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argument embraces a wide field of investigation, and that several of them belong to different departments of theological science. The sinlessness of Christ, and his perfection in knowledge, made out from mere human testimony, is one of the most difficult and important points in the series. This is no where done with more clearness and power than in the treatise before us. In the very commencement, the writer shows the superior order of his mind, and gives ample proof that he well understands the nature of his undertaking :
“In modern times, it has become more and more obvious, how incalculably important for the proof of historical Christianity, is a clear and positive knowledge of the inward religious character of its Founder. The sum of the spiritual life of Jesus is the central point of the whole Christian system. From this all rays of light, and all operations of moral power proceed; and to it all must be traced back, so long as Christianity shall have, on the one hand, a sure historical basis, and on the other, an inward moral excellence. The apostles, indeed, do not represent the superior purity of Christ's religious character, and the superior elevation of his whole soul, as the only reason why he appeared to them so peculiarly entitled to adoration. They formed their conception of him (as they might do with good reason, and certainly without unfair accommodation), by viewing his character more historically. They were convinced of his Messiahship, not only by the lofiiuess and divinity of his whole spiritual appearance, but especially by the miracles that were wrought by him and upon him, and by the agreement of his acts and destination with the prophecies of the Old Testament. Still, from every thing which they have left us, it is very evident that they had an additional reason for believing in the Messiahship of Jesus. This reason was, that his words were those of eternal life, aud his acts were a spiritual exhibition of something truly divine. The apostles would not have acknowledged him to be the Saviour, had he not stood before their minds in all the fulness of spiritual dignity. Without the unweakened influence of his inward character upon their moral and religious consciousness, they could not be firmly convinced that he was the pure image of the invisible God by the most astonishing perfection of his power. It was only because he approved himself to them as a living representation of the divine love, truth and rectitude, that they were able to discover in the extraordinary effects which he produced, evidences of a peculiar connection with the Deity.”
Few of our own theologians are so sound and philosophical in defining sin as this writer is, in the following passage :
“If, in the ensuing treatise, we take as a basis, that definition of sin which is both truly biblical and also generally recognized in the
theological dialect, and if, accordingly, we define sin to be the deviation of a free nature from the moral law of God; the disagreement of the moral life, that is, the intentions, the general aim of the will, or a single act of the will, and the outward deeds, with the divine law; we must then assign for the first meaning of the word sinlessness, nothing more than the absence of such a disagreement, the non-existence of a contradiction between the individual freewill and the will of God, which latter includes the universal law. But we cannot stop with this mere negative definition of innoceney. As sinlessness is an idea applicable only to beings, who are so constituted tbat they must act morally, and who cannot even omit moral action without violating law in the very omission, the idea must necessarily refer to something positive, to the performance of something good. As he who is to be sinless, cannot be so without willing and doing something, neither can he be so without willing and doing what is perfectly good. Innocence always involves a positive agreement with the divine will. A free and rational nature, which is without sin, is also necessarily holy; and when we describe Jesus as sinless, we are not to separate from him pure goodness and holiness, but we characterize him as both destitute of sin and positively good.”
There are few subjects on which there has been more fruitless controversy than on the ability or inability of Christ to sin. Contemplated in his divine nature alone, he cannot be regarded, in any sense, as capable of sin. Viewed in his human nature alone, he cannot be conceived of, as a created moral being, without some kind of ability to sin. But where two directly opposite things are ailirmed of his separate natures, what must we affirm of his whole person uniting the two natures? Many of our readers will be curious to know how Ullmann disposes of this subject. His words are:
“ We by no means, however, understand by the term sinlessness an absolute impossibility of sinning. Not the non posse peccare, but only the posse non peccare, and the non peccasse sliould be attributed to Jesus. Only of God himself, in his everlasting and absolute holiness, can the perfect impossibility of sipning be predicated. Whenever we attribute, in a proper manner, and in the sense of Scripture, all the moral elements of man to Jesus, we are not to disjoin from them that freedom, which is the power of choosing between good and evil; and for this very reason we are to admit it as conceivable, that he might at some time have been influenced to a departure from the will of God. Unless this be supposed, the history of the temptation, however it may be explained, would have no significancy; and the expression in the Epistle to the Hebrews, “ he was tempted in all points as we,” would be without meaning. Where there is an absolute elevation above the possibility of sin, as with God, or where there is altogether wanting a conscience to
distinguish good and evil, and a susceptibility for the one or the other, as with irrational natures ; in all such beings a moral temptation is impossible. But where there is a conscience to determine right and wrong, and where there is no absolute necessity of doing either the one or the other, as is the case with free human beings; there a susceptibility to temptation exists, and with it, a possibility of the actual commission of sin. As Jesus was a complete man, this susceptibility and this possibility must be supposed to co-exist in him. Did they not thus co-exist, he would cease to be an example of perfect human morality. At the same time, his holiness would be not the result of freedom, but, as we must think the holiness of God to be, the result exclusively of the inner unchangeable necessity of his nature. And though, when we contemplate Jesus at the height of his perfection, we find in him freedom in the highest sense of the word ; that is, a pure, perfect and uniformly triumphant desire of good; still, this higher development of freedom could originate only from that lower stage of it, at which the power of free-will appears more evidently to be the simple power of choosing between good and evil. The idea of siulessness presupposes merely, that the development which Jesus made of human morality, went on of itself, without any check or cessation of his freedom to choose between good and evil.
“In my opinion, this is the view to be taken, when we examine the character of Jesus, simply as a human character. If, on the other hand, we reflect from a bigher position upon the plan of God; a plan which has been in process of preparation for thousands of years, and is destined to operate for thousands of years to come, and which passed into fulfilment through Jesus Christ, theu the thought seems truly a most fearful one, that Christ could, as a matter of fact, have sinned. Humanly speaking, that plan of God would have been frustrated, if Christ had committed a single transgression; and the only light, that was perfectly clear in the whole history of man, would have been put out. In this relation, therefore, there seems to be a still higher necessity in the moral government of the world, that Christ should not have actually sinned. And if, moreover, we reflect that a divine principle lived and operated in Jesus, in natural and constant unison with the human part of his nature, we shall see, that by this principle also, he would be secured against the actual commission of iniquity. Now I by no means disown the conviction, but rather profess it with joy, in company with the apostles and with the whole Christian church; the conviction, that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God; tbat the whole fulness of the Deity actually dwelt in him, that God was in him, and was reconciling the world to himself. This conviction is, to be sure, directly connected with the certainty, that Christ was free from transgression, and holy, as the God whose nature he exhibited to man, by word and deed, by life and death. But in the following treatise, we are, with propriety, forbidden to reason from the principles of a Christian belief already formed; for this is not designed to be a dogmalic development of the doctrine of the sinlessness of Jesus, but rather to be an apologetic view, and is thus designed to consult more particularly the wants of those
readers, who are not yet convinced of several fundamental principles of Christianity, nor even of the truth and divinity of the whole Christian system.”
But we must break away from this interesting book, omitting many thoughts which crowd upon us, and passing over some parts of the volume, which have an equal, though different kind of interest.
BUNYAN AND HIS BIOGRAPHERS.
1. A Life of John Bunyan. By Robert SOUTHEY, Esq.,
LL.. D., Poet Laureate, &c., &c., &c. New York.
Harper & Brothers. 2. The Life, Times, and Characteristics of John Bun
yan, Author of the Pilgrim's Progress. By Robert Philip, of Maberly Chapel; Author of the Life and Times of Whitefield, the Experimental Guide, &c. 12mo. pp. 498. New York. D. Appleton & Co. 1839.
In this era of book-making, it is by no means wonderful that the teeming press and the racked minds of authors, thirsting for literary distinction, should lay hold of an object so richly fraught with the elements of enduring interest as the character and achievements of Bunyan. He has been universally regarded, for several generations, as a most extraordinary man; and the high distinction, so generally and so justly awarded to him, seems little in danger of being diminished by the lapse of years. His reputation is not a river's bank, likely to be undermined by the attrition of the forceful current, and then swept away; but rather like the noble stream itself, which throws out a wider and higher alluvion the longer it flows. There is not a little of moral grandeur in viewing such a character, and taking into regard the mighty influence it has already exerted, and to which, in coming time, it seems destined. That man is not blessed with
any enviable amount of sensibility, who can call up for meditation such a theme as Bunyan,-think what he was in natural depravity and degradation, what he became by the power of distinguishing grace, and what that graceh as enabled him to perform by his incomparable allegories,—without unusual emotions of moral interest and admiration. If it be enthusiasm to be greatly moved by such a spectacle, we at once plead guilty. Rather,should we not say ?—the nature which remains impassive under the influence of such appliances, is not the common nature implanted in the heirs of heaven. We are as far, in spirit and practice, from man-worship as any of our readers; but in a case like this, when, in Bunyan's expressive phrase, “ Grace abounding to the chief of sinners," shines so resplendent, and where that same grace made one of the most ignorant and brutish of the children of men the channel of communication for blessings so various, transcendent and enduring for the welfare of our race, it seems a perversion and excess of scrupulosity to withhold our love, and gratitude, and praise, unto him who thus proved himself “able to do abundantly above all that we are able to think.” To him we would give all the glory, while tracing this wondrous specimen of his workmanship.
Of this unequalled man, Mr. Philip is the latest biographer. And we cannot but greatly marvel at that kind of assumption which should have produced the first sentence of the preface which he has attached to his work. It is the following: “Foreigners have long wondered, that a century and a half should have passed away without producing a Life of Bunyan.” Indeed! the intelligent reader will respond; they must be foreigners in every sense, and exiles too, not merely from English literature, but from that of continental Europe, if they can wonder after this fashion. Besides the extended, graphic and uncommonly minute autobiography of Bunyan, which was completed by another hand, so as to cover the later years of his life and his dying hours, together with a faithful summing up or brief estimate of his character (from which Mr. Philip has drawn by far the most interesting part of his volume), he seems to be acquainted with, at least, the following: A biography of Bunyan, in the British museum, by a clerical friend of Bunyan