The Credentials of Christianity.

1888 160 (being an extract from a letter.)

My dear —,

Though devoid of claim to argumentative power, I would submit certain considerations, which I pray God may be used of Him to show you that the Christ of the Gospels is indeed the Saviour of the world.

You will grant that the world is dark, that with abundant evidence of God's goodness, in His infinitely wise adaptation of external nature to our advantage, yet there is prevailing decay; not to speak of the bitterness and disappointment to which no human breast is ultimately, or indeed for long, a stranger. To my mind, if Christianity be rejected, or regarded as a mere development (which is of course its virtual rejection) in an interminable evolution, the riddle of life is inexplicable. No one would deny that Christianity offers a solution at least worthy of God; and oh, how suited to man!

But before attempting to contemplate some of the positive characteristics of Christianity, I would call your attention to the immense difficulties involved in its rejection, and to the contradictions, so to speak, in which we find ourselves landed. We are loth, in our pride, to own ourselves fallen beings; yet we are tried and agitated by ten thousand cares. We will not own the divine authority and sanction of revelation; yet we are tormented with misgivings, lest after all the Bible may be true. And, by the way, no such misgivings seem to vex the soul of the Buddhist or Mohammedan sceptic. We are alarmed at the approach of death, not so much because of the wrenching of familiar amenities, but because it is "a leap in the dark." If unfallen beings, why do we not calmly and unquestioningly, when death is near, drop our weary hands, and sleep? Or, again, we try compromise, and set up as Unitarians, proving but half-hearted pleaders, uninspired to risk life or limb in the promotion of our passionless creed. If sure of our ground, why this lack of fervour? Why do nothing at any cost to ourselves? This is not the Christian preacher or confessor.

The reasons of all this are not far to seek. We have all these cares, and fears, and misgivings, because we are fallen beings, whom academic surmises must fail to console. We yearn for something positive; and this Christianity supplies, and like the sun proves itself by lighting our darkness. It is positive; and hence it is the very creed to be preached with ready tongue and gladdened eye to every creature. It throws light upon, and holds out an ultimate solution of, the mystery of pain, which makes up human life. And, looking at it subjectively, in its renewing, transforming power, it carries with it its own credentials, for "He that believeth hath the witness in himself," and again, "He that doeth His will, shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God." Christianity in short sheds a divine light across my path, which judges me so effectually that I do not think of judging it. It reveals a Divine Person dying to put away sin, and no mere vain ideas and shadowy images, like false religions and philosophies.

But, secondly, the fact that Christianity exists is a most important factor in the question. It exists, and must be reckoned with. How can it be accounted for except as being what it claims to be? It has done for mankind what no culture has ever done. The value of culture, men say, apart from God is potent. Let us look at ancient Greece, and thence form an estimate of culture. Beautiful and brilliant on the surface, it was horribly corrupt, as we know, beneath. It is forgotten what the darkness was before Christ came.

I would ask doubters to account for the fact, that a great imposture (as they suggest) has been the greatest blessing the world ever had! Many theories have been started to this end, notably those of Strauss and Renan in recent times, the mythical and the romantic. Who believes in them now? And what I must call the puerile theories of the author of "Natural law in the spiritual world" will go the way of all the "vain things" that men "imagine," either against or in apology for the word of God. But all this ingenuity so far clears the way. Each fantastic bubble bursts, and other interpretations must be invented by a necessary process of elimination. Will all possible explainings away of the Bible be exhausted in time? I fear not. Old weapons are often refurbished. Alas! the intellect tricks the soul, and thus hides the deformity of the alienated will. Indeed the chief hindrance to the entrance of the truth lies less in the intellect than in the will, though doubtless the head possesses a terrible leverage in preventing the heart from bowing to God.

Lastly, I see in the Man Christ Jesus, the Messiah, Son of Man, Son of God, the second Head of our race. Scripture owns but two men: the first man, Adam, fell; the second Man, the last Adam, "restored that which He took not away." Jesus is "Christus Consummator." He is also the Head of the church, which is His mystical body, and by His blood He has made — is — propitiation for the whole world. "There is no other name under heaven given amongst men whereby we must be saved." "Ye must be born again," said the Saviour. How peremptory are the "musts" of scripture! But one pathetic "must" indicates the manner of the others. "The Son of Man must be lifted up." Yet was He the same Who had said, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." What mere man might dare to utter such words? Certainly there is no rest apart from Him. But that there is rest in Him, let the myriads testify who have bowed at the name of JESUS. R. Beacon, Jr.