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, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." — John 1 : 14. IN that brief poem entitled "The Children's Honr/'^ Longfellow has immortalized one of the beautiful customs of his life. This little insight into the life and character of the great poet will be remembered long after some of his poems have been forgotten. As the day was drawing to its close ^^tween the dark and the daylight/' the great man emerged' from the toil of the day^, laid aside the work upon which his busy brain had been laboring^ and gave himself up completely to the children. He came down from his lofty eminence and entered into their little lives. With patience and s}Tiapathy he listened to the recital of their petty troubles, and with equal freedom they confided to him their joys and sorrows. It i.^ a beautiful picture of greatness, setting aside its communion with lofty ideas and entering into the lives of th'C lowly. And is not this Just what Jesus Christ, the Son of G-od, did when he came from heaven to earth? The Incarnation was humanity's hour. The hour when Christ laid aside the glory which he had with the Father before the world was; the hour in which he exchanged the perfect communion of heaven for life among sinful men; the hour when he emptied himself, "made himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant and was made in the Likeness of men" — when as a little babe he took upon himself our nature that he might enter into our lives and become the Saviour of men. At Easter-time we are prone to think much of Christ's divinity, for in the bursting of the tomib we see the power of a God. We
138 THE AMERICAN BAPTIST PULPIT. Stand in awe before the empty sepulchre and in its very emptiness we contemplate the victory of our Divine Lord. But at Christmas-
time we think more of Christ's humanity, for in the simple story of hie birth we behold one who partakes of our nature, enters into our lives and makes us co-heirs with himself to the heavenly glory. This brings mo to the thenue of the morning — THE HUMANITY OF CHRIST Lot me interpret to 3^ou, if I may, the meaning of Christ's humanity: I. The fact that Christ was human enables him to perfectly sympathize with us in our temptations and trials. Far away in the distant Eocky Mountains, shut in by lofty peaks, lies th^e beautiful sheet of water known as "Echo Lake." The water ia clear and cold, for it is fed by the melting snows. In the quiet evening you push out from the shore and when near the middle of the lake you rest on. your oars. When all is still you lift your voice and cry out. After a brief pause there comes back to you from this side and that the echo. You recogTiize the tone and inflection as your own. Shut in by the lofty mountains, your voice is sent back to you in the oft-repeated echo, so that out of the mysterious silencf^ of nature about you comes a voice in perfect sympathy with your own. Is it not just so with the soul that cries out to God in its sorrow and distress? Out of the circumstances of hardship and bitterness with which life is surroundied, out of the trials and temptations wdth which the pathway is strewn, the soul, looking up to heaven, cries out for love and s3TmLpathy. Nor does it cry in vain, for soon, from him who took upon himself our humanity, comes the answer, "In that I have suffered, being tempted, I am able to succor them that are tempted." And the weary, burdened soul feels that there is one heart that knows its sorrow and beats in S}Tnpathy with it, even the heart of Jesus Christ, who entered into humanity. There are two lessons which we may learn from this. The first has reference to our attitude toward Christ. Because of Chnst's sympathy with humanity we have boldness to come unto him, not only for mercy, hut for grace to help in time of need. There are
THE HUMANITY OF CHPvIST. 13^9 two classes of persons who are not properly qualified to show mercy — those who have never been tempted, and those who have fallen much under the power of temptation. The former class would be apt to be too severe and would resort at once to the harshest measures. They would expel the offender from society without a liearing.. The latter class would be too lenient. Because they themselves have fallen much they would be apt to regard it lightly and excuse it as a necessity. But in Jesus Christ we have one who can meet all our needs, for he was tempted in all points like as we are, hence he can sympathize with us ; yet, though tempted, he was without sin, hence he is qualified to show mercy. When we read how Christ had compassion on the multitudes ; how tenderly he dealt with erring Peter and doubting Thomas ; how he comforted his distressed disciples and mingled his tears with those of Mary at the grave of Lazarus ; how quickly he responded to the woman's touch of faith — when we read of these manifestations of kindness, we feel that he will manifest the same love and sympathy toward us, and we draw near to the throne of grace with boldness, rejoicing that, although Christ was Divine, he was also human. The second lesson has reference to our qualification for showing s}inpathy to others. It was because Christ was tempted that he could sympathize with those who were tempted, so if we would know how to sympathize in the highest sense we rmist know what it is to he tempted and tried. Peter's bitter experience of being "sifted as wheat" enabled him the better to strengthen his brethren. Just as it is necessary for the block of marble taken from the quarry to be f')rmed and fashioned by the blows of the sculptor's chisel before it cnn fill its place in the building, so in our natures there are rough places that need to be softened down, sharp comers that need to be brokrn off, and the trials of life are the strokes of God's chisel by \vhich this is being done. Then, and then only, will we be able to STTnpathize with others to feel for them and with them in their sorrows, to give consolation and lighten the burdens which weigh
them down. Thus our very temptations render us mere capable of entering into the lives of our fellow-men. Thus from the fact of Clirist's humanity comes his sympathy for us and our s}Tnpathy for others. To sympathize perfectly is to be Christ-like.
140 THE AMERICAN BAPTIST PULPIT. II. TJie fact that Christ was human enables him to Icnow the strength of our aspirations and desires for higher things. To my mind no sight is more pathetic than to look back across the centuries to the condition of the Greek and Eoman world just before the birth of Christ. How pathetic to hear the wail of despair which comes from the poets^ the philosophers and the moralists of ancient Greece and Eome after exhausting ever}^hing in their search for happiness without finding it! Their despair only shows the intensity of their desire. The restlessness of the Greek was shown by the great number of gods he worshipped, from each one of whom he could derive but one virtue: wisdom from one, eloquence from another, purity from Diana, and success from Fortuna. The despair of the Roman is seen in the confession of Seneca, "We must bay of ourselves that we are evil, have been evil and — unhappily I must add — shall be also in the future." They had the consciousness of an awful disease without the knowledge of a remedy. Is it not with almost prophetic foresight that Seneca again wrote, "No one can help himself; some one must stretch out a hand to him to lift him up"? Thus the ancient world had aspirations which it could not understand and longings which it could not satisfy. Som.e one must interpret to men these yearnings of their souls. What a thrill of joy fills the heart of man, when, conscious of these aspirations, he sees in the human Christ one who knows their strength and can fully satisfy them ! The spiritual development of our Lord's disciples furnishes abundant proof that in him they had found one who understood their inmost thoughts and satisfied their loftiest aspirations. Their daily intercourse with him tended to strengthen these noble desires, for they felt that they were in the jiresence of one wlio knew their nature, because he had been made a
partaker of it. Is not the same true in the spiritual development of every soul? Its development is advanced as it comes in contact with the great throbbing heart of Christ and realizes that because he came in the flesh and took upon himself our humanity he knows our hearts, our desires, our longings for higher things. Thus our Lord's humanity revealed to him humanity's aspirations. One of these longings is for heauty of character. It is well known that the ancient Greek regarded that which was beautiful as worthy
THE HUMANITY OF CHRIST. 141 of worship. The inevitable consequence was that religion degenerated into mere art. Beauty of form and outline were ever3rthing. The sculptor who carved a beautiful statue was exalted almost among the gods. The poet who gave the nation a poem perfect in conception and execution was a national hero. The musician who produced rich and melodious strains was considered half divine. But how seldom do we find the tendency to emphasize beauty of character! What a different conception came into the world with Jesus Christ ! The beauty of character which men had neglected he emphasized, and because he thus put it at the head of all other rttainments we desire it to-day. He exemplified it in himself, and because we see it in him we desire it for ourselves. The more we contemplate the beautiful life of the Christ the more we are conscious of an overmastering impulse to be like him. Another of these yearnings of the human soul is for immortality. This longing is well-nigh universal. Wherever man is found, and wherever death severs earth's dearest ties, there will be found this longing for immortality. The untutored savage may not know of a life beyond this, but he longs for one. This yearning of the soul finds its complete answer in Jesus Christ, for it is Christ "who hath abolished death and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. The darkness has been taken from the tomb since Christ entered its portals and came forth again. He who gave the longing for immortality has satisfied it fully. Thus because Christ was human he knows humanity^s aspirations ; because he was
iilso divine he completely satisfi.es them. III. The fact that Christ wa^s human enabled him to interpret to men the true meaning of life. In the rapid increase of scientific knowledge we come upon many strange anomalies. That which was used by one generation to prove a certain theory is used by a succeeding generation not only to disprove that theory, but to establish quite the contrary one. The fact has not changed, but its interpretation has. It formerly was supposed to teach one thing, but now that it has been more carefully interpreted, we find it teaches quite another. For example, the same fossil remains which taught the geologist C'i a century and a half ago that the earth was literally 6,000 years
142 THE AMERICAN BAPTIST PULPIT. old teaches the geologist of to-d&j that the earth^s age is to be counted by hundreds of thousands of years. The same experiments which proved conclusively to men of science a century ago that matter was destructible, now prove just as conclusively to men of science that matter is indestructible. Its form may undergo change, but its substance is not destroyed. Have the facts changed ? No ; .^or facts never change. It is the interpretation which has changed. In the same way Jesus Christ, when he came in the flesh saw in the common affairs of daily life a new meaning. He took the same customs which the Jews had been observing for centuries and put upon them a new interpretation. He breathed into life a meaning it had never had before. For example, Christ gave a new meaning to sorrow. Formerly the Jew had conceived the idea that sorrow was an especial mark of G-od's displeasure; that it came upon men ?s a result of their wickedness and sin. Joy and prosperity were Ihe evidences of God^s approval, and nothing could have convinced the Jew that the contrary of this might also be true. But when Jesus came he breathed into sorrow a new meaning. He surprised his disciples by saying, "Blessed are they that mourn.^^ Instead of
their being marks of Divine displeasure, sorrow and suifering were -hown to be evidences of God's love. "Whom the Lord loveth be chasteneth" could never have been Avritten except by one who had caught Christ's interpretation of sorrow. It required a Paul, who had learned of Christ the true meaning of life's trials, to say, "Our r.ght affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Christ's interpretation of sorrow has glorified it. It becomes the chisel in God''s hands by which he fashions and beautifies the life. Again, thinh of the new meaning Christ gave to humility. The word ^Tiumilitas," although it is used by the ancient heathen moralists, is used in the sense of "baseness of mind." The ancient world had no conception of it in the sense in which it is used in the New Testament. The term was applied to slaves and captives, to mean low and degraded men. It was a term of reproach, and was used in contempt. No Greek or Eoman ever looked upon it in any other sense than as a vice. Wa^v Christ came he breathed into the word a new meaning. He
THE HU3IAXITY OF CHEIST. 143 gave it dignity and valne. Tlie srigma attached to it was taken ciwav and it became one of the foremost Christian yirtues. He even went so far as to make the spirit of hnmility essential to entering Oie kingdom of God. He again emphasized it by making it the jneans by which preferment is attained — **He that hnmbleth himself shall he exalted.*' Christ banished pride and pnt hnmility on the ^brone. That which others had despised he exalted. When he lived among men he exemplified it himself. When he retnmed to heaven he left it as a legacy to his disciples to the end of time. Christ'- emphasis should be onr emphasis. Since he practised it. so -honld we. Thns in the fact of Christ's humanity we see the new interpretation which he gave of life; the knowledge which he has of onr noblest aspirations and longings, as well as the sympathy by which
he enters into onr lives. By his humanity as well as by his Divinity he lifts ns np and inspires ns to Christ-like living. He entered into the lives of the lowly that the lowly might enter into his life.
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