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Christian Freedom

Christian Freedom

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Published by glennpease
THE BAIRD LECTURE FOR 1913

BY WILLIAM MALCOLM MACGREGOR, D.D.
THE BAIRD LECTURE FOR 1913

BY WILLIAM MALCOLM MACGREGOR, D.D.

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 31, 2013
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01/27/2014

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CHRISTIA FREEDOMTHE BAIRD LECTURE FOR 1913BY WILLIAM MALCOLM MACGREGOR, D.D.PREFATORY OTE.HAD the fashion of dedications still prevailed,I should have liked to associate this book withthe name of the Baird Trustees, by whose mostgenerous courtesy a new precedent was created,and one from outside the borders of the Churchof Scotland was for the first time invited todeliver lectures on this distinguished foundation.That act was much more than a personal compliment, it was a token of goodwill to my Church,and as such it was applauded in many quarterswithout regard to the individual selected. Forthis reason, I might have been pardoned" if I haddedicated the book unworthy as it is of suchpromotion to that Church of Scotland which isto be, in which the ideals and the virtues of longsur.dered Churches shall, in God s mercy, finallybe brought together. That Church has longlived in the hearts of man) as an object of faithand hope ; and, in spite of outburstings of vi PREFATORY OTEsuspicion here and there, we look for the fulfillingof that hope.The lectures were addressed to popular audiences in Glasgow and in Edinburgh, and, thoughthey are here expanded and furnished with illustrative notes, they have not Tost their original
 
character. Though numbered now as chapters,they have something of the element of repetitionwhich the lecture form involves ; and since thetopic is the priesthood of all believers, it isfitting that the argument should be developed insuch a way as to appeal to others than experts.I have sought to acquaint myself with therelevant literature, and students will find that Ihave frequently differed from many of the chief authorities ; but such dissents are often barelynoted without being dwelt upon and justified.Anything like a detailed commentary on theEpistle to the Galatians was excluded by theconditions of delivery ; and it would have beensuperfluous, as sterling books are available, andthe Epistle itself not only is inspired by a singleidea, but issingularly free from exegetical difficulties. It is for all time the declaration of theprofound significance of an individual experienceof Christ, and of the many directions in whichsuch an experience may serve for guidance andPREFATORY OTE viifor impulse. The attempt to develop and topresent this theme may seem audacious, as it isvirtually what Luther attempted in view of thenecessities of his own time. All that one can dowho, in such an undertaking, follows a man of supreme genius, is to bind himself neither toimitate nor to avoid, but steadily to pursue a pathof his own. Luther s training and experience, andthe circumstances of his age made him find in Paula teacher more dogmatic and less various than wenow acknowledge, and it will be found throughoutthe Lectures that I have oftener referred toLuther s Letters than to the Commentary onGalatians for the clearing or the illustration of 
 
Paul s meaning.When Paul s writings are considered as awhole, one apparent anomaly may be felt ; hewas a supreme creator and organizer of Churches,and was forced by urgent practical interests toattach importance to the community ; and yetwhen the ultimate sources of his certainty areexplored, he is found to be almost fiercelyindividualistic. The longer I have worked, thedeeper this impression has grown ; and though Ihave not ignored or disparaged his uniqueness asan inspired man, I have endeavoured to presentviii PREFATORY OTEhim in his due relation not only to Jeremiah, butto Luther, and Pascal, and Vinet, and the greaterFriends, as well as to mystical individualists, likeEmerson, outside of the Church. To all thesemen it has seemed most certainly possible to havea direct apprehension of the spiritual realities,when the Church or any other society falls away,and man is left alone with the Father of his spirit.This is the distinctive part of Mysticism. Intheir many dialects, mystics have marked outsuch stages of advance as the familiar purgation,illumination, and union. " Simple people conceivethat we are to see God as if He stood on that sideand we on this," says Meister Eckhart ; " but itis not so : God and I are one in the act of myperceiving Him." But such a reflection is notprimary, and the essential discovery of Mysticismis that God can be apprehended not by logicalreasoning but directly by the soul. This is whatPaul describes as " beholding with face unveiled,"and in anyone who has attained to it, this becomesso real a source of knowledge that it serves to

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