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DIVISION D. (Continued.)


as we are.


as to His manhood, and in all things like us,

sin excepted ;” and there has not since been CHRIST'S SINLESS LIFE AND any change within the accepted Christological PERFECT MERITS.

doctrine of the Church.-Prof. J. W. Marshall. I. THE ESSENTIAL SINLESSNESS OF CHRIST. (13422] While our Lord's infinite love to us

led Him to humble Himself so as to become Survey of the doctrine.

flesh, His infinite purity could not endure that The Christian Church has always held that He should defile Himself with sinful flesh. The Christ was absolutely free from sin.

nature which He took was a sinless nature. It (13421) To the minds of the apostles the had all the essential properties of manhood, but perfect sinlessness of their Divine Master pre

it was without sin. Our Lord was made in the sented itself as an unquestionable fact, and this likeness of sinful flesh, not in sinful flesh. His view continued to prevail, through the period birth of the Virgin Mary gave Him thus much immediately succeeding, in the development of in common with us, that He was as truly man the Church's doctrine of the person and work

His conception by the Holy Ghost of Christ. No explicit statement of it seems to distinguished Him from all other men, in that have been made or deemed necessary, but the He was wholly free from whatsoever of sin and allusions in the early ecclesiastical writers show guilt we have inherited from our first father. that the doctrine was neither rejected as un- And therefore, even before He was conceived founded nor ignored as unimportant. Tertul- in the womb, He was spoken of as that holy lian inferred the sinlessness of Christ from His thing which should be born. He alone, of all divinity; Origen regarded it as a peculiar pro- the sons of men, since the fall, was so born perty of the human soul of Christ, resulting that He needed not to be born again. That from its union with the Divine Logos, by whose

which we become at our regeneration, He was, virtue it was interpenetrated as red-hot iron is though in an infinitely higher and more perfect by fire, so that sin became for him an impos- sense, at His natural birth. And His being sibility. Apollinaris, setting out with the belief such at His natural birth is the cause of our that human nature implies limitation, mutability, becoming such at our second birth.-C. A. conflict, sin, &c., held that no man can be a Heurtley, B.D. perfect man without sin ; and in order to preserve, consistently with this view, the sinless. Old Testament prefigurations of, and New ness of Christ, sacrificed His true humanity by

Testament witnesses to, its truth. adopting the opinion that the Logos took the (13423] The coming of such a Redeemer was place of the human soul in Christ, and imparted prefigured in the worship and sacrifices of patrito Him an irresistible tendency to the good. archal times, in the separation and Temple Athanasius held the doctrine of a sinless, yet services of the Jewish nation, and in those holy perfectly human, nature in Christ, arguing that men who from time to time appeared as lights sin does not belong to human nature per se, amidst the darkness of the world. Throughout which was originally pure and sinless ; and that all these preparatory manifestations, the idea Christ could, consequently, assume the nature of the sinlessness of the coming Messiah apof man without thereby being made subject to pears. In the spotless victims, in the purifying sin, and thus, by His perfect life as a man, be- services, in the strains of the poets of Israel, come man's exemplar and guide in his conflict and in the magnificent imagery and language of with evil and progress towards the good. At the prophets are found, more or less complete, the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) the doc- the elements whose union culminates in the trine of Christ's true, yet sinless, manhood was idea of the sinless Son of God and Redeemer formulized in the words, “truly man, with a of men (Isa. ix., xl., xlii. ; Jer. xxxi. 31 sq. ; rational soul and body of like essence with us Ezek. xxxvi. 8 sq., &c.). The New Testament

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(CHRIST'S SINLESS LIFE AND PERFECT MERITS. writings bear unequivocal and harmonious testi- Christ, so far as sinlessness is attributed to mony to the truth of this doctrine. Christ is Him, a Divine revelation of God, which, by described in them as the Holy One, the Just realizing, discloses the archetype of holiness; and Righteous (Acts iii. 14, xxii. 14; 1 Pet. iii.

which revelation could only be brought to pass 18; 1 John ii. 1, 29, iii. 7); as tempted “like through the medium of an unique distinctive as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. iv. 15); as being of God in Him, by which the image of our example, “who did no sin, neither was guile God attained to actual representation in the found in His mouth” (1 Pet. xi. 21, 22); as “a world.-Ibid. lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. i. 19) ; as “an high priest who is holy, harm- 4 Testimony borne to this truth by His less, undefiled” *“ who needeth not daily

supreme self-consciousness of perfect free. to offer sacrifices ”“ for His own sins," as other

dom from all taint of guilt. priests did (Heb. vii. 26, 27); as the Mediator (13426] But the silence of Jesus respecting “who knew no sin ” (2 Cor. v. 21). These any sense of personal unworthiness has been writings, indeed, are full of proofs that His accounted for by the unrivalled closeness of apostles and followers recognized in Christ, be- His life-long communion with God. Is it then cause of His holiness, as well as His wonder- certain that the holiest souls are least alive to working power, the Messiah foretold by pro- personal sin ? Do they whose life of thought is phecy, coming in the fulness of the Divine little less than the breath of a perpetual prayer, Spirit to be the Founder, Lawgiver, and King and who dwell continuously in the presenceof the kingdom of God on earth. Christ no chamber of the King of kings, profess themless unequivocally claims for Himself such per- selves insensible to that taint of sin, from which fection of nature and life, in the assumption of none are altogether free? Is this the lesson oneness with God (John x. 30), in the fact that which we learn from the language of the best of He nowhere prays for forgiveness of His own the servants of God? My brethren, the very sins, or recognizes that sin exists in Himself, reverse is the case. Those who have lived and, specifically, in the expression “Which of nearest to God, and have known most about you convinceth Me of sin ?'” (John viii. 46.) Him, and have been most visibly irradiated by Prof. 7. W. Marshall.

the light of His countenance, have been fore

most to acknowledge that the “burden” of re3 Testimony borne to this truth by the maining imperfection in themselves was truly

unique character of Christ's life and teach- “intolerable.” Their eager protestations have ing.

often seemed to the world to be either the ex(13424] Where falsehood and hypocrisy seek

aggerations of fanaticism, or else the proof of a to assume the appearance of goodness, it always

more than ordinary wickedness. For blemishes happens that, being inexperienced in the region

which might have passed unobserved in a spiritual of love and truth, it attaches itself involuntarily twilight are lighted up with torturing clearness to custom, mimics what is in some circles re- by those searching, scorching rays of moral garded as exquisitely pious or strictly moral, be

truth, that stream from the bright sanctity of it even in the inventing of new artistic or striking

God upon the soul that beholds it. In that forms, which suit the prevailing moral tone on

Presence the holiest of creatures must own with the one hand, and excite astonishment on the

the Psalmist,“Thou has set our misdeeds before other, but has neither courage nor strength for

Thee, and our secret sins in the light of Thy the simplicity of moral originality. For where

countenance." Such self-accusing, brokenwould be the desired success of the deception

hearted confessions of sin have been the ut. if one did not, perhaps in an exaggerated way,

terances of men the most conspicuous in use and pay his way with the sign-language or

Christendom for holiness of life ; and no true coin which was already current ? Now we per

saint of God ever supposed that by a constant ceive that, in this very department, Jesus broke

spiritual sight of God the soul would lose its with the customary views and hopes of whatever keen truthful sense of personal sinfulness. No was just, and pious, and good, and with the repre

man could

presume that this sense of sinfulness, sentatives of them; that He came into violent

as distinct from the sense of unpardoned guilt, collision with them, and that He, with creative

would be banished by close communion with originality, set forth in His teaching, life, and God, unless his moral standard was low, and his suffering, a view of the good, directly opposed

creed imperfect. Any such presumption is to the prevailing one, appealing to the primitive

utterly inconsistent with a true sight of Him moral sense in man, commending itself to sus

whose severe and stainless beauty casts the ceptible minds (much like a genuine work of

shadow of failure upon all that is not Himself, art), and overmastering them. That was only

and who charges His very angels with moral possible if He Himself was possessed and filled

folly. Yet Jesus Christ never once confesses sin; by the glory of the truly and essentially good,

He never once asks for pardon. Is it not He which He knew and brought to light, seeking

who so sharply rebukes the self-righteousness nothing but its victory and prevalence.

of the Pharisee? Might He not seem to ignore Dorner.

all human piety that is not based upon a broken

heart? Does He not deal with human nature (13425] It is not an arbitrary procedure, but at large as the true prodigal, who must penitently simply the necessity of the case, to see in return to a Father's love as the one condition of 13420--13430]

(CHRIST'S SINLESS LIFE AND PERFECT MERITS. its peace and bliss? Yet He Himself never lets sorrow, are transmitted - and there is no ap. fall a hint, He Himself never breathes a prayer, pearance whatever of a disposition on the part which implies any, the slightest, trace of a per- of disciples to cloak His mental experiences, or sonal remorse. From no casual admission do misrepresent them-but not the slightest con. we gather that any, the most venial sin, has sciousness of error is betrayed in these spontaever been His. Never for one moment does He neous outpourings of the soul.-G. D. Fisher. associate Himself with any passing experience of that anxious dread of the penal future with

[13429] That sensitiveness of conscience which His own awful words must needs fill the which accompanies pure character recognizes sinner's heart. If His soul is troubled, at least

and deplores the presence of sin. If there are His moral sorrows are not His own; they are a

not positive offences, there are defects : things burden laid on Him by His love for others.

are left undone which ought to be done. If Canon Liddon.

there are no definite habits of feeling to be con

demned, there is a conscious lack of a due [13427] Here is a man in whom there is no energy of holy principle. In those who are trace of remorse, regret, or repentance, a man

deemed, and justly deemed, the most virtuous, without care about His soul's salvation, for He and in whom there is no tendency to morbid stands already in eternal life, He lives as in self-depreciation, there are deep feelings of heaven. There is no prayer for forgiveness of

penitence. “If we say that we have no sin, we sin for Himself, no shrinking from going into the deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." society of publicans and sinners. It is clear, in This is quoted here, not as being an authoritathe most decided moments of His life, that He is tive testimony, but as the utterance of one whose conscious of no sin. That His self-consciousness

standard of character was obviously the highest. was really of such a sort that His conscience

With such an ideal of human perfection, the never accused Him of any fault or error, is the

very thought that any man should consider firmest and most indisputable historical fact, himself sinless excites indignation. One who explain it as we may.--Dorner.

pronounces himself blameless before God proves

that falsehood, and not truth, governs his judg(13428] There is one fact which ought to re- ment. What shall be said, then, if there be One move every shadow of doubt as to the absolute of whom it can truly be affirmed, that every motive sinlessness of Jesus. . . He was utterly free of His heart, not less than every overt action, from self-accusation, from the consciousness of was exactly confirmed to the loftiest ideal of fault; whereas, had there been a failure in duty,

excellence-One in whom there was never the His sense of guilt would have been intense and faintest self-condemnation, or the least ground overwhelming. This must have been the case for such an emotion? There is a miracle ; not, had there been only a single lapse-one instance, indeed, on the same plane as miracles which even in thought, of infidelity to God and con- interrupt the sequences of natural law. It is science. But no such offence could have existed an event in another order of things than the by itself: it would have tainted the character.

material sphere. But it is equally an excepSin does not come and disappear, like a passing

tion to all human experience. It is equally cloud. Sin is never a microscopic taint. Sin is

to all who discern the fact a proclamation of self-propagating. Its first step is a fall and the the immediate presence of God. It is equally beginning of a bondage. We reiterate that a an attestation that He who is thus marked out consciousness of moral defect in such an one as in distinction from all other members of the we know that Jesus was, and as He is universally

race bears a Divine commission. There is a conceded to have been, must infallibly have be

break in the uniform course of things, to which trayed itself in the clearest manifestations of no cause can be assigned in the natural order. conscious guilt, of penitence or of remorse. The Such a phenomenon authorizes the same inferextreme delicacy of His moral sense is perfectly

ence as that which is drawn from the instanta. obvious. His moral criticism goes down to the neous cure, by a word, of a man born blind.-Ibid. secret recesses of the heart. He demands, be it observed, self-judgment: “First cast the beam 5 Untenableness of Ewald's counter-doctrine

of Christ's person.

His out of thine own eye ;” “Judge not.” condemnation of moral evil is utterly unsparing: [13430] How came Jesus of Nazareth to be the very roots of it in illicit desire are to be sinless, the only sinless one, and as such, above extirpated. He knows how sinful men are. all men as heaven is above the earth ? If it be He teaches them all to pray, “Forgive us our said there is no greater mystery in this moral debts ; " yet there is not a scintilla of evidence originality than in original genius in any other that He ever felt the need of offering that prayer department; if He is sinless only as having for Himself. From beginning to end there is reached the goal towards which humanity not a lisp of self-blame. He prays often, He aspires unceasingly, then we have exhibited to needs help from above ; but there is no con- us a conception of the nature of sin, which the fession of personal unworthiness. Men gener- Christian heart will reject even with strong ally are reminded of their sins when they are reprobation ; for sin is then regarded only as overtaken by calamity. The ejaculations of a creaturely limitation, as imperfection, and the Jesus in the presence of His intimate associates, very pith and marrow are extracted from our when He was sinking under the burden of mental ) thoughts concerning its inherent badness and

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(CHRIST'S SINLESS LIFE AND PERFECT MERITS. guilt. If it were said that Christ became sin- body and a human soul, besides that Divine less by a moral process, disentangling. Himself nature which was linked to and glorified the from the meshes of the world's ungodliness, the whole. We can no more tell how the human difficulty would be less considerable ; but the and the Divine Spirit were blended together in unique and incomparable thing in Christ is, that Him, than how the human body and soul are He did not become, but is sinless from the be- united together. Yet it is plain that His mind ginning, that in Him is no trace of a moral as well as His body developed just like those of struggle to overcome inward contradictions, and other children, although the Divine part of His that He alone knows nothing of moral wretched- nature was ever, from time to time, and especi. ness, of repentance, and confession, and regret, ally after His public manifestation, flooding His and has no need of pardon or grace.

It is human soul with more and more of heaven-born therefore impossible to regard Him as a link in light as well as imparting to His body superthe chain of humanity. He is infinitely dif- natural capabilities. Any illustrations on so ferent from all men. Those who are likest Him high a theme which we can employ must ever and nearest Him, feel His moral distance to be fall far short of the truth, yet it is not irreverent the greatest ; and the mind cannot rest satisfied to employ them within acknowledged limitatill it has found an explanation of His person, tions. Have we not all known youths born which conserves at once the sense of His abso. with a wonderful genius in one particular direclute similarity to man, and transcendent supe- tion-say the mathematical, the arithmetical, riority—till it has reached the idea of the God- the poetical, or musical ? But their other man, in the supernatural and metaphysical abilities were by no means remarkable ; so that sense, and cried, My Lord and my God! this high faculty with which they were endowed W. Salmond.

required to wait upon the maturity of the rest,

in order to get a sufficient fulcrum for its own 6 Objections urged against this truth.

manifestation to the world.-Fergus Ferguson, (1) That the idea of sinlessness is inconsistent D.D. with growth in wisdom and moral development (see Luke ii. 52).

(2) That several passages in the life of Jesus [13431] Growth and development do not betray a passionate severity. necessarily or commonly imply imperfection. [13434) Complants have been made of the A human being, possessing in infancy and boy severity of His denunciation of the Pharisees. hood the maturity and complete developmente Tigeodore is just these passages, however, and

Theodore Parker has given voice to this criti, expect from infancy, youth, manhood, and age such as these, which save Christianity from the what befits each period, and regard as irregular stigma cast upon it by the patronizing critics and imperfect what is contrary thereto. Again, who style it “a sweet Galilean vision,” and find finite nature is not necessarily imperfect. The in it nothing but a solace “for tender and weary perfect action of such a nature in conformity souls.” It is no fault in the teaching of Jesus with the laws and limitations of its being can- that in it righteousness speaks out in trumpetnot be sinful, or evidence of imperfection as tones. There is no unseemly passion, but there finite existence, but just the contrary.-Prof. 7. is no sentimentalism. Hypocrisy and cruelty I. Marshall.

are painted in their proper colours. That retri. (13432] Not as if that nature, which was per

bution is stored up for the iniquity which steels fect from the beginning, received increase, but

itself against the motives to reform is a part of that by degrees it was manifested. For the law

the gospel which no right-minded man would of nature brooks not that man should have

wish to blot out; it is a truth too clearly mani. higher faculties than the age of his body per

fest in the constitution of things, too deeply mits. The Word (made man) was perfect, but

graven on the consciences of men. He manifested Himself as man with a body,

less excellence of Jesus needs no vindication gradually advancing in growth, and was daily against objections of this nature.-G. D. Fisher. thought wiser by those who saw and heard Him. -St. Cyril.

[13435] The apparent outbreak of passion in

the expulsion of the profane traffickers from the [13433] A remarkable expression is used in temple is the only instance on the record of the closing part of the second chapter of Luke, His history which might be quoted against His which brings up the question of the develop- freedom from the faults of humanity. But the ment of the Divine and the human nature of very effect which it produced shows that, far Christ mysteriously united within one frame. from being the outburst of passion, the expul. We are told at the fortieth verse that "the child sion was a judicial act of a religious reformer, grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with vindicating, in just and holy zeal, the honour of wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him.” the Lord of the temple, and that with a dignity At the fifty-second verse, again, we read that and majesty which at once silenced the offendere, Jesus “increased in wisdom and stature, and in though superior in numberand physical strength, favour with God and man." We do not hold and made them submit to their well-deserved the old Monophysite doctrine that Christ had punishment without a murmur, and in awe of only one soul within His body of flesh. To be the presence of a superhuman power. The a true man He must have had both a human ng of the unfruitful fig-tree can still less be


The spot.




urged, as it evidently was a significant sym. (4) That His baptism argued a need of repenbolical act foreshadowing the fearful doom of tance. the impenitent Jews in the destruction of Jeru- (13439] To say nothing of the Baptist's insalem.-Prof. Schaf.

direct testimony to His having no sin to repent

of (“Comest Thou to me?”)a testimony (13436] The objections advanced by M. F. doubly valuable as coming from one who had Pecant in his Le Christ et la Conscience, 1859, probably been intimate with Jesus from His are plainly a result of that writer's Humani- childhood— Jesus in His reply does not ground tarianism. Our Lord's answers to His Mother, His request on the consciousness of sin, but on His cursing the barren fig-tree, His sending the the duty of complying with divinely appointed devils into the herd of swine, His driving the ordinances (Matt. iii. 15). Made under the money-changers from the temple, and His last law, He was circumcised, though the symbol in denunciations against the Pharisees, present no His case lost its proper meaning; and similarly difficulty to those who see in Him the Lord, as He submitted to John's baptism, which to Him well as the Son of Mary, the Maker and Owner was only the inauguration of His public ministry of the world of nature, the Searcher and Judge (Matt. iii. 16). With respect to the other point, of human hearts.-Canon Liddon.

our ignorance of His previous life, it is enough

to remark that moral perfection such as that (3) That Christ Himself disclaims the title of which the Gospels exhibit could not, without a good (see Mark x. 18).

special miracle, appear all of a sudden, and per (13437] To the ruler who inquired what he saltum. Each stage of advancement presup. should do to inherit eternal life, Jesus is said poses a former one, and the final result is to have answered, "Why callest thou Me good? always founded upon a previous history. As is there is none good but one, that is, God." the seed sown, such is the harvest. And if it There is another reading of the passage in be further urged that Christ may have attained Matthew, which is adopted by. Tischendorf : the moral eminence which all ascribe to Him as “Why askest thou Me concerning the good ? He appears in the Gospels in the same way as There is one,” &c. This answer is not unsuit- ordinary men, viz., through inward conflict, able to the question, “What good thing shall I sometimes overcome by sin, but on the whole do?” It points the inquirer to God. It is overcoming, until the measure of holiness of fitted to suggest that goodness is not in par- which He was capable was attained, we reply ticular doings, but begins in a connecting of the that, apart altogether from original sin, one soul with God. We cannot be certain, however, actual sin consented to leaves indelible traces whether Jesus made exactly this response, or behind it ; the wound may be healed, but the said what is given in the parallel passages in scar remains. No man who, even for a moMark and Luke (and in the accepted text of ment, consents to an act of sin, inward or outMatthew). If the latter hypothesis is correct, ward, can be the same man as he was before ; it is still plain that the design of Jesus was to and hence in the case of ordinary Christians direct the inquirer to God, whose will is the sinlessness in this life is impossible. If Christ fountain of law. He disclaims the epithet had not been without sin in His private life He “good," and applies it to God alone, meaning could not have been what He was in His public. that God is the primal source of all goodness.

-Ibid. Such an expression is in full accord with the usual language of Jesus descriptive of His depen

7 Question raised on the subject. dence on God. The goodness of Jesus, though (1) Was Jesus unable to sin, or able not to without spot or flaw, was progressive in its sin development; and this distinction from the [13440] To say that He was able not to sin, absolute goodness of God might justify the and did not, is an inadequate statement. It is phraseology which He employed. The humility no more than was true of Adam before the fall. which Jesus evinced in His reply to the ruler It expresses only the human side of His chawas not that of an offender against the Divine

But taking into account the Divine, as law. Its ground was totally diverse.-G. D. the dominating force, a moral inability to sin is Fisher,

essential to the whole truth. We may say He

was able to sin if He willed to ; but considering (13438] The meaning of His reply depends that His whole moral being was strongly set upon that of the inquirer in his use of the word against it, and that it was the purpose of God

good”; and nothing is plainer than that the to destroy sin in the world through sinlessness ruler used it without any true perception of in Him, we are obliged to say, in justice to His what it implies, in a superficial manner, and as Divine-human person, He could not will to sin. a mere compliment; corresponding to his im- Yet not by physical restraint or force, but in perfect apprehension of his own sinfulness. In the freedom of His holy nature, and in the bias that sense our Lord refused the epithet, intima- of His whole being towards God. The inner ting further that if it was to be applied to Him man, unfolded by a free, Divine-human impulse, at all, it must be so in the highest sense, even in spotless purity and perfect self-harmony—the as it is applicable to God; which, far from im- affections with the appetites, the imagination plying a consciousness of sin, rather implies the with the reason, the will with the understanding. reverse. --Litton.

-Prof. E. A. Lawrence.


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