we are concerned to notice now, that this recovered truth of the immanence of God in our humanity, affords the full and sufficient explanation of that dark shadow which lies athwart all human lives. That shadow has loomed large in the minds of poets, thinkers, and theologians. The latter know it by the name of sin. But what is sin save the conscious alienation and estrangement of man from the Divine Life which is in him? And if this be true, we can now see clearly why sin, moral transgression, always makes itself felt as a disintegrating force both without and within the individual life. Without, it is for ever separating nation from nation, class from class, man from man. Within, it produces discord and confusion in our nature. And both results follow, because sin is the alienation from the Divine Life, which is both the common element in human nature which binds man to man by the tie of spiritual kinship; and also the central point of the individual life, the hidden and sacred source and fountain of our being, which unites all the faculties and powers of our manhood in one harmonious whole.

Now the Cross of Jesus Christ is the overcoming of this disastrous estrangement and alienation. It is the victory of the Divine life in man. That is the most fruitful way in which we can regard it. The Cross stands for conquest—the triumph of the Divine Life in us over all the forces which are opposed to it. And in this lies the glory of the Cross; that which made the symbol of the most degrading form of punishment—that punishment which to the Jewish mind made him who suffered under it the "accursed of God," and which to the Roman was the ignominious penalty which the law inflicted on the slave—the subject of boasting to that apostle who was both, to the very heart of him, a Jew and also a citizen of the empire.

The object of these lectures is to show how this is indeed the meaning of the Cross. There, in Him Who was the Son of man, the Representative and the Ideal of the race, the Divine Life triumphed, in order that in us, who are not separate from, but one with Him, it may win the like victory.

We fight against sin, and again and again succumb in the struggle. But as often as with the opened eye of the soul we turn to the Cross of Jesus, we behold there the victory, our victory, already won. Already, indeed, it is ours, by the communication to us of the Spirit of Him Who triumphed on the Cross. It only remains for us, by the deliberate act of our whole personal being, our will, our reason, our affections, to appropriate and make our own the deathless conquest won in and for our humanity on the Cross.


"Him, being by the determined will and foreknowledge of God given up, through the hand of lawless men, ye affixed to a cross and slew."—ACTS II. 23.

St. Paul places this in the very forefront of that gospel which, as it had been delivered to him, so he in his turn had delivered to the Corinthians, that "Christ died for our sins." Neglecting all, deeper interpretations of this, it is at least clear that in the apostle's mind there was the closest and most intimate connexion between the death of Christ and the fact of human sin.

Now it is important to remember that that connexion was, in the first place, an historical one.

Christianity is a religion founded upon facts. In this is seen at once a sharp distinction between our religion and that which claims the allegiance of so many millions of our race—the religion, or better, perhaps, the philosophy of the Buddha. Certainly there is such a thing as a Christian philosophy. For we cannot handle facts without at the same time seeking for some rational explanation of them. The plain man becomes a philosopher against his will. In its origin our Christian theology is no artificial, manufactured product. It is rather an inevitable, natural growth. Neither the minds of the earliest Christian thinkers, nor our own minds, are just sheets of blank paper on which facts may impress themselves. Scientists, some of them at least, while repudiating philosophy put forth metaphysical theories of the universe. Theology is simply the necessary result of human minds turned to the consideration of the Christian facts. But it makes all the difference which end you start from, the facts or the theory: whether your method is a posteriori or a priori; inductive or deductive; scientific or obscurantist. And Christianity follows the scientific method of starting with the facts. In this lies the justification of its claim to be a religion at once universal and life-giving. It is universal because facts are the common property of all, although the interpretation placed on those facts by individuals may be more or less adequate. It is life- giving, because men live by facts, not by theories about them; by the assimilation of food, not by the knowledge how food nourishes our bodies.

Following, then, the Christian, which is also the scientific method, we now set out in search of the facts, the historical causes which brought about the death of Christ.

Now these causes appear to have been, mainly, these three: prejudice, a dead religion, and the love of gain and political ambition.

1. Prejudice may, perhaps, be best defined as the resolution to hold fast to our belief, just because it is our belief; to adhere to an opinion, and close our eyes to all that has been said on the opposite side. Now nowhere and at no time has prejudice exerted a more absolute dominion over the minds of men, than it did in Judaea in the first century of our era. The people had inherited a traditional conception of the Messiah, from which they could not imagine any deviation possible. He was the Deliverer and the Restorer predestined of God. He would throw off the hated foreign yoke, and make the people of God supreme over all the nations of the earth. It was for a long time doubtful whether Jesus of Nazareth intended to claim the position, and to enact the part of the Messiah. "How long keepest thou our soul in suspense?" was the question put to Him as late as the Feast of Dedication, 28 A.D., the year before He suffered. But, finally, the people found themselves confronted with a type of Messiah differing toto caelo from the accepted traditional type. The kingdom of God, which meant the Divine rule over the souls of men, was at least not such a kingdom as they were looking for, as they had been taught to expect. There is a long history in the gospels of the gradual rise of a popular hope, more than once seeming to have attained its eagerly longed-for goal; but at last doomed, and conscious that it was doomed, to bitter and final disappointment. And it turned to hatred of Him Who had aroused it from a long and fitful sleep of centuries. "Crucify Him" was now their cry. Jesus was put to death on the legal charge of being "Christ, a King," a provincial rebel. He really died because He was not "Christ, a King," in such sense as He had been expected to be. Thus the first historical cause of the death of our Lord was prejudice, inveterate and ingrained, in the minds of the people.

2. The second historical cause of the death of our Lord was the existence in His day and place of a dead religion. This is, when we consider the meaning of the phrase, the strangest of paradoxes, the existence in fact of a logical contradiction. For religion is in its essential nature a living thing, for the very reason that it is part of the experience of a living person. As experience is not merely alive, but the sum of all our vital powers, it is ever growing, both in breadth and in intensity. So far then as we are in any true sense religious men, our religion, as part and parcel of our experience, must be alive with an intense and vigorous activity, growing in the direction in which our experience grows. Hence a dead religion is a logical contradiction, as we have said. But, as truth is stranger than fiction, so life contains anomalies and monstrosities which simply set logic at defiance. A dead religion is indeed a monstrum, something portentous, which refuses to be reconciled with any canons of rationality. But it exists—that is the astonishing fact about it; and it found its almost perfect expression and embodiment in the normal and average Pharisee of our Lord's time. There are three characteristic features about a dead religion, and all of them receive a perfect illustration in the well-known picture in the gospels of Pharisaic religion.

(a) It tends less and less to rest on experience, and more and more to repose upon tradition. It is academic, a thing on which scribes may lecture, while the voice of the scholastic pedant with blatant repetitions overpowers the living, authoritative voice within the soul. "They marvelled, because He taught with authority, and not as the scribes. A fresh (not new) teaching, with authority!"

(b) It removes the living God to an infinite distance from human life. Religion is a matter of rules, of minute obedience to a code of morals and of ceremonial imposed from without, not of a fellowship of the human with the Divine. In fact, God is banished to a point on the far circumference, and the centre is occupied by the Law. He is retained in order to give authority to that Law, as the source of sanctions in the way of rewards and punishments. In short, the idea of the living God degenerates into the necessary convention of an ecclesiastical tradition.

(c) Closely connected with this second feature is the third characteristic of a dead religion—its inhumanity. When men substitute obedience to a code for service of the living God, it is no wonder that the truth—the central truth of religion—fades rapidly from their minds, that the service of God is identical with the highest service rendered to our fellow-men. "This commandment have we from Him, that he who loveth God, love his brother also." This explains why the Pharisee held aloof from the outcast and the sinner. They might be left to perish—it mattered not to him.

Now, all through the Gospel history our Lord appears as standing in absolute and sternest opposition to the dead religion of the Pharisees. He could make no manner of terms with it. He acted against it. He denounced it at every point. He rebuked them for "making the commandment of God of none effect" by that tradition which they loved so dearly. He brought the idea of a living God into closest touch with the actual lives of men. He deliberately consorted with publicans and sinners. And, finally, He condemned, in set discourse, the whole system, traditional, Godless, inhuman, with scathing emphasis. Christ died, not only because His words and acts ran counter to the prejudice of the people, but because He spoke and acted in opposition to the dead religion of the Pharisees.

3. The third historical cause of the death of Christ was the love of gain and the political ambition of the Sadducees. Their hatred, indeed, would have been powerless if our Lord had not already provoked the enmity of the people and of the Pharisees; but that enmity, in turn, without the unscrupulous intrigues of the Sadducees, a small but most influential section, would never have proceeded to its fatal and murderous issue. The Pharisees gave up the conflict in despair: "Perceive ye that ye prevail nothing? Behold, the whole world is gone after Him." It was the Sadducean High Priest who gave the counsel of death. "It is expedient that one man should die for the people."

We must remember that the Sadducees represented the aristocracy of Judaea, and that, as resulted necessarily from the nature and constitution of the Jewish state, was an ecclesiastical aristocracy, an hierarchy. They are the party denoted several times in the New Testament by the term "the High Priests." The nearest analogy to their position is supplied by the political popes and bishops of the Middle Ages. Their interests were political rather than spiritual. A considerable amount of independence had been left to the Jews in their own land. The Sanhedrin, the native court, exercised still very considerable power. And the Sadducean minority possessed a predominating influence in its consultations. What political power could be wielded in a subject state of the Empire was in their hands. Incidentally, a large and flourishing business was conducted under their control and management in the very Temple Courts, in "the booths of the sons of Hanan." Our Lord struck a blow at their financial interests when He drove out these traders in sacrificial victims and other requisites. But, much more, and this was the head and front of His offence, by His influence with certain classes of the people, and by the danger thus presented of a popular movement which might arouse the suspicion of the imperial authorities, and lead to very decisive action on their part, He threatened the political position of the Sadducean aristocracy. So with complete absence of scruples, but with great political sagacity, Caiaphas uttered the momentous words, an unconscious prophecy, as St. John points out, at that meeting of the Sanhedrin when the death of Jesus was finally resolved upon.

Thus the main historical causes of the Crucifixion were these three, prejudice on the part of the people, a dead religion on the part of the Pharisees, love of gain and political ambition on the part of the Sadducees.

We may see then how absolutely true St. Peter was to the facts of the case. "Him . . . through the hand of lawless men, ye affixed to a cross and slew." God was not the cause of the death of Jesus Christ, as in popular and ditheistic theory, forgetting "I am in the Father, and the Father in Me." The real causes of His Death were the definite sins of lawless, of wicked men. God's part was a purely negative one. He held His hand, and allowed sin to work out to its fatal issue. The Resurrection, indeed, is the sublime act of God's interference, at the most critical point in all human history, at the one point supremely worthy of such Divine interposition, in order to finally and completely vindicate the cause of moral goodness. But up till then, sin was allowed to have its own way, to display fully its malign character, to reach its ultimate result in the Death of the Sinless One.

But behind the historical causes of our Lord's death, were deeper and spiritual causes. "Him being by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God delivered up. . . ." God foreknew the result. There is no difficulty here. But in what sense can He be said to have "determined" it?

The answer leads us to a consideration of decisive importance. God works by law, in the spiritual, no less than in the physical region. The Death of the Christ, at the hand of lawless men, came about in virtue of the working of those laws. As we have said, sin is the alienation and estrangement of man from the Divine life which is in him, and by virtue of which he is man. Now, in the human character of Jesus Christ, we see, for the first time, the perfect, genuine, uncaricatured humanity, in which the human will is at every point in absolute agreement and fellowship with the Divine Will. Shortly, He represents the complete and absolute contradiction and antithesis of sin. It could not have been, that that Life should have been realised in a world of alienation from the Divine, without the result, which followed as necessarily and inevitably as any of the physical happenings of nature, of the death of the Sinless. "He became obedient unto death." A deeper meaning lies in these words of St. Paul, which contain the whole secret of the Atonement. But, for the present, we may understand them to mean, that death was the natural issue of the Life of perfect obedience lived in a world permeated by the spirit of disobedience. Thus we gain a clear knowledge of the manner in which the death of Jesus Christ happened in accordance with the determined counsel of God. That which takes place, in the spiritual or in the physical world, as the result of the working of those laws of God which are the constant expression of His will, may be said to have been determined by Him.

There is a yet more profound meaning in the Death of Christ as the result of sin, than any which we have as yet considered: that Death is the outward sign and sacrament of an inward and spiritual fact. When we sin we are, in a measure proportioned to the deliberateness and heinousness of our sin, doing to death the Divine life, the Christ within us. That which happened once on Calvary is renewed time after time in the inward experience of men. The outward fact is an historical drama representing an ever-repeated spiritual tragedy. Daily, by the hands of lawless men, by ourselves in our moments of wilfulness and disobedience, Christ is being put to death. There is no sin which, in its measure and degree, is not a rejection and crucifixion of the Christ.

The Cross of Christ, viewed in the light of its historical and spiritual causes, is (i) the revelation of the malignity of sin. There we see our favourite sins stripped of all pleasing disguise, and revealed in their true horror, and cruelty, and selfishness. The Incarnate Son of God put Himself at the disposal of sinful men, and His violent and shameful death was the result. There is the true meaning of the sins in which we delight. (ii) It reveals the disastrous result of sin, the death of the Divine Man within each one of us. There is no sin which is not an act of spiritual suicide.

It will not then be altogether in vain, that we have now considered the causes of the Death of Christ if, in the "solemn hour of temptation," we, remembering the Cross, and Him Who died thereon, and why He died, "stand in awe, and sin not."


"Christ died for our sins."—I COR. XV. 3.

Nothing is more characteristic of Christianity than its estimate of human sin. Historically, no doubt, this is due to the fact that the Lord and Master of Christians died "on account of sins." His death was due, as we have seen, both to the actual, definite sins of His contemporaries, and also to the irreconcilable opposition between His sinless life and the universal presence of sin in the world into which He came. But it is with the Christian estimate of sin, and with the facts which justify it, that we are now concerned.

Briefly put, Christianity regards sin as the one thing in the world which is radically and hopelessly evil. Pain, physical and mental, is evil no doubt, but in a different sense. Without going deeply into the intensely difficult problem of animal and human suffering, we may at least say this: that he would be a bold man who would undertake to say, viewing the moral results of suffering in human lives, that all, or the majority of the instances of pain which we observe, come under the head of those things "which ought not to be," that is, are, without qualification or extenuation, evil. But this is precisely the statement which Christianity makes with regard to sin. Of one thing only in the universe can we say that it "ought not to be," and that one thing is moral evil. Perhaps then, broadly and roughly, the Christian standpoint may be summed up in four words, "sin worse than pain."

Of old, St. John wrote that "if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." In its outward aspect, the world has greatly changed since these words were written. And yet they are as true in the twentieth century as they were in the first. The world has adopted Christian language and manners and modes of thought. But always and everywhere it is to be detected by its antagonism to the Christian estimate of sin. The spirit which accuses Christianity of gross exaggeration in this respect, is the very spirit of the world. Now, as in days of long ago, when torture and death hung on the refusal to scatter a few grains of incense before the statue of Caesar, the same eternal choice is presented to a man, Christ or the world? Which estimate of sin are you going to make your own, the world's, as a lamentable mistake, or failure, or necessity; or the Christian, "worse than any conceivable pain"? It is not a matter of academic interest, but an intensely vital and practical one, affecting a man's whole outlook upon life. Which is right—there is the clear and definite issue raised—the Christian estimate, or the world's estimate of sin? Is it worse than a blunder, a misfortune, a fault? Is it something interwoven into the very structure of our present stage of existence? Or, is it an alien and flagrant intruder into a world where it has no business, which is so constructed that, sooner or later, wilful transgression meets with the direst penalties? There is no question as to what is the Christian estimate of sin. Christ or Caesar? is the issue still presented. But, we wish to ask, is there any reason for believing that the Christian estimate is true? I bring forward three reasons, based respectively on experience, on conscience, on the ultimately similar views of the origin and nature of sin given by science and in the Bible.

1. First, then, consider the argument from experience. It is very easy and tempting to use the language of exaggeration. But probably we are not saying more than would be admitted by nearly every one, when we make the assertion that a very large part of the misery and suffering which exists in the world is traceable, directly or indirectly, to human sin. We are not dealing with the results of their own sins upon offenders, though these are in some cases conspicuous enough. But that the world is full of human lives, often wrecked, more often partially stunted and spoiled, in most cases falling short of the full measure of vitality and happiness to which they might have attained, is a statement not admitting of denial. And I think we are still on secure ground when we say that at the root of a very large proportion of these failures is some one of the myriad forms of sin and selfishness. The strange thing, the bewildering and baffling, although, as I believe, not wholly inexplicable thing, is that men in a very large number of cases suffer on account of sins for which they are in no sense responsible. But the fact remains of the close connexion which experience shows to exist between human sin and human suffering. It is impossible to prove wide assertions, but a strong case could undoubtedly be made out for the statement that sin is a more prolific source of misery and failure in human life than all other factors put together.

2. Next, we turn to the witness of conscience, of our moral reason. The main point here is that so often brought forward, of the uniqueness of remorse. I may make a foolish blunder. I may do some hasty and ill-considered act, and in consequence suffer some measure of inconvenience, or perhaps experience a veritable disaster and overthrow of my hopes. But in either case, though I may feel poignant regret, I am as far as possible from the experience of remorse, save in so far as my blunder may have involved neglect of some duty, or a carelessness morally culpable. But when I have committed a sin, then it would be a most inadequate description of my state of mind to call it regret. I suffer from that intense mental pain which we have learnt to call remorse, the constant and relentless avenger which waits upon every transgression of the moral law. And when, leaving my own experience, I interrogate the experience of men better than myself, above all, that of the saints of God, I meet with the same phenomenon a thousandfold intensified. And I have a right in such a matter to accept the witness of the experts. A saint is an expert in spiritual things, and his evidence in spiritual matters is as cogent and trustworthy as that of the biologist or geologist in his special field of experience.

So far, then, as the witness of the moral consciousness goes, both in myself and in those who have in an especial degree cultivated their moral faculties, it bears out the contention that sin is the only thing which can be described as absolutely, without qualification, evil.

3. The same result follows from the consideration of the origin and nature of sin.

Here we have two sources of information—modern science, and the account given in the Book of Genesis. To my mind, the enormously impressive thing is that these two sources, approaching the same subject from entirely different points of view, find themselves at last in agreement on the main issue.

(a) According to the teaching of science, then, man is the result, the finished product, of aeons of animal development. He is, in fact, the crown and so far ultimate achievement of an age-long evolution. He falls into his natural place in zoological classification as the highest of the vertebrates. But also, in man we find moral faculties developed to an immeasurably greater extent than in those animals which stand nearest to him in physical development. It is the possession of these, above all, which constitutes the differentia of man. And it is this possession which makes man, alone of all animals, capable of sin. For sin is simply the following out of the instincts and desires of the animal, when these are felt to be in opposition to the dictates of the peculiarly human, the moral nature. Men have said that the only Fall of Man was a fall upwards. They have given an entirely new meaning to the medieval description of the first transgression as the "felix culpa." But this would seem to involve confusion of thought. The first emergence of man as man, the appearance on this planet of a moral being, at once involved the possibility of sin. That, the rise of man did necessarily include. An animal follows the bent and inclination of its own nature. For it, sin is for ever impossible. For it, there can be no defeat, no fall, for the conditions of conflict are absent. But the actual occurrence of sin is quite a different thing from the appearance of a being so highly exalted as to be capable of sinning; so constituted as to experience the dread reality of the internal strife between flesh and spirit, the battle between the lower and the higher within the same personal experience. I can never act as the animal does, because I possess what the animal does not—a moral nature, which I can, if I will, outrage and defy. No animal can be either innocent or guilty. Moral attributes cannot be assigned to it.

This result follows. When I sin, I am indeed doing what I alone can do, because I am a man. But also, I am, by that very act, contradicting my nature, violating the law of my well-being. The possession of a moral nature makes me man. Sin is just to act in defiance of and in opposition to that nature. Sin, then, is the only possible case in the universe, falling under our observation, in which a creature can contradict the law of its being. Science has at least given the final refutation of the devil's lie that sin is natural to man. It is the only unnatural thing in the world. It is not non-human, like the actions of animals. The age- long history of the race can never be reversed. I cannot undo the process which has made me man, and act as the non-moral animal. My sinful actions, my transgressions, are just because they are, and just in proportion as they are, immoral, for that very reason, and in that very measure, inhuman, not non-human.

Much more might be shown to follow from this most important consideration. But here we adduce it for this sole reason, that science may be allowed to bear its witness, a most just and passionless, and an unconscious and tacit witness, to the truth of the Christian estimate of sin.

(b) Nothing, at first sight, could be more different from the scientific account of the origin of sin, than that account of it which is given in the third chapter of the Book of Genesis.

There we have, to put it shortly, the most profound spiritual teaching in the form of a story, a piece of primitive Hebrew folk-lore. The Divine Wisdom made choice of this channel to communicate to man certain great truths about his nature, realities of the highest plane of his experience, where he moves in the presence of God and realities unseen, unheard. And we can discern at least some of the reasons for the choice of these methods.

The most adequate revelation of the origin of sin which has ever been made to man, must (we are almost justified in saying) have been made to us in some such form as this for the following reasons.

(i) Truth expressed in the form of a story is thereby made comprehensible to men of every stage of culture. "Truth embodied in a tale, shall enter in at lowly doors." At the door of no man's mind, who is spiritually receptive, will it knock in vain. To simple and to wise, to the unlearned and the learned, to the young and to the old, it appeals alike. This form of instruction alone is of universal application.

(ii) Truth thus conveyed can never become obsolete. Scientific treatises in the course of a few years become out of date, left far behind by the rapidly advancing tide of knowledge. Moreover, if we can imagine it possible that in the ninth century B.C., an account could have been composed, under some supernatural influence, in the terms of modern thought, it would have had to wait nearly three thousand years before it became intelligible, and then, in a few decades, or centuries at most, it would in all probability have become once more incomprehensible or, if not that, then at least hopelessly behind the times.

The form of a story, as in the case of our Lord's parables, alone ensures that truth thus conveyed shall be intelligible to all men at all times. To object to the form, to scoff at or deride it, is as unintelligent as it would be, for example, to disparage the sublime teaching of the parable of the Prodigal Son on the ground that we have no evidence for the historical truth of the incidents.

Moreover, when we place this and the similar stories we find in the early chapters of Genesis side by side with the Babylonian myths with which they stand in some sort of historical relationship, we can trace in the lofty moral and spiritual teachings of the former, as contrasted with the grotesque and polytheistic representations of the latter, the veritable action of the Spirit of God upon the minds of men. Modern research has, in fact, raised the doctrine of inspiration from a vague and conventional belief to the level of an ascertained fact, evidenced by observation. Just as a scientific man can watch his facts under his microscope or in his test tubes, so such comparison as has been suggested, between Genesis and the cuneiform tablets, enables us to watch the very fact, to detect the Divine Spirit at work, not superseding, but illuminating and uplifting the natural faculties of the sacred writers. But we now turn to the spiritual teaching enshrined in this particular story.

(i) First, we have the fundamental truth that man is made capable of hearing the Divine Voice. Not once in the distant past, but to-day, and day by day, the Voice of God is heard speaking within the depths of consciousness as clearly and as decisively as of old it sounded among the trees of the garden.

(ii) But, secondly, other voices make themselves heard by us, and woe to us if we listen to them.

There is the voice which bids us gratify our animal appetite. The woman "saw that the tree was good for food." I am conscious of the strength of bodily desires. Let me seek nothing, from moment to moment, but the satisfaction of my inclinations. There is the voice which bids us gratify the desire of the eyes. She "saw that the tree was pleasant to the eyes." The world is full of beauty. Let me make that my end, the satisfaction of the aesthetic sense; let me rest in the contemplation of that beauty, which was made for me, and I for it, precisely in order that I might not find repose there, but might be led thereby to Him Who made this scene so fair that His dear children might be drawn to Himself, Who is the eternal and uncreated loveliness.

There is, lastly, the voice which bids us gratify the desire of the mind. Eve "saw that the tree was to be desired to make one wise." I desire to know. Let me indulge this desire at any cost, even if it mean the filling of my mind with all manner of foul and loathsome images. It is all "knowing the world." We forget, poor fools, that mere knowledge is not wisdom, and that there is a knowledge which brings death.

The desires of the body, the eyes, the mind, are good and healthful and holy in their proper place and sphere. Through these we reach out to the life and love and knowledge of God. And yet, if gratified against the dictates of that clear-sounding, inner, Divine Voice, they are precisely the materials of sin and death. To gratify them against the dictates of the moral and spiritual nature is to exclude oneself from the garden of God's delight, from the health and joy of the Divine Presence. We know it. We have learnt it by saddest experience of our own. To sin against the voice within is to find oneself separated from God; the ears of the soul have become deaf to the warnings of conscience, the eyes of the soul blind to the vision of the glory and holiness of God.

Is it wrong to say that such teaching as this can never be outgrown? That, as time goes on, as the spiritual experience of the race and of the individual grows and broadens, still new lessons may be found to be contained in it?

The Bible adds to the teaching of science that without which that teaching is incomplete. It bids us know and feel and recognise the Divine Presence within us and, in the light of that ultimate truth of ourselves, realise something of the appalling grandeur of the issues of common life. But, different as are the forms in which their respective lessons are conveyed, science and the Bible unite their testimony to that of experience and conscience, that the Christian estimate of sin, and not the world's estimate of it, is the right one.

And the teaching of experience, conscience, science, and the Bible receives its final confirmation in the Cross of Jesus Christ. Henceforth sin, all sins, our sins, are to be estimated and measured in the light of the fact that sin brought about the death of the sinless Son of Man. Sin is the real enemy of ourselves and of the race. It is the destruction of the true self, the Divine Man in every son of man.

We need, for ourselves, to strive to attain to the genuinely Christian estimate of sin. "Had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory." But we have the Cross lifted up before our eyes and when, in the light of that, we begin to hate and dread sin worse than pain, then we shall have begun to make some real advance towards becoming that which we long to be, and all the time mean and aspire to be—Christians, disciples of the Crucified.


"In this we have come to know what love is, because He laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."—1 JOHN III. 16.

It is important that we should arrive at some clearer understanding of the nature of sin. Let us approach the question from the side of the Divine Indwelling. The doctrine of the Divine Immanence, in things and in persons, that doctrine which we are to-day slowly recovering, is rescued from pantheism by holding fast at the same time to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. God the Transcendent dwells in "all thinking things, all objects of all thoughts" by His Word and Spirit. The Word, the Logos, of which St. John speaks, is the Eternal Self-Expression of God, standing as it were face to face with Him in the depths of His eternal life. "In the beginning the Word was with God." He is the Eternal Thought of God, Who includes within Himself this and all possible universes. And the Spirit, One with the Father and the Word, gives to the Thought of God its realisation and embodiment in what we call things. And that realisation of the Thought of God by the Spirit of God is a progressive realisation—

1. In inorganic nature, as power and wisdom and beauty.

2. In organic beings, as vegetable and animal life.

3. In men, as the higher reason, including our moral and spiritual nature.

The long process of evolution is thus the progressive realisation of the Thought of God now becoming the Word, the expressed Thought of God. And this realisation is from within, a growing manifestation of God in created things. And its climax was reached in the Incarnation when

4. The Word became flesh; the Thought of God perfectly embodied in our humanity. And now this same progressive revelation of God is continuing on the higher plane into which it was uplifted at the Incarnation. The work of the Spirit is to form within the members of Christ's Body, that Body which is constituted by His indwelling, the Mind and the Life of God Incarnate. "He shall take of Mine and shall show it unto you." So we get

5. The work of the Spirit of Christ within the Church, extending the Incarnation.

"He," writes St. Paul, "gave Him [Christ] as Head over all to the Church, which is His Body, the fulness of Him Who at all points in all men is being fulfilled."

The application of this to our present subject is as follows. The animal life in us, and the Divine life in us, are both alike due to the indwelling God, both alike are manifestations of His Presence. But they are manifestations at two different levels of being. What follows?

The animal nature is good; the moral and spiritual nature is good. What do we mean in this connexion by "good"? We mean, they are the results of the action of Him Whose Will is essential goodness.

The peculiarity of human life is, however, the conflict between these two elements of man's nature—the lower and the higher. Neither as yet, from the human standpoint, is good or bad. Moral attributes belong only to the will, which we may provisionally call the centre of man's personality. For man is a personal being, and as such stands apart from God.

God, Whose power brought man into being, Stands as it were a handsbreadth off, to give Room for the newly made to live, And look at Him from a place apart, And use His gifts of mind and heart.

Man alone can bring into existence the morally good or the morally bad. And the materials of his choice are presented by the co-existence within him of the lower and the higher. Sin is the choice by the will of the lower, when that is felt to be in conflict with the higher. It is the resolution, previous to any action, to satisfy the desires of the animal, when these are known to contradict the dictates of the moral and spiritual nature.

Here we pause to notice a point of great importance for clear thinking on this subject. The conflict we have spoken of is that described by St. Paul as between the flesh and the spirit. Now the flesh is not equivalent to the body. The works of the flesh are by no means necessarily sensual sins; they include strife and envy. The flesh, the animal within us, is not to be identified with our physical organisation.

Now we are drawing near to the very heart of the matter. What is it which distinguishes the lower nature from the higher, the animal from the Divine in us, the flesh from the spirit? The distinction lies in the objects to which the desires of each of these natures are directed.

The animal, predominantly, desires the good of self: the Divine, the good of others.

This we must now expand. There is nothing morally wrong in the self-seeking of the animal. Moral evil—sin—only arises when two conditions are fulfilled.

The self-seeking desire must be felt to be in contradiction to the unselfish dictates of the higher nature.

The will, having this knowledge more or less clearly before it, chooses to give effect to the lower rather than to subordinate it to the higher. We may express the same truth somewhat more accurately.

The material of human sin is the co-existence of the animal nature and the Divine Nature within us.

The occasion of sin is the conflict between the two.

The conditions of sin are two—knowledge and freedom; knowledge of the antagonism between the desires of the two natures, and freedom to give effect either to the one or to the other.

The actual fact of sin is the movement of the will, making its choice in favour of the lower in opposition to the higher.

These two corollaries follow:—(i) Sin belongs only to the will, not to the nature. "There is nothing good in the world save a good will." And the converse is true: there is nothing sinful in the world save a sinful will.

(ii) Sin does not lie in the act, but in the movement of the will, of which the act is but the outward symbol. We must carefully distinguish between sin and temptation. No temptation is sinful, however strong and however vividly presented to the mind. Sin only comes in when the will makes the choice of the worse alternative. A sin in thought is an act of inward choice, the deliberate indulgence of, the dwelling with pleasure upon, the temptation presented to us. But if I am only prevented by circumstances or by fear from embodying the wrong choice of my will in action, I have, in the sight of God, committed that sin. If I have made the wrong choice, and am deterred by the faintest of moral scruples, as well as, perhaps, by other considerations, from carrying it out, I am really, although in a less degree, guilty.

Now we can fall back upon our main thought. The animal matter is essentially self-regarding. This is not (a) the same thing as to say that all actions of all animals are self-regarding. I see no difficulty in believing that there may be adumbrations of the moral and spiritual in animals below man, if the animal life is the manifestation, on a lower plane, of the same Word Who is the Life of nature and the Light (the higher reason and spiritual life) of man. Nor (b) is it the same thing as to say that the desires of the animal nature are selfish. For selfishness is a moral term and, as we have seen, moral attributes are inapplicable except to a wrong choice of the will.

These self-regarding impulses of the animal nature are due to the fact, that that nature is the result of the age-long struggle for existence. These impulses have secured the survival and the predominance of man.

But man is more than a successful animal. He is made in the image of God. In him, the Word is revealed, not as life only, but as light. In an altogether higher sense than can be predicated of any part of creation below man, he is a sharer in the Divine life.

Now that Divine life is the very life of Him Whose very essence and being is Love. God is Love. What does this mean? It has never been better expressed than in the following words: "God is a Being, not one of Whose thoughts is for Himself. . . . Creation is one great unselfish thought of God, the bringing into existence of beings who can know the happiness which God Himself knows" (Dr. Askwith). What happiness is that? It is explained, by the same writer, as the happiness which is found in the promotion of the happiness, that is, in the largest sense, the well-being of others.

We can now see the reason of the antagonism between the animal and the Divine in ourselves, the real meaning of the Pauline antithesis between the flesh and the Spirit, the old man and the new.

We are to "put off the old man." He is old, indeed, beyond our imaginations of antiquity, for he is the product of the hoary animal ancestry of our race. Our progress as successful competitors in the struggle for animal existence, has been the waxing stronger of the old man day by day.

To put on the new man, is to continue our evolution, now a conscious and deliberate evolution, on an entirely different plane. It is to subdue the self-regarding impulses, in obedience to the movements of the Divine life within us, which bids us deny ourselves—not some particular desire, but our own selves—and to seek the good of others; to seek and, seeking, surely to find, "the happiness which God Himself knows."

To put on the new man is synonymous, in St. Paul, with putting on Christ. For He is the perfect revelation of the Divine in our humanity.

He is this perfect revelation of the Divine self-sacrifice in His Incarnation, when "He became poor for our sakes," when "He emptied Himself." So the Incarnation is, it may well be, but the climax of the Divine sacrifice involved in creation, when God limited Himself by His manifestation in "material" things; involved, we may say with greater certainty, in the creation of man, who can, in some real sense, thwart and hinder the Divine Will.

He is the revelation of the Divine in us, in the whole course of His earthly life. "Christ pleased not Himself." "He went about doing good."

And, above all, He is that revelation in the supreme act of love and sacrifice upon the Cross. "In this have we come to know what love is, because He laid down His life for us." We have come to know love, in its supreme manifestation of itself, for ever the test, the standard of all true love; and in coming to know love, we have necessarily come to know God. The Cross is the perfect self-utterance and disclosure of the Mind of God, the crowning revelation of His Word. And in coming to know God, we have come to know ourselves. For the true self of man is the self conformed perfectly to the Divine Life within him.

Thus the Cross of Jesus Christ is the crowning revelation of man, as well as of God. There, side by side with humanity marred and wrecked and spoilt by sin, which is selfishness, we see man as God made him, as God meant him to be, clothed with the Divine beauty and glory of self-sacrifice.

In the Cross we see ourselves, our true selves, not as we have made ourselves, but our real and genuine selves, as we exist in the Mind of God.

In the light of that wonderful revelation, we can recognise that which is Divine and Christ-like in us, that spirit which bids us seek not the things of self, but the things of others, "even as Christ pleased not Himself."

All this may be summed up in one short phrase, which goes near, I believe, to express the innermost reality of the Christian religion. Christ, the Son of man, is the true self of every man. To follow Him, to be His disciple, in thought, and word, and deed, is to be oneself, to realise one's own personality. In no other way can I attain to be myself.

Thus the Cross is the supreme revelation of the Divine Life in man. And now we shall go on to see how it brings to us, not merely the knowledge of the Ideal, but also, what is far more, the very means whereby the Ideal may be realised in and by each one of us.

We have dealt with the Cross as illumination; we now approach its consideration as redemptive power.


"God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." 2 COR. V. 19.

Such considerations as we have had before us, are of far more than theoretical interest. They are of all questions the most practical. Sin is not a curious object which we examine from an aloof and external standpoint. However we regard it, to whatever view of its nature we are led, it is, alas, a fact within and not merely outside our experience.

And so we are at length brought to this most personal and most urgent inquiry, What has been the result to me of my past acts of sin? I have sinned; what have been, what are, what will be the consequences?

The most hopelessly unintelligent answer is, that there are no results, no consequences. It behoves us to remember that we can never sin with impunity. This is true, even in the apparent absence of all punishment. Every act of sin is followed by two results, though probably a profounder analysis would show them to be in reality one.

(i) Whenever I sin I inflict a definite injury on myself, varying with the sinfulness of the sin; that is, with its nature and the degree of deliberation it involved. I am become a worse man; I have, in some degree, rejected and done to death the Divine in me, my true self. Every sin, in its own proper measure, is both a rejection of the Christ within, and also an act of spiritual suicide.

Again (ii), each sin, once more according to the degree of its guilt, involves separation from God. And, as union with God is life, it follows that sin is, and not merely brings death. That is the death of which the outward, physical death is the mere symbol. It is death of that which makes me man—the weakening of my will, the dulling of my conscience, the loss of spiritual vision. Hereafter, it may be, all this will be recognised by me as being death indeed, when I see how much I have missed, by my own fault, of the life and happiness which might have been mine in virtue of that unbroken communion with God, for which I was made.

These two results may be regarded as the penalties of sinning; more truly, they are aspects of sin itself. We can hardly be reminded too often that the worst punishment of sin is sin itself. The external results of sin, where such occur, are not evil, but good; for the object for which they are sent is the cure of sin. "To me no harder hell was shown than sin." If hell is this separation from God, this veritable and only real death, then hell is not an external penalty inflicted upon sin, but is involved in the very nature of sin itself. Or, it would be still more accurate to say, the constitution of the universe (including ourselves) being what it is, and the nature of sin being what it is, these results necessarily follow.

Now, the universe is not something which God has created and then, as it were, flung off from Himself, standing for ever outside it, as it is for ever outside Him. The universe, at each moment of its existence, is the expression, in time and space, of the Divine Mind. What we call its "laws," whether in the physical or the spiritual sphere, are the thoughts of the Mind of God: its "forces" are the operations of the Will of God, acting in accordance with His thoughts: material "things" are His thoughts embodied, that is, Divine thoughts rendered, by an act of the Divine Will, accessible to our senses.

Now we are in a position to understand both what is meant by the Wrath of God, and the manner in which it acts.

By the expression, "the Wrath of God," we are to understand the hostility of the Divine Mind to moral evil: the eternal antagonism of the Divine righteousness to its opposite. We are not now dealing with the question of the real or substantive existence of evil. But revelation amply confirms and enforces the conviction of our moral consciousness that, with a hatred beyond all human measures of hatred, God hates sin. It is hardly necessary to add, that that eternal and immeasurable hatred and hostility of the Divine Mind towards sin is compatible with infinite love towards His children, in whose minds and lives sin is elaborated and manifested. In fact, all attempts to reconcile the Wrath of God with His love seem to be utterly beside the mark. They only serve to obscure the truth that the Divine Wrath is itself a manifestation of the Divine Love. For if sin is, as we have already seen, in its very essence, selfishness, and if Love is the very Being of God—if He is not merely loving, but Love itself—then the Wrath of God, His hostility to sin, is His Love viewed in one particular aspect, in its outlook on moral evil, in its relation to that which is its very opposite and antithesis. Hell and Heaven, separation from God and union with Him, are alike expressions of the Eternal Love, which, because it is love, burns with unquenchable fire against all forms of selfishness and lovelessness.

This is the true, the ultimate reason why, in a universe which is the expression of the Mind of God, we cannot sin, and never have sinned, with impunity.

From these two fundamental truths—

(a) The universe is the expression of the Mind of God;

(b) God is love,

There follow, by a natural and inevitable law, the two results which accompany every act of sin.

(a) The destruction of the true self, the Christ, the Divine Life within man.

(b) Separation from God, which is death. We separate these results in thought; but it will now be sufficiently obvious that they are, in fact, one.

Is this taking too serious a view of sin? I do not think that this can be maintained in view of our whole preceding argument.

But are we taking too serious a view of little sins, of sins which spring from ignorance, of the sins of children?

We have already seen that knowledge and freedom are both necessary to constitute an act of sin. If ignorance is complete, then complete also is the absence of sin. For sin lies not in any material act, but in consciousness and will. The will alone can be sinful, as the will alone can be good. And it is entirely consistent with our standpoint, to admit the existence of an almost infinite number of degrees of sinfulness.

* * * * *

Now we reach this immensely important result. We having sinned, our supreme need is forgiveness. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a Gospel for this precise reason, that it meets, as it claimed from the beginning to meet, this uttermost need of men. Its offer is, always and everywhere, the forgiveness, the remission of sins.

But what are we to understand by forgiveness? The forgiveness which is offered to us in the name of Jesus Christ is not, and our own moral sense ought to assure us that it could not be, the being let off punishment. "Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins," not from any external pains or penalties of their sins. To be saved from sin, is to have sin brought to an end, abolished within us. It is the recovery of the true self, the restoration of that union with God which is, here and now, eternal life. In other words, understanding the Divine Wrath as we have seen reason to understand it, forgiveness must mean to cease to be, or to cease to identify ourselves with, that in us which is the object of the Divine Wrath. In short, forgiveness is, in the great phrase of St. Paul, reconciliation with God.

How, then, is forgiveness or reconciliation to be obtained? The answer which the apostle gives is this: "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself." Let us try to see what this means.

* * * * *

There can only be one way of ceasing to be the object of the Divine Wrath, and that is by identifying oneself with it; if we may use the catch-phrase, by becoming its subject instead of its object. This means that, so far as is in our power, we must enter into the Divine Mind in regard to sin, and our own sins in particular. Up to the limit of our power, we must make that Mind our own mind, we must hate sin, and our sins, as God hates them.

There is one word in the New Testament which expresses all this, and that is the word only partially and inadequately translated "repentance." The word thus represented is [Greek text], and [Greek text] is exactly "a change of mind." It really means the coming over to God's side, the entire revolution of our mental attitude and outlook with regard to sin. The word stands for self-identification with the Wrath of God, with the Divine Mind in its outlook upon sin. That change of mind is itself reconciliation, forgiveness, remission of sins. And that which alone makes [Greek text] and, therefore, forgiveness, possible, is the Death of Jesus Christ upon the Cross.

For that Death is the perfect revelation, in the only way in which it could be interpreted to us, that is, in terms of our common human life, of the Wrath of God, the Divine hostility to, and repudiation of sin. For the Death of Christ was the complete repudiation of sin, by God Himself, in our manhood. The Incarnate Son laid down His life in the perfect fulfilment of the mission received from the Father. "He became obedient unto death." He died, rather than, by the slightest concession to that which was opposed to the Divine Will, be unfaithful or disobedient to that mission. "He died to sin once for all." His Death was His final, complete repudiation of sin. And thus it was the absolutely perfect revelation of the Divine Mind in regard to sin.

This is the truth which underlies all the utterly misleading language about Christ's Death as a penalty, or about Christ Himself as the Ideal Penitent. Both penalty and penitence imply personal guilt and the personal consciousness of guilt. Both conceptions destroy the significance of the Cross. Only the Sinless One could die to sin, could perfectly repudiate sin, could perfectly disclose the Mind of God in relation to sin.

The Death of Christ was indeed, as we have seen, the result of His perfect obedience in a world of sin, of disobedience. The historical conditions under which He fulfilled His Mission, necessitated that His repudiation of sin should take the form which it did actually take. We may be sure, too, that He felt, as only the Sinless Son of God could feel, the injury, the affront, the malignity, the degradation of sin. It is the sense of this which has given rise to the modern idea of Christ as the Penitent for the world's sin. But if we are to understand the word in this sense, then we are entirely changing its meaning and connotation. And we cannot do this, in regard to words like penitent and penitence, without producing confusion of thought. It is time, surely, that this misleading and mischievous fallacy of the penitence of Christ should be finally abandoned by writers on the Atonement.

But, so far, we have only seen that the Death of Christ to sin, His repudiation of sin to the point of death, is the complete revelation of the Divine Wrath, the Divine Mind in regard to sin. If we could only make all this our own, then we should have actually attained to the changed mind, the [Greek text], which is reconciliation with God.

Now, it is a most significant fact that, in the New Testament, repentance is ever closely coupled with faith. Faith, in its highest, its most Christian application, is not faith in Christ, in the sense of believing that the revelation made by Christ is true, but in the strange and pregnant phrase of St. Paul and St. John, faith into Christ. And by this is meant entire self-abandonment, the utter giving up of ourselves to Christ. To have faith into Christ is the perfect expression of discipleship. It is the supreme act of self-surrender by which a man takes Christ henceforth to be the Lord and Master of his life. It implies, no doubt, the existence of certain intellectual convictions; but the faith which rests there is, as St. James tells us, the faith of the demons "who also tremble." In the full sense, faith is an act of the whole personal being. And as the will is our personality in action, we may say that faith into Christ is, above all, an affair of the will.

But thus to surrender oneself to Christ, to make Him, and not self, the centre and governing principle of our life is, in other words, to make His Will our will, His Mind our mind. St. Paul is exactly describing the full fruition and final issue of faith when he says of himself, "I live, yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me."

Faith is self-identification with the Mind of Christ. And that Mind is the Mind of Him Who died to sin, Who by dying repudiated sin, and revealed His implacable hatred of and hostility to it, which is the hatred and hostility of God, in our manhood, to the moral evil which destroys it.

Thus the man, who, by the supreme act of faith into Christ, has made Christ's Mind his own mind, has thereby gained the changed mind, the [Greek text], in regard to sin, which is the ceasing to be the object of God's wrath, because it is the being identified with it. He is, henceforth, reconciled to God. The state of alienation and death is over. In Christ he, too, has died to sin. The false self, in him, has been put to death. With Christ he has been crucified. With Christ he lives henceforth to God, in that union and fellowship with Him, which is the life eternal, the life which is life indeed. His true self, the Christ in him, is alive for evermore in the power of the Resurrection.

That is the final issue, the glorious consummation, of faith. But so far as faith is in us at all, so far as daily with more complete surrender we give ourselves to Christ, and take Him for our Lord and Master, the process, of which the fulfilment, the perfect end, is reconciliation, union, resurrection, eternal life, has begun in us. And He Who has, visibly and manifestly, "begun in us" that "good work," will assuredly "accomplish it until the day of Jesus Christ."

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