Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
THE BIBLE, A DIVINE REVELATION (Continued)
CHRIST'S CHARACTER, OFFICES AND NATURES. PERMISSION OF EVIL. THE RANSOM. THE BIBLE'S EXCELLENCIES.
HAVING PROVEN from God's attributes of being and character as given in the Bible, that it is a Divine revelation, we now offer another line of proof for the same proposition—the character, offices and natures of Christ set forth in the Bible prove it to be a Divine revelation; for next to the plan revealed in the Bible and the attributes of God's being and character that it ascribes to God, we can think of no stronger proof of the Divine origin of the Bible than the character, offices and natures that it reveals as those of Jesus. Each of these three points about Christ will be presented in turn; and in each case the reasons for its proving the Scriptures to be a Divine revelation will be stressed after its pertinent facts are presented. For facts as Biblically revealed prove that Christ's character, offices and natures, after God's plan, nature and character, are the greatest and the strongest proof that the Bible is a Divine revelation. Therefore, like the plan of God and the attributes of being and character of God, the character, offices and natures of Christ belong among the internal evidences of the Scriptures as a Divine revelation; for the character, offices and natures of Christ as revealed in the Bible are of such a kind as could have been invented only by a superhuman and super-angelic being, i.e., only by God. If this proposition can be proven, it follows that what the Bible has to say on Christ's character, offices and natures—and a very large part of its contents concern these three points—must be of Divine revelation, which, reinforced by the points made on God's plan and attributes of being and character as proofs of its
Divine source, adds very much of its contents to those proven to have been originated by God. We will, therefore, first present the facts as to Christ's character, as made known in the Scriptures, and then show how it proves the Bible to be a Divine revelation.
First, then, let us look at this matter as it respects Christ's character. Even a superficial reading of the prophecies and histories of Christ as given in the Bible impresses the reader with the uniqueness of His character among the sons of men; for there is no good feature of character but He shines out therein as "fairer than the children of men" (Ps. 45: 2); for every grace of character is not only exemplified in Him, but is made illustrious by its unique excellence in Him. This is true of all three kinds of graces: the primary, secondary and tertiary, as it is also true of every one of each of the three kinds of graces. Let us briefly note the facts that prove this point, instancing first the higher and lower primary graces. The higher primary graces are faith, hope, self-control, patience, piety, brotherly love and charity (2 Pet. 1: 5-7). Jesus' faith in God as to His person, character, plan and works shines out in every act of His ministry; for His undertaking it at all, His prosecuting it amid toward and untoward conditions and His trustfully accepting the Father's will for His own, e.g., in Gethsemane, before the high priest, the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod and on the way to and at Calvary, whereby He confidently as to God entered the jaws of death in faith, reveal a unique faith. Hope, too, shines out in His course as He for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame. And that hope was a large one, i.e., the desire and the expectation of pleasing the Father, of winning the Church, the Ancient and Youthful Worthies and the Great Company as the four elect classes, of restoring the worthy among the fallen angels and humans to their former condition, as well as of receiving the personal promotion offered Him by God. Jesus' self-control shines out brightly
in His contacts with His faulters and His enemies, with the sordidness of the people with whom He mingled and with the faults of His disciples. His patience, the Bible word for perseverance, is exemplified in that no obstacle could baffle Him, no opposition could overcome Him, no difficulty could make Him give up and no number and power of opponents could make Him surrender His aims. Even the prospect of His final sufferings could not prevent His going forward on His mission, as we read, "He set His face steadfastly to go up to Jerusalem."
His piety was of the finest quality. Probably its finest exemplification occurred in Gethsemane, where it so acted as to have procured the answer to His prayer to be saved from the Second Death, which was the thing that He feared in the garden (Heb. 5: 7, 8); for evidently He was not saved from the death of the cross; nor could He have died the Adamic death, not having inherited it and its sentence. Accordingly, despite the fear that He had in the garden that He had possibly not hitherto done everything perfectly, or might not be able to meet the ordeal just ahead of Him perfectly, and thus not return from death, i.e., die the Second Death, His piety, duty-love to God, impelled Him to accept the cup that the Father was pouring out for Him, "Thy will, not mine, be done," and therein He gave an example of piety never equaled by any other of God's creatures. His brotherly love, duty-love to His neighbor, showed itself in a thousand deeds of kindness that He lavished upon the poor, the sick and the disconsolate. Where was such kindness shown his fellows by any other son of Adam? And as for charity, disinterested love, in its appreciation, in its heart's unity with the good, in its sympathy and in its sacrifice, His is absolutely unique. His appreciation made Him "love" the rich young ruler for his righteousness; His heart's unity with the God expressed itself in this oneness with God. His sympathy made Him have compassion on the afflicted and scattered
multitude and His sacrificing spirit made Him devote His all from Jordan to Calvary, even to the death of the cross for God's plan. He could even forget the injustice of His arrest and restore the ear of Malchus, one of his arresters. His charity, disinterested love, toward His disciples is most beautifully stated in the words, "Jesus having loved His own, loved them unto the end." That love looked at the denying Peter and melted him into repentance. That love overlooked all of the disciples' forsaking Him at the time of His arrest. That love sought them out in their distress on His resurrection day. His love was not sentimentality; it was not gush; it was not a wordy one. It was deep, feelingful, thoughtful and eminently practical. The love that moved him to lay down His precious life for the world was the highest expression of love ever made by a human: it was exceeded by only one other expression of love, that of the Father in giving up His only begotten Son unto death for His enemies! Surely the prophet David was right when He said of Christ's character, "Thou art fairer than the sons of men; grace is poured into Thy lips"; and He could as truly have added, "and grace is poured out by Thy life upon others." Where by the children of men were faith, hope, self-control, patience, piety, brotherly love and charity ever so sublimely and beautifully exercised as by Christ? Do Moses, Confucius, Buddha, Zoroaster, Socrates or Mohammed even remotely approximate Him in these graces? They are but stars of smaller magnitudes; He is the noonday sun on a cloudless day.
He was equally unique in the lower primary graces self-esteem, approbativeness, peace, combativeness, aggressiveness, vitativeness, cautiousness, secretiveness, acquisitiveness and appetitiveness. He had the self-esteem that exercised a proper self-confidence, self-satisfaction and self-respect that could challenge His accusers with the words, "Which of you convinceth [proves me guilty] of sin?" He had the approbativeness toward God that always sought to do and did the
things pleasing to His Father, as He also had the approbativeness that could receive as proper the acclamations of the multitudes at His triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. The peace of an unperplexed mind and of a tranquil heart was His at all times (John 15: 27). Like a sweet perfume the peace of heart and mind that John 13— 17 show were His the evening before His death pervaded His last discourse in the upper room and gave it a never to be lost atmosphere. His combativeness led Him to defend Truth and righteousness against all assaults, as e.g., His talks in John 3—10 prove. And his aggressiveness led Him to attack with the weapons of Truth the false teachings and evil examples of rabbinic traditionalism, as, e.g., Matt. 23 shows. His vitativeness moved Him to protect His life and shield Himself from avoidable dangers, until He knew that it was the Father's will for Him no longer so to do, as can be seen from His escape from His would-be lynchers at Nazareth and Jerusalem. His cautiousness led Him not to cast Himself down from the temple's pinnacle, as it also declined to answer questions whose answers could be capitalized by His enemies against Him. His secretiveness made Him give evasive answers to catch questions like those as to whether it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar and as to whence was His authority to teach and do as He did. His acquisitiveness led Him to have the fragments of the feast all gathered up for future use, as it moved Him to require a proper return from His stewards. He used His appetitiveness to furnish Him occasions of doing good and to strengthen Him for His mission. Thus we see that He made a good use of all the lower primary graces, i.e., used them as servants of truth, righteousness and holiness. And in these respects He excelled in goodness all others among the children of men.
In the preceding paragraph it was pointed out how Jesus rightly used His lower selfish organs, and that this developed the selfish lower primary graces; but
He did the same with His social lower primary graces— sexliness, filiality, fraternity, friendliness, domesticity, neighborliness and patriotism. He denied Himself the exercise of conjugality and fatherliness, so as better to exercise His ministry, which, had He been a husband and father, would have suffered injury. But He had the pertinent qualities manifested by His love for children, who repeatedly thronged Him, and by His devotion to the Church as His future Bride. His pure sexliness showed itself in the special attention that He attracted from the women of Galilee who ministered to Him of their substance and from Mary Magdalene and Mary and Martha of Bethany. There was, however, nothing coarse or unchaste in His sexliness. His filiality showed itself in the proper sonship attitude of trust, respect, obedience and love that He exercised toward Joseph and Mary. His friendship was of the highest order, as facts prove, compared with His statement, "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends; and ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." This statement proves that His was the proper ideal for friendship—that it be based on good character—"ye are My friends, if …". That He had a proper love for home—domesticity—is evident from the contrast that He gave us when He told us that the birds of the air had their nests and that the foxes had their holes, but that the Son of man had no place where to lay His head! The brief hints as to His Nazareth abode suggest the thought of His love for home. His sociability in mingling fraternally as a man among men well demonstrates His neighborliness. His patriotism shines out not only through His confining His ministry to Israel and requiring His disciples until due time to do the same; but it also is seen in His tears shed over Jerusalem and in His lamentation, "How oft would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but ye would not"; and the same thing appears in His statement to the weeping
Jerusalem women—"Weep not for Me, but for yourselves and your children." In every expression of His social lower primary graces we find a most unselfish and kindly use made of them, a use that exemplifies the servant exercise of them in the interests of truth, righteousness and holiness. Certainly, deserving of praise only is His exercise of the social lower primary graces, as well as that of His selfish lower primary graces. In these respects He is again "fairer than the sons of men."
In the secondary graces also our Lord Jesus was fairer than the sons of men. As has been pointed out in these columns, the secondary graces result from the higher primary graces suppressing the efforts of the lower primary graces to control us. We have just seen that Jesus made a noble use of His lower primary graces, i.e., used them not for selfish and worldly aggrandizement, but as servants of truth, righteousness and holiness. But if these lower primary graces are allowed to dominate one, they make him selfish and worldly and create the lower primary disgraces. To prevent this their efforts to control must be suppressed by the higher primary graces: faith, hope, self-control, patience, piety, brotherly love and charity. Jesus suppressed by these higher primary graces every effort that His lower primary graces put forth to control Him, which resulted in His exercising the secondary graces in thorough and perfect unselfishness and unworldliness. The secondary graces that are in somewhat contrasted relations with our selfish lower primary graces are: humility, unostentatiousness, industriousness, self-sacrificingness, longsuffering, forbearance, forgiveness, bravery, candor, generosity and abstinence as to food and drink. The secondary graces, it will be noted, are the passive graces, as distinct from the primary graces, which are active, while the tertiary graces are mixed, i.e., combinations of other graces. The secondary graces do not have special organs through which they act; for to have such special organs
is the peculiarity of the primary graces. Rather, the secondary graces arise through suppression of the control of the lower primary graces.
Those secondary graces that are in somewhat of a contrast with the social primary graces, with but one exception, are not given names in the Bible, nor in the English language. That exception is chastity, which results from suppressing the efforts of sexliness to control us. But even if we have no names for them, evidently the suppression of the effort to control us that each one of the other social lower primary graces puts forth, i.e., our being dead to its control, produces a secondary grace. Thus when the efforts of husbandliness, wifeliness; filiality, brotherliness, sisterliness, friendship, domesticity, neighborliness and patriotism seek to control us and we become dead to such efforts, we exercise a related and somewhat contrasted, but not opposite, grace as to each one of them, respectively, i.e., a secondary grace. It is a pity that we do not have names for each one of these, but reasoning over the facts of such control suppressions we recognize that there are actually such secondary graces in existence. In designating them, in lieu of direct words, we will have to resort to descriptive terms. The facts that we will point out in Christ's character and that we observe in the saintly characters of others prove the existence of such nameless graces. We hope that some day applicable names will be invented for such graces. The nearest description that we can give to them now is deadness to their efforts to control us. All said in this and the preceding paragraph is introductory to our presenting our Lord's character from the viewpoint of His secondary graces.
Most beautifully does His humility appear in His carnation, life as a man among men, in His subjection to His parents and teachers, in His associations with publicans and sinners, in His undergoing the contradiction of sinners and above all in His quietly submitting to arrest, unjust trial by the Sanhedrin, Herod
and Pilate, condemnation, torture, mockery and the death of the cross! His unostentatiousness appears in His refusal to allow Himself to be made a king, His disappearing from among the multitude when they sought even by force to make Him such, His seeking the companionship of the meek and lowly instead of that of the great and high, His avoiding all sensational and faker methods of attracting attention to His message and His steadfastly hiding His greatness, office and power from the people, making these known modestly and but partially to His few intimates. The industriousness of His character was always evident; and in but one period did it seem partially obscured—when He feared in Gethsemane that imperfection had or would make Him fail to qualify to save the Church and the world from Satan, sin and death, and thus wreck the whole plan of God, when He faced Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod, the mocking and scourging soldiers, the road to Calvary and the experiences of the cross, all requiring passivity, not activity. His long-suffering amid contradictions of sinners, enmity of the hierarchy, injustice of rulers, ingratitude of the people, envy of leaders, opposition of sects, obtuseness of the commonality, irresponsiveness of disciples, abandonment by friends, triumphs of opponents, trampling down of His rights and His unresentfulness as to His final experiences, culminating in the death of the cross, is unique in all human experience. His forbearance exercised amid the same conditions mentioned in connection with His longsuffering is an altogether unique human phenomenon, especially when we remember His strength of character as displayed in exercise against hypocrisy, shown in Matt. 23.
Most beautiful was His spirit of forgiveness that was so great as to enable Him to lay down life for His maligners, wrongers and murderers, as well as pray for their forgiveness; amid and through the evils with which they afflicted Him. His was a forgiveness that went out to friends and enemies, to acquaintances
and unknowns, Jew and Gentile. His whole course, in His activities and passivities, in His self and world denials, in His conveniences and inconveniences, in His joys and sorrows, in His popularities and unpopularities, in His serving and suffering and in His living and dying, was unique in self—sacrificingness. His courage was undaunted by privation and suffering, by necessities and hardships, by dangers and distresses, by opposition and resistance on the part of the few and the many, by the antagonistic powers of church and state and by the sentence and execution of death. His candor, when necessary to use, never minced necessary words, never for policy called sin good, nor compromised with evil to prevent His becoming unpopular, never withheld a needed rebuke or correction and never compromised His message to gain or retain approval. When necessary he hewed to the line, letting the chips fall wherever they might. Yet He was never brutally frank, needlessly unsparing of others' feelings and indiscriminatingly denunciatory, thus holding His candor in strict rein. His generosity was unexemplified, which, among other things, was manifest in His pouring out His vitality in effecting physical cures, which He performed by replacing His patients' depleted vitality by bestowing upon them His own. His generosity made Him give the people His time of needed rest for their blessing, as can be seen in the case of the tired Master forgetting His weariness to minister to the woman at Samaria's well, to Nicodemus at night and in performing cures all night. Yea, His whole ministry of teaching, preaching and curing, as well as His undergoing the suffering of death, were an expression of generosity of the highest order—that of self-giving; for self-giving, as distinct from the giving of things from self apart, is the highest order of giving, and Jesus' abstemiousness as to the good things of life, not in the spirit of a foolish asceticism, which is but a mock piety, though often palmed off as the genuine article, but in the spirit of genuine, loving self-denial
in the interests of others, was very marked indeed, as seen in His oft fasting and self-mortification in the interests of studying and spreading God's Word for the blessing of others. Accordingly, we see that Jesus exemplified in the supreme degree all the secondary graces resulting from suppressing the efforts of His selfish lower primary graces to control Him.
So, too, was He the supreme exemplar of the secondary graces that are related to the suppression of the efforts of His social lower primary graces to control Him. In His contacts with the opposite sex He was the very embodiment of chastity in thought, motive, word and act. Conscious of the fact that the mission which He entered the world to fulfill would not permit Him to do justice to wife or children, if He should have them, He deliberately denied Himself the indulgence of His right to be a husband and father, and thus He suppressed His desire to have a wife and children from controlling Him to the detriment of His mission to be the world's Savior. The same principle moved Him to give up the rights, privileges and blessings of having a home; and in suppressing the indulgence of this privilege He became what in modern parlance is called, "a tramp preacher." Most pathetically did He, who had it in Him to be an ideal husband, father and homebody, describe His pertinent condition, in the words, "The birds of the air have their nests, the foxes have their holes, but the Son of man hath nowhere to lay His head!" His mission did not require for its faithful performance that He have no friends, but it did require of Him that He do not permit His friendships to dominate His course, which should be dominated by the higher primary graces only. Hence, when these required Him to say no to His friends, He did it, as when His disciples sought to dissuade Him from fulfilling the Father's will in His death at Jerusalem. This same spirit made Him refuse to recognize that His mother had any right to direct the course of His ministry, and thus to defer
to her wishes, when she sought to direct His course at the wedding at Cana of Galilee, and when on another occasion, she, reinforced by her sons, sought to divert Him from His ministry. Nor did He allow His neighborliness at Nazareth to blunt the edge of His rebukes in the synagogue, even though it led to an attempt to lynch Him. And, finally, He suppressed the efforts of His patriotism to control Him into modifying His message and other features of His ministry for the alleged necessities of His country and countrymen, some of whom thought that His course required in the interests of His people and country His life as a means of appeasing the Romans toward Israel and Israel's country. Accordingly, we see that Jesus had all of the secondary graces, that result from the suppression of the efforts of His social lower primary graces to control Him.
Finally, His character is a perfect exemplification of the tertiary, or mixed graces, which are: zeal, meekness, joy, gentleness, moderation, goodness [magnanimity], obedience, reverence, resignation, contentment, impartiality and faithfulness. These tertiary graces are a combination, usually of some or all of the higher primary graces on the one hand, and of one or more of the lower primary and secondary graces on the other hand; hence they are mixed graces, not mixed from the standpoint of a mixture of active graces, which all the primary graces are, and of the passive graces, which all of the secondary graces are, but from the standpoint set forth in the first clause of the sentence: a mixture of higher primary graces on the one hand, and of lower primary and secondary graces on the other hand. An analysis of the twelve tertiary graces above mentioned proves them to be mixed as just stated. Jesus had all of these in unique measure and full perfection. His zeal—enthusiastic devotion to God and His cause and people—displayed itself in every active and passive act of His ministry, e.g., in cleansing the temple twice, early and late in His ministry, in
His constant teaching, preaching, miracle working, in His travels and exposures to all sorts of privations in order to fulfill His ministry, yea, even pressing on until He had finished His course in death. His meekness—mild submissiveness of heart and mind—made Him very teachable and leadable by God, more teachable and leadable by God than any of God's other creatures have been. This quality shines out in His willingness to leave the glories of heaven and come to this bleak earth as the Babe of Bethlehem, and live an exile from heaven and its glories for about 34 years in mild submissiveness to the Father's will. It moved Him to endure all the self and world denials of His ministry, as well as to endure His unexemplified sufferings unto death to carry out the Father's will, which moved Him to submit mildly to the injustices heaped upon Him by His enemies undeservedly. Truly He could say of Himself, "I am meek and lowly in heart." Joy was likewise a grace of His heart. While He is called a Man of Sorrows, this refers particularly to the last day of His life, while He was in the shadow of, and upon the cross. Ordinarily His life was a joyful one, not joyful in earthly pleasures, but joyful in the Lord, for it was in God's person, character, plan and works that He found His joy. He joyed in the generalities of these, as well as in their particularities. His experiences of joy are prophetically set forth in the Psalms and in the Prophets in larger measure than in the Gospels, where, however, there is not wanting mention of these. He must have been a cheerful man, else children would not have thronged Him.
The Bible makes special mention of His gentleness; exercised in a rude, coarse and cruel age, little inclined to foster gentleness. Hence St. Paul entreated the brethren "by the gentleness of Christ." His gentleness with the weak and erring, with the sick and dying, with the sad and penitent, with the faint and weary, with the perplexed and worried, with the bereaved and mournful, with the troubled and discouraged,
with the burdened and oppressed has been a favorite theme with artists, orators and biographers. Truly of Him it is written as to His gentleness, "The bruised reed He will not break; the smoking flax He will not quench." Never do we find Him rough, coarse or rude in look, word or act. Never was the gentlest woman so gentle as He. And, certainly, His gentleness shines out the more brightly as it stands in such marked contrast with the rudeness, coarseness and cruelty of His age and generation. His moderation is as marked as His gentleness. Certainly, His age and generation, like our own age and generation, were marked by the greatest extremes in character, in social customs and castes, in political movements and aspirations, in religious sectarianism and intolerance, in hierarchism and clericalism, in economic differences and wrongs, in extensive intelligence and colossal ignorance and in wide liberty and extreme slavery. Practically everyone was caught in the meshes of one or another of these extremes. But not so Jesus. While He came as the Founder of a new religion, which had in its roots the seeds of great doctrinal, ethical, educational, social, economic and political reforms, destined in due time to grow into a tree whose shadow would protect all, there was not in Him anything of the fanatic, the zealot, the sectarian, the bigot, the hierarch, the clericalist, the tyrant, the oppressor or the sordid. He lived above all of these in the calm heaven of a blending of the ideal and real, of the theoretical and practical, that instinctively, as it were, made Him avoid all extremes and tread the golden middle of true moderation in thought, motive, word and act. Most wonderfully moderate was His character.
His goodness, i.e., magnanimity, was just as marked as his moderation. There was nothing insular or provincial in His theories and practices. Prejudices and intolerances were as far from Him as the east is from the west. His sympathies were as wide as human need; and the allowances that He made for provincialisms,
the excuses that He made for personal peculiarities, the putting of the best construction possible on questionable conduct, His giving the fallen the support of His influence, His making due allowance for weakness and ignorance, His finding excuses for the fallen and sinful and His self-giving for others' benefit, one and all exhibit a heart of true goodness, i.e., magnanimity. All the more brightly is this quality manifested in Him when we remember how His age and generation was so wanting in this grace. The grace of obedience was another of the tertiary graces that made Him an exemplar therein. Obedience takes the will of him who has the right to direct or command as his own and fulfils it. It is a quality variously owed to God, parents, husbands, teachers, civil rulers, employers and military superiors. To such of these as Jesus owed obedience He exercised it unto perfection. As a boy and adolescent we find Him obedient to His parents and teachers. Always He rendered obedience to His rulers, even wherein they unjustly took away His human rights and privileges. He never was in an army, hence was not subject to a military superior as distinct from a civil ruler. And so far as we know, He had no employer; but if He had, we may be sure that he rendered him congruous obedience. The highest expression of His obedience was toward His heavenly Father. Any suggestion of God met His heartiest response, so that with truth He could say, "I always do those things that are pleasing unto My Father." He stood alike alert to fulfill the Father's slightest wish and strongest volition. He never hesitated to do what He knew was the Father's will. While there was at times a hesitation, e.g., in Gethsemane, until He was sure as to the Father's will, once He was sure of it, His response to it was immediate, complete and wholehearted. It was an obedience that was exercised in good and evil days, in pain or pleasure, in easy and hard conditions, in life and unto death. "He became obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross."
And though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience in the things that He suffered. Unique obedience!
Reverence toward God, truth, righteousness and holiness was as characteristic of Him as obedience. In reverence there is a combination of piety, charity, wonder, fear, respect, awe and veneration as to God. While most of these qualities combine to make reverence toward truth, righteousness and holiness, all of them are combined in a proper reverence toward God. We find that all that belonged to reverence toward truth, righteousness and holiness met in Jesus' reverence toward these, as we find that all of the features of reverence mentioned above combined in His reverence toward God. Search the records from beginning to end, never do we find in them any irreverence in Jesus toward God and the principles for which God stands. Highest reverence marks His thoughts, motives, words and deeds as to these. Hence the praise of full, wholehearted reverence toward these may be truly ascribed to Jesus. Adoration, as a part of His reverence toward God, was brilliant in the crown of Jesus' character. In the highest form of adoration most of the graces combine, and in such combination express themselves in this quality. While in the New Testament the quality of adoration is exemplified in Jesus, its highest expressions are ascribed to Him prophetically, especially in the Psalms. This quality in Him arises to the highest heights of worship and veneration, yea, it scales the heaven of heavens, and loses itself into oneness with God. And in such adoration Jesus' feelings lost sight of everyone and everything, and saw and felt God alone as the supremely exalted One. Never did anyone else arise to such heights of adoration. Resignation was marked in His character, manifest in all the contrarieties of His life, especially at Gethsemane, Sanhedrin, Praetorium, Via Dolorosa and Calvary. His contentment was certainly marked, expressing itself as pleased with all of the hardships, necessities, privations, persecutions, injustices that He had to meet as He carried
out the duties and privations of His gracious ministry. His impartiality appears in His doings with His relatives, friends, enemies, disciples, rulers, common people, poor, needy, sick, etc. Finally, faithfulness marked Jesus as His crowning quality. We call it His crowning quality because it was a quality that permeated and perfected His every other quality; for only then could He be fully faithful, if He were loyal in all His graces. He was given by God a compound mission—a mission as respects God, truth, righteousness, holiness, as to fitting Himself to become in person, character, word and work God's Vicegerent, the Savior of the Church and the world and the Executor of all God's future arrangements throughout the universe. A more responsible mission under God it is impossible to imagine. To accomplish this required the grace of faithfulness in the supreme sense of that word for a creature of God. And He did no less than furnish that degree of faithfulness in His mission, which tested His loyalty to God, truth, righteousness, holiness, the Church and the world at every point of character unto the utmost. And in nothing was He found wanting. Every resource of the devil, the world and the flesh was enlisted against Him to break His faithfulness, but all in vain; for in no point, no matter what pressure was exerted against Him, could He in the least shadow of turning be made to swerve from His faithfulness. Victoriously did His faithfulness emerge from every test; for He was the one who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising [esteeming as inconsequential] the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Yea, He was and forever remains faithful.
Our brief study of Jesus' character manifests the fact that He had all of the primary, secondary and tertiary graces, and that in unique perfection. Enemies of His are wont to point out two things in Him that they allege were imperfections in His character: (1) His severe denunciation of the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees in Matt. 23 and (2) His fear and anguish
in Gethsemane. Against the first of these charges we reply that on that occasion He acted as God's direct prophetic mouthpiece announcing God's denunciation of the wickedness of these evil men, whose evils not only affected them, but misled the nation into the greatest of its sins and consequent calamities. Under such circumstances His severity was thoroughly justified. As to the second objection, a proper view of the situation will dissolve it into thin air. The situation was this: the tender-conscienced Jesus under subtle Satanic suggestion feared for an hour that either He had done some imperfect thing, or that amid the crucial experiences of His last 13 hours he would be unable to maintain His perfection. In such a case it would not only mean that He would have to pass out of existence forever, but that He would be a great disappointment to His Father, whose approval He craved above every other thing, that He would wreck the whole plan of God as to the four elect classes, the fallen angels and the non-elect classes, and that as a consequence everything would result in wreck and ruin for the elect, the penitent angels and the non-elect, that instead of God, truth, righteousness and holiness triumphing in His conflict with the powers of evil, the latter would triumph, and God's plan would go by the board. In a word, the crisis of the universe depended upon Him and His overcoming; and this thought for an hour weighed so heavily upon Him as almost to crush Him to death from fear and anguish at the tremendousness of the crisis. Under the influence of this train of thought, no wonder that He prayed for an easing of the coming trials as a means of making it certain that He would overcome. Instead of His fear and anguish being an exhibition of weakness and imperfection, it was an evidence of His great love for God and man, as well as for the triumph of truth, righteousness and holiness and the plan of God; and to have overcome so terrible a conflict in the brief space of an hour is a full proof of His perfection that did overcome the terrible
trial in so short a time. Instead of His fear and anguish being an evidence of weakness, they were a proof of His undying and crystallized love to God, man, truth, righteousness and holiness and His great desire to bring truth, righteousness, holiness and God's plan to a full triumph. No! No! NO! Jesus' character was perfect to the last degree in every grace.
This being true, the question arises, Whence did such a character-portrait originate? The best of heathen philosophers and religious geniuses could not have originated it; for the highest development of character theory that heathenism originated is the brazen rule of Confucius: Do not to others what you do not desire them to do to you—a negative precept that falls far short of the golden rule manward that Jesus gave. Nor could the Jews have originated such a character-portrait as that of Jesus; for though Judaism received from God through Moses and the Prophets the golden rule Godward and manward— supreme love to God and equal love to man, and though on the basis of these the rabbis of Jesus' day evolved some fine precepts of duty love, yet they never conceived the heights and depths, the lengths and breadths of Jesus' character exhibited in the New Testament. The various forms that His disinterested love assumes in itself and in its effects on His other graces were things undreamt of in the philosophy of the rabbis. Hence these could not have invented the character-portrait of Jesus set forth in the New Testament. Nor could the disciples, including Paul, have originated it; for of themselves they could not have arisen to the heights of the ablest of Israel's contemporary rabbis. The origin of Jesus' character-portrait as set forth in the New Testament transcends the power of men and angels; for none of the holy angels, let alone the evil ones, could in their theories and practices attain to such a character-portrait as that of Jesus. So sublimely beautiful and holy a character as that of Jesus—"we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father,
full of grace and truth"—could have been originated theoretically and practically by none short of God Himself, and is, accordingly, a very impressive proof that at least that part of the Bible that discloses Jesus' character must be a Divine revelation. Hence we set forth Jesus as the wisdom of God and the power of God, i.e., as the product of God's wisdom and power and as the instrument of them, in His uniquely perfect character, embracing every grace perfect in itself, perfect in its blending with every other grace axed in such balance perfectly crystallized in every detail and dominated by the higher primary graces, as a proof that the Bible is a Divine revelation.
The statement was made above that the character, offices and natures of Christ prove the Bible to be a Divine revelation, but there only the character of Christ was discussed as a proof that the Bible is a Divine revelation; and now the proof for the same fact from part of the Biblically ascribed offices of Christ is to be given. Thereafter the proof from the rest of these and that from Christ's natures will be treated. In brief, the argument is this: The offices that the Bible ascribes to Christ are perfectly adapted to rescue man from his condemnation, from all of his sinfulness and from all of the effects of his condemnation and sinfulness, as these affect his relations to God, his fellows, himself, organized society and animate and inanimate nature. It is unnecessary for us to show here the particulars of man's sinfulness, as we showed this in some detail, in so far as his sinful acts are concerned, in Chapter II, where the need of a Divine revelation was discussed. As all deep thinkers who meditate on man's sins and sinfulness, even apart from Biblical teachings, i.e., in the light of nature, facts and human reason, believe, mankind, in varying degrees in its individuals, is depraved physically, mentally, artistically, morally and religiously. Even the dullest recognize that the race is dying under the load of physical sicknesses, accidents, calamities, tidal waves, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes,