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Prophets and Apostles

Prophets and Apostles

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Published by glennpease





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Published by: glennpease on Apr 09, 2013
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PROPHETS AD APOSTLESBY THE AUTHOR OF"PRO CHRISTO ET ECCLESIA"We may, by analogy, briefly outline the changethat has come over the minds of Christian thinkerswith regard to the authority of the lawgivers andprophets of Israel, and also of the apostles.It is not uncommon for young children to betrained, by precept of mother and nurse, to regardtheir father as an infallible authority and example.Sturdy intelligent boys, pushing beyond the nursery,are bound to perceive that their ideals of justice,mercy, and common sense do not always tally withthe parental word and character. Here the fathersaid something that was not quite accurate, therehe showed temper; and such instances, even if exceptional, are remembered when the father'sdiscipline is not to their taste. The first workingsof such observations do not, in fact cannot, over-throw the dogma of the father's infallibility soearly, and perhaps wisely, implanted. The resultis rebellion against the infallible standard. Anarchyreigns in the heart of the son, and in many a casecarries him beyond the influence of the domesticcircle into a world where, without guiding principle,chap, v PROPHETS AD APOSTLES 133he too often loses his way. But, perhaps in manymore cases, what happens is this : growing older,going to school and returning, the boy forgetsthe nursery dogma; his father appears to him asa man among men; then how gladly does herecognise all that is good in his father's heart,all that is wise in his judgment, all that is true inhis principles ! We cannot stay here to inquirehow a boy obtains a standard by which to judgewhat in his father is worthy of imitation and whatis not; it remains a fact that he does judge.A boy may make mistakes, but the moral sense
within and the common sense of the communitywithout, make such judgment inevitable to agrowing intellect. The father now has a deeperinfluence over the growing man than he could everhave had if seen in a false light, even had the sonrendered unreasoning obedience all his life, becausethe father's influence now extends beyond actionand mechanical thought to the springs of spon-taneous thought and action.Such is, in some sort, now the influence whichthe lives and opinions of prophets and apostleshave over the thinking Christian, who says thatthe Old Testament is not so much an inspiredrecord as a wonderfully candid record of the lives,the opinions, and the worship, of men inspired bythat hunger and thirst for righteousness whichcannot fail of its desire, and with that purity of heart which sees God. Their age was not infallible,and they were men of their age. The same mustbe said of the writers of the Gospels and Epistles ;the test of the quality of their inspiration is thei 34 THE FATHER'S HOUSEhigher life and higher faith which they actually didimplant in the world.Why, then, do we believe in the infallibility of Jesus ? The assurance of that central Christianfaith rests upon the intuitive knowledge which hisservants daily have of him, and which is incom-municable by argument. It is like the oil in thelamp of the wedding guest, which cannot betransferred to the lamp which another carries, andcan only be known to others by its light. Wecannot too clearly bear in mind that all on theside of reason that is essential to the intuitive faithof any Christian is that his own reason should notcontradict it; so that all strife of tongues concern-ing Christian dogmas are, beyond that, irrelevantto the central Christian belief. At the same timethis intuitive knowledge can be buttressed by anyargument that seems reasonable to its possessor.If the possessor be a well-informed and thinking
person, what appears reasonable to him will havea certain force with other thinking persons; andwith regard to the different position which Jesusoccupies in religious history compared with pro-phets and apostles, we would note two lines of thought and research which commend themselves.The first is that, taking the world over and thelength of ages, all that we find of new life, newthought, and new impulse in the early ChristianChurch must be set down to a new cause, and inso far as it corresponds with the life of Jesus toldin the Gospels it is only reasonable to regard hisinspiration as the cause. It is almost superfluousnow to remark that the religious thought andchap, v PROPHETS AD APOSTLES 135moral activities of the Gentile nations were, in theancient world, and are now, on a much higherplane than Christian apologists used to suppose;but granting all of good that can be ascribed tothem and to the pious Jews of the Christian era,there is in the early Church, and in its effect uponits environment, evidence of an impulse of joyfullove and a new estimate of God which can bemost reasonably accounted for by assuming thesubstantial truth of the Gospel record. Joy wasthe most novel feature of the new faith; noadequate cause but the truth of the Gospel storycan be assumed for it.The second consideration which makes it themore reasonable to regard Jesus as holding someunique place among mystics, among lawgivers,among poets, and among practical reformers, ashaving an inspiration which raised him above hisfellow-men in all these capacities, is that disciples,obviously incapable of understanding all thatthey transmitted, of grasping more than a smallpart of the force of what they transmitted, didnone the less transmit it in a form such that everyprogressive generation has been able to assimilatefrom that form more and more of what is godlike.To-day we find in the life of Jesus truths which

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