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THE CHRISTIAN IDEAL IN THE INDIVIDUAL.pdf

THE CHRISTIAN IDEAL IN THE INDIVIDUAL.pdf

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Published by glennpease
By Robert J. Drummond D.D.


' A perfect man . . . the measure of the stature of the
fulness of Christ.'— EPH. iv. 13.
By Robert J. Drummond D.D.


' A perfect man . . . the measure of the stature of the
fulness of Christ.'— EPH. iv. 13.

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Published by: glennpease on Nov 11, 2013
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THE CHRISTIA IDEAL I THE IDIVIDUAL By Robert J. Drummond D.D. ' A perfect man . . . the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.'— EPH. iv. 13. IT might seem the simplest thing in the world to answer Peter's question to believers, ' What manner of persons ought ye to be ? ' Paul has put it in a single phrase. Each should be ' a perfect man, . . . the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.' But having said that, difficulty immediately emerges. Who shall gauge that measure ? It runs out into infinity. Where shall we find it reproduced ? The best of Christians is only an approximation. A catalogue of virtues will not exhaust or ex press it. For the secret of Christianity is a subtle something that fuses them and moulds them into one. Here the whole is something greater than the sum of all its parts. I. It is well, therefore, first of all to con sider the difficulty of presenting the Christian ideal. 275 276 FAITH'S CERTAITIES Christ is the ideal, the fullness of Christ. True. Is not the simplest way to proceed, then, to summarise His character? Yes, if any one could do it. But no summary of
 
that matchless character can ever do justice to it. Paul has attempted it in one direction, and he has given it up. He prays that men may know the breadth and length and depth and height of the love of Christ — but it is impossible : ' it passeth knowledge.' The very Gospels are but epitomes, and they succeed in conveying an unmistakable impression. Yet more than anything else they awake a longing. They leave us unsatisfied. We want Himself. Even if one could succeed here in presenting the ideal by reproducing Christ, it is question able what the result would be. Might not men gaze indeed in wonder and adoration, but, overwhelmed and oppressed by the sense of the unattainable, give up any attempt to attain in despair? Is there not an advantage, hinted at in John's pregnant words, in leaving it more or less veiled? 'It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him ; for we shall see Him as He is.' Oh for the THE IDIVIDUAL IDEAL 277 vision splendid ! But ' he that hath this hope in him purifieth himself as He is pure.' To look for a more practicable example of the ideal among lesser lights is not more en couraging. ay, it is distinctly disappoint ing. There is not a perfect specimen among all the lives called Christian. Among the Old Testament anticipations of it we hear with something of a shock that Abraham was called the Friend of God, that God was con tent to be known as the God of the worm Jacob, that David was a man after God's own
 
heart. And what of the whole calendar of saints? o one can fail to admire the con scientiousness of James, the geniality of Peter, the boundless faith and restless zeal of Paul, the pure flame of the love of John ; but these do not blind us to their defects. Justin, Ambrose, Monica, Augustine, Chrysostom, Francis, Bernard, Louis, Santa Teresa, Luther, Calvin, Knox, Wesley, Howard, Cairns ; each has individual charm. But no one of them stands for all a Christian should be. They are approximations, and each more or less only in one particular direction, to what the perfect whole of the Christian life should be. Yet 278 FAITH'S CERTAITIES this it is that relieves the shock, takes the sting out of what is sport for the Philistines ; the inconsistencies, the blemishes, the worse than blemishes, the stains, that may be found in many a man who enjoys God's smile. o Christian is all a Christian should be. Every Christian is only an approximation. Every Christian is only a man in the making. In some there is no more than the rude block, the material, the rough outline ; but there are possibilities visible to the penetrating eye of God, and already with this He is well pleased. Others are nearing perfection, but the patient artist hand knows where something still is needed. And so it is not in the unfinished work we must look for the ideal. We must be content to imagine the great thought in the divine mind, and remember that here we are in God's workshop, and not even in the pattern- room, but only among the rough castings.

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