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BY George Dana Boardman
BY George Dana Boardman

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Nov 14, 2013
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PAUL'S DEFI ITIO OF LIFE BY George Dana Boardman

'Tis life, whereof our nerves are scant ; O life, not death, for which we pant ; More life, and fuller, that I want. —In Memoriam.

SOME years ago, in discussing a certain physiological problem, I had occasion to gather together various definitions of life. Among the sixty or seventy collected not one was positive. They all expressed a negative rather than an affirmative. For example, Bichat's definition : " Life is the sum of the functions by which death is resisted." You perceive at once that this definition is negative, death being recognized as the positive force to be overcome. But St. Paul deals not with negations, indirections, or uncertainties. His conception is as clear and straight as a ray of light : " To me to live is Christ." Here is no manner of doubt. The assertion is perfectly absolute, and yet it is perfectly simple. St. Paul's definition of life is expressed by a single word. That word is so simple that a little child can understand it, and be glorified by it. And yet it is so vast that no archangel shall ever gauge it. 5


Observe too, the intense personality of the phrase. The personality is two-fold. First, the subject : to me, in my own personal case, to live is Christ. Secondly, the predicate : Christ, the personal, living Christ. He does not say, to me to live is to love Christ, or serve Christ, but he says to me to live is Christ himself. Other personages there have been who have exercised and still exercise transcendent personal power ; for instance, Plato, Shakespeare, Paul himself. But who can say, To me to live is Plato ! Shakespeare ! Paul ! Ah, Christ is not so much a historic power as a present power ; not so much an external as an internal force ; not so much a creed as an experience. " It is no longer I that live, but Christ that liveth in me." To St. Paul Christ was his life-sphere, the sphere for every capacity, alike of spirit and soul and body. Christ was the sphere for every spiritual capacity. Christ was the sphere for every intellectual faculty, for imagination and reason and utterance. In Christ he conceived and imaged and reasoned and concluded and declared. In him was all large discourse, Looking before and after.

ST. PAUL'S DEFI ITIO OF LIFE Again, Christ was the sphere for every emotional capacity looking heavenward ; for adoration and allegiance and trust and love and communion and aspiration. In Christ every choice originated, every purpose took form, every volition marched forth, every habit crystallized. In Christ was his sanctuary, his only holy of holies,

wherein he adored and implored and trusted and communed and joyed and soared and felt himself grow celestial. Again, Christ was the sphere for every emotional capacity looking earthward ; for love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance ; for every duty and feeling toward man as well as toward God. Christ was his first and only meridian whence he calculated all earth's longitudes. Once more, Christ was the sphere for every bodily capacity ; for his eye, refusing to gaze on anything which did not reflect Christ's image ; for his ear, refusing to listen to anything which did not echo Christ's praise ; for his tongue, refusing to say anything which did not add to Christ's glory ; for his hand, refusing to touch anything which he could not turn into Christ's honor ; for his foot, refusing to step where

8 LIFE A D LIGHT Christ's own hallowing footstep had not been. In the judgment of St. Paul Christianity and secularity instead of being foes, were friends, so thoroughly penetrating each other that he felt assured that Christ would be magnified in his body, whether by life or by death. To St. Paul, then, Christ was the source, the means, the end of life. Christ was his life element. He had no conception of life apart from Christ : "Life was but another name for Christ." Christ's love was his motive power, Christ's wish his aim, Christ's character his constitution, Christ's example his precedents, Christ's right-

eousness his raiment, Christ's will his food, Christ's truth his light, Christ's spirit his atmosphere. He breathed Christ. Jesus Christ was thus alike the root and the stalk and the blossom and the fruit of St. Paul's character. He was the realizer and fulfiller of every human capability. As in Christ Jesus dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, so St. Paul felt that in Christ Jesus he himself was completed, filled full, fulfilled. With, from, under, by, toward, for, in, Christ he lived. Christ was thus the center and circumference of his being, his Alpha and Omega, his all in all.

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