That image, or rather that Person, so human, yet so entirely divine, has a power to fill the imagination, to arrest the affections, to deepen and purify the conscience, which nothing else in the world has.
Poor shepherdless sheep! It was his delight, as the Good Shepherd, to lead them to rich pastures; and as they sat and stood around Him they forgot their bodily wants in the beauty and power of His words.
Remember that vision on the Mount of Transfiguration; and let it be ours, even in the glare of earthly joys and brightnesses, to lift up our eyes, like those wondering three, and see no man any more, save Jesus only.
As human voice and instrument blend in one harmony, as human soul and body blend in each act of feeling, thought, or speech, so, as far as we can know, divinity and humanity act together in the thought and heart and act of the one Christ.
The Christian world has a Leader, the contemplation of whose life and sufferings must administer comfort in affliction, while the sense of His power and omnipotence must give them humiliation in prosperity.
The sages and heroes of history are receding from us, and history contracts the record of their deeds into a narrower and narrower page. But time has no power over the name and deeds and words of Jesus Christ.
He, the Holiest among the mighty, and the Mightiest among the holy, has lifted with His pierced hands empires off their hinges, has turned the stream of centuries out of its channel, and still governs the ages.
Alexander, Cæsar, Charlemagne and I myself have founded empires; but upon what do these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love; and to this very day millions would die for Him.
The nature of Christs existence is mysterious, I admit; but this mystery meets the wants of man. Reject it, and the world is an inexplicable riddle; believe it, and the history of our race is satisfactorily explained.
All the glory and beauty of Christ are manifested within, and there He delights to dwell; His visits there are frequent, His condescension amazing, His conversation sweet, His comforts refreshing; and the peace that He brings passeth all understanding.
It was necessary for the Son to disappear as an outward authority, in order that He might reappear as an inward principle of life. Our salvation is no longer God manifested in a Christ without us, but as a Christ within us, the hope of glory.
Every unfulfilled aspiration of humanity in the past; all partial representation of perfect character; all sacrifices, nay, even those of idolatry, point to the fulfillment of what we want, the answer to every longingthe type of perfect humanity, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Unlike all other founders of a religious faith, Christ had no selfishness, no desire of dominance; and His system, unlike all other systems of worship, was bloodless, boundlessly beneficent, andmost marvelous of allwent to break all bonds of body and soul, and to cast down every temporal and every spiritual tyranny.
No other fame can be compared with that of Jesus. He has a place in the human heart that no one who ever lived has in any measure rivaled. No name is pronounced with a tone of such love and veneration. All other laurels wither before His. His are ever kept fresh with tears of gratitude.
Christs whole life on earth was the assertion and example of true manlinessthe setting forth in living act and word what man is meant to be, and how he should carry himself in this world of Godone long campaign in which the temptation stands out as the first great battle and victory.
Christs miracles were vivid manifestations to the senses that He is the Saviour of the bodyand now as then the issues of life and death are in His handsthat our daily existence is a perpetual miracle. The extraordinary was simply a manifestation of Gods power in the ordinary.
You never get to the end of Christs words. There is something in them always behind. They pass into proverbsthey pass into lawsthey pass into doctrinesthey pass into consolations; but they never pass away, and, after all the use that is made of them, they are still not exhausted.
Christ is the Good Physician. There is no disease He cannot heal; no sin He cannot remove; no trouble He cannot help. He is the Balm of Gilead, the Great Physician who has never yet failed to heal all the spiritual maladies of every soul that has come unto Him in faith and prayer.
I find the life of Christ made up of two parts; a part I can sympathize with as a man, and a part on which I gaze; a beam sent down from heaven which I can see and love, and another beam shot into the infinite, that I cannot comprehend.
The most destructive criticism has not been able to dethrone Christ as the incarnation of perfect holiness. The waves of a tossing and restless sea of unbelief break at His feet, and He stands still the supreme model, the inspiration of great souls, the rest of the weary, the fragrance of all Christendom, the one divine flower in the garden of God.
Our Lords miracles were all essential parts of His one consistent life. They were wrought as evidences not only of His power, but of His mercy. They were throughout moral in their character, and spiritual in the ends contemplated by them. They were in fact embodiments of His whole character, exemplars of His whole teaching, emblems of His whole mission.
Christ pitied because He loved, because He saw through all the wretchedness, and darkness, and bondage of evil; that there was in every human soul a possibility of repentance, of restoration; a germ of good, which, however stifled and overlaid, yet was capable of recovery, of health, of freedom, of perfection.
It is the grandeur of Christs character which constitutes the chief power of His ministry, not His miracles or teachings apart from His character. The greatest triumph of the Gospel is Christ Himselfa human body become the organ of the Divine nature, and revealing, under the conditions of an earthly life, the glory of God.
The wise men were journeying to the mangerwe to the throne. They to see a babewe to look upon the King in His beauty. They to kneel and worshipwe to sit with Him on His throne. That trembling star shone for them through the darkness of the night, lighting their wayJesus is always with us, our star of hope; and the pathway is never dark where He leads; for He giveth songs in the night.
Great occasions rally great principles, and brace the mind to a lofty bearing, a bearing that is even above itself. But trials that make no occasion at all, leave it to show the goodness and beauty it has in its own disposition. And here precisely is the superhuman glory of Christ as a character, that He is just as perfect, exhibits just as great a spirit in little trials as in great ones.
On the head of Christ are many crowns. He wears the crown of victory; He wears the crown of sovereignty; He wears the crown of creation; He wears the crown of providence; He wears the crown of grace; He wears the crown of gloryfor every one of His glorified people owes his honor, happiness and blessedness to Him.
Newton supposed that all matter attracted other matter inversely according to the square of the distance; and the hypothesis was found to account for the whole movements of the heavenly bodies; which all became verifications of what Newton supposed to be the law of the solar system. Adopt the hypothesis that Jesus was what He is represented, and the whole of the books and the history becomes a verification.
When has the world seen a phenomenon like this?a lonely uninstructed youth, coming from amid the moral darkness of Galilee, even more distinct from His age, and from every thing around Him, than a Plato would be rising up in some wild tribe in Oregon, assuming thus a position at the head of the world and maintaining it, for eighteen centuries, by the pure self-evidence of His life and doctrine.
Christs divinity accounts for His exaltation to the right hand of God, justifies the worship of angels and the confidence of mankind. It makes clear His right to the throne of the universe, and enables the mind to understand why He is exalted in providence, in grace, and in judgment. It is the unifying truth that harmonizes all other teachings of Christianity, and renders the entire system symmetrical and complete.
From the moment of His self-dedication, when He threw His cares away, and went forth not knowing where to lay His head, the whole energy which others spend on interests of their own was poured into His human and Divine affections, and filled His life with an enthusiasm resistless and unique. However quiet His words, it is impossible not to feel the tender depths from which they come.
He walked into Judæa eighteen hundred years ago; His sphere melody, flowing in wild native tones, took captive the ravished souls of men, and, being of a truth sphere melody, still flows and sounds, though now with thousandfold accompaniments and rich symphonies, through all our hearts, and modulates and divinely leads them.
Across the chasm of eighteen hundred years Jesus Christ makes a demand which is beyond all others difficult to satisfy. He asks that for which a philosopher may often seek in vain at the hands of his friends, or a father of his children, or a bride of her spouse, or a man of his brother. He asks for the human heart; he will have it entirely to himself; he demands it unconditionally, and forthwith his demand is granted. Wonderful!
It was before Deity embodied in a human form, walking among men, partaking of their infirmities, leaning on their bosoms, weeping over their graves, slumbering in the manger, bleeding on the cross, that the prejudices of the synagogue, and the doubts of the academy, and the pride of the portico, and the fasces of the lictor, and the swords of thirty legions were humbled in the dust.
Philosophical argument, especially that drawn from the vastness of the universe, in comparison with the insignificance of this globe, has sometimes shaken my reason for the faith that is in me; but my heart has always assured and reassured me that the gospel of Jesus Christ must be a divine reality. The Sermon on the Mount cannot merely be a human production. This belief enters into the very depth of my conscience.
This it is that gives a majesty so pure and touching to the historic figure of Christ; self-abandonment to God, uttermost surrender, without reserve or stipulation, to the guidance of the Holy Spirit from the Soul of souls; pause in no darkness, hesitation in no perplexity, recoil in no extremity of anguish, but a gentle unfaltering hold of the invisible Hand, of the Only Holy and All Goodthese are the features that have made Jesus of Nazareth the dearest and most sacred image to the heart of so many ages.
Think of the majesty of that moment in this dying worlds history, when Jesus Christ declared that to the Christian death was only a sleep. Outside of that small dwelling in Capernaum, a great race of men rushed and toiled as they harassed continents and seas; mighty events marshaled themselves into annals and pageants. What was inside? In one inconspicuous chamber of a now forgotten house, mans Redeemer, unobserved, martyred mans final enemy. There Immanuel subdued death forever.
What is our hope but the indwelling Spirit of Christ, to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, to inspire every word and deed by His love? Then will broken lights blend in steady shining, the fractional be summed up in the integral, and life, unified and beautified by the central Christ, radiate Gods glory, and shine with divine effulgence.
Christ was placed midmost in the worlds history; and in that central position He towers like some vast mountain to heaventhe farther slope stretching backward toward the creation, the hither slope toward the consummation of all things. The ages before look to Him with prophetic gaze; the ages since behold Him by historic faith; by both He is seen in common as the brightness of the Fathers glory, and the unspeakable gift of God to the race.
In Christ we see the strength of achievement, and the strength of endurance. He moved with a calm majesty, like the sun. The bloody sweat, and the crown of thorns, and the cross, were full in His eyes; but He was obedient unto death. In His perfect self-sacrifice we see the perfection of strength; in the love that prompted it we see the perfection of beauty. This combination of self-sacrifice and love must be commenced in every Christian; and when it shall be in its spirit complete in him, then will he also be perfect in strength and beauty.
We believe that to Christ belongs creative powerthat without Him was not anything made which was made. We believe that from Him came all life at first. In Him life was as in its deep source. He is the fountain of life. We believe that as no being comes into existence without His creative power, so none continues to exist without His sustaining energy. We believe that the history of the world is but the history of His influence, and that the centre of the whole universe is the cross of Cavalry.
Other sages have spoken to me of God. But from whom could I have learned the essence of divine perfection as from Him, who was in a peculiar sense the Son, representative, and image of Godwho was especially an incarnation of the unbounded love of the Father? And from what other teacher could I have learned to approach the Supreme Being with that filial spirit, which forms the happiness of my fellowship with Him? From other seers I might have heard of heaven; but when I behold in Jesus the spirit of heaven, dwelling actually on earth, what a new comprehension have I of that better world!
Jesus Christ was born in a stable; He was obliged to fly into Egypt; thirty years of His life were spent in a workshop; He suffered hunger, thirst, and weariness; He was poor, despised, and miserable; He taught the doctrines of heaven, and no one would listen. The great and the wise persecuted and took Him, subjected Him to frightful torments, treated Him as a slave, and put Him to death between two malefactors, having preferred to give liberty to a robber, rather than to suffer Him to escape. Such was the life which our Lord chose; while we are horrified at any kind of humiliation, and cannot bear the slightest appearance of contempt.
If we carried with us more distinctly than we do that one simple thought that in all human joys, in all the apparently self-forgetting tenderness, of that Lord, who had a heart for every sorrow, and an ear for every complaint, and a hand open as day and full of melting charity for every needthat in every moment of that life in the boyhood, in the dawning manhood, in the maturity of His growing powerthere was always present one black shadow, toward which He ever went straight with the consent of His will and the clearest eye, we should understand something more of how the life as well as the death was a sacrifice for us sinful pen.
And whatsoever ye do in word or deedall in the name of the Lord Jesus. Do does not belong there. There is more than doing in life. Thinking, speaking, hoping, planning, dreamingall are to be in the name of the Lord Jesus. His love and life are to color and shape our ambitions and accomplishments. In Him, as a plant in soil, in rain and sunshine, we are to live, growing up by Him and into Him. In His name we are to work, to pray, to suffer, to rejoice, and at last to go home. It is only another way of saying, For me to live is Christ.
Christs method is divine. His words have the charm of antiquity with the freshness of yesterday; the simplicity of a child with the wisdom of a God; the softness of kisses from the lip of love, and the force of the lightning rending the tower. His parables are like groups of matchless statuary; His prayers like an organ peal floating round the world and down the ages, echoed by the mountain peaks and plains into rich and varied melody, in which all devout hearts find their noblest feelings at once expressed, sustained, refined. His truths are self-evidencing. They fall into the soul as seed into the ground, to rest and germinate. He speaks, and all nature and life become vocal with theology.
All the virtues which appeared in Christ shone brightest in the close of His life, under the trials He then met. Eminent virtue always shows brightest in the fire. Pure gold shows its purity chiefly in the furnace. It was chiefly under those trials which Christ endured in the close of His life that His love to God, His honor of Gods majesty, His regard to the honor of His law, His spirit of obedience, His humility, contempt of the world, His patience, meekness, and spirit of forgiveness towards men, appeared. Indeed, everything that Christ did to work out redemption for us appears mainly in the close of His life. Here mainly is His satisfaction for sin, and here chiefly is His merit of eternal life for sinners, and here chiefly appears the brightness of His example which He has set us for imitation.
He stands alone in unapproachable grandeur. Nineteen centuries roll away, and His character so lives that He inspires millions of men with impassioned love. Other men may seem to be children of their surroundings; He became what He was despite His surroundings, and is the only one who can say in truth and holiness, Do as I have done. He, the ideal, the perfect one of our race, appears in an age when such an ideal could not have been developed in actcould not have been conceived in thought. In the theory of development the perfection of humanity is the final result of mans history ages hence. Christ therefore is the great miracle which more than any other establishes the fact of miracles. Christ Himself is proof of His own miracles.
Jesus! How does the very word overflow with sweetness, and light, and love, and life; filling the air with odors, like precious ointment poured forth; irradiating the mind with a glory of truths on which no fear can live, soothing the wounds of the heart with a balm that turns the sharpest anguish into delicious peace, shedding through the soul a cordial of immortal strength. Jesus! the answer to all our doubts, the spring of all our courage, the earnest of all our hopes, the charm omnipotent against all our foes, the remedy for all weakness, the supply of all our wants, the fullness of all our desires. Jesus! at the mention of whose name every knee shall bow and every tongue confers. Jesus! our power: Jesus! our righteousness, our sanctification, our redemptionJesus! our elder brother, our blessed Lord and Redeemer. Thy name is the most transporting theme of the church, as they sing going up from the valley of tears, to their home on the mount of God; Thy name shall ever be the richest chord in the harmony of heaven, while the angels and the redeemed unite their exulting, adoring songs around the throne of God.
How easily and contentedly we speak of Jesus Christ as our example. Do we realize what it means? If we did, it would revolutionize our life. Do we begin to know our Bible as He did? Do we begin to pray as He did? How thoughtful He was for others, how patient toward dullness, how quiet under insult! Think of what it meant for Him to take a basin and towel like a slave and wash the disciples feet! Do we stoop to serve? Can anyone say of us, as was said of Him, that we go about doing good? Think of His words, servants of His, I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Christlike is a word often on our lips. Do not speak it too lightly. It is the heart of Gods predestination. It is our high calling.
There has appeared in this, our day, a man of great virtue, named Jesus Christ, who is yet living amongst us, and with the Gentiles is accepted as a prophet of truth, but His own disciples call Him the Son of God. He raiseth the dead, and cureth all manner of diseases; a man of stature somewhat tall and comely, with a very reverend countenance; such as the beholder may both love and fear; his hair is of the color of a filbert, full ripe, and plain down to His ears, but from His ears downwards somewhat curled, and more orient of color, waving about His shoulders. In the midst of His head goeth a seam or partition of hair, after the manner of the Nazarites; His forehead very smooth and plain; His face, nose and mouth so framed as nothing can be reprehended; His beard somewhat thick, agreeable to the hair of His head for color, not of any great length, but forked in the middle; of an innocent and mature look; His eyes gray, clear and quick. In reproving, He is terrible; in admonishing, courteous and fair spoken, pleasant in speech, amidst gravity. It cannot be remembered that any have seen Him laugh, but many have seen Him weep. In proportion of body, well shaped and straight; His hands and arms most beauteous to behold; in speaking, very temperate, modest and wise; a man of singular virtue, surpassing the children of men.
Christ is a rare jewel, but men know not His value; a sun which ever shines, but men perceive not His brightness, nor walk in His light. He is a garden full of sweets, a hive full of honey, a sun without a spot, a star ever bright, a fountain ever full, a brook which ever flows, a rose which ever blooms, a foundation which never yields, a guide who never errs, a friend who never forsakes. No mind can fully grasp His glory; His beauty, His worth, His importance, no tongue can fully declare. He is the source of all good, the fountain of every excellency, the mirror of perfection, the light of heaven, the wonder of the earth, times masterpiece, and eternitys glory; the sun of bliss, the way of life, and lifes fair way. He is altogether lovely, says the saint; a morning without clouds, a day without night, a rose without a thorn: His lips drop like the honeycomb, His eyes beam tenderness, His heart gushes love. The Christian is fed by His hands, carried in His heart, supported by His arm, nursed in His bosom, guided by His eye, instructed by His lips, warmed by his love; His wounds are his life, His smile the light of his path, the health of his soul, his rest and heaven below.