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Now if we can determine what is the spirit, power, or agency, which really introduces and establishes this new order of th we can at once determine who or what is the real Christ. Whatever may have been the opinions of the Jewish prophets, the expectations of the Jewish people, or early notions of the disciples themselves, we know well to-day what it is. It is love, pure, disinterested love of God and Humanity. Nothing but love is able to achieve a work so vast and so glorious. Nothing but love can make the wolf and the lamb lie down together, dethrone the tyrant, break the chains of the captive, unbar the prison door, beat the sword into the ploughshare and the spear into the pruning-hook, wipe the tears from off all faces, and fill the earth with gladness and peace. Love, then, is the true Messiah, the real Christ. And this is what I have before proved.
But Jesus is not love. He was an individual, and is no more to be called love, or the Christ, than Socrates is to be called philosophy, Demosthenes eloquence, or Washington patriotism. The term Christ applies to him merely as the term eloquent to the great orator, or as we call the man, most eminent for oratory, the orator. Jesus in strictness was not the Messiah, the Christ; but he possessed the Christ; he was the individual who possessed, and in the most eminent degree of any of the sons of men, that which brings in the new age, and effects the regeneration which the prophets foresaw and foretold. This is why he is called the Christ. The Christ was in him, and without measure. This distinction between the individual Jesus and the Christ explains, if I mistake not, the mystery of the two natures which have been attributed to Jesus. The Scriptures plainly teach us that Jesus was a man, but they also seem to teach that he was more than man, that he was divine, if not God. Understand all that is said of Jesus Christ as a man, as applying to the individual Jesus, and what is said of him which seems to imply that he was more than man, as applying to the Christ that was in him, and you will have no difficulty.
By means of this distinction, we can easily dispose of the difficulty concerning the alleged preëxistence and Deity of Jesus. Jesus was a man, and no more existed before he was born than other men. certain sense, preëxistence may be affirmed of all men. In this sense, it may be affirmed of Jesus, but in no other. But the Christ preëxisted and was divine. The Christ, I have proved, is love; but love existed long before Jesus was born. The Christ existing in Jesus was love incarnated, or made flesh, or manifested by one in the flesh. But God is love. The Christ being love, then, must be one with God. The Christ being, as I have shown, identical with the Son, it follows also that the Son is one with the Father, with this difference merely, that the Son is love incarnate, and the Father is love universal, constituting the ground and being of all that is Christ, the Son, is then literally and truly God, only God under accident, God revealing himself in and through Humanity. The Christ was in Jesus. Jesus loved, therefore God was in him. He dwelt in love; therefore he dwelt in God and God in him; as John says, “He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him."
This distinction enables us to understand what Jesus meant, when he said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” He did not mean that he, the literal man, the man after the flesh, was before Abraham, for that was not true; but that the Christ, the Divine Love, which was in him, and in whose name he spoke, whose words he was uttering, and for which he was suffering reproach, was that by virtue of which Abraham had been raised to the dignity of being called the friend of God; that in which Abraham rejoiced, which he saw, though it may be but through a glass darkly, and in which he was glad. This Christ was before Abraham; it was eternal; it was in the beginning with God, and was God. And Jesus, by the passage referred to, would also teach the Jews, that what he was urging upon them, the love he was urging them to possess and show forth, had been before Abraham, even from the beginning, the only savior of men, the only way of life, the only sacrifice, all-sufficient sacrifice, for sin, and the only means of justification and acceptance with God. The way of salvation is the same in all ages of the world. It is now what it ever was, and ever will be. No man is accepted with God, till he is reconciled to him, at one with him ; and what, but the possession of love, can reconcile or make us at one with a God who is love ? Love only can make at one with love.
It is easy to see now why Jesus and his Apostles gave the world no new religion. There had been good men before Jesus. But goodness, or that by virtue of which one is good, is the same in all ages and in all countries of the world, and in all individuals too. They, who had been good before Jesus, had been good in the same sense, though it may be not in the same degree, in which he was good. There is none good, absolutely considered, but one, and that is God. Men at best are only relatively good, and good only as they approach or partake of God. God is love; consequently men become good in proportion, and only in proportion, as they love or are filled with love.
Of the millions who had lived before Jesus, had none ever loved ? Shall we say none of them had ever known any thing of that love which was manifest in Jesus? If we may not say so, then Christianity was no new religion. It revealed no new truth; for every man, who had loved, had experienced and known its truth. To that truth Jesus may have given a fuller meaning; he may have developed and quickened the life of love, as it never had been before; but the truth he taught had always been in the world, and borne witness to by every man, in whose heart love had found a resting-place.
If I am right, I gain this important conclusion; to wit, a man's creed does not constitute his Christianity. He who fears God and works righteousness, that is, loves, is accepted with him, whatever be his creed, sect, nation, or mode of worship. The man who loves the Divinity with all his heart and soul, and his neighbor as himself, be he Jew or Moslem, be he Pagan or a professed Christian, is a Christian in the highest and only worthy sense of the term. He is a member of the true Christ's Church, and is one in the unity of his love with the good of all ages and nations, one with Jesus, and one with God. Thank God, there is and there never was but one church, and all who love are its members, and are brethren of the same religion, and will one day come together, however they may be separated now.
Art. III. - Poems written during the progress of the
Abolition Question in the United States, between the years 1830 and 1838. By John G. Whittier. Boston: Isaac Knapp. 1837. 16mo. pp. 104.
Not yet can justice be done to those philanthropic men and women, who have taken the lead in the effort to abolish Negro Slavery. They disturb too many prejudices, interfere with too many interests, and stir up insurrection in too many consciences, to be able to find at once their true place in the love and reverence of their countrymen. But they need not be disheartened. Humanity will not forget them. The very children of those, who now call them madmen and fanatics, who treat them with scorn and contumely, with “ brickbats and stones,” will vie with one another in building their tombs or garnishing their sepulchres.
Slavery — whatever opinion we may form of the ultimate effects of Abolition movements on the destiny of the Negro race,- slavery is doomed, its days are numbered, and as recedes the primitive forest before the advancing emigrant, so must it recede before the onward march of modern civilization. It is not in any human power to save it. Go it must and will; and they who think it can be retained are ignorant of the age in which they live, and of the influences at work around them. They, who would wish to retain it, are strangers in their generation, and worthy of being studied as the last representatives of an order of things, of which we are beginning to know nothing save through the uncertain medium of hoary Tradition. They should be labelled, numbered, and arranged in the cabinets of the curious, as genuine specimens of the antique. In that inviting Future which draweth nigh, the patriarchal relation of master and slave, and even that of employer and employed, will find no admittance; for in that Future man is to be man, and nothing more and nothing less.
When that Future has become the Present, and man stands up by the side of man, in the native dignity of manhood, and in the image of his Maker, they, who now weep and yearn, toil and struggle, suffer reproach and persecution, for the rights of man, will be owned as the true nobility of their day, the God-sent benefactors of mankind. In that day the author of this little volume of poems will not be forgotten. He will then stand out as one who cared for the poor and needy, — who was prompt to save him who was ready to perish, and as one in whose heart lived and burned the genuine love of Humanity. That distinguishing honor awaits him, and that, if we have not wholly mistaken his character, is the honor he is the most ambitious to receive His reputation as a literary man, as a poet, is not that which lies nearest his heart. He does not make it his vocation to write, nor his end to sing. He feels that God has given him a higher mission, a nobler calling, that of breaking the chains of the bound, abolishing tyranny and oppression, and raising universal man to universal freedom and virtue.
Nevertheless, Mr. Whittier is a poet, and a poet of a high order too. He is a living answer to the accusation, that this country can produce no genuine poet. In the volume before us there is poetry, as true, and