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Cross, which is the way of the Master, if we would reach the unity for which He prays.

It is no easy way. It cannot be reached by speeches, and resolutions, and expressions of endearment, and cultivation of brotherly relations, and so on. It cannot be attained without sacrifice. This love of ours for one another must be so lifted up from the earth that men will see it is not of earth, but heavenly and divine. People may turn away and say, "It is not in human nature to make such sacrifices." The answer is that is the very reason they must be made. It is not human nature the world wants to see in order to believe; it has quite enough of that. It is divine nature the world is waiting to see. It insists on seeing not mere human affection, but divine love, which can make itself infallibly known only by carrying on its front the sign of the cross.

It comes to this, then-that what is most wanted in order to the manifestation of the unity of Christians in their common Lord, is more, and more, and more of the spirit of the Cross throughout the Church. As it was put long ago, by one who, next to the Lord Himself, knew best what Christian love is: "Hereby know we love, because He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." Lord Jesus, who didst lay down Thy life for us, grant us, and all Thy people, Thy Holy Spirit, that He may teach us how we too must lay down our lives for the brethren! Give unto us more and more of Thy glory, that we may be one with Thee! Let the love wherewith Thou hast loved us, be in us, that the world may know as it looks at us and sees us one with Thee, that Thou in whom we trust art indeed the Son of God, the Saviour of the world!

VIII.

WISDOM PERSONIFIED AND LOVE INCARNATE.

IT

T is not our purpose to discuss in this paper the large subject of "Wisdom" in the Hebrew literature; but only to call attention to a sadly common perversion of part of the noble passage in the opening of the Book of Proverbs-an abuse of Scripture which has done and is doing incalculable mischief. It has long been a commonplace of popular evangelical exposition that "Wisdom" in the Book of Proverbs is Christ. The ground of this belief is the unquestionable fact that the greater part of the utterances of "Wisdom" in the Proverbs, especially in the eighth chapter, would come most appropriately from the lips of Christ, and some of them are striking anticipations of His gracious invitations and promises.* This is just what we should expect. Wisdom is one of the divine attributes; and Christ "is of God made unto us wisdom," as well as "righteousness and sanctification and redemption." We may surely expect, then, that up to a certain point the utterances of Wisdom and of Christ would coincide; so that in these passages in the Book of Proverbs we should be able to find, as we find throughout

* There is, however, a difference even here. For example, take that favourite text, "I love them that love Me." How far short does it come of the grace of the gospel in which "God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." The order of grace is not, "I love them that love Me;" but, "We love Him, who first loved us."

the whole of the Old Testament, some portion of "the testimony of Jesus." But does it follow that because some or many of Wisdom's utterances may be correctly spoken of as the words of Christ Himself, therefore all of them may be so regarded? To see how utterly foolish is this way of reasoning, we have only to remember how many of David's words not only coincide with those of Christ, but are actually quoted in the New Testament as if Christ Himself had uttered them; and yet no one is so foolish as to insist that all the words of David can

be safely put into the mouth of Christ. Suppose, for example, that some one should quote David's dying curse upon his enemies as the words of Christ, who would not. resent it as a slander on Him whose dying word for His enemies was, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do;" and yet it could be justified on precisely the same principles on which so many put into the mouth of Christ the awful words: "I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh: when your fear cometh as desolation, and destruction cometh. as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me."

We have been moved to write on this subject by a recent sad experience. An earnest Christian lady visiting an infirmary found an old sinner in a very anxious and penitent state of mind. She pointed him to Christ, and told him the gospel of free grace and dying love. He listened with deep earnestness and great interest, and then dashed her hopes by telling her sadly that the gospel was not for him. Asked why he said so, he turned to the first chapter of Proverbs and read the awful sentences we have just quoted. She tried her best to

point him to other passages; but he could not get beyond this one, which seemed so utterly to close the door of hope. The visitor reported the case to her minister. He pointed out to her that these were not the words of Christ, but of Wisdom; that if there were nothing but wisdom in God, there could be no hope for sinners; but that "God is Love," that that love has found expression in the gift of His Son Christ Jesus, and that, though sinners could not find salvation in any words of Wisdom, they could find all they need in Christ, Who can and will

save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him." She went back joyfully with her message, delivered it to the sick man, with the result that his face lighted up, and he seemed about to find what he was seeking, when a man lying on the next bed interposed. He had been a local preacher, and had no doubt often preached fiery discourses on these awful words. He told the poor old man that the visitor was all wrong, that all who understood their Bibles knew that "Wisdom" was Christ, and in proof of it triumphantly pointed to some of those sayings in the eighth chapter which read like words of Christ. The result was that the old despair came back into the poor man's face, and the visitor surrendered too, and to this day feels constrained to treat this passage as an inspired declaration that the Lord Jesus Christ canand does laugh at calamity and mock at prayer!

This is no solitary case. It is a familiar experience, especially in dealing with the comparatively uneducated. And, besides the injury done to anxious souls, no one can tell how many have been driven into infidelity by the unwarrantable liberty which so many good people allow themselves with this passage of Scripture when they take out the word "Wisdom" and put in the word "Christ" or the word "God." Is it any wonder that those who

know not the truth should say: "Better no God at all than one who would laugh at the calamities of His children, and mock them when in agony they pray to Him"?

It does seem, then, of the utmost importance that this passage should be expounded; and it is in the hope of inducing the readers of this paper to do what they can to dispel the popular misunderstanding on the subject that the attempt will be made to show, in as clear a light as possible, wherein the words of Wisdom coincide with those of Christ, and wherein they do not.

As we said at the beginning, Wisdom is one of the attributes of God, and therefore the words of Wisdom must be, up to a certain point, the expression of the Divine mind. We may say that Wisdom expresses the mind of God in creation, in providence, in the whole realm of law. And in this realm, as well as in the realm of grace, the Son of God has His place as the Revealer. As St. John sets forth in the prologue to his gospel, He is the Xoyos, without Whom nothing was made that was made; and as St. Paul tells us, "He is before all things, and by Him all things consist" (Col. i. 17). Closely parallel with this we have the remarkable passage in the eighth chapter of Proverbs, commencing "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old" (see the whole passage, verses 22-31). We may then regard Christ and Wisdom as identical throughout the realm of natural law; so that no error would result from the substitution of the one for the other within that range of truth: but when we leave the realm of law and enter that of grace, it is entirely different; then it may not only be injurious but fatal to take the utterances of mere Wisdom, and put them into the mouth of Christ. If Christ had been only

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